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Transformers Legacy Evolution
by yo go re

Cop in one universe, cop in every universe.

(Lions are the cops of the veldt. Bet you didn't know that.)

Prowl, a trained Cyber-ninja, prefers to work alone. He has an appreciation for Earth's environment and feels connected to his natural surroundings.

Although the idea behind the current Transformers: Legacy line (technically it's "Legacy: Evolution" for 2023, but come on: you know there's no real change) is bringing together Transformers from all the various continuities for one big crosstime "Into-the-Transformerverse" style crossover, the product that's actually reaching shelves is, like most things Hasbro does, overwhelmingly G1 at heart. There's been some Prime, some Armada, even some Robots in Disguise, but it's very telling that the second most common iteration for the toys' origin is Generation 2 - aka, "G1, but worse-looking." But 2023 is the 15th anniversary of Animated, so it's only fitting we get at least one character from that continuity.

Animated, like Prime, was known for its distinct visual style. So when the first few Prime characters appeared in the line and looked nothing like themselves, fans were upset. They'd been "G1-ized," turned into blocky lumps instead of weirdly angular piles of polygons, which didn't bode well for Animated. Well, either Hasbro knew how fans were going to react or they changed direction quickly, because Prowl does a decent job of actually looking like Prowl, despite not really sharing his shapes. He's far bulkier than the skinny ninja we got before, but he still has the narrow waist, the puffed-out thights, the forearms that flare out past the elbows... Emilano Santalucia did a great job splitting the difference between '80s and '00s design for this '20s toyline.

The part that got changed the most has to be the head, though. Even forgetting Derrick J. Wyatt's love of chins, Prowl has a taller, narrower head than most of the others in his universe. But this one gets a rounder noggin, more like traditional TFs. Done in different colors, this could pass for the classic Prowl. They kept his blue visor, but more could have been done to maintain his visage.

They did keep the colorscheme intact: black and gold, with light tan on the legs intended to look like a khaki police uniform. The big wing kibble on his shoulders is a holdover from the original toy, as is the way the wheels fit into his legs. They kept the shurikens that fit into the outside of his shins: pop them out, and you can extend the three blades from within. He can hold one in his left hand, but his right is shaped to hold normal 5mm weapon posts. The figure moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles, and holds his poses well.

Prowl's conversion was designed by Takara's Kunihiro Takashi, who's been doing Transformers since the mid-80s. According to design manager Sam Smith, Kunihiro-san is a huge fan of Animated Prowl, and put his all into the work. The process takes a lot of cues from the original, with the major differences being the direction the feet point and the way you have to swing the side panels around the entire body to get them in place. It's a tricky process to get the hang of, but once you do, it's quite clever. Tucking the front foot in isn't easy, but here's a tip to keep in mind: if you can see his face through the windshield, it's not lined up properly.

Like before, Prowl turns into some kind of indeterminate superbike. It looks way more like the original toy than the Prime updates did, being all sleek and pointy just as it should be - the robot may look like it could have come out of the '80s, but the bike is pure future. The little windscreen is clear but smoky, and the lights on the back are translucent red and blue. There's a kickstand to keep it from falling over, but it's hard to access behind the panel; we recommend flipping it down from the foot before tucking it in place. The shuriken hubcaps are molded in gold, which means they're a much different shade than the painted gold everywhere else on the bike. And sadly, no, we don't get a sidecar to turn into armor for him. Maybe it wouldn't fit through the portal.

Like the "Prime Universe" figures, Prowl feels like a back-formation, a look at what the character might have looked like if he had existed in Generation 1, and had only been adapted into Animated; you know, like Masters of the Universe: Origins is doing with any non-vintage characters. But unlike those Prime figures, he's done really well in both forms. This is the first (non-exclusive or third party) Animated toy since the show was cancelled in 2009, and while we'd rather be getting some of the characters who never got toys before, it's heartwarming to see that Hasbro hasn't totally forgotten this oddball period of the brand.

-- 06/27/23

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