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Swerve & Flanker

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Look who got rescued from the phantom heap!

Riding with Swerve is a terrifying experience. The Autobot technician lives up to his name. His attention span is so short that he finds even exit ramps boring, which more often than not results in him drifting, uncaring, into oncoming traffic. So it's good he's partnered up with Flanker. The little jet is almost compulsive about scanning everything around him for Deception activity. And when his shouted warnings don't make an impression on Swerve, his impenetrable force field does a good job of protecting the other vehicles on the road.

Swerve is in the same line as the Optimus Prime & Roller set, but for a long time it looked like he'd never be released - or that he'd only be released in Canada and the UK, which is the same as never being released. I've still never seen one in a store; I got mine from Amazon when it was briefly in stock for retail price.

Like several recent Transformers, Swerve is getting a toy due entirely to his current popularity in the comicbooks. He was part of Rodimus' crew on the Lost Light, questing for... I don't actually know. Some space McGuffin. Doesn't matter. Comics made him popular and now he's got a new toy. A new toy with a little bucket head and a goofy smile.

The original Swerve was a Mini-Vehicle - one of the toys the same general size as Bumblebee - so turning into a 3¾" robot is still a step up for him, and so is having balljoints at the shoulders, elbows and hips (the hinged knees are a push). His design definitely owes more to the comics than the old toy, though: the vents on his chest, the shapes of his legs, the details on the towers that surround his head... they're all from the modern artwork, not from the old plastic - Hasbro knows what side their bread is buttered on!

Swerve changes into a little pick-up truck, albeit one with much better proportions than the 1986 version. The conversion is very similar: the legs fold over and the arms get pushed in. The vehicle is a bright red with white detailing on the bumper and in the bed of the truck, while the windows are solid black. The grill and hubcaps are silver, and there's a hole on the roof where a weapon could be plugged in. This is a very nice little truck!

Just as Optimus Prime came with Roller, Swerve comes with Flanker, a little blue jet with white stripes on its wings. The two Autobots don't have a pre-existing partnership, but the bio on the card does a good job of making it make sense. The card also shows both their Tech Specs, which shows us that Flanker outclasses Swerve in every way - even rank. Maybe it's a case like military service animals, where the dog is given a higher rank than its handler, so the soldier will give it proper respect at all times.

The name "Flanker" comes from a Japan-only character released in 1992. He also turned into a little blue jet, but that's not what this figure is homaging. He's directly based on a 1990 Micromaster named Sky High, just with the colors reversed (white body and blue limbs rather than blue body and white limbs). The details of the sculpt are direct updates from that toy, and even the conversion is similar: fold the plane's wings and nose up, and that's about it. Oh, and the articulation! His arms swivel at the shoulders. That stuff about Flanker's forcefield? Comes from Sky High's bio back in the day. They only changed the name for trademark reasons.

One thing Flanker can do that Sky High couldn't is turn into a gun; that's the gimmick of these Legends Class releases. Sadly, the isn't the My First Blaster he uses in the book (because he's too small for big-boy guns), but you can always pretend. The triple-barrel of the gun is white, a color matched by the now-visible undersides of the wings.

We've previously said that the reason third-party manufacturers can survive is that they cover ground Hasbro doesn't - Hasbro can't make armor for Ultra Magnus, or a 15" tall Devastator, so fans step in to fill that void. However, despite the fact that Swerve, here, is (ostensibly) available at retail, there are at least three different 3P Swerves out there: the Geewunny "Veer" by iGear, the kind of movie-styled "Divergence" by SXS, and "Trash-Talk" by MakeToys, which is based directly on the IDW comics, just like this figure is. Who's nuts enough to pay $40+ for a tiny toy when you can get the real thing for $10? That's just ridiculous. Especially since this Swerve is already so good.

-- 07/22/14

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