BadCube have taken strides. Since flaky beginnings with Huff, they’ve produced what many would consider the definitive egotistical yellow Lamborghini Countach brother at Masterpiece scale, but the complex nature of the figure affected some collectors’ appreciation of Sunsurge. While Sunsurge improved on the horrendous intricacy of Wardog, it was still not quite there in terms of the distinct Masterpiece feel and accessibility, so how have they fared with their latest offering OTS-11 Speedbump?
BadCube have an excellent ability to nail a vehicle mode with their Old Timer Series releases, and Speedbump certainly strikes a tremendously nostalgic chord in 4×4 mode. Based originally on the Toyota Hilux 4WD, it has already more than once been mistaken for the vintage G1 figure from 1984, which it does indeed resemble very closely. Rubber tyres, plentiful chrome and translucent blue plastic all working together in the same harmony as 32 years ago. Speedbump may not be fast, but he is tough, and he rolls very well on any surface. Just like the original inspiration, he looks like he should have working suspension but alas, he does not. The Binaltech days truly were special.
Speaking of Binaltech, there’s a fair chunk of die cast metal on Speedbump, namely the hood section. The wing mirrors are rubbery and I think that’s actually a good decision here, because I have found myself accidentally knocking them here and there during transformation steps. If they were inflexible but slightly flimsy a la FansToys Willis, they might already have gone. The black plastic fold-down part that hangs below the chrome grille and bumper often makes me think I have mis-transformed Speedbump and it’s probably the only really visually aggravating piece of kibble visible in car mode. The underside is, in my opinion, pretty clean and tidy. Even the central waist section that’s clearly visible beneath the centre of the vehicle isn’t too bad at all, you will find it easy to suspend your disbelief.
This is a test shot, and certain things visually should hopefully be tightened up for final release. This includes inconsistency in the size and alignment of the coloured shapes along Speedbump’s painted stripes. Overall I must say, a really really strong, hefty and pretty vehicle mode. Well done, BadCube.
Right, the robot mode looks brilliant but let’s talk about the transformation from car mode. Even now after multiple conversions and doing everything in the right order, taking due care, it takes 10 minutes from car to bot. It is an enjoyable transformation in this direction with a few properly cool steps that I look forward to every single time. Forming the feet, shins, heels and calves out of the rear section of the 4×4 is brilliant and I could do it all day long. The way the panels and internals concertina out and together again reminds me – but only a little – of the magic of MP Grimlock’s tail becoming the robot’s legs. Folding the arms out, sliding the elbow out on a short rail and fitting it into a gap in the upper shoulder then closing up the panel to form the upper arms is 100% BadCube, and reminds me a bit of Wardog’s transformation features. It’s not hard, though, not at all.
What presents the biggest problem during car-to-bot conversion is the backpack. Looking at the result, it’s clean and does not detract from the silhouette at all. In order to achieve this, BadCube request that you take the 3-piece panels that make up the entire side of the vehicle. fold the middle section back on the whole thing, then take the third (and thin) final section, unfold it and rotate it on the…fold it round the…fold…you know what? Just do what you gotta do, hope for the best and eventually you will get it. Then mirror it on the other side. If monkeys in a locked room can do Shakespeare, YOU GOT THIS. OK so it isn’t quite that bad and actually, the last time through I nailed it first time although it is weird how the third part of the panel just kinda floats inside the backpack with no final locking place. I guess it doesn’t matter as they are mostly obscured. Once those are in the right position, you can then slot the two ‘doors’ into the chest/hood/belly and Speedbump is pretty much done. A genuinely decent Sunsurge-beating transformation with moments of magic. The way the silver array and missile holder fold out from the backpack is very smart too. All you need to add is a missile or two.
This is lovely. Genuinely. Speedbump has a fantastic robot mode with posability to burn. Stable, sturdy, strong and powerful-looking, well-proportioned and extremely faithful to the original animation model of this heroic strategist. I’ll admit there are some strange choices that come to the fore when posing him, but the more time I spend with Speedbump, the more I relegate them to quirky features as opposed to standout flaws. These include the fold-out silver shin strips which are cool to transform, but the bottom half just lays on the shin, it does not lock and therefore you often find yourself flattening them out again after posing. The top of those shin pieces are also odd because the red sections do not sit flush with the red knee-caps.
Speedbump has double-jointed knees, and often when you go to bend them, they do so from the lower pivot and disturb the look and alignment of shin strips and knee caps. This requires a bit of re-jigging to sort out visually. What I find helps a lot with this is to grip the leg firmly and ensure the bend occurs at the upper pivot, and this usually keeps the red knee cap and shin strips in the right place. Most of the time. It also has a gloriously clicky ratchet that sends shivers down my spine. Another slight oddity is the fold-out spur on the outer side of each foot. There’s no denying that the outside of Speedbump’s feet are gappy. It’d be cruel to call them unfinished, but there’s a discernible gap between where that side spur finishes and where the heel begins, leaving the wheel quite exposed.
And the above is why I could not care less about those foibles. Look at him go, the bendy cant! All my favourites, rocked with natural swagger and effortlessly believable. Be sure to rotate the waist before bending the thighs too far, as bending them first creates an obstruction for the waist swivel. You may find also that the top of his shoulder, on extreme arm posing, finds its way into Speedbump’s face. But there’s enough points of articulation on the arm to try and remedy that and still achieve what your imagination demands. Elbows are also double-jointed and shoulders are on a ball joint. Sadly there is no individually-articulated index finger, but there’s a decent range in the four fingers pinned together. They are quite long, though, weirdly so.
Speedbump comes with three of the silver missiles which can also clip onto his wrist when the hands are folded back into the forearms. He can hold two of them on the shoulder launcher base too. There is an additional shouty face too which is very easy to add and remove. I remember a time when MP style 3P face swaps were done exclusively by removing screws. I don’t miss those days. Lovely head sculpt, isn’t it? From my memory, the animation model had a darker, almost black face to match the helmet colour, but this is no deal breaker. I’d love to see BadCube issue a G1 toy-accurate head with attached silver array at some point. Red eye band too. In the above shots you may also see that the missile attachment on the shoulder can occasionally look a bit floaty, but again it’s hardly bothered me at all during play time. There is an excellent range of movement in Speedbump’s head.
In order to compare Speedbump to other Masterpiece figures and associated 3rd party products on the market, we’ll turn him back to a 4×4. This is rather a different proposition to transforming him in the opposite direction. Now I was sure this would take much longer, around 15 minutes, but it clocked in at a similar 10 minutes. Sometimes compacting can be faster than folding out and straightening etc. You must keep your wits about you going to vehicle mode, because it’s easy to get lost when folding the feet and legs back up. Do it in the right order and it’s an origami/Tetris dream. Make sure you fold up the rear of the vehicle and get it aligned with the front of the vehicle before attempting the arms. Folding the shoulders and arms into the underside of the vehicle should be the absolute last step. It’s also the hardest step.
You have to be aware of a number of things, such as the correct alignment of the circular grey sockets in which the shoulder ball joint sits. These socket pieces tab into the centre of the vehicle underside (what was the robot waist) and orientation of those tabs relative to the waist is key. They also slide inwards a bit on that same short trademark BadCube rail I mentioned before, this is important. You must also be aware that when you fold the hands into the forearms, the fingers stick out the bottom of the elbow. If these are not positioned correctly, there is not enough clearance for the forearm to straighten and subsequently squeeze under the hood. Everything does tab together and close up beautifully for vehicle mode, giving a great feeling of completion and finality. My main problem with that whole arm transformation going back to vehicle mode is the potential for paint wear to the black paint on the forearms, something this test shot is already exhibiting in that region. I am told the final production version will have better paint that is not susceptible to this wear. That would be amazing.
I think we can agree that Speedbump looks brilliant alongside other Masterpiece and 3rd Party MP-style toys. I know this isn’t a hugely popular character and that many people’s desire to have an MP of him is down to filling gaps…but his addition to the ranks just demonstrates how much he brings to the show. He’s always had a fantastic vehicle mode and even the stocky, oddly-proportioned G1 figure with the non-humanoid face looked divine when he was packing all his chrome accessories in good condition.
Speedbump is none too shabby when it comes to robot mode comparisons either! Height wise he’s right, aesthetically he fits and he can do expression too. In fact, a very good way of measuring just how much expression a figure can convey is how well they pull off comedy shots with the MP cast. Note the three-pronged attachment he comes with as well, replicating the original character’s function from the three-part cartoon pilot in 1984 when he was putting out flames at the oil rig:
There’s not a whole lot that BadCube Old Timer Series 11 Speedbump cannot do. He references the cartoon aesthetic well, he’s sturdy with two fantastic modes, he’s fun to transform with a spot or two that require experience and attention, he’s super poseable and he’s quality. This is as close as BadCube have come to nailing Masterpiece. I could safely say that I don’t look at this figure and wish intently for someone to do better, it’s good enough to be who it’s meant to be in my Masterpiece display. He has quirks, and I want more durable paint on forearms as well as slightly clearer instructions at key intricate stages. Ultimately, I want transformations that are quicker than 8 to 10 minutes in each direction, the way TakaraTomy have managed with figures of this size, and the way BadCube are improving I can see them getting there eventually and bringing along all the other qualities their products have possessed up to this point. What a great effort. He may not be a heart breaker or a record breaker, but there ain’t no deal breaker here either. He’s exactly the kind of breaker you want.
All the best