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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thoughts on Transformers Classics Powerglide and Onslaught

Picked up these two at the local Target this morning, and spent the day transforming them, photographing them, to form these semi-informed opinions. Enjoy!


Onslaught is a nicely detailed S.W.A.T. heavy armored vehicle, something that is almost realistic, but has enough details to be cartoony. The paint work is well done, as are the sculpting details. This mode has a ton of play value, both the top hatch and rear doors open, the wheels roll, and the menacing claws flip down for added destructiveness.

The turret on top rotates 180 degrees (90 each way), and the S.W.A.T. shield mounts on top of the turret. There is a button on the turret to activate a very quick siren or a gun blast, along with flashing lights. The gun sound will play as long as the button is held down, though the siren stops after one noise.

The only things I do not like about this mode are the gun barrels and one wheel that triggers a noise. The gun barrels pop off, and it seems like they were originally meant to be missiles, but that feature was dropped. They do not lock in place very well, and seem like an easy piece to be lost. The middle wheel on the left side does not spin freely, it is the other trigger for another sound, something akin to the vehicle driving. This ruins the ability move the vehicle along the ground, and I wish there was a way to raise the wheel to disable the sound.

Powerglide's vehicle mode is nicer, as the choice (the A-10 Warthog) is a cool plane, and consistent with the G1 toy. The mode has much nice detail, though there are many breaks in the lines because of the transformation that takes away from the general flow of the mode. A middle launcher/Gatling gun (with no painted details) can be detached from the undercarriage. A more obvious bright orange button triggers flying and shooting noises, along with flashing lights in the cockpit and engines. The engines have clear orange molded on their rears, which may supposed to represent flames, but it more takes away from the sculpt.

The robot parts blend in alright, and the placement of the hands and arms is another direct nod to the G1 design. The undercarriage is ugly, but how often do you spend looking at that? Landing gear under each wing and the cockpit flips down for display, and has rolling wheels. The paint is minimally, gray with red details, though the different call letters and insignia is a very nice touch. Every time I open a new Transformer, I am reminded how nice it is not to deal with a sticker sheet.


Onslaught transforms quite easily, essentially unfolding with some nice touches like a spring-loaded gun on his left arm, and wheels that folds into his legs. The S.W.A.T. shield mounts on his right arm, though his turret does nothing but look cool. There is the common articulation, the joints feel solid, and aside from the same issue with the gun barrels, this is a good, if basic robot.

The head sculpt is excellent, remindong me of the helmet worn by Master Chief in Halo a lot. I do wish the head was on a ball-joint, because with the sculpt, Onslaught is looking down a little. Adding that ball-joint would have greatly improved the available poses.

Powerglide's robot mode is a failure, with this terrible top-heavy design that throws off any sense of proportion. This seems to be the result of the designers trying too hard to maintain the homage to the G1 'bot at any costs. What throws off this sculpt is the engines, two huge pieces (with the orange flames facing front) that make the chest twice as wide.

The head is too large, and oddly asymmetrical to the point that it seems a piece of the mold broke off and there should be two 'ears' instead of the one. The arms are stubby and skinny, but the legs aren't too bad in comparison. Another negative point is the lack of painted details that are shown on the back of the box. I know some of the small details get missed, but so much being left undone takes away much of the percieved value of the toy.

One final thing: The way the transformation is set-up, you may end up activating the sounds so much that you'll want to pull out the batteries. The button ends up below the head, and its not the best place for it.


Neither figure falls into the must-buy category, though I have no regrets about Onslaught and many about Powerglide. Onslaught is a nice, menacing toy, if not a little plain, and has excellent play value. Powerglide needs major changes to be a fun toy that's not awkward looking. I love the idea of a plane transformer that does not have wings sticking out, but this toy feels incomplete and too much a slave to the original design.

(Click the photos to view them unnecessarily larger.)