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Transformers: Energon
by yo go re

Though the Transformers: Energon line has a lot of G1 homages in its ranks, not everything is a retread. In fact, one of the best figures in the whole line is an all-new creation, the heavy utility truck Landmine.

Landmine In vehicle mode, Landmine looks like some sort of all-purpose army vehicle. There's a big cow catcher-type plow attached to the front and a crane winch on the back. While there are regular tires beneath the cab section, full-sized tank treads carry the back. If not for the sky blue and orange color scheme, you could almost see a truck like this lumbering around the outskirts of some war-torn European city, turning the soil in search of mines, battering down the doors of strongholds and hauling disabled vehicles out of the way.

The vehicle can be split in two, though that leaves the cab looking a little undersized and goofy. The tow line on the back actually works - you can pull the hook out, attach it to another figure and lift them up. Press the button that makes the cable snap back into place and a terribly loud battery-operated winching sound screeches forth.

Landmine After the huge disappointment of Energon Omega Supreme, it's nice to have a toy with a somewhat complicated transformation. The actual robot is formed just from the cab of the vehicle - he's very much like Optimus Prime, that way. His legs are under the hood and his arms are formed from the rear suspension. The transformation is relatively easy, but there are a few spots that help bump up the difficulty.

lightpiped eyes Landmine looks great as a robot - none of the weird proportion problems that have plagued so many of the Energon figures. He's 7 1/2" tall and proportioned quite well. The battering ram/plow splits to become feet, and the truck's smokestacks become design details on his shoulders. The design of the little helmet/mask thing on Landmine's face reflects the shape of the truck's windshield, which is always a very nice feature.

funky little tank Landmine moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. You can also shift the big plow feet around a little bit to help keep him sturdy in different poses.

The back half of the truck turns into a mobile battle station, which simply looks like the trailer is on its tiptoes. It's rather unimpressive, but Transformer tractor-trailers have a long history of that, don't they? There's a missile launcher on there that I'm surprised passed safety tests - not only does it launch the missile quite hard, but it also has a hair trigger that often goes off by itself.

Fortunately, the battle station can also be used to create Landmine's "super mode." Powerlinx Landmine The treads snap onto his arms and the rest becomes a big backpack with weapons dropped over his shoulders. The mode still looks good, and definitely powerful, but pulling the trailer apart is very difficult. In order to keep it from falling to pieces on a regular basis, the treads are incredibly hard to snap on and off. The area where the backpack plugs onto Landmine isn't a solid piece of the body, so if it moves at all while you're trying to attach the pack, you'll have to try again.

In addition to the winch sound, Landmine has two other sound effects which are only triggered when pieces are in certain positions: a classic transformation sound and a rocket blast. I like having them tied in to specific configurations - it keeps you from triggering them accidentally.

Top to bottom, Landmine is a good toy - great vehicle mode, great robot mode, rewarding transformation... it's everything we want from Transformers, without any sense of obligation to the old days.

What do you like better, the homages or the new stuff? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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