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Transformers: Robots in Disguise
What They Are:
The Build Team are four psychotic little robots who transform into construction vehicles. They also combine into the psychotic large robot known as Landfill, with three different variations on Landfill mode. Let's start from the top.
Wedge is the leader of the Build Team, which strikes me as odd since he's the youngest and least-experienced. The other Build Team members' tech specs characterize them as seasoned veterans, so why would they follow a green (inexperienced) hothead? (The cartoon apparently retcons this away by characterizing them as utter morons... not that the other RiD characters fare much better in the brains department.)
Anyway, on to the toy...
Wedge transforms from a little, orange bulldozer into a little, orange robot armed with a combination shield/dual laser gun. Transformation is simple and fun, without any real surprises. I have seen some people mistransforming his shoulders, but he doesn't really look any worse that way. I hate when reviewers try to tell you how to transform a toy, so I'm not going to do that.
In robot mode, Wedge is nicely-articulated, possessing ball joints at the shoulders, elbows and hips in addition to other joints at his neck, knees (hinge and swivel) and waist. His weapon fits in either hand and can be plugged into a hole on his back for storage. The cartoon shows it plugged with the gun barrels pointing down, but I can only get it to stay when plugged sideways.
Wedge, unfortunately, lacks heels and has a hard time standing on anything but a perfectly-flat surface. This is a minor gripe, but it still costs him on the final score.
In vehicle mode, Wedge has no articulation at all, which is fine, I suppose. I would have liked to be able to raise and lower the shovel, but it's no big deal. He has four tiny wheels on the bottoms of his treads, which he rolls nicely on.
As a little surprise, you can leave his robot head tucked in and flip out the Landfill head, a capability which inspired this hilarious strip
Hightower is the Build Team's sharpshooter and pyromaniac. The most heavily-armed member, this triggerhappy red guy is also my favorite. I'm a big fan of snipers and I like to think of him as one, though neither his spec nor his cartoon counterpart portray him that way.
Hightower transforms from a red crane into a robot armed with a long rifle and a tiny-looking pistol. While both weapons look good, the pistol is solid black and, as mentioned, very small. It looks like it could get lost easily, so I usually leave it in its storage compartment in Hightower's crane-mode cab. The rifle looks better in two-handed poses anyway. Also, the hubcaps of his shoulder-wheels look like hidden Gatling/Vulcan guns.
His transformation is fairly simple and straightforward, forming a nicely-bulky robot with good articulation. Fans of blocky G1 Transformers will absolutely love this guy. I've heard people complain that Hightower is a partformer because you have to remove the crane's cab and reattach it to form his head and back, but that doesn't bother me much. Hightower has received some rather interesting fanmodes, such as this one and this one.
In crane mode, Hightower's crane arm can lift up and down. He also has two "hydraulic" stabilizers which keep him planted in place when doing heavy lifting. The crane arm can transform into its rifle mode while still attached, making an assault-vehicle mode. He's got four big plastic wheels which make for smooth rolling. They rather remind me of Tonka toys, though, able to handle rough terrain.
In both modes, he's a solid, stable toy. He has huge feet, long toes and heels in robot mode, which make him easy to stand up. I've come up with some pretty nice sniper poses for him, along with some in-your-face fight poses.
Grimlock, who shares his name with one of the most-beloved original Autobots, is the Build Team's second-in-command and strategist, at least according to his tech-spec. In the show, he's just a tall moron who goes along with whatever Wedge says.
Grimmy transforms from a green shovel (his spec calls him a backhoe) into a tall robot with claws instead of hands.
I'm going to be honest with you. Grimlock is my least-favorite of the four, aesthetically. His vehicle mode is loose. His robot mode is clumsy. His arms-mode (for Landfill) is very odd. I'm not certain I've ever transformed it correctly. Each Build Team member comes with the same huge instruction poster and the fact that it keeps trying to fold in on itself doesn't help. Don't get me wrong: I love complex and challenging transformations. He's not complex or challenging; just odd.
Robot mode is tall, with long legs and (as mentioned) claws. His head is pretty nice, with good detail and a football pro-ish no-neck look. I wish there was some way for his shoulders to peg into place in robot mode and I would also like for his arms not to be so clumsily-articulated. He can't hold his weapon, either, but it does attach to his back and to the back of his head. The weapon, his shovel-arm, has a toothed jaw which can snap up to chomp Preds and ensnare Decepticons. Aside from Hightower's rifle, this is my favorite weapon.
Vehicle mode is a treaded shovel which, like Wedge, glides around on four tiny wheels. In fact, I think they use the exact same wheels. Grimlock is much bigger than Wedge, but this still works well. His cab/turret can swivel 360 degrees and his shovel lifts up and down, bends back and forth at an "elbow" and bends up and down at the scoop. The chomper can be deployed in this mode as well.
For all my complaints, Grimlock is still a lot of fun to play with and to transform. I think they really did a great job with him. Whether he's worthy of his name or not, I leave up to you, Dear Reader.
Heavy Load is credited in his tech spec as being the most powerful of the individual buildbots, with the toughest hide and the strongest arms. In the cartoon, he is the smartest member of the team (though that's not saying much.) Often, Heavy Load is the one who makes up for Wedge's mistakes or advises him against foolish courses of action. Character-wise, Heavy Load is my favorite. I like the toy quite a bit, too.
Heavy Load is yellow. He transforms from a dump truck to a powerful robot via a scheme nearly identical to Hightower's, but don't be fooled into thinking that one is a copy of the other. Unlike Hightower, Heavy Load isn't a partformer at all. You don't even have to remove his weapon when transforming him. In addition, every single part (aside from the combiner connector) is a different mold.
Robot mode is very similar to Hightower, with the addition of Heavy Load's cab sitting in the center of his chest, with a grey/silver third arm attached. This arm is what connects his bucket to him in truck mode and can also be used to hold the bucket as a weapon in robot mode. The bucket has a very large jaw, spring-loaded to snap shut after being opened and released again. Unfortunately, this jaw isn't strong enough to clamp down on a figure the way Grimlock's weapon does. Still, it makes a great offensive weapon in addition to doubling as a big, thick shield. It can be detached from its support arm and used as a handheld weapon, though it's not quite as stable that way.
Another great thing about Heavy Load's robot mode is his head. He has a little half-smirk on his face which makes him look very easygoing, like he thinks his life is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. He's the only Build Team member with an actual facial expression... and probably the only Autobot to have one at all. That alone is enough to make him worth buying.
Vehicle mode is very, very solid. The bucket can lift up on its arm to dump loads of rocks onto enemies or use the chomper to put the bite on the 'Cons. He lacks Hightower's hydraulic supports, but he doesn't need them.
Heavy Load is well worth the money.
The psychotic Autobot known as Landfill is formed by transforming Wedge into a torso and the other three Build Team members into legs and arms. However, unlike other modern combiners, each member can be each limb. Unlike the Scramble City combiners you remember from G1, this isn't a simple case of peghead/hole matching, either.
Each Build Team member, aside from Wedge, has an extra appendage, a connecting arm. When Grimlock, Heavy Load and Hightower attach their connecting arms, the stage is set for a triple-mode combination. One robot becomes the arms and back of Landfill, while the other two become legs. Which robot does what job is entirely up to you! Most people use Grimlock for the arms, but I prefer Hightower or (occasionally) Heavy Load for arms.
Landfill is capable of using all of the Build Team's weapons, though he looks very silly with Hightower's pistol. (Also, if using Wedge's shield-guns, he has no crotch.) He can use two hand-weapons and Heavy Load's shield at the same time. The rifle and shovel-claw are held in the hands, while the bucket shield attaches to a forearm. When all is said and done, you shouldn't have any unused parts left over.
Landfill is, in theory, capable of taking poses, but I haven't tried putting him in very many for fear that he'll fall apart. Not that he will, mind you. He's such a solid combiner that I have a hard time disassembling him.
Also of note is the fact that Landfill has a light-piping feature. Two tiny holes in the back of his head allow light to filter through and make his eyes glow.
Landfill, if not mentally-stable, is a solid combiner and a very fun toy. While I'd love to see the whole team in a value-priced gift set, they're worth puchasing individually. Each component robot is a great toy all on its own, with playability and looks which have been sacrificed for the sake of the combining gimmick all too often in the past.
Remember, boys and girls, that I rate everything on a scale of one (1) to five (5), with 1 being the worst toy ever made and 5 being an excellent toy which you should buy ASAP. Also keep in mind that these toys are given an overall score, rather than being rated in several categories. That said, on to the ratings:
Wedge: 4 (The heels hurt him a little, but fun-factor won out.)
Hightower: 4.5 (Fun transformation, neat weapons, fan-modes galore! I deduct a bit due to an easy-to-lose part.)
Grimlock: 3.5 (Fun to play with, but too many flaws to ignore.)
Heavy Load: 4.9 (I would have liked his bucket claw to have been a bit stronger.)
Landfill: 5 (Best combiner I've ever played with. Period.)
Average Score: 4.38
Despite a few flaws, this team is definitely worth your money. Get 'em while they're still on the shelves! Do it now, so you can start saving for Armada!
You can check out Slander's online webcomic Panic!. [Warning, Mature Content. Altered States Magazine is not responsible for offsite links.]