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

Name: Topspin
Function: A*&%$^e / Wrecker
Subgroup: Dark of the Moon Mechtech Deluxe Class

For Autobot Topspin it’s all about going fast and carrying lots of weapons. He, Roadbuster and Leadfoot were master technicians on Cybertron. Over the years they perfected modifications to vehicles, armor and weaponry that rival anything the Decepticon scientists could ever hope to produce.

Topspin was a little-known Jumpstarter G1 figure, that found fame and success when his character was used as one of the members of the Wreckers group in the Marvel comics series. These hardcore Autobots really mean business, and kick serious Deceptibutt.

The original figure had great sentimental value for me, as it was given to me as a present by my grandparents when I was just wee. However, even then I remember being quite disappointed in the actual toy – something you pulled back, let go and he’d spring up into robot mode. Or, in other words, the vehicle mode (a robot lying on its back) flipped its legs out and stood up (or, more often, lay on the ground, but with its legs out now...). Still, I ended up feeling so bad about being disappointed in a present from my grandparents that Topspin became an integral character in all my games as a kid. (I know, I have a serious guilt-complex thing going – I’m a bit messed up!)

When I heard the Wreckers were being used in Dark of the Moon (DOTM), I was quite surprised – this is a little-known group with a niche cult fan following as hardcore as the robots themselves. But, when they turned out to be the heavily-armed Nascars spotted onset, this suddenly seemed to click – which subgroup is better suited to filling out the Autobot ranks in a Michael Bay Transformers film? Still, I was even more surprised when the actual character names used were actual Wreckers – and even even surprised when Topspin turned out to be one of them (and Springer did not).

The Wreckers were afforded little screentime, and almost no character development in the film. However, they provided great comic relief, were complete gits, and quite brutal when the crap hit the fan – they had me in stitches every scene they’re in. I’m not sure if Topspin really said anything at all, but his lanky figure was quite hilarious, sporting a metallic mullet (perhaps not to everyone’s taste).

I knew I’d be picking up the Topspin Deluxe figure, if Hasbro / Takara made one, as soon as I learned he’d be in DOTM. And they did make one. And the design is actually very nifty. And he’s blue. And this is the review.

Alternate Mode:

G1 Topspin turned into a futuristic hovercraft thingy, that really looked like a robot lying on his back with his legs curled up. Thankfully, the updated live-action Movieverse Topspin has ditched any hints as to this mode and been upgraded to a Nascar, as have his fellow DOTM Wreckers Roadbuster and Leadfoot. A Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet Impala to be exact. The one driven by Jimmie Johnson in the 2008 Daytona 500 to be more exact. A heavily modified version to be even more even more exact, as Topspin has the most outwardly heavily armed alternate mode of the Wreckers, with four machineguns in full view. And this is how he appears in the film. Wreck and rule!

I said these guys were hardcore, didn’t I?

Measuring 5 ½” (14cm) long, Topspin is around 1/36 scale and a decent size for a Deluxe car, unlike a number of the downsized DOTM figures – even bordering on large (dwarfing Roadbuster’s Nascar mode). He’s predominantly blue, with guns and rear spoiler dark grey, frontend and side armour lighter grey, hotrod engine silver, reinforced window grills black, windows transparent blue, light grey Autobot insignia on the rear spoiler, lime green ‘48’ (outlined in black) on each door, ‘Nascar Sprint Cup Series’ logo in white behind the front wheels, and ‘Lowe’s®’ printed in light blue on a white background with a red stripe. Just like Deluxe Roadbuster, Hasbro have gone all out with the paint applications in the Nascar mode, matching the awesome moulded detail giving an aggressive and heavily armed and armoured hotrod Nascar mode.

(Although, it’s interesting that this degree of solid plastic spikiness made it past the toy safety guys, when compared with so many other Transformers of late – will these details go the way of DOTM Deluxe Crankcase’s pointy-middle-fingers before long?)

There is zero robot mode kibble, other than that visible through the windows, although the parts are indistinct.

The guns can swivel, and the mode holds together and rolls well.

There are plenty of Mechtech ports (the machine guns themselves can be removed, revealing additional ports), if you enjoy souping up these guys even more, but equally they do not interfere with the design, all being well hidden / worked into the moulding unobtrusively.

Topspin’s Nascar mode is super-detailed, well painted and totally film accurate. While some people may not care for the heavily armed design (I personally love it – after all, the Wreckers are ‘just a*&%$^£s’) you really can’t ask for more in an alternate mode.

Robot Mode:

Topspin’s transformation is remarkably quick, simple, innovative, and enjoyable. The resulting robot mode has no kibble, other than that present in the film’s animation model. I personally find it remarkable how well the Nascar bonnet and roof fold away onto the back, leaving the silver hotrod engine looking just like a heavily armoured robot back. Very nicely done Hasbro / Takara designers! And, I love that parts of the car front end up making his thighs, just like the G1 design – whether or not that is a coincidence or genuine nod by the designers, I don’t know, or care – I just love it!

The only negatives to the transformation are down to durability rather than design – the shoulder weapons mounts always pop off (loose ball joints) and they are locked together a little too tightly in car mode. Still, I don’t foresee any serious disasters... Touch wood!

Standing around 7” (18cm) tall to the top of his weapons mounts, Topspin is not diminutive in robot mode, either. Nor does he sport any kibble (again, other than that actually present in the film!). As with the Nascar mode, he is hyper-detailed in moulding and paint applications (unlike his buddy, Roadbuster). Blue is still dominant, but the lighter grey is more prevalent in this mode too, making up the chest, arms, much of the head (and mullet) and feet. Silver picks out details, as does lime green and gold. The Autobot insignia is there on the left weapons mount, although it’s upside down – perhaps quite appropriate for this particular topsy-turvy Autobot! There’s a lot going on in this mould – you never get bored looking at him and examining those intricate details!

Although Michael Bay seems to have held back with the abstract ‘Bayformer’ designs in DOTM (backlash from the out-there designs in Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) perhaps?), the Wreckers are quite clearly white-trash caricatures, and as such Topspin is a fairly radical Transformer design. Sporting wraparound sunglasses for eyes (with very nice blue lightpiping here), a mullet made of metal links, flared ‘jeans’ effect legs and pliers for hands, coupled with the machine guns now sitting proud on the ‘Y’ weapons mount gives Topspin a very unique look. Even more-so than the car mode, this Topspin’s robot mode design will not be to every Transformers fan’s taste. However, I personally like it – and at the end of the day, no matter who you are and what you’d prefer, you really have to take the Wreckers’ designs (as well as the ROTF Twins and Wheelie) in the spirit of a tongue-in-cheek live-action film series of one of the most ridiculous franchises imaginable (alien robots that transform into cars and take their war to Earth, teaming up with humans for no good reason).

If you do like the design, you’re in luck with articulation – Topspin is well balances, and has stacks of poseability! With 22 meaningful points of articulation, this Deluxe figure is jam-packed here! The possibilities are endless!

Moving on to the Mechtech weapon gimmick, well Topspin’s is one of the poorest in my view. A gun that flips into a pincer-plier thing that may have excited me as a kid, but does nothing for me as an adult. But that’s the key here – Mechtech is great for kids, and I’m not the target audience. I’m very pleased that HasTak have added more play-value for kids in the DOTM line, and am even happier when designs such as Topspin’s don’t allow this to interfere with film accuracy.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 10 – Simple, quick, fun, effective, innovative and resulting in two zero-kibble film-accurate modes. A Movieverse Transformer can do no more!
Durability: 7 – The shoulder weapons mounts will pop off at some point during the transformation, and some parts lock together a little too tightly. Otherwise, he’s pretty sound.
Fun: 7 – I think Topspin is great fun – a solid ‘10’ for me. However, if you’re not into quirky heavily armed alt and robot modes, he may not be so fun. He’s no ‘robot in disguise’, nor is he a traditional Autobot. The Mechtech weapon may add marks for you here, if you’re into that gimmick.
Aesthetics: 7 – Again, I love Topspin’s look, and this figure is ridiculously jam-packed with moulded and painted detailing in both modes – ‘10’ for me. However, I’ve tempered my score a bit as I know this design is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Articulation: 10 – No way you can argue lower! Topspin is one of the best articulated Deluxe figures I have ever got my hands on!
Value/Price: 7 – At £12.99 or more (£17.99 in Hamleys!), Deluxe figures are becoming less good value, in my opinion. However, stores do knock the prices down (Tesco had DOTM Deluxes at £8.49 recently). I think £10 is the sweet spot for Deluxe Class, personally, but I’m tight (I’m Scottish). Deluxes are certainly not the poorest deal in the line – Cyberverse Commanders are far worse in terms of value for money! As far as Deluxes go, too, Topspin is really quite nicely executed.
Overall: 8 – I think Topspin is pretty nigh on a perfect ‘10’. All he lacks is an on-screen character. However, I appreciate that his design (both robot and alternate modes) will put some people off fundamentally, and leave others doubting the greatness of the figure. I think an ‘8’ is fair, taking this and the shelf-price into account. That is just how great Deluxe Topspin is!

NOTE: The lower two photos show Topspin with Reprolabels stickers applied, as do the group shots.
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