Takara-Tomy Transformers United Stepper Takara-Tomy, 2011
Day #1,357: January 15, 2016
Stepper Mail-In Offer from Japan
Transformers United Generations 2011 Vol. 1
Item No.: No. n/a Manufacturer:Takara-Tomy Includes:Gun, Nebulon, speakers Action Feature:Changes from Robot to Car Retail:$100-$120 at importers Availability: December 2011 Other: Reveal the Shield Jazz with more paint and Cyclonus' gun
For whatever reason, Hasbro has played it more conservative with its Transformers repaint toys. We usually get "Powered Up" characters, as well as the various essential redeco squads like Starscream becoming Thundercracker and Skywarp. Japan gave us some cool new characters like Stepper. The original toy was a late-G1 Japanese exclusive, eventually released in the USA as Ricochet in the Generation One Commemorative Collection (clearance at $7.99) and as an Alternators toy. This 2011 release was exclusive to Japan, and a pricey mail-in offer at that. Odds are you didn't get him - or Artfire, Goshooter, Shouki, or any of the other many really cool figures sold as an adjunct to the "Generations" books. I eventually overpaid for this figure, but thanks to the power of people getting older and dumping stuff, I got him and Artfire for a fair-ish price.
As with other higher-priced Japanese special editions, Stepper has a lot of paint. A ton. The rerelease had a lot of gold foil stickers, and Takara-Tomy sprang the cash to just paint all these shiny gold bits right on the toy. Mine is pretty fantastic - the gold feet have a tiny hint of green, but the car doors and stripes are immaculate. They aren't reflective like the original toy, but I consider this a point in the newer version's favor.
The nearly 6-inch tall robot was great as Special Ops Jazz. Now in 2016, it also feels pretty huge - the robot is bulkier and beefier than most figures we've had since the downsizing of deluxes kicked off in 2012. The figure is loaded with cool deco features, like blue car lights and a gold grille on his chest. The robot itself isn't exactly exceptionally decorated, because all those pennies were spent on bits that work best in the car mode. The original toy and its reissues had special stickers on the waist and thighs, this one omits those completely - but it's not obvious, and it doesn't feel like anything is lacking. There is plenty of sculpted detail, and with over 20 points of articulation it's not at all a bad toy. If anything, even though I paid quite a premium to get this, it's one of my favorite recent purchases.
Transformation is fairly nifty with spring-loaded shin covers, folding arms, pop-out doors, and enough to keep you interested. It's not obnoxious, and the resulting car is pretty awesome - he can wear his speakers on the outside of his doors! What a lovely little feature. The car itself can store his white gun, but there's nowhere to stow Nebulon in vehicle mode.
Nebulon is his gun - also sold as "Nightstick" in the USA, not coincidentally the same name of the same gun when it was sold with Cyclonus around 2009. It's functionally similar, but it can't plug in Stepper's arm as a replacement hand - that functionality is, so far, unique to Cyclonus. I love Targetmaster toys so the inclusion of the gun here makes me pretty happy.
In the US alone, this mold was sold as Special Ops Jazz, a G2-inspired Jazz, Wheelie, Shockwave/Longarm, Stepper, Treadshot, and Kick-Over - so it's not like taking this mold and adding paint to it is particularly unique. If you like the idea of owning an updated piece of history, this is pretty nifty - but there are other, cheaper ways to get a Stepper. If you look at this figure and can't imagine not having it, though, I will say that getting it in my hand after a wait of nearly four years was pretty satisfying. There's so much gold paint here it hurts, but it's so, so pretty. If you have more money than sense, get one.
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