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Blackjack's Review: RID Vehicon

Name: Vehicon
Allegiance: Decepticon
Size Class: Deluxe Class (Robots in Disguise subline)
Accessories: Gun

Like all self-respecting bad guy, the Decepticons in the all-new Transformers Prime series have their own equivalent of Stormtroopers, a large, faceless, identical army. Whereas the original cartoon was content to let the named Decepticons themselves take the brunt of being the guys beaten up every episode (thereby cheapening the threat of the Decepticons somewhat) it wasnít until the advent of the Sweeps in season three that the Decepticons began to be portrayed as a larger threat Ė although Cyclonus and Scourge doesnít really fare that much better than their generic counterparts.

Beast Machines, despite its failings, was the first to introduce a new faction, the Vehicons, which is mainly massive army of generic, mass-produced drones led by sentient, more powerful generals. While it was often criticized as repetitive, even the lowliest of villains of that particular era felt much more competent compared to the thugs of past series, because if there was any beatdown, the drones had it first. Transformers Energon had the Terrorcons in the similar vein, but Energon was by and by a horrible series and youíre better off pretending it didnít exist. The movies, needing to build up the threat of the Decepticon invasions, had some generics without alternate mode kibble serve as troopersÖ sentient ones instead of drones like Energon or Beast Machine.

In Transformers Prime, the Vehicons were introduced as early as the first episode, as the generic rank-and-file Stormtroopers. They were the lowliest of the Decepticon army, yet they looked impressive enough both individually and as a group to look like a threat. Unfortunately, despite their awesome look, they get scrapped by the dozen by the Autobots each episode Ė an easy way to allow the Autobots to look awesomely badass without killing off two named Decepticons every episode. The first Vehicons we were introduced to transformed into cars, but soon into the show we were also introduced to miner-variant Vehicons (the car with a different head) and the jet Vehicons (who, obviously, transformed into a jet). Both the car and jet Vehicons were the most numerous ones who appeared and got scrapped daily.

They do show some degree of sentience at times, so itís really not clear if they are just very advanced AI, or actual living people that simply donít fall under the whole Ďfreedom is the right of all sentient beingsí shtick out of convenience.

Now, during the short-lived ĎFirst Editioní subline of Transformers Prime, we got a figure of the Vehicon, reviewed here by yours truly. FE Vehicon was not bad toy by a far stretch, but it suffers from several problems, slight differences from the show model and a massive kibble backpack the main offenders. Despite these, FE Vehicon was still a great, great toy, and a very respectable army-builder if you wish to do so.

Of course, this was one of the few occasions when Hasbro reminds us why they are still one of the best toy-making companies out there, because when the line launches for real with ĎRobots in Disguiseí and their downsized Deluxe class toys, they churned out an all-new, all-improved Vehicon mould. It seems they learnt from their mistakes, and created a Vehicon toy which has all the features of FE Vehicon, without the weaknessesÖ eh, Iím rambling now. Letís get on with the review, yes?

Alternate Mode:
Reportedly, the car-variant Vehiconís alternate mode is based off an actual muscle carÖ but it has been given the Decepticon treatment, and the end result looks like as if the Decepticon insignia had a secret love child with the Batmobile. There isnít much new ground here that hasnít already been covered by the First Edition Vehicon. Itís more or less the same alternate mode, albeit smaller and less detailed.

Insofar as I can tell, the main difference, size aside, is that Vehiconís front bumper assembly thing is now a static piece, instead of a piece with hinged front lights like the First Edition, which honestly do nothing in the FE toy. There are also considerably less paint applications as well, but since you canít even tell on first glance that the FE Vehicon toy has any paint at all, RID Vehicon doesnít really lose anything.

Vehicon is mainly cast in black plastic, with clear plastic used for windows and the upper front lights. The hubcaps are silver, and dark purple paints some of the front lights, the stripes on the rear. A Decepticon insignia is tampographed on the center of the front bumper, although you caní really see it unless youíre looking. Iíve gushed over the vehicle mode picked for Vehicon in my FE review, and I do believe what I said there applies here as wellÖ itís a beautiful car, very angular and powerful-looking, right up to the Batman spoilers and raised rear-wheel assembly.

Vehiconís alternate mode canít really do anything but roll around. You can peg the gun included onto the pegholes above the rear wheels, but thatís about it. Damned impressive-looking black muscle car, though. Suffice to say, itís a great alternate mode, and loses nothing from the translation from the larger First Edition version to the current size.

Robot Mode:
Itís the transformation that is the largest improvement. FE has a rather fun transformation, but, in retrospect, has loads of unnecessary steps which resulted in kibble. Itís a shame since Vehiconís transformation is relatively simple. RID Vehicon, on the other hand, has revamped the transformation scheme and improved on it so much that by simplifying it, it actually results in a robot mode that is more show-accurate and has less kibble. First up, the arms come into mindÖ no more are they these bulky affairs, but instead they are spindly other than the distinctive shoulder-wheels, and while far simpler (no more folding door-parts, or useless swinging wheels) it proves to form a more effective arm.

The spoiler, roof and windshield all end up as a very ugly-looking kibble in the First Edition toy. This version of Vehicon subverts it by letting us fold everything down to form the bulk of the lower legÖ and voila, the backpack is gone! The leg pieces were hidden under the roof, and they fold down into a far neater and less messy leg assembly than the First Edition toy. And, finally, the rear of the vehicle fold away out of sight, pushing Vehiconís head up in Hasbroís current fetish, Ďhead revealersí.

Working on an already established character model nets Vehicon with a more accurate sculpt than the FE toy. Itís got a better silhouette, for one, but the head and chest designs have all been updated to match the show. Vehicon is now mainly dark purple in this mode, with black being the secondary colour. Vent detailing on his legs are coloured in pink to break up the two-toned, as does the entirely silver head and the center of the chest. Vehicon looks very much like the show model, up to the spiked, faceless head with its slit visor.

Articulation wise, Vehicon again improves over its FE counterpart. FE Vehicon may win in quantity Ė heís got waist articulation, for one Ė but RID Vehicon wins in quality. Without a backpack hindering his articulation, or pieces of kibble limiting the elbow, RID Vehicon can assume just about any pose you want a redshirt stormtrooper to take. He is ball-jointed in the head, each shoulders are ball-jointed, his elbows are triple-jointed, his arms are hinged, his thighs are double-jointed, his knees are hinged and so are his feet. In addition to these, the front-wheel kibble on his legs can also be adjusted as you like.

I really like how Vehicon looks. He manages to look menacing and flimsily fragile at the same time, and thus it looks like itís a credible threat, a credible soldierÖ yet you wonít believe it will last more than a minute against the likes of Bulkhead or Arcee or Bumblebee. Heís probably the prettiest-looking version of the toy, although Iím always impartial to how the wheel kibble ends up on his shoulder. Size-wise, heís slightly smaller than FE Vehicon, although they stand more-or-less at the same heightÖ FE Vehiconís massive kibble backpack does make him look quite stout.

Vehicon comes with the triangle-barreled gun that his arms transform into in the show. The gun is far larger than the dinky one that comes with the FE toy, nearly the length of his arm, but I havenít found a way to clip it onto Vehiconís arm so it looks like his hand has transformed into the gun. There are grooves all over the gun and arm, so it must be possible, but I just canít find a stable configuration.

All in all, RID Vehicon is a far more elegant and superior robot mode than the messy, cluttered mess that is the FE version. I already like FE Vehicon, but this chap blows it out of the water.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 9/10 Superbly engineered. Well, it isnít so much superb engineering as a pretty obvious route, other than the whole backpack-hiding. Itís just a surprise Hasbro couldíve dropped the ball badly with FE Vehicon, and this seems more like a marked improvement than anything. It is quite simple and relatively fun to do, though.

Durability: 8/10 Thankfully, despite representing something that blows up by the dozen every episode, Vehicon seems pretty sturdy in both modes, although the rear of the vehicle that helps to lever out the head seems to take a lot of pressure and might be prone to breaking if you keep him for quite some time. Otherwise, though, this is a very solid toy, meant for kids as well as clumsy collectors.

Aesthetics: 10/10 I happen to like Vehiconís design in both robot and vehicle modes, and this toy is a perfect replica of the on-screen show model. As the only toy that most collectors is likely to buy more than one copy of, Vehicon is sure a very pretty army builder.

Articulation: 8/10 Pretty above-average for a deluxe class figure, especially in the arms. Vehicon has the balance to use those joints as well.

Price/Value: 6/10 Hard to say. Deluxe prices are rising all over the board, and every toy at retail feels overpriced now. Vehicon is a very top-notch deluxe class toy, but you may not feel the same about me about spending money on a redshirt when you can buy main characters, no? Personally I got Vehicon for free, so thatís obviously good value for me.

Fun: 7/10 Alone, probably not so much, but he does have a fun transformation. With a bunch of other Vehicons, though? And especially with Autobots to beat them all the way to Cybertron and back? Hell yes.

Overall: 9/10 RID Vehicon is a superbly designed toy. For anyone deliberating which version of Vehicon to choose, I can without any doubt say that RID is the definite Vehicon toy. For army-building, for collection, for curiousity, or for simple display, Vehicon is good for anything you want. As I said before, heís impressive looking to buy on his lonesome, or to represent a character you like. Highly recommended, if you can find him amongst all the army-builders in the terrible distribution system Hasbro has with the Prime toys.
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