Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Legends
Item No.: Asst. B0971 No. Ba377 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Trading Card Action Feature:Transforms from Robot to Car Retail:$9.99 Availability: December 2014 Other: Second Modern Upgrade
The new Windcharger is something of a surprise since the last one was pretty recent. It was a completely new mold, only used once in the USA (not counting the Japanese releases) before going away. Odds are you didn't see this figure as it was direct-to-closeout in most US markets meaning you either got it cheap, ordered online, or overpaid for it on the secondary market. Seeing that it took only about three years to do him again, I'm kind of surprised - doubly so since the existing mold is perfectly good and begging to be redecorated as Decepticharge, but I digress. 2014/2015 Windcharger is the 2014 Tailgate mold with a new head, new colors, and mostly better quality control. Also, the "sidekick" mold has been dropped in favor of a thick trading car that was meant to promote the online card game, but makes absolutely no mention of it anywhere on the card. Why? I have no idea.
The previous Windcharger - a pretty good figure, to be honest - used to be expensive but has recently dropped to the under $10 range unpackaged and $15-$20 carded. The set with Windcharger and Wipeout from Japan is quite a deal, hovering at $30-$40. This new one has no accessories and is $10... which is perfectly acceptable given recent toy inflation, but before I even start talking about it you can see I'm more or less needling you to look in to that last release. The Combiner Wars version is a bit closer to the G1 animation models, but it has only 11 points of articulation compared to Reveal the Shield's 13.
As this kind of redeco goes, they did a nice job hiding that it's a repaint with new colors and a new head. The 3 3/4-inch toy is a bit bigger than his Minibot origins. Each fist is designed to be compatible with 5mm weapons, and the legs are fairly skinny. The deco breakdown is totally different than tailgate, as the chest deco has been dropped in favor of painted kneecaps. You'll find a great Autobot logo on his right arm, plus more paint on Windcharger's face. His blue eyes are a lot better than the dark 2011 version, and the silver paint really brings out the face sculpt.
Transformation is more or less the same as Tailgate due to tolerance issues. I found the metallic red paint a bit tougher to tab into place, however once I did the fit was better than the previous white robot take on this mold. I personally wish these little guys could be even simpler, but it's pretty easy to fold up the arms, fold down the car's roof, and to twist the legs into place.
As a car, he's now red with a tiny sculpt alteration to his hood - the back of his head now has what looks like some sort of air intake. It's painted silver, as are the headlights. I would argue it's a much better look for the mold than Tailgate's blue flames, which really don't make a heck of a lot of sense to me. On the other hand, the wheels are now unpainted - same as the 2011 version, same as the 1984 version.
I'd like to take a moment to pick on the packaging. As you can see above, this toy - and indeed many of the Combiner Wars toys - have nifty illustrations on the cardbacks. These are low-res, and you can see the individual pixels easily with the naked eye. It's tougher to see in a digital photo for obvious reasons. It's not unique to Windcharger - most of the new guys seem to have this problem in Generations while Robots in Disguise has very nice, very clean art. I should also note that the art is similar, but not identical to, the super-thick trading card in this package.
After being a nobody for most of the franchise's history, today's take on the character is as an "outlier." With magnetic powers not unlike Magneto of X-Men fame, he is on a team with Skids (a super-learner) and some other dudes. It's a great idea, and if you aren't reading Transformers since the comic book reboot in 2012 you're missing out on one of the best things I've read in ages. In a way it's unfortunate to be saddled with the Transformers mantle, because most of the stories would probably form the basis for a great new IP which people would love for years instead of being just a new limb on a franchise which is known for cutting off and growing back said limb every few years. But I digress.
When this figure was announced I was pretty annoyed because it seemed rather soon to update this character so soon, particularly when there are a few (admittedly, very few) figures who could be made from this mold that would qualify as genuinely new. However, it's usually bad form to criticize a toy for what it isn't, because when you get right down to it Hasbro succeeded in making a good Windcharger from the Tailgate mold. Deco and quality control seem improved, and the head sculpt is good. Were it not $10 it would be a wonderful toy - the loss of the sidekicks really stings here, because when this toy hit last December I could still find stores with Tailgate two pegs over with his sidekick at the same price. That and, let's face it, nobody cares about trading cards anymore. That's so 1992. If you don't have a Windcharger this is a perfectly good one, but the 2011 version with its rotating faux magnet hands and slightly bulkier build is probably worth tracking down at current prices.
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