I’ll be honest: this set seemed like a better idea on paper, when I was plotting out a schedule for this project. At least for the sake of another use of the Earthrise Datsun, a mold that I am very fond of. Problem is, this is without a doubt the instance I like the least. I don’t think I realized that until it was getting close to time to actually photograph it, where I had to actually start thinking about it in any degree of detail.
It’s a Smokescreen redeco with a police lightbar, at its most simple. It behaves physically much like any other of these Datsuns, including all the good, like the poseability, as well as the bad, like the vehicle panels not necessarily wanting to meet flush with each other. At least to that respect there’s nothing more inherently wrong with it than there is Bluestreak or Prowl or Smokescreen. But it’s just really boring.
The deco is such a basic thing, offering only black (or at least very dark grey) against a purple so light and muted that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just grey at first glance. There’s a nice matte grey panel on the hood, or chest in robot mode, and that’s cool. But it doesn’t really break out of the bigger problem. If you want some kind of color, you can only look to the crest on the helmet, or the bronze face or rifle. Compare this to Siege Barricade (which regrettably I’m pretty sure I sold in advance of this coming out) who takes the opportunity to throw some vibrant purple in there for the windshield, rear window, and the clear tires that convey the shoe-shaped car is alien. Or something. It helped that toy a lot, and I was so, so disappointed when I first saw “Earthrise” Barricade traded that in for boring colorless-clear windows. What a loss. What a mistake.
Now, I have to grant that either version has not lived up to the potential of a G1-style Barricade. Guido Guidi originally did concept fanart for this expression of Barricade (which I think was officially referenced for development of the Siege version), and at least one variation of that included much more bronze or gold mixed in the secondary body coloring, and to me that looked stunning. So it has in fact been a disappointment since day one that the official toys have not leaned more faithfully toward Guido’s original ideas. Man, I love Guido’s art and ideas. If memory serves, he also has a similar concept piece depicting Drift, or maybe just his Decepticon identity of Deadlock as a recolor or retool of Springer, and I would be so about that. But I digress…
One thing can help a little at least! More Nonnef upgrades! I have a set of the Datsun “A” weapons which I ordered for Barricade because they gave the chance to introduce some of that needed color variation to the toy. The A weapons are based on Smokescreen’s cartoon shoulder cannons, plus another instance of the same rifle that was available with the “B” parts I showed on Bluestreak. There’s not a “B” kit offered in colors for Barricade, though I’m not even sure I’d want that anyway.
The addon parts don’t quite color match to Barricade’s tiny bit of existing bronze. The new pieces are distinctly copper-colored. But they look really nice that way, and I’m not gonna be fussy about Barricade’s gun and shoulder armaments being the same hue as his face. All of the weapons are a tighter fit than their stock counterparts, but they’ll plug in without any damage. Because the weapons were designed to work with both the Siege and Earthrise molds, I think the tabs are a little on the long side for the Earthrise Datsun, and so the cannons won’t sit down flush with the top of the hood. A little trimming and filing could probably help that if it seems like a problem. Since Barricade’s stock shoulder cannons are that same virtually grey-purple, the copper guns dress up the visual interest a lot. I wish I could add even more.
Since these aren’t complex parts, user assembly isn’t needed, so I had a much more positive experience with this set of parts than I did Bluestreak’s upgrade. And nothing broke or even cracked from just using it the way it was designed! What a novel delight! Now that we’ve focused on him a while and made him a little better, we must remember of course Barricade wasn’t the only thing in this set…
Giving people a second shot at the Punch/Counterpunch originally released as a special edition toy near the end of Power of The Primes is great! And even going over it and giving it a new deco is fine, especially since these colors seem to be more about referencing the animation appearance, rather than drawing from the G1 toy. But wow, having this and Barricade in a two pack together sure highlights some things.
There’s a dramatic contrast in design philosophy and construction between these toys. It’s kind of stunning how more more advanced Barricade feels, even though it’s only a couple years newer. On the other side of the coin, Punch/Counterpunch is a distinctly larger toy than Barricade. That’s not necessarily a demonstration of a series-wide downsizing; War for Cybertron trilogy toys are all supposed to maintain an internal scale derived loosely from the Sunbow scale references. Barricade, or rather the Datsun body style in general doesn’t necessarily have to be this small, except that it’s what conformed best to the scale the designers were looking for. But yeah, I know that’s little comfort when looking at Barricade a whole head shorter. I do honestly think the newer construction methodology makes up for that a lot, though.
Speaking of construction, did you know the first release of Punch/Counterpunch had an assembly error that made it virtually impossible to transform without damaging the toy? A piece in each shoulder needs to be flipped over, and then everything works right. Well, it turns out nobody corrected the factory’s instructions in time for Galactic Odyssey PCP to be manufactured, because it has the exact same problem. It takes a small amount of effort to fix, but it actually is pretty easy and safe to do. You don’t even need tools! But it’s a drag that it happened again.
Anyway, I get where they were coming from with this redeco, but while I was on the fence only looking at this newer release by itself, once I pulled out the first release, I knew without a doubt I liked that deco better. And especially looking at newer Punch/Counterpunch in vehicle mode, I can’t help but wonder, “did you think this was supposed to be Nightbeat, somehow…?” I sure can’t complain about the design of the car mode, though. I’ve always loved this thing, and it still holds up on looks.
Unless the Diaclone Blue Bluestreak somehow falls in my lap in the next week or so, this will be the conclusion of Earthrise Datsuns for this advent calendar period. Maybe I should have done this first and put Bluestreak last so I could close out the mold family (for now) on more of a high note. Oh well, at least the upgrades help it and are more pleasant to use. And Punch/Counterpunch was there too!