Alternate Mode: Police Superbike
Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Samurai Prowl for this review
Height: 7cm Length: 12.5cm Width: 9.5cm
A black superbike with extensive gold highlights, Prowl has grey tyres, a transparent blue windshield and a transparent blue lightbar on the saddle. He's a superbike, which basically means he's designed for track racing. I'm not sure about a superbike with police lights and a sidecar, but Animated isn't known for it's realism anyway. There's a silver Autobot logo where his headlight should be (and it fits in nicely as a pseudo headlight). There are extensive gold highlights here, and a small blue windshield on the sidecar. While the basic colour scheme is the same, there are actually a lot of minor differences in the paint job compared to the original Prowl.
The biggest difference her is the addition of the sidecar, but there are a lot of others, such as the loss of red on the strobe, a different shape at the front and some detailing inside the windshield. The sidecar is a nice idea, but I have to admit I really dislike the fact that his helmet is visible on top and can't be stowed. This bike, and the sidecar, are generally smooth with lots of gentle curves, and the helmet just doesn't fit into that, being pointy and complex. There's not that much play value here, but the important aspects are done well.
A fairly thorough if subtle update to the original version, Samurai Prowl's vehicle mode is essentially quite similar, with the sidecar being the major difference. The sidecar attaches well and works fairly well, although the helmet is more visible than it probably should be. Aside from the sidecar, I wouldn't say this is any better or worse than the original. The sculpt, shape and play value all work well.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Detach and set aside the sidecar. Split the saddle and pull the halves out to the sides. Unclip the cowling, swing the front wheel assembly through the cowling, the wheel assemblies fold out rather cleverly to become his legs. The groin swings into the saddle area, the boots actually pivot around the wheels, which end up embedded in the shins. Fold down his feet, swing the cowling up, which swings the windshield down to form his chestplate, while the head cleverly pops out from within the fueltank. Slide the chevrons up to reveal his hands. You're meant to fold the handlebars in underneath the windshield, but the slot is so well designed you'll never get them out without a screwdriver, so I recommend leaving them out. There's an extra set of hinges in the cowlings, allowing the cowling to swing up behind his head as feature rather than just kibble.
The sidecar opens out to form a backpack and armour. Detach the wheel and set aside. Open the side and split the window. Next wrap the sidecar around the robot itself - the back of the sidecar plugs into his back, the helmet rotates to slot over his head, the windshield swings under the shoulders to form shoulderpads while the sides end up and armour skirting hanging off his waist. Lastly, fold out the blade hidden attached to the wheel and attach the wheel to his left forearm as a slashing weapon.
Height: 16cm Width: 8cm
A black robot with gold highlights again, Prowl has black hands now (formerly grey), while his thighs and groin are now beige. His head is now dominated by the black helmet, although both the eyes and eyevisor are transparent blue. The mouth and ridiculously are grey but only partly visible while the horns on his helmet are gold. The Autobot logo ends up on his waist while the blue windshield is on his chest. The strobes end up on the back of either wrist, and can be deployed out to the sides for a bit more colour. The armour plates on his sides are black & gold while the shoulderpads are a mis of black, gold & transparent blue. It's a cohesive colour scheme, darker than the original with a lot more blue.
Animated has dished up some downright weird robot modes, and Prowl has his share of unusual features, but I'm happy that for the most part he's in proportion with himself. The face is unusual but mainly hidden by the helmet anyway. He's not especially robotic either - not unusual for Animated, but his angular hands, are quite robotic. Prowl is tall and sleek, and well proportioned within that theme - similar to Nightviper. The sidecar added elements pad out this toy quite but, so while his waist and legs are generally narrow, he's not the twig the original is.
The most amazing aspect of this robot mode is that there's no kibble. No wheels trying desperately to pretend they're not there, no awkward detached piece, no wheels shoved onto an arm, shoulderpad or the side of a knee. The wheels are core pieces of the boots, the cowling sits on his back, pointing up as a nice feature. The transformation which turns a good bike into such a clean robot mode is astoundingly elegant. The windshield on his chest feels very natural, with or without the handles stowed. The forearm guards sport his chevrons, so while the rank isn't on his shoulders, he does still wear it on his sleeves. The armour looks like armour, not kibble, which is pleasing.
The poseability here is great, with one issue carried over and one introduced with the changes to the mould. The neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and ankles are ball jointed - as is the waist. The hands are fixed, the knees are hinged. There's a huge range of poses, but Prowl lacks heelspurs. The shoulderpads limit the range of arm poses, and the limitation is immediately obvious once you start posing - the shoulders can barely swing forwards.
The stupid traffic light gimmick has been dispensed with, thankfully. The other weapon option on the original was more fun - the little ninja stars are now permanently attached to his leg, which is a loss. The blade attached to his wheel is still a nice option - somewhere between the cool ninja stars and the stupid traffic light (closer to the ninja stars, mind you).
Aside from the heelspurs and shoulder limitations, this is a great robot mode. We've never seen a motorbike Transformer than deals with the wheels so well in robot mode, the shape is in proportion with itself, his poseability is good and the sidecar melts in as armour ridiculously well. A very good robot mode, despite the poseability issues.
None that I'm aware of.
White Prowl does have some of the not-too-robotic stylised aspects of Animated, the transformation is clever - far more so that most toys in the line. The sidecar addition takes this toy a step above the original version in terms of transformation, even if it hampers poseability and loses some great weapons. Both modes look like they should, the play value is focused and the light accessory is left out, which is a positive. The poseability is his only real flaw. I wouldn't say he's any better or worse than the original, but it depends which you prefer - the play value or the added cleverness of transformation (and ninja motiff) - 9/10