Transformers Timelines Punch/Counterpunch Toy Review

in 2010, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Collector's Club Exclusive, Generation One, Timelines

Transformers Timelines

General Information:
Release Date: June 2010
Price Point: $59
Retailer: Official Transformers Collector's Club Exclusive
Accessories: Gun, Engine

Images:

In 1987, a rather unique Transformer was released. His primary gimmick was still transformation, but instead of having only one vehicle mode and one robot mode, this Autobot also had an additional robot mode: a Decepticon robot mode! Sold as a "Double Spy", the Autobot known as Punch could become a Decepticon named Counterpunch by some clever twisting around of parts and utilizing both sides of the figure as significant parts of the robot mode. Last year, when the Universe 2.0 Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were released, it was speculated among many fans that the use of the sculpt with two different transformations made it ideal for a future redeco/retool as Punch/Counterpunch. Seeing this opportunity, the Collector's Club selected this figure as one of the exclusives to be released in 2010, bringing Punch/Counterpunch into the fold as a "Classics/Universe 2.0" style revamp of a G1 character.

This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release. You'll want to take a look at Sideswipe and Sunstreaker's reviews for a more detailed look at the mechanics behind the figure and its sculpt.

Packaging: Punch/Counterpunch is packaged in a small box, perhaps the smallest one used to date on an exclusive (outside of the Combiner set for Nexus Maximus). The box depicts the vehicle mode in front with headshots of Punch and Counterpunch above it. It's a very dynamic piece of art and looks fantastic. Inside is a foam insert with Punch inside of it and underneath the insert are instructions and his tech specs. The instructions have been redone so accomodate both modes and to reflect the new head sculpt. Oddly, the Punch instructions show one transform for the legs, but then in the final picture shows a way to transform the legs as per the instructions from the Sunstreaker/Sideswipe instructions, but in the last panels it shows an alternate leg configuration.

Vehicle Mode:
There have been no mold modifications to the vehicle mode, however the color scheme is very different than Sunstreaker or Sideswipe. Instead of red or yellow, a dark metallic blue plastic now dominates the vehicle form, much like it did with the G1 figure of this character. The blue is a really nice shade and with the metallic flake in it the appearance is so much more attractive than a flat blue would have been.

The other prominant color in this mode is black, just like the G1 toy. However, in terms of a pattern, the G1 figure was quite simple and only had some black on the back (by virtue of the leg joints being black). Here, black is not just a coincidental part of the design but rather a style element that enhances the appearance of the vehicle and distinguishes it from its predecessors. Black plastic is found on the wheels, the engine on the top of the vehicle, the cabin cover as well as the front grille piece. These elements all space out the black details enough that the blue still gets to take center stage.

Paint details are done up in dark blue, red, silver, purple, green and black. The blue paint is largely used on the middle to front end of the vehicle. The cabin cover is cast in black, so the top and edges have to be painted. The blue paint used blends in very well with the dark blue plastic. This is really great to see as sometimes it is very difficult to match up a paint color with a molded plastic color. The blue is also used on the front end of the car to paint over the L shaped headlight details. This gives the figure an added element of G1 accuracy where the vehicle mode of the original Punch did not have lights on top. Still, they are visible enough that if you'd like to use your imagination and consider those lights "active" you can certainly do so.

Black is perhaps the most significant paint color here. You'll find it used on stripes running from the sides to the front of the car (and the two stripes do remind me a bit of Punch/Counterpunch's dual identity) while there are some smaller black lines on the hood and behind the side windows. A bit of black is also found on the back behind the engine mounted on top of the vehicle. That black is particularly shiny compared to the black used elsewhere on the vehicle and it looks really great. The sides of the wheels are painted red, another carry over detail from the Generation One version of this character.

Silver is used for small details on the engine piece as well as outline on the rear of the car. The back of the car is also where you'll find some bright contrast to the dark colors that make up most of the vehicle. The background of the car's rear section is painted purple and the rear lights are green. This is a surprising color combination to find on the back of the vehicle since it doesn't originate from the G1 figure and seems to have been thrown in to offer some new visual interpretation of the character. While I think the purple/green combination is a good one, I'm not sure how effective it is on a figure that is mostly black, blue and red. In the center is a license plate area painted silver. Black letters show the license plate number "P CNTR P" which is of course, short for "Punch/Counterpunch". Very cool.

Interestingly, Punch features something that most Classics/Universe 2.0 figures have not featured since 2007 or so: a heat sensitive rub symbol. This is placed right on the top of the vehicle, near the vents of the engine piece on top. Rub it and you'll find that it represents Punch's "Counterpunch" personality as it is a Decepticon symbol. This particular spot always did seem like it was meant to have something on it (it was left empty on the Sunstreaker release for instance) so it's nice to see it utilized properly.

Punch/Counterpunch both share the same vehicle mode and it looks great. I already spoke very highly of the sculpt in my Sunstreaker and Sideswipe reviews so I won't beat a dead horse, but overall this is one fantstic looking vehicle mode with an awesome paint deco that ups the ante in terms of paint decos and design.

Punch Review

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Transformation to "Punch" Mode (from vehicle mode):

  1. Detach the engine/air intake piece.
  2. Flip the car over and detach the exhaust pipe pieces/gun.
  3. Swing the black grille piece up.
  4. Swing out the panels on the rear of the vehicle to the sides so they cover the rear wheels.
  5. Gently pull the opposite halves of the vehicle apart so the doors separate out from the front and back portions.
  6. Swing the robot arms out.
  7. Swing the rear of the vehicle back and down.
  8. Swing out the robot feet from the sections you just swung out.
  9. Rotate the robot legs so the sections with the rear lights face forward. The feet should point the same way.
  10. Slide the front of the car forward.
  11. Swing out the robot arms to the sides.
  12. Swing the car's front section down and snap it against the area right above the waist.
  13. Rotate the waist around so the feet point in the same direction as the front of the car.
  14. Rotate the windshield/windows section around. The robot head will slide up at the same time. Rotate the robot head around so it faces the same direction as the front section of the vehicle. Lift the top portion of the "helmet" to reveal the yellow robot face.
  15. Swing each robot arm up on the hinge at the shoulder so it is level with the rest of the upper body.
  16. Swing each car door to the side of the lower arms and rotate them around.
  17. Attach the weapon to the figure's fist or shoulder.
  18. Attach the air intake piece using the clips to connect to the notches on his back.
  19. If you wish to use the "alternate" leg configuration, rotate the waist around and turn the legs so the flaps are on the sides and the layered line details from the back of the vehicle point forward.

Punch Robot Mode:
Punch's robot mode is essentially a variant transformation of Sideswipe's robot mode. Two main features (aside from the colors) distinguish this from Sideswipe however. First is the brand new head sculpt, and the second is the way the legs are meant to be transformed in this form versus how the instructions show they can be transformed.

The Generation One head sculpt was the same head piece with two faces, one on each side. The top portion of the faces would be covered by a helmet piece on top depending on what mode you had the character in (Autobot or Decepticon). Here we are over twenty years later and the same concept has been utilized for the same character. The first thing you'll notice about the head overall is that it's pretty small in comparison to Sunstreaker or Sideswipe's heads. Photography exaggerates the size difference I've noticed. I saw early production photos before I received my figure and he looked like he had a pinhead, but in person the head does not look anywhere near as out of proportion with the body as I thought it would. Indeed, I think it looks great. The reason for the size difference is that the entire area the head disappears into has to sink down into a chamber in the chest, and that chamber is only so big. Using the the "helmet switch" gimmick necesitated shrinking down the size of the head overall a bit.

The head design itself is very faithful to the G1 animated model for Punch. Instead of a mouthplate with visor like eyes, the animation model gave Punch a regular mouth (oddly drawn over a mouthplate) with rectangular greebles on either side of the jaws and a central crest in the middle of the head with antennae like protrusions going up the sides of the head. The main difference between this head sculpt and the animation model is a bit more sharpness in the antennae, a regular mouth instead of the weird mouthplate/mouth combination and extra detailing on the sides of the head on the "helmet" section. Punch also has very thin eyes compared to his predecessors. The head sculpt looks great overall, and I really like the use of inspiration from the G1 animation model.

The dark metallic blue is still the dominant color in this form, making up most of the chest, legs and arms. Black plastic is found on the head, forearms, thighs, waist and feet. The G1 Punch had another color that dominated the robot mode: yellow. In this form, the head, shoulders, chest and waist all have parts painted yellow to reflect this influence. A bit of silver color is used on the sides of the head and the brow above the eyes. The eyes are painted light blue, showing this is indeed the "Autobot" side of the character. This form also reveals a heat sensitive rub symbol, this time on the chest of the robot. This time the symbol is an Autobot one. This is an important thing to notice for a couple reasons. First, such stickers aren't cheap, and they require application at the manufacturing level, costing a bit more. Also, the stickers are integral to the mystique of the character. What side is he on? Find out by checking the symbol! This was even advertised in some of the early commercials that first introduced the rub symbol concept. I'm very happy to see this concept carried over into this modern day figure.

In terms of functionality, it should be noted that standing this figure with the "special" leg transformation can be a bit of a challenge if you want to point the feet forward. If you turn them out to the sides, the figure is a lot more stable. I also found the knee joints on this figure more loose than any of the previous versions of this sculpt that I own. It's not floppy by any means, but it's not tight either. The rest of the joints are fine however and the head joint in particular is extremely tight. The engine still clips onto the grooves in the back nicely to form a rocket pack and his gun holds tightly in either hand. This is the transformation that allows the fists to transform "properly" so the thumbs are on the correct side. Technically for the next mode (his "Decepticon Mode") you would have to detach the fists and put them on different wrists to make them "correct", something that is not hard to do since they just slide into slots on each forearm.

Counterpunch Review

Images:

Transformation to "Counterpunch" Mode (from vehicle mode):

  1. Detach the engine/air intake piece.
  2. Flip the car over and detach the exhaust pipe pieces/gun.
  3. Swing the black grille piece up.
  4. Swing out the panels on the rear of the vehicle to the sides so they cover the rear wheels.
  5. Gently pull the opposite halves of the vehicle apart so the doors separate out from the front and back portions.
  6. Swing the robot arms out.
  7. Swing the rear of the vehicle back and down.
  8. Swing out the robot feet from the sections you just swung out.
  9. Rotate the robot legs so the sections with the rear lights face forward. The feet should point the same way.
  10. Slide the front of the car forward.
  11. Swing out the robot arms to the sides.
  12. Swing the car's front section down and snap it against the area right above the waist.
  13. Rotate the windshield/windows section around. The robot head will slide up at the same time. Swing the top helmet piece so the dark blue face shows.
  14. Swing each robot arm up on the hinge at the shoulder so it is level with the rest of the upper body.
  15. Swing each car door to the side of the lower arms and rotate them around.
  16. Attach the weapon to Counterpunch's fist and the air intake piece using the clips to connect to the notches on his back.

Counterpunch Robot Mode:
In a fun play on colors reflecting a character's personality, G1 Counterpunch was mostly black and dark blue, with none of the bright yellow that made up so much of Punch's robot mode on the front of the figure. Like his G1 counterpart, this version of Counterpunch is also mostly dark metallic blue plastic in this mode. Black plastic is found on almost all the same parts as Punch, the forearms, the thighs, feet, chest, weapons and head. Combined with the red plastic and paint applications in this form, this robot mode truly does have a sinister look behind it. The red details are most effective since they contrast sharply against the dark plastic colors. This includes red lines on the shoulders, the red plastic on the thighs and the red from the sides of the wheels on his lower legs. The bright spots of color come from the green and purple found on his knees, both decidedly Decepticon colors (and in a bit of a weird aside, colors that were found on Generation One Sharkticons). His eyes are also painted red, making this one of the few Transformers figures out there to have two sets of eyes painted in different colors in the same mode.

The head sculpt on this side looks much more like the head used on the G1 toy and animation model (the two were not that different). This design is much more angular, with a crest that comes down to a triangular point (similar to the Decepticon symbol) as well as a mouthplate that comes to a point in he middle with a chin piece coming out the bottom. There is some influence from the animation model in that if you look carefully enough, the chin piece actually has a small line detail that looks like a mouth. While the G1 toy only had a mouthplate in this form, the animation model took the "chin" and extended it as a mouth, something that is reflected here. I actually dig this side a lot more as it looks great on its own, but also evokes the look of the Decepticon symbol.

The same comments I made about the joints in Punch's review apply here. however, since this mode has his legs transformed in the "proper" way, he is much more stable when standing or being posed. I swapped out the fists just to see how well that worked and they popped out with a bit of pressure and are nice and tight inside the hands. I wouldn't recommend doing this every time you transform the figure, but now and then should be fine.

Final Thoughts:
Punch/Counterpunch embodies a lot of what I believe fans want from an exclusive. Fans understand (for the most part) that exclusives have to be redecos/retools of existing figures but even with that constraint it is possible to come up with something special for fans. With its homage to the original Punch/Counterpunch in color, concept and head design this exclusive is a fantastic example of the type of toy fans want. Highly recommended, but be warned, this guy sold out in no time online so you'll be paying some high after market prices to get him.