Cliffbee.com: Clench Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Clench
Series: "European" Generation 1
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Leader
Alternate Mode: Tow Truck



TOW TRUCK MODE
Height: 8cm Length: 22.5cm Width: 7.5cm

   A faction leader in an era full of toys that were assigned leader functions, this tow truck stands out in that it's actually fitting of a leader. Clench is a large midnight blue tow truck with grunt - the truck itself has a longnose cab and a large power block on the tray, with a three pronged claw on the back. The blue plastic is sparkly - Clench actually has glitter flakes embedded in the plastic, as opposed to the tiny metallic flakes Transformers usually sport. The glitter is fairly easy to see from a metre (three feet) away, although unless you're up close it's surprisingly subtle - since it's embedded in a very dark plastic. There are pink stickers, some lime green paint on the tray and transparent yellow windows and headlights, placing Clench firmly in the late "European" G1 era - the dark blue and black on his tyres and claw really save this colour scheme. It's nice despite the bright highlights, although those highlights scuttle realism. The only realistic colours here are the black, chrome silver exhausts and silver hubcaps.

   This is a six wheeled truck, with two pairs at the back and one at the front. The detailing is pretty good for the era, although at this size Clench has plenty of room for detail. The hubcaps, front bumper, grille and twin exhaust stacks all sport moulded detail, the grille is done in copper paint incidentally. There are front indicator and real taillight stickers, and back sports a number plate - apparently he's from Texas despite not being sold there (a BotCon is actually underway in suburban Dallas as I type this, so there's every chance the toy is on sale in the dealer room ATM). There are some "danger" stickers on the sides and roof along with some rather bizarre lightning stickers on the hood, which feature red dragonheads.

   There's not really a lot of play value here - it's left for the robot mode though. The wheels all roll while the power block lifts up, allowing the towing arm to lift up and extend. The power block itself is little more than a missile launcher for the his battle emplacement mode, but in this mode doubles as an enclosure for the machinery that drives the claw (and gives it pulling power).

   Despite some wacky colour choices, this is a pretty good truck mode. It's nice to see a Decepticon leader with a powerful truck mode - Optimus Prime seems to have something of a monopoly on it most of the time. The longnose towtruck is well proportioned, with more movement in the towing mechanism than most Tow Truck Transformers. The only real slight on this truck is the bright colours which are almost a trademark of the era, but thankfully they're on the periphery here.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Firstly, detach the back half and set aside - it'll become the missile launcher emplacement. Lift up the roof, rotate the doors to unlock the front fenders, pull the fenders out to the sides as arms. Push out the head from the roof panel, fold down onto the torso. Rotate the fenders to form shoulderpads, straighten to doors to form legs and fold in the doorpanels themselves as boots.

TRANSFORMATION TO MISSILE LAUNCHER

   Lift up the power block, fold down the claw arm to form a support strut and stand the rear of the truck on it's back end, with the claw arm as a front leg. Fold the wheel panels on either side down, flip up the handles at the back and twist them into position. Flip up the transparent yellow sight. Clench can stand behind the missile launcher and grasp the handles if you want him to.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19.5cm Width: 11cm

   Again based on dark colours, although that glittery midnight blue is confined to boots and shoulderpads. The torso is very dark grey, the forearms and thighs are hot pink while the upper arms (which are almost entirely concealed by the shoulderpads_ are lime green, along with jet-like detailing on his waist. The head is black with a copper mouthpiece and transparent yellow eyes (with the successful lightpipe common to the era). The chrome silver exhausts are on the outsides of the boots, which have hot pink stickers on the feet. The neon colours so common of this era are far more prominent now - making Clench's colours far less attractive in this mode. The green is almost an afterthought, which is a good thing, but the hot pink takes what could have been a nice colour scheme and makes it rather average. The sparse transparent yellow here and there works with the dark blue, grey and black colours, even with the hints of green the loss of pink would have made a big difference.

   The transformation is quite an unusual one, resulting in some fairly distinctive features. The huge shoulderpads are the halves of the truck nose - complete with headlights, tyres and half a grille each. The outside sections of the roof panel sit behind his head as mini shoulder pylons, the doors are the fronts of the boots. The shoulderpads are probably the dominant aspect of this robot mode, and they take some of the attention away from the hot pink - which can only be a good thing.

   Clench is actually fairly poseable for his time, by virtue of his innovative transformation. The shoulders rotate and the elbows are hinged, and while the shoulder joints are slightly lower than they should be, the shoulderpads do a great job of hiding this. Both his hips and knees are ratcheting joints, giving him some leg movement, and limited poseability thanks to flat feet.

   While he's not without his flaws, this is an interesting robot mode with some unusual design elements. The shoulderpads are almost a trademark of the toy, and make the mould fairly attractive. Sadly, the awful hot pink plastic holds Clench back - so while the mould is certainly novel, this robot mode is nice but not great.

MISSILE LAUNCHER
Height: 17.5cm Depth: 17cm Width: 23cm

   A fairly useful missile launcher, the launcher itself is the power block from the truck mode, and this sits on a sort of tripod. The transparent yellow sight lines up to his face when Clench grips the handles at the back, which makes this a very useful accessory (of sorts). There's a pull-back trigger on top, which fires twin lime green missiles, the height gives this launcher some validity, too. It's perfectly suited to Clench and really brings something to the robot mode, and makes this a worthwhile faction leader - and helps him stand out amongst the plethora of toys from this era which were tagged as leaders.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. Clench was not sold in North America.

OVERALL

   Probably the best aspect of this toy is the launcher - not because it's exceptional but because it's a _useful_ integrated emplacement. There have been a lot of leader toys down the years with useless add-ons (Energon Optimus for example), but this missile launcher is designed to enhance Clench rather than just add to his retail price. The transformation is quite innovative, the robot mode is well designed and the two truck good. The main thing holding Clench back is the profusion of hot pink in robot mode. Despite that, this is still a worthwhile toy - Clench's novel design is a success overall. Recommended if you're outside the US, and for those in the US who can find him at a decent price - 7/10

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