PHOTOBER THE 11TH – Earthrise Ironhide & Prowl: Autobot Alliance

Some things are worth not waiting for. After the frustrating screw up that was Amazon’s handling of my Dirge and Ramjet preorder, I kinda felt like I didn’t want to take a chance on the Ironhide and Prowl two pack. So, I went with an overseas source from where they’d started to become available in Hong Kong. A little more expensive, but nothing too bad. And definitely worth it for cutting a month of waiting off and not having to worry about my preorder getting canceled out from under me again.

This set was something I felt pretty invested in as a long-time collector anyway. In the stunningly long history of Classics-compatible toylines, there hadn’t been a really good option for Prowl or Ironhide in Earth vehicle forms. I mean, I personally don’t mind Combiner Wars Prowl that much, but that also doesn’t really in any way represent what Prowl actually looked like. It’s just that it’s more fun to do anything with than the 2008 Universe toy. The point is, these were updates that felt really necessary, especially after Smokescreen proved to me the quality of the Datsun-alike mold, and knowing Ironhide was using the skeleton of a solid design.

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Ironhide is a very interesting remodel of Siege Ironhide. If you recall my brief dissection of the term “partial” that’s part of Hasbro’s design jargon, I’d say Ironhide embodies the generally expected meaning of such a word. Most of the toy is shared parts with Siege Ironhide, including half-ish of the torso, the biceps, forearms and fists, the thighs, half the lower legs, and the feet. The pelvis may or may not be a reused part; the styling of the details are the same, but all the details also all look just a tiny bit different between them. I can’t decide if it’s enough to point to being a cloned part, or if it’s just a manufacturing variance. But just about any pieces that have outward facing surfaces in vehicle mode are swapped out for new ones. …except the feet.

Fundamentally, the engineering of the toy is unaltered, though the way you’re expected to interact with it might change a tiny bit. What brings it all together is the new roof/sled/shield part which is a not-unsubstantial mass of plastic all on its own. The van might be a little panel-gappy, but given how they ended up coming at this problem, it’s an impressive result all the same. …except maybe for the robot feet still sticking out the back in vehicle mode. Can’t have it all, I suppose. And my copy is also a tiny bit extra panel-gappy just due to some bad QC luck that keeps the windshield and roof from completely coming together. Nothing disastrous, thankfully, just slightly annoying.

For as much as this is the Siege toy remodeled, I have the strong feeling that this Ironhide would be difficult to sell as a regular retail Deluxe. With the exception of the missile launching hammer accessory, Earthrise Ironhide has everything the Siege toy has in number of parts and construction, and then adds a big, multi-part slab of plastic on top of it. And that roof/sled/shield thing is heavy, too. It makes me think Ironhide and Ratchet are retailer exclusives like this because it might genuinely be the only way it was possible to produce and market them.

The new roof-shield is surprisingly engaging while simultaneously probably not working the way you expect it to. Its primary role for the robot is definitely as a shield rather than anything else. It can peg easily to the forearm or shoulder. Being handheld is also an option, but that becomes a little more awkward. For storage, it can be attached to the back as sort of a cape without causing any real issues.

I’m sure there was some hope or expectation of using this in a way similar to the equipment sled part from the G1 toy. I’ve seen efforts involving use of parts from Cog to kind of build something like that out, but on its own there’s not a lot to this use case. There’s limited 5mm ports – two of them are actually just screw holes and are relatively shallow, in fact – so adding accessories might be a challenging prospect without doing some improvising.

For me, rather than trying to have a mini combat deck, I found there’s a little more potential in a direct use as a sort of vehicle itself. Adding some rocket blast effects like Jetfire’s and suspending Ironhide on a stand gives a very satisfying image of a flying rocket board. The demonstration photo I tweeted out became one of my most popular social media postings I can remember. And that was before I had the idea of staging a shot where Ironhide is chasing a jet through the sky with a hammer.

Oh, yeah, and on that note, if you’ve sold off, or otherwise don’t have Siege Ironhide to borrow the missile launcher/hammer accessory from, I actually find the version from Crosshairs a really nice visual match with this Ironhide.

On the other side of things, Prowl’s not as inherently notable, being only a couple parts different from Smokescreen. But that’s fine because just like Smokescreen is a really nice, enjoyable toy, so is Prowl. Or I guess “Police Bluestreak” if you want to be especially pedantic about head sculpt specifics. I don’t really care that much. And going through my available selection of Generations-style Prowls, even if this one’s head was made with Bluestreak in mind first, it’s still a better looking Prowl head for my money than any of the actual Prowls that came before. Even the Siege one, were it possible to swap, would clash with the style of this toy for being all greebled as it is.

My particular copy of Prowl here does not have as smooth of a process going in to vehicle mode as I enjoyed with Smokescreen. I’m hoping that’s just luck of the draw, since both of the toys in this set have their share of comparatively unimportant QC issues, and so maybe something is just a bit out of alignment thus requiring more effort to get some things to fit together. I’m probably making it sound worse than it is, though, and in some spots the seams actually do close up a little better than they do on Smokescreen.

Handling Prowl has made me that much more eager to finally get Bluestreak now. Having a version of this mold as a “regular” car will be really pleasing after seeing just how thoroughly nice the car mode is when the racing grill is switched out for a standard front end. The car mode is a beautiful piece of design, and I’ll be glad to buy any further redecos they can find a way to push out. As long as they start with Blue Bluestreak, obviously. We only have I think two unique molds left to come out in or adjacent to Earthrise, and I don’t see either of them surpassing this not-a-Datsun mold, so seems like a good chance this mold will be my best-of-line.

It’s the beginning of a new week of Photober, and this one will be something completely different! Come back tomorrow for Photober the 12th to see where this goes next!

There’s over 200 photos of the toys in this set – way more than I can come close to including here. Click here to head to the full gallery page to see it all!

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