Deluxe-class Autobot Prowl
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Of the five members of Optimus Prime’s crew, perhaps only Prowl is as misplaced for his talents and potential by being assigned to the small Space Bridge maintenance crew. He is also the shortest of the five Autobots. Trained in the special Cybertronian martial arts of Circuit-Su, Prowl has an inner calm and focus that may make him seem uptight or unconnected, but this is merely the strength of his mental discipline to weed out chaos from the outside world to see the truth. A bot of few words and quiet action, he nonetheless prefers to act alone, thinking others as too amateurish or slow, even though he still cares inwardly for all life. His unexpected arrival on Earth opened Prowl’s highly-tuned sensors and mind to an entirely different realm of existence from that on Cybertron, and has led him to a new appreciation for things not artificial- when not on patrol in his disguised form as a police motorcycle, preventing the gentle giant Bulkhead from accidentally destroying something, or chasing after Bumblebee and Sari during one of their hair-raising schemes, he can be found meditating in tall trees in isolation away from the bustle and noise of Detroit. His ability to create holograms also allows increased isolation when he turns himself invisible for short periods of time. But when roused to action, Prowl is able to quickly analyze any situation before rapidly executing a calculated & efficient series of punches, cuts, and kicks; aided only by a set of triple-edged shurikens, and paired backpack thrusters which allow him to jump very high.
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The voice of Autobot Prowl is performed by cartoon-veteran actor Jeff Bennett, who also covers several other semi-regular & guest characters in “Transformers Animated”, including the Autobots' leader Ultra Magnus, and Soundwave. Prowl’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a police motorcycle, which Teletraan-1 scanned with a sensor probe when the Autobots awoke 50 years after crashing into Lake Erie. Unlike most of the Cybertronian characters’ vehicle modes in “…Animated”, Prowl’s is not nearly as distorted compared to real street-legal motorcycles; perhaps a human might not be able to touch the ground casually without tipping [him] over first since he may be a bit too tall, but it really isn’t that noticeable. This is a fine testament to the crews over at Hasbro, who were able to keep his motorcycle form so close to the one seen on-screen and yet be able to transform into the equally recognizable robot mode. There are some smaller details that I can’t shoot & highlight clearly with my camera (damned auto-focus...) that deserve recognition- the gray-painted fuel tank cap on top, small independently-twisting handles (not as a merged handlebar), and beneath the windshield are three molded gauges with their indication pins pointing in different directions! Beneath the large gold-painted fuel tank, where the motor would be, there is a tiny ribbed section that could resemble external cooling fins for said motor. As with the flattened windscreen, the headlights- though appearing dark- are transparent. Because this is a police motorcycle, there are transparent-red and -blue plastic parts behind the seat which represent strobe lights. (In the series the colored lights are one in front of the other, not side-by-side as they are here.) And finally, there is a silver Autobot symbol printed on the nose just below the windscreen. Both of Prowl’s wheels can spin freely, though he certainly can’t stay upright if you roll him and then let go! To compensate for this a little, rather than give him flattened tires (which most motorcycle Transformers™ usually do), there’s a tiny kickstand which can be raised & lowered on the left side, which will just keep him upright on a hard flat surface. (Don’t even bother with carpet.) While Prowl’s front wheel can wiggle side-to-side a tiny bit, this is unintentional and unavoidable because of the ball-and-socket joint(s) inside there.
Automorph Technology is a special feature which was introduced in the “Transformers: Armada” (2005) line, and returned in “Transformers: Cybertron” (2006); though it was not called such until the debut of the toy line based on the first live-action film “Transformers” (2007). What Automorph does is- depending on which toy is involved- use a series of internal levers & gears, triggers, and buttons to move one part of the figure without you having to move it yourself; it automatically transforms for you. Sometimes, an Automorph feature will be electronically-powered, though this is reserved for special larger sets only. For Prowl, there are two Automorph features, though only one of them is directly involved in his transformation:
- Not really much of an Automorph feature, as the windscreen is rotated down onto his lower body and the sides of engine coves slide upwards, Prowl’s head emerges from beneath the gas tank at the same time. The panel that usually coves his head has a slight spring to it, and will gently close back up; however, it’s not very strong, so you still end up pushing it back in place yourself anyways. You will have to open and hold the panel again as you reposition Prowl’s head in changing things back.
The other is for use in his robot mode only:
- Each of his wheels/legs has a single ‘fat’ shuriken (aka a ninja throwing star) snapped on to it. While these are accessible in both modes, they are used only in robot mode. You have to snap the shurikens off yourself, and then, holding them by the top and bottom only, you can push on one of the three points in the center. As one point is pulled out, the other two will fold out at the same time via that internal gear. (Yeah- I know that the blades can keep folding back in the opposite direction, but they’re only supposed to extend outwards to their widest point, not shrink back down.)
The only other things worth mentioning in his transformation is that the instructions say to rotate around the strobe lights, but you don’t need to since they don’t do this in either the series or any promotional photos of the toy itself. Also, when flipping his lower legs forward, they will not stop where they’re supposed to be! Though there is resistance in the joint(s), you have to decide what position is best around that 180° point. (Why they did that I don’t know, but I find it very odd and careless of Hasbro to do that.) And you need to remember to twist those small black handles inwards towards each other as the last step in transforming him. You’ll have to tilt Prowl’s (generous) chin back to do this. (If, like mine, there’s a very minor manufacturing flaw, you might not be able to retract/extend them all the way, so you’ll have to improvise their final positions a little. Don’t force them!) Finally, always remember that Prowl’s right leg becomes his front wheel, and vise versa.
Prowl’s robot mode (back) is compact, efficient, curvy, and thin; characteristics very befitting a ninja robot. It also has the distinct shapes and proportions of his “…Animated” counterpart; looking like he literally jumped off of the screen. Like the original G1 Autobot character called Prowl (who was a black and white police cruiser), his head has a pair of curved gold-painted antennae, but his eyes are a metallic-blue sunshade visor. And below his visor is his very long dark gray chin, complete with an indented mouth in a slight frown! His chest is the nose and windscreen of the motorcycle mode, but the booster wings on his back are from the side engine covers. The gas tank and rider’s seat come to rest on his back and butt, respectively. Each arm has two reasonably tight ball-and-socket joints for the shoulders and elbows, with each colored-half of the strobe light assembly resting on the back of the forearms. The tan-painted hands cannot be posed. His tiny waist and hips have three ball-&-socket joints, with his non-existent lower torso and upper legs being molded in tan ABS. The wheels from the vehicle mode come to rest inside of his lower legs, with the unused shurikens snapped in place on the outside of both wheels. And finally, his feet feature the last two ball-&-socket joints in the toy. The two shurikens can be removed and placed in his hands by wedging the points in there ‘til they stick. Oddly, because of how his lower legs curve towards each other, his legs cannot be posed together pointing straight down. Because of this, his feet do not rest flat on the ground, which leaves him open to easily tilt over. He’s not really top-heavy, just hard to balance on those unstable feet. And due to how things are shaped, it’s a little tricky to reposition his toe joints because they rub up against the inside of his lower legs, so posing him there is also tricky. But there is no kibble to speak of on this toy- everything fits exactly where it should and the boosters are right where they’re supposed to be, so they don’t count. His range of motion, otherwise, is outstanding, including full head & waist rotation… with one exception. There are two gold-colored ABS panels on his thighs which prevent his knees from turning beyond 45°! But, if you prefer to keep him intact, you can ‘fake it’ by bending the wheel transformation joints. It may not look right, but it helps more than taking an X-acto knife to poor Prowl. (Online blogs & forums are offering up suggestions as to how to compensate for those badly-designed knee joints. The common option is to very carefully cut away a sliver of those gold panels. Kids- your parents really should do this if you want it changed that badly; don’t go and be idiots and try to do it yourself.) This set also comes with a rather unusual accessory- a traffic light on a string. What this has to do with the character that warrants its inclusion is beyond me. Prowl does indeed rip out a traffic light for use once in the first season, but it was a one-time thing. He can hold the string easily enough, or by carefully wedging the plastic end-piece between his thumb(s) and forefingers. (Doing the latter may eventually break off a thumb, so I’d advise against this.) Otherwise- like me- you’ll just keep this in the box or on the shelf, unused.
Many people and longtime Trans-fans were once more greatly disturbed by the newest incarnation of those famous shape-shifting alien robots in disguise; for example, turning the famous Optimus Prime into a measly wannabe with no ambitions and trust issues, or the overall design style of merging & graceful lines/curves matching that of other recent cartoons such as Disney’s hugely-popular “Kim Possible” (2002-2007). And yet after a rocky start in trying to win back the minds of the fans, the show has become a hit on its own as much as it is a tribute to the original G1 series from 1984. Plus, “Transformers: Animated” is an original American series like “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001) before it, rather than being a dubbed anime production from Japan. The same can be said of the toys thus far in their initial releases. But as word has spread across the Internet, the toys have come to shine on their own- not just for their functionality, but for their absolute and striking similarities to their on-screen counterparts, which has never been as fully successful before- where proportions were usually off, colors were wrong, and functions were off or not mentioned. In other words, after 23 years, we are finally getting in our hands what we see on the screen in a way never seen before in Transformers history. Several times on CDX, I have made comments to the effect that some of the smaller pieces in my collection are often my favorites. This is another example of this. Yeah- with all these ball-&-socket joints, you’re prone to have a few irregularities when you transform him, but the range of motion can’t be argued against. Nor can his thin body shape; this guy really is a Cybertronian ninja. Only flaws I can find is those lower leg joints that bend too far than they should, the knees don’t bend far enough back due to those gold panels, it’s a little tricky to pose his feet, and rearranging the legs when transforming him back can be a real pain in the butt especially when you try to put the right knee into that hole under the nose. (Hips are a little loose; nothing a little at-home remedy can’t fix, like clear nail polish or carefully-applied superglue for additional friction.) But, otherwise, I really like this guy. And to be honest, I don’t want to see a larger version of him, even if it meant more accessories and details. (Seriously, why was that non-functional traffic light included? It’s really puzzling and useless.) This really is one of those times where a character toy is suited right at the size it is. For just the first wave from “Transformers Animated” toys, this will probably be one of my top favorites of the whole line. And so if I really like it, then I will highly recommend that you get Autobot Prowl. You will not regret it!
|Posted 1 July, 2008 - 02:14 by EVA_Unit_4A|