Energon Toy Reviews: Cliffjumper

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Energon, Superlink

General Information:
Release Year: October 2004
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Missile launchers x 2, Missiles x 2

Images:

Sounds:

Once upon a time Cliffjumper was one of the G1 Mini-Bots, a group of Transformers whose small size often masked their greater abilities. In Energon, the name Cliffjumper has been given to a character who's toy is anything but small!

Vehicle Mode:
Cliffjumper is a dune buggy in vehicle form. However, far from the typical stubby vehicle some people may think of, he is a rather long, angular and sleek looking vehicle. While I'm not one hundred percent sure if I'd call it a direct homage, Cliffjumper does share a few details with the G1 Transformer Sureshot, who was also a dune buggy. They both have a "V" shaped spoiler on the back, they both have a fairly sleek and angular passenger section, and both have the ability to hold guns in the front. However, Cliffjumper has a bit more going on than his G1 predecessor.

Typically when a Transformers sculpt gets to the large end of the scale, it becomes very easy to either provide a wonderful amount of detail, or provide a scarce amount. With Cliffjumper, the designers decided to go with a middle ground. While some parts are rather plain looking, others have a good bit of detailing. The plain parts are mainly the passenger section and the front end of the vehicle, each mostly smooth with some lines for detailing. However, the middle to rear section has a good chunk of detailing. The middle section has tubes, lights and panels (non functioning of course). The rear has the sound box which is designed to look like the engine complete with eight cylinders and tubes, cross hatching and vents. I also really like the sculpted springs on the rear wheels. Another detail I like are the missiles, which are designed to look like machine gun barrels. Since toy laws say projectiles have to be a certain size, it's a good idea when they are made to look like part of a large weapon rather than just missiles.

Color-wise, Cliffjumper does have a tiny bit of a throwback to his G1 inspiration, Sureshot. The passenger section and the missile launchers are all yellow, Sureshot's primary color. The windows are red, another color used on Sureshot. However, the rest of the vehicle is mostly green and brown, with some gold on the hubcaps, and silver used for details such as the rear engine. These colors evoke off-road travel, and fit a dune buggy perfectly.

Cliffjumper's missiles can be fired by pushing down on the grey buttons on the missile launchers. For a bit of sound, press the grey button on the engine and a racing sound plays (rather long too). On the top of the passenger section you'll find the Autobot Spark Crystal, where you can attach an Energon Star as well as a Mini-Con Powerlinx point to attach Energon weapons or Mini-Cons. On either side of the passenger section are holes to fit Energon weapons into, however you'll have to use fairly thin ones since those parts are so close to the main body of the vehicle.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Ejecting the missiles is generally a good idea so they don't launch by accident.
  2. Swing the rear of the vehicle back.
  3. Swing the rear wheels up, and then swing the rear wheels so the hubcaps face forward.
  4. Split the passenger section in half and swing the halves outward.
  5. Swing the robot arms down from the inside of the yellow pieces.
  6. Flip the fists out of the lower arms.
  7. Swing the spoiler down onto the robot chest.
  8. Detach the missile launchers from each shoulder and place them in the robot hands (reload the missiles if detached)
  9. Split the front of the vehicle.
  10. Move the front wheels back.
  11. Swing the front halves of the vehicle over the front tires.
  12. Swing the sides of the vehicle out.
  13. Rotate the lower legs so they face forward.
  14. Swing down the V shaped parts on the inner legs to provide balance in the back.

Robot Mode:
Cliffjumper cuts one impressive figure (no pun intended, seriously) in robot mode. While the toy does have significant bulkiness happening, the general design shape takes your eyes away from those parts and makes you see a very dynamic looking toy.

In terms of bulk, the two main parts that contribute to it are the legs and backpack. The legs stick out a lot at both ends due to the extremely wide feet and knee armor. The backpack (the sound box and rear wheels) are rather chunky looking but they look kind of cool at the same time with the wheels facing forward. To me at least, this looks like they could act like some type of communication devices or energy emitting machinery etc. It would have looked bad if the wheels were simply just folded to the side or tucked out of the way. At least the designers tried to work them into the design, and they were successful in doing it well.

The way the designers tried to counter the more chunky aspects of the design are both overt and subtle. The shoulder armor is the most overt, sticking out to the sides way beyond the arms themselves, this design pattern is nice and angular. In a sillouette view these would look almost like wings. The spoiler being on the chest is another "sleek" aspect to the design, again, utilizing something that evokes a wing like design to give an air of a smooth design, not a chunky one. The more subtle design elements include the lower arms, which are curved a bit making them look smooth instead of blocky. You'll also find such design details on the upper legs, which also include some great tech detail.

Cliffjumper's robot mode doesn't introduce too many surprises color-wise. Metallic blue appears here more in the robot visor eyes and the chest, that's about it.

Cliffjumper has fifteen points of articulation in this form, most of which are ratchet joints (but his lower arms are ball jointed). The thing is, due to the bulk, you can't really strike too many dynamic poses, so these come in handy more for play than display.

Transformation to Lower Body Mode (starting in Robot Mode):

  1. Remove the missile launchers from Cliffjumper's hands.
  2. Swing the lower robot legs down to create longer legs.
  3. Flip the robot heel "V" shaped parts in.
  4. Swing down the green and gold pieces that look like robot arms on the sides of the legs.
  5. Rotate the lower legs around.
  6. Swing in the robot fists.
  7. Swing the robot arms into the shoulder armor.
  8. On the backpack, swing the tires down and have them face back.
  9. Swing the backpack up over the robot head.
  10. At the middle of the body, swing the main hinge out to reveal the Powerlinx point.
  11. Rotate the shoulder armor pieces and move them so they point downward.

Lower Body Mode:
Cliffjumper's lower body mode works really well for a few reasons. The first is that there is not a lot of excess junk hanging off of him. You have the backpack, which really isn't that bulky with the wheels folded down, and you have the shoulder armor, which are relatively small and angular pieces, so they don't take up so much space that they look ugly.

That leaves the rest of the form, which has legs that are a good length, allowing combined forms to look proportional, one of the challenges of having two robots combine in this fashion. The legs have eight points of articulation in them, which is perfect since the range of movement allows everything from the legs kicking out to the sides to the knees bending. Having the arms of the upper body form serve as the supports on the back of the legs was a nice and
unexpected touch.

Transformation to Upper Body Mode (starting in Lower Body Mode):

  1. Split the waist joint in half and swing them out to the sides.
  2. Swing in the green and gold "arm" pieces that acted as leg supports.
  3. Rotate the front half from the back half of the robot on the primary hinge at the center.
  4. Rotate the passenger section halves so they face out, then swing them in towards the center.
  5. Swing the backpack section forward.
  6. Swing the sound box back, and reorient the wheels to the same position they were in while Cliffjumper was in robot mode.
  7. Swing the spoiler against the upper body.
  8. Place the missile launchers into the fists.

Upper Body Mode:
I admit it must be extremely tricky to extract four distinct modes out of one toy design, so it is no surprise that at least one of the modes is going to be fairly weak, and the upper body mode is the one. The actual upper body isn't that bad as it emulates the robot mode upper body in many ways. However, the arms are where things just don't look too good. This is mostly due to all the kibble that hangs off the side of the arm. It's just a bit distracting visually.

Functionally, the upper body is pretty nicely done. What I like is the use of the spoiler to essentially cover up the connection point. I'm also grateful that the range of motion on the arms is pretty free considering the shoulder armor parts are in front of them. This mode has nine points of articulation, four in each arm and the robot head.

Final Thoughts:
Cliffjumper is an interesting toy and fun to play with. His Powerlinx modes are better than average and he has a nice, dynamic looking robot mode. Recommended.