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Transformers Classics
by yo go re

At the tail-end of the second Transformers Classic series (or Universe 2.0, whatever you want to call it), Hasbro had some real trouble getting figures into stores. Hot Shot and Ratchet showed up just in time to be clearanced out, and the last series of Legends - Cosmos, Wheelie, all those - never really came out at all. There were also two series of Voyager-class toys that seemed to evaporate after one or two sightings, including Inferno.

Though search and rescue is his primary function - and one he happens to be very good at - Inferno loves nothing more than a good fight. In fact, he will often abandon his duties or even ignore direct orders, just to go antagonize Decepticons. He especially loves to get up close to his enemies, where the energy-damping field he generates to help suppress fires can eliminate the effectiveness of their weapons. He uses the chemical foam sprayed from his arm cannon to blind opponents as often as he uses it to put out fires.

Inferno, strangely, is the only new-mold Voyager in Classics 2.0 - all the others were repaints of existing toys, mostly from the Cybertron line. Why'd he draw the long straw on this one? Can't say. The original toy was a Japanese firetruck, logically, but this version is a more American style. There are tons of small details on the outside of the chassis, making the altmode look very "busy." There's a white stripe on the front end, and Inferno's identified as truck #401 - the area code for Rhode Island, Hasbro's home state.

The packaging identifies Inferno as being part of the "Generation 2 Series," making him one of the few Classics figures that isn't a G1 homage. What, specifically, makes this one a G2 version? Instead of his familiar ladder, he's got a water cannon, a nod to the working squirt gun added to the G2 toy. All things considered, I'd rather get the ladder. [There is an upgrade kit available if you're willing to pay --ed.]

Conversion hews pretty tightly to the plan laid out in the '80s: legs fold down from the back, arms pull out of the sides, and the cab of the truck remains entirely unchanged while it serves duty as the robot's torso. This is almost one you could switch perfectly between modes without ever looking at the instructions. There's only one bit that's not quite clear. In order to pop the head up, pull forward on the driver's side emergency light; that'll release the catch, and the head will flip up on its own.

Inferno is a sizeable 'bot, standing 7¼" tall. He looks fatter than the old version, but that's because the truck isn't quite as long. Articulation is plentiful, with a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, mid-bicep swivels, hinged elbows, swivel wrists (if you can reach them), hinge/swivel/hinge hips, swivel/hinged knees, and balljointed ankles. Detail is no less impressive on the robot than it was on the truck, with many new surfaces exposed as you convert him. Not all the details are taken directly from the classic Inferno, but everything looks great. The big panels on the outside of his arms aren't too good, though - but they're a bit better if you rotate them around and get them out of the way.

There are a few things missing, too. Without his ladder, Inferno's head isn't contained within a box. And because his head isn't contained within a box, he doesn't have big white wings coming out of his ears. Sure, the sculpt of the head (which mostly mirrors the original) tries its best to duplicate the wings via flares on the back of his cranium, but it's just not the same. Additionally, Inferno was known for having a nozzle instead of a right hand, but all this one has is his water cannon slung beneath his right elbow. Close, but no cigar.

Inferno is a really nice figure, though perhaps just a bit simple for its price. Unfortunately, he's way too hard to find - or at least, he was. Some samples started showing up as early as December 2008, and here we are nearly a year later, and they're just now starting to show up in any significant numbers. The only reason I had one is through the generosity of one of our readers, who was upgrading to the chromed Henkei version and bequeathed his old one for this review. Now that Inferno is becoming plentiful, have at him!

-- 11/03/09

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