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Neckbreaker

TFC Toys
by yo go re

We're almost there!

This is the fifth release in TFC Toys' "Hercules" series, an entire line of third-party toys designed to knock off some of the most famous Transformers of all time, the Constructicons (and, by extension, Devastator). So that means there are six figures to collect before you're done - one more to go!

Figure #5 is Neckbreaker, the update of Bonecrusher, the demolition-crazy bulldozer. Bonecrusher loves nothing more than a rubble-strewn wasteland, and is happy to turn any location into one... as long as he has an audience. He tends to be a showoff around the other Decepticons, something they don't really mind too much. Except when he starts destroying their own buildings.

Neckbreaker's head is flat and broad, which is nothing at all like the original Bonecrusher toy - it does, however, resemble the animation model, with its visor, nose, and mouth. The eyes are lightpiped, as are two spots on the forehead and cheeks. The set also includes a second visor (meant for the Hercules head), but you can put it on Neckbreaker's face if for some godforsaken reason you want to. Be very careful, if you choose to do that: the area over the bridge of the nose is so thin, it'll bend if you push on the goggles in the wrong place.

The rest of the body is as unconnected to the old toy as the head is. He's green, purple, and black, but the shapes of the bot mode don't really match up with the G1 design. It's a good-looking robot, though, so don't worry about that. One interesting note, however? Though the toy has fold-open feet like Exgraver, and the instructions would have you use them, he's packaged with the blades from his altmode under his legs, acting as feet. It's a nice change, and makes him look distinct. It's definitely better than the intended layout, which sees the blades up by the hips. Never be afraid to work out a superior fanmode.

Speaking of "superior," Neckbreaker's articulation is far better than Bonebreaker's. The real Transformer moved at the shoulders and elbows, while this knockoff has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. The "incorrect" feet are also better when it comes to the articulation, since they attach to the legs below the knee, but are supposed to be posed up near the hips.

Neckbreaker comes with two copies of the same gun, like all these figures do. Presumably at some point we'll figure out why they all get a purple gun and a translucent red gun, but not yet. This one is fairly blocky, made mostly of rectangles rather than circles. The barrel is thinner than the body, and is angled at the tip. It definitely looks like some sort of fancy ray blaster!

The instructions are done in traditional Transformers style: black and white line art that highlights each piece as it moves. The waist doesn't want to move all the way into place as you're going to the altmode, but it's not something that requires an updated release to fix: you just need to push a little harder than you thought you did.

Bonecrusher's altmode was a small, one-man bulldozer, but following the trend of these TFC Hercules components, Neckbreaker is a larger piece of mining equipment, the kind that could easily bowl over an entire row of cars in its path.

The dozer is a super-chunky 3⅜" wide, 3⅛" tall, and about 5½" long. There are small rolling wheels beneath the treads, like pretty much every tracked Transformers toy in history has had. The only real kibble is found in the back: the robot's waist piece pokes out between the treads, and the giant Hercules hand hangs off the top in an a way that doesn't look like equipment, but rather like he's hauling a giant robot hand.

In theory, the bulldozer's blade is articulated, able to lift and tilt to be put in many different positions. In practice, however, since the blade is created by putting three different pieces together, it doesn't quite work the way it should. The pieces don't plug together very securely, so when you move one, it doesn't necessarily move the others with it; so instead of one big blade, you've got three blade pieces that you're struggling to keep together. If the pieces snapped together tightly, this might not be a problem, but they really do little more than sit next to each other.

Like his counterpart in the original Constructicons, Neckbreaker becomes the left arm of the big combined robot. While the hand is a separate piece (one that stows on the toy, rather than having to be put aside like on Bonecrusher), the forearm is cleverly formed from the bulldozer's treads instead of being a separate launcher - truly clever design work! Since ⅔ of the blade is attached to the treads, it ends up on the forearm as well, but it's tucked on the underside so it doesn't look obtrusive. And since having a blade on the shoulder is a familiar part of the original Devastator, the remaining ⅓ sits up there where it belongs. How fun!

Neckbreaker is by absolutely no stretch of the imagination a cheap toy. Neither is it affordable, or reasonably priced. It retails for $100, which is an absolutely ridiculous price, even for a third-party creation, and you'd have to be insane to pay it. If, however, you are insane, you'll find a nicely designed toy that may not be a direct G1 homage, but is still a good update. A good update that will eat as much of your money as buying five similarly sized real Transformers.

Exgraver | Heavy Labor | Structor | Dr. Crank | Neckbreaker | Madblender

-- 07/09/13


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