Dark of the Moon Thunderhead with Major Tungsten Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Dark of the Moon, Human Alliance, Scout

Dark of the Moon

General Information:
Release Date: April 2011
Price Point: $9.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Rifle, Major Tungsten action figure
Image Gallery: Gallery of Thunderhead and Major Tungsten images

*Official images and text below from the Official Transformers Web Site:
Everything THUNDERHEAD does, he does loud. As an artillery commander, he is an expert at raining down fire on enemies hundreds of miles away. His partnership with Major Tungsten is easy – both of them are loud, and more than happy to drop a storm of explosive shells on the heads of unsuspecting DECEPTICONS.

With three modes to choose from, these heroic partners have many options against the DECEPTICON forces. Switch into vehicle mode, sit your Major Tungsten figure on top, and send them into battle. Or let your Major Tungsten figure take refuge behind his mechanical friend when he’s in robot mode. You can even switch to weapon mode and add on any other MECHTECH figure! (Sold separately.) Set includes vehicle figure and human ally figure. Ages 5 and up.

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.

Major Tungsten Review

Major Tungsten
Major Tungsten is a new character in the Transformers universe. The figure is clearly a member of the military. He is dressed in a uniform with a vest loaded with pockets. Hasbro is no stranger to sculpting military figures, so I expect these Human Alliance figures to be detailed and it is. Tiny details such as his shoelaces and wrinkles in his clothes are all present. Slightly larger details like his knee armor and a sidearm sculpted into the side of the right leg are all included as well. The head sculpt is rather generic, showing a man with short cropped hair.

The figure is cast in grey plastic. The vest is colored brown and his boots are painted black. The hands and head have a light skin tone and his hair, eyes and eyebrows are painted brown. The eyes are particularly impressive as they are really tiny dots but came out evenly. A spot of red is used to paint an Autobot symbol on his chest, leaving no doubt whose side he's on!

Major Tungsten has nine points of articulation including head articulation and three points in each leg. He does not come with any accessories (I would argue he is an accessory in the set). His hands are sculpted in a "C" shape so he can hold on to controls on the Transformers figures in this sub-line. He has a hole in the back that can be used to attach him to Thunderhead, stabilizing their connection in Thunderhead's "Mech Suit" form. It is worth noting that Major Tungsten is smaller in size than the Human Alliance figures from a year or two ago. These are meant to interact with Scout Class figures so this is not a surprise, but it does throw compatability with your current Sam Witwicky figures out the window a bit.

Thunderhead Review

Robot Mode
As the Transformers movie lines have gone along, we have seen many figures that represent the Transformers after they have come to Earth and adopted a new form. There are exceptions such as Megatron and The Fallen, but amongst the Autobots we've mostly seen forms adopted on Earth representing relatively common vehicles. Not so in the case of Thunderhead. From his robot mode, you can immediately tell he is not a race car, truck or jet. There are no obvious wings or car bits hanging on anything, he's just a solid looking robot in this form with huge bulky forearms and lower legs that give him a tough look befitting a loud artillery commander.

Thunderhead's sculpt manages to blend the aesthetics of the movie with more traditional Transformers design. Several details resemble those seen on Transformers in the movies. His chest is a good example. It is very angular, with several pieces sculpted to look like they are overlapping something else. His torso narrows to the extreme at the end, coming down to a relatively small waist piece before expanding out to his thicker legs. His head sculpt is also quite unique. He has two separate eyes (as opposed to "visor eyes") and what resembles a mouthplate, but rather than being flat like Optimus Prime's, it separates in the middle and then has a chin piece flanked by two tubes. Sweeping back on the head are two horns that are actually handles for his vehicle mode. The more traditional design aspects are seen on his arms and legs, which are angular in design with more blocky parts than we usually see on movie designs. This blend of aesthetics works very well and I like it a lot.

Thunderhead is cast in black, silver and orange plastic. This is an interesting combination of colors that we don't see often, and it's distributed nicely. His head, upper arms and thighs are orange while his forearms, much of the torso and lower legs are silver. Black is used to round things out on his chest plate, fists, feet and weapon. Paint details are provided in black, gold, orange, metallic blue, silver and black paint. Being a Scout Class sized figure, I was happy to see so many colors used on Thunderhead. None are used a lot, but rather the colors are spread out nicely. His collar is silver, the angled shapes on his chest are metallic blue while the orange and black are used on his mid-section. The front of the head is black plastic and his face is painted gold. His eyes are painted red, which is an interesting choice since most Autobots have blue eyes. Overall, the color combination works very well and gives Thunderhead a very distinctive appearance.

This figure has seventeen points of articulation in robot mode. This includes five in each arm and three in each leg. Note, I am counting the ability for his arms to swing upward even though it is part of his transformation. His shoulder and hip joints are ball joints that are nice and tight. His fists are designed in such a way that the palms are up, so when he holds his weapon it is sticking out to the side. This isn't a huge deal and actually looks kind of cool. In another interesting note, it looks like the "Dark of the Moon" toys will continue to push the "C" clip type weapons as an option for some figures. Right at the elbow joint, Thunderhead has a C clip on each forearm, allowing you to connect more weapons to him such as those included with Skullgrin. One weird note is that his dual missile launcher pods on his back are attached to C clips, and they can detach and be attached to his forearms, but they don't stay very well, flopping to the front or back. Thanks to his wide feet, Thunderhead is really stable so you can get a lot of poses out of him. Overall this is definitely a fun figure to play with.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode

  1. Detach the rifle and set it aside for now.
  2. Swing each hand into the forearms.
  3. Swing each half of the feet up against the lower legs.
  4. Turn the robot head around and swing it back and slide it forward.
  5. Rotate the back pack of the robot around.
  6. Swing down the front piece that resembles a head.
  7. Swing each of the robot arms up on the shoulder hinges and angle the arms so the treads are pointing down.
  8. Rotate each of the lower robot legs around and angle them at the knee joint to match the position of the arms.
  9. Straighten out the small dual missile launcher pods.
  10. Attach the rifle weapon to the hole in the center of the mobile weapon mode.
  11. Swing the black panel on the back out to form a chair for a Human Alliance figure.
  12. Seat any Human Alliance figure in the chair, using the peg on the back of the chair to keep the figure attached. The hands can hold onto the handles on the back of the robot mode head.

Vehicle Mode
Thunderhead's vehicle mode is a mobile weapons platform that resembles the "spider tank" design seen in many science fiction stories, including Transformers itself. Back during the run of the "Cybertron" series, the "Scrapmetal Drones" had a very similar vehicle mode which looks like a tank with legs. In this case however, I would say Thunderhead has less of an insectoid appearance and more of a bull-like one thanks to the interesting "head" piece in the front of the vehicle. It's rather wide and has two handles on it which look a bit like a bull with rings in its nose or something to that effect. Thanks to the bulk of the arms and legs, this vehicle looks like it can move with some power! Add to that the ewapons mounted on top and Thunderhead definitely lives up to his function as an artillery commander.

This mode also gives us a look at some cool detailing that was less obvious in robot mode. This includes wires on the platform that you attach the rifle to, pistons on the sides of the legs and the cushions sculpted into the seat.

Thunderhead's plastic colors don't reveal much new in this form, but you do get to see a bit more orange since his limbs are so prominent. We also get to see a bit more black plastic in the form of the missile pods, the seat and a hinge piece in the front of the vehicle. Black paint is the most heavily used color here, found on the treads and on the sides of the turret as Autobot symbols. A bit of gold color is used in this form as well on tiny rectangles towards the front of the turret's sides. Overall, Thunderhead looks fantastic in this form.

There are nineteen points of articulation in this form, mostly based in the arms and legs. The turret section can actually turn, but you'll have to lift up the "head" in front first. I'm also counting the ability for the missile pods to swing out to the sides and rotate around on their C clip base. I love the way the human figure sits on the chair and uses the control handles. It makes for a striking image that embodies the "Human Alliance" theme.

Transformation to Mech Suit Mode (from robot mode)

  1. Swing the robot hip and waist area up.
  2. Swing the black panels that form the chair of the vehicle mode down, connecting them via the black peg to the back of the waist piece.
  3. Swing the robot arms forward.
  4. Straighten out the missile launchers so they face front.
  5. Rotate both lower legs around so the gold sections face forward.
  6. Attach the rifle to the top of the Mech.
  7. Attach a Human Alliance figure to the peg on the black seat.
  8. Swing down the silver "vehicle head" piece down.
  9. The Human Alliance figure can hold onto the silver handle pieces.

Mech Suit Mode
I have to confess that as soon as I saw Thunderhead's packaging I kind of did a little jump for joy. Aside from the semi-"G.I. Joe and Transformers" nature of the toy, it had a Mech Suit Mode. Call it an Exo-Suit, whatever you like, the fact is that this is a combination of many things I love. First, I've always dug the concept of Exo-Suits in Transformers. Indeed, the concept of a Transformer either becoming or having an extra "suit" for battle dates back to Generation One and continues to be used in "Dark of the Moon" with Optimus Prime's trailer forming armor around him. Another thing I love? Mech based fiction such as Robotech, Mechwarrior or Exo-Squad. Having a Transformer that becomes something resembling an E-Frame makes the fanboy in me squee just a bit (read: a lot) so I love this mode and look forward to a blue, red and yellow redeco of this figure some time (Exo-Squad fans will understand this reference).

Overall, the Mech Suit mode is basically a combination of the vehicle and robot modes. He has the limbs of the robot mode, with the turret of the vehicle mode becoming the place for Major Tungsten to sit/stand. No real "new" detail is revealed here, but it is a different configuration that makes Thunderhead look almost like a whole different figure.

Thunderhead has eighteen points of articulation in this mode. This includes the ability for the panel that covers his passenger to swing up and all the robot mode articulation except for the knees, which are facing back now (though you can make a semi-chicken walker if you wanted). Also, since his fists are extended out in this form, he can hold additional weaponry making him one heavily armed Mech Suit!

Final Thoughts
Thunderhead is pure awesome in my book. He has three distinctive and cool modes, fun transformations and interaction with a human figure that fans have wanted for years. Sure we've had it in dribs and drabs over the years, but this is a mainline figure that is clearly meant for military action. You know you love a figure when you want a small army of redecos (which I do). Highly recommended!