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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

Hasbro attempted to promote their new Transformers: Prime cartoon by releasing "First Edition" toys, but delays in production meant that the toys came out late and stores weren't interested. So half the planned figures got cancelled (in the US, anyway), and fans got screwed. Many of the same characters are being released, but with toys that are more gimmicky and, frankly, look worse. There's at least one case where the mass release is better than the planned First Edition.

Few Autobots are as fierce as Cliffjumper. The Decepticons long ago learned to fear the loudmouthed warrior for the incredible skill with which he wields his battle hammer.

Wow, look at that! It's a Cliffjumper toy that's not just a repainted Bumblebee! The last time that happened was, what, 1984?

Like Prime Bumblebee, Cliffjumper is a muscle car, but he's an entirely different kind: while Bee is a modern car, Cliff is a classic '70s style ride. He's like half Barracuda, half Challenger. The squarish grill is fully sculpted and painted, and he has a pair of cow horns on the hood.

To convert Cliffjumper, raise the trunk over the roof and the roof over the windshield. Unfold the legs from beneath the car, spin the waist around, unfold the feet and then turn them 180°. Flip the rear wheel wells. Lift the hood to cover the windshield and tuck it under the roof. Split the front end to form arms, lower them down to the sides to raise the head out of his chest, and fold the tips over to reveal his hands and form forearms. Simple as that!

Cliffjumper's role on the cartoon is very unique. He featured heavily in the pre-debut advertising, was the star of the prequel comic released and had a high-profile voice actor in the form of Rock "The Dwayne Johnson" Rockyrock - and then he was killed stone dead four minutes into the first episode. Surprise! Eh, it was what they did back then.

The character's design is pretty cool, and this figure really captures it well - a ton better than the First Edition figure did. The car's roof and windshield become the robot's chest, and while the FE toy tried to actually make that happen (resulting in poor proportions and a disappointing look) this one fakes it. No shame in that. The chest is sculpted to look like it's made from the roof and the front bumper, with the grill forming the waist - so basically, it looks more like the animation model than you could manage if you were doing it for real.

The forearms are very bulky, making Cliffjumper look like a little powerhouse. His fingers are individually detailed. Another point in favor of this toy over the First Edition is that the legs are the proper shape: they're rounded off, rather than the big square blocks the FE release was standing on. Amusingly, there are fake wheels molded into the back of his thighs; that's where the animation has them end up, but there's no way to get the toy to do that. His ankles look like industrial shock absorbers (in case he wants to live up to the "jumper" part of his name) and the silver on the front of his feet have little notches in the front that make them look like hooves.

Of course, that may just be because Cliff has horns, and we're imagining that he's a big robotic cow. The horns are the same gray as his limbs, so they stand out against the deep red on his head. His face is silver with blue light-piped eyes. The fake windows on his chest are painted black, beating the clear glass it would have been otherwise.

Cliffjumper comes with an accessory: a battle hammer, according to the back of the packaging. It's actually a pretty cool design, looking both like a functional cudgel and like something a Transformer would design. (Their weapons are still formed from their bodies, right? Note to self: remember to check on that.) In his altmode, the hammer turns into a blaster that can be plugged onto the roof, or into the gas cap. That seems safe. It can be held in either hand or stored on his back, and he has plenty of articulation to get into fun, hammer-smashing poses.

This Cliffjumper doesn't get much respect, simply because he's not the First Edition toy. But the FE version only has two real advantages over him: that one is taller, and his hands could flip back to reveal blasters, just like on the show. In every other respect, this is a better Cliffjumper. Better paint, better design, better accessory... and sure as heck better availability. If you want Cliffjumper, forget the First Edition and get this one. It's just a shame we can't say the same about the other Prime toys.

-- 04/03/12

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