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Blackjack's Review: First Edition Vehicon

Name: Vehicon
Allegiance: Decepticon
Size Class: (First Edition) Deluxe Class
Accessories: Gun

In most Transformers portrayals, mass-produced drones are few and far between, mainly because villains with personalities are much more attractive to kids. That's not to say that evil drones don't exist, though -- even way back in G1, the Decepticons at times employed some sentinel drones when the legions of generic Seekers were off playing checkers or something. But mass-produced lookalikes as a major enemy didn't show up until Beast Machines, where the resident Megatron and his army of non-sentient Vehicons led by several sentient generals have conquered Cybertron.

But after Beast Machines, mass-produced drones were never seen, at least until the tie-in games to the live-action movies gave us loads and loads of generic Decepticons and Autobots that have alternate modes, and both the second and third movies had many nameless Decepticon Protoforms (and model reusages) to bulk up their forces.

Come Transformers Prime, and they decided that, yes, they wanted something for the Autobots to brutally beat into submission without making the Decepticons look like weaklings, and lo, the new Vehicons were created.

The Vehicons (then known under the working name of 'Eradicons') were the first Transformers Prime characters to be shown in a clip, which involved a couple of them getting ambushed by Bumblebee. Since their very first appearance, the Vehicons have spent every episode blown up, sliced apart, beheaded, shot at, and any time the script calls for the weapon-of-the-episode to kill someone, you can bet it's a poor Vehicon.

In a narrative and technical standpoint, it's a great move. Using Vehicons as cannon fodder easily makes the Decepticons look a bigger threat, gives the Decepticons minions, let's the Autobots murder lots of faceless mooks without overstepping their boundaries... of course, lest we forget, the Vehicons have shown themselves to be sentient at times, although not very smart. They're just... faceless.

Of course, the Vehicons have another trait, in that, as mooks, they look stupidly awesome. They are the prettiest army-builder ever, in both robot and vehicular modes. There are three variants seen in the show, although all of them more or less have the same appearance, kibble aside. The most common one is the 'car' Vehicon, who transforms into a bitchin' muscle car. Another common one is the 'jet' Vehicon, which transforms into a jet. A third, seldom-seen 'miner' variant, which is basically the car Vehicon with a different head, has also been seen and is apparently to be spared by Autobots, because they are civilians or something.

Ever since I saw the Vehicons in TF: Prime's pilot episode, I knew I had to get a toy of them.

And when First Edition toys hit the stores, I was fortunate enough to come upon the wave that had Vehicon -- a wave that had extremely poor distribution.

Of course, several months later, Hasbro released a second, brand-new mold as part of the 'Robots in Disguise' subline, which gives us a less kibbly Vehicon. If it's a choice between the FE and the RID Vehicons, definitely go for the RID one. This review, on the other hand, is about the First Edition Vehicon. Let's see how he holds up, eh?

Alternate Mode:
Vehicon transforms into an awesome-looking sports car, which is supposed to be based on a Cadillac Cien. It's so heavily modified, though, that I would call it a muscle car version of the batmobile. Vehicon is all sharp, powerful edges and curves, from the powerful-looking hood, right to the batmobile-esque spoiler, and curved rims.

I have to admit my vocabulary for describing cars is woefully inadequate, but, well, I just have to say, look at the picture. Vehicon's appeal as a mass-produced drone stands out more when you consider that the car looks like the Decepticon insignia itself turned into a vehicle, what with all the sharp, bold edges. The fact that Vehicon's vehicle mode is cast is a very glossy shade of black bordering on dark purple helps matters as well. And, ooh, is that a sexy, sexy shiny black plastic they use.

A bit of detailing on the front of the car is painted in dark purple, but not so much that it stands out. The Decepticon insignia sitting snugly in the center of his front grill is also in purple, as is the lights on his rear. His front lights and windows are cast in clear plastic, though they have a few obvious attachment points that could be seen from the outside, though one could argue that it's something closer to tron lines and adds to the 'alien' feel of Vehicon. The wheels are painted silver. And the end result is a very subdued yet classy paintjob... helped, no doubt, by the awesome vehicle mode's design.

It's got these claw-like headlights near the bottom of its front, it's got bat-like spoiler wings. There are few join lines, and any that are visible gets caught up in its aerodynamic curves of Vehicon's design, which is a nice touch. Vehicon's rear, in particular, has always impressed me. His rims jut out because of their curves, enclosing the angled rear between them and the spoiler. It's a grand alternate mode, well-sculpted and very, very show accurate.

May I add that there is absolutely no visible kibble seen from the outside?

Vehicon's wheels, obviously, work and roll quite well. An additional play value comes with the included hand-held gun, which is accurate to the triangle-barreled guns that the Vehicons use in the show. In vehicular mode sadly the gun cannot be stored anywhere inside Vehicon, but it can be attached to a rather nondescript peg-point on either side of his hood.

He's got an extremely stunning car mode. It's a great looking muscle car that screams 'I'm going to hunt you down and chase you', radiating a futuristic, alien feel while at the same time not so much that it can't conceivably blend in proper traffic. And it's unmistakably a Decepticon vehicle. So, full marks for the vehicle mode, and next we go to the...

Robot Mode:
Vehicon's transformation is fairly complex, and as a First Edition deluxe, he stands a good bit taller than the RID Deluxes -- definitely taller than Soundwave, Knock Out and Wheeljack by half a head, but still shorter than Voyagers like Megatron. The transformation is like cracking an egg, and it adds more colours to Vehicon's palette.

His entire chest, abdomen, crotch and parts of his upper arm and lower leg are now in a dark shade of bluish purple, and a darker shade of purple colours his knee spikes and some detailings on his torso. He is, however, predominantly black. His head is silver, with purple light-piping. A Decepticon insignia, in the shade of relatively lighter purple used in the vehicle mode lights, adorn the center of Vehicon's chest proudly.

Now, Vehicon's robot mode... it's got everything. Great details abound in his chest and abdomen, his head-sculpt is perfect, his parts layout are correct... Although they added a mechanism, inexplicably, to move the wheels already located on the shoulder, to move down hanging off the elbow, even though the show model has them on the shoulder.

His hands and legs, however, are a wee bit messier compared to the show model. It's serviceable, of course, and looks quite good, but there's a fair bit of kibble cluttering up his lower arms, and the legs look a bit awkward. Especially when compared to the tidier RID version. Of course, the biggest problem people will point out would be, yes, the big, fat backpack Vehicon is carrying. Made up of the entire roof and hood, while it doesn't hamper Vehicon's balance, it does make Vehicon look more cluttered and less show-accurate, as well as distract from his distinctive, jutting shoulders. Again, the RID toy solves this by having these parts fold into the legs, but FE Vehicon can't do that.

Articulation wise Vehicon has what you expect from a good Deluxe class toy. His head is on a ball joint, he has got some additional neck articulation, his shoulders are ball-jointed, his elbows have double pin joints, his wrists can hinge in and out, his waist can rotate, he has knee joints, ankle joints and an additional one in his lower legs due to transformation. He can strike a good amount of poses, and is well-balanced enough to maintain them.

You can flip Vehicon's hands back and attach the gun to give the impression that the hand has been retracted and replaced with the gun a la the show, but this only works well with the left hand. With the right hand, the gun's orientation makes it pop off easily. Vehicon can also 'hold' the gun with his car door kibble, giving the impression that the gun had flipped down from under his hands, but this is not show accurate and pops off easily besides.

Sadly, unlike Cliffjumper, Vehicon's hands do not hide away inside a concealed compartment, but just fold away awkwardly. Although with all the black around it, I suppose it's a neat enough disguise.

And that's about it, I suppose. He's a good toy, very show-accurate, very entertaining... And relatively in scale for Starscream to bitch-slap, or for Wheeljack and Cliffjumper to murder... if only I had an entire army of the fellow.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4/10 It's a serviceable transformation, I suppose, but the backpack is a big deterrent. The fact that they managed to solve the backpack problem on a smaller scale means that this toy doesn't really get much on the 'design' score.

Durability: 8/10 Vehicon has very sturdy-feeling plastic, but there are some jutting parts that feel that it might snap off with excessive play, the leg assembly being my chief concern. The stomach piece also tends to pop off easily. Mine had the misfortune to from its rack several times, but it's thankfully still in good condition.

Aesthetics: 7/10 The shinier plastic and greater detailing makes Vehicon look so much sleeker and better in vehicular mode. And I have made it obvious that he looks stunning in car mode. However, again, his backpack makes him look rather awkward in robot mode, although otherwise he looks quite impressive.

Articulation: 8/10 Vehicon has got your basic points of articulation that any good deluxe class toys have. Unfortunately the tall shoulders sometimes catch onto the backpack.

Fun: 8/10 I quite like to fiddle around with Vehicon and have him beaten up by my Wheeljack and Cliffjumper. Would be more fun if I had an entire army of him, though.

Price/Value: 8/10 He's a solid Deluxe Class figure, and while the First Edition series are slightly more expensive than their RID counterparts, Vehicon's larger size makes him worth your money.

Overall: 6/10 The bottom line is heavily influenced by the relative rarity of this toy, as well as the fact that Hasbro released an improved version of the toy. The RID one is cheaper as an army-builder, and has a much more accurate robot mode, while the FE one has shinier plastic, but the backpack and the relatively messy transformation scheme means that he's an inferior toy compared to his RID counterpart. Couple this with the fact that the larger Vehicon is difficult to find, you might be better off getting the RID one. This is a very solid toy in my book, but I cannot honestly recommend him when there is a better toy out there. Maybe, if you're army building, buy this prettier, glossier one as a 'captain' for the shorter, better RID figures?
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