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Transformers Legacy
by yo go re

*Pole Position countdown beeping intensifies*

To Dragstrip, winning is everything. He would rather be scrapped than lose. Combines with other Stunticons to form Menasor.

"He"? That's funny, I could have sworn Dragstrip was a "she" - if only there were some kind of term for this! The original G1 bio said a little more about him, including "nasty, underhanded, loves to gloat over his victories," and "prone to overheating." So basically, he sounds like one of those people who you start to pass on the road, and who then suddenly feel the need to speed up because you've apparently insulted their manhood by understanding how cruise control works. Like, I don't care if you're in front of me, dude, I care if you're in my way; don't bother speeding up if we're going to have to do this all over again a mile down the road.

Dragstrip (and the rest of the Stunticons) just had modern toys a few years ago in the Combiner Wars line, but this is a new mold. Although this character is supposedly from the G1 continuity, it's clearly the cartoon more than the old toy: the Stunticons were "Scramble City" combiners, meaning they all had to have fairly generic heads, since those were used as the attachment points. The G1 cartoon eschewed that entirely for Drag Strip (his name used to be two words), straight-up inventing a head shape for him that included black tabs over the ears, a silver face, and a red visor under a black helmet - compare that to a teal face in a purple cube. Cartoon designer Floro Dery worked from early toy designs that had similar features, suggesting the Drag Strip concept had been in development well before becoming a Scramble City combiner, explaining why a robot from the mid-80s has an altmode from a full decade earlier. More on that later.

The old toy was very blocky, but this one introduces angles to his shape. The way the torso angles in as it moves down from the arms to the waist is pleasing, and though the large pieces on top of the shoulders are different than we've seen before, they look right on the robot. One of the features of the original version was the chromed engine block embedded in his chest, a feature this one does its best to duplicate; sadly, a necessary hinge prevents it from being as complete as it should. The two tiny wheels on the upper arms feel like they should be faux-kibble, but as we'll see, they're really not. Being aligned horizontally rather than vertically is another cartoon nod. The lower legs feel a bit bare and undetailed, but it's not like G1 put a lot of stuff there, either. Who wants to buy me a Toyhax sticker set to upgrade this guy?

Far from being a brick that only swiveled at the shoulders, Legacy Dragstrip has a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, a swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and ankles that are hinged, but only side-to-side, not front-to-back. At least he'll be sturdy in wide stances? He comes with his signature weapon, the Gravito-Blaster, which enhances gravity fields to disorient his enemies. Technically he comes with two of them, a rifle with a purple body and black scope and barrel, but they can be plugged into one another side by side to create a double-barrelled version.

To convert Dragstrip, swing the forearm panels down, rotate the small wheels into line, swivel the shoulder pylons forward, lower the chest and fold the head away, raise the arms up and plug them together, turn the waist around, turn the chest block around, lower the chest canopy, open the panels on the shins, fold the knees away, close the panels again, then rotate the car's spoiler up into place.

Dragstrip may look like a kindergartener's attempt to draw a race car, what with one large tire in the back and two small tires in the front, but the altmode is based on a real-world vehicle: the Tyrrell P34, a Formula One racer introduced in 1975 and retired by 1978. By making the front wheels smaller, they wouldn't stick out past the edges of the front frame, thus reducing drag; but that left too little tire actually touching the track surface to allow for performance handling, which is why they were doubled up. The design did well in several races, and actually won and placed in the Swedish Grand Prix, but probably would have done better if it could have had guns mounted beside the engine the way this one can.

The driver's seat is in the hollow area in the center - the '80s toy, for whatever reason, created a faux cockpit by putting a black "canopy" sticker on the front end (far from the only fascinating weirdness related to the original toy's stickers). This one doesn't do anything so silly, thank goodness, but it does add some brown there and on the spoiler, which isn't anything Dragstrip's had before unless it's supposed to be a reference to the way the old Marvel comics were shaded. Very early plans for the toy would have left it blue, like most of the real P34s, rather than the yellow we're used to.

The G1 Stunticons were a group Megatron put together because he wanted the Decepticons to have some ground vehicles in their forces - a P34 isn't exactly what you'd call a "stunt" car, but Rumble was basically just sent out to grab whatever random Earth vehicles he felt like with no real reason behind it. Since the car would probably be a forgotten footnote today if not for Transformers similarly picking it up at random, it's kind of cool that the toys have finally returned to the weird design for the first time since 1990.

-- 06/14/22

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