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Human Alliance Tailpipe and Pinpointer

Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

In the Transformers 2 toyline, Hasbro introduced a new subline, the Human Alliance figures, featuring nice large cars with tiny humans to drive them. The line is back for Transformers 3, showing that Hasbro completely misunderstood what it was that anybody liked about the Human Alliance.

Tailpipe and Pinpointer have been partners for ages, and have learned to love roughing it. Teamed up with Sergeant Noble, a soldier that has spent his career in the wildest places on Earth, they make an unstoppable fighting team deep in the trackless wilderness.

Motorcycles are good for a lot of things, but "the trackless wilderness" isn't one of them. In fact, unless you've got a dirtbike, "track" is the very thing you want most of all. Smooth, level track. "Pavement," we call it.

The bike is 4" long, 1½" wide and 2⅛" tall, as long as you don't have the gun turret mounted on the back. Yes, a gun turret - we're at war, son! Adding that takes it up over 3¼" tall. The piece plugs in easily and securely, as long as you have it transformed right. More on that later. The bike's wheels roll freely, and there's even a thick peg that acts as a kickstand. It's a nicely designed vehicle mode, however you choose to display it.

The Human Alliance mini-vehicles don't just change from robot to vehicle, they have a third form as well, sort of a "battle mode." In this case, the bike turns into some kind of hover bike, the wheels sweep forward and blades pop out of the tires. Perfect for clear-cutting brush! It's not a bad mode - rather silly, but not offensively terrible or anything. There are certainly ones in this little subline that are much stupider. If you like it, it's there, if not, you can ignore it. Of course, you can also put the guns on in this mode.

The instructions (which Hasbro has failed to put online, or we'd link you to them) tell you to go through the Battle Mode when converting between vehicle and robot, but there's no reason you really have to - there's nothing specific about that mode that you must accomplish before going between modes, no steps unique to it. Change him a few times, and you'll be able to go straight between main modes.

To change him, raise the sides of the bike, drop the wheels, pull the back end of the bike out and split it to form legs, then fold out the toes. Straighten and turn the arms, fold the entire upper body back to expose the panel that will be the robot's chest. Return the torso to its place, push back the front of the bike to reveal the head, and plug it into place behind the chest. Then simply tuck the wheels into position behind his elbows and you're finished.

In robot mode, Tailpipe is 4½" tall - the bike's handlebars rise a bit higher than his head. He's well-proportioned, though perhaps the forearms and hands are slightly too large. The rest, though? His legs are decent, his torso is big enough to keep him from looking spindly, and the head is neither too big nor too small. There are a few technological details in this mode, like the vents on his shoulders, but the main bit is right in the center of his chest. Mine seems to have two right feet: the prongy "toes" are a dead giveaway.

In the package, it looked like Tailpipe didn't have a face - just four blue lights (same style as the bike's headlight) in the center of his head. It turns out he does have a tiny face, and those lights are on his forehead. They're like night-vision goggles. He's got tons of articulation, too: swivel wrists, then balljointed neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

So, back to the gun turret: it's not just a weapon for the bike, it can turn into a big gun for the robot to wield, as well. Basically, you reposition the twin Gatling guns, and turn a bit in the middle to reveal a 5mm peg sized for Tailpipe's fists. It's a simple change, but it works well. And despite how heavy Pinpointer is, the joints are strong enough to hold it up.

But wait, there's more! You may have noticed that we called the gun Pinpointer. Why? Because it's not just a gun. This is a complete second Transformer! Pinpointer is basically a very complex Mini-Con, standing at least 2¾" tall, and wwil balljoints at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. He's black, gray and silver, with just a little bit of red and blue to break things up. He's a very beefy little guy, and looks like he'd pack a lot of power. And heck, in robot mode he's sized very nicely to ride Tailpipe's motorcycle.

That's more than we can say for the "human" part of this Human Alliance. This is Sergeant Noble, and if you don't remember which guy that is in the movie, well, don't worry: the new Human Alliance sets are just making up characters at this point, and they all sound like members of The Corps! or something. Sgt. Chaos! Major Tungsten! Master Disaster! Brick Hardfall! Slake Fistcrunch! Beat Punchbeef! Okay, we might have made some of those up. But still, they're not good names. Pretend he's one of the nameless nobodies who infiltrated Chicago.

Sgt. Noble is wearing a military uniform, a new mold: he's not a repaint of Lennox or Epps. The face is just as derpy as ever, with giant, saucer-sized eyes and a jaundiced complexion. He's wearing a helmet, which at least covers some of his goofball head, but not enough. The articulation is fine, but at 2½" tall, he's too small to look appropriate on the bike.

The second movie's Human Alliance toys were great not because they came with dinky little humans, but because they were basically a continuation of the Alternators style: large, detailed Transformers that turned into fully licensed vehicles. They were even the same scale, for pete's sake! Now none of that is true. The 'bots aren't large and they don't turn into licensed vehicles. Half of them don't even turn into real vehicles! Now, Tailpipe and Pinpointer make for a good set, but it would have been just as good without the Human Alliance label. Get back to the good stuff, Hasbro. Tailpipe and Pinpointer? Yes. Human Alliance? No.

-- 07/12/11

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