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Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Fans love throwbacks - that's why it's always so surprising when companies bring their "A" game on something new.

Tomahawk may be slow, but he's made a career out of taking on Decepticons faster than him, and blowing them out of the sky. He uses himself as bait to draw in overconfident Decepticon aces, then he fills the sky around them with heat-seeking missiles. Jetblade and Terradive don't stand a chance.

The vehicle mode pulls several design elements from the Eurocopter Tiger, such as the distinctive "stairstep" cockpit and the little bends at the ends of the rotors. It's not quite an example of a "STBLDF" release, because the rest of the altmode takes its own path: the fuselage is flatter, the air intakes are placed much lower and the wings are a lot larger. It still looks like an airworthy craft, though.

The small details are just as impressive. If you look through the canopy, you'll see detailed chairs in the cockpit, including tiny arm rests. There's a rotating camera mounted under the nose, and tons of weapons on the wings. A machine gun is mounted on the very tip, and there are two non-removable missiles nearer the body. The figure includes two toy missile launchers that can either be mounted beneath the wings via large pegs, or under the tail with those little clips some of the toys are coming with now.

Changing Tomahawk to a robot is only minorly complex, but that just means it stays on the fun side of "hard." The worst part is trying to split the helicopter's tail into the robot's arms, but only because of the little bumps that make sure it stays secure in vehicle mode - a fair tradeoff!

The chopper was mostly black, with gray as the secondary color and gold accents, and those colors have all carried over to the robot mode: the black is found on the trunk, forearms and shins, leaving the gray for the feet, knees, thighs, biceps and hands. The gold is retained mainly on the arms, but it's enough to get the idea across.

Tomahawk's design is surprisingly "normal" for a movie toy. Other than the lower legs and feet, there's nothing that would look out of place on a Classics figure. The design seems to be based on an Autobot named "Longbow" created for a USA Today contest by Josh Nizzi, the guy who designed Long Haul. Granted, there are only so many ways to make a helicopter Transformer, and Nizzi's art is a lot more "movie-ish," but the idea is the same.

For a robot from outer space, Tomahawk sure has a humanoid face! The overall design is of a silver-skinned face beneath a black crash helmet. He even has a clear shield over his eyes! The robot moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps/elbows, hips, thighs, knees, shins and ankles. Unfortunately the engines don't lock in place in this mode, so they swing around when you try to raise the arms.

The helicopter's armaments are all poking up over the robot's shoulders, and he can hold the launchers in his hand, or clip them onto his forearms. You can also turn his right hand into an axe by not fully transforming it.

Tomahawk is a new character. He's not an homage to anything from previous lines, he's not painted with some little inside joke you have to befriend the designers to understand, and he's not even given a reused name. No, really: this is the first time "Tomahawk" has been used for a Transformer; before this, it's only been the name of the GI Joe team's transport copter! It is super rare to get a 100% new character like this, and the fact that the toy is so good makes it even better!

-- 01/18/11

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