"Transformers Energon" Ironhide Toy Review


"Transformers Energon"

General Information:
Release Year: November 2003
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Missile
Sounds: Machine Gun, Missile Launch

Ironhide is one of the new faces joining the ranks of the Autobots in Energon. Though the name Ironhide has been used for Transformers as recently as Robots in Disguise, this is the first Ironhide to come out in a while with a new design/sculpt. Ironhide is one of the Energon Transformers gifted with the "Spark of Combination", allowing him to combine with fellow Autobot Jetfire. However, the Jetfire toy has not yet been released, so this is an incomplete review for now. Once I get Jetfire, this review will be updated to discuss the Powerlinx combination Ironhide and Jetfire create.

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Ironhide is an SUV. Many who saw the preview pictures of this toy from OTFCC 2003 had this toy pegged as being "Playskool style", referring to the rather chunky and exaggerated proportions of the Playskool Transformers. And I will grant that this toy is not exactly sleek and slim, but nor is it so rounded and thick that it's a "kiddified" Transformer such as the Playskool Transformers.

What I think throws people off about this toy is that in vehicle mode, it has very big, chunky parts. But these aren't chunky in the sense that they're meant to be cute. It's just that this SUV is supposed to be rough and touch, and its parts reflect that. In the front, the headlights have two huge cage guards under them. The wheels are big, but proportioned and the flood lights/weapons combination on the top of the vehicle is meant to look big and imposing.

Sculpt wise, the details are pretty nice here. On the left and right side are armored areas marked off with the letter "X". The chairs inside the passenger section are actually sculpted with cushion patterns, and a steering wheel is sculpted onto the dashboard. Though covered up by the black cages in the front, there are rather intricate headlight patterns behind them. Now, this is not to say the sculpt/design is perfect. The rotating section on the top (with the guns and floodlights) is rather large and sticks out like a sore thumb. However, this can be forgiven since the AAA batteries needed to activate the sounds install into the floodlight component, and the speaker for the sound effects is right next to it. What isn't as easy to overlook is Ironhide's robot head staring out at you in vehicle mode. The head doesn't tuck anywhere or even flip down to try to give the illusion that this is a robot in disguise. That is a very disappointing step that feels more like either laziness or a cost cutting measure. Quite unfortunate.

Ironhide's deco can be labelled quite patriotic if you're in the US. His primary colors are red, white and blue (with some others such as dark gray, beige and gold mixed in for detail). The top rotating section is mostly red with silver details. The machine gun is grey and the missile launcher is black. The main body is mostly dark blue with the areas over the tires painted white. Dark gray is used for some details along the lower edge of the vehicle, and a red stripe runs across the doors on either side.

At the rear of the vehicle is the Autobot Spark Crystal. Next to that is a Mini-Con Powerlinx point. I liked using High Wire to attach to the end since it looks like someone taking a bike along for a camping trip or something, but the vehicle's clearance from the ground is enough that you can attach most Mini-Cons back there without having them drag on the floor.

Rotating the floodlights/weapon section causes a machine gun firing sound (which sounds more like a gun being reset constantly). Push the black missile back all the way to launch the missile and simultaneously activate a launching sound. If you don't want to launch the missile but want the sound, just don't push all the way back. A partial push will activate the sound.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Lift up the rear left and right panels (where the rear tires and doors are).
  2. Flip up the beige headlight sections in the front of the vehicle.
  3. Fold down the black cage pieces at the front of the vehicle.
  4. Swing the front of the vehicle down and straighten the section out to form the robot legs.
  5. Swing the sections with the Autobot Spark Crystal and the Mini-Con Powerlinx point forward to form the robot arms.

Robot Mode:
The surprising thing about the robot mode is just how big Ironhide is. Since his vehicle mode compacts down all his parts, this mode allows those parts to unfold and reveal a tough looking 'bot. Some may get flashbacks to Armada Red Alert, especially thanks to the big parts of the cars hanging over the shoulders.

The "new" parts revealed in this form are the central body. The design is really nice, with a nice, layered look thanks to details like sculpted missile ports and a raised Autobot symbol on the chest. The main body section is a combination of red, white, silver, black and gold, with red being the primary color. It was nice to see the raised Autobot symbol painted nicely with white parts in the gaps rather than a whole red part (which happened frequently in Armada at the beginning).

Ironhide has thirteen points of articulation. Several parts are ratchet joints, allowing for stable poses. The Powerlinx point from the vehicle mode is on his lower right arm in this form. This is a perfect spot as it allows you to attach any Mini-Con easily. The peg holes in his hands are the current "standard" set since Armada, so Ironhide can hold weapons such as the Star Saber or Prowl.

The sound effects still work in this mode with no change in how they're activated.

I won't be giving Ironhide a final rating yet since without Jetfire I can't evaluate him completely. For now, I'd put him down as mildly recommended. A final score will come once I have Jetfire.

Updated Thoughts (February 8, 2024):
Until I restored this review I did not realize I never gave Ironhide a "final" rating.  After many years (and recently playing with Ironhide in my storage locker) I will say the "mildly recommended" rating stands.  He's not a bad toy by any means, but not as great as I wish he was.

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