Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Generations Whirl

Back in the olden days of the mid 80’s, when hair was big, shoulder pads were bigger and dancing in the street looking like this was not only acceptable but encouraged by musicians who really should have known better, there were (more importantly) Transformers.

While fusing Takara’s Diaclone and Microman series together to create the core of the line, Hasbro were also busy appropriating licences from other toy manufactures to bolster the ranks of the Autobot and Decepticons.

Enter Whirl.

Hailing from the Armored Trooper Dorvack series, the toy originally known as Ovelon Gazzette was given a new lease of life in his tech specs by Bob Budiansky as a reckless, faux crazy, wild flying Autobot. It’s a nice character template, ripe for development.. except it didn’t happen.

Whirl never appeared in the cartoon. His appearances were limited to the Marvel comic where he was introduced as one of the (soon to be) fan favourite Wreckers. But his was a low key, minor role.

Of course, being a background character full of brooding potential is guaranteed to get you noticed by more industrious folk. And the good people at IDW comics have let Whirl leave an indelible mark on their universe.

Past form meant he was destined to bag a cameo in the Roche/Roberts penned Last Stand Of The Wreckers, but the guy made more of an impact through his (violent) unnamed appearance in the trades accompanying prose story 'Bullets'.

Depending on who's telling the tale

He then cropped up in a massively pivotal (and violent) role in the pre war tale Chaos Theory.

And then became one of the main draws in More Than Meets The Eye. Egotistical yet broken, sociopathic, tragically flawed and incredibly funny.  

James Roberts, take a bow.

(And yes, he’s violent in it.)

Off the back of this notoriety comes the toy. 

One thing I will say right from the start is that Whirl feels like a ton of effort has gone into making him.
While cost cutting is happening across the board, this one seems like the designers blocked, countered and won the fight. He's solid, made of excellent materials, and comes with four lots of attachable weaponry and a sticker sheet to reference the original toy.

Whirl's helicopter mode is decent if flawed. The biggest offender is the robot thighs up front. It's not so much them being there as I can see what they're meant to be doing aesthetically, it's the gaps they leave either side of the cockpit.

Having said that, there's plenty to appreciate here.

Proper nice colours, the blue plastic is both baby and darker metallic. The blue metallic paint nails the plastic colour pretty much dead on. Details aplenty. Rivets everywhere.

And it's a love letter to the G1 design (the stickers increase this, I haven't applied many).
Copter blades use the same yellow as G1 Whirl did. He has the skis. Even the shoulders end up where they do on the original toy. These design homages will be this figure's blessing and curse.

You can add Whirl's plentiful artillery to the Helicopter mode.

You may hum Airwolf's theme while thinking of blue Pampers for boys.. NOW

One of the toy's selling points is a third mode.

Like ED-209 with a discount Dalek upgrade


Bear in mind I am one those heretics that dismiss the Macross gerwalk modes as a half arsed thing, so don't expect any gushing here. It just looks like a helicopter halfway through transforming into a robot.
It is a dedicated mode though, with two transformation steps that commit to it so I can't say it's an afterthought. It's just not this Manfish's bag.

Pretty straightforward to transform, another legs fold down, arms swing out affair with some folding and compressing at the back. Just take care with the tight joints beneath the thigh swivel. 

Whirl cuts an impressive figure. The colours suggest a friendly good guy. The rest? Well...

Guns, guns guns!

..fairly unique aesthetically, he has claws instead of hands and is packing those controversial since '07 chicken legs along with massive hooves and a cyclopean visage.
You can attach the weaponry to ports underside his forearms as well as clip them onto his legs.
He's not a particularly welcoming looking individual.
And I like it.

Though it did take a bit. 

And this is in no way any fault of the toy, rather an appreciation for his current comic book form over the choice of homage. What we have here in the (very) blue corner is a fantastic update of the G1 toy, while over there in the red is MTMTE's spindly spiky Geth wannabe.

But the more I fiddled, the more I thawed. He's a lot of fun to pose, packs a ton of gun and the head and legs call out to the current comic design.

Those thin gangly shoulders the instructions leave you with can actually be pushed into the chest.
This makes them tighter for holding poses and improves Whirl proportionally. You can find a sweet spot doing it that lets you still freely use the ball joint and gives him some brilliant arm articulation. 

Be careful with the legs. His thigh joints are incredibly tight and there have been reports of breakage. 
I haven't broken mine. I am a clumsy, hamfisted guy too. Mileage may vary here. Just take your time with those joints. 


For a dude with no face, Whirl manages to pack in plenty of character from both the poses you can put him in and the difference in aesthetics to the other Transformers in your collection. He's not gone behind glass yet and that's a big thing for me.

Happy. Angry. Sad. Confused.
Feel the emotion!

And if you truly hate the chicken legs you can spin 'em out for a more traditional look.

Bottom line, I'm glad I bought the nutjob. 

The definition of a grower, Generations Whirl packs in an impressive homage to the characters roots while still throwing in elements of the current IDW design that people are so enamoured with. Top stuff.

Time to weapon up, wallflowers!


Whirl tech spec and G1 box art courtesy of Botch the Crab's awesome site.