Where's a cop car when you need one? Okay, so this one's a Decepticon, so he might not be of all that much assistance anyway, but still, this was one tricky Transformer if you saw the movie.
It's an unfortunate fact that it's no longer the 1980's in the action figure world. The one-time legions of toys that once population the aisles of Toys "R" Us, Target, Wal-Mart, and other stores are largely a thing of the past. The reasons are numerous and most of them are unfortunate to one degree or another, and I'm not really going to get into them here.
But there are survivors. There are action figure lines that continue to prosper even in these diminished times. One of these, even before the movie came out, has been Transformers. So it's probably no great surprise that once the movie did come out, and proved itself to be a hit, the toy line rather quickly transformed itself into empty shelf space, with doubtless everyone from the fans to the stores to Hasbro itself wondering how quickly they could restock them.
One of the ones that I was especially interested in was BARRICADE. This is a new character to the Transformers universe. I'm honestly not certain if the name has been used in Transformers before. I know that it's been used in G.I. Joe -- it was the name of the member of the G.I. Joe Team who first appeared in 1992. I don't offhand recall the name from G1 Transformers. It's conceivable that the name has been used in one of the more recent Transformers incarnations, which I paid limited attention to, and I simply missed it. Most of the recent Transformers lines have had rather considerable populations, and it's difficult to keep track of everyone if you're only collecting on a partial basis.
So let's assume that Barricade is an entirely new character. In the movie, Barricade is a Decepticon. He also takes the form of a police car. I'm sure Prowl wouldn't've been too happy about that if Prowl had been in the movie.
It's probably not too surprising that Barricade has proven to be as popular as he is. He's one of the more stylish Decepticons. Most of the others are rather lumbering military hardware, or are of rather alien design such as Megatron. Additionally, Barricade sees more screen time and human interaction than most of the other Decepticons, whose interest in humans is rather limited.
*** SPOILER: It is Barricade who approaches the main human in the movie, Sam Witwicky, to try to pry out of him the item needed to track down the AllSpark Cube. Most of the other Decepticons have rather limited roles in the masjor battle near the end of the movie after Megatron is located and revived. ***
In his police car format, Barricade is just short of 6" in length. I suspect that he is based on a real-world car, as most of the Transformers -- certainly the Autobots -- were in this movie. However, not being an automotive expert myself, I had to look around a bit to determine precisely what Barricade actually was. The only clue I had was the word "SALEEN" engraved on the back of his automotive form. Barricade, as it turns out, is apparently a Saleen S281 Mustang.
According to the manufacturer, Saleen delivered multiple S281 Extremes to the "Transformers" set for filming. Debuting in late-summer 2007, the new Extreme is expected to set a new benchmark for performance vehicles in its class. Designed by the same engineering team as the Saleen S7, the new Extreme will be the first vehicle to deliver true super car performance in a production sports car.
"Fans of the movie can see the Extreme police car on display at The Saleen Store in Irvine, California," said Mike Simmons, chief marketing and sales officer of Saleen Inc. "What's even more exciting is they can actually purchase the production model from their local Saleen certified dealership, without the police badging and vicious alter-ego, of course."
Pretty fancy for a cop car, and indeed, Barricade looks like a fairly sporty model, but also a car with a good amount of power to back it up.
As to that "police badging and vicious alter-ago", while the Saleens in the showroom might not have these, the toy most certainly does. Barricade is mostly black, with white doors. He has a siren-light device affixed to his roof, with transparent red and blue sides. He has the unit number "643" on his roof, and the word "POLICE" on his doors and on the small spoiler on the rear, both in a very cool and fairly futuristic type. All of Barricade's painted details, including things like headlights and taillights, in fact all of his painted detailing in both car and robot mode, is very well done.
The rest of the markings are quite amusing. There's a purple-and-silver police-like badge insignis just ahead of the doors on both sides of the car, but close inspection reveals it to be the Decepticon logo. Appropriate enough as such that it should be mostly purple. I do have to say that I don't really care for the slightly revised Decepticon logo. I'm not sure why they felt the need to do this for the movie, and it's not an improvement.
Even funnier, though, is the elegantly hand-written phrase found above the rear tires. Whereas many police departments in the country have the slogan "To Protect and Serve...", Barricade's motto is, "To Punish and Enslave..." And the script is just decorative enough and the wording just close enough so that unless you got a really good look at it, which would probably be hard if Barricade were zooming past you at 75 mph or something, you'd never notice it.
Barricade might have been such a popular seller is because he's a police car. That's a valid point to go along with all the others. Police cars tend to be popular regardless of what toy line they come from. Hot Wheels makes police cars on a regular basis and they always do well. The fact that this one is a bad guy apparently isn't that much of a factor. But I do tend to think that one of the leading reasons, apart from the fact that ALL of these toys seem to be selling extremely well, is that Barricade is easily one of the most prominent Decepticons in the movie, and has an impressive knock-down drag-out fight with Bumblebee.
One of the first steps in transforming Barricade into robotic form is the removal of Frenzy. Now, there is a name with some Transformers history. In Generation One, Frenzy was one of the cassettes that was part of Soundwave's retinue of associates. Frenzy could transform into a small but nasty humanoid robot, a member of the Decepticons.
The movie Frenzy has some things in common with his classic counterpart. He's small, he's nasty, and he's a Decepticon. But he looks more like a bizarre robotic skeleton, almost as if someone took a Terminator endoskeleton and had it redesigned by an abstract artist after crossing it with a Star Wars Battle Droid. His voice sounds like one of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" crossed with radio static.
Frenzy probably has the most to do of any Decepticon in the human world in the movie, because of his small size and his capabilities. He's a spy, he's a sneak thief, and he's a saboteur. The toy of him is nicely made, but as one might expect, articulation is somewhat limited and largely based on the needs of the transformation. Frenzy can move at the neck, arms, and knees. His legs are locked together. He stands not quite three inches in height. Really, he's not much more than an accessory with Barricade, but given the degree to which he appeared in the movie, he sort of had to be included in the line somehow.
Getting back to Barricade, transforming him into robot mode isn't terribly difficult, although there's one little step about bringing the lower torso forward a bit and semi-snapping it into the upper torso -- the former front of the car -- that seems to have been left off of the instructions, or I just didn't see it. Sometimes Transformers instructions are not quite as clear as I would prefer. I miss the days when there was text as well as diagrams for these things. However, it's a step that's fairly obvious once you're far enough along in the transformation.
The end result is a very effective Barricade. I should say this -- I do often feel that the robot designs for the characters in this movie are a little TOO alien in some respects, even in the case of someone like Barricade who doesn't have a G1 counterpart to be compared with. That having been said, it's quite an achievement to design a toy that looks like a good representation of a real-world car, and give it the capability to transform into a robot that is THIS strange-looking.
In robot mode, Barricade is superbly well articulated, and is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, legs, knees, and ankles, with an excellent range of motion at all points. According to his instructions, Barricade is capable of a "Spring Loaded Punch Attack".
In robot mode, Barricade stands about 5-1/2" to the top of his head. However, throw in his high shoulders -- the front fenders of the car, really, and his total height is closer to 7 inches.
On a comparative note, head-to-head Barricade is actually shorter than Arcee. On the other hand, in vehicular mode, it's obvious that Arcee as a motorcycle is a distinctly larger scale than Barricade as a police car. The Transformers Movie line as a whole has had to take a few liberties with vehicle scales in order to provide a fair percentage of them in the deluxe carded series (retailing for about $10 in most stores). When you've got everything from sports cars to large military hardware, you have to adapt a bit.
If you're worried about losing Frenzy, he actually fits back into Barricade's chest, the same holding slot as car mode, once you've transformed Barricade.
If I may make a general comment here about the character designs from the movie. Don't get me wrong -- I immensely enjoyed the Transformers movie, and I am well aware of the fact that trying to directly transpose G1 designs over to the live-action world probably would not have worked all that well, at least not with modern movie-goers expectations in the world of special effects, and of course Barricade doesn't have a G1 counterpart to be based from. That having been said, I do feel that some of the designs were a little TOO alien. Yes, these are alien robots, but to some degree, we have to be able to empathize with them, and that's a little difficult when in their robot modes it's hard to discern any significant facial features, and their overall designs are so distinctly alien that you wonder how they manage to fit all of that into a car (or plane, or tank, or motorcycle...)
I'll admit to some concern about these movie images becoming the "default" likeness in the public pop culture mine of these legendary characters, and yet there does seem to be some G1 material out there in conjunction with the movie items, so perhaps this much is a needless concern. But I do find myself wondering if some of the robot designs really had to be as extremely alien as they turned out to be.
Having said that, there's no question that Barricade is a cool toy, and an excellent representation of the movie character, who frankly sees more action and screen time in the movie than most of his fellow Decepticons.
Barricade has a character profile on the back of his package card. It reads as follows:
BARRICADE is a born liar. The greatest thrill in his life is knowing people trust him because of the human decorations on his door panels. The look of betrayal they get when they realize what they're dealing with is as sweet as candy. The only thing he likes better is chasing down Autobots and then breaking them into pieces with his powerful arms and crushing, hydraulic hands.
As of this writing, the Transformers movie toys have been phenomenal sellers, especially the action figure toys based most closely on the movie characters themselves, as one would expect them to be, and most especially the basic carded units -- again not surprising.
But the general word out there is that the Transformers movie is a hit, and the toys are proving to be an even bigger hit. If you enjoyed the movie, and have been any sort of collector of the toys, you're probably going to want at least some of these, and certainly Barricade, arguably one of the most notable Decepticons in the movie, is one of the most interesting entries in the line, and his scarcity would indicate a lot of people share that opinion.
I should mention that there is a recolored Barricade in the works, a mostly white one with blue trim. I sort of raise an eyebrow to that. Barricade never looked like that in the movie. Sounds like he's trying to imitate Prowl. Typical Decepticon...
However, the Transformers Movie BARRICADE -- the original version,
that is -- definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!