Name: Kicker & Highwire
Alternate Mode: Human & Trailbike
Thanks to liegeprime for loaning me Kicker & Highwire for this review.
Height: 10cm Width: 4cm
Essentially a simplified Microman toy, Kicker is based on Takara's Superlink Kicker, with much of the articulation stripped out to reduce the number of parts involved. He's a black and white human with a while helmet featuring a black eyestrip. There is no skin colour anywhere here - Kicker is hidden within his jumpsuit. There's a red Autobot logo stamped on his white chestplate, as well as some red on his feet. The sides of the chestplate and the top of his helmet are mid blue, along with his kneecaps. The colours are quite similar to the Superlingk toy, although there's much less red paint (and a little less blue).
While Microman toys generally have a lot of accessories such as interchangeable hands and armour pieces, Superlink Kicker has only a belt, a vest and a sword. Energon Kicker is reduced to no accessories - in a sense he's an accessory for Highwire - and the sword and vest are integrated into the toy. Despite his relative simplicity, by my count he's composed of at least 19 pieces of plastic (along with the metal "T" and rubber band inside, in GI Joe style), which is pretty impressive for a humanoid figure of this size, and even more so for a Transformers humanoid figure. There's a spark crystal embedded in his back.
The poseability is better than what you'd expect of a Transformer (but then he doesn't have to transform). The head turns while the waist rotates on it's GI Joe joint. The shoulders rotate and lift out to the sides, his elbows bend and have rotators while the knees are hinged. This makes for 14 points of articulation, which would seem awful by Microman standards (the usual is 30), by Transformers standards it's excellent. I don't see why the neck couldn't have been a ball joint, but I'm not going to impose Microman standards on this toy. The poseability is certainly enough for him to interact with Highwire, and that's the main thing here.
While it's a poor Microman-based figure, Kicker is a pretty good accessory for a Transformer, which is essentially what he is. As human Transformer characters go, he's easily the best figure we've seen, and considering how many major Transformers human characters down the years miss right out on being made as toys, I don't think we can really complain. Sure the neck joint is disappointing, and it's probably a little surprising he lacks wrist joints for the bike handlebars, but overall this is a good effort.
Height: 8.5cm Length: 13.5cm Width: 6.5cm
A mid blue and white trailbike with black plastic tyres and grey plastic on "mechanical" bits like the forks and chain. There are red shock absorbers on the front forks and a red Autobot logo stamped on the left side of the fuel tank. The saddle is painted black while the fuel cap area is painted metallic blue (not sure why, when the plastic is mid blue already) and the handlebars are black plastic. Rounding out the colour scheme is a painted gold patch on front - it's not quite a headlight (something trailbikes usually lack anyway), but it looks similar.
While most Transformers motorbikes down the years are bulky affairs, necessitated by the need to fit an entire robot mode in there, this is a very light bike (as trailbikes usually are). There's no real robot kibble although the upside-down spark crystal is visible on the left side of the engine block. The head can fall (well, slide) out of the engineblock, giving him a view to the left side, but that's more a by-product of the transformation joint that kibble.
There's some play value here - about all we could expect from a transforming bike, really. The wheels roll freely and there's a white kickstand which can fold down on the left side. Kicker can sit on the bike, although not terribly well - for some stupid reason the handlebars are much thicker than the holes in Kicker's hands. The fixed wrists don't really limit Kicker here, although it would have made getting him into position a little easier. The lack of any lateral movement below his hips makes sitting his backside right on the saddle quite tricky, mind you.
A simple bike mode, and for the most part it's a good one. The lack of kibble is admirable, the colours are kept fairly simple and the colour scheme ends up being quite credible for a trailbike - they're usually reasonably colourful, but the designer has kept the functional parts to white, grey and black. I don't see why the handlebars are as thick as they are - even with US safety laws it would have been simple enough to make them thinner and use a softer plastic. Play value is about all we could ask for, even if it would have come off better with better handlebars.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Unclip the exhaust from underneath the saddle, lift the saddle up and unclip the front forks from the top blue section, lift the blue section right up, rotate so the saddle faces the left side. Fold the back of the saddle under and split to form legs. Stand him up, slide the head out using a post behind the spark crystal on his chest. Rotate the front tyres down as a psuedo-arm, swing the right hand out of the exhaust (which is essentially a forearm).
Height: 14cm Width: 12.5cm
A white robot with mid blue boots, black feet and a red eyestrip. Highwire has a grey right forearm and some metallic blue flanking the spark crystal on his chest. The left arm is basically a tyre & forks (like that of the Energon Minicon of the same name). The colours aren't as interesting here - there's a little too much white, but the focus was on getting the bike mode right and I can live with this bland but not bad colour scheme.
While the bike mode is excellent, this robot mode is paying for it - he's giving his left arm for a good bike mode. The torso is small and he's quite narrow, aside from the wheels sticking out on either side - making this a capital "T" shaped robot. The rear wheel on his right shoulder looks good, and the right forearm works well, but the left just looks dreadful. This layout is essentially that of the Minicon, and while I can deal with this sort of limited robot mode at that scale, it's disappointing for a deluxe (even one that comes with a free human figure).
There's not much play value here - just poseability. The head is fixed while the waist rotates. The left shoulder swings and lifts out to the side, allowing you to pose the tyre. The right shoulder is basically fixed - there's a swivel below it but this isn't that useful since the elbow is ball jointed anyway. So he gets one arm, and poseability in the _other_ shoulder. There's a small hole in the fist, although he lacks a weapon. The hips are ball jointed while the knees are hinged. There are heelspurs but they're fairly small - we do get a decent range of leg poses, but the arm posebaility sucks.
A very limited robot mode, especially at deluxe level. Between the immobile arm and poseable wheel-being-an-arm, the upper body just sits there looking awkward, while the legs are quite poseable. The colour scheme is a little unbalanced, but my biggest gripe is the lack of play value - he can't interact with Kicker in this mode at all - denying us of any way to lessen the visual impact of the mess that is his left arm.
None that I'm aware of. As mentioned, there's a vastly different Kicker in the Superlink line.
If you're after a Kicker figure with a bike, this set will have something to offer. If you're after a robot mode, you might as well look somewhere else. While Kicker's great as Transformers human figures go, despite being a long way behind his Superlink counterpart, Highwire's good bike mode gives way to a dreadful robot mode with a tyre as an arm, crappy poseability and no play value. I'd actually recommend the Superlink Kicker over this (unless you really want the bike), because the sword that toy comes with is nice, and it's poseability is fantastic compared to this version - 4/10