One aspect of the Transformers universe that has almost always been overlooked is the human component: the little walking meatbags that always seem to pal around with the giant, lumbering death-mo-trons. If this figure is an example of how it would be handled, then that oversight is a good thing.
Kicker is ready to fight in his battle armor! He can ride High Wire when High Wire is in vehicle mode, but change the cycle into robot mode and they can fight side by side!
There are two parts to this set, which should help its coolness factor: the first is the little Kicker figure. Kicker is the little human who originally feared and hated the Transformers, but eventually got used to them and who, for some reason, can detect energon, the gunk that powers the damn things. Go figure. In the package, Kicker looks like a repainted Microman, which only makes sense, since he is a repainted Microman.
In Japan, Takara took one of their Microman bodies, gave it some removable armor and a helmet and called it Kicker. There were a few versions released, and some made their way to the US via import shops, but there were no immediate plans to release him here. Hasbro, however, has just started shipping their own version, Energon Kicker with High Wire.
Hasbro, kings of cutting corners, did not give us a highly articulated Microman body. Instead, we got one molded with all the same details, but lacking much of the movement. A lot of fans are calling this a GIJoe body, since the articulation is comparable: neck, shoulders, biceps/elbows, waist, hips and kness. Keeping with the Joe theme, Hasbro gave him an O-ring crotch, just like those figures.
The Japanese version of the figure, which depicts Kicker in the armor the Autobots gave him so they don't step on him, is much more colorful. Not only in the amount of paint apps - the US version is really lacking some fine detail - but the actual colors are less vibrant now. It's predominantly black, with white armor and blue and red trim, but he just doesn't look like the cartoon version.
Additionally, Japanese Kicker came with a huge, chromed sword, while our version? Nada. Nothing. Not a thing. Well, except the Transformer, of course.
The second part of the set is the transformer High Wire, but he's more than just a scaled-up version of the Minicon of the same name. This is obviously intended to be the same character, rather than a different version of him - he's just in a different scale. In his vehicle mode, he's a dirt bike, and the detailing is all pretty good. The tires have the appropriate off-road texture, there are brakes on the handle bars and a spring molded on the moveable kick stand.
That's all fine. The problem is the size. High Wire is nearly twice as large as he should be, which makes the Kicker figure look ridiculous when you put him on the bike. This is supposed to be a little dirt bike, not a huge Harley.
Transformation to robot mode is good, but the design is hampered by the fact that this is supposed to be a larger-scale version of what was originally a 1" toy - given a 5" long dirt bike to work with, I'm sure that Hasbro's designers could have come up with something better. Particularly bad is the figure's left arm, which is nothing more than the bike's front wheel. Wow.
The first time they tried to give us a human character in the Transformers line, perennial hanger-on Spike Witwicky folded in half to serve as Fortress Maximus' head's head. Yeah. Now we get a crappy figure with crappy paint, packaged with an over-sized bike with a crappy alt mode. Whatever you do, don't give in to temptation: save your money, and if you really need a human, buy the Japanese import version instead.
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