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Wild Rider

Transformers Legacy
by yo go re

Oh good, it's only been four months since the last Stunticon toy hit shelves, can't wait to finish building Menasor some time in 2024.

Wild Rider lives up to his name. He's a bit of a loose cannon. When he hits the road, he drives to destroy. Combines with other Stunticons to form Menasor.

He lives up to his name? Then good thing he's got it back now! There's always been some confusion about whether his name is "Wildrider" (one word) or "Wild Rider" (two words), dating all the way back to the packaging for his original 1986 release, but in the Bot Shots, Combiner Wars, and the Kre-O lines, he was "Brake-Neck." That's nearly a full decade of going by a different name! (Though the Transformers: Earth Wars mobile game implies they may be two different bots? Or just one having a personality disorder?)

Like we said last time, the toys that would become the Stunticons were in development long before "Scramble City" combiners were even a thing, so when Floro Dery was given toy design sketches to work from when creating the animation models, they all had distinctive heads instead of the shared cubes they'd later end up with - no way the 1986 toy could have ever had pointy antenna ears like this.

Wild Rider, in the cartoon, in the comics, and on the old toy had his car's wheels up on top of his shoulders; Legacy tends to lean toward the animated designs (though not the Animated designs), and yet no wheels on the arms here. The majority of the body is black - dark grey, to be more specific and more accurate - with red limited to the arms and face. There are silver panels on the chest, with blue rectangles inside them, making the upper half of the body overall more colorful and eye-catching than the lower. That means you may overlook the sculpted details, like the diagonal panel on the stomach or the little circles above the knees, that come from the classic character model rather than the old toy.

The figure includes two rifles - "Dual Energon Scattershot Blasters" that fire laser beams at wide range, according to the bio you can only get by scanning a QR code, because relying on fleeting technology is a way better choice than just printing it in ink on the goddamn box, right? How's that Marvel Universe "Fury Files" website holding up, Hasbro? The guns are designed to look like the one the '80s toy carried. The old figures didn't move very well, but today we get a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, a swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and hinged/rocker ankles. The joints in the hips want to "snap" back to vertical, so having anything resembling a dynamic pose is difficult. The kibble on his back is pretty overwhelming and obtrusive.

There are a few problems with the conversion process. It's not complex - straighten the arms, fold the head away, collapse the legs, lower the hood - but some weird design choices were made. Like, you have to fold the hood through part of the windshield, but the tolerances between the notches and the tabs is very precise, so it's not an easy movement. Similarly, when you open up the panels to form the rear of the car, they don't actually fold out wide enough to move the legs through smoothly; and if you try to force them wider (as wide as the instructions imply they go), they can break. The last step of the instructions wants you to use tabs and slots that don't actually exist on the finished toy, and while there are pegs meant to hold the feet up off the ground when they're beneath the car, those pegs don't actually do the job: it's just the friction of the joints themselves.

Wild Rider's altmode is STBLDF a Ferrari 308 GTB sports car, which again raises the question: what what do sports cars have to do with "stunts"? Were they originally going to be called the "Speedicons"? Shouldn't they be, like, dune buggies with thick rollbars or something? We owe Combiner Wars Offroad an apology. The car is dark grey with metallic maroon stripes on the doors and translucent red windows. The guns can be mounted on the rear of the car, similar to the vintage toy's "attack mode."

Wild Rider is a frustrating figure. The kibble is weirdly designed, the paint feels light, the transformation has deep problems, and, of course, the long wait between the release of Dragstrip and Wild Rider doesn't do anything to keep the enthusiasm high. Knowing that this totally mid offering is also going to be retooled to make another Stunticon (Breakdown) doesn't fill us with a ton of confidence, either. If Hasbro's going to insist these are $25 toys, they need to start giving us $25 worth of toy.

-- 11/01/22

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