Alternate Mode: Backhoe
Height: 9.5cm Length: 16cm Width: 10cm
A deep yellow backhoe with a light grey bucket arm on the right hand side. Longrack is a repaint and retool of Armada Hoist without the awful Minicon, although he's actually a tribute to the BW Neo Character of the same name, meaning that he's a tribute to a toy that Hasbro have never released. The bucket is dark red, while the treads are light grey, while the cockpit on the front is painted brown, along with various other features. Rounding out the colours we have a couple of green paint applications on the left side block. The colours correspond to those on BW Neo Longrack, although the yellow was originally a cream colour, the light grey a silver colour and the brown was lighter. The red is a good match, while the painted red and yellow aspects match the red and yellow plastics on this toy. There's a red Autobot symbol on a white background on the right side of the toy.
As mentioned, he's a backhoe with a big arm on the right hand side. Basically, he's got an outrigger on each side, the right one carries the digger arm, the left one I assume is there for balance so the machine doesn't tip over. Of course, they form his arms, so he has to have two anyway, but I can buy it being a counterbalance. The central piece is the cabin, and below the windows is an engine grill, so I guess there’s an engine in there somewhere.
There's pretty good movement here. The top section can rotate 360°, the swivel as actually towards the front. The MiniCon activation of Hoist is gone - now you have to plug his Planet Key into the side of the outrigger. The key is colourless with metallic blue trim, a painted and sculpted Autobot logo and the code d48m on the back. Pushing on the back of the outrigger pushes the arm forward - this springs back into place once you stop pushing forward. If you push the arm forward and remove the key, you'll lock the arm in place - something the MiniCon didn't do (although there was a separate lock). The arm can't actually reach down, rather it can drag things backward. This mechanism has six joints in all, but it's connected in such a way that everything moves together. There are yellow pistons attached to the arm, they function as struts, since they don't actually extend, but create the intended illusion of there being pistons, so I'm calling them that.
The back piece of the outrigger has been completely redesigned, aside from the lock's removal. While the end result is about the same I'm really impressed that Takara cared enough to do this. There are still two dead MiniCon ports, one is on the back of the left hand outrigger and the other on its outside, which has danger stripes on it. He has three red wheels on his underside, which allow him to roll. They're ridged, so they'll roll better on carpet than a tabletop.
While the play value's quite cool, the most impressive thing about the backhoe mode is the detailing. He's big and blocky, so he looks like he's meant to be a giant piece of earthmoving machinery. The sculpt and painted details really make this work, though. He's got all sorts of industrial bits moulded onto him, such as piping and rivets, as well as great detail on the treads and wheels inside the treads (which are painted yellow). The remoulding on the back of the right outrigger, and the outside of the outrigger itself, continues the detailed sculpting.
The colour scheme works well, and the play value is quite good for a deluxe. The loss of the MiniCon doesn't hurt the play value at all, the key gimmick feels very natural. The colours are attractive and make the tribute work well enough, considering the original was a giraffe. The sculpt is good and the backhoe mode is quite interesting, making this a worthwhile alt mode.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
The treads basically unfold and swing down to form the legs, using about eight joints a piece to do so. The rear of the backhoe base is actually the feet folded around and interlocked to form a solid platform, which is a nice touch. The outriggers become the arms, the left hand flips out from both the top and bottom of the outrigger - the thumb from the top and the fingers from the bottom. His head flips up onto the top of the cabin, which is the chest, and rotates 180°. The shoulders swing out a bit to give his arms clearance from his legs. The right arm is the shovel arm, you don’t have to manipulate it aside from swinging it down. You'll notice that while the right arm swings down in the transformation, the left one swings up. Most of this transformation is in the legs, the top half is very simple.
Height: 20cm Width: 15cm
Still largely yellow, Longrack has a yellow torso and largely yellow arms. His left hand has red digits and a brown port in the palm, the right arm ends not in a hand but a giant grey and red shovel assembly. His groin, legs and feet are light grey, along with his head, which has been resigned to match that of BW Neo Longrack rather than Hoist. The face is yellow with green eyes, while there's a red and green crest. The colours are again a good match and the head is a _great_ match to the BW Neo giraffe, making the tribute complete.
The attention to detail is still present here. The paint mask has been changed from that of Hoist, the head sculpt is detailed and the Autobot logo is now on his right shoulder.
The biggest problem in robot mode is the shovel arm. While I can live with him having a shovel arm and no hand, it's heavy and Longrack has a tendency to keel over sideways. His feet are quite big and they've thoughtfully moulded him so that his legs are slightly spread, which means this is far less of a problem than it could have been, but you still have to be careful when posing him. Of course, the claw arm matches the claw arm of the original Longrack (the colours even line up), making this a smart reusing of a mould with a flaw like this.
The poseability is reasonably good for an Armada mould. The head is on a ball joint, his shoulders both rotate 360° on ratcheting joints, both elbows allow for the forearms to rotate and the left one also bends, and the left hand effectively has a hand that can open and close. There's a thumb of sorts on his right hand (ie opposite the bucket) that can open and close, giving him the means to grip things. The waist, being the connection between treads and upper section in backhoe mode, turns right around. The hips are ball joints and the knees bend (albeit a little unnaturally), but the leg poseability is somewhat limited in practice since you've got to keep him from falling over sideways.
While it's not as good as the backhoe mode, there's still a lot of positives here. The detailing is again excellent, and the poseability is also quite good. The tribute is great - the claw arm matches the original Longrack's while the head resculpt does a good job of establishing the character. The heavy right side is certainly a flaw, but this is one of the better retools we've seen in recent years.
Released originally by Takara in a two pack with Runamuck, then released on his own by Hasbro.
While the mould has its shortcomings, it's clear someone put time and thought into it. The moulding and play value are good for an Armada toy this size. The loss of Refute is a gain really, even if it he's still deluxe price. If you missed Hoist I'd recommend this figure, there's enough good here to make Longrack worthwhile - and Longrack offers a lot more than most retools - 7.5/10