Badcube have deservedly built up a loyal following by continutally raising their own bar to put out some cracking Masterpiece-styled figures. Like many others, I have been a fan since the first days of Huff, when they still went by the name Cubex, but I can only marvel at how much they have evolved with each subsequent release up until Sunsurge. Honestly, when people ask me what my favourite 3P figure is, I often find Sunsurge somewhere on the tip of my tongue, along with maybe only one or two other examples. And yet despite their hardcore fans, there's an argument to say that Badcube still encounter some resistence whenever they unveil a new design, whether it's because of criticisms about the proportions of their figures or their complicated transformation schemes.
Which brings us smack up-to-date with the companies latest offering in the form of not one, but two new releases - Speedbump & Lorry, modelled after G1 Trailbreaker & Hoist. I've been tremendously excited to lay my hands on these guys since they were first unveiled, and so jumped at the chance to take a look at the review samples. I believe (correct me if I am wrong), that I'm also fortunate enough to be the only reviewer in the world taking a crack at both at once... how exciting!
With other 3P versions of Trailbreaker & Hoist also on the horizon, can Badcube win over the majority of fans to deliver us something worthy of our shelf space? Let's find out!
Final note before we begin - these are test shots. It goes without saying that the final retail versions may vary, including things like tolerances etc.
PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
These being test shots, I don't have the packaging to hand, though one can imagine that they will follow suit with Badcube's usual dual-coloured offering. I have to say I'm a big fan, so hope they keep it consistent.
As for accessories, these two are pretty stacked. Badcube have shown with previous releases that they're willing to go the extra mile to include homages to the cartoon, but I don't think anything has come close to what you see here. Speedbump comes with no less than three versions of his regular hand cannon, two of which can be installed at any one time (one on the hand, one on the shoulder). He also comes with a seperate hand weaon, and an alternate face. The final retail version will also come with an add-on weapon for Sunsurge, which can be placed on his vehicle mode spoiler to recreate the "left turns" scene from the pilot episode of the cartoon (which also featured Trailbreaker), though sadly I didn't have a copy of that to preview with the test shot.
Lorry is where things get really interesting! Although Lorry doesn't feature any seperate weapons himself, having his gun arm being part of his transformation, he does feature a plethora of accessories related to the season 2 episode A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court , including a horse, a suit of armour (which is actually Spike in the cartoon) and a representation of Sir Aetheling the Red from that same episode. Both of these characters also feature a separate set of legs to sit on the horse, as well as their own shields and jousting lances. There is an additional joust & lance which is much larger, and is intended for Masterpiece Rumble to recreate one of the classic scenes from the show. Amazing!
Honestly, it's hard to think of many 3Ps that go to such lengths! The figures themselves are nicely done too, even if quite simple overall. The shields for the smaller figures are a touch fiddly, mostly because of how tiny they are, but once you get them in their hands they stay well enough. I did also find that one of the smaller lances had a very weak handle, though Badcube have assured that this won't be a problem come final production. Overall, quite a bit of fun!
|Spike in armour|
|Spike on his horse (with stand)|
|Sir Aetheling the Red|
When people think of the G1 carbots, I've no doubt that their minds first conjure up the likes of Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Jazz... all rather flash sports cars. However, I always liked that there was also plenty of room for the somewhat-less sleek but just as sexy alt' modes belonging to the likes of Ironhide, Brawn and, of course, Trailbreaker & Hoist. They're no less iconic to me, and it's great to see Badcube do such a brilliant job at recreating them here. Amazing!
Pretty spectacular stuff. I had already eyed up these vehicle modes in pictures, but nothing quite prepared me for how lovely the in-hand experience was going to be. They're solid, sturdy and beautifully made, and do such a great job at recreating the Toyota form that you could honestly imagine they were made by none other than TakaraTomy themselves. Part of my love for Sunsurge was not only how stunning the vehicle mode was unto itself, but also how well it lined up next to the official Masterpiece carbots. It's fair to say that Badcube have proven that effort wasn't just a flash in the pan with these two.
So, where to start? Well, let's talk about what these two have in common first of all. Clearly it's the same basic mould, although it's also immediately obvious that Lorry has many differences from Speedbump (and even more to be revealed). However, they both share some lovely touches, including a beautiful translucent blue windshield, bendy rubber wing mirrors (which prove to be a sound choice in terms of play & transformation), nostalgia-inducing rubber tyres, a rather snazzy chrome grill and a solid diecast bonnet. These details combined make for a truly special vehicle mode in either colour, and one that's satisying to the touch as well as the eye.
I'd say they also pass the Masterpiece-esque test of simultaneously echoing the cartoon appearance of the vehicle mode, whilst still superbly improving on it by adding a sense of the real world.
|The animation models for Trailbreaker & Hoist|
Love it. The moudling of the front section & bonnet is especially wonderful, and truly the whole mode on both figures in such a superb recreation of the 1980s' vehicle form that you can't help but feel the nostalgia buttons being pushed. Speedbump's vehicle mode is especially striking in that shiny black with the attractive orange & yellow stripes, and so instantly recalls the vehicular appearance of the intended character that yet again it's hard to believe this isn't an official product.
Honestly, there's really not a lot to dislike here. The harshest critics might choose to nitpick the vague whiff of robot mode kibble hanging underneath, but in truth it's really not noticeable in hand and certainly doesn't detract from the overall look here. Everything lines up and clips together so well, and the overall proportions of the vehicle so well done that it's difficult to be critical. He doesn't skimp on the attractive smaller details either.
I recently took Speedbump along to a UK pub meet up and there was no doubt that this vehicle mode was the main attraction of the evening for many. It's really not hard to see why, is it?
Of course, I should save some of this praise for Lorry, who is no doubt equally lovely. I have to also credit Badcube for really going to town on making him feel like his own beast - despite all their commonalities, there's no chance of Lorry feeling like a "mere" repaint here. This is a worthy vehicle mode in its own right.
First thing I have to say about Lorry is how bloody beautiful the green is. Just really very striking, and it goes perfectly with the blue & orange also on show here. That and the entirely different stripes allow Lorry to feel special in his own right. Although Lorry does feature a tad more underside kibble, I'd truthfully struggle to say which of these two is more attractive in this mode.
Of course, he's chock full of similar attractive detailing to Speedbump, although it's worth appreciating unto itself.
The second major thing to note about this vehiclde mode is how impressive the rear assembly is. It's wonderfully intricate, superbly detailed and also does a great job at looking like something that could actually exist in the real world.
Of course, the best thing about it is that is does really "work"! The assembly features both a fold down section for towing other cars, and a small winch with a piece of thread that can actually be wound on a reel. Amazing! I'm really quite impressed with this solution from Badcube, and there's no doubt that this adds to the playability of this mode.
|With Masterpiece MP-12 Sideswipe|
Talking of playability, now seems as good a time as any to talk about some of those extra accessories that were mentioned earlier, especially as Lorry's winch will help with recreating faithfully some of the scenes from A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court .
|Helping Spike onto his horse|
|Helping Sir Aetheling the Red take his place (also featuring Badcube Wardog)|
|"Hop on, Sir Aetheling! No laser power left but we're still gonna - WOOSH! - clean their clocks!"|
|Also featuring Masterpiece MP-16 Frenzy & MP-11NR Ramjet|
|"What ya waiting for Red Knight? Don't ya wanna rumble with Rumble?"|
I mean, how much fun, right? Anyway, interludes aside let's see how well Speedbump & Lorry line up versus some other figures in a Masterpiece-styled collection. The results are unsurprisingly positive.
|With Badcube Sunsurge|
|With Masterpiece MP-10 Optimus Prime|
|With Masterpiece MP-27 Ironhide|
|With Badcube Brawny|
|With Badcube Wardog|
Beautiful. So, one mode down and plenty of evidence so far to show that Badcube have yet again upped their game. Onto round two.
It's fair to say that after Wardog and, to a lesser degree, Sunsurge, Badcube have acquired a reputation for complex, often quite puzzling transformations. Even Brawny & Backland before them were relatively intricate for their size. I know a lot of fans found Wardog simply too much, and although that's not an opinion that I personally share, I can understand it. Equally, I don't find Sunsurge to be such a challenge, particularly after repeated attempts, though again, I am sympathetic to the concern that some people have regarding such things.
So, when a preview video of Speedbump's transformation showed what appeared to be a rather nightmarish contortion of parts folding through a seemingly impossible series of steps, I wasn't much surprised that the general reaction was unfavourable. However, allow me to offer an honest opinion here: Speedbump's transformation is really not that hard. Complex? Perhaps a little, though not really as much as Sunsurge and certainly not as much as Wardog. In fact, once you have understood it, there's an argument to say it's really quite fluid.
Take the legs, for example. The first time around I will admit to being a little confused by one or two steps, but after a couple of attempts I realised that it's really all quite simple as long as you do things in the right order. In fact, the only bit of the entire scheme that I would say is a bit of a challenge is the way that the side panels & backpack form into robot mode, and then trying to get the arms to click back into place when converting Speedbump back into vehicle mode. That does require a bit of patience and certainly a good knowledge of where everything is supposed to end up. Overall though, I have to hand it to Badcube for giving us a transformation that is inventive, surprising and alright, yes, a little tricky, but still remains repeatable and fun.
But what of Lorry? Well, the first thing that will surprise people is just how different the two schemes are. In fact, the only bits that are in any way the same as Speedbump's transformation are the bonnet, roof & side panels of the truck, and even then they don't move into the same places for the robot mode. The manner in which the chassis and parts of the rear assembly unfold to become the legs is entirely new, and certainly a bit of a surprise!
OK, so truth time, Lorry is defintiely the more complex of the two, and again that's more evident in the return to the vehicle mode. I will admit that this certainly did give me some moments of pause, although once you know the steps it's honestly not so bad. I suspect the legs are the bits that will cause the most challenge for people, as the way they transform is not exactly obvious at first glance.
Still though, there's a lot to admire here, and some truly innovative steps to both transformation schemes. I'm particularly impressed with how little partsforming is required, with only Speedbump needing the addition of his shoulder weapon. Everything else, including Lorry as an entirity, is completely partsforming-free; surely something that has to impress you. Either way, if you're debating these guys but feeling a little put off by a potentially hellish transformation scheme, don't be - they're actually kinda fun.
The aesthetic ambitions of various third party companies when designing their figures seems to vary wildly, from the more stylised to the more cartoon-accurate, though they often seem to share one thing in common - a desire to blend well with the official Masterpiece line. Now, for my money Badcube have been achieving this well even in the early days of Cubex Huff, though there's surely no debate that with each subsequent figure they get closer to that goal, and Speedbump & Lorry definitely continue this trend. Not only are they beautiful figures, but they most certainly have a "Masterpiece-y" vibe, though still with their own distinct signature.
The other thing to note straight away is of course how different these two are. There's no doubt that Badcube are pushing the boundaries of what can be considered a straight re-mould. It was recently announced that the upcoming Masterpiece Inferno & Grapple only share 50% of parts in common, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear if these two at least pose a challenge for toppling that statistic. Nearly everything from the waist down is entirely different, as well as the forearms, backpack and head. Not to mention that both 'bots certainly have their own distinct character.
Impressive stuff, though that's not to say that viewing them one-by-one isn't equally rewarding. Speedbump will no doubt be the most popular part of this pairing, and he's a fine handsome 'bot by any standard. I've previously read criticism of Badcube's design for lacking decent proportions, but will say that I don't see how anyone could levy that comment at Speedbump; he looks great from every angle.
Top to bottom, there's a lot to like here, and I'll give extra props to Badcube for crafting something that is also surprisingly cartoon-accurate. A quick comparison with Trailbreaker's cartoon model will tell you all that you need to know, although closer inspection reveals that they've clearly considered the finer points as well. Areas such as the knees, shins, hips and shoulders all feature detail that could be considered quite spot on.
|Trailbreaker's animation model|
But it's not just cartoon accuracy where this guy shines - he simply oozes character. There's something about the overall design & look that I find really appealing about this figure, and he certainly looks very imposing & dyanmic.
Of course you can change up those good looks a little by applying some of the accessories that he comes with. As mentioned, he features two different weapons that can be peg in place of either hand. Just fold the hand away as if for transformation and clip the weapon on - pretty simple. The first is a three-pronged weapon quite similar in design to Ironhide's glue gun from Dinobot Island. Try as I might I simply cannot recall the cartoon reference for Speedbump's weapon in this case though, even though I feel like it's on the tip of my tongue! Regardless, it looks pretty cool.
However it's the regular cannon that I suspect most people will be interested in, as it's definitely part of Trailbreaker's signature look, after all! There's no doubt it really adds something to his appearance here.
Otherwise, the main accessory going here is the extra face, of course. It's a simple pop-off, pop-on thing, quite in line with what many will be familiar with from official figures such as Masterpiece Ironhide or Ultra Magnus.
I like the shouty face just fine, though I have to admit that I'm much more of a fan of the regular stoic face. I've seen some divided opinion about how well it truly represents the intended character, though I personally think it does a great job. My photos have also come under a bit of scrutiny for showing it to be particularly sparkly, but in truth this is just the macro lens magnifying things; it looks absolutely fine in hand. The face itself is a slight shade lighter than the rest of the head, which is perhaps not entirely cartoon-accurate, though I think it helps to pick out the detail a little bit so I am fine with that. The one thing I will concede to is that it's a bit of a shame Badcube didn't include a mouth-plated toy face for collectors who prefer that look, but then I guess this is not something that they have previously done, either.
Chock full of character. Continuing the accolades, I'm also pleased to report that Speedbump is pleasingly articulated, and more than capable of carrying off a range of dyanmic poses. There are some small quirks to the articulation, mind, most notably to do with the knees & lower legs. The knees themselves have two joints, one of which is clearly meant to be the actual kneee joint itself, featuring lovely clicky ratchets, and a second which is required for transformation (that sits just below the red knee guards). Under normal use it is likely that it's the second joint that will be moving first, due to the friction in the ratchets on the main knee. Whilst this isn't a problem, it does look better if you bend the knee at the intended spot, and it also means that the lower leg stays together a bit better (the panels on the front of the shins have a habit of needing readjustment otherwise). The best way I have found to do this is the hold the entire lower leg with your hand, and then bend in one motion at the knee. It just requires a bit of thought, but the results look good and leave him with some mightily impressive leg articulation!
As I say, it's really all good news on the articulation front, as Speedbump should be able to move and bend however you so desire. Look at him go!
So, big praise for Speedbump, eh? Well, as I say the lower legs can be a touch fiddly and do require the odd spot of readjustment, but other than that I would honestly struggle to give you many ways in which I don't think this guy is a great figure, and the more and more time spent with him the more I have enjoyed him. So, can Lorry live up to that?
Well, he certainly has the look down, and as mentioned previously you have to be immediately struck by how incredibly different he is to Speedbump! Even a quick glance will tell you that this is basically a different figure from the waist down, and overall Badcube have certainly done a great job at giving Lorry his own personality and look. He's definitely a much better representation of cartoon Hoist than a straightforward Speedbump repaint would be.
|Hoist's animation model|
Definitely pretty Hoisty. Even quite Hoistalicious, you might say. One can also certainly forgive Lorry for some realtively odd proportions in the name of cartoon accuracy, I feel, and I love his slightly more bulky frame. Of course, if that's not your thing, then you can also transform him in a different fashion to make him taller and more akin to Speedbump. Simply extend the legs, fold in the wheels on the chest, and transform the side panels so that they're tucked away and not hanging off the backs of the arms.
|With legs extended and side panels folded in|
Nice to have options, although personally I definitely prefer the more cartoon-accurate look. I would also question if the taller look goes far enough for those who may be looking for greater accuracy to the G1 toy, and as with Speedbump I suspect a green alternate head may have worked wonders for this, but it was not to be. Still, there's no denying that he looks great in his regular guise, and as with Speedbump is certainly full of character.
Lovely stuff. As before that green & orange combo is certainly a sight to behold, and makes Lorry a very attractive 'bot for sure. There's also lots of lovely details that help to make him look good, and I think he does a great job at ozzing personality overall.
I'm also a big fan of that head. I'd say it's about a 90% dead ringer for the character as he appeared in the cartoon, but either way it looks really cool and is certainly quite unique!
So pretty good so far, then. I will say that Lorry is noticeably more fiddly than Speedbump, however, and there is a certain art to getting him posed correctly. He has the ability to look a little awkward if this is not done correctly and that's mostly down to the legs. Still, with a bit of care & attention he's certainly capable of cranking out the impressive poses.
He's also not quite as stable as Speedbump, and this is again partly down to the knees not being quite as rock solid. I suspect a lot of this is down the simple point of this being a test shot, and I have already been reliably informed that Lorry still has some final preparations to undergo before release. Overall though, I have to say that I think this guy is shaping up really nicely, and certainly fits in really well alongside a Masterpiece-styled collection.
|With Masterpiece MP-25 Tracks, X-Transbots Glider & MP-19 Smokescreen|
|With KFC Transistor|
|With Badcube Wardog|
|With Maketoys Wrestle|
|Also with the Unite Warriors Constructions|
Likewise Speedbump is no slouch in this department! He lines up exceptionally well.
|With Masterpiece MP-21 Bumblebee|
|With Masterpiece MP-12 Sideswipe & Badcube Sunsurge|
|With Masterpiece MP-20 Wheeljack & MP-17 Prowl|
|With Masterpiece MP-30 Ratchet & MP-27 Ironhide|
|With X-Transbots Boost|
Cracking. Overall, I have to say that I think Badcube have done an absolutely bang up job with these two, and they represent another fine pair of additions to their ever-growing line-up!
|All the Badcube Autobots thus far|
With each release Badcube are showing more and more confidence & capability, and there's no doubt that Speedbump could be considered their most accomplished offering so far. He fits in exceedingly well with the official Masterpiece line, and looks the absolute business in both modes. Lorry is also really quite fantastic, and I love the green colours and overall look. I'd say that this pair come dangerously close to being a 5/5 for me, and it's really only because the 'bot mode legs could be considered slightly fiddly that they don't quite make it. Still, that's only a slight nitpick, and for me these are the 3P Trailbreaker & Hoist to beat.
|What's HOT? |
Simply stunning vehicle modes, both of them - absolutely top drawer. Playability is off the charts with all of the extra accessories. Speedbump's robot mode is really top notch, and Lorry's is very good overall.
Speedbump's legs are a touch fiddly, but it's no major problem. Lorry's legs may be a turn off for some folks. Lorry's transformation is also quite intricate which may put some off. Oh, and it's not a personal gripe but I know some will want toy heads.