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Mudflap

Transformers
by yo go re

Mudflap is a character who believes in second chances. Doesn't mean he deserves one, though.

Mudflap long ago earned the reputation as one of the most vicious of the Decepticons, known for turning his molecule-edge saw on weakened or disabled Autobot warriors. Little does anyone suspect, however, but his cruelty arises from his own conflicted feelings about the war. For ages, he has doubted the Decepticon cause, and secretly yearned to join the Autobots. His reputation is so monstrous that Optimus Prime would never trust him, and so he is condemned to continue serving Megatron, and taking out his frustrations on his captives.

Mudflap is a repaint of Mudflap. Well, let's clear that up: this version of Mudflap, who comes from the movie continuity, is a repaint of an earlier Mudflap, from the Cybertron cartoon. They wanted to call the new one "Sawtooth," but it wasn't available, so they just stuck with what worked before. Why couldn't he be named Hook, Hauler, Hightower, or anything along those lines? Maybe those names are taken, and we'll be seeing some Constructicons in the sequel. A girl can dream!

Mudflap turns into a large crane truck, measuring 9¼" long and featuring 12 rolling wheels. Ironically, no mudflaps. The crane arm can raise, swivel, and extend to a maximum length of 11" inches, just like our own Poe Ghostal. The paint apps are good, with even the wires sculpted on the crane getting their own paint app. It seems as though the crane was designed to "rest" in a notch on the roof over the passenger's side of the cab, but it doesn't truly fit in there properly.

Mudflap has the same instructions as the previous version, of course, and there's no escaping that typical Cybertron design aesthetic. Put him in whatever movie-styled package you want, craft any new bio, but the fact remains that when you look at him, you see a different visual sensibility that doesn't meld.

Mudflap doesn't have any of the exposed internal workings, "broken" silhouette or vaguely animalistic features which defined the movie TFs. He's all straight lines and solids, a blocky body with minimal detailing. He's like a cartoon in the real world, or a single Jack Kirby panel in a book full of Jim Lee art. If you like that sort of look, fine; just don't expect him to stand with Starscream and Megatron. Plus, he's fairly kibble-heavy, with the crane's cabs just hanging off his forearms.

Mudflap has two key-activated features, since that was the gimmick of the Cybertron line. On his right arm, the key releases a rocket launcher, while on his left, he gets a ridiculously long blade. Seriously, it's asinine; it adds another 4" to the crane arm's existing 11", and it all dangles off his elbow. Good thing his feet are so big and sturdy. In addition to severely unbalancing the toy, neither feature works flawlessly: the spring which flips the launcher forward is too weak to hold it in place, so it points limply at the ground; the sawblade, meanwhile, is made from a soft plastic too weak to resist the tension of its own spring, meaning it's permanently bent by the time it ships across the sea from China. Yay.

Mudflap's color scheme is the best thing he has going for him: yellow, silver and white, he really does look like a real piece of construction equipment. Yes, green and purple would have been a more popular choice, but it's not realistic enough to fit with in the movie-verse. As it is, he's still an homage to a G1 character: the yellow and white apps come from an obscure little guy called Erector (go ahead, get your giggles out of the way), a Micromaster crane. Sure, Erector was an Autobot, but let's not quibble.

Mudflap (the Cybertron version) was the worst shelfwarmer of his line, clogging aisles wherever you went. Why didn't he sell? Who can ever say why a pegwarmer... warms pegs? It's a mystery. If these things were predictable, toy companies wouldn't make as many of the soon-to-be-unpopular figure. Maybe kids, parents and collectors alike could somehow sense how crappy Mudflap was going to be, and wisely left him behind. This movie repaint doesn't correct any of the old problems, and you'll be better off not buying him.

-- 12/30/08


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