Clay's review of: ProwlName
: Military StrategistSub-Group
I don't mean to start off on a sad note, but these two were the last Binaltechs released under Takara. Takara has been absorbed by Tomy. Long live Tomy!
Now, as for the matter of the simultaneous repaint: it would appear that, in exchange for Takara getting the license for using the various car models, part of the deal is to put out a toy in both the colors Takara wants and the regular street paint of the car to appease the auto manufacturers. This has happened with the Corvette, the RX8, this new Honda, and apparently the upcoming Scion as well. That's why we've gotten two Prowls at once. Of course, I couldn't be more pleased with the arrangement because it means... more Binaltechs! The more of them there are, the harder they are to argue with en masse.
In keeping with the standard sequence of events, the first release of the new Honda mold is another Autobot/Cybertron, Prowl. Prowl has gotten the same treatment as Tracks, Meister, and the upcoming Skids by being shipped along with a color variant of the normal decor the car model ships in. In Prowl's case, it's blue. Like the previous figures, the two are not pacakged together as a set; rather, sold separately. However, for the sake of not having to essentially write the same review twice, I'm lumping the two together in one review.
Also, the packaging has changed, slightly. On all of the previous Binaltech boxes, the sides have round windows to see the front and rear of the car. The Prowl boxes have square windows. Minor, but new.Vehicle Mode
The vehicles modes for both toys are that of a Honda. I was looking up the car model in a consumer's buyer's guide this afternoon (trying to ascertain what the normal color is - it didn't list that), and I found out something: the cars Binaltechs are based on are freaking expensive! The Vipers and Mustangs I saw coming, but the little S2000 and these Intergra R Types are definately a lot more than I thought they'ed be (about 23 grand a piece!). Anyway, after comparing the toys to the black and white photo in the guide, they seem like they're pretty faithful reproductions. The trend I've noticed is that I get the toy a long time before I see the actual cars running around town, so I don't have any first hand experiences with the Integra yet. Of course, it's not as if I have any clue what the different cars zipping up and down the road even are until I get a toy of them that turns into a robot...
As for the toys themselves, they're typical Binaltech fare: the hoods open to reveal the engine block, the doors open, mirrors are shiny and reflective, seats are adjustable, etc, etc. Basically, these two have not caused the Binaltech line to deviate from the absolute best execution of the "Robots in Disguise" motto. Moreover, they're not strict color-only variants of each other. The police version (obviously) has the sirens on the roof, whereas the blue version does not, but it also has a small police badge on the grill. On the blue version, the same spot sports the Honda logo. Other than that, the paint differences are pretty apparent. The police car is black and white with Japanese lettering, and the civilian car is solid blue with no markings.
I will say that the steering is a bit more gimpy than usual. The connector bar is a hair's width too long, so the front wheels actually run not-quite parrallel by about the same margin of error. It's a very minor flaw, though, and does not detract from the vehicle mode at all.Robot Mode
Love it or hate it, the Binaltech line has gotten its first spychangers. When the first pictures of the figure popped up, most people didn't know quite what to think. I can be included among those people. However, as time went on, I found myself drawn to the design because it's such a departure from the other Binaltech schemes. Sure, it's a bit gawky at first, but it's the good-gawky. It's better than getting a third mold based on the Subaru transformaion, for instance. Still, some people scoff, so it's time to lay down some cold, hard facts.
The transformation, apart from the arms (which are a bit tricky), is really quite simple. This is the first new Binaltech/Alternator mold I've tackled without any use of the instructions. And I did it! Compared to the jungle-gym arm assembly of the Mustangs, or the twist-upon-twist-upon-twist in the legs of the Mazdas, this mold is a breeze.
The articulation, while some of the best so far of any of the Binaltechs, does have its limitations. The upper body has no inhibitors - the arms move freely thanks to triple ball joints. The movement of the lower body, while possessing the necessary links to achieve some neat poses, is greatly reduced by the tail lights being directly in the way of the knees. What positions you can eek out, however, are graciously stabilized by ball jointed feet. However! You can rotate the waist around, and then rotate the feet on their respective joints. Once you've done this, you can open the car undersides (the same as on the Mustang's legs), and then you can have bending knees.
Those are the concrete elements of the toy. There is a subjective side, too. Personally, I like the appearance of Prowl. He's stocky, wide, and has a great shoulder span thanks to the doors being flung out as they are. These all coincide well with the idea of Prowl being an intimidating 'authority figure'. I like those characteristics not only because they reinforce that image, but also because they make the figure look so different from the other Binaltechs so far. As for the different paint applications, I suppose the easiest explanation from the point of the fiction is that one is Prowl in uniform, and the other is Prowl in street clothes. Other than that, I don't really differentiate between the two figures that much.
Also, there's the matter of the weapons. In addition to the fairly standard 'engine for gun' theme, the Prowls gets a second weapon: a policeman's billyclub! As if that weren't enough, the Prowl mold seems to be the first Binaltech figure capable of storing his weapons when not in use. Handy!
All in all, I'm happy with the two. Not only are they a refreshing aesthetic change from the rest of the Binaltechs, but the figures are pretty worthwhile on their own due to the overall simplicity of the transformation and the superior articulation in the arms.Transformation
: 8 - The arms are tricky. They pop off pretty easily if you have any problems, but of course, then it becomes the game of "can I transform it without popping the bloody arms off?"Durability
: 9 - I did try to open the door on the blue one while having the legs in a bind, and subsequently popped a mirror off, but a little super glue fixed that right up. Just don't do stupid things like that... like I do. The door mirrors are fragile, though, so do not open the doors that way. You've been warned.Fun
: 10 - I really like these figures, and I had quite a bit of fun transforming them to and fro to get the hang of it.Price
: 9 - Around $50 if you're outside of Japan. Standard Binaltech price.Summary
: 9 - This mold stands out visually pretty well from all that have preceeded it, so it'll definately add variety. If you're into chasing the color variants, the blue version can be construed as a plus as well. I'd also say I like these two a lot more than I thought I would. The early photos showed a bulky, somewhat stalwart figure, and the end product turned out to have those characteristics in the good way as opposed to negative. Moreover, these two are part of the continuing development of the best transformer... nay, best toy line ever. So support it already!