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by Artemis

Sure, cars and trucks and jets and so on are fun to play with, but it's the robot mode that we really want a Transformer for, right? Not this time.

Shortly after the final battle for the AllSpark, Jolt sought out Barricade for advice. Brought to life by the energy bursts thrown off the Allspark during the fight, he wanted to learn the finer points of lying and trashing stuff. After Barricade was done beating on him, Decepticon Frenzy made fun of him for a while, and slashed his tires. That was his first and only lesson, and he took it to heart.

See, that's commitment - not only do the Decepticons keep on being jerks after Michael Bay's packed up his camera and gone home, but they make sure they're jerks across the board. Global warfare? Jerks. Just hanging out wasting time? Still jerks. No 9-to-5 evil and then kicking back and having a beer after hours for these guys. Still, it's ironic that the focus of this especially petty-minded display of jerkery is Jolt, because he's the best Transformer ever.

Jolt isn't a newly-minted toy, but rather one of those repaints in movie packaging that are cropping up around the real movie Transformers, like that little yappy cartoon dog that bounces around the big gruff bulldog trying to get him to be his friend. In this case, he was originally part of the Cybertron line - Crosswise - so he lacks the "shardformer" style of the movie-era 'bots, and also is laden with more than his fair share of kibble. Aside from the front of the car being his upper torso, which is nothing new, he's got doors stuck on his shoulders, the roof hanging off his forearm, the back of the car's stuck on him like a backpack, and the rear wheels and wings jut awkwardly out behind him. His limbs are of the stock-standard sci-fi robot mold, blocky with mild surface detail, and don't really mesh with the remaining car parts visible on him, and his face is one of the human-face-with-helmet style that goes all the way back to Generation 1.

Allegedly it's all Wal*Mart's fault - Jolt was to have been part of the Universe line, but Wal*Mart wanted their exclusives to be branded as Transformers (movie) toys, regardless of whether they were or not, so this is what we get.

He's armed with a spring-loaded blaster, which is the car's rear spoiler and some sort of engine part - he holds it backwards, so the spoiler is at the front of the gun, crossbow-style, and the projectile is a kind of jet flame molded in translucent lilac. The car's roof is allegedly a shield, mounted on his left forearm on a swivel joint, though with his tiny biceps it's not easy to get the shield up in front of him to any appreciable degree. And lastly he has his Cybertron Key, which when inserted into the rear of the car - up his butt, in other words - causes two small missile batteries to flip out of the engine and sit over his shoulders.

He's got a fair amount of articulation, but nothing special for his size. Swivel neck (sigh), balljoint shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, and pin toes both in front and behind. Those are all true balljoints, rather than swivel/hinge approximations, but since they don't have a secondary swivel beneath them, the ball's housing severely limits their rotational range, which makes it oddly frustrating to try to get a decent pose out of the guy. Add to that the basic awkwardness of his body proportions, with the huge chest compared to tiny biceps and thighs, and he's not a great deal of fun to play with. The doors on his shoulders are mounted on balljoints of their own, but there isn't really any position in which they look like armor rather than arbitrarily stuck-on car doors.

Transformation - level 3, which seems to be the catch-all category for "as complex as Deluxe Class gets" - is reasonably involved, but runs towards fiddly rather than clever. Flip the shield/roof up against the forearm, close up the feet, and rotate the rear wings down. Pull up the bonnet, extend it forward, separating the hips from the car rear at the same time, and flip the head around and down behind the hood. Rotate the upper arms in against the back of the car, and swivel the biceps in beneath the roof. Angle the rear wings out and swivel them around outside of the doors, and then work the doors into their housings in the wings - this bit's poorly designed, there's a knack to it but it's not a smooth process. Bring the hood up and lock the windshield in, then rotate the hips and legs in under the car and lock them onto their pegs beneath the bonnet.

And now it's all worthwhile, because it's a Bugatti Veyron.

Now let me digress for a moment, because this is important. The Veyron isn't just "a car." Jazz's Pontiac Solstice is a car (barely). Bumblebee's Camaro is a car, by its own standards, which have more to do with teenagers getting laid than engineering. The Veyron is to them as a thoroughbred horse is to a donkey. It has two four-litre V8 engines, with four turbochargers, delivering 1001 brake horsepower, which in layman's terms means that when you floor it, you'll briefly see God going past you backwards in the slow lane. It has a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds - look at your watch, and imagine going from a standing start to 60 miles per hour in that time - and maxes out at around 247mph. Even more remarkably, at its top cruising speed around 220, it's still in control of itself, whereas every other supercar that goes up to those kinds of speeds does so only by becoming a wildly unstable suicide machine. I quite like the Veyron.

Admittedly, it's not exactly a Veyron - like most Transformers (aside from the movie stars) no license was acquired, so we get a near-enough approximation. Bugatti's owned by Volkswagen anyway, they of the skittishness about "war toys," so it's not like Hasbro could have gotten the license if they'd tried. Thus there's no actual Bugatti logos on the car, the front radiator grille has a central beam in it, the rear of the car is almost level, rather than sloping downwards, and it's missing the big twin air scoops that help keep the powerplant from blowing up, instead sporting a low-profile central duct built into the roof. When you fit the spoiler it's the wrong style, and it comes with the aforementioned random engine bit that doesn't correspond to anything in reality.

The flame-styled projectile for the blaster now sticks out the back of the car, looking like some kind of jet exhaust, and upon inserting the Key, the missile racks pop up on top of the roof, either side of the air duct. The wheels roll, and that's about it for action features. But who cares - it's a Veyron. Ignore the bells and whistles, leave it in altmode and forget about the generic-looking robot it turns into - it's enough just to know that Transformers, the best thing ever to happen to toy cars, have happened to the best car ever.


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