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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

Generation 1 may be the default reference pool when it comes to Transformers, but each new iteration leaves its mark on the property, as well. Beast Wars brought Blackarachnia, Armada gave us Mini-Cons, Cybertron introduced the idea of multiversal singularities and the 13 original Primes, the movie gave us Bumblebee who's unable to speak... even Kiss Players lives on in the form of Autotroopers. Animated did pretty well for itself, as the spawning ground for the Elite Guard, an army of literal Starscream clones, and several new characters, such as Lockdown, Lugnut and, of course, Bulkhead.

This Bulkhead is a "First Edition" release. As mentioned before, those were cancelled and no one in Canada was any help. But now Toys Я Us is importing them, meaning I didn't have to pay $60 to get this, like a lot of people did.

It's not just the name that makes TF Prime Bulkhead an homage to Animated Bulkhead - the design is heavily similar, what with the big green body and all. The head is almost a direct port: he's got a fin on top of his head, round pods over his ears, and of course that giant jaw. Though in this case it's apparently something worn over a face beneath?

First Edition Bulkhead is a massive brute of a figure. He's 6¼" tall at the head, though his shoulder kibble may come up higher depending on how you pose him. He's also incredibly wide, with a torso that's about the size of a tennis ball. The animation model is a lot smoother than the toy, but almost all his pieces actually transfer between the vehicle and robot modes the way they're supposed to: the only instances of fake kibble are the wheels on his legs (strangely, sculpted next to the real wheels) and the bumper around the back of his waist. The thighs could be thicker and the tires shouldn't stick out of his back so far, but other than that, this is a great translation of what we see on-screen.

Bulk moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, hips, thighs and knees. It doesn't sound like much, but given the way he moves on the show, it's sufficient. A waist might be nice, but in this case he can get away without it. Ditto the wrists, because by not giving them any sort of swivel, Hasbro has given us a better option: on the show, Bulkhead changes his fist into a wrecking ball (another nod to Animated); on this toy, you can fold the hand away and plug in the included mace, completing his look. It'll fit either arm, too. Some people have found that his arms fell apart straight out of the package, thanks to a combo of weak plastic and stripped screws - basically, the same thing that happened to my original Dreadwing - but there's no way to tell if you'll have this problem until you open te figure. So make sure you do it before the receipt expires/the store sells out.

To convert Bulkhead from his robot mode, turn the arms out and raise them to the sides, flipping the shoulderpads over as you do. Fold down the wheels, then pull the side panels toward the front. Raise his backpack, flip over the head, and point the arms backwards before tucking the elbows away. Replace the side and rear panels. Straighten the headlights, unhook the waist, lower the hood and raise the front end. Collapse the toes, tuck the legs up, and then slide the lower body into place beneath the hood and you're done!

Bulkhead's altmode is a heavy duty sport truck - you know, one of those Humvee-inspired monstrosities that will never go anywhere more "off-road" than the edge of a soccer field (like the Range Rover Evoque, but sturdier.) It's 5⅝" long, 2¾" tall, and 3⅛" from side to side. All four wheels roll, the front windows are translucent, and the mace ball can be stored on the back end.

The jeep-thing is mostly olive green, just as the robot is. There's a darker shade on the window frames, a little bit of silver on the roof rack and runningboards, black on the bumpers, yellow headlights and red tail lights. There's a ton of kibble visible under the car, but we'd rather have it in this mode than in the other. The mace is gray with a black spray on both the top and bottom.

Back when it looked like First Edition Bulkhead would be forever out of reach, I foolishly bought the regular release of him. Please tell us, dear reader, that you didn't make the same mistake: that figure is too short, too thin, has too much kibble and his weapon is just complete garbage from a design standpoint. That might be an acceptable release, in a world where this one didn't exist, but now that the First Edition is more plentiful, this is the one you want. If I hadn't bought "regular" Bulkhead so long ago, I'd return it to the store. Toys Я Us is the only place to get First Edition Bulkhead, but thanks to the heavy restocking they've been doing in the run-up to Giftsmas, you have a decent chance of finding him.

-- 12/25/12

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