Let's be honest: Terminator Salvation was a project that didn't need to be made. We already had an excellent ongoing piece of Terminator entertainment (the much-missed Sarah Connor Chronicles), and with the announcement
that Playmates would be making the film's toys, not even those would be any good.
Origin point for Armageddon: the T-1 was the very first robotic killing machine designed by Skynet when humans were still in charge of their planet. Comparatively primitive but as deadly and single-minded as any Terminator that came after it, this was the machine that killed Kate Connor's father the day the bombs fell and the world changed hands. Indeed, without the T-1, there would be no Terminators at all.
That's the bio from the Topps trading card included with the figure; Playmates' Terminator site has a different, briefer version:
The one that started it all. The
foundation of Skynet's reign of terror. These were the first machines mobilized to destroy humans as the system became dangerously self aware. Primitive but deadly. Without the T-1, there would be no Terminators.
Between them, I prefer the one from the card, because honestly, who actually remembers anything that happened in Rise of the Machines? Getting a quick reminder is nice. Well, as nice as getting a reminder of Terminator 3 can be. One of the (many) advantages Sarah Connor Chronicles had over T4 was that it, like audiences, pretended T3 never happened.
[Except that Kate's father was shot by the T-X, not by a T-1, so the packaging is wrong anyway. --ed.]
The T-1 is a non-humanoid machine.
Unlike the 800 Series, which were designed to pass for human, this one is basically a tank - pretty much a baby version of the Hunter-Killer tanks seen rolling all over the bony countryside in the first two movies. Though it's sold as part of the "Deluxe" figures (6" scale), it's clear that it's actually done in the 3.75" scale of the "Basic" figures. This thing is supposed to be about 8' tall in real life, but it barely tops 4¼" as a toy. It's nice that they found a way to get a larger toy out to go with their little guys (and one girl), but don't get confused: this T-1 won't integrate with your Marvel Legends, let alone your Movie Maniacs.
For a killer robot, the design is very nice. It really
looks like something a military contractor would develop today: a large, low base with protected tank treads on the sides, a third tread on a swivel to improve maneuverability, and a rotating turret with belt-fed Gatling guns mounted on two spread "arms." Playmates' stock photos and even the instructions have the small superfluous third tread in the front, but the movie (and common sense) put it in the rear. But hey, that's the benefit of a swiveling turret: you can do whatever you want! There's a minimum of detailing on the figure; a few wires, a few vents, a couple big bolts... you get the idea. Better than Star Wars, not as good as GI Joe.
T-1 has four points of articulation: the rear tread, the "waist," and a swivel for each of the guns. The guns also
contain one of the set's play features (oh joy). It's a missile-launching thing - press a button on the side and off it goes. You know. The ridiculous thing is that the gun, being guns, don't actually have any missiles to fire. Instead, they fire the ends of the guns. Seriously, press the button, and the barrels of the guns fly off. That's... a really weird choice. Another, unmentioned feature is that turning one of the wheels on the bottom of the toy makes the top turret oscillate back and forth. Roll the tank across a sufficiently frictive surface, and the waist will slowly turn side to side. Okay, that's admittedly rather cool.
Fitting into Terminator Salvation's design aesthetic, the T-1 is a dingy grey, and its lower parts are covered with mud - aka a heavy drybrushing of tan. Its gunbelts (and missiles) are black, and there are apps suggesting rust, the perfect touch for a killbot that's supposedly been around for 14 years. It seems the "head" has light-piped eyes, but it's so flat and angular that the effect just doesn't work.
The T4 toys absolutely weren't worth the $10 they were originally going for - heck, I got this T-1 on clearance, and it was still barely worth the price. The detailing is unambitious, articulation is sub-par, and generally the best thing we can say about it is that the action features don't get in the way of anything. But if you don't judge it against other Terminator figures, its standing improves a bit. Think how the T-1 would look in the middle of the Clone Wars, or painted blue and patrolling the shores of Cobra Island. Hell, stand some Marvel Universe X-Men next to him, and pretend he's a new breed of Sentinel... or even just a Danger Room training 'bot. As a Terminator toy, not so good; as an accessory for a different toyline, much better. Look for clearance sales, and shop wisely.