PHOTOBER THE 25TH – Transformers Collaborative: Gigawatt

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This whole Collaborative thing is a cool idea, but I’ve found the execution to be a little iffy. Top Gun Maverick has every appearance of being hurt by requirements that went with the licensing agreement(s) to the point that it’s not even appealing to look at in its actual manufactured state. Ectotron was better than that, but the way they went about building the figure led to it feeling a bit weird and the engineering seeming a little unfinished. So, enter Gigawatt, who’s a pretty thoroughly different experience.

View the complete Transformers Collaborative Gigawatt gallery (100+ photos) here

(but also please consider reading through the blog post too!)

Gigawatt is in the same conceptual family as Ectotron, in working with an existing Transformer engineering design. But in this case instead of using that as a shortcut of sorts, it’s using it as essential framework. Gigawatt borrows from Siege Sideswipe, a solid example of basic Autobot Car. The engineering is simple and to the point, exactly what’s needed as a foundation. There are some parts directly shared between Sideswipe and Gigawatt: The arms, from the biceps to the fists, and the pelvis and thighs are identical between them. But everything else is new construction.

In an interesting choice, Gigawatt’s head also draws a lot of inspiration from Sideswipe’s helmet design. The hood chest ends up sticking up just a bit in front of the face, so from some angles the face is half blocked from view. I also tried at one point leaving the chest with the car mode side of the panel out to see if a “clean” robot mode was possible. It kind of was, but the face gets even more blocked, so it’s not something I was happy with.

By being so fundamentally Sideswipe, you know exactly what to expect out of Gigawatt functionally. The articulation is all the same – though the range of motion might differ. For instance, the knees can’t bend as far because of some of the new alt mode elements reducing the clearance. The knees are really the worst example though, so I’d say that the outcome of what they did here is still good. And I was able to do a bit that I don’t even remember ever managing with a Sideswipe: A natural looking walking pose without external support.

Gigawatt looks a lot wider than Sideswipe, but that’s more an illusion created by the chest being the whole very square hood of the car. The overall width of the toy isn’t really different, but it reads much broader-bodied since there’s no taper down to the waist. And this is something that I think presents worse in photos than it does in person. The chest has the Flux Capacitor and the display screen for the time machine. I somehow remember the Flux Capacitor looking more impressive in the movie, but what can you do? The printing of the travel dates is pretty clean, and while you can tell its meant to look like an LED display, the tampos are just a little too blobby for that detail to clearly stand out.

The real star of the show is the vehicle mode, naturally. Making a DeLorean from the skeleton of Sideswipe is not at all a new idea. About twenty years ago a really ambitious custom project was finished, involving reshelling a G1 Sideswipe as a DeLorean and making a new character out of it.Don’t mind any Java warnings that might come up after you click through; the landing page for the custom’s website hasn’t been updated from more or less its original form, ever, and has a super-outdated Java page counter still embedded that modern Java doesn’t want to run. I doubt that project had any influence on how Gigawatt was realized, but the coincidence is fun. The Micromaster Swindler is also based on a DeLorean, but Gigawatt is our very first normal sized Transformer based on this car. Even if it is the extremely rare time machine variant.

The car body surfaces look and feel like they’re all painted to give the vehicle a little more premium finish. A really nice touch besides that is a brushed metal-inspired texture in the plastic. Realistically, at this scale the body panels probably ought to look smooth, but I appreciate the thought behind this.

With the SRP being around $30, there’s a lot of paint gone in to the vehicle mode. The hubcaps are fully painted, there’s lots of fiddly details picked out on all the sci-fi hardware in back, the tail lights are painted reasonably well (much better than any typical retail Transformer could be expected to have), and the license plate tampo is really clean too. Even the grill and the frame around the headlights has a gunmetal-ish silver paint covering that just looks perfect. I suppose this attention poured on the vehicle mode is paid for by the robot having precious little paint specific to its parts, but there’s only a small few areas of detail on the robot that feel like they even need it at all.

Compared to the earliest production samples, the windows have been darkened to make it harder to see the structural plastic especially behind the windshield. It still can be seen, but it takes stronger, more direct lighting to get it to show really clearly now. And even besides hiding the innards, the darker tinted windows just look better for the purposes of contrast with the lightish grey body panels.

For shifting over to flight mode, all the wheels are hinged. With the front wheels, it’s a little more complicated, because they’re hinged for this purpose in addition to being hinged for transformation, so it takes a specific effort to make sure you’re moving the correct hinge. The front wheels will click in place for flight mode to keep them stable, and the rear wheels just kind of stay where they’re supposed to on their own since they have a more limited range of travel anyway. A display stand port is available on the underbody to support flight.

One thing that comes with the engineering model used here is the disposition of robot elements in the car. Particularly what’s visible from below. Ordinarily, I don’t mind whatever has to end up plainly visible on the bottom of a car because usually you’re not seeing that unless you specifically go looking for it. But this is also a flying car, so the robot head hanging out down there gets to bothering me a bit more than it otherwise would. And unfortunately it does not seem possible to turn the head backward to at least hide the face from view which would have made the whole thing a lot better.

The gull wing doors open correctly. But like most Transformers cars with opening doors, they take some of the door frame with them when they do. Nitpicky details, though; it’s fine. From the correct angles, the doors sitting open looks really good. Other angles reveal the mess inside the car body that the doors ought to be hiding, as you’d certainly expect. There are 5mm ports inside the doors, but these exist pretty much exclusively for use in robot mode where you can stow some of the accessories. In vehicle mode, there’s just not enough room around them to attach anything in a useful or pleasing way.

Gigawatt comes with a Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor. There’s a specific port on the back of the car to plug it in to. Despite the receptacle appearing to be undifferentiated, Mr. Fusion definitely fits best in one specific orientation, that is, with the flat block edge of the base faced toward the front of the car. Mr Fusion has its whole branding label tampographed on, but the “Home Energy Reactor” text is so incredibly tiny that it’s unreadable without magnification. And naturally is unlikely to actually print cleanly on the surface. The side photographed is by far the better of the two on my copy.

Mr. Fusion also attaches to Gigawatt’s rifle, either on the stock, or a port on the top. The stock port is not ideal for actual use, because the combination of the height step-up from the fist to forearm, the specific length of the rifle’s handle, and the base of the Mr. Fusion being larger than the rifle stock cause the equipped rifle to be nearly impossible to securely hand hold. This arrangement might be useful for storage though. Anyway, the top port works fine for keeping the rifle usable by the robot.

The rifle itself resembles an Optimus Prime rifle more than a little bit. It has a specific storage location in vehicle mode, under the hood. There’s only one attachment port, so it can only store one way. It hangs a little low under the car, but while visible it doesn’t look out of place with the rest of the vehicle. I mean, how could it?

The rifle can be stored on one of the door wings in robot mode if not in use. I figure this storage position is probably good for holding on to the Mr. Fusion in robot mode too, since that part otherwise doesn’t seem to have anywhere to go.

The last accessory is the trolley hook. It’s cast out of a rubbery plastic – which I prefer over something potentially snap-in-half-able. The hook is meant to fit in a 3mm port in the equipment bay. That port is split in half between both legs, so you need to make sure you have the halves of the rear of the car jammed together real good or else this thing isn’t going to stay put when you try to install it.

As for robot mode, there is a 5mm peg on it, to the side only. The end of the rod is less than 5mm, so while you can thread it in the fist, it’s not a solid hold. It’s not useless, mind you, but any poses like this that work are entirely unintended. Instead, you’re evidently meant to peg it to the side of the shoulder or on the forearm. Or you can stow it in a door wing if you like.

I had a lot of fun shooting Gigawatt, and I’m really satisfied with how it came out. I love when I think about my list of complaints on a toy and declare to myself that I’m just being nitpicky, because there’s nothing more substantial that’s wrong. I want to see more Collaborative stuff follow this model, much more closely hewing to an existing toy rather than trying to make something very removed from the original intent of the engineering. That wouldn’t be possible in every case, but I think there are plenty of things that could be a re-shell away from something that already works very nicely. I think part of what helped Gigawatt versus Ectotron too is a matter of intent. I think Ectotron was intended to be at least kind of compatible with Masterpiece scale because of the Ghostbusters MP-10 that was also being made. Gigawatt isn’t trying to do anything like that, so the design isn’t being pushed and pulled in weird ways to fill a box it was never meant for. I’m delighted with this, and I really hope any of you that want one of these will be able to get one easily.

The full gallery for Gigawatt is over 100 photos – definitely more than I can attach to this post. So click the link below the check out the complete gallery with all the usual detail shots, multi-angle coverage, and all the fun stuff in between!

View the complete Transformers Collaborative Gigawatt gallery (100+ photos) here