Powerglide was first previewed for the Universe/Classics line back in January 2008 when resin prototypes were revealed by Hasbro. By the end of that summer, Powerglide was officially on shelves around town. But surprise- he was gigantic, greyish and around $30. You could almost hear the collective fanboy whine. Takara/Tomy provided us with the alternative of buying a gigantic, but cartoon-accurately red "USA Edition" Powerglide. This version retails in the U.S. for roughly $20 more than the Hasbro version ($50).
Powerglide was a mini-bot back in 1985- a rather distinctive little red plane. Although he is officially an A-10 Thunderbolt, I always figured him to be a crop-duster or stuntplane of sorts, probably due to his official tech-spec bio which paints him as a daredevil stunt flyer (I believe the term used was "dazzling aerial virtuosity"). Either way, he provided some much-needed aerial support for the Autobots, who were otherwise firmly reliant on Cosmos to fight the 200,000 Seeker jets in the Decepticon army.
Like most of the mini-bots, Powerglide was small, but chock full of character. His jet mode was bright red and chubby and perfect for flying around with little hands. When transformed, he had gangly noodle arms and a bemused expression on his robot face. Very neat little guy, and he received tons of play time, despite being a bit of a second-stringer in the cartoon. Speaking of the cartoon, you probably remember Powerglide from that infamous episode titled "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide," where he falls hopelessly in love with wealthy socialite Ritz Carlton Astoria Watson Vanderbeek while defending her from the conehead Seeker jets. I've heard that people hate this episode for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the cheesy blinking heart in Powerglide's chest cavity. Unlike those lame-os, I thought this episode was AWESOME when I was little. Astoria Carlton-Ritz was a hottie, and Powerglide's actions entirely justified.
Powerglide's 2008 makeover was a mysterious move from Hasbro, as he was ramped up to an Ultra class toy and given an entirely new color scheme. I think it is safe to say that he can handily defend Ms. Carlton-Ritz from Seekers, which are now freakishly diminutive in comparison. The Hasbro grey/silver color scheme lacked some punch, however, so I shelled out the extra cash for that pretty, pretty red plastic.
The high points:
Classics Powerglide is a very attractive toy. The Japanese red coloration evokes the G1 toy, but with added bulk in both robot and jet modes. The effect is very much a spec-up (is that a word?) version of the original character. Powerglide's head was intentionally given the asymmetrical sculpt of the original toy (complete with the screw jammed into his forehead), but the more angular design again reminds you that this is a grown-up Powerglide. You have the appreciate the humor in giving him a barrel chest and tiny T-rex arms when the original toy was extremely skinny with noodle arms.
There are also a number of good mechanical details. The engines are nicely sculpted with inner turbines and clear orange vents on the back. In transformation, the kneecaps of the robot become the front intakes for the jet- hard to describe, but it is a clever touch. As you can see in the photos, the surface of the toy is heavily detailed with rivets and panels. Lastly, I love the tiny chain gun mounted on the side of the cockpit. It's detachable as a hand weapon for Powerglide, and complements the overall neo-retro look of the toy.
The low points:
Though Classics Powerglide is a pretty toy, he is also heavily flawed. Also- he is kind of pricey.
First, my toy came out of the box with a giant scratch across the right engine. Don't drop it on the floor and stick it back on the assembly line for chrissakes.
Second, the transformering sounds are insufferable. I had hoped that the electronics would be disabled for the Japan release. Not so. Classics Powerglide can scream out any number of indecipherable weapon and transformation noises when you press the button on his back OR the button hidden in his torso. This second button is triggered every time you transform the damn thing, so it's not an avoidable feature. While cute at first, this had me looking for a screwdriver, followed by a hammer, within the first 10 minutes of ownership.
Third, this toy reuses the original uh-ga-lee Hasbro packaging complete with the dead-eyed assembly line artwork. Maybe they were going for a statuesque look, but it gives off a killer zombie robot vibe across the board. Most of the Japan versions of the Classics toys are entirely repackaged with manga style card or box art- this one was given a tiny sticker in Japanese. Not a big deal, but the box art for the U.S. release is truly awful, so it's a strike against it nonetheless.
Finally, the arms do not 'clip' on to the side of the torso as they are supposed to. Whether it's a mold defect, a design defect, or just some random problem with my toy, I can't get it to work and the arms tend to flop around. While my toys generally spend more time on the shelves, this seems like it would be extremely frustrating for a kid.
IN CONCLUSION, do not buy this version of Powerglide unless you are in love with the red color. The Hasbro version is $20 cheaper and probably just as good (unlike many of the other Henkei/Classics). I like a red Powerglide a little too much to give in to the price difference, so I can't honestly say that I wouldn't buy this again if given the chance. Otherwise it is a decent enough toy, and quite fitting for a revised Powerglide.
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