"Timelines" Circuit Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: August 2013
Price Point: $47.00 (pre-order price), $59.00 (after release price)
Retailer: "Transformers Collector's Club" Subscription Exclusive
Accessories: Engine/weapon

Circuit is a relatively obscure Transformer whose origins lay with the tail end of the Generation One series. Around the late 80's into the early 90's, Japan and North America split considerably in terms of the toys they were releasing. While Japan put out variations on Combiners such as the Multiforce and new types of "Master" figures such as Brainmasters, North America (and other parts of the world such as Europe) turned their focus to non-transformable characters, mixing up classic characters such as Optimus Prime and Grimlock with brand new characters. These figures were paried with transformable weapons and vehicles. Outside North America, there were several exclusive characters released. One of them was Circuit, an Autobot who was actually a redeco of the Decepticon Axer. Aside from his new identity and deco, the vehicle he was paired with was exclusive to this release: an F-1 style race car that could transform into an Exo-Suit. For a long time, this was the end of the road for Circuit, relegated to obscurity.

Of course, we're 30 years into the "Transformers" line now, so things have gotten rather meta. Just how meta? To properly document this release, we have to go back to "Transformers Animated" where the character Lockdown was introduced. This character would later go on to receive a homage figure in the "Revenge of the Fallen" toy line (it's one of the figures from that line I need to get around to reviewing one day). Then that figure was given a new deco and retooled to create "Axor", a homage to the Action Master of the same name. It is from Axor that fans now have a modern day representation of Circuit! Whew!

Circuit was the fourth figure from the "Transformers Collectors Club Subscription Service" after Depth Charge, Scourge and Breakdown. I received mine in late September 2013. Since I never got to review Lockdown or Axor, this will be my first time really digging into this sculpt so this will be a "regular" review rather than one that asks you to refer to a previous one.

Vehicle Mode:
Unlike the sleek race car vehicle the G1 Circuit figure was paired with, Circuit has a powerful and kind of scary looking muscle car mode. It looks like someone took elements of a couple cars (including a 1980's Corvette), mashed them together and then slapped extra armor and offensive weaponry on it. The result is a really awesome, post-apocalyptic, "Mad Max" style vehicle. I mean, if you want smooth, sleek lines - you've got'em in the fromt, along the cabin section and even in the back leading the spoiler. If you want fierce, aggressive looking detail the front grille with a cow catcher mounted on looks fierce! Running along the edges of the car on the top and sides are small spikes, punctuated by large spikes sticking out of each tire rim. As if to put a fine point on just how powerful this vehicle is, the hood has an engine sticking out in true muscle car style (which seems to put out a lot of power as he has eight exhaust pipes, four in the back and two on either side). The sculpt for this vehicle is absolutely awesome and over the top. It may not appeal to you if you only want a sleek sports car or a bulky truck, but for what it is I like it.

Before I fully dive into the color scheme of this figure, a bit of history is necessary to understand Circuit's color palette. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, the "Transformers" line as a whole began moving towards a lighter and brighter color palette. This was partly due to the pop culture influences of the times. Fashion of the era had plenty of bright, pastel style tones (contrasting with today where colors tend to be more bold and direct, often leaning towards darker tones). Circuit was no exception to this trend. His primary color was yellow and his vehicle had all sorts of purple and pink tones to its colors. Since this figure is both a robot and vehicle, the colors of the Circuit figure and his Exo-Suit forming vehicle were both combined into this figure to pay homage to both elements of the original Circuit toy.

For the vehicle form, Circuit shows off yellow, pastel blue and transucent blue plastic. The yellow makes up most of the vehicle from front to back. The pastel blue is used for the wheels. The windows and the cover on the headlights in the front are translucent blue. These colors act as a nice base for the amazing paint job on the car. Like its sculpt and the G1 toy, the colors here are big and bold. A blue matching the wheels is used to paint a huge line running down the middle of the hood. It is also used over the rear wheel wells and some of the side details on the back section. Orange paint lines the bottom of the cow catcher in front and part of the back section near the spoiler. The most elaborately used color is a dark red/pink color that is found all over the car. On a small scale it is used to color many of the small spikes lining the vehicle. On a bigger level it is used for a really dramatic set of curved lines on the doors and top that lead to more full section sin the back. In concert with the spikes sticking out of the figure, there is something very savage about the appearance of these designs, almost like claws complementing the spikes on some imaginary animal. It looks aboslutley brilliant. The final touches come in the form of a brighter red paint which forms line details on the top of the cabin section and some vent details near the front on the sides. Overall, this is a quality deco that pays homage perfectly to the G1 character. It is very bright and is absolutely not for everybody.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the engine and set it aside for now.
  2. Pull each car door out to the side slightly.
  3. Split the front end of the car in the middle and pull those parts out to the side slightly.
  4. Flip the vehicle over and swing the robot legs (formed partly from the front halves of the car) down.
  5. On each leg, swing the wheel back.
  6. On each leg, pull the front halves of the vehicle down and swing them up.
  7. Each lower leg tilts back slightly into a "chicken walker" style position.
  8. Pull each arm up.
  9. Swing out the axe on the right arm and the hand on the left.
  10. Straighten out each arm.
  11. Rotate the panel on the right arm around.
  12. Swing the top panel on the left arm down to form shoulder armor.
  13. Pull the windshield/cabin cover section over the head and down to form the chest.
  14. Pull the head up a bit, extending the neck slightly.
  15. Attach the engine to the left forearm.

Robot Mode:
Circuit is a straight forward redeco of Axor, there have been no sculpt changes made to the figure for this release - but it works nicely. Keep in mind that G1 Circuit was a redeco of Axer, so they shared a head design. By the same token, Axor and Circuit share the same head design with this sculpt and it works out wonderfully as a homage. Through coincidence, there are features of this figure that do evoke some parts of G1 Axer and Circuit. While those figures did not transform, they did show parts that indicated both characters once turned into cars of some sort. By that token Circuit does the same with the wheels on his thighs and parts of the car on his chest and arms. The head sculpt is what sells it however, with the downward slanted eyes, mouth with a "chin piece" and small flaps on the sides of the head.

Circuit (and by association, Axor) is an unusual looking Deluxe figure. He is about 7 inches (about 17.7 centimeters) tall which is big for a Deluxe Class figure. His design is partly asymmetrical and his body parts alternate between big and thin. This is most evident in the legs, where his lower legs are thick but then the thighs and knee sections are thinner. His arms are asymmetrical, with the right arm having an axe in place of his hand along with a machine gun on the side. The left arm is a more "normal" arm with a hand that has four fingers extended out. Both the axe and hand are cast in rubbery plastic since both would be too sharp for safety reasons if they were made of hard plastic. Another great detail can be found in the thighs where mechanical details are sculpted into a column inside that rotates if you move the leg inward or outward. Perhaps one of my favorite details is the 'axe arm", which actually connects to a working piston making that axe look even more threatening! This is a very unusual design and I like it quite a lot.

All the colors form the vehicle mode carry over into this form, with yellow still dominating. However, several new pink and orange parts come into play in the form of the arms and legs. Most of the remaining parts are yellow and his eyes are translucent blue. Aside from some pink on the face and blue on his waist, most of the paint details in this form were already visible in vehicle mode. Circuit's colors are quite an assault on the senses, and if you don't have an appreciation for the source figure or more wacky design sensibilities, this will no doubt turn you off to this figure.

Circuit has twenty two points of articulation in this form. This includes four points in one arm and three in the other. His head has unusual articulation in that the base of the neck can turn side to side while the head itself can move independently. Usually Transformers heads just sit on a ball joint and move on top of that.

Final Thoughts:
Circuit is not for everyone. Even if you like the sculpt (which itself is fairly unusual in design) the actual color scheme isn't exactly easy on the eyes if you don't like bright colors. It appeals to me as a homage to the original Circuit and for being something different than your typical release. Recommended, but for a more discriminating collector.

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