PHOTOBER THE 8TH – Wandering Roller

Now this one is a little bit complicated of a concept. This represents Roller from the IDW comics, who was a distinct individual rather than being an accessory of Optimus Prime. Though he was still closely associated with Optimus/Orion in the pre-war era including when they went renegade. So I guess at that point he would also have been an “accessory” of a sort.

An element of the IDW narrative at the time was that Roller disappeared under mysterious circumstances and up to the present day of the time his whereabouts or actual fate were unknown. This was the time when a common belief was that Tarn of the Decepticon Justice Division was in fact Roller. (spoilers: he wasn’t) When the setting information was being developed for this combiner set, the ambiguity of Roller’s fate was capitalized on, and the character was incorporated among the team of Decepticon characters more or less based on a grudge of abandonment. The IDW comics themselves would go on to contradict this outcome, but toy fiction getting invalidated by primary fiction was not remotely a new concept, and it just cements this toy as a product of the specific moment it was made. I often like “snapshot” items like that.

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Wandering Roller is a redeco of Rook, and it’s brilliant. Now, Rook was one of the very best Deluxes made for the Combiner lineup of the time, so any chance to see it reused is welcome. In making the mold resemble IDW’s Roller, there was opportunity to give it a much more complete-feeling deco. That’s mostly to the credit of the extensive silver paint for the benefit of the vehicle mode, but it sets off the combination of muted dark brown and safety orange that defines the robot mode, too. It’s all particularly visually pleasing to me in robot mode. The vehicle mode looks great in its own right for the heavy presence of silver, helping make the APC actually look armored. And the details really stand out, where Rook could end up with them getting lost especially in the stretches of bare white plastic.

This mold is also just a lot of fun, too. It was an absolute rarity in its time of being a Deluxe with ankle articulation, making it one of the most stable posing toys from its time period. The overall flexibility and mobility of the robot is unusually high too. This thing pretty much begs for dynamic posing.

And the interaction with the accessories is unique and really cool too. Rook was designed not with typical 5mm-compatible hands, but with closed fists, on the backs of which are wide bore cannon barrels, which are 5mm diameter inside. So for Rook, and thus Roller, the claw weapon can be attached to that as an extended grabber claw, which I like as a usage option. It can also plug in vertically as more of a club or something if you’re so inclined. But the best fun is with the combiner hand, because it can plug in as a giant fist for Roller, Rook, or any other instance of this mold where the ports have the tolerances right** Botcon 2016’s Tarantulas used the Rook mold, but the copies I saw had molding errors or something going on where the fist-ports couldn’t hold any accessories. Oops.. My favorite way to utilize this is having the giant fist holding the claw weapon, thanks to the extra 5mm port in the palm of this combiner hand.

Accessory use in vehicle mode also has some flexibility, though it’s not quite as immediately engaging as the robot mode. But that palm port in the combiner hand permits attaching the appendage to the APC so the folded-away fingers are properly hidden, and making the vehicle appear to have a missile rack mounted tightly against the armor. Though of course other attachment options also exist.

Overall, Wandering Roller is easily my favorite part of this set. Now, obviously Cyclonus is tomorrow’s feature, but just because Roller does literally everything right, it doesn’t mean I don’t have nice things to also say about Cyclonus. Find out more tomorrow on Photober the 9th!