Transforming motorbikes have always been tricky to pull off, and it’s hard to think of a design from Gobots Cykill to the recent Movie Arcee design that didn’t end up just sticking the wheels on the back somewhere. So it seems strange to discover that the solution was simple all along, or at least the genius designer of Animated Prowl has made it look simple. By keeping the wheels in the knees the design keeps them from looking like kibble while easily integrating them into the articulation and transformation.
G1 Prowl was always missing a personality, supposedly being the military strategist but really just being the least interesting. Animated Prowl takes a new and suddenly more interesting approach to the character, putting a martial artist (of the Circuit-Su discipline) into the main Autobot lineup for the first time, and setting a precedent for other characters such as the new Jazz and rumoured Dai Atlas in Animated. He also bears a passing resemblance to another ninja from Hasbro’s toy lines. Unfortunately in bike mode Prowl is a little too big for Snake Eyes to ride comfortably, unlike Movie Arcee. That bike mode too certainly seems to owe a lot to Japanese racing bike designs such as the Kawasaki Ninja.
So to match this new persona, it’s critical that in robot mode, Prowl be super articulated, and he is and then some, yet the figure still matches his animation design flawlessly. He can hold a variety of action poses, although the joint in the foot makes getting a stable base for balance a bit tricky. Prowl also comes with two kinds of weapon accessory. The first, a ‘nunchuk’ shaped like a traffic light on a string, with a small handle at the end that almost fits in his hand, can be put to one side or deliberately “lost”. If anything it looks less like a nunchuk and more like Ryu’s shoulder slung kitbag. More interesting are the ‘shuriken’ or throwing stars hidden on his legs. These are a great touch, blending seamlessly to the wheel hubs, but detach them and fold out the blades, which are linked with an ingenious hidden gearing mechanism, and they become lethal weapons!
Prowl makes his way straight into the all time Transformers Top 10 because he is both the best example of Animated’s excellent work in matching highly stylised robot designs to real world toys, the best example of a transforming motorbike, and all round a great example of quality (the plastic used and paint applications are also of the highest order), articulation, transformation and playability. The kick stand is a great example of the attention to detail being awarded the design of these figures now. The worst thing anyone can say about Prowl is that his ‘nunchuk’ accessory is unnecessary, since he can’t properly hold it and especially considering he has his shuriken weapons. So the worst thing about him is he has too much added value!
Even if you aren’t a fan of Animated, it is worth picking up this figure. But you might want to wait a little longer. How can it ever be topped you might ask, but coming soon is the Samurai Armour Prowl figure which is based on this figure, but has a sidecar accessory that becomes an optional armour upgrade that really fits on the figure! Look out for a revised review when that figure ships next year! We’ll also get to see next year if the rumours of a Tranformers 2 Arcee can beat Prowl for title of best transforming motorcycle ever.