We've had the robot mode pictorial and the tank mode pictorial, now it's time to share some opinions on BadCube's Masterpiece-style version of the minibot Warpath. With Huffer (as "Cubex Huff"), Brawn(y) and Outback(lands) in the bag already, BadCube continue to blaze an MP-style minibot trail across the landscape with an ambitious interpretation of everyone's favourite tourettes-suffering military Autobot. The review is a bit late as BadCube are about to release their Evil Bug Corps (Insecticons) and have just announced their Sunstreaker, but I've got some tasty pictures and a few words for those of you still undecided about Wardog.
Wardog comes packaged in tank mode, and immediately one is struck by the size of it. Yes it's a minibot, yes Brawny, Huff and Backland were the size you'd expect of a Masterpiece-scaled interpretation, but Wardog doesn't mess about with trying to match their scale in tank mode, he's huge. The turret can be rotated, raised slightly and lowered significantly to the point where he could fire at a bug on the ground next to him, but quite astonishingly - to me - he doesn't roll at all. OK, I didn't expect the treads to move, but I thought he might have a hidden rolling wheel. I suspect BadCube decided if they couldn't go the whole nine yards with moving treads, it might detract from the concept to have tiny rolling wheels like a children's toy, breaking the suspension of disbelief.
There's no doubt about the panelformer nature of this beautiful beast, but at least everything lines up well when you do it right and it's as seamless as you can hope for, especially when you start to explore the high complexity of the figure's transformation and engineering. I was surprised they didn't go so far as to make the turret have telescopic articulation, but really these are minor things, there is no question, Wardog does the business in tank mode and is immediately impressive out of the packaging.
The above images illustrate perfectly how big Wardog is, and frankly it would be strange if he was the same size as Autobot cars at Masterpiece scale, nevermind how he was portrayed in the show or as a G1 toy, this seems more correct a size for Warpath.
A final word on Wardog in tank mode, the underside is dominated by the robot shield/cover that pegs and clips onto the base of the vehicle mode in various spots. This has been labelled as "partsforming" by some, but I reject that completely. As far as I'm concerned this is accessory storage. If you want to start talking about real life tank accuracy, then you are looking for reasons to criticise the design. You can barely see the shield/cover in vehicle mode from any sensible angle, and it doesn't detach to become Wardog's arm, leg, torso or integral visual part. It becomes his shield accessory, and within it is housed the handgun. Sure, it can be adjusted and attached to Wardog's back in robot mode, but it doesn't make for a pretty display option, so again, I see this as accessory storage, not partsforming.
Good. Heavens. That. Transformation. I think the instructions, bless them they really did try, work out as 69 steps or something? I've had too many hair-raising moments with delicate 3rd party figures to just wing it with transformations these days. I use the instructions religiously on first transformation of 3rd party figures now, and admittedly when you are so reliant on the instructions, it's almost as if the intuition part of the experience is switched off for that first run-through. As you'd expect, after careful conversions in either direction using the instructions, the process began to become memorised and I even managed it while intoxicated in the pub at a meet-up, although I did end up damaging the clips attaching the shoulders to the metal rod behind his back through impatience.
In the main, Wardog's transformation involves sliding in/out various parts of the bodywork to create clearance for rotations, folding over of panels and sections. The real difficulty was doing the arms and shoulders correctly. Even that basically boiled down to moving panels out of the way, pulling up the cogs in the shoulders so that they could be rotated into the right place, and then tabbed back in. There was a lot of resistance on my specimen though, and it remains my least favourite part of the transformation. I still struggle with the forearm section that needs pushing out/pushing back into place, as mine never sits flush in tank mode (you might notice this in the images). That aside, the mass-shifting that BadCube are very proud of is indeed impressive, and I can see how much thought has gone into this well-engineered product.
Now that's out of the way, let's focus on what a sublime robot Wardog is. Posability is brilliant including waist articulation, a head that looks high up, ankle tilts in and out, and even those stumpy arms and shoulders can do plenty. I couldn't stop pulling poses out of him, and even in an idle stance he looks brilliant. Properly beefy, not at all like the lithe and slim cartoon model, but then he looks much more interesting than the cartoon animation model. Look at that running pose, look at that bulk and powerful presence. Sure there's kibbly bits, but the tank treads underneath the forearms are actually screen accurate.
Wardog pulls off the armoured guard look brilliantly, aided by the gigantic shield and truly no-frills rifle. I don't like how it looks stored on his back, so mine's permanently being wielded. The rotating grips on the accessories are hit and miss, a big hit for getting Wardog to hold the gun, but a true pain to hold the shield. Once he's got them though, it's a secure fit and he looks tremendous. True, there's virtually no variety in colour on the figure and it can look like one impenetrable wall of red, but this is Warpath, he's meant to look like this! Thanks to the way the joints in the ankles are designed, his height is adjustable too, think MP Wheeljack and the sunken shins/ankles. I also found no loose joints when the shoulder cogs were properly pegged in to where they are supposed to go.
This is the greatest success of Wardog for me, how he looks in an '85 Autobot lineup. Megatron's Master Plan is my definitive childhood Transformers episode and when the Autobots arrive at the start of the episode to challenge Starscream and the coneheads, that's what I would love to recreate. We have Smokescreen and Bumblebee, Prime, Wardog now, with MP Ironhide and Tracks on the way. It will happen, and as you can see, it will look amazing.
One of my collecting friends said something I now consider to be slightly harsh, but not entirely untrue, he said "Wardog has two fantastic looking modes, but it's no fun getting between them". I'll admit that in the first week of ownership, the idea of transforming him wasn't anywhere near as appealing as BadCube's Brawny and Backland who actually had brilliant conversion sequences, maybe the best of any 3rd Party toy I've had. I can however see that with time it could become the same as MMC Azalea for me, a challenge that I won't shy away from any more because I'll have learnt it inside out. I'm annoyed that I broke my specimen, because now that I feel I've 'got it', transforming him is all I want to do. This is, though, one of those rare figures that should he be restricted to robot mode for the rest of his existence, it'll still be an essential figure. I just can't see how there will ever be a better MP-style or heavily G1 influenced Warpath. And if I'm proven wrong, all the better for the fandom and our collections.
A final word. I've been really impressed with how enthusiastic BadCube have been about their products so far. They want people to love them not because of their profits solely, but because they've exhibited a significant amount of pride in what they've achieved with their releases, and Wardog was no exception. They want to see that appreciation and joy in the reaction of collectors and fans. I was not expecting a formal email about our review sample arrangement to be littered with "POW" and "ZOWIE" for example, but it made my day! Now I'd just love to hear back a bit quicker about my broken part ;)
All the bestMaz