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Long Haul

Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Most of the movie Constructicons have really weird designs. Rampage has a pogo stick leg, Scavenger is just a giant wheel, Mixmaster turns into a gun-crab or something... the only one of them that's even remotely normal so far is Long Haul.

Long Haul is too bitter to be an effective soldier on his own. Despite the fact that he is part of one of the most destructive and terrifying Decepticon squads of all time, he is too often treated as little more than a cargo hauler. Other Decepticons sling their gear into his bed without a second thought, and order him to carry it around for them. Rather than confront them, he'd rather grumble about it privately, then stop on the way and destroy whatever he's been given responsibility for.

That bio is influenced pretty heavily by Long Haul's G1 counterpart, who was also a consummate grouch about his job as the team's living luggage cart. Though you'd think if people bots gave him stuff that was subsequently destroyed, they'd eventually get the hint and stop giving him things. It's not like Shannon Tadel will ever check her bags with United ever again, you know. Are Decepticons stupid? Wait, yes, yes they are. I take it all back.

Long Haul has a great robot mode, made all the more impressive when you realize it was designed by a fan. Honest. Freelance concept artist Josh Nizzi designed Long Haul in 2007, after the first movie came out. He was just playing around, but the people who matter saw it and he was hired. Now it's a real toy, and all of a sudden your every accomplishment in the world seems like utter crap. Best go stick your head in the oven. The toy does a decent job of replicating the movie's design, though the proportions aren't quite right: he should be shorter and wider. They did get the grills around his legs, the wheels on his shoulders and the spikes behind his head, all without "cheating" - those are the same bits in both modes. On the other hand, the things on his chest that should be the front bumper are just sculpted elements. Hey, nothing's perfect, right?

Articulation is decent, but there's still room for improvement. Long Haul moves at the knees, thighs, hips, ankles, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck. The head is a vicious little nub, with a little beak and a pair of grinders acting as his mouth. Nasty! There's an undocumented "Mech Alive" feature connected to the head, too: when you turn his head side to side (no easy task, considering the way it's tucked into his body), a gear in his chest spins as well. Simple, unobtrusive... that's what action features should be.

Oh, but that's not all! Instead of missile launchers or some other silly accessory, Long Haul has two hidden blades in his arms. Press the button near each shoulder, and a clear plastic axe swings out, ready to chop up any Autobots nearby... or even one of his fellow Constructicons, if he's told to.

The Fallen was packaged in robot mode because that's the only way he was ever seen in the film. Long Haul is packaged in robot mode because that's the only way he'll fit in the box. Okay, maybe he could have fit, but it would have been a tight squeeze, and a lot of packages would have shown up with damaged bubbles. Changing from one mode to the next is fairly challenging, and there's one step involving the front wheels that will probably get forgotten four times out of five, but still, this is well designed and fun.

Long Haul's altmode is a genericized haul truck, much like Demolishor and Wideload. In the movie he was a Caterpillar 773B, but here enough changes have been made so that he's just a dump truck of indeterminate type. The truck is green and black (not purple, sadly), with a bit of red detailing. It measures 6" long, 3¼" tall and more than 3½" across. The wheels roll, and the bed can raise to dump out its cargo - although, at this scale, a grain of sand would be a rock about the size of your fist.

A lot of fans bought the kiddie-fied Fast Action Battler version of Long Haul, because it was the only version available, and was a surprisingly good toy in its own right. But as good as it was, the normal Voyager Class release is still better. Yeah, if Long Haul could also combine with the other Constructicons to form Devastator, he'd be a must-buy, but even without that function (yet), he's still one to get.

-- 08/04/09


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