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Samurai Prowl

Transformers Animated
by yo go re

We've talked before about the differences between ninjas and samurai, and how they were at opposite ends of the spectrum, ideologically. So would that make a figure that combines elements of both evidence of the writers not doing the research, or just trying to bring the two extremes together in the center?

With Lockdown returning again and again to plague the Autobots, Prowl is determined to take him down, once and for all. To combat the Decepticon bounty hunter, he upgrades his body to its ultimate limit, adding weapons and armor until nothing Lockdown can do will stop him.

That is... not accurate. In fact, it is quite emphatically wrong. Lockdown did come back, but he wasn't the one Prowl wanted to take down. In fact, he and Lockdown were working together to hunt Starscream, who had escaped from Ultra Magnus and the Elite Guard. All those upgrades Prowl was using? Lockdown gave them to him! So basically nothing in the write-up is correct. You could claim that it's because Hasbro didn't want to spoil the plot of the episode ("A Fistful of Energon," for those keeping score at home), but more likely they just didn't think kids could wrap their heads around a good guy and a bad guy working together.

Prowl's altmode for Animated is a motorcycle, rather than the more familiar police car. It's still a police motorcycle, though, so don't think he's gone too far from home. The particular gimmick of this set is the addition of a matching sidecar - otherwise, the bike is mostly the same as the standard release. The front end is pointier, the side panels are slightly retooled, and the chevrons on the back point the other direction. The light on the back, rather than being red and blue, is just blue; at the other end, the windshield is blue and has technological detailing, rather than being clear and smooth.

At 5" long and 3" tall, the bike is a bit too big for 3¾" figures, but not so much that Snake-Eyes or Ronin would look out of place riding it. Conversely, the sidecar is too small for a proper 1:18 scale. Hey, go figure. The overall presentation still looks good, and that's all that really matters, right? The bike has a fold-down kickstand but since, like going to dinner with a dating couple, there's a third wheel, the stand is unnecessary.

Depending on your point of view, changing Prowl to a robot is either very nice or a complete cop-out. The sidecar detatches and converts separately, rather than the whole thing beig one complete piece, so technically he's a partsformer - something a lot of fans find cheesy. On the other hand, it also means the robot part works nearly the same as the the previous Prowl, so he can still stand alone without his armor.

Prowl stands 6" tall, and has a really impressive robot mode. It's hard to do a motorcycle TF and have them look symmetrical, but both of the bike's weels end up in Prowl's legs, which you'd think would be hard to do. Apparently Alex Kubalski from Takara had been working on a new design for a motorcycle TF for a while, and Prowl got the benefit of it. The robot's colors are black, gold and tan, which makes him look like a state trooper - or maybe the California Highway Patrol. He's even wearing a helmet and sunglasses. The pointy "glasses" are a nod to the ABC Warriors (somehow), a feature from 2000 AD - not, as the fanboys all seem to insist, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Much of the figure has been retooled to accommodate the armor, including new forearms and a smaller head - so don't think that just because you have the old Prowl you can pick up a second-hand sidecar and have it fit. The original had removable shurikens on his legs, and while this one still does, the blades don't extend anymore; was it really cheaper to create all-new tools than to just stick with the moving blades?

The sidecar splits and locks onto Prowl's back, then the armor wraps forward around the figure. The wheel becomes a shield/sword combo that can fit on either arm. Prowl loses a bit of mobility when he's armored up, but that's how it works in real life, isn't it? Dressed down, he's got enough articulation to get into all sorts of dynamic poses - very appropriate for a master of of both Circuit-Su and Metallikato. To say nothing of the Five Servos of Doom.

Samurai Prowl is a nice figure - I purposely avoided the first release, becaue I knew this one was coming, but even if you did buy Prowl early, the differences between that release and this release are substantial enough that you won't feel screwed by getting this one. In an odd reversal of the way things usually work, Samurai Prowl was designed for the show first, not as a toy: the Hasbro folks just liked the way he looked, and so made their own version. You really do get the best value with this toy, since you can either use him with or without his armor.

Besides, if nothing else, you can turn him into an Animated Bludgeon.

-- 04/14/09

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