Transformers Universe 2.0 Toy Review: Legends Wheelie

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Mini-Bot, Universe 2.0

Transformers Universe 2.0

General Information:
Release Date: February 2009
Price Point: $4.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None

Images:

*Images from Hasbrotoyshop.com.

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Team up with AUTOBOT alliance and take on the DECEPTICON forces! This quick-conversion figure is ready for action and prepared for whatever adventure is in store! Battle even the mightiest opponents in robot mode and then convert the figure to junk planet speeder mode and prepare for battle!

When "Transformers: The Movie" debuted in 1986, Transformers fans were introduced to many new characters. For the most part, they were strange both in design and personality compared to what we had seen before. One of the strangest was Wheelie, a young Autobot encountered by the Dinobots on the planet of Quintessa. With his sing song rhyming speech pattern and slingshot weapon, he was one of those characters that either amused you or made you fear for the future of the Transformers toy line. When his toy was released, it didn't help. Sometimes a character is elevated by a cool figure, but in this case Wheelie's G1 toy was, to say the least, a bit odd in robot mode. What can be said is that Wheelie represented an interesting gamble in Transformers design and whether you loved him or hated him, he left an impression on fandom that never went away. Latching onto this, Hasbro chose to make a new Wheelie figure in their "Mini-Bot" updates segment of the Legends line showing that they either have a great sense of humor, or a very twisted one - or perhaps both.

Robot Mode:
There are times when comparing a G1 figure to its modern day equivalent is sort of like using a jackhammer to crack a walnut. There's just no contest. The original Wheelie looked very little like his animated counterpart, and his proportions were strange to say the least. Obviously knowing this, the designers chose Wheelie's G1 cartoon appearance as the basis for this figure instead. However, instead of trying to do a 100% cartoon faithful interpretation of the character, it was only used as the base for some design cues, leaving the rest up to the imagination of Hasbro and Takara Tomy.

G1 Wheelie had a very distinct design. His head had a familiar "helmet over face" design, but in his case the top of his head looked like he was wearing a cap. This was characterized by a raised section on top with a brim coming over the front of his head over the face. His body was relatively curved, looking more organic and humanoid than previous Transformers such as Bluestreak or Windcharger. Some of these features carried over into this figure including:

  • Wheelie's head is based on the G1 design, complete with the "cap" on the top of his head and the helmet forming around the perimeter of his face.
  • Wheelie's chest has a curved portion of his canopy on the chest along with a shape that curves downward to the waist.
  • G1 Wheelie's hips had rectangular indentations on the sides, and you'll find those here as well.
  • G1 Wheelie has a series of horizontal lines on part of his inner thighs. Here, the same designs are used on his outer thighs.
  • In a cute nod to his G1 cartoon appearance, Wheelie has a slingshot sculpted into the armor on his right arm! I love this bit of detail as it shows the designers were really keeping true to the character even if they were altering some of his design.

Where this Wheelie differs from the original is bulk. Wheelie's arms used to be rather slender, but here they have most of the vehicle mode's side panels (doors, windows, front wheels) on them, making it look like he has armor attached to his arms, which are sculpted nicely in detail on the other side of these panels. The arms are no longer rounded, slender bits but rather more blocky, angled sections more akin to season one Transformer designs. His legs are also not as round as his G1 animation model's. Instead, the hips/thighs portion are rectangular, and the lower portions are made up by the rear sections of the vehicle, with more angled and rectangular pieces. The cumulative effect makes Wheelie look much more formidable than his previous incarnation despite his tiny size, and that is no small feat.

Wheelie is cast in light grey and orange plastic. Grey, light blue, yellow and dark orange paint are used to provide detail. The curved portion of his chest is painted light blue, while his knees are painted orange. His eyes are of course light blue and a large, red Autobot symbol can be found on the center of his torso. The color scheme is simple, and it works. Wheelie doesn't need lots of paint apps since the character's visual look is so distinctive, and let's be real, this is a Legends Class figure so paint applications will be limited regardless.

This figure has six points of articulation. The hip joints and shoulder joints are each ball jointed, giving him a nice range of motion.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing each foot back.
  2. Connect the two halves of his lower legs together.
  3. Swing the waist section back.
  4. Swing the top half of the body up.
  5. Fold in the robot leg sections up against the windshield.
  6. Move the robot arms back to form the doors and sides of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
In the automotive world, there seems to be a huge proliferation of smaller vehicles that are often stylish looking while being hatchbacks at the same time. Once upon a time this was a contradiction in terms, but now it has become the norm. Cars like the Honda Fit and Toyota Matrix show this in spades. These types of vehicles seemed to be the inspiration for Wheelie's vehicle mode, which looks like a futuristic hatchback car. I find the description of him as a "junk planet speedster" interesting since it implies he may be from Junkion. Go figure.

Wheelie has an interesting design. He is still sleek and curved, but he's much less "tube like" than his G1 predecessor. The front end has a vertical grille as opposed to a horizontal one. His headlights angle back in an aggressive manner with a raised section in the center of the hood. The middle section is perhaps the most conventional looking, with two doors, windows and a tall windshield. The back section has much larger wheels than the front, giving him a more "scifi vehicle" feel along with a spoiler that rests on the top section towards the rear. Sculpted on the rear section are tall rear lights overlaid onto the frame of the vehicle. I really like this type of design and I'm a fan of the type of vehicle that influenced it as well.

Wheelie's primary colors in this form are orange and light grey. The darker orange paint tone is used on the front and sides of the vehicle. The same red used for his Autobot symbol is used for the rear lights. His headlights are painted yellow. The orange on orange may sound like too much of one color, but the shades are different enough that they work very well together.

Final Thoughts:
Wheelie is an excellent figure in his own right, but I think the sheer audacity of taking such a derided character and giving him an updated figure is what amuses me the most about this toy. It's a great update of a classic character that clearly shows the designers wanted to pay proper homage to his animated form. Highly recommended!