"Timelines" Botcon 2015 Exclusive Stepper with Nebulon Toy Review

in 2015, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Botcon, Deluxe, Timelines

Timelines

Stepper

General Information:
Release Date: June 18, 2015
Price Point: $309 (In a set with Megatron, Flywheels, Oilmaster and Packrat)
Retailer: Fun Publications
Accessories: Speakers x 2; Blaster; Nebulon Targetmaster figure

The theme of Botcon 2015 is "Cybertron's Most Wanted". This doesn't just refer to the story where the boxed set had a group of criminals in it, it also refers to toys that represent characters that fans have wanted for a long time - with a new spin of course. One of the characters introduced in this set is "Shattered Glass" Stepper, an alternate universe doppleganger of the Autobot of the same name in "our" universe. He is "Most Wanted" only in a rather oblique way. For a long time, Generation One Stepper was highly coveted figure because he was only released in Japan (and had a pretty fun deco to boot). Years later G1 Stepper would be given a reissue as "Ricochet". When the "United" version of the character was released he was also highly coveted as a new version of the original character. Since this Stepper is the evil counterpart of the "good" Stepper he kind of is "Most Wanted" (yes, that was some serious logic backflipping).

The sculpt used for this figure was originally released as Special Ops Jazz and later "United" Stepper. Stepper's Targetmaster Partner, Nebulon was originally released as Nightstick with "Universe" Cyclonus. The Nightstick sculpt was also released with "United" Artfire and "Timelines" Ferak. Check out those reviews for details on the figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the figures for this release.

Nebulon

Unlike previous versions of this figure, Nebulon is not a sentient being but rather a Drone that Stepper pretends to be alive. No sculpting changes were made to this figure for this release. Nebulon is cast in blue, white and grey plastic. The face is painted silver with red eyes. Nebulon definitely looks different than previous releases of the figure so it will not feel like you are just buying the same, exact Targetmaster all over again.

All the joints on Nebulon are still relatively tight (given the multiple uses of the figure). The weapon mode still has a 5mm peg that allows figures such as Stepper to hold it.

Stepper

Vehicle Mode:
When "Shattered Glass" was first conceived, many of the colors chosen for the characters were either themed based on their arch-enemies or original, darker "Decepticon symbol" themed colors. In the case of Stepper, his colors are essentially an inversion of the colors used on G1 Stepper. The original Stepper was mostly black with red and gold flame patterns. This time out, Stepper mainly features orange plastic (with some black and clear plastic for parts like the wheels and windows respectively). You'll also see some white plastic peeking out from the cabin section. This comes more into play in the robot mode.

Where the "inversion" takes place is the paint deco, which is mostly black and gold. With orange taking the place of red from the original Stepper, this figure de-emphasizes the black color and the gold appears on several parts including the headlights, the sides of the wheels and the spoiler in the back. This Stepper does share one very important design aspect with his alt-universe doppleganger: flame patterns. There are flames on the hood and sides of the vehicle. Finishing touches include a purple Decepticon symbol in front and metallic blue paint on the rear lights. Perhaps one of the most impressive deco points is the cabin section cover. This piece is clear plastic, so Fun Publications matched an orange paint to use on it and it blends in with the orange plastic beautifully. There is also beautiful black trim around the windows.

Overall, the theme works, though my personal preference would have been to stick with the red from the original Stepper to be used instead of the orange color.

No tooling changes were made to the vehicle. You can still open the doors and swing up the speakers behind them to blast enemies with sonic blasts or just have a party!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the figure over and detach the blaster from underneath the front of the car.
  2. Extend the barrel of the blaster forward.
  3. Swing each door open.
  4. With the vehicle flipped over, swing out each robot arm.
  5. Extend the rear of the vehicle down to begin forming the robot legs.
  6. Separate the halves of the vehicles rear section.
  7. Swing out the robot feet and swing out the heel pieces.
  8. Swing each arm out to the sides, which creates an opening in the middle of the car hood.
  9. Swing the car hood piece down to form the robot chest. The head will swing up at the same time.
  10. Straighten out the arms.
  11. Place the blaster into one of the fists.

Robot Mode:
There are no tooling changes made to this figure in robot mode, so he winds up looking like Jazz in a wild set of colors (which is fair since G1 Stepper was a Jazz redeco with some extra accessories). This mode de-emphasizes the orange color a bit. It's still there on the chest, forearms, door "wings" and lower legs, but now it is balanced out with black and white plastic. Black is used on parts like the upper arms, thighs and feet while white is found on the elbows, head, fists and knee area. The contrast is very strong and the colors definitely pop.

The vehicle mode is very deco heavy and much of those parts carry over into this mode, so there are no crazy deco surprises here. In one particularly nice touch however the eyes are cast in a golden clear plastic color for light piping. With the face painted black, these eyes really stand out. This mode also helps feature the flame tampograph on his chest a bit more along with the gold grille on his chest. Stepper's deco is a very unusual one and whether or not you like it will largely depend on your personal sense of aesthetics. I fear the orange and white may be a bit "too much" for some fans who may prefer a more subdued deco.

I was pleasantly surprised to find all the joints on this figure are still really nice and tight. Indeed, I think a couple of the joints here might be tighter than those on my "Reveal the Shield" Jazz! There are definitely no Q/C issues in that respect.

Final Thoughts:
Stepper is a very unusual figure in terms of the deco. There simply aren't a lot of orange/black/white colored Transformers figures out there. That said, if you already own this sculpt I do not think you need to run out and grab this guy immediately or anything. If you like it, I would try to get the figure on sale (or at least as close to the original Botcon price as possible). If you want the entire set this figure came in, you can order it at BigBadToyStore as of June 2018. Recommended but only to a very limited audience.

Pros:

  • The base "Special Ops Jazz" sculpt is fantastic and the toy is fun to play with.
  • Beautiful deco in vehicle mode.
  • More paint than you will see on an average Transformers figure.
  • Targetmaster partner is a nice bonus item.

Cons:

  • Deco is not exactly the most obvious Stepper callout.
  • Figure is part of a larger set, so getting it at a reasonable price may involve some searching.