Series: Generation 1
Alternate Mode: Semi Trailer Cab
Height: 3.5cm Length: 6cm Width: 3.5cm
A small navy blue truck cab with black ridged plastic tyres, chrome silver exhausts, grille and bumper and black plastic windows. Pipes is a super deformed truck, as most of the Minicars were. Often referred to as a retooling of Huffer, Pipes is really his own truck with a different front, different smokestacks and a different hitch. In fact the basic shape and tyres are the only features that are the same.
Pipes's smokestacks end in regular pipe-ends rather than the grappling claws of Huffer, his headlights are rounded rather than square and the chrome on the front protrudes a lot further - this is far more variation than the other four "retool" Minicars of 1986 saw in vehicle mode. The extent of the changes really impresses me, since it makes Pipes perhaps the most interesting of the set, especially for someone who already had Huffer when I got Pipes. Yet the Microchange "M" is still present on the doors, despite this mould being completely redone and never used in that line, proving that the designer still wanted Pipes to fit into the theme of this group (unlike the aberration that is Wheelie).
There's a rubsign on top of the cabin which sits inside a raised frame (another change from Huffer's smooth roof, one which proves this mould's Transformers pedigree). Pipes's only play value is rolling wheels, which is all I really expect of a Minicar. He looks cute and his colours are nice, which is all I really ask.
A good truck mode that is both markedly different from that of Huffer and in keeping with the Minicar theme. Along with the far less appealing Wheelie, this is one of two new vehicles in the 1986 Minicars.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Extend the hitch which slides into two legs. Fold down the cabin onto his back, which will reveal the head. Pull out the shoulders. I suppose it should almost go without saying that this Transformation is different to that of Huffer - whereas Huffer's cabin becomes his head Pipes's ends up as a backpack. The front of Huffer becomes Pipes's back.
Height: 7cm Width: 5cm
Again manly navy blue, Pipes has white thighs and shoulder struts, chrome silver arms and a red eyestrip. The tyres sit on his shoulders and ankles, while the cabin's back sits behind his head, and actually looks pretty good there, partly because there's a nice big Autobot logo on the left hand side - the largest found on any Minicar.
The cabin block is essentially kibble, but it's aesthetically pleasing kibble. There are two flat posts on his midriff that are used to keep the cabin locked down in truck mode. While these are also kibble, they look pretty good if you think of them as torso-mounted guns - but I'll concede that this will come down to personal preference. The back and thighs are the only pieces that are identical to Huffer, and even then the back is of course Huffer's chest - while Pipes's chest is different to Huffer's back.
Poseability is standard for a Minicar - his arms swing at the shoulders. His forearms are long and end in the pipe-ends, while his elbows are permanently bent. While this is a little unusual, I prefer it to the arms of Huffer, which are too far forward in relation to his shoulders - Huffer's arms look downright weird when you pose them, Pipes's still look rather natural - as does the default pose.
The arms might not be everyone's cup of... oil... but Pipes is a nifty little Minicar in this mode. And he's easily the most distinct of the five "retools" in his series. In reality he's really a new toy inspired by Huffer - and is about eight times better than Wheelie. If you like Minicars, you should appreciate this robot mode.
The 2008 Encore reissue has silver painted headlights and a red Autobot logo stamped behind his head.
In my opinion Pipes is an underrated toy, since he's usually lumped in with relatively minor retools like Hubcap. Yes, the concept is similar to Huffer, but Pipes is effectively a new toy, which retains the Microchange feel of the original designs. He didn't feature much in the cartoon, although he appeared more than several other 1986 Transformers. He's actually one of my favourite Minicars (behind only Beachcomber), and if you can deal with his unusual arms, is definitely worthwhile for Minicar fans - 8.5/10