"Transformers Universe 2.0" Tread Bolt Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: December 2008
Price Point: $19.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Gun halves x 2, Helmet, Rocket boosters

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Take command of your TRANSFORMERS collection with this AUTOBOT ally figure that converts from menacing robot mode to stealth jet mode and back again! Put on this guy’s helmet and engage the arm blasters’ projectiles in detailed robot mode. Change into jet vehicle mode for rotating laser cannons! Use your imagination and your advanced-conversion skills while staging your own AllSpark adventures with this futuristic robot-to-vehicle character.

The updated "Universe" line has used many redecos of figures from other lines to represent G1 characters. Autobot Blades is an example. Tread Bolt differs from many of those in that he is actually a redeco of a figure that was part of the Classics line, the very line that inspired this new version of "Universe". In this case, Tread Bolt is a redeco of Jetfire. I recommend reading Jetfire's review for a detailed look at this figure as this review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Tread Bolt may be a name that doesn't ring any bells. If it doesn't sound familiar to you I can't say I'm surprised. However unfamiliar it may sound to you, he was indeed part of Generation One. Tread Bolt was a member of the Autobot Micromaster Air Patrol, a team of four aerial vehicles released towards the end of the G1 line. He transformed into a stealth bomber type plane. Of the four Air Patrol members, his strong blue color made him the most visually striking, which may have been part of the rationale behind using him for this redeco since any of the characters would have fit the plane form. The name would later be reassigned to an Energon character with no relation to the G1 plane.

Vehicle Mode:
While I'm a huge fan of the Classics Jetfire figure, one had to admit it was very white. This was true to the original character of course, so it was fine. However, for this release, the designers used some very bold and strong colors that vary a bit more than they did on Jetfire. The primary plastic color here is blue, which replaces most of the parts that used white on Jetfire. Several of Jetfire's black parts have been replaced with silver including the ends of the boosters, the booster cannons, his rear thrusters and the sides of the missile launchers. Bits of his robot mode arms and some hinges for the robot chest show here, done up in a drab brown color. This same brown can be found on his boosters towards the rear while the front sections of the boosters are cast in black. The translucent blue parts on Jetfire have been replaced with a dark translucent amber color that looks very nice against the blue that makes up so much of this form.

The paint decos add some distinct character to this form. The most prominant designs are angled designs on the front and middle of the jet. The same yellow can be found on the edges of his wings and stabilizers. If you look at the jet from the top, you'll find two "Air Defense" logos with wings on the end in silver. These colors and these military-esque logos are very reminscent of the color design of the famous Blue Angels jets. Behind the cockpit is a silver Autobot symbol that manages to look prominant but not obtrusive all at the same time. All these colors work together well, but I was very surprised by two applications of bright orange on the boosters, towards the back. This gives the feel of energy coursing through the boosters which looks fantastic against the dark colors that make up so much of this figure.

What's fantastic about this color scheme is how it takes G1 Tread Bolt's basic colors (the blue and brown) and it adds just enough elements to give it a modern, "real world" feel. I've always found the "Blue Angels" color scheme very striking, and to see it applied to a Transformer while having it remain to its "source" is a wonderful combination.

The two primary action features of this mode work great. The missiles still fire a respectful distance (at least six inches or so) and the boosters still slide back to allow his cannons to flip out.

Robot Mode:
Tread Bolt's robot mode shows off a lot more of his G1 homage coloring. While blue is still a very dominant color thanks to his torso, waist and wings all being cast in blue, he shows off the aforementioned brown color on his shoulders, upper arms, thighs and parts of his hip joints. This color combination already pays fantastic homage to G1 Tread Bolt. Silver plastic is shown off more here as well on his fists, missile launchers and feet. His gun has also been cast in silver. The lower legs, forearms and head are cast in black. The color distribution is very even, with each color breaking up parts into nice patterns such as the missile launchers having black ends and triggers while a bulk of the launchers are silver. His eyes are cast in the same translucent amber as the missiles, making him one of the few G1 oriented "Universe" Autobots without blue eyes.

Paint applications are done in colors you would expect, yellow being the primary one. What I love is the way the designers used the transformation scheme to bring several yellow stripe patterns together on the torso, forming a new pattern that looks fantastic. His head and waist have yellow paint as well, continuing the theme. His face is painted blue, which looks odd yet appropriate at the same time. Often, Transformers faces are brighter colors, or more sharply contrasting colors to the "helmet" portions so it's weird to see a dark color on a dark color. The helmet is cast in translucent amber while the guns on the sides are black. It is mostly painted silver excet fo the visor eyes and the crest, which is painted black. The four small circles on the front edges of the helmet are yellow, continuing the color scheme from the main figure.

All of Tread Bolt's joints are still super tight. However, there is one bit of sadness in this sea of joy. When you transform the figure and flip the cockpit piece open, it has a tendency to pop off unless you do it slowly. This is primarily due to the hinge piece being a bit worn, but I'm not sure if this is just mine or a result of the tooling wearing down. I'd be surprised if the tools were wearing down already since they've only been used in four production runs so far: Classics, Henkei!, Botcon 2007 and now this release.

Final Thoughts:
The cockpit piece is definitely a bummer, but I can't find it as enough to recommend against this figure. Indeed, I think this figure is very striking on its own and manages to distinguish itself from looking like a Jetfire clone despite no changes being made to the sculpt. I definitely recommend this figure with only slight reservations due to the cockpit issue.

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