Wednesday 8 December 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Wreck-Gar

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Release Date: August 2021
RRP: $31.99/£34.99

One of the great things about Transformers: The Movie is how big it made the G1 universe feel. Suddenly we weren't just dealing with Autobots and Decepticons on Earth and Cybertron, but a whole cosmos of transforming robots on multiple sides of the conflict. After the Autobots crash land on the Planet of Junk we're soon introduced to the Junkions – a race of TV-talking robots with both the ability to transform and quickly repair themselves. After initially viewing the Autobots as hostile, Hot Rod is able to befriend their leader Wreck-Gar (voiced by Monty Python legend Eric Idle) – leading the Junkions to help defeat Unicron and become an ally of the Autobots going forwards. Despite being seldomly used outside of G1 continuity the Junkion leader has become a firm fan favourite, so it's only fitting that Hasbro mark the movie's 35th anniversary with the release of the voyager class Studio Series 86 Wreck-Gar figure.

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Numbered the ninth release in the Studio Series 86 line, voyager class Wreck Gar comes in the line's standard black and red packaging featuring brand new artwork of the character on the front and spines. Said artwork has opted to go for a more serious mid-fight look for Wreck-Gar, rather than the rather silly TV-talking goofball he turned out to be once the Autobots made friends with him. Although these days the Junkions have their own unique faction insignia, Wreck-Gar has been designated an Autobot for this particular release. That doesn't come as any particular surprise given how closely associated they are with the Autobots (and that every Wreck-Gar toy has been considered one), but with Gnaw getting the Quintesson insignia on his box it might have been nice for the Junkions to get some recognition too. On the back of the box you'll find proper images of the toy in both modes, a short one sentence character bio and "22-step transformation" graphic. Each Studio Series 86 release also references a particular scene in the film, with Wreck-Gar's naturally being the "Junkion Dance Party". Open the box up and you'll find the figure and accessories laid out on a moulded plastic tray, and the instructions neatly tucked away behind the backing card.

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Each Studio Series 86 figure also comes with its own inner-card backdrop, and given this second wave has a few disappointing repeats it's nice to see a new one included with Wreck-Gar. As mentioned above this time around it's the "Junkion Dance Party" scene (infamously featuring Weird Al Yankovic's "Dare to be Stupid"), and the background depicts the Planet of Junk complete with a Junkion spacecraft in the background. As usual, the display also features a red base piece sporting the Transformers: The Movie logo.

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Following his original toy back in 1986 G1 Wreck-Gar received deluxe class toys in both 2010 and 2018 – both of which kept his original motorbike alt mode but made some significant changes in terms of design (the 2018 version being a Groove retool rather than a unique mould). The Studio Series 86 version is G1 Wreck-Gar through and through though, returning him to that bulky (and not to mention boxy) robot mode that it's hard to imagine could turn into something as compact as a motorcycle. Naturally the best thing about the figure is the head sculpt, which is a dead likeness for the animation model complete with glossy painted face and facial hair. While the figure does have a fair few paint apps, it's amazing how many of them are actually hidden in the back in robot mode – looking at it from the front so much of it is coloured plastic. The sections that are painted (the red and grey on the arms, the orange on the shins) matches the plastic colouring perfectly. Though Hasbro have added a bit of moulded detailing to the body to give it a little more depth, it doesn't stray too far away from the smooth cartoon look at all. It's worth noting that straight out of the box there's every possibility that your Wreck-Gar could have a slightly bent spike or two, but all you need to do is apply some heat to it, reshape and cool and it'll go back to its intended shape. It's a great looking figure which really does its best to justify its voyager classification in terms of height and bulk.

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Wreck-Gar doesn't just win on looks either, as this is another brilliantly articulated figure. This might be partly due to just how much contortion is needed for his alt mode, but the Studio Series has been pretty on point when it comes to making these figures as poseable as possible. Altogether Wreck-Gar features;
- Ball jointed head and "nipple" cannons
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips
- Bicep, thigh, waist and wrist swivels
- Hinged elbows, knees and ankles 
On top of that there are also a number of other moveable parts, some of which are more intended for the transformation but still perfectly usable when posing. The guards on either side of the crotch piece are on pin joints so can be moved along with the leg articulation, whilst the waist joint also has a separate pin underneath it that can bring the torso forwards. As well being able to rotate, the fists can be angled downwards without having to tuck them completely into the forearm cavities. There's an awful lot to like on this figure, but by far and away the most enjoyable thing about it are those ball jointed nipple cannons. Such a small detail, but one that makes the figure that much more fun.

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Wreck-Gar comes packaged with two wheel "shield" pieces, which can be fixed to any of the four spikes jutting out of his arms and legs. If you want to be completely screen-accurate then they should both be on his left side, but the ability to give him double arm shields or leg wheels is a fun little play feature. Note that the wheels aren't actually completely identical – one is slightly thicker than the other. On top of that the figure also comes with his signature four-bladed axe weapon – a windmill-like piece with spinning red blades. As well as being held in either of Wreck-Gar's hands, the axe can be clipped onto the figure's back as well for easy storage.

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Wreck-Gar transforms into a blocky sci-fi-esque motorcycle with studded wheels, and that transformation is yet another joy to behind. At 22 steps it isn't a particularly complex process, but it's fascinating to see just how the torso separates and extends to form the body of the bike. Meanwhile the limbs just do some fancy bending to form the back and front axle, but even that's done in a way that feels particularly satisfying to do. Note that due to the differing thickness of the wheels they aren't actually interchangeable, although the instructions don't really offer much guidance on this – the thicker wheel is meant for the front and the thinner one for the back. Once transformed you can see Wreck-Gar in all his motorcycle glory, as well as getting a better look at that silver engine block, painted gold flames and transparent windshield hidden away at the back in robot mode. In alt mode Wreck Gar's axe simply clips on to the back of the bike, which is easily some of the best-looking weapon storage this line has had for alt mode. Maybe it's just because Wreck-Gar is supposed to look like a pile of junk, but there's nothing obvious about a giant bladed windmill sticking to the back of this motorcycle.

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In vehicle mode Wreck-Gar has two free-rolling wheels and those ball-jointed nipple cannons at the front, but in terms of alt mode functionality he might just be the most exciting figure Studio Series 86 has put out so far. As a (reasonably) accurately shaped motorcycle complete with seat section, he can be comfortably ridden by most deluxe and (if you don't mind the rider being a little on the large side) voyager-sized figures. Simply fit the hands around the handlebars and getting them to properly sit is a piece of cake. I've shown it off with Kup and Hot Rod above, but of course get a hold of two Wreck-Gars and you can even have him riding himself! With a generic Junkion heavily rumoured to be joining the line soon, this little titbit is particularly exciting as you'll be able to pose Wreck-Gar giving chase just like he did in the movie.

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Hasbro have been churning out some real winners lately, and Studio Series 86 Wreck-Gar is definitely another one to add to the list. Not only does that chunky G1-accurate robot totally justify that voyager class price tag, but on top of that you've got a pretty ingenious transformation resulting in an incredibly fun (as well as interactive alt mode). Studio Series might not have been the first line to do a rideable Wreck-Gar, but it certainly hasn't made it any less fun. If that generic Junkion wasn't on the horizon, I'd have almost certainly bought two by now. So put down that chainsaw and listen to me, it's time for you to go out and buy this toy. Dare to be stupid.

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