Transformers Universe Autobot Whirl Review

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Ultra
Retailers: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kay Bee)
Release Date: August 2004
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3 (Advanced)
Accessories: Missile Launchers x 2, Missiles x 2

One of the promises made back when Transformers Universe was announced was the ressurection of Generation One molds. This has already happened in Universe with the release of Defensor. Now, it's happening again. This time, the mold of the G1 Turbomaster toy "Storm" (a.k.a. Rotorstorm) has been brought back to life for a second time. The first time this mold was resurrected was as Machine Wars Sandstorm. While his name technically is "Autobot Whirl", I will just use the name "Whirl" for sanity's sake in this review. This time, the toy includes two extra figures: Makeshift
and Gunbarrel, redecos of the Mini-Cons from Armada bearing the same names.

Autobot Whirl

Vehicle Mode:
Whirl is a helicopter in vehicle form. He takes his name from a Generation One Transformer who was also a helicopter named Whirl. However, due to trademark problems, the word "Autobot" had to be stuck in front of the name to properly register it.

Whirl is a fairly large sized toy, and would easily fit into the mega class by today's standards. The design is really nice, having a bit of bulk, but not so much that it looks bad. It is important to keep in mind that this design is well over ten years old at this point, so the details on it are not
as intricate as some modern day Transformers. Still, cut lines, vents and other such details give the toy a more intricate appearance that it would have with just simple, flat surfaces.

Whirl was originally one of the Turbomasters, a small group of Autobots whose primary "gimmick" were large missile launchers (large in proportion to the robot that is). However, the missiles they fired were rather small little things (measuring maybe an inch or less). This violates current toy safety
standards, so during its release as Machine Wars Sandstorm, the missile firing feature was eliminated from this toy completely.

Thankfully, for this release Hasbro saw fit to modify the missile launchers. While the outer shells essentially remain the same, the internals have been altered to accomodate two large (and legal) sized missiles that do fire at the touch of a button. The new missiles are nicely detailed too, with fins and various shapes making up the whole instead of just a plain tube with some lines on it.

Another change has been made to this mold, although I'm not one hundred percent sure why. Behind the helicopter blades is a button that you can push to have the missile launchers swing out to the sides as an attack mode. This button has been made wider than the original, which was quite small. This could be for safety reason since I could see a child accidentally poking his finger too hard on the original button and getting hurt.

Sharp eyed readers will notice that Whirl has small rectangles on the skids. These were originally designed to hold the missiles that came with Storm/Rotorstorm. Indeed, you can see in this picture that the missiles still do fit on there. It's a shame that current laws prevent the original missiles from being included in this set. However, at the same time I'm glad we didn't get long missiles to put on there, they would have looked a bit silly.

Whirl's color scheme is not an exact homage or replica of G1 Whirl's colors - but you can definitely see the influence. G1 Whirl was mostly a light shade of blue, but Universe Whirl is mostly dark blue. However, he has an interesting camoflage type pattern on him done up in metallic light blue. An Autobot symbol graces the front of the rotor section. The cockpit cover and the blades are translucent yellow plastic. Most of the more hidden parts
are gray, including the bottom of the copter and the base that the missile launchers rest on. The camo pattern is actually very nice as it is a bit more jagged than smooth. It also differs from one side to the other, which is refreshing in itself.

In terms of action features, the missile launchers are the primary ones here. You can also push the blades to make them spin.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the missile launchers.
  2. Swing the rear halves of the helicopter forward.
  3. Fold the skids down.
  4. Swing the lower portion of the vehicle down and back.
  5. Swing the cockpit down to form the chest and reveal the robot head.
  6. Swing the back ends of the helicopter down.
  7. Swing the arms down.
  8. Flip the foot pieces up.
  9. The helicopter blades can be folded together, left in a "V" shape etc. Either way, they wind up in the back.
  10. Place the weapons in Whirl's hands.

Robot Mode:
Whirl has a very classic Generation One feel to him in terms of sculpt. He's not rounded or full of smooth curves and intricate details. Rather, he is mostly blocky and angular with just the right amount of detail to keep the toy from being boring. The height of the toy gives it a lot of its visual "presence", standing at roughly 7.25 inches long (About 18.42 centimeters). His form is also rather narrow, which gives him a rather sleek appearance despite having a chest that sticks out about an inch thanks to the helicopter cockpit being his chest.

Detail-wise, there is quite a bit more to be seen in this mode than in the vehicle mode. On the robot arms for instance you'll find nice raised and line cut
details that add quite a bit to the toy. The legs have nice beveled surfaces along with vent lines. The robot face is rather intricate,
consisting of the typical Transformer "helmet over face" design. It's the helmet part that is nicely done, with a brow piece over the eyes leading to a crest and layered sections on the sides. I also really like the detail work on the weapons. They're not just simple tubes or circles to hold missiles. Each section has nice line detail work, even the ends which are in translucent plastic. Among my favorite details on this toy is the Autobot symbol on his chest. This is sculpted into the cockpit window, and while nowadays sculpted symbols are no big deal, over ten years ago, they were rare.

In terms of posability, there is only so much one can expect from a toy developed over ten years ago. In this case, Whirl has nine points of articulation.
I'm stretching here because I'm including the feet. Mostly his usable posability is in the arms which can swing out to the sides and the lower arms which swing forward.While this makes it seem rather antiquated by today's standards, it still makes for a fun toy, which is really what's important in the end.

Whirl's deco is quite different in this mod.e Many of the newly revealed parts are a combination of gray and a cream color. The head, upper arms, weapons, upper legs and feet are all cream colored. The lower arms and lower legs are gray. Brown deco is used on the legs, and red and silver are used on the head and face respectively. The eyes are made of orange translucent plastic, allowing for light piping. Perhaps the best part of the deco on this toy are the weapons. The sides are painted dark red, but in a rough pattern that indicates wear and tear. The ends of the missile launchers have a black spray op applied to them, indicating many, many missile launches blackening the ends. These are beautiful touches that really make the deco look awesome.

For those keeping track, the Storm/Rotorstorm mold has never been totally reproduced and given a new deco without having something Changed in the process. Whirl is no exception. Aside from his missle launchers and missile launcher deployer button, the trademark information has changed as well. It now reads "© 1996 Takara Co. Ltd, © 2004 Hasbro, Made in China" (commas indicate line breaks). This trademark information has been changed each time the toy was released. The 1996 date indicates when the mold was pulled into service for Machine Wars, which is interesting.

The one thing that did disappoint me, and I guess you could even say it's an unrealistic one, is that Whirl has no Powerlinx points. Since he comes with two Mini-Cons, it would have been a neat way of tying the three robots together as a unit (other than all three being aerial vehicles). Oh well.

Autobot Whirl is a cool toy from another time. It is one of the few Generation One molds currently in Universe, and I'm glad it was brought back.

Gunbarrel

For a detailed review of Gunbarrel, check out the Air Military Team review in the Armada section.
This will just briefly describe the changes made to the toy.

For his turn as an Autobot, Gunbarrel has lightened up. Instead of dark gray, his new primary color is a light gold color. A really dark blue (almost black) has been used for details on the wings and cockpit section. In robot mode, Gunbarrel surprises with some silver and white. The robot head and arms are white, with orange eyes painted on the face. The chest has silver and dark blue detailing while the upper legs are black. What's nice about these lighter colors is that they really help you see the details in this toy a lot better. He's very intricate from the chest piece to the arms. For the weapon mode, Gunbarrel's top barrel has been painted silver, distinguishing it from the others. Overall, I prefer this deco to the original.

Makeshift

The Makeshift sculpt was originally used as part of the Armada Emergency Team and its redeco. This review will just briefly cover the changes made to the toy.

While Gunbarrel went lighter for this three pack, Makeshift has gone dark! A dark maroon color to be precise. And that is coupled with black and silver
to make one nice color scheme. The windows are painted gold, which really contrasts nicely against the maroon. Silver adds a nice break in the dark
theme and the black helps give a bit of definition by keeping the maroon parts from all blurring into each other. In robot mode, Makeshift's eyes are yellow
with gold details on his face. The front of the chest is metallic silver. I really love this color scheme for Makeshift, it's probably my favorite after the original. Very well done.

Final Thoughts:
This is a really nicely put together three pack. We get a G1 mold in Universe again along with two Mini-Cons. At first, I felt the price point of roughly $20 was a bit too much for this, but if you consider the modifications made to Whirl to allow missile launching action, the costs work out in my opinion. Recommended.