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Transformers: Robots in Disguise
by yo go re

Forget the Illuminati and the Freemasons - the real group trying to secretly indoctrinate us is clearly the BPOE.

I haven't seen the new Robots in Disguise cartoon yet. While it does have the distinct advantage of not being on The Hub (way to pin all your hopes on a channel nobody gets, Hasbro), I've never seen a single ad for it, so I don't even know what day or time it's on, and haven't been arsed to find out. [Taking laziness and affected disinterest to new heights, are we? --ed.]

Anyway, the point is that I don't have any personal familiarity with Thunderhoof, here. And the packaging doesn't have any text about him at all - not even the useless one-line bios that Marvel Legends have been getting for the past few years. If you dig around Hasbro's site for an hour or two, you might find a page that says "One stomp of his hoof and - BOOM - things go flying!" which only tells us about his powers, not his personality (but hey, at least now we know about his powers, so at least we're moving in the right direction).

TF: RiD (the new one, not the 2000 one) is a continuation of TF Prime, so the character designs have a similar aesthetic. This is most evident in the face, which looks a lot like Knock Out or Dreadwing - there's an actual face inside a "helmet," for lack of a better term, and while he doesn't have a distinct nose, he does have a frowny little mouth.

And also giant freaking antlers.

Yes, for whatever reason, Thunderhoof has a rack Barb Wire would envy. Seriously, he looks like a pre-Earthmode toy of some forgotten Beast Wars character, like they just gave him a new head and feet and sold him as a convention exclusive. The majority of the robot's body looks like any other transformer - general vehicle kibble attached to a robot body - but then there are those anters and hooves, throwing things slightly off-kilter. In a good way! It breaks the figure out of the ordinary paths we've seen before, without going so far off-target that he feels like an outcast.

Like FoC Swindle, Thunderhoof does suffer from a bit of hollowness when viewed from anywhere other than the front. The articulation also isn't the greatest: his antlers get in the way of his shoulder balljoints, even after you tip them up (the antlers, not the shoulders). He's got a balljointed shoulder, then a hinged shoulder, and then a balljointed elbow - it's a strange combination that often gets in its own way. Additionally, the waist is a swivel, but there are tabs on the sides that keep it from turning farther than seems natural. He's armed with a matte black gun that has more prongs on the top, again suggesting antlers. Plus, there are kibble smokestacks under his arms that could also pass for blasters if you want to play that way.

Thunderhoof's conversion is simple enough that he doesn't come with instructions: they're just printed on the back of the card (taking up valuable space that could have been used to tell us about who he is). But the engineering behind the steps is clever, making for a fun process. Fold away his hands, rotate the head and waist, tuck the legs forward, fold back the arms, and raise the forearms to become the back of the vehicle. It sounds easy, but don't confuse "easy" for "unimaginative"; the arms become the back wheels, the legs become the front wheels, but the head is at the front of the vehicle and the crotch is at the back; this is not just a case of "stand up to robot."

As you may have been able to guess by the way we keep saying things like "vehicle" and "wheels," Thunderhoof does not turn into a stag of some sort. Rather, the altmode is... a blue tractor? What? Most incongruous! But clever, right? The robot's antlers become a rake for the tractor (which would usually be pulled behind the tractor, not pushed in front of it, but whatever). The toy is mostly molded in color, which means there are big chunks on the sides that aren't the color they should be. The Japanese release has tons more paint apps, in both modes, so you might want to import. The robot's gun can either plug into the roof or be stored under the tractor (if you don't want to see it).

Thunderhoof is my first RiD toy (but only because I'm waiting for my other ones to ship), and I like him. He's not as complex or detailed as the recent Generations figures, but the toy has a smart design and is fun to play with, and isn't that what counts? Plus, he's an original character rather than an obscure throwback to something from three decades ago, which is good for the brand.

-- 05/24/16

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