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Human Alliance Mudflap

Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Who's ready to pay way too much money for way too little toy!

Mudflap doesn't have a lot of patience for humans, but there's something about Agent Simmons that he just likes. The human is brave enough to do things that might seems stupid to others. Mudflap appreciates that. Under threat from Starscream and Constructicon Devastator, the two make a fearless team.

Mudflap's idea of "bravery" is probably somewhere along the same line as anyone who watches Jackass - i.e., being too stupid to know to know how dumb they actually are - so him respecting Agent Simmons isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. Although, given everything we know about Simmons from the films, it does seem feasible. He's kind of a lunatic. "Mentally hilarious," to use the more delicate term. And Mudflap is just an idiot.

The Human Alliance figures carry on the traditions begun by the sadly-departed Alternators, those of fully-licensed vehicle designs, 1:24-scale toys, and complex engineering aimed at creating the truest re-creations possible. Well, maybe the scale gets cheated somewhat, but they try. These aren't just repaints of the existing toys, they're bigger and better designs.

The Transformers movies licensed real vehicle designs from car manufacturers, but that doesn't mean all the Transformers were real cars. You may recall that Bumblebee's altmode was a concept car that was only released because of the popularity created by the movie. In a similar vein, Mudflap's altmode is a Chevy Trax, one of three "city car" prototypes unveiled in 2007; the only one that actually went into production, though, was the Beat.

Like his twin brother, the interior of Mudflap's car mode is not very detailed. Maybe it's because there's no such thing as a "real" Chevy Trax to base it on, but other than the fact that the doors open, there are seats and a steering wheel, there's no real detail to speak of. The car is a rusty orange with dark grey accents, just as it should be.

Converting Mudflap is an ordeal, no matter which way you're going. Several pieces, such as the roof and doors, don't actually move the way the instructions say they should, and other pieces (*cough cough shoulders cough*) are so stiff that you can't even tell they're supposed to move until after you've already moved them. Plus, the way his stomach is supposed to slide together to provide stability for the robot seems to be some sort of Euclidean impossibility. The spine just isn't flexible enough to do what they want it to, so you have to bend and squeeze things together because the instructions omit a step (dropping the front fender before you plug the chest into it).

Mudflap's got some weird articulation. The head is just a swivel, but the way it tucks into the car mode means you can fake a hinge as well. The shoulders rotate on very stiff ratchets, then there's a hinge in the biceps that gives the same range of motion, then a swivel joint, then hinges in the elbows and wrists (and the left thumb). The waist turns a bit, there are swivel/hinge hips, and hinged knees. If you press the lump on top of his head, his mouth opens a little; but not very far, because the pieces yet again get in the way.

Surprisingly, Mudflap doesn't have any rocket-firing accessories - he's only the second Human Alliance figure for whom that is true, after Barricade and Frenzy. There's a double-barreled gun on the back of hie right arm, but it points backwards. There's a tiny grappling hook above his left hand, and a winch that reels it back in. But really, the only accessory that counts is the "Human" half of "Human Alliance." Obviously Mudflap includes Seymour Reginald "Reggie" Simmons, or else they wouldn't have spent so much time talking about him in the bio.

Defying all logic, this is not the world's first John Turturro action figure, but it's impressive how very much like the actor this 2½" figure looks. He's wearing a leather jacket and a scarf, which is an outfit you can see in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Read that again: a piece of Michael Bay's Transformers 2 is actually housed in the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian. That's insane. Clearly he was molded from brown plastic, because the interiors of his leg joints don't match his tan pants.

There are multiple ways for Simmons to ride Mudflap. The car seats end up on the robot's arms, so he can sit there. The one on the left arm has a flip-up control panel, which presumably is used for... robot... stuff? No clue. Simmons can ride behind Mudflap's shoulders to man the Gatling gun, or be cradled gently in the robot's hands. Like a lover.

Since Mudflap is a fairly small toy (the car measures 5⅜" long, 2¼" tall and 2¾" wide, and the robot isn't even 6" tall), there's room in the package for a second Transformer. Well, just as Skids came with Arcee, Mudflap comes with Chromia. Maybe.

While the motorcycle is blue, like Chromia, the design is clearly Arcee's. Two tires on the ground instead of legs? Arcee. headlight on the shoulder? Arcee. Right arm made out of the seat? Arcee? Blue? Chromia. Appropriately enough, the red bike that came with Skids had Arcee's coloring and Chromia's body, so at least it evens out.

The bike is too big to be in scale with the Human Alliance humans, measuring 3½" long and 2" high. The wheels roll freely, and there's a kickstand on the side so it doesn't fall over. Converting Chromia to a robot is easier on this toy than on the other ungodly abomination, and she has decent articulation - there's even a built-in stand to keep her upright in this mode!

Skids was the third Human Alliance toy released, and eventually became an even bigger shelfwarmer than Bumblebee, and that was before the damn mold got repainted and re-released for the TF3 line. Mudflap, meanwhile, never actually made it out to stores, and commands high prices today - I only have one thanks to my TF Fairy Godmother, Sprocket. I like the toy because I like Human Alliance, but there's no way we can recommend paying over retail for him; the set's good, but it's not that good.

-- 03/05/13

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