Based on a character that tends to be pretty round, Hasbro's Prime Universe Bulkhead is pretty boxy. It's a different take on the Animated and Prime Autobot, but the familiar landmarks are all there. He's gree, he's got a huge chin, there's a mace fist, and he's a wide boy in robot mode. Given his torso morphed from a sphere to a cube, it fundamentally changes his whole personality. It's neat as its own thing, but I assume it's not going to scratch the itch of people who have something specific in mind as to what "Bulkhead" should be as a toy. But it's also a super-articulated robot with some surprise Mini-Con hardpoints and some fun connector pieces that actually let me have fun with it, so I'm going to like this one. And maybe they'll make a better one - or an interesting retool - later. But until then? This makes me happy.
He's beefy, but not huge - I was kind of hoping he's be bigger than your average Optimus Prime (like in Animated), but at at 6 1/2-inches tall he's not exactly towering over the Autobot commander (like in Prime.) There's not a lot about him other than his head, color, and mace fist that feel particularly Bulkhead-y, which is actually kind of neat. 20 years ago, that's typically all Hasbro gave us - the toys with familiar names and faces tended to have significant revisions to them. It's a shame Bulkhead's ample torso was compressed down a bit, but he's Bulkhead-esque. Weirdly, the thighs may be hte part that feels the most evocative of what it means to have Bulkheadedness.
Articulation is par for the course. Swivel wrists, rocker ankles, a torso swivel, he's one of the nicer robots in that regard but there's nothing new here. It's rare for Hasbro to innovate in this department, but I would like to call out the ankles ability to tilt forward and backward as being particularly good. His elbows can also bend more than 90 degrees - this is also worth praising. Nothing here is amazing, but it's all a little bit better than many of the other toys I've bought in Hasbro's robot line and, shockingly, is better than Hasbro's super-articulated human action figures in its other collector lines in many respects.
As time moves on it's plain to see Hasbro address fan complaints. One phenomenon I found amusing was third-party "gap fillers," which allowed you to pay 50-100% of a regular figure's price for an upgrade set to fill in holes that are on the back of the figure or the bottom of the feet. By and large, this figure's design hides gaps with panels or its general design, so you probably won't need or want to pick up panel fillers. Or maybe you'll find something unsightly that I don't see. Hey, it's your money.
He's got a clear blue shoulder cannon, which is sort of a linewide gimmick of blue parts, and a mace that can clamp around a fist. It's nice. The riot shield is also a fun little extra, and can plug in the holes in his mace or on his forearm. It's not like the existing Bulkhead toys, but at least they're giving you a few things to play around with that encourage you to pose and play around with this guy. A lot of other figures, you just slap a gun in their hand, put them on your shelf, and that's their final resting place until we sell them off. Now you can give him a shoulder cannon or a rifle. And a backpack or a riot shield.
There transformation vexes me. It's way more complicated than it needs to be. We've had a ton of "cab chest hides robot head, legs fold back, arms tuck behind cab" robots over the years. Where someone could have phoned in the transformation, they didn't. The crotch assembly has a lot of twists and unfolding and it's kind of a hassle - I didn't quite grasp it from the instructions, and had to skim two separate videos showing it to grasp what I wasn't grokking. I know some fans disagree, but there's nothing wrong with simplicity. I don't need to explode someone's crotch just to get a truck. (Stop giggling.)
It's a good truck, and I like how it actually lets me do things. For starters, there's a tarp that covers the back - and you can store the blaster and mace fist in there. I absolutely love that. When that's all assembled, you have a cute (and admittedly, kind of small) truck to lpay around with. There are no sign of the 3mm pegs for blasts, but you do get a hinged 5mm peg on top to use as a foot peg for other dudes to surf on his back. This, I love. There are two 5mm hardpoints on the sides for Mini-Cons/Energon Weapons/whatever, too. I also see three 5mm holes to mount added gadgets. This was normal 20 years ago during Transformers Armada, but nowadays we don't see a lot of this since there are few (OK no) action features or added weapon packs most of the time. It's almost a shame Hasbro isn't selling Mini-Cons or other little buddies to hang out on the sides. I should also note that the wheels don't roll particularly well, which is a shame because it's a truck.
We know Bulkhead isn't a one-off because Arcee and Knock-Out are already here from the Prime Universe, and presumably we'll see even more as time goes on. I didn't get in to Prime - there was some weirdness with the toy line early on, and the cartoon kinda bummed me out from the get-go - but I like this toy a bunch. This is pretty close to what I assumed the line would evolve into back in the 1990s when I was reading Generation 2 toy reviews - lots of gear, lots of articulation, and lots of cool gimmicks. ...except this doesn't have any cool gimmicks. At least it's fun and chunky and sturdy, and at $32 it's a satisfying chunk of plastic after Kingdom, which was good, but also felt like a decent place to move on.
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