An argument I make (and am probably not winning) over in Star Wars circles is that a figure does not have to be perfect to be good. An action figure really just needs to deliver a fun experience and be reasonably decent to look at - as long as Darth Vader doesn't come out in green, and the sculpting is on model, you're generally going to have a good experience even if it doesn't add new articulation on each new release. So when it comes to Autobot Pipes I feel that I don't agree with myself - on one hand, you've got a truck that transforms into a robot with a gun and does so well. It's sturdy and visually appealing, but it does chime in with the one.shtmlect I mentioned earlier - namely, it not being really on model for Pipes. It's a redeco of Huffer [FOTD #1,161], a toy which barely made the cut as a decent Huffer. It does not a good Pipes make.
After Optimus Prime, Nemesis Prime, and Huffer, it's possible this could be the last take on the mold. Or at least, we can hope - there are many more colors in the rainbow. The figure is given the same 9 points of articulation as his plastic ancestors, standing a proud 3 1/2-inches tall in a pretty bright blue. One feature the new toy carries over from the original is a big Autobot sticker - the original toy had it over his left shoulder, while this new one has it on his left shoulder. Stickers are becoming more commonplace on new toys, which is... well, I don't like it, but that's me. You still get the Autobot symbol on the chest along with surprising changes like a mouth, silver eyes, and an all-red face. He also sports a rifle, which you also got with Optimus Prime, Cliffjumper, and Huffer.
Transformation is the same as always, and very much an Optimus Prime toy with the back half of the truck becoming legs and the head popping out of the cab - with arms unfolding from the sides. The gun can be stored on the top of you like.
The truck is.... a blue cab. The metallic windows are a nice touch, but there's not much you can really do with it. The wheels are nice, but even this sentence is rather bland. "Nice" isn't necessarily "good." Pipes (the truck) is a better update of the original than Pipes (the robot), but it's still lacking his most significant detail - big, chrome pipes that become his arms. Without that, this is barely an homage, let alone an update. We've seen better.
What bugs me about the figure most is that they could have given it a different name and it would be a fine figure. The original Transformers toys have slowly been trotted out in nostalgia lines over the last decade, with the Minibots category being one many are waiting to see completely updated. We're getting closer, but sometimes we get a figure like this where it's not really quite what we needed to be happy. If they just named the figure Bluegrille or Roadhauler or something else entirely, nobody would be able to make this criticism - sure, it's ultimately a blue Optimus Prime with a different head, but Pipes isn't that. Pipes has a face plate, this doesn't. Pipes has a red visor, but this figure has silver eyes. Pipes has... pipes. This doesn't. Hasbro has been milking this mold for no fewer than 4 colorways so far, and can probably get another one or two out of it if they really try. It's a perfectly nice toy if it weren't being sold under the banner meant to appeal to the cranky older crew, because there's nothing wrong with it as a toy. It's just that you can't lean on the nostalgia button without delivering an update like this. If the club/convention tried to peddle this as an update, we wouldn't let it slide. I thought Huffer captured the cartoon head nicely, so the lack of bonnet - or other signature elements - wasn't as big of a shock as Pipes, who doesn't even seem to get the color match correct. And since he's now dead in the comics, it's not like we'll probably ever see this body anywhere else.
I realize that was rambly, but if you skipped to the end - this is a good toy. This is a bad update. If you just want a fun truck toy, get Optimus Prime [FOTD #662] or Nemesis Prime [FOTD #1,033] instead. And if you're able, be sure to let Hasbro know you're interested in the new Pipes they decide to make when they're ready.
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