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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blacjack's review: Deluxe Class Dead End

Name: Dead End
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Creepy Guy to keep around
Sub-Class: ROTF Deluxe Class
Retool of: ROTF Sideways

Ah, Dead End. I just adore that guy. There are three different Dead Ends in the ROTF toyline alone, all of them having distinct differences from each other. That's not counting the other Dead End in the movieverse.

The first Dead End in the ROTF line is a Scout class figure released early on in the ROTF toyline, a primarily red Peugeot 9009 concept car. He's also marketed as Detour (because, face it, the toy's alt mode is so Detour it hurts) in several places. His bio describes him as an animal-like vampire who drains energy from his enemies, as well as from his allies when they're not looking. This Dead End is repainted into ROTF Nightbeat. Awesome toys, both of them. Highly recommended, but this review is not about the Scout Class Dead End. If you want to know more, click here for the review of the Scout toy (yeah, it's shameless self-promotion...). The second toy in ROTF to bear the moniker Dead End is the black retool of the Deluxe Class Sideways toy with a new head, the focus of this review. Like the Scout class bio, he also leeches energy off his fellow Decepticons. Only, Dead End II is not similar at all in appearance compared to his Scout class namesake. Also, he's more 'doom and gloom' like his G1 namesake. The third Dead End in the ROTF toyline is a black repaint of Robot Replicas Jazz. So either 'Dead End' is a very, very popular name in the movieverse, or he's a energy vampire who changes bodies. Or Hasbro really wants to market the name 'Dead End'. The Titan movie tie-in comics has Dead End have the Deluxe class body but with the Scout class' vampire-zombie characterisation.

Three Dead Ends in the same year of the same toyline. To make the identity crisis even more complicated, the Walmart exclusive Decepticon Jolt from the 2007 toyline, a repaint of Cybertron Crosswise, is re-named 'Dead End' in his appearance in IDW's Alliance #3. Why? Probably because the editors and writers think that it will confuse the audience with the Jolt that would appear for all of ten seconds in the second movie. What an identity crisis. No wonder Dead End mopes around so much.

Other than him/them, the name Dead End was first given to the sullen, fatalistic, "we're all gonna die anyway" Stunticon in G1. Then, in Beast Wars Neo in Japan, one of the Predacons, which turned into a nautilus is named Dead End. The moon-drone Mini-cons controlled by Unicron in Armada are also called Dead End drones. And then there's the three (or one) in ROTF.

Now I was not impressed by the Deluxe class Sideways' paint job. Despite the positive review it received, it still irked me that Sideways is nearly solid silver/gray in his alternate mode, instead of having black detailings. And for some reason, I just can't stand fully-silver cars. Makes it look so... bland. In any case, I was pretty thrilled when I found out that they're retooling Sideways with a black deco into Dead End, a homage to one of my all-time favourite G1 characters. Now to be fair, G1 Dead End was not black. He was very much red with yellow stripes. For some reason, however, ROTF Dead End is black with red stripes, a possible homage to Dead End's Alternators toy in 2004 as well as his fellow Stunticon Wildrider. In any case, I am very pleased with this mold.

Alternate Mode:

Like what ElectricGecko said in his review of Sideways, it seems that only Decepticons have access to non-GM vehicle modes. In this case, the Sideways/Dead End mold was modelled after an Audi R8. Now this alternate mode is rather cool. If Sideways had shown up with his proper colour scheme (those iffy Fast Action Battlers show up with Sideways' correct scheme, so chances are Hasbro's just being lazy or going to cash in for a Premium-style repaint down the line) I would've picked him. However, since Hasbro has been kind enough to release a black repaint that's a Stunticon homage, I was compelled to ignore Sideways completely and get Dead End. Hey, I've a weakness for black sports cars. Sue me.

Dead End's main colour is a beautiful midnight black, with two blood-red racing stripes running through the middle. Red also adorns the bottom of the car's side, as well as the rims of the wheels. Like Sideways, the front lights are cast in clear white plastic. Unlike Sideways, who had pink-ish windows, Dead End displays a more Decepticon choice with good ol' purple. It's more subdued and less out of place. A silver Decepticon insignia adorns the left side door. So overall, a much better paint scheme than the Deluxe toy of Sideways.

For an unlicensed toy (the Audi R8 was only licensed for the movie and the tie-in game), it pulls off an impressive job of being realistic. Detailing is all over the place, and you just can't help but appreciate everything molded in. It's a nice, sleek alternate mode, which is kind of sad that Sideways doesn't get much screentime. It's a nice, sleek car that looks like you'll see on the road, powerful and sleek, not over-the-top like Sideswipe's Stingray or Jazz's Solstice.

Dead End's paint scheme, as I've said before, is much closer to his Alternators toy and/or G1 Wildrider. Not a bad choice, as black really suits a brooder. Red's too cheery. And besides, better this to be a Black Repaint than, say, Breakaway. Overall, an eye-catching and solid alternate mode. It rolls pretty well on its four wheels. Not much kibble can be seen from the underside bar the saw and a 'spare wheel'. Um, yeah.

Robot Mode:

Dead End's transformation begins with an Automorph gimmick, like those from the 2007 Movie toyline, and it is much more well-executed compared to many of the 2007 Movie figures. Pressing the grill automatically folds down his front wheels by springs, and pushes out one of his robot mode parts (lower chest/stomach). Pretty impressive. His transformation is rather intuitive as well. The car mode 'cracks' open and the robot kibble all fold out neatly, forming Dead End's robot mode parts.

Surprisingly, Hasbro bothered to sculpt a new head for Dead End. Unlike Sideways' Barricade-esque head, Dead End has a more... how do you put it... conventional G1-ish head. Something like Dead End's cartoon face (with silver faceplate, visor and all) but made movie-ized. So there's a massive red visor and a black faceplate. The helmet's red, and the top of the head surprisingly resembles a simplified version of the G1 toy's front lid, albeit replacing the yellow stripes with black. Two golden 'ears' complete the ensemble. If you look closely you can see little 'teeth' molded in, something that Titan comics took up to eleven with their zombie Dead End. It does look like he's gaping from afar, but nevertheless a nice headsculpt. The main colour for the body is still black, but a lot more dark red/blood red appear. Gold-like brown appear in the joints. The paintjob is completed with a little silver on the saw, claws and lower chest; as well as purple on the sharp, menacing window-wings. Overall, the final robot mode's appearance is very Decepticon.

The designs for the Movieverse Transformers are very distinctive, even for this standard front-of-vehicle-becomes-chest transformation scheme which is so commonplace for Transformers with sports car alternate modes; of the show characters alone Bumblebee, Jazz, Barricade, Sideways and the Twins use this transformation scheme. But while there are distinctive design elements similar to Barricade in Sideways' design, like the position of his wheels, windows off the shoulder, et al, the silhouette manages to look different from Barricade, going more for sleek rather than powerful looking. It's something that translates well into toy form as well.

Posability is excellent. The head rotates, and there are ball joints at the shoulder, thighs, and ankle. Hinge joints are at the elbow and knee, and there's a rotation joint at the waist and upper arm. However, the upper and lower part of the body detaches easily. Not a big issue, though. The legs are too small and just only manage to support Dead End's weight. Quite a shame, since it's not so hard to place larger feet for this fella. It's probably the only thing that's outright terrible about him.

Gimmicks now. Dead End's got an Excellent Automorph gimmick, so does he have a nice Mech Alive one? Nope. Move the elbow and the hinge rotates a gear nearby. Boring, but at least it doesn't affect the transformation. Also, the wheel on Dead End's left hand is a faux one. It can rotate, but it's not part of any of the four wheels of the vehicle mode (the two front ones fold in, and the two back ones are part of the legs). The reason of this being the wheel-hands are reportedly a very late change in Sideways' character model. Makes him really similar to Barricade...

Because we keep mentioning Barricade, let's have a comparison. The Dead End/Sideways toy is utterly superior to him in terms of design. Especially the hands. Barricade had these... big blocks that he could wave around, and one can spring forward in a weak thumbs-up. None of that cool spinning-spiked-wheel-of-doom seen in the movie. Sideways (and by extension Dead End) has a better sculpted and more posable hand, with a small spinning buzzsaw on the left hand. Now understandably it's not as massive as the chainsaw that we see in the CG design or games, but then at least they gave him a saw. -points at Voyager Ratchet with an accusing finger-

So, no, this isn't the perfect homage of G1 Dead End, but it's still a wonderful toy. If you're a Stunticon fan (like me) who has a weakness for black sports cars (like me) and don't like Sideways' more plain colour scheme but want to get an awesome mold (like me), go get him.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 7/10 Very intuitive, and makes great use of parts layout and such.
Durability: 7/10 Dead End's window-wings seem fragile and might snap off if you push it too hard. The tiny legs might also cause him to topple from shelves during display. Otherwise, he's durable.
Aesthetics: 8/10 Robot mode might not be everyone's thing, but vehicle mode is sexy. Articulation: 8/10 He's got them all right. Although again balance issues caused by the tiny legs might hinder some. Price 10/10 for me. I got it as a birthday gift, so... in any case, he would easily rate an eight or nine.
Fun 8/10 Dead End could do with a bigger saw, but I'm very happy with him.
Overall 8/10 Go get him if you haven't gotten Sideways.
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