REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS WARPATH
Something that I don't often hear discussed in a sort of "in-universe" concept is -- how can a race of sentient robots have such a wide variety of voices? Ultimately, they are machines. And one sort of wonders if something has gone just a little bit wrong with them. Starscream's screeching tones. Soundwave's monotonal reverb. And how in the world did Rumble and Frenzy manage to pick up New York-sounding accent on Cybertron!?
Then you've got someone like Warpath. An Autobot who transforms into a tank, he had the highly annoying tendency to punctuate his speech with his own verbal sound effects, mostly verbalizations of battle noises. The last time that much ruckus had been given word form, it was on the 1960's Batman series during any brawl between the heroes and villains when the words "Pow!" "Bam!" and whatever would be superimposed on the screen. And even the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder didn't talk their way through it.
Still, as annoying as one has to believe this was, Warpath was a valuable member of the Autobots. While he may not have been a particularly large tank, he was nevertheless a tank -- a piece of military hardware in an embattled situation in which the other side, the Decepticons, had fighter planes and gigantic guns, and the Autobots were mostly cars of a distinctly non-combatant type. Somebody like Warpath would certainly be welcome, even if he had the strangest speech impediment in the history of Cybertron. I mean, compared to this, "Me, Grimlock" was positively eloquent.
Warpath signed on with the Transformers Generations line pretty much just as it gave way to the line based on the third live-action movie, "Dark of the Moon". It is my sincere hope that the Generations line, whatever it might next be called, as it has undergone a number of changes since first came on the scene as the Classics line several years ago, will return yet again once the third movie line has run its course. There's still plenty of classic Autobots and Decepticons out there, after all.
Why do I like the Classics/Generations line so much? Simply stated, I believe it to be what the Generation One Transformers should always have been, although I realize that technology and design in the 1980's was probably just not up to it. Don't get me wrong. I have all the respect in the world for the original Transformers -- certainly for the characters. They became a pop culture hit that endures to this day. Their adventures continue in the comics, their animated escapades are available on DVD, and they remain the best-known and, I am quite certain, most beloved and respected incarnation of the Transformers -- which has had no shortage of incarnations over the years. Not that there haven't been cool Transformers since. But those Generation One characters made one heck of a first impression, that led to the success of everything since.
All of that being said, I did have one major problem with the original Transformers -- the toys weren't articulated as I would have liked. Now, I realize that the original Transformers could only be loosely defined as action figures. What they really were was an entirely new type of toy, something that hadn't really been seen before. A toy that you could change from one form into another. And those two forms tended to be some sort of vehicle or weapon, and a humanoid robot. The fact that the humanoid robot couldn't do much more than maybe move his head and arms was secondary to the main purpose of the toy -- the transformation.
Nevertheless, it was a little frustrating to watch the animated series, and see these amazing robotic characters running, jumping, flying, fighting, and the toys were capable of none of this. Even the illustrations on the packages were more agile than the toys within. Clearly, the popularity of Transformers from the outset means that this wasn't much of a sticking point for most people, but it was for me. I think I was one of the few people who initially welcomed the Action Masters. Okay, they couldn't transform. At least they were poseable.
This problem was eventually alleviated around the time when the highly popular Beast Wars line came along. Arguably, Beast Wars is a very close second in most people's minds as to their favorite Transformers incarnation, and deservedly so. The CGI series was superbly presented, and the toys were cool, and certainly something different. But more to the point, in their robotic modes, the Transformers were much more poseable than they had ever been.
Needless to say, it wasn't hard to dream of a scenario in which the original Generation One Transformers could be given new forms, in which in their robotic modes they could finally have the articulation that they deserved.
And -- it finally happened! With the advent of Transformers Classics, all-new Transformers toys, clearly representing and highly respectful to the original, Generation One Transformers, but with a full range of articulation, came on the scene. Needless to say, I was all over these, and have continued to pay close attention to the line, as it has come and gone a couple of times, mostly to make room for movie toys, and has changed its name here and there. Most recently it has been known as Transformers Generations, with a side-step group marketed under the banner of "Reveal the Shield". However, the robot I want to review is definitely part of the Generations line.
So, who is Warpath? A "wiki" type Web Site based on the Transformers has provided me with plenty of background information to share.
Warpath first appeared in the animated series, with no particular introduction. At this point in time, new Transformers were being produced for the toy line at such a pace that it was all the animated series could do just to get them squeezed in somehow, although Warpath, due to his distinctive alt mode and speech pattern, fared better than some.
He first turned up during an episode in which Megatron had created a remote controlled duplicate of Optimus Prime in an attempt to lead the Autobots to their doom. Later on, he accompanied the real Optimus Prime and the Autobots to Dinobot Island, where he first demonstrated his zest for combat and his unusual speech pattern. He also had the first of several battles with his closest counterpart in the Decepticons, the Triple-Changer Blitzwing, who had a tank as one of his alt modes.
On another occasion, after Grapple and Hoist teamed up with the Constructicons to build Grapple's Solar Power Tower, and the pair were double-crossed by the Constructicons, Warpath was on the team that drove to their rescue. Following a battle, Warpath helped pick through the ruined remains of the tower to find their two comrades.
He was one of several Autobots who defended the Ark when Megatron, powered by the Heart of Cybertron, attacked. Warpath fared well, firing several rounds at the Decepticon leader while shrugging off two direct hits from his energy bolts.
On another occasion, Warpath and Hoist were chasing a small group of Decepticons led by Starscrean, and ended up passing through a mysterious phenomenon that transported them all to the year 542 AD. The Autobots and Decepticons took opposite sides with a pair of warring knights, and Warpath allowed the Red Knight to ride him in joust against Sir Blackthorne's champions, Rumble and Ramjet.
If the notion of large humanoid robots fighting in a medieval joust is creating some interesting mental imagery for you, trust me -- you're right. The Transformers animated series was known for a certain occasional weirdness like this. Maybe more than occasional.
During the joust, they successfully rammed Ramjet, caving in his nosecone and forcing the Decepticons to fall back and grab a hostage to make good their getaway, specifically the Red Knight's daughter. Warpath led the charge against Blackthorne's castle and after thwarting Starscream's plans to rule the 6th century, enlisted the aid of a local wizard to return them to the 20th century.
At one point -- just in case that last scenario wasn't weird enough for you -- Warpath popped up on a movie studio lot, and was hired by the director along with other Autobots to be his new stunt vehicles. Along the way, Warpath was given a starring role in the new picture "Attack of the Alien Robots", but he was confused by the lack of real firepower, couldn't believe the reliance on special effects, and flubbed one of his lines. He ultimately decided that Hollywood was not the place for him.
Warpath was one of the original Autobots to survive the events of the animated movie, and as such was present in 2006 for the first Galactic Olympics, as well as a surprise party for young Daniel Witwicky, which turned out to be more of a surprise than expected when the Combaticons attacked a shuttle bay.
In the original Marvel comic, Warpath was a member of Perceptor's resistance cell on Cybertron during the reign of Straxus. He was among those who later traveled to Earth on the Space Bridge being constructed by the Decepticons. He didn't seem to have the same unusual speech pattern in the comics as in the animated series, but it likely would have lost something on the printed page anyway.
Warpath has continued to turn up in comics continuity, both from Dreamwave and IDW.
Warpath's original toy, which was released in 1985, is officially designated as a General Motors M551A1 Sheridan ARAAV tank. Honestly, the toy looks better in tank mode than it does in robot mode. It's not an especially large tank, being part of the mini-vehicle collection, but it does look very much like a tank, albeit a burgundy red one. The robot mode is a little strange, with the turret becoming the chest, the arms rather oddly placed, and the legs popping up out of the front of the tank, which does not separate into individual feet. This wasn't entirely unheard of for mini-Transformers of the time, but it does illustrate the problem I cited earlier.
So -- how's the NEW Warpath? A darn sight more impressive. I initially thought he was a repaint, but in fact, he isn't. He's an entirely new toy.
His tank mode is interesting. Unlike the original Warpath, whose tank mode had some basis in reality, the new Warpath's tank mode is more futuristic in design. Warparth is effectively a four-treaded tank, with two treads in the front, and two treads in the rear. In tis respect, he bears some slight resemblance, at least in concept, to a four-treaded version of Warpath from the Transformers Universe line from a couple of years ago, but there's no other similarity between the two, and the new Generations Warpath is intended to be closer character-wise to the original Warpath.
Certainly the color scheme is correct. The main color is a sort of brick-burgundy red, perfect for Warpath. The treads are a metallic silver, as are some of the details on the tank. The treads, not surprisingly, do not actually function, but each one has a small wheel underneath it, to enable Warpath to roll along any smooth surface.
In tank mode, Warpath is about 4-1/2" long, including the gun barrel. That's a little small for a Generations Transformer in this particular basic size range, but he is a unique character and toy. He's about 3-1/4" wide at his widest point, and just shy of 2" in height.
Even in tank mode, Warpath is not lacking for moving parts. His turret can rotate 360 degrees, and the large gun can elevate. The two weapons pods on either side of the turret are adjustable, and one of them can fire a spring-loaded missile which Warpath comes with.
Additionally, Warpath has some hysterical registry numbers imprinted on him. Along with two Autobot emblems, one on each side, he has the letter-number combinations of "K4-9OW" and "ZOW-333" printed on either side, definitely acknowledgments of his distinctive speech pattern, and a cool little touch that shows that whoever is working on these new toys, knows his history.
Let's consider Warpath's transformation. All modern Transformers come with a set of illustrated instructions, but sometimes, a two-dimensional diagram doesn't always translate as well as it should on a three-dimensional toy, and there are no written words on the instruction sheet to explain precisely what needs to be done. When I review a Transformer, I try to provide written instructions as an aid to this. However, I do recommend that you not only have the provided instructions with you, but it doesn't hurt to have the package card itself with you, which provides photographs of the toy on both vehicle and robot mode. It can help to figure out where something is supposed to fit sometimes.
Warparth is ranked at "3" on a scale of 0 to 5, and as such is considered "Intermediate" as far as transformation difficulty is concerned. So -- let's find out.
Start by pushing in the gun barrel. Do so gently. You don't want to break it. This will also result in Warpath's head popping up from the top of the turret.
Next, fold the turret hatch against the back of Warpath's head, and fold the outer weapons mounts inwards.
Next, swing the front of the vehicle, and you'll essentially be taking the entire bottom of the vehicle with it, down, and around, so it's now facing back relative to the head and the turret.
Now, go the back of the tread sections that will become the arms. This should start to be getting apparent. Open the flaps on the backs of the arms and swing them out sideways.
Next, unless it's already happened, split the legs.
Then, fold the flap below the turret down and in, along the two hinges. Make sure it's tucked in all the way and snaps into place. Then you can bring the entire torso down and lock it into place properly.
By now, Warpath should be looking much more like a robot than a tank. Next, you want to fold the feet down. This is trickier than the instructions make it look, because the feet are comprised of part of the outside part of the leg, as well as the tank treads. AND -- something the graphic instructions DON'T show you, is that they're held in place by a plastic tab further up the leg, one that you can't readily see. I couldn't understand why the feet weren't rotating down, as there didn't seem to be anything apparent holding them in place. But you have to move that part of the leg outward slightly to get it past the tab, before you can rotate the feet down. Once you have, it's fairly simple.
Next, rotate the feet and lower legs outwards, so that they snap into place against the legs, and then rotate the legs back again along the upper leg rotation so that the feet are now pointing forward and the knee joint is properly positioned.
Finally, fold the arms down by folding open the tread sections on the arms, and then fold the hands down from within these sections. Snap the covers back into place over the lower arms, and the transformation is complete!
So -- "Intermediate"? Yeah, I'd say that's a fair rating. A few observations. The order of transformation is a little strange. You start to work on the legs, then the arms, then have to do something with the legs, then have to work on the torso, then finish the legs, and finally wrap up the arms. It's a little -- disconnected. There's no real reason, for example, to leave the arm flaps hanging open while you're working on the legs. Perhaps the purpose in the order of transformation is to build some sort of anticipation in completing the robot, but it's still peculiar.
Additionally, there seem to be a lot more parts on Warpath that actually SNAP very firmly into place than on the average Transformer. This isn't a complaint. However, I would observe that people who routinely transform their Transformers a lot might find it a bit annoying. For myself, these Transformers tend to be packaged in their vehicle modes. I generally transform them ONCE into their robot modes and leave them like that, so it doesn't bother me.
On the whole, the transformation process is as distinctive as the toy itself. You may have some experience with car-based Transformers, or plane-based Transformers, and some of the basic principles of transformation may help you here, but on the whole, Warpath's transformation process is fairly unique.
So, how's the robot? Very cool, and definitely more reminiscent of the character than the vehicle mode -- not that the vehicle mode isn't impressive in and of itself.
One thing which was notable about Warpath's original appearance was the fact that his tank turret was his chest, and his gun barrel was front and center. It still is. However, an accommodation has been made in that the gun barrel is distinctly recessed into the turret in robot mode. I think this is a good thing. If the gun barrel were at full length in robot mode -- he could whack somebody in the head or put out their optics with that thing. And he looks better from a robotic standpoint.
I would say that Warpath has an above-average level of detail for a Transformer, which perhaps makes sense given his vehicle mode. He's certainly been upgraded from his original "mini-vehicle" version. He's still mostly burgundy red, even in vehicle form, but he has a decent amount of gray -- several shades of it, really -- silver, and even gold on him. His Autobot emblems are still visible on his lower arms, and his amusing registration numbers are on his lower legs.
Additionally, his spring-loaded missile launcher is still present and accounted for, and still fully functional, now as a shoulder-mounted weapons. The headsculpt is an excellent modern interpretation of the classic character. It definitely looks like Warpath, no question there. In robot mode, Warpath stands nearly 5-3/8" in height, so he's actually larger in robot mode than he is in tank mode. That's -- interesting...
The painted detail on the figure is superb, very neatly applied, including into some fairly small and intricate areas, especially on the face. Warpath doesn't have a traditional face. He has two black slits for eyes, vent-like shapes on his cheeks, and no apparent nose or mouth. Granted, he's not the only Transformer to lack these features. Hello, Optimus? But as I said, he definitely looks like Warpath.
Of course, articulation in robot mode is excellent. This is one of the reasons I enjoy this line so much. Warpath is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, including a swivel, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, and knees. The small wheels under the treads that comprise his feet almost allow him to roll on a smooth surface in robot mode, but as upright as he now is, I don't really think this is intended as an actual feature, and he's just as likely to fall flat on his face -- or his turret, anyway.
The text on the back of the package card outlining the character reads as follows: Wherever the fight is, that's where Warpath wants to be. His super heavy armor and powerful weapons mean he doesn't have to worry about things like orders or tactics. He just heads straight for wherever the fighting is heaviest, pouring fire into the enemy, and hoping there's someone left standing to give him a good fight when he gets there.
In short -- don't be on the wrong side of this guy. His various power rankings give him an "8" in Endurance, "7" in Courage and Fireblast, "6" in Strength and Intelligence, "5" in Speed and Skill, and "3" in Rank -- which he doesn't seem to care about anyway.
So, what's my final word here? I'm glad I found him. I'm glad that, contrary to my initial thought, he wasn't a recolor from someone else. He's certainly a distinctive Transformer, and representative of a well-known classic Autobot. The toy is extremely impressive in both modes, and I believe any Transformers collector will be happy to have him. I certainly am.
The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS edition of WARPATH definitely has my highest recommendation!