It may seem crazy to review all these knock-off Transformers, but I'm in it for the Long Haul.
Awful puns aside, this is Heavy Labor, the second release in TFC Toys' "Hercules" series, which will eventually comprise six green and purple construction vehicles that combine into one giant robot. Man,
these third-party toymakers! Where do they come up with their ideas?
Heavy Labor is an update of Long Haul, who, like most people, is unhappy with his job. He's the transport, ferrying materials back and forth between job sites. While he recognizes that this is a fundamentally indispensible role, he feels that he's doing all the work while everyone else gets all the glory. He'd rather be fighting on the front lines of battle than driving around at the rear. However, he never tells anybody this, because Megatron would probably slag him.
The original Long Haul had a head that was very flat (from front to back), but still had a rounded cap. Heavy Labor's face is similar to Long Haul (eyeslit, mouthplate, no other features), but it's exceedingly square. It doesn't look bad, just unexpected. His eyes and, for some reason, a line on his forehead are lightpiped.
The robot's design is just as blocky as Exgraver was, though the parallels with G1 are not as strong. The waist panel is the same shape as Long Haul's, and he's got the
truck cab on his left shoulder, but that's about as far as it goes. But hey, he's still green and purple, and at least he's not going to be a crane this time. The sculptural details are excellent, making the toy look like a functional robot. The silver pipes on the abdomen? The thick armor on the limbs? The big gears in the hips? It may be new, but it suits Heavy Labor well. There's some kibble hanging off his back, but that just adds to the feeling of this being a "real" Transformer.
Obviously the articulation is a huge improvement as well. Of course, as long as he moves at more than the
shoulders, he's already winning this competition. Heavy Labor has a swivel neck, swivel and hinged shoulders, swivel/hinged elbows, swivel waist, swivel/hinged hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged toes. There's apparently some kind of problem with his hips, because a future release comes with a replacement pair. Doing due diligence, it seems like the ratchets in the joints shear off? Mine seems okay so far, but I'll definitely keep an eye on it. This was only a problem with the first edition: when TFC went into production for a second go-round, they fixed it.
The figure comes with several
accessories, including two weapons. Two copies of the same gun, in fact: one in purple, one in translucent red. Still don't know what the thinking behind that was, but it's not so crazy that you can't imagine reasons his gun might turn red. The first edition release also includes a replacement scoop for Exgraver, as detailed in that review.
The instructions for Heavy Labor are very much like real Transformers instructions: they're drawn in simple line art
with parts highlighted as they move, and there's at least one step that's shown incorrectly (you don't actually turn the robot's waist around when converting him).
The original Long Haul was an average-sized dump truck, but Heavy Labor, like Demolishor and movie Long Haul, is one of those giant trucks used at mines and quarries. That seems par for the course these days, so we don't fault TFC Toys for going along with it. If nothing else, it makes him the same scale as Exgraver.
The truck is a hefty 5" long, 3" wide
and 2⅝" high. The chunky wheels roll, but the way everything fits together prevents the back end from lifting to dump anything out. Aww, so sad. There's some pretty major kibble in the back anyway - you can pretend that the truck is hauling robot arms. There's a serial number printed on the sides: H-5-18-C-21-L-5-19. Cute. Anyway, we've seen better Transformers dump trucks, but we've also seen worse.
These third-party pseudo-Constructicons convert and combine just like the real things did. Well, do. It's not like they stopped combining at some
point in the past 30 years (as long as you still have all their combiner-kibble). You don't have to worry about that here, because all the connection points are built in.
Heavy Labor retains Long Haul's position in the big guy: THE MIGHTY LOINS! There's not much to this mode - it's basically just a halfway step between the robot and vehicle modes - but the same thing could easily have been said about Long Haul decades ago. Back then, you lowered the nose of the truck; now you lower everything else. This is where the unreliable hips will come into play, because they'll have to support the weight of the assembled giant. But we've got four more reviews coming before we get to that.
Back in G1, Long Haul was the final Constructicon I got, but he's the second component of Hercules to be released. The SRP on these is around $100, which is a hard pill to swallow, but that's always the case with third-party items - the economies of scale in action. If this had been a $25 Voyager, we'd be telling you to start staking out the toy aisles to get one, but at four times the price, you'll need to be more choosy.
Exgraver | Heavy Labor | Structor | Dr. Crank | Neckbreaker | Madblender