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Blackjack's Review: Tailgate with Groundbuster

Names: Tailgate & Groundbuster
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Legends Class

Tailgate has never really shown up anywhere except for the relatively recent well-received More than Meets the Eye comics. And if you haven’t read that particular series, go and do so! It has my recommendation. Being more receptive to the wants of the fandom, Hasbro has been more inclined to bend down and do the toys that they want. Of course, last year we got the Fall of Cybertron toys, which was horrible for everybody. But we ended up getting a fair amount of the More than Meets the Eye cast turned into toys – we’ve got Swerve, Tailgate, Trailbreaker, Whirl, Skids and the upcoming Brainstorm.

Tailgate’s characterization back in the G1 bio has him as this moron who is so na´ve and culturally out of touch that he tries to stage a revolution for non-living Earth appliances. Partly because the MTMTE comic series takes place IN SPACE, and partly because having that as a gimmick would be unfunny after like the first time, the writers ended up taking the naivety and the culturally-out-of-touch angle and playing it up by having Tailgate be this kid who’s slept through the entire war and is shoved into somewhere with a radically different culture. Tailgate is the ‘kid’ of the team, and while he may not be my favourite character throughout MTMTE (mostly because at certain points his behavior seems rather harmful not to himself and to others) I do quite like Tailgate.

And I liked Tailgate (and Swerve, and Pipes) before he was cool! One of the earliest toys I own back when I started collecting these robots was the Minibot set, which included Swerve, Tailgate, Pipes and Outback. Thus I really have attachment to the four. I initially didn’t see the need to get a new Tailgate, already having one, but if there is one thing I am known for, it’s for impulse-buying small toys. Well, that and churning out reviews of all sorts.

Anyway, Tailgate is part of the brand-new Legends Class, which is not to be confused with the Legends Class of the past (from Cybertron, Classics, 2007 Movie and ROTF), which was renamed to Legion class back in DOTM and sorta discontinued after Prime. The brand-new Legends Class is more-or-less Basic/Scout sized toys that come with a smaller simplified partner that function as something akin to a Targetmaster.

Tailgate comes with Groundbuster. Groundbuster seems to be based on the Micromaster Construction Patrol, who are kind of non-entities that never really showed up to do a major role, whereas the rest of the non-combining Micromasters have more or less shown up somewhere in the Marvel or Dreamwave comics. Recently they showed up in some modern comics, of course, but they were background characters. Groundbuster is supposedly based on team member Neutro, sharing his alternate mode, as well as the placement of treads and shovel in robot mode, though not the colours... though it’s really only a homage if you squint – bullshit long enough and you can make an argument for Groundbuster being Armada Scavenger. Whatever the hell his deal is, I can barely remember any of the Construction Patrol’s names even after looking them up five minutes before writing this review and Groundbuster sounds so much catchier than Neutro I’m going to refer to him as Groundbuster nonetheless.

And promptly forget him like five minutes after posting this review and refer to this dude as ‘Tailgate’s blue buddy’. I mean there are enough Ground---er Autobots out there that don’t have a personality: Groundshaker, Groundbreaker, Groundpounder, and now Groundbuster. So yeah, screw them.

Alternate Mode:
In the MTMTE comic, Tailgate transforms into a Space Car only loosely based on his original G1 toy. Generations Tailgate, on the other hand, transforms into a spiffy-looking muscle car based on the real-life car his original G1 toy was based on. Confused? Well, the original Tailgate (or Windcharger, if you want to get technical) toy is a super-deformed take on the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, making it a rather cartoony version of a muscle car. Generations Tailgate, on the other hand, simply just transforms into a rather nice-looking facsimile of a Pontiac Firebird, although of course it’s not a perfect copy considering licensing and all that. As someone used for Tailgate turning into a cute little car (both in the G1 toy I own and the comics), the departure was initially a bit of a shock once I first finished folding Generations Tailgate into this powerful-looking thing.

Tailgate is, obviously, mainly white, with his windows painted in silver instead of the original’s black. The end result looks more light-toned than what my mental image of Tailgate is. And since they eliminated those black greebles on Tailgate’s rear window from G1, they needed something to spruce up a white car, because white is like the most boring thing ever. So Tailgate took a page out of Hot Rod and Tracks’ playbook and painted some light-green flames on his hood, as well as the Autobot insignia in the same shade of green there. It’s certainly a nice touch, I must say, and far better than Prime Tailgate’s attempt at putting green flames on a hood.

Tailgate is pretty nicely sculpted, with hard, sharply-defined angles all throughout. The front section of his hood has these two grilles and four headlights which tragically go unpainted. He has this supercharged-looking exhaust vents cast in grey. His wheels are black with nice-looking hubcaps in silver.

The little dude doesn’t roll on the ground very well, though, thanks to his feet competing for space on his underside, and they drag on the ground somewhat. There’s a small peg hole on the center of his hood near his Autobot insignia where you can peg in his partner Groundbuster, though I’m going to cover Groundbuster in his own little section down below.

Overall, a rather solid, if rather boring, vehicle mode.

Robot Mode:
Tailgate doesn’t quite look like he’s stepped right out of an Alex Milne page. He’s got Earth-mode kibble, and the shoulders are noticeably more square and muscle car-y than Tailgate’s MTMTE character model, and there are certain differences to accommodate transformation, but otherwise it’s unmistakably Tailgate’s silhouette, right down to the annoyingly skinny legs. I do personally feel his shoulders are a mite too wide, though. When I first saw Tailgate’s toy pictures hitting the internet I was rather worried about those legs, thinking that they can’t hold Tailgate’s body well… but it turns out my fears were unfounded because those legs, thanks to a strong ankle joint that allows it to be bent to support any pose, manages to easily hold Tailgate’s weight pretty easily.

Part of my unfounded fears, I admit, was because Tailgate’s G1 toy, thanks to the way it was engineered, has this habit of falling down backwards and rolling off my table with his wheels. My original Tailgate toy probably fell down tables and displays shelves more often than the rest of my collection combined. But no, not this Tailgate.

Tailgate’s colours are now shared equally between white and a nice shade of aqua blue, which is far closer to the colours of Tailgate in the MTMTE comic compared to the darker greenish-blue shade used in the original Tailgate toy. However, Generations Tailgate also has a fair amount of gray on him, most noticeably on his thighs and hips, something that seems to evoke the original Tailgate’s chromed upper legs. Tailgate’s chest detail is white on a backdrop of aqua blue, which is nice, and his eyes are a shade of Allspark baby blue which is again comic-accurate.

My biggest complaint about Tailgate’s paint scheme is that the large kibble piece behind his head is unpainted and left white, making his head just kind of disappear into the backdrop. In both the original toy and the comics, that area is painted in their respective shades of blue, and it’s a rather glaring thing to miss since painting the underside of his car mode’s hood blue won’t take much effort nor sacrifice anything in the vehicle mode. I’m also not a big fan of the fact that the hood piece kind of extends downwards up to the knee, and there’s this ugly mass of blue and gray plastic jutting down from Tailgate’s butt between his legs up until there. Add the completely white hands to the mix, and other than his lower legs, chest and headsculpt, Tailgate’s robot mode is honestly rather messy.

Articulation-wise, Tailgate is kind of a letdown as well. His shoulders and elbows are ball-jointed, sure, and his shoulders are hinged as well, but thanks to the door parts on the lower arm it’s a bit of a challenge to pose his lower arms at times. The waist joint is absent thanks to the messy way all the kibble bunch up there. The thigh is ball-jointed, while the knees and ankles are hinged. He can strike a fair amount of poses, I guess, but the waist piece likes to pop off while you’re trying to do so. He can hold his Targetmaster buddy Groundbuster with no problem.

While not strictly a bad or an unattractive toy, there are a couple of small but glaring problems with Tailgate that make his robot mode feel extremely unfinished, which is a shame. They could’ve really put in a bit more effort in making Tailgate feel more presentable.

Groundbuster is technically a triple-changer, though his transformation is pretty simple. I’m going through all his modes pretty quickly.

Groundbuster is packaged as a bulldozer, and I do like how he’s the same shade of light blue as Tailgate’s secondary colour. It makes Groundbuster feel more cohesive with his larger partner, and don’t feel as out-of-place as many of the colour matchups in among the Legends class assortment. Anyway, he’s a light blue bulldozer with a white spoiler, black treads and a silver set of claw-things on top of the scoop. I’m not familiar enough with construction vehicles to know if this is an actual thing you can find on a bulldozer, but whatever. He’s a rather cute little bulldozer, and a 5mm peg can fold out so you can peg Groundbuster in this mode either on top of Tailgate’s hood or onto his hands. It looks terribly stupid and impractical either way to hold a tiny bulldozer, though.

Transforming Groundbuster into robot mode is the extremely simple step of… standing him up. Yeah, Groundbuster has all his robot mode detailings moulded on the underside of his bulldozer mode. He’s got some extra red and silver paint applications to make him not a single block of blue plastic, but he’s otherwise a bulldozer standing up on his back. He’s pretty bad compared to all the other smaller Legends class partners, and I didn’t even realize he has moulded legs until I squinted and saw them! It’s just that the space between them is moulded together. Groundbuster’s arms (a.ka. bulldozer tank treads with arms half-heartedly sculpted inside) are hinged on the shoulders, but that doesn’t improve on his appearance at all. How hard would it have been to keep part of the treads attached to his legs rather than giving him Stretch Armstrong limbs? He can waggle them around and that’s about it. He’s kind of a crappy Targetmaster partner. Not quite as bad as Reflector, but compared to many of his predecessors he’s pretty weak-looking.

Groundbuster’s third mode is his ‘weapon’ mode, where his bulldozer mode kind of cracks open and extends, allowing the gray claw thing to act as an actual grabber arm. This feels far more cohesive and makes more sense while attached on Tailgate, and considering Tailgate’s “function” as bomb disposal, Groundbuster might conceivably be used as some kind of mine-clearing device. Or just to scoop stuff up. Like a pooper-scooper. It’s not a terribly good weapon, but I for one don’t mind it. Just be kind of careful with the smaller inner workings, which are pretty soft and might easily be snapped off if you’re a barbarian.

Overall, Groundbuster is a bit of a disappointment. I feel that they should just eschew one of the modes and have Groundbuster either turn into a pooper-scooper or a bulldozer, not both. It’s too small to be trying to do all three and the end result is a sub-par weapon mode and a lame robot mode.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 4/10 for Tailgate, 2/10 for Groundbuster. Tailgate feels that he could use a few extra steps to make his robot mode a lot cleaner, specifically how the hinges all bunch up under his crotch. Whereas Groundbuster? He doesn't so much transform as he is stood up in a different way, and kind of extended into weapon mode.
Durability: 7/10 Other than the problem with Groundbuster's weapon mode being rather fragile, both of them seem to be pretty solid.
Aesthetics: 6/10 I liked that we got another Tailgate, and he is made out of a pretty-coloured shade of blue, and looks relatively similar to the MTMTE design, but there are so many smaller problems with Tailgate's appearance that he won't score high here. Groundbuster gets a 7/10: at least looks pretty nice if he's a block.
Articulation: 6/10 Tailgate, while flawed, can pull off a fair bit of poses thanks to his joints. He's not quite masterful but not particularly bad. 1/10 Groundbuster can only move his arms.
Fun: 7/10 Despite Tailgate's flaws I do find him pretty fun to muck around. He's not exactly the funnest toy I own, but he's not a bad toy.
Price/Value: 3/10 for all the problems the duo has I feel a bit cheated for paying full price.
Overall: 4/10 Yeah, the two is a bit too flawed. Not terrible enough to exclude from your collection if you're building a MTMTE shrine, but otherwise he's got too many flaws that make him fall short of being a good toy.
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