Dark of the Moon Human Alliance Tailpipe with Sgt. Noble & Pinpointer Toy Review
Release Date: November 2011
Price Point: $9.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Pinpointer figure, Sgt. Noble figure
Images: Image gallery of Tailpipe, Pinpointer and Sgt. Noble
As the "Dark of the Moon" toy line began to be revealed during the time frame of Toy Fair 2011, some interpreted the "Cyberverse" Commander series of figures as the heir apparent to the position held by the Scout Class figures, a major staple of the Transformers toy line since the days of "Beast Wars". However, Toy Fair 2011 revealed this to not be the case. Instead, the Scout Class is being enhanced and folded into the "Human Alliance" sub-line of Transformers figures. Originally this line focused on large scale "Alternators" style vehicles with human partners, all based on the movie universe. The concept has been expanded now to include new characters that work together on the battlefield. In some respects, this sub-line is a near realization of the "G.I. Joe and Transformers" toys fans have wanted for years.
Sgt. Noble is the human member of this Autobot trio. The figure is about the same size as the other Human Alliance figures in this line, but in comparison to Pinpointer and Tailpipe he looks really tiny (and in vehicle mode, Tailpipe really looks out of proportion with him). That said, Sgt Noble is still a nicely sculpted figure that differs quite a bit from some of his fellow N.E.S.T. team members.
Sgt. Noble is sculpted to look like he's wearing a jumpsuit with armor over it. The jumpsuit has plenty of wrinkled sections that give it the look of real fabric. The armor is more thin and angular. You'll find a large piece sculpted on the torso, covering the front and back. He also has panels on his forearms, elbows and knees. The head is sculpted with a helmet that looks like it has lights mounted onto the sides. His face is exposed and represents an average looking soldier.
Sgt. Noble is cast in grey plastic. Paint applications are done in black, skin tone, white and dark green. The black is used for the helmet, gloves and boots. His face is painted in a light skin tone while his eyes are black and white. The eyes are painted rather wide so Sgt. Noble has this look of constant astonishment, which is a bit hilarious. The dark green color is used for the armor vest on the torso section, though the difference in color is a bit hard to see until you stare at it a bit. The paint job is good, if not a bit plain because of the grey color. Still, between the sculpt and paint job it's a fine looking Human Alliance human figure.
There are eleven points of articulation on this figure. This includes three points on each leg and two on each arm. This includes the ability for his arms to swing out and up and down and his legs are able to bend at the hip joint to allow him to sit in Human Alliance vehicles.
Pinpointer is Tailpipe's long time partner on the battlefield, serving as a fighter and a weapon. This isn't the first time the name "Pinpointer" has been associated with a weapon in Transformers history. In Generation One, Pinpointer was a Targetmaster, a being who transformed into a weapon for a larger Transformer to use. In that sense history has repeated itself, but this time out Pinpointer is pure Cybertronian (not a Nebulan or member of the planet "Master") and he looks quite different than his predecessor.
The best way I can describe Pinpointer's design is that he appears inspired by a bat. His head sculpt is shaped like a bat's, with a snout in the front and two big ears that angle back on his head. Panels around his arms look like wings or a cape and his feet are sculpted with what look like toes (or angled claws) in the front.
Now some details definitely set Pinpointer apart from the bat motif. First, he has two big honking machine guns attached to his back. Both barrels rest on the same hinge and can swing up over his head to fire up or forward. He also has gigantic fists for a 'bot his size. What's more interesting? He has two sets of fists. On one side are silver fists, which seem to be his "default" fists. However, if you swing the arms around and point the black panels on his arms forward, they have finger designs etched into him for even bigger fists. I love the idea that Pinpointer is a tough bruiser in his own right, making him less dependent on Tailpipe for any sort of protection. Heck, given the look of the two, I'd place Pinpointer as the bodyguard between the two!
Pinpointer is cast in black and silver plastic. Black makes up the machine gun, torso, lower legs and the "wing/cape" panels on his arms. The other parts are silver. Blue, silver and red paint are used to provide detailing. The blue is used on his eyes. Silver paint is found on the torso and his "default" fists. The red paint is used on two circles on his legs. It's a simple paint job, but it's effective, providing some striking detail to the figure.
Pinpointer has ten points of articulation, which is quite a bit for a small figure. Almost all these joints including the shoulders, hips and knees are ball joints, giving him a good range of motion. I'm also counting the two hinges on his machine gun section too. Overall, this little guy has a rather unique and cool looking robot mode. You can also attach C Clip weapons to his arms in this form, giving some added battle power!
Transformation to Weapon Mode:
- Swing the machine gun sections up against Pinpointer's back.
- Swing the two arms back and connect them using the tab on the left side fitting into the corresponding slot on the right.
- Swing each of the robot legs up, connecting them to the tabs near Pinpointer's fists.
I mentioned above how Pinpointer looks a bit like a bruiser in robot mode. In weapon mode, he looks simply devastating. It's not just the twin machine gun barrels (although they are intimidating), it's also the bulk of the weapon itself and the two tube shaped sections towards the back that suggest a power/ammunition source beyond simple bullet cartridges. From the every angle this looks like one serious piece of hardware.
Pinpointer is designed to interact with Tailpipe in both robot and vehicle modes. In robot mode he can be held in Tailpipe's fists (or any Transformer with a 5mm peg hole). In vehicle mode, you can attach Pinpointer to the back of Tailpipe where he acts as a sotrage container/weapon. I think he looks plenty fierce just on his own as a weapon and he looks great behind held by any Transformer!
Tailpipe is the largest member of this Human Alliance trio, but in comparison to other figures of the same size he's a bit small since Pinpointer is a pretty substantial figure for a "Targetmaster" style partner. That doesn't mean the figure isn't substantial however. He's still instantly recognizable as a Scout Class figure, but a rather small one.
Tailpipe's body design is an interesting mixture of thin and bulkier parts. His legs and waist area are rather thin and lithe, but his chest and arms are pretty bulky, especially since parts of his vehicle mode including the wheels and handlebars wind up on his back. This combination works well since it looks like he has good strength on the upper body but his thinner lower half seems to indicate speed that goes with that strength.
The design of this robot mode does have some elements of Movie Universe style designs including an atypical head design and clawed feet. At first glance, the head looks like a helmet section around a face with four scopes sticking out the front. However, if you push the scopes up, you'll see there is actually a small robot face on this figure. It's kind of a funny looking face with eyes set at an angle and a mouth that looks like a row of gritted teeth, definitely not your typical Transformers head design.
Smaller details help complete the picture of this figure. The chest has hexagon in the center with mechanical details resembling engine parts inside. His legs have several angled sections on the thighs with tubes leading to hinges. A look behind his lower legs reveals several tubes wrapping around a circular detail. On either side of robot head are vents near the shoulders. Overall I really like the look of this figure.
Like Pinpointer, Tailpipe is cast in black and silver plastic. The two colors alternate along the robot fro mtop to bottom. For instance, the head has a silver "helmet" section with a black face. The black chest piece leads to a silver waist piece and so on. The two colors balance out quite well and look very nice together. Paint details are done in black, blue, silver, red and gold. There aren't a lot of these paint details, but they are placed in areas that draw the most attention. The blue and silver for instance are used together on the hexagon on his chest, bringing out the sculpted details brilliantly. The red is right under that. The black paint is used to provide extra black armor details on parts like his shoulders and outer thighs while the gold is found on the front section of his thighs. Interestingly, the four "night vision" style scopes on his head are painted blue but not the eyes on his sculpted face making it seem like those four scopes are his "regular" eyes/face.
There are seventeen points of articulation on this figure in robot mode. Several of these are ball joints including his shoulders, elbows and hips. Since he has to hold a somewhat heavy weapon, I was worried that the shoulder joints would not be able to hold the arm up with Pinpointer in his fists, but no worries, the arms are tight enough to hold up without any extra fiddling. Both his fists are sculpted to accomodate 5mm peg weapons and both arms can hold Pinpointer without a problem. I was especially happy to see that despite its unusual shape and design, his head is able to turn side to side, albeit at an angle. Like many of the Human Alliance figures Tailpipe has bars to attach "C Clip" weapons to. In his case these are on his lower legs off to the sides. That means potentially you could have this little guy armed with four different weapons!
Transformation to Vehicle Mode
- Swing the upper body back on the central hinge.
- Push the robot head into the chest and swing up the front of the vehicle.
- Push the torso section with the hexagon on it down.
- Swing the front of the vehicle mode back, clipping the tab on the chest piece to the section under the hexagon.
- Point the toes on his feet down.
- Connect the two lower legs together.
- Swing the two legs forward.
- On the back of the chest piece, swing out the wheel section, then rotate it around.
- Push the front wheel up against the central hinge.
- The back wheel doesn't sit right up against the central hinge piece but rather it angles back a bit so the tailpipe piece can sit under its hinge.
- Swing the forearms up against the upper arms and tuck them to the sides of the vehicle.
- On the front, right side, swing the hinged rod that looks like it connects the front of the vehicle to the front wheel (it doesn't actually connect, it looks just looks like it).
Tailpipe's motorcycle mode benefits from the interesting proportions mentioned in the robot mode review. Thanks to this, the front end of his vehicle form is pretty bulky and conveys a sense of power in the vehicle. However, don't mistake "bulky" for not looking sleek. There are many details including the sloped front end, angled panels on the side and a curved driver control section that all give him a sleek appearance that befits a motorcycle vehicle mode. The back section is thinner, making up the seat in the middle and then a flat platform on the back. I recall a friend of mine who used to use this exact area on his motorcycle to store things, often strapping the items down with bunjee cord before taking off.
This mode allows us a look at some of the smaller details only partly hinted at by the robot mode. First, the front end of the vehicle has a nice bit of detail that offers continuity between the robot and vehicle modes, namely the headlights. Here the headlights have four bulbs, all sticking out slightly that look just like the goggles used by Tailpipe in robot mode. Behind that are handlebars attached to sideview mirrors and readout instruments. The sides offer some engine-line details thanks to the design of the robot hands. We also get a look at the wheels in this form, which have a nice, angled tread pattern sculpted into them while the sides of the wheels look like they have some armor on them.
Tailpipe doesn't show a whole lot of new color in this form. The sides of the wheels are painted silver and on the front of the vehicle the headlights are painted blue and there is a silver Autobot symbol above them. The gold vent details from the robot chest now point forward so you can see them in the front of the motorcycle. This isn't a lot of detail, but truth be told he really doesn't need more. He looks great just the way he is.
Both of Tailpipe's wheels can spin and he can stand by using the 5mm peg on his tailpipe as a kickstand of sorts. On the back section of the vehicle are openings that allow you to attach Pinpointer in his weapon mode, creating one scary looking motorcycle! If you need more weaponry, the "C Clips" from Tailpipe's robot legs are no on the back of the vehicle, allowing you to attach extra weaponry. Sgt. Noble can ride on the driver's seat but when you do so it quickly becomes apparent that he and Tailpipe are definitely not in scale with each other. Sgt. Noble looks a bit tiny compared to Tailpipe. He can still sit and hold the handlebars, but the size difference is very noticable.
Transformation to Hover/Weapon Mode (from vehicle mode)
- On the right side of the front wheel, swing the hinged rod up.
- Swing each of the robot arms up.
- Pull each of the wheels down.
- Rotate the wheels around on the central joint.
- Swing the wheels up and position each of them so the hinged sections they connect to are in an "L" shape.
- Swing the robot arms back down (these can sometimes get in the way, so if you like you can leave them up).
- Inside each wheel, feel for the geared pieces inside. When you swing one of the blades inside out, the other two will follow.
Tailpipe's "hover" mode looks very much like a science fiction vehicle from the future or some alien world. Sg Noble can still ride on top, which reinforces that perception. Like most of the Human Alliance weapon/third modes, this one is really just a variation on the vehicle mode. The only "new" parts are the blades within the wheels, and I confess I really do love the geared mechanism that causes all three blades to come out at one time. It's simple, yet tremendously effective in selling the illusion of a the wheels "transforming". I'm also rather fond of having the hinged rod from the vehicle mode pointing forward like a blaster. It even has a tab at the top that looks like a detail found on the barrel of guns.
Without changing anything, you can also make this vehicle into a weapon. I mentioned earlier there is a 5mm peg on the bottom of the tailpipe. Since that piece winds up at the bottom of this hover mode, you can have any larger figure with a 5mm connection point hold Tailpipe and use him as a combination blaster/melee weapon. It's a really well done design and I love its ability to be used in two ways without having to change anything.
Tailpipe is a great example of what the Human Alliance figures on this scale can offer. He looks great in all his modes and I love Pinpointer's concept and design. There are slight issues such as how out of proportion Sgt. Noble is to the rest of the team, but that's hardly a deal breaker. Highly recommended!