Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:01 am
Well, at least you can't say this Transformers Collectors' Club figure wasn't ambitious.
Universe Sideswipe and Sunstreaker's toys were engineered to be capable of having two different robot modes so that each twin could have their own. That was a call for a Punch/Counterpunch retool if the fandom had ever heard one, and they heard it and they demanded it. They demanded it so much that this guy's preorders sold out in four days, which is unprecedented.
Punch is an Autobot who spies on the Decepticons as his alter ego Counterpunch. He's not shown to be especially good at it in the cartoon, since Counterpunch refers to Punch in front of Decepticons as his "Autobot counterpart" and then leaves and then immediately comes back having transformed into him. They share the same vehicle mode and mostly the same color scheme and mostly the same name. It's kind of transparent, but I think that's part of the charm. (It is why I forgive that this new toy's license plate reads "P CTRP," which I would think would telegraph his dual identity fairly immediately. It's like if Clark Kent walked around in a t-shirt that says "SPRMN.")
Sadly, Punch/Counterpunch is another Club-exclusive toy that had some problems along the way. My Seacons had some amazingly bad QC problems, Nightbeat's ears got lopped off, and Heatwave's super robot head had some storage issues. (Oh, and Airazor was the Energon Slugslinger mold, but that's a different kind of problem.)
In P/CP's case, the problem is obviously the size of his head. Look at it! It is comically tiny! He left it in the dryer too long or something. Apparently the factory shrunk his noggin down a size or two without asking if it was okay and then produced the toys and sent them along to America without so much as a "sorry for your loss (of noggin diameter)." We only know about this behind-the-scenes story not from Fun Publications, but from someone who heard it from Fun Publications, which makes me-the-consumer feel all kinds of special. Even if the problem was outside their control and not their fault, it's best to, you know, "control the narrative" or whatever, rather than let conspiracy talk fill the void. That FP has pointedly never shown robot mode images (because they never received samples, they say) sure fueled the fires.
Anyway, it's a tiny head. It's not so bad as Counterpunch, since his face is a little more abstract than Punch's. Plus Punch's hood chest is much wider and bigger than Counterpunch's rooftop chest, so that just dwarfs it even more. Punch also gets the worse configuration of the legs so I think I'm going to be keeping him as Counterpunch. This is just as well, since I'm gonna have three of this mold as Autobots by the time Red Alert comes out this fall.
Punch's face seems sculpted into an emotion I would call "on the verge of a breakdown." His eyes are narrow and his eyebrows raised in the middle, like he's about to cry. The strong downturned lines at the edges of his mouth don't help. Punch is often characterized as an emotional and mental wreck anyway, so I suppose that works for him.
The head wasn't the only problem as I took him out of the packaging. Mine was misassembled, which meant Counterpunch's roof chest wouldn't rotate all the way into robot mode configuration. It stayed cocked at an angle, and any attempt to force it further would remove it from its hinge. Great! I learned later that this is fixable if you take apart his torso with a screwdriver (five screws!) and fiddle around with the head piece and the gear teeth inside. (See, his toy has a "head reveal" gimmick that raises his head as you rotate the chest piece.) This took me an hour and much trial and error. The gear teeth don't want to stay where you want them to as you screw it all back together. The gear teeth are very small and shallow, so even the tiniest nudge will result in everything back to being fudged up when you get those five screws back in.
Three people in #wiigii! so far have reported having this problem. It might be widespread, or maybe our IRC channel is just that unlucky.
But he's not a total loss or anything. There are things I like about him. He's Punch/Counterpunch, to start out with, which is an awesome 1987 character choice. I like the little paint touches that distinguish Punch from Counterpunch, like the purple and green on the tailgate to make Counterpunch feel more Decepticonny. I like the use of rub symbols! There's two of them, one on each robot mode's chest. (This unfortunately means that Punch's vehicle mode is always a Decepticon, but oh wells.) I also like that his headlights are painted over in vehicle mode to better match his original toy. I also really like Punch's yellow face. That might be another factory mistake, according to how he's presented in art, but it's one I'm thankful for. I like his yellow face.
And again: ambition.
It's too bad. It's an awesome club toy that's mired in an unfortunate accident. How much you still like him depends on how well you'll cope with his pinheadedness. It doesn't bother some, and Transformers aren't really known for having human proportions anyway. It doesn't bother me much in Counterpunch mode, but Punch just makes me laugh. He's not a total loss. It's just... unfortunate.