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Human Alliance Roadbuster

Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

How useful is an altmode that can only make left-hand turns?

Roadbuster is out racing in vehicle mode whenever he gets a break from pulverizing Decepticons. He's found that allowing humans to ride with him - especially professional race car drivers - sharpens his tactical skills and knowledge of Earth's road network. Even Transformers sometimes like to sit back, relax and go along for the ride!

So basically Roadbuster is a car that's entirely capable of driving itself with a computer's focus and precision, and yet will allow the planet's native water-bags to take control of him? That's either truly magnanimous or phenomenally lazy. And since he's designed to look like a hillbilly, which do you think it is?

Roadbuster's altmode is a Chevy Impala, just like Leadfoot's, but that doesn't mean they're identical: since the Wreckers are NASCAR bots, their altmodes would necessarily all be the same - that's the whole point of stock car racing. But Leadfoot turned into the #42 Target car, while this is the #88 AMP Energy car. So the base model is the same, but the decorations are all different. Oh, and also the giant weaponry.

Since, by the time of Transformers 3, the robots are less "in disguise" and more "in cahoots with the military," they tend to sprout giant weapons out of their car modes. While Leadfoot was in his "street" mode (ie, smooth as a protoform's skidplate), Roadbuster is all tricked out with guns and rocket launchers. He's still got some sponsor stickers showing through, but not quite as many as the real thing. There's the Sprint Cup series, of course, but also the National Guard. If you want more, Reprolabels has your back.

With all those weapons, Leadfoot isn't as concerned with "real-world accuracy" as most Human Alliance figures are, but the pieces of a Chevy Impala are still under there, somewhere. And since the prop cars really had those weapons on them, we can compare the toy to that, instead. There's a Gatling gun coming out the front end, small blasters in the headlights, some kind of spiked device on top of the now-exposed engine, missile pods behind the windows and a giant flame-throwing afterburner jutting out the back.

Converting Roadbuster is a rather tough job - I've had this guy for weeks now, and I'm still relying on the instructions. They're fully unclear on some steps, leaving you to puzzle out exactly what gets moved where. They leave out the step of rotating his waist entirely, and never actually show the chest being assembled (which makes a huge difference in the robot's final look if you do it wrong). So there's a lot of guesswork, and the sooner you can wean yourself from the instructions, the better - just don't forget to slide forward those weird little nubs on his shoulder-wheels.

It seems the reason Hasbro went with the "weapons out" version of the car is that Roadbuster the robot has, as part of his design, large rocket launchers on his shoulders, and there was no way to get those in place without having them exposed in vehicle mode, as well. The car's afterburner becomes a flamethrower mounted on the right arm, and there's a chainsaw that mounts on the left.

Where Leadfoot was the endomorphic NASCAR fan, Roadbuster is the ectomorph. He's the DJ Qualls of Transformers! His head makes him look like he's wearing a baseball cap, has long(ish) hair and mutton chops - so a stereotypical yokel. He's also got a pair of translucent blue "sunglasses" that slide back into his head with the flip of a switch, revealing his eyes.

Since this is a Human Alliance release, Roadbuster needs a human to ally with. The #88 NASCAR car is driven by Clem "Ham Gravy" Carter (or somebody similar), but that's not who this figure represents. No, this is Sgt. Recon, who shares his entire mold with the previously released Sgt. Detour. He's wearing a padded green suit with white stripes down the legs and a silver Autobot logo on the chest. Why'd he get that instead of the AMP logo? No idea. Detour had the Target logo on his suit, tying him closer to his giant robot buddy, but then again, that was also a Target exclusive, so maybe they requested it and AMP didn't. He's about 2¼" tall, and moves at the neck, shoulders, hips and knees like all other Human Alliance figures, but he also has wrists. How about that! There's no face, since he's wearing a full helmet.

The earliest Human Alliance figures had multiple spots where the humans could interact (read: "ride on") the robots, but that number's been dropping over time. Now here we are with Roadbuster/Sgt. Recon, and there's only one spot he can go. The Gatling gun from the car's front bumper flips up over the robot's head, and a small block folds out of it for Recon to straddle. That's it. Now, granted, you could easily flip out one of the car's seats and have him sit there and operate the missile launchers, but that's not part of the design, and it looks stupid. By that logic, you could have Roadbuster just hold Sgt. Recon in his hand.

Finding Roadbuster is hard as hell: he shares his case with more Bumblebee repaint re-releases, and stores are already overloaded with those. Hell, they were overloaded with those when Transformers 2 was out, let alone TF3. I saw him once, decided to get him the next day, and he was already gone; it took more than a month to see him again (though since that time, I've now bought him three times). The toy itself is pretty fun, once you figure out everything the instructions aren't telling you, but the "Human Alliance" gimmick is rather uninspired.

-- 11/01/11

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