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Tailgate & Groundbuster

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

After a brief Decepticon break, we're back on the side of the angels this time.

These two Autobots both have a habit of digging themselves into holes. Groundbuster will dig into almost anything that's underground, holing up there to plot his next move. Autobot Tailgate never hesitates to dig himself a hole by making up stories of his exploits. He wouldn't even stop short of claiming to be one of the original Primes, if the occasion called for it.

Poor little Tailgate. He's desperate to be liked, so he makes up stories about himself and his impressive accomplishments. Which seems ridiculous, since he studied metaphysics under Omega Supreme, was a champion kickboxer who graduated from the Ibex School of Epistemology, helped invent the idealized heat engine, coordinated a search for the long-lost Luna 1, and he was part of Nova Prime's inner circle, encouraging him to explore space. Those are all impressive accom-- hey, waaaaiit a minute!

Tailgate is yet another Transformer who's getting an update because of his popularity in the IDW comics, so the toy is based on that art. Fortunately, the art is based on the original toy, which ic most evident in the head. He has a broad, angular "helmet" that comes down over the cheeks, and a mouthplate with a flat ridge down the center. The eyes should probably be larger, but then, the entire head looks a little small on the toy.

Most of the other proportions are straight from the art though. IDW's version of Tailgate is a short but top-heavy little bot, and this toy lives up to that with its wide shoulders and arms that are almost as thick as his legs. The panels on the thighs where the wheels are have the same shape as Tailgate's legs in the comic, and he has the angled shin plates. The robot stands just a hair over 3⅜" tall, and moves at the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles - the ankles are the only points that are hinges, rather than balljoints. There's a massive piece of kibble on the robot's back, and rising up behind his head; there's a similar piece visible in the comics, but there it's blue, rather than white. Maybe that would make this one not look so conspicuous?

In the comics, Tailgate came down with a case of cybercrosis, a fatal disease in which a Transformer's spark just wastes away. One of the symptoms is that they can no longer transform, so it's fitting that Tailgate has one of the tougher conversions for these Legends Class toys: lower the back-kibble, swing up the legs, fold down the waist, turn the shins to the insides, rotate the fenders, tip the heels up, raise the arms, and rotate the legs into place. His altmode is a small white muscle car (which makes sense, since the G1 toy was a repaint of the original Windcharger) with silver windows and blue flames painted on the hood. He got his name from the powerful magnet behind his front bumper, which allowed him to conserve fuel by having other vehicles unknowingly "tow" him.

On Cybertron, Tailgate was a fourth-class sanitation bot. One of his lies was claiming that the damaged sign on his arm (which really said "Waste Disposal") said "Bomb Disposal," which may be why his Mini-Con partner is Groundbuster, a bulldozer with rakes in its bucket. Its colors match Tailgate's: black treads, a light blue body, and a white panel at the back.

"Groundbuster" is not a name that's ever appeared in Transformers before, so it's hard to tell what this figure is homaging. Although the colors are different, the robot mode (which you achieve by standing the bulldozer on end and then doing nothing else) is an update of a forgotten 1990 Micromaster named "Neutro." Neutro was a yellow bulldozer, not blue, but the shapes of the body are the same - GB even has fake wheels sculpted on his arms! The arms pivot at the shoulder, but that's all the articulation there is.

The other sidekick figures in this subline turn into weapons (of varying quality), but Groundbuster's third mode is a tool: it's a long claw, like one of those reachers that your grandma uses to pick things up off the floor and get things off high shelves. Considering that Tailgate's cybercrosis included a bit of mild chronic paralysis, that would probably be pretty helpful for him! With one of these he might not have had to plead with his roommate to put him out of his misery.

Tailgate is an okay toy, but if Groundbuster is an indication of where the line was headed, maybe it's a good thing that future releases seem to be doing away with the Mini-Con partners. I was lucky enough to find this set at retail, but unless you're a fan of the comic, don't pay more than that.

-- 09/16/14

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