Release Date: 2014
Price Point: $9.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Amazon, Target etc.)
Accessories: Groundbuster figure/weapon
*Images above and text below in italics is from Amazon.com:
These two Autobots both have a habit of digging themselves into holes. Groundbuster will dig into almost anything that's underground, holing up there to plot his next move. Autobot Tailgate never hesitates to dig himself a hole by making up stories of his exploits. He wouldn't even stop short of claiming to be one of the original Primes, if the occasion called for it. Bring some road fury to your Transformers adventures with this pair of Autobot warrior figures! Your Autobot Tailgate figure can take his Decepticon enemies on in robot mode and then roar off to the next battle in sports car mode. But your Groundbuster figure will tear up the road to block pursuit in bulldozer mode! Will the Decepticons be able to handle this pair of road warriors? Only you can decide! Transformers and all related terms are trademarks of Hasbro.
In 2013, it was revealed that Hasbro had planned a continuation of its Legends Class of figures (that included 2013's Megatron with Chop Shop) with a character who hasn't received a lot of attention lately: Cosmos. However, as the year ended and 2014 began, this wave seemed to have disappeared off the radar until reports of it showing up in Asia, and later Canada surfaced. The truth was revealed when BWTF interviewed Hasbro at Toy Fair 2014 and learned they do intend a mass release of these characters in the U.S. some time in the summer of 2014. After Cosmos and Swerve were released, the next wave of Legends Class figures came out, one of which was the popular character of Tailgate as he appears in the "More than Meets the Eye" comic book by IDW Publishing.
Groundbuster may be a new sculpt, but he's not a new character. In the Generation One era, he was known as "Neutro" and served as a part of the four-member "Construction Team", a group of four Autobot Micromasters who transformed into construction vehicles.
Groundbuster's design is a bit different than his G1 counterpart, but the two definitely share many of the same features. These include:
The head design is the same as Neutro's, including a "helmet" section with two small ridges on top.
The chest design is similar to Neutro's, with a "U" shaped design in the middle.
The arms are the treads the vehicle mode, just like Neutro. Even better? There's a non-functioning wheel sculpted into each arm - a homage to Neutro who had functional wheels in the same place!
The lower legs have two ridges near the knees. Neutro sports a very similar design element.
Groundbuster is cast in light blue, black and white plastic. The light blue makes up most of the robot with smaller parts cast in white and his arms in black. Red, silver and metallic blue paint are used for additional detailing. The red is found on his chest and waist areas while the silver is on his face. The metallic blue is used for panels on the sides of the treads. He looks good overall, and it's important to keep in mind he's basically a glorified accessory, so you can't expect tons of paint applications.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
Swing the robot arms to the sides.
While Groundbuster's vehicle form may look a lot like a construction vehicle, it is in fact a bomb disposal vehicle. This is why it has the scoop in the front along with claws, allowing it to sift and grab explosives. I did appreciate the touch of having him transform into a vehicle that is reminiscent of the construction theme of his G1 counterpart. The vehicle also features a canopy cover (or spoiler depending on how you look at it) towards the back. So why a bomb disposal vehicle? This actually ties into the character of Tailgate, whose job was to perform bomb disposal back in the early days of the war on Cybertron. I appreciate the story tie-in with the alternate mode on this figure.
This mode shows off one additional plastic color: silver. The silver makes up the parts that end in the claw at the front of the vehicle. The spoiler/canopy cover in the back is white. The rest of the vehicle is light blue.
There are no functional treads or wheels on this vehicle mode, so I'd be careful about moving it along hard surfaces. You may wind up with Groundbuster's arms all scraped up in the process!
Transformation to Weapon Mode (from Vehicle Mode):
- Lift the spoiler/canopy section on the back up.
- Push the spoiler/canopy cover forward and the claw will extend out in front.
- Swing the white peg at the back of the vehicle down.
In this mode, Groundbuster can be seen as both a weapon or a bomb disposal device. The front has the claw which can move up and down, so I can imagine that serving as a melee weapon. It's definitely unusual in the pantheon of Transformers "Targetmaster" style weapons and that makes me appreciate it more.
The peg at the end is a 5mm peg, so other Transformers with 5mm ports can use it as well.
Tailgate is one of those characters who was kind of ignored for a long time. While he was part of the G1 toy line, the character never really got much to do. He helped fight Trypticon once but that's about it. A different version of Tailgate would later appear on "Transformers Prime" and wound up getting a Legion Class figure. However, it wasn't until he appeared in the "More than Meets the Eye" comic book that his popularity exploded. Now he and his friendship (if you want to call it that) with Cyclonus is one of the core relationships in the book. It is largely this version that the toy is based on.
One of the key design elements of the IDW Publishing Tailgate are his proportions. He's a small Autobot, but he's very top-heavy, with wide shoulders, a wide chest leading to a thinner central body which then goes to legs that are thick at the thighs and then thin out towards his feet. This figure recreates those proportions. They're not 100% precise to the look of the comic book mode, but it comes very close. Elements from the comic book include:
The head design is based off his current comic book incarnation, which of course has elements from the original toy. These include his mouthplate and the shape of the helmet section. His eyes are a bit smaller than they're generally drawn in the comic, but they have a similar "eyeglass" type shape.
The arms and chest wind up being quite wide, with a wheel winding up on each of the shoulders.
The chest has a rectangular section sticking out with a thin rectangular line in the middle. This is a carry over design from the G1 toy that was then modified further for the character's appearance in "More then Meets the Eye".
The panels on the outer part of the thighs with the vehicle mode wheels are shaped like the thighs on IDW Publishing's Tailgate. One of the more distinctive details are the angled sections towards the top of this panel.
Like the IDW Tailgate this one's lower legs have a layered look to the armor. This is also a bit of a callback to G1 Tailgate who had layered details on his legs from the back window of the vehicle mode.
Overall the sculpt looks great. You can argue it needed additional details here and there but if you look at Tailgate's appearances in the comic book, he's actually quite true to how he appears in the book. Indeed, he has additional details that aren't always seen in the book. This includes exhaust pipes around the hips and ridged lines on the sides of the chest area.
Much like his G1 counterpart, Tailgate is cast mostly in white plastic. He also has silver, light blue and black parts. The white makes up most of the body, with the light blue forming the lower legs and chest area. The raised section on the chest is painted white, and his eyes are painted light blue. This isn't a lot of paint applications, but here's the thing - it's actually quite accurate to how he looks in the comic book right now. Unlike some other characters, he doesn't have a ton of detail to be added in on top of these. Sure sometimes he's drawn with light lines on his chest and maybe his eyes are a bit bigger, but that's it. The only "missing" detail in my book are his hands, which I would've liked to see painted silver instead of being left unpainted and white.
Tailgate has ten points of articulation in this mode, two on each arm and three on each leg. His shoulder, hip and knee joints are all ball joints, allowing him a good range of motion. His fists have 5mm ports, allowing him to hold Groundbuster or other 5mm peg weapons. For a Legends figure of this class I'm quite happy with his articulation.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Detach Groundbuster if attached.
- Rotate each of the forearms so the insides of the arms face inward.
- Straighten out the legs.
- Swing each of the feet back.
- Rotate the lower legs so the front of each lower leg faces the other.
- Swing the back panel down.
- Swing the central hinge down.
- Move the legs up, tucking the legs in the middle section.
- Swing the arms up, connecting the shoulders in the middle.
- There are tabs that connect to slots on each foot, these help add stability.
- Push the rear wheel well panels in (attaching the tabs to the corresponding slots).
- The tabs on the sides should fit under the rear wheel well panels.
While his robot mode is largely based on Tailgate's appearance in the IDW comic books, his vehicle mode is very much its own entity. This vehicle is a fictional muscle car, which seems to have influences form a Camaro (famously known as Bumblebee's live action movie alternate form). It has a very angular design, with parts set at angles on the front end, sides and back. This doesn't mean he's not sleek however. He looks very sporty and the kind of vehicle that would definitely be featured in action movies if it was a real life car. The front end has a unique set of four, thin headlights and a grille separated in the middle by (what I presume to be) a license plate area. In the back, four exhaust pipes stick out. I really like the look of this vehicle and it seems to be a bit of a call back to the muscle car mode of "Transformers Prime" Tailgate.
Tailgate is mostly white plastic in this mode, with black plastic used for his wheels. A bit of silver sticks out the back in the form of his exhaust pipes. The windows are painted silver and he has a cool looking flame pattern on his hood along with an Autobot symbol in the center. This is also a bit of a callback to his "Transformers Prime" counterpart. Silver paint is also used on the sides of the wheels, which look great. They really would look unfinished without that detail.
There is a hole in the center of the hood that allows you to attach any 5mm peg weapon, including of course, Groundbuster in weapon mode.
Tailgate is a fantastic 3D rendering of the character as he appears in the current comic books. It's also a wonderful update of the character from G1, and I've always been a big fan of updating Mini-Bots, so to me this is the perfect scale to do it. Groundbuster is a cool figure and like the other Micromasters in this line so far, I really love the homage details calling back to Neutro. Some have commented that they wish he had more deco, and I can see where they're coming from, but I personally am very happy with him. Highly recommended!