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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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The Reverend's review of Gunrunner

Name: Gunrunner
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Squadron Leader
Sub-Group: Pretender Vehicle

Quote: "The truth wrapped in a lie is still a lie."

"A super hero in reverse. Daring and defiant when inside outer vehicle, but shy and insecure when out on his own. Armored outer vehicle equipped with armored wheels and hydraulic lifters for all-terrain combat capabilities. Gunrunner transforms from robot mode to hypersonic jet with a maximum speed of Mach 5. Equipped with twin, turreted 8MM electro-static cannons with a range of over 60 miles. Also armed with two armor-piercing, energy-plasma missiles. Armor plating equipped with thermal generators that "burn" through solid rock.

I've always been suspicious that the minds (or slavish corporate hacks) at Hasbro came up with Pretenders as an attempt to regain sales from the crowd of kids who (in their view) were more inclined to the "Masters of the Universe" and "M.A.S.K." toy lines, even though those had been out for a while by the time the Pretenders were introduced. (Issuing production of new figures was, no doubt, a rather lengthy process.) Or maybe I'm reading too much into it all and they were just going with any cheap idea they could come up with. Regardless, Gunrunner is a Pretender Vehicle, one of two released (his counterpart being the Decepticons' Roadgrabber), meaning that instead of his shell being a fat person or monster or a beaver in a helmet, he's hiding in a vehicular transport! Oh ho ho! The kids will eat this up!


Gunrunner's shell is a big red car-like monstrosity, with large tires similar to the Autobot Pointblank. He has what appears to be a winch on his front bumper, painted white headlights, a sharp sloping hood, and molded details like door handles, round exhaust ports on the rear, and a few random pistons and other remotely-mechanical looking etchings here and there. Not too bad, at least it's not a plastic block. There's also an orange canopy that opens, but inside is just a strange orange piece that reminds me more of the insides of an old record turntable than anything, and there's no space for any driver. The car is definitely out of proportion for any G1 car I can think of, but it's meant (as part of the gimmick) to carry "any" Pretender robot.

The toy comes with two sets of "energy-plasma missiles" that can be mounted on each side of the car, a rifle that can be placed in a hole on the driver's side of the hood, and an odd accessory that can be attached to the top of the car. This piece is referred to in the instructions as his "dual electro-static cannons", and that's basically what it is, a large black plastic item with two large gun barrels sticking out of it. A small gear in the bottom of the cannon assembly is meant to mesh with an identical gear on top of the car, so that when the car is rolled the cannons alternately slide in and out to simulate "firing". Cute idea, although sometimes the gears fumble and the entire assembly twists atop the car instead. The car shell has hinges at the rear - lift up the front of the car and the inner robot fits snugly inside. Unlike many Pretenders, you don't have to find the "sweet spot" to close the shell - there's a little wiggle room in there.

The shell doesn't have its own transformation into an attack mode like Roadgrabber's, but... remember that odd turntable-innard piece in the cockpit I mentioned? Opening the canopy and pushing down on this (when Gunrunner is out of his shell) causes it to fold down into the vehicle, providing a space for Gunrunner to sit and "drive" the vehicle. The instructions call this the "Assault Cruiser" mode, although placing Gunrunner into the cockpit means that the cannon assembly on top of the car has to be removed the entire time he's in it - because there's not enough space to close the canopy when Gunrunner's driving the vehicle! Argh!

Inner Robot (Robot Mode):

Gunrunner himself is a cute little jaundice-yellow guy, with black upper legs & helmet, only three stickers, and a silver, leering face. His body displays a lot of interesting etchings, grooves, and protuberances, and he can hold the black rifle in his fist. Holes in his upper arms also allow you to mount the missiles on them, which does make him look a little less wimpy. His head rotates 360 degrees, as do his shoulders - and since his arms swing forward as part of his transformation, he does have some poseability there too. His legs will move forward 90 degrees, allowing a sitting position. Technically he has knees too, but as his lower legs are one large yellowish piece, it doesn't really add to poseability. He's about the right size for a Pretender, although he's rather short next to a lot of Autobots in general.

Alternate Mode:

I broke typical order and put this last for a reason. Gunrunner's transformation? Well, swing the arms forward, then fold up his lower legs. What the hell is this you've created?? Some sort of submersible?? A really strange looking weapons carrier? Where are the wheels? The treads? Do I have it upside down?? Flip it over... natch, still have no idea what this is. Thankfully, the instruction manual provides some enlightenment. He's not transforming into anything on his own. Remove the electro-static cannons from the car. Two yellow wings on either side of the assembly fold down, and flipping out the middle section reveals a jet cockpit. Gunrunner (take it slow now, this is interesting) CLIPS ONTO THE BOTTOM OF THE JET. Yes, that's right, he hangs off the bottom of the jet like a big yellow tumor. Every person I have shown this to so far thinks the jet really looks better without him attached to it. The jet is still bearing aforementioned cannons, and you can attach the missiles to the undersides of its wings if you like. Now, if your imagination is good, you can have Gunrunner on the ground with his rifle, the jet flying overhead with its big cannons, and the car still left with the missiles (or the missiles on Gunrunner's arms, leaving the car to run down Decepticons like there's an inebriated granny at the wheel). But it really doesn't take away from the fact that the robot's transformation is a bad, bad joke. You can almost hear the random conversations around Autobot City...

RANDOM AUTOBOT: "Hi, you must be the new guy, what's your alternate mode?"
GUNRUNNER: "Argh! I turn into an oversized undercarriage module that hangs off the bottom of a jet! Shut up already! The jet could go Mach 6 if I wasn't weighing it down! Curse you, Primus!"

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation: 2 - Easy business. Gunrunner's "alternate mode" would probably be puzzling without the instructions to help with the "what is this??" factor.
Durability: 8 - The shell is totally solid and could take a lot of use. The inner robot really is pretty sturdy too. The stickers (printed on clear material, like decals) seem delicate, but only the jet seems fragile overall (those cannons, taking the wrong bump, could probably snap off, and the clips for attaching Gunrunner in tumor mode probably wear quickly).
Fun: 7 - You know what, in a weird way, he's actually kind of cool, being that you basically get 2 or 3 toys in one.
Price: 5 Got mine for $40 on Ebay. Aside from the stickers it's in great shape.
Overall: 5 - Ehhhh... There's some nice bang for the buck here, but in the Pretenders line I imagine you could do better. Still, there's a good amount of playability in Gunrunner, even if he is, at best, "weird".

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