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Battlegrip.com Review
Unofficial Transformers Wheelie

Back in July, our first Guest Review Week was a blast! Five great contributors from four great sites all right here at IAT? It was awesome and too fun to only do once! So, “Son of Guest Review” Week kicks off today with the spotlight on one of my favorite toy bloggers, Phil Reed from Battlegrip.com!

Back in 1986 Transformers: The Movie introduced us to Wheelie, an Autobot mini-car that talked in rhymes, wasn’t scared of the Dinobots, and generally annoyed anyone over the age of four. And as annoying as it was to listen to Wheelie talk in the movie (and then later in the animated series), that didn’t come anywhere close to the annoyance of how cheap and weak Wheelie’s toy turned out to be. He may have been the only original Autobot mini-car of the 1986 run, but with a bizarre vehicle mode and fairly lame robot mode we would have been better off if Hasbro hadn’t even tried to create a Wheelie toy.

Transform your clocks over twenty years to 2011 and Wheelie is back, this time from a third party company and not as an official Transformers toy. If you’re unfamiliar with the third party scene here’s the short form: Individuals and small companies are creating toys and accessories inspired by official Transformers comics, toys, and cartoons. Wheelie here, even though he looks like the Hasbro character (more like his appearance in IDW’s Transformers comic than the 1986 movie) is actually a completely unofficial toy. For more on this scene you can check my Transforming Collections project on Kickstarter.

Metal!

The first thing you notice when you hold Wheelie is that he’s hefty and extremely durable. Made of a mix of tough plastic and diecast metal, Wheelie feels sturdier and of a higher quality than the official Transformers toys being released by Hasbro and Takara today. That heft comes at a price, though, with Wheelie selling for about $50 . . . if you can find him. These third party toys aren’t readily available and you’ll need to try sites like TFSource and Big Bad Toy Store if you want to buy them. And that’s if the toys aren’t already sold out (which happens more often than I expected when I first heard about the third party scene).

Vehicle Mode

At about 4-inches long, Wheelie’s roughly the size of a small Deluxe Class official Transformers toy. Scout class would have worked better if you want to use Wheelie in your CHUG collection (which is my plan), but those of you who are Masterpiece collectors will find that Wheelie fits in almost perfectly with that scale; see this review at CollectionDX for a look at Wheelie with Masterpiece Rodimus Prime.

The vehicle mode is clearly Wheelie and looks as good as it can; I’m just not a fan of that bizarre vehicle design. The wheels — complete with rubber tires! — spin . . . but not very well. Don’t expect Wheelie to race across any surfaces.Continue to Page 2…

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26 comments to Battlegrip.com Review
Unofficial Transformers Wheelie

  • Shadow_Contact

    An excellent review, about something new. Wheelie is great, and looks to have all his classic trait. He does seem to have a a high price, but what you get does look nice. I’m hoping there will be a picture added with his Faction, then we will all have satisfaction. Third party seems to be striving, even if Hasbro is diving.

  • […] new third party Transformers review online, this time as the first in a series of guest reviews at It’s All True. Transformer Wheelie Survivalist is a completely unofficial Transformers toy and it’s made of […]

  • […] wrote the Wheelie review at It’s All True as part of their new week of guest reviews. This diecast metal and plastic unofficial Transformers […]

  • Sandman

    Nice review.

    I can’t stand that vehicle mode, so I’d never get this guy. 🙁

  • Fire King Xi

    I’m glad to see 3rd party TFs getting some recognition on the site, unfortunately Wheelie isn’t a very good example of just how awesome the 3rd party scene is. The alt mode is pretty clunky, where the original was sleek and fast looking. The bot Mode is considerably better than the original, but that’s not really setting the bar very high. Then there is the price. $50. I know 3rd party toys are expensive, but this guy doesn’t seem worth it. Fans Project sold their first run of Insecticons for $50 each, and now have a Holiday 3-pack on sale at TFSource for $160. iGear has similar sized bots, their versions of Cosmos and Brawn, at a pre-order price of $35-40. TFC has two 2-packs of “scout”sized figures using WWII tanks and planes for alt modes for $40. Then there is the really high end stuff like the Knight Morpher Series, the Hercules and Giant (each a rendition of Devestator), and upcoming sets of Arial bots and Stunticons. They all make Wheelie look a bit outdated design wise.

    • Fire King Xi

      I don’t mean to be a complete a-hole. Its a good review, and the photos (for better or worse) show off the toy well. Looking at it all I’m more impressed with the box art than the actual figure.

      I sounded a bit more “3rd Party Pimp” than I intended as well. I just meant to point out that I think there are better toys at nearly the same price point.

      • What I love about this toy is the bot mode and all of that metal. Is it the best third party robot out there? No. But it’s an excellent update, playable, durable, and lots of fun. And I like the G1-styling of the design.

  • TC

    Nice review! I’m not a collector of Transformers toys, but I’ve always liked the cartoons, and the mythology of the various Transformers “generations.” I’ve only recently become aware of these third party toys, and a lot of them are just amazing. Not sure about this guy, but judging by the pictures of the original Hasbro offering, an upgrade was definitely needed.
    That said, and I’m not trying to be a killjoy here, but how exactly is this legal? I’m shocked that these smaller guys haven’t been hit with “cease and desists.” I get how SpyMonkey can make MOTU weapons and sell them: He doesn’t use any kind of copyrighted names or images when advertising his stuff. But these Trans toys look just like the real deal and use names like “autobot” and “transformer” right on the packagaing. I mean, it’s a really neat thing these smaller companies are doing, and it’s great that Hasbro lets them, but can we get some more info on this genre? It’s really interesting, espescially if these 3rd parties can do this with other toy lines.

    • dayraven

      a lot of it has to due w/ how lax hasbro choses to be w/ enforcement of its IP rights. they could, no doubt, be harder on the 3rd parties than they are, but they’re chosing not to be. i think it’s good, to be honest, it keeps transformers in the minds and hearts of the collector community, which generally means in the wallet too… the guys willing to dump 600 bucks on hercules are also spending a crapton on hasbro’s official toys, so one isn’t really hurting the other. when/if the 3rd parties can get distro anywhere near the literal hundreds of thousands of units that hasbro sells, they’ll likely take a firmer hand on the market. right now, this is like like the collector coin market infringing on the US Mint… not even in the ballpark yet.

      • TC

        Okay, that makes sense. Thanks for the insight, Dayraven! I’m mainly into figures of the DC Universe characters myself, and I’d love it if some 3rd party would make some decent DC-related figures and accessories (Nekron’s scythe anyone?).

        • Beedo Sookcool

          I fear that DC, like Paramount and Disney under Eisner’s tenure, is chock full of stormlawyers without senses of humour or proportion. Any third party making a product that even vaguely hints at being synonymous with something DC owns would probably be in for a crapload of litigation. You may have to resort to paying for a secret commission on said scythe.

          • TC

            Yeah, between Mattel, DC, and Warner Brothers, I don’t see this ever happening either. It’s a shame, really. Ain’t nobody gettin’ hurt.

            • Brainlock

              Don’t forget, Marvel is owned by Disney now, so that’s an even bigger hassle.

              • Beedo Sookcool

                At least George Lucas lets the fans play around with his properties without litigation. Disney sues a nursery for painting their characters on the walls, Paramount sues a 12-year-old kid for putting up a non-profit Star Trek fansite, DC sues ToyFare for putting one of their characters in the background of a Twisted Mego Theater, while George Lucas allows fan-films and sites to proliferate like wildfire.

                Relaxed attitude from a multi-billionaire who doesn’t feel the need to worry about royalties, or shrewd marketing tactic to ensure total saturation of a brand name? Probably both. But I wouldn’t have had a Donald Duck, Batman, or Gorn fan-comedy website on GeoCities for 12 years. Pick an obsure background alien from Jabba’s palace who you can’t even see clearly as your avatar, though, and Uncle George leaves you to it.

                • Brainlock

                  DC sued Wizard? when was this?

                  • Beedo Sookcool

                    It was before I moved back to England, so this is going back at least 13 years. I believe the final straw was in a Smurf-themed section in one of the ToyFare Twisted Mego Theaters, and behind Gargamel, for one panel, stood Azrael . . . the Batman Azrael. He wasn’t even doing amnything that would bring the DC brand into disrepute, just standing there, taking part in a visual pun.

                    And so DC’s stormlawyers had a . . . chat . . . with Wizard Publications, and in the subsequent Twisted ToyFare Theater collection, a certain candy-coloured, buggier than bat-crap psycho was PhotoShopped out. Plus, I don’t think the stuff Wizard had been doing with DC characters in other photocomics helped. (Mostly the “DC Villains are lame warped repaints of their heroes” running gag, but there may be others. I ain’t about to break out my whole ToyFare collection to make a list at this hour of the night.)

                    So how the Hell Seth Green and co. get away with what they do with DC characters on Robot Chicken is beyond my capacity to comprehend.

  • Beedo Sookcool

    Great review, excellent photos, sweet toy.

    Maybe if they do another run or two of this toy, I’ll pick one up. I’m scaling back on my collecting, but you make a compelling agrument to add this to my existing TransFormer collection.

  • davy

    wheelie is the jar jar binks of the transformers franchise. one question..can wheele breakdance like he did in the awkward transformers the movie dance sequence?

  • Great robot mode on the unofficial toy, but the vehicle mode is weaker than the original.

  • Brainlock

    I remember buying the original for my little sister and her basically throwing him at me because she didn’t like him. LOL

    I think the only thing I would add to this review would be a pic of the sticker sheets. Phil gives a few lines about them, but we’re left in the air what they look like beyond that mention.

    I’ve seen some of the Knightmorpher and other figures, which look really cool, but are WAY out of my price range. Kudos to those who make and collect these, tho.

  • […] yesterday’s unofficial Transformers Wheelie Survivalist review (posted at It’s All True) I thought it might be fun to tackle a quick digital illustration of the little guy. And here he […]

  • Levi

    What? No slingshot?

  • Cat

    I can’t stand that vehicle mode, it looks horrible with all the layers exposed.

    And how is this not a KO? It’s the same as the Wonderfest kit. That was a licensed product (due to Wonderfest), while this isn’t.

    How is it not a KO?