Alternate Mode: Eurocopter Dauphin Rescue Helicopter (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the model)
Height: 8cm Length: 26cm Width: 6.5cm (propspan is 20cm)
A yellow rescue chopper with a white tail, extensive metallic blue on the roof and around the windshield and a dark blue rotor, dark blue wheels underneath and some dark blue here are there. The are some red hints and some white paint on the body, notably the word "RESCUE" on the port side. The main rotor has four blades while there are twin tri-blade stabiliser rotors encased in the tail. The windshield is a smoky plastic, which is actually blue but this is only apparent when you line it up with a light source shining through it. The colours are pretty good here, and suit a rescue chopper. There's a metallic blue winch unit on the starboard side with an Autobot symbol stamped on it and a dark blue hook, rounding out the rescue theme quite nicely.
With a bottlenose, aerodynamic shape and four moulded wheels underneath, Evac looks quite realistic, even if there are some kibbly connections underneath the engines (which are themselves missile launchers). The blue Planet Key (code: v49u) plugs into the back of the engine unit, and adds transparent blue and gold without ruining the overall effect, which is nice. While I suspect Evac is a mixture of several chopper models, there are enough seams, vents and such on this toy to sell the illusion of a real chopper model.
The wheels can all retract (well, the rear pair fold out to the sides), and he'll happily sit on his belly. The main rotor spins freely and while the tail rotors are a little hard to access, they also spin well. There's a red plunging button on the port side just below the main rotor, pressing it in repeatedly (it's spring loaded and will automatically spring out) will cause the rotor to spin - as long as you keep plunging. This works well and looks really cool, so long as you have all four blades. The blades detach very easily and the entire rotor can also detach - I can see the rotors missing on most second hand Evacs in a few years time.
Pushing the Planet key all the way in will release the engines, which swing forward as missile launchers, and reveals the red triggers. The missiles will fire a couple of feet, which is far enough to make them fun without you having to locate them across the room afterwards. Considering that we don't get spare missiles (we never seem to anymore, mind you), this is a good thing. The hook on his winch can be pulled out, it's on a cord maybe 8cm long, and the hook and cord are strong enough to hold light items - Evac is currently rescuing Sprocket, who is hanging off the edge of the desk. There's a red button on the winch itself which retracts the cord, and it spring back quickly - even with Sprocket's weight to contend with.
While the loose rotor blades are quite annoying, everything else about this chopper mode is great. The colours work and the helicopter is well formed. With three effective gimmicks, it's fun to play with - and I much prefer the simple winch to the crappy sound gimmicks we keep seeing.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Fold the rotor into a single, compound blade, retract the cord if it's out and fold up the landing gear, release the launchers. Unclip the nose and fold the bottom of the chopper (including the windshield back), clipping the waist together. Rotate the waist, split the legs and rotate the boots, fold the nose halves forward to form his feet and flip out his heelspurs. Split the rotor base and fold the halves out to form arms, then split the tail out to the sides to form wings. Swing back the engine assembly to form a backpack, slide it up to reveal his head. Swing the arms in, rotate the winch (right forearm) and rotor assembly (left forearm), open the forearms, flip his fists out and close again. Swing the rear wheels on his hips down as hip plates.
This is a satisfying transformation that's involved without being difficult or awkward. While many megas tends to have simple transformations, Evac's is nice and complex despite the fact that he incorporates three successful gimmicks.
Height: 17cm (22.5 if missiles pointing up) Width: 14cm (22 with wings deployed)
Again based on yellow, although there's a lot of metallic and dark blue on the upper half of his body. The wings are white and again there are hints of red. The colour scheme is a little more complex but still works, the chest and head have detailed paintmasks. His face is yellow while the head is metallic blue with a dark blue crown and red crest. The eyes are transparent blue with a working lightpipe. The rotor attaches to the outside of the left forearm, and now has restricted movement, while the winch is on the back of his other forearm.
We have a couple of options here. The wings can actually fold down - and the Japanese version, Live Convoy, usually wears the 'wings' down rather than out to the sides. The missile assembly can sit flush on his back or lift up over his head, thanks to two hinges. The wings, which I guess qualify as kibble, can get in the way of the rotor spinning (and by extension, the left arm's articulation), so I'm not sure why Hasbro prefer the wings out - the hinges involved became redundant. But hey, choose what works for you.
There's some more kibble in the form of the windshield halves, which sit on the outsides of his ankles. They look fine and don't get in the way of anything so I'm not going to complain. If anything they're a feature, as much as the melee weapon that his rotors have become. The missile launchers are also a dominant feature, and one that really adds to the majesty of the toy (something the wings also do, if you want them out). While we're on the subject, the face looks like that of a leader, which is appropriate since he's a planet leader.
All three gimmicks are again available, although some functionality is lost on two gimmicks. The winch is unaffected, but the rotors will only spin in one direction (forward, if you think of them as a wheel), the limitation is actually affected by the angle - it'll only spin "backwards" when horizontal. The plunger still works, although you'll need to have the wings down to really make use of it. The missile launcher gimmick is more or less intact, although there's now nothing covering the triggers when the launchers are stowed - he'll fire his missiles at the table if you're not careful. Of course the entire rack is now able to move, giving him a ground-to-air/ground-to-ground option, which is a plus. While he lacks handheld weapons, he does have standard fistholes. Mind you, with the missiles and rotor of death, Evac doesn't really need some silly gun.
Considering how lifelike the alt mode is and how many gimmicks we have, Evac's articulation is impressive. The head rotates, the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders are all hinged with rotators, giving him full movement (so long as the wings aren't in the way). The feet and heelspurs fold down, giving him some meaningful leg poseability. The toy is somewhat topheavy, but with a little effort, most poses are stable.
While the 'wow' factor of his gimmicks isn't as obvious, the robot mode is probably the stronger mode. The blades now sit in pairs and are more solid as a result. The poseability and detail are good, and the gimmicks all work which is not always the case in Cybertron - even for key gimmicks.
As mentioned, the Japanese version is called Live Convoy (it's actually written Live Conboy, which is a mistransliteration). While I'm sure there are subtle paint mask differences, I haven't seen a Live Convoy to compare. Takara tends to portray Live Convoy with the wings down, whilst Hasbro portray Evac with with wings up, in what they call "attack" robot mode. Universe Springer and Shattered Glass Galvatron are repaints of Evac.
While the mega/voyager size class has produced a lot of poor toys over the years - a lot of deluxes with large wingspans and the like - Evac is a great mega. The chopper looks great and has great gimmicks that really enhance it, the robot mode is almost as much fun, while the transformation is clever and satisfying. My only complaint relates to the easily detached rotor blades, which will make complete Evacs somewhat rare on the second hand market in years to come. Plus I managed to scam him at half price (wasn't yet in Target's computer when I found him, they just made up a price) - 9/10