Windcharger (2011 Reveal The Shield)
Height: 10.5cm; 10cm (vehicle length)
Windcharger isn't precisely the fastest Autobot on the ground, but he does have the highest acceleration. Heedless of any passengers he might be carrying, he goes from zero to 130 miles per hour in less than a second, and screeches to a stop almost as fast. His overloaded power plant generates a strong electromagnetic field, which he can direct into powerful blasts from the cannons in his arms.
I have to give a shout out to Grufflock from The Old Oilhouse for being awesome and going out of his way to set me up with English Windchargers at a time when any other supply was running at an extremely high price. Sadly those two seem to have been lost to the sea or at least the dangers of international mail, but that doesn't make me any less grateful for the effort, and I definitely am thankful to him for refunding me for the lost toys when he had no obligation to do so. During the several weeks wait for those to come in the mail, Windcharger and a lot of those other RTS toys found their way to Marshall's, Ross, and TJ Maxx as we've mentioned recently, and I became kind of sad. Windchargers were shortpacked to begin with, and there's no guarantee any given Ross, etc. would actually get a complete case, and it seemed like I saw my second window open and close while still waiting on the first try. Thankfully a little bit after we decided they had gone to wherever it is that missing Windchargers go, I made a really lucky find at a Ross in the form of a torn open Windcharger buried under the usual disorganized heaps on the toy shelves. Too bad, though - I don't think I have any toys from England.
...wait, when did Windcharger have a hood-chest? Or a helmet like this? I guess the face kind of looks like the cartoon, anyway. Though without the lab coat, it's highly inconsistent with my memory of Windcharger. Seriously, the hood chest is kind of a problem since the big red chunk drastically changes the color layout of the body. And calling back to Alternators really isn't fair since that toy wasn't made to be Windcharger in the first place, including deco. On the other hand, with a new head this would be a pretty solid Overdrive update as it sits. But if you flip up Windcharger's hood, there's actually a full robot torso underneath, in the correct grey. It's a very skinny chest with ridiculously wide shoulders out on hinged armatures, but it is a Windchargerish torso all the same. It's something I remember RAC talking about in the review of Hubcap some time back, but given you can flip up the hood to reveal a complete robot body beneath, this seems like another case of the robot wearing a vehicle instead of becoming a vehicle. Once you do raise that hood chest and you make the connection of the "true" robot body underneath ...well, for me now with the hood down it feels like he's wearing a cloak made of car parts. In the right context and execution that would be all kinds of awesome. But this is not that time or place.
Articulation is pretty good. Since the arms are set out from the body a bit there's a very good range in the shoulder joints. If not for the hood chest, Windcharger can easily cross his arms over his chest. Being a single ball joint the elbow only gets about 90 degrees of bend, but the tire and fender covering the upper arms would have prevented much more than that anyway, so I'm not too bothered about it. The wrist can hinge back or inward some, but this is more to do with the flip-out weapon gimmick than any drive for poseability. More on that shortly. Despite having a full torso structure under the car parts, the specifics of transformation preclude a waist joint, but I don't really feel like it's missing on a Transformer at this size. Hips are typical ball joints with no special characteristics to mention, and the hinged knees by way of transformation needs gain a similar degree of movement as a double-hinge. The ankle exists as a strut with a ball joint on top that connects to the bottom of the leg, and a hinge at the top of the foot. You effectively get a double jointed ankle, even though I can only see the ball joint being intended poseability where the other is mainly again for transformation. And the way the ankle strut comes off the leg angled back and attached into the back of the foot definitely makes me think of the design of a Gundam figure, but I can't place what specifically had that construction.
Windcharger has two Miyake Joints on his forearms. They're behind door panels which may restrict some accessories from connecting, but a random test from the pool of gear still on my desk after gun-upping Movie Prime has shown general success. For anything that might not slip in that space, you're not necessarily out of luck. Windcharger's gimmick in fiction has always been magnetic powers. Which somehow seems like a bad thing for a species reliant on electronics to live. The gimmick for this toy is flip out generic cylinders from both forearms. There's nothing about them that looks particularly magnetish, but that hardly matters! Windcharger is The Magnets Guy, so these must be some sort of magnetic projector or Gauss Gun or something else that can probably make him a danger to himself and anyone around him also made of metal and/or living electronic devices. But as I was saying before, the Miyake Joints are part of the supposed magnets and are much more in the open when they're deployed. Sadly because the hands and magnets can only exchange places in one direction, it's not possible to leave an accessory attached between storage and active modes. There's one other design feature I want to touch upon before moving on. For the most part the toy's specific robot mode parts are all typical collections of flat panels and highly, highly generic techish detailing. Except for one really cool specific detail. From the base of the hip all the way to the knee on the back of Windcharger's thighs is a piston system, obviously to be imagined contributing to movement of the knees or locking the legs straight for standing around. In effect, Windcharger was sculpted with the robot equivalent of a hamstring. I don't even know what to say to that, except that I love discovering random details proving the sculptors are really thinking to some extent about the way these bodies might work if they were real, even when it has no functional impact on the toy in any way.
All of Windcharger's red plastic is this slightly translucent, swirly red. I think there's a slight metallicness to it as well, but the swirls within the plastic are what really stand as eye-catching. The rest might be a result of the slightly reduced opacity of the plastic itself. What it ends up doing is making some areas where this plastic is thin look a bit odd since the translucency really becomes evident at those places. The hands especially will show this effect, and the high gloss of this plastic is bothersome there. When the light catches just right on the hands it looks exactly like stress lines in the fingers, and given some of the track record in Transformer hands a mild freakout at that is probably not out of order before realizing what's really at play. Many of the toy's exclusively robot parts are that familiar light grey that many Transformers have in some quantity. The robot mode has very very few paint apps of its own to begin with, but absolutely none of the light grey is painted at all. I'm wondering if in this case these parts are unpaintable, but that's not really relevant at the moment. One really nice touch is that within the dark grey helmet, the eyes are actually a separate piece and the visible surface is painted metallic blue. It's not aborted lightpiping or anything either, this is a little bit of plastic fully contained inside the head for only this purpose.
Getting into vehicle mode has a little bit of frustration in getting the back end and the arms/doors to all cooperate at once. There is a decided tendency for edges to need to overlap and basically force past each other to finally get it all tabbed down together. The trip to robot mode actually goes quite a bit easier since the arms can be pulled out to the side and avoid the collisions with the back half of the car in that direction. That particular trick seems not to want to go as smoothly when you try it the other way.
Windcharger's vehicle mode is great if you like modern muscle cars. The strongest influences seem to be from the Mustang, especially the last couple years' models, but with the usual "legally distinct from" added details, like a hood vent in line with a Dodge Charger, and louvered window intended not to depict an element of a real car, but to tie together the vehicle resemblance to Windcharger. The slightly translucent, swirly red plastic really comes to life for the vehicle mode, giving it a deeper red than it might otherwise have come away with. Maybe more importantly, the plastic has a high gloss to it like you might expect of an expensive paint job. Unless you get it backlit, and then it turns seriously translucent, and the glowing has a way of spoiling the illusion.
The detailing is a little bit light. You get door handles, for instance, but no gas cap, the tail lights are all sculpted together in one slightly raised area which is painted fully black, but then you get two little nubs underneath to represent dual exhaust pipes. One thing RAC has talked about recently is pretty well satisfied here, with "real" panel lines being used to disguise transformation seams. The front and rear edges of the doors, the sides of the hood and the front fenders are all utilized to hide places where the car splits apart for transformation, giving a much more solid-bodied look to the vehicle mode. The small size of the toy means that aside from these places, there's few areas left where things need to separate and leave abnormal seams.
It comes together reasonably solidly, though when you look at it from below, you can see that there's a great deal of empty internal space. Without robot bits or something to fill the interior volume there's not much to reinforce the car body panels, and it's not that hard to slip this or that out of place. What's important though is that everything lines up easily and correctly, and it's not generally a matter of having to massage panels into position to get the car body smoothed out. Also really important is that the wheels seem to always align once everything is together. I can't tell you how much I hate transformations where everything else appears right but you can't get all four wheels to sit level no matter what you do. Windcharger's wheelbase lines right up, and even rolls just fine over smooth surfaces. ...though as I sit here and let it roll along my slightly askew desktop, I find this particular Windcharger seems to want to pull to the right a bit...
On the bright side for a toy you might have to go to unusual effort to obtain, it's not a bad one. It probably isn't equal to the scarcity markups or whatever other kind of premium might be required though, and if not for the notice it drew for how hard it was to actually get hold of, I don't think it would ever have gotten special attention. It's a fairly average Transformer, but that's not really a bad thing to be. I'll admit I like mine better than I really might otherwise because of the wacky circumstances leading up to finally getting it. I'd recommend exercising moderation in regard to how much you'll pay for one. I don't think even the short appearance at discount retail is going to dent the prices for the toy in the long run, leaving only a hope for demand to subside and see the costs get more in line with what a Scout is worth.
In any case, Windcharger is a Good toy, but pretty much unremarkable on its own merits. I only regret the lacking supply on the basis of repaint ideas I had for the mold which probably won't ever be able to be realized. At least not at a cost I'm comfortable with.
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