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Transformers AOE
by yo go re

Transformers 4 may have done good business worldwide, but the toyline seems to have stagnated. The characters who were out when the movie opened are the same ones who are out now that it's coming to DVD, with no evidence of new ones to be found. Want Grimlock or Optimus Prime? You could pretty much walk into the toy aisle with your eyes closed and still successfully grab one. Want Galvatron or Hound? Sucks to be you!

Autobot Hound might only be a single soldier, but he prides himself on being able to do the jobs of ten. Whether the objective is a tactical deployment, recon mission, or infiltration and sabotage, Hound can get the job done. Heavily armored, he isn't about to back down from an all-out firefight if one comes his way. Some bots might see that versatility as showing off. To Hound, it's all in the line of duty.

Hound is an old soldier, so his head makes him look like he's wearing a helmet - not a fancy helmet, like Optimus Prime or Megatron, just a simple, rounded bucket to protect his brains. He's also sporting a big black beard, which seems to be made of a mass of twisted wires or something. Sadly, he does not have his bullet/cigar - there's probably a third-party fix in the works already.

He's got a very round design, which really makes him look like a movieverse version of Bulkhead - but Bulkhead would never be so warlike (and besides, the movie version has a gut that the toy is lacking). The design makes Hound look like he's wearing body armor: he has a raised collar and big plates on his chest that combine to suggest a flak jacket; there are bullets strapped around his biceps; and his knees look more like separate pads than anything that's an organic part of his body. There's a little bit of faux-kibble to be found, in the form of headlights on his shoulders and sections of tire on his feet. His forearms are soft PVC, just like his beard, but in an attempt to show the way the movie created them out of separate, flexible plates, they've been given a completely strange bend in the middle.

Hound's articulation is plentiful. He moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, and knees, as well as having joints in the foot area that allow you to pivot the toes to a flat position no matter how wide the legs get. The range of motion on the wrists isn't as good as it could be, thanks to the rubber forearms - those turn with the wrist, rather than staying in place.

The big appeal of this figure is his arsenal of weapons. Most Transformers will come with one gun, or a sword, or some small number of accessories - Hound has seven guns and a knife, and they all store on his person: a pair of small pistols fit on the insides of his shins; two larger pistols clip onto the outside of the thighs; a pair of shotguns hang from his sides; the knife plugs into his chest; and a major rifle can be slung on his back.

All those can be held in either hand, but if you want something a little different, you can start combining them. Thanks to a series of pegs and holes on each weapon, they can be plugged together in lots of different ways. The instructions do show one specific configuration for the super-gun, but you could easily create your own if you wanted to.

The back of the packaging tells us that Hound changes in just 14 steps: offset the chest; rotate the bullets out of the way; rotate the arms; fold them down; bring out the wheels; tip the head under; unfold the chest; close the sides; turn the feet up; bring the legs together; and close the upper and lower halves of the vehicle.

Like the original Hound (and also Bulkhead), this robot turns into a military vehicle. It's not a jeep (or whatever Bulkhead turned into), it's a Medium Tactical Vehicle made by Oshkosh Defense - the same people who made the vehicles Animated Ultra Magnus and Tall Tankor were based on, though obviously this one is fully licensed.

The MTV is a very boxy truck. This one is dark green, lacking the camouflage seen on the real prop - but it does have the exact smokestacks, snorkel and spare tire, so that's something. The truck was given a brushguard on the front bumper and around the windshield, and those are reproduced here. Even the little towing hooks in between the headlights are here, and the side-view mirrors (which, in robot mode, are where the robot's shoulders connect).

All the weapons can be carried on the vehicle, as well: the small pistols remain in the legs, the larger pistols look like fuel tanks or exhaust pipes, the shotguns fit on one side, the triple Gatling gun folds flat to attach to the other, and the knife plugs in underneath the truck. There's also a 5mm hole on the roof, so the combined super-gun could go up there if you felt like it.

Hound is a nice figure - heck, he's the first one I've actually bothered to buy from Age of Extinction - but although the toyline has been out for months, you can't expect to find him in a store. He's currently in-stock on Amazon, and I got mine on Hasbro Toy Shop (thanks, discount codes!), but the overall sales of the line so far don't bode well for me getting the Dispensor or Junkheap toys I've been looking forward to since they were first revealed.

-- 09/30/14

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