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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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numbat's review: Legends Wheelie

Name: Wheelie
Allegiance: Autobot
Sub-Group: Universe Legends Wave 5

If you ask any Transformers fan who the most irritating character in Transformers history is, I’m fairly certain 90% of those who grew up with G1 would name Wheelie. Something about his rhyming nonsense and overconfidence just irks you, and that silly little cap design on his head makes him come across as the forefather of modern Neds. Couple that with just about the worst Minibot figure in history, and it’s little surprise that the name (and character) was relegated to Hasbro’s dusty basement archives. That is, until the name was briefly called back into service in Armada (2003) as the name of a rather poor Mini-Con that transformed in to a, erm, bicycle. Unsurprisingly, that failed to generate a Wheelie renaissance, and the name again slipped into obscurity…

Roll on to the Universe Classics line in 2008/09 and Hasbro have married the original Minibots to the new small figure class – Legends. The Universe Legends have been breathed fresh life in to a line that has, until now, only produced miniature pocket-sized versions of characters also available at larger size classes. With a Legends Jazz figure based on the G1 design, the stage was set for characters unique to Legends Class – and what could be more appropriate that up-to-date versions of the G1 Minibots? Hasbro has delivered Bumblebee, Brawn, Beachcomber, Cosmos, Warpath and now Wheelie with mixed, but generally excellent, results.

And, ironically, Wheelie proved irresistible. Why? Well, read on…

Alternate Mode:

Wheelie’s alternate mode is labeled on the box as a ‘Junk Planet Speeder’. I found this to be a heart warming homage to the original G1 Movie. While he actually appears on Quintessa, this lends little support to him being related to Wreck-Gar and the other Junkions, let’s face it, his colour scheme sure does… (Weak, I know…)

So, Wheelie transforms in to a small, compact ‘speeder’ measuring 2 ” (6cm) long. It’s a welcome upgrade from the futuristic G1 dragster, and has little similarities, aside from colour palette. Wheelie is sleek, with little moulded detail, but this suits the design well. He’s a pale orange, with dark orange details on the front wheel rims and running boards. His rear lights are red, while headlights are painted yellow. His wheels and windows are both light grey, a grey-blue raised triangle is found on the bonnet, and Autobot insignia struggles to stand out clearly against the orange of the bonnet. The vertical radiator grill slot is a nifty touch – even if it is an accident left for the transformation.

It rolls well, with the classic large rear wheels, and offers little hint of the robot mode even on the underside.

Really, this is a perfect alternate mode, and the colours aren’t nearly so painful as they should be…

Robot Mode:

The designers at Hasbro and Takara have really been putting a lot of thought into how to make the best use of space lately, and Wheelie is the perfect example. The car ‘package’ unfolds brilliantly, and interestingly, in to a 3” (8cm) tall robot.

Unfortunately, that robot is a perfect likeness of G1 Wheelie.

Amazingly, though, the proportions and stunning design leave you actually liking him…

Orange is again the colour of the day, with some darker orange picking out the knees. The simplicity of moulded detail carries through to the robot mode, and works well, giving that latter-day G1 futuristic feel. The purpose of that grey triangle on the bonnet becomes clear, as it replicates a window shape on his chest – a nod to the original design that the G1 figure failed to deliver on. The face is well sculpted, keeping the orange cap, grey face and blue eyes. However, Wheelie seems to have gone through some dark times since we left him in the ‘80s, and now sports a dour scowl, totally changing his previously annoying happy-go-lucky grin.

Wheelie is fairly well articulated for a Legends Class figure, with hinges and ball joints at the shoulders and ball joints at the hips. Articulation at his knees is limited by the transformation mechanism, but this is a minor concern – he is very well poseable as it is, with a good centre of gravity.

And, of course, there’s a moulded sling-shot on his right shoulder, painted turquoise – a colour used nowhere else on the toy! A very nice homage to a very irritating trademark of the G1 character, that you can’t help but smile at.

So, the outcome?

Grudgingly, I have to admit that Universe Classics Legends Wheelie is one of the best Legends figures ever made. It’s just such a shame that this level of design wizardry has been awarded to a character that would be better forgotten…

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 10 – Really as close to perfect as a Legends figure is ever going to get…
Durability: 7 – Although made of decent plastic, Wheelie suffers from loose hip joints, and the right leg keeps just falling off mine…
Fun: 7 – Grudgingly, this figure is great fun to transform, pose, and roll around. Unfortunately, his character irks me…
Price: 7 – Legends Class figures used to be amazing value. Alas, this is no more. Prices have recently sky-rocketed both in the US and in the UK (if you can find them). $5 or around 5 seems to be the new price – as opposed to four years at 3.
Overall: 8 – Wheelie is an ‘8’ – but he could have been a ‘9’, if it weren’t for the fact I find the character so terribly annoying…
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