Dark of the Moon Mudflap Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Dark of the Moon, Deluxe, MechTech, Revenge of the Fallen

Dark of the Moon

General Information:
Release Date: May 2011
Price Point: $12.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blaster/Battle Axe weapon

Images:

*Images and text in italics from the Official Transformers web site:
MUDFLAP is quickly becoming a veteran AUTOBOT soldier, but there are days he cannot believe he’s battling the DECEPTICONS shoulder-to-shoulder with OPTIMUS PRIME. MUDFLAP shows the courage and enthusiasm of a distinguished AUTOBOT even though the DECEPTICONS may have to wait a few years before they truly fear him.

Spring into action with this vehicle-to-robot hero! Convert your mighty MUDFLAP figure from CHEVY SPARK concept vehicle mode to battle-ready robot mode. Then convert him back to vehicle mode so he can chase down his enemies and attack them with his blaster! As the battle rages on, keep converting him back and forth, so he’s ready to face whatever his enemies throw at him! Blaster converts to battle axe! Ages 5 and up.

While the Cyberverse makes up a smaller scale of figures in the "Dark of the Moon" toy line, the size class most fans are used to returns with "Mech Tech" technology. The generaly concept behind "Mech Tech" are weapons that transform from one type of weapon to another. These have standard peg sizes that allow the weapons to be swapped between figures.

It's no exaggeration to say that Mudflap is one of the more reviled characters in recent Transformers movie history. Indeed, his role (and that of his brother Autobot Skids) was so controversial that the rumor mill states that they have been all but excised from "Dark of the Moon" in the editing room despite sightings of their respective vehicle modes on set during filming of the movie and their cross promotional, licensing potential. The final product seems to have borne this out as I couldn't find them anywhere in the film which I found to be an interesting statement on the potential of an audience to influence character decisions in a film.

Mech Tech Weapon:
Since the Mech Tech weapons are critical parts of this toy line, I will review the weapons separately if they have some type of functionality. How they work with each figure will be discussed in the review of the various modes. I will make one general statement that will probably be replicated throughout several of the first (and possibly second) wave of deluxe figure releases regarding the Mech Tech weapons: they cannot stay in their "transformed" state without being held in place. Most Mech Tech weapons are spring activated, and when you release the switch that transforms them, the weapons automatically revert back to their previous form. This is important to note as the packaging clearly shows the weapons can maintain their alternative forms with no mention of requiring support.

Mudflap's blaster resembles a high tech machine gun. The front end has a small barrel that leads to a claw like opening with a chunky section in the back. Sitting on top of the weapon is a targeting scope. There are a lot of layers of details on this weapon. The barrel has some vertical lines on the sides while each section has both curved and angled details. I'm not sure if I'm alone in this, but I tend to stare at weapons for a while wondering "How the heck did the designer come up with all these details?". This is one of those weapons.

The entire weapon is cast in grey plastic. In its blaster mode you can see the axe blades of its alternate form sticking out the sides a bit, and those are painted yellow. One day I hope for a bunch of Mech Tech weapons painted in gritty patterns with silver and black wash that will really bring out their details because they deserve it!

Pull the targeting scope back and the axe handle and blades flip out. It's a nice transformation as two things are happening at the same time. When it comes to melee weapons, I really wish these weapons could lock in their alternate forms because it looks super cool!

Vehicle Mode:
Mudflap's alternate form is the Chevrolet Spark, a sporty little vehicle that is the successor to the Chevrolet Beat, the vehicle that Skids transformed into in "Revenge of the Fallen". It's no secret that Chevrolet is the major vehicle company used in Transformers films and this is another example of that relationship. I do enjoy the continuity in vehicle modes from one version to the next for the character.

Mudflap's vehicle mode manages to replicate many of the key features of the Spark, as seen on its web site. It has the compact, curved shape starting from a downward sloping front end leading up to a high middle to rear section. It even has the subtle curves over the front and rear wheel wells found on the real life vehicle. There's also the front end design, which includes a separated grille with the Chevrolet logo in the middle flanked by tear shaped headlights. Under each of the headlights is a round fog light. Even the dual windshield washers are sculpted in the front along with one in the back. The back section isn't ignored at all. The rear lights have the same round shape as the real life vehicle and there is a trapezoid shaped area for a license plate and a Chevrolet logo right above it.

Of course, the designers would not just take a plain old Chevrolet Spark and use it for a Transformer. Instead, some minor modifications were made to the vehicle mode. First there is a spoiler attached to the back section on the top of the vehicle. Next, you'll find a small panel that comes out the side at a slight angle right near the rear wheels. Finally, the area near the exhaust pipes in the back differs from the standard model with grille-like details and sections that extend out slightly, looking almost like a footstand of some sort (I'm sure that's not their function however).

If there's one thing I have to say for the Hasbro and Tomy designers, they really know how to sculpt realistic looking vehicles. Sure you may say Matchbox and Hot Wheels do the same, but their vehicles (generally) don't have to transform into a functional action figure. That requirement makes any time I see a vehicle mode sculpted well an impressive moment.

Mudflap is mostly cast in black plastic. Certain sections (most notably where the windows are found) are cast in smokey clear plastic. You can see a bit of orange plastic peeking out from the bottom of the vehicle, but those parts are more for the robot mode. Paint applications are done in orange, silver, gold and red. The orange is the boldest color, used for two wide racing stripes that start at the front of the vehicle and go all the way to the back. A touch of orange is used on the sideview mirrors as well. The gold paint is used on the Chevrolet logo in the front while the silver and red colors are used on the front and back for the headlights and rear lights. Overall I like the dark and bright color contrast on this figure. It's not over the top but rather balances out perfectly.

Being part of the Mech Tech line, Mudflap is made to accomodate weapons in vehicle mode. Here, there are two holes on the top of the vehicle that will fit Mech Tech weapons. These are the spring loaded kind of ports where a small piece of plastic springs up to fill the hole if nothing is there. You can insert two weapon on top and of course add on weapons to those if you use the right ones. In this respect, Mudflap has definitely upgraded from his previous form!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the panels that form the sides of the vehicle out.
  2. Flip the vehicle over and straighten out the robot legs.
  3. Separate the robot legs from each other.
  4. Swing out the heel piece on each foot.
  5. Swing the robot arms out to the sides and straighten them out.
  6. Swing down the small panel underneath the front of the vehicle.
  7. Swing the front of the vehicle/chest forward.
  8. Connect the panel you just swung down to the peg on the robot's waist area.
  9. Swing the robot head up.
  10. Swing down the hood panel from the vehicle mode (it should now be behind the robot head).
  11. Each of the wheels in the front can move in a bit at an angle, though it's a bit tricky to get it right and have the peg connect securely.
  12. Fold the halves of the vehicle mode's side panel together.
  13. Straighten out the arms and attach the weapon to either one.

Robot Mode:
While his tech specs indicate he has grown and matured, Mudflap still has a pretty squat and strange looking form. Unlike many Transformers that are designed to be sleek and streamlined to a degree, Mudflap is more round in shape and short. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in bulk. His torso section is huge, due in part from being made up of a good chunk of the vehicle mode's front end (which is not inconsiderable in bulk itself). He also carries over the asymmetrical arm design from the first film, where his left forearm is significantly larger than the right. Then we come to the feet, which are huge and have "toes" that end in what look like claws. When you combine that with his amazingly ugly head sculpt, Mudflap winds up looking like some troll-like creature instead of a more traditional looking Transformer. I must confess I'm not really crazy about the appearance of the character. I would have hoped that an updated version would have shown a more sleek or tough looking package. For the most part, Mudflap looks much like his "Revenge of the Fallen" self just with different car parts attached.

Where this figure does succeed is in providing some really nicely sculpted details. The area on the top of the chest section has some really complicated looking machinery nestled behind the armor. The same can be said for his waist piece, which looks like it has parts of a car engine built into it. Even the head sculpt, as ugly as it is has a lot of really well sculpted detailing in the area in between his head and his floppy looking "ears". I may not be crazy about his aesthetics, but I believe in giving credit where it's due.

In this mode the primary colors of black and orange are still in effect. Silver paint is used for most of the detailing such as on the top of the chest and the robot head. The colors contrast well against each other, though in my weird brain I can't help but associate this color scheme with Halloween. It doesn't help that he looks like some goblin troll impression.

Mudflap has twenty one points of articulation in this form. I'm not including his feet and heels in this count (which would bring the count to twenty five). His shoulders each have a "C-Clip" bar on them, allowing him to have shoulder mounted weapons. The forearms each have fists that you can accomodate some weapons in (not all seem to fit well) but they do have holes on them to attach Mech Tech weapons. Oddly, his left shoulder joint hinge is super tight, so when you try to tur it out, it "pops" a bit instead of moving smoothly. The right shoulder doesn't do that so I'll call this a one off production glitch.

Final Thoughts:
Again to give credit where it's due, Mudflap has some nice sculpting and the vehicle mode is fantastic. I'm just not a big fan of the robot mode design, but even that would have been serviceable had the head sculpt been different. Overall, not recommended.