We’re back for the second part of our pictorial look at one of the latest Earthrise offerings – it’s the Autobot Alliance Ironhide and Prowl 2-pack! Last time we delved into it with those vehicle modes and found the fit and finish on both to be sadly lacking, despite there still being some fun to be had with seeing these classic characters given new toys.
Well, now it’s time for transformation, and on that score things are rather expectedly simple, as befits the inherent nature of mainline toys. Of the two, it’s Ironhide that probably has the most surprises in store, mostly because it’s so different to any other iteration of the character we’ve seen previously (whereas Prowl at least has echoes of how his Masterpiece namesake converts, even if its altogether a much less involved affair).
Ironhide is a tale of two halves, if anything. On the one hand I really like how the front of the van swivels round to form the chest, as it’s very clever in its execution but also entirely unexpected for this character. It’s not the kind of thing you see all the time in terms of transformations, so there’s definitely some props to be had for that.
On the other hand, I’m just a bit non-plussed with how the whole top of the van has to be removed only to be used as some sort of shield. I can completely appreciate the arguments in favour of this approach: that it equals a much cleaner-looking robot mode; that it is in some way reminiscent of the original G1 toy and its ‘sled’ solution; that the riot shield idea itself is a fun accessory. Yet it leaves me a little cold, for some reason.
Maybe it’s because we’ve already seen Ironhide’s transformation done so well by his equivalent Masterpiece release, which managed to make sense of an all-in-one approach whilst still maintaining the fun factor, that this feels like a bit of a step backwards if anything.
And yes, it’s true that the original toy had a similar element of partsforming, but that was of course a hand-me-down from the Diaclone line and so had an entirely different play pattern at its core. It’s one thing to take a toy from another line and repurpose it for the first year of Transformers, but it’s entirely another to accept a design oddity like this over 35 years later when the line is now so well established.
Still, I can’t argue that the riot shield idea isn’t sort-of fun unto itself, so perhaps there’s that. It certainly makes some use of the various peg holes on offer on his arms and back.
As for the robot itself, it’s a nicely-designed thing on the whole, with a pleasing mix of greebly detail versus smoother panels. It has the right bulk and proportions to feel a lot like classic Ironhide despite still being a fairly stylised affair (more than some Earthrise toys, anyway).
I do quite like the headsculpt too, although it’s not as immediately classic as some in the line (and especially those that seek inspiration from Masterpiece toys, as we will see!).
Turning towards Prowl then, who has altogether made more of an impact on my radar, in many ways. Again, it helps that he doesn’t have the same cheap-looking red finish as his pack-in colleague, and the brilliant white on offer here does look very nice in comparison to the rest of his colour scheme.
In terms of transformation, he’s definitely “Masterpiece lite”, although the execution at this price point naturally means that you end up with a little less finesse, including some horribly hollow legs, for starters.
That said, everything tabs in much better in this mode (compared to the moving feast that in the car mode we discussed last time!) and I think he also presents rather well on the whole. I do have a continued nervousness about so much of this guy being made up of painted clear plastic (both on account of potential brittleness but also how well the paint will hold up over time), but for now he looks good outside of a few scuffs around the edges.
It’s also interesting to see what a difference Prowl’s head sculpt makes. It’s clearly taken from the same design files as MP-17, and although they’re not entirely exact when you compare them side-by-side, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference otherwise. It’s never not slightly strange seeing a familiar Masterpiece head on an entirely new toy body, but it definitely elevates the presentation of this example, in my opinion.
It means that on the whole this set is looking significantly better in robot mode than the alternative, as both of them do a fine job at filling in for the characters they’re meant to represent.
I still have all of the aforementioned concerns about the finish on display (and Ironhide still looks a little drab, for my tastes), but there’s definitely some merit to how they’ve been rendered here on the whole.
One thing that certainly makes that true is the articulation involved. They have everything you could need in terms of being enjoyable to pose for this price point. Prowl especially is rather a nimble little chap.
Ultimately it’s only fair to say that these lads do have the fun factor going on in robot mode, and if anything the ultimate proof of that for me was sharing the experience with my son.
In fact, it’s another criteria that I was keen to assess during this recent foray into Generations territory, as his appetite for all things robot-related is ever-expanding, yet with so much of my collection made up of precious (and fragile!) vintage items or more complex (and still often fragile!) Masterpiece-related stuff, it can be hard to find things that are always suitable to share. Being gentle is a virtue he’s still learning, after all!
Well, anyway, I’m pleased to report that by his estimation, both Prowl and Ironhide are a raving success. They’re definitely two of the more recent Earthrise examples that have caught his eye the most, and he’s had great fun learning how to transform them both back and forward (sometimes needing a bit of help in a tricky moment!) and especially in making the requisite siren noises with Prowl in tow.
I mean, it’s at this point that things start to come into perspective, isn’t it? Put these figures into the hands of a child and see how much some of the grumbles I’ve levied at them continue to register as anything beyond nitpicks. As collectors, some of this stuff might seem important, but to the intended audience I can personally testify that both of these guys are pretty good fun.
That said, I don’t think it excuses elements such as the poor fit in their vehicle modes, nor indeed the concerns about paint and the like. As mentioned, I have noted a couple of scuffs on Prowl starting to form already, and it’s just one example of how I anticipate these toys to ultimately not be the most durable thing to pass through little hands. Much is forgivable through that lens, but these things should still be built to last, after all.
Still, I am thankful for the opportunity to have Transformers toys of this nature to share with him, and the precious hours we’ve spent with the Earthrise crew getting up to all kinds either on the sofa or under the coffee table has been marvellous indeed.
Perhaps these lads may not have satisfied every need I considered for them when going in on the set, but on that score they’ve certainly sufficed.
WHAT’S HOT? Fun designs with some neat elements along the way. I really like the rotational aspect of Ironhide’s transformation, and Prowl is a bit of a looker in both modes. They’re nicely articulated toys, too.
WHAT’S NOT? The fit and finish on both is poor, with misaligned panels and an inability to stay tabbed. Ironhide looks & feels a bit cheap in hand on account of that drab red plastic. Prowl is made of a lot of painted clear plastic, which I would cite as a potential concern for further down the road in terms of durability.