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TFC Toys
by yo go re

Time to bring the pain!

We've been diligently working our way through these totally-not-inspired-by-anything-copyrighted green and purple construction robots (the Buildicons, perhaps?), and at last we come to the one I cared about most of all. Of course the first Constructicon I ever got is the last one to get updated, why wouldn't it be? Whatever, the benefit of buying these all at once means I don't have to deal with the long wait!

I've never made any secret of the fact that my favorite Constructicon is Mixmaster. He's the mad scientist of the group, using his mixing drum like a chemistry set on wheels. Anything dropped in there, from chunks of ore to his still-living enemies, is melted down to be raw materials for the team. Mixmaster's gleeful cackling as he uses his various acids and agents in an unholy alchemy makes the other Decepticons a bit wary, but they can't argue with the results.

The defining feature of Mixmaster's head was that it was located inside a big box. Madblender doesn't quite match the same "totally enclosed" feeling of that old toy, but you have to give them credit for trying. The head itself is narrower than some others, and has red light-piping for the eyes and triangle on the forehead, but doesn't look particularly "Mixmastery."

He does end up with a giant chunk of kibble behind his head, which does its part to re-create the look, especially if you leave the purple bit of kibble on there, giving him two little guns just like Mixmaster had. The molded details on the body don't really match up with anything on the original toy - the horizontal lines on the waist are pretty much it - but he does have a lot of nice detail. Like most of the Hercules components (everybody except Heavy Labor and Structor), Madblender has an inset panel on his chest that just barely looks vaguely similar to a Decepticon symbol if you kind of squint your eyes and wish real hard. The way the wheels stick up off his shoulders is weird, but if you rotate them down to sit next to the arms, it's more like the old figure.

The articulation is a huge improvement, but it's not without flaws. While Mixmaster had swivel shoulders and nothing else, Madblender has swivel shoulders and a swivel neck, hinged shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips and hinged knees. The shoulder hinges make the wheels tip in toward each other, the biceps swivels don't quite have enough clearance to turn without bumping the shoulder, and because of the kibble behind the head, it's hard to make him look around (to say nothing of the way it blocks the lightpiping).

Madblender comes with two guns, just like the rest of his team, though his have an extra grey handle that can be attached to them (not important now, but important later). Beyond that, though, Madblender is the most heavily armed member of the crew. The drum on his back breaks into pieces, becoming a full arsenal of weapons. Four blasters plug onto his limbs, and he gains a long-barreled rifle. This guy is going to murder the everloving crap out of somebody!

The instructions for Madblender are very much like real Transformers instructions: they're drawn in simple line art with parts highlighted as they move, and there's at least one step that's shown in the wrong order (you need to turn the forearms to the outsides before you raise the arms, because you won't be able to turn them after).

Naturally, Madblender turns into a cement mixer. All his ancestors did the same, so it just makes sense. Following the trend set by the rest of the figures in this series, the vehicle in question is a bit larger than the old one was, but it's not as drastic a change as many of the others were. Neckbreaker, Dr. Crank, I'm looking at you.

Madblender is 6¾" long, 2½" wide, and 2⅞" tall. Despite the fact that the mixing drum becomes a bunch of weapons, it still rotates freely, which is pretty amazing: on every other Transformer cement mixer, it's been either-or; either it spins around, or it turns into something - never both. These toys really do continue to be marvels of engineering, especially when you consider they're just made by fans, not professionals.

Just like his Constructicon inspiration, Madblender turns into a foot for the giant robot, but it's a bit more complex of a conversion than Mixmaster's was. In 1985, you just pulled the cab forward and titled it up: for this one, you still tilt the cab up, but you also turn the mixing drum around (to give it more of a tilt) and fold out some small purple tabs to create a stable base.

Something that this figure has over the original is an ankle joint. Yes, you could always fake a little bit of front-back movement (and still can), but Madblender also adds side-to-side rocker motion, meaning wider stances for the big guy.

Madblender is just as expensive as all the other Buildicons, with an MSRP of $100 (give or take a few bucks depending on how your retailer works out their mark-ups). I don't like him as much as some of the other TFC Toys Hercules parts, but that may simply be due to my fanaticism for Mixmaster: you know, holding the update to a higher standard, when in other cases I might be willing to let things slide. There are many impressive things about the toy, but it's lacking a certain indefinable something that would make it the best (that honor goes to Structor).

Exgraver | Heavy Labor | Structor | Dr. Crank | Neckbreaker | Madblender

-- 07/23/13

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