Earthrise Leader Doubledealer Review

It took me a while to figure out how to start this review. Mainly because I’m out of practice. Usually, I would talk about the character for a bit and make a joke, but honestly? Doubledealer is kind of a non-entity. He’s had precisely three toys in his thirty years, and the previous one to this was a repaint of the worst Blitzwing toy. I owned it, cos I like the character’s concept. A mercenary playing both factions? That’s a fun idea. However, that toy was godawful. So as soon as this new version got announced I sold it on. Good luck with those shoulders whoever the hell I sold it to!

Thing is, aside from the concept there’s pretty much fuck all to know about Doubledealer. His most prominent role is in the Japanese Masterforce cartoon, and that’s not even him! He’s a suit of armour of a blue-haired orphan with an inferiority complex.  And then we had him in IDW where he got beaten by a magic 8-ball (who later turned out to be one of the Transformer’s gods…sort of, but still).

But after all that I just decided to sit down and write because I need to get this done and back into writing as a whole.

So, we have the first “proper” leader of the Siege/Earthrise line. Ok yes, we had Astrotrain, Prime, Shockwave etc, but they were Voyagers with bits of armour or boxes. While there’s a little bit of that with Doubledealer because of his accessories, but he has enough mass to him to feel like a leader class. His bot mode is rather lovely, featuring colours you don’t see much in the franchise melded together to make a brick wall of a robot armed to the gills with weaponry and a good amount of articulation to boot. Hell, he even has wrist swivels. The only real point of contention elbows could have done with being tighter, as there are many reports he can barely hold his giant gun. Mine can hold it fine in his right arm, but not the left.

As for his gimmick, well it works. See way back in the far-off year of 1988, Doubledealer had three modes. An autoboot robot mode, a Decepticon bird mode, and a “neutral” ICBM launcher mode (which is a weird way to describe a mobile nuke launcher). Those were accessed by his two Powermaster partners, a Decepticon bat and a Not-Rumble/Frenzy. Since you know, complicated parts like that would probably make this guy cost like £100 at least in today’s economy, Doubledealer now accomplishes the same with hinges on his shoulders

Yeah, I tend to put his as a Con because due to his bulk, colours and weaponry, he doesn’t scream Autobot. And this is even taking guys like Roadbuster into consideration. And I’m glad they did this, allowing him to be a Bot or Con in robot mode rather than his original incarnations way.

Speaking of awkward segues, let’s talk about his Powermaster partners Knok and Skar! Because they’re back! If you shelled out £25+ for a pack of 4 sub-legends class toys because dammit you want Rumble (FIRRIB FOR LIFE!) for your Soundwave.

Yeah, that’s about all you can say. They’re fine for bots that turn into rectangles. Just like the rest of the Soundwave tape guys. Though speaking of Soundwave, Doubledealer managed to steal his schtick, as his chest opens up allowing you to stick one of his little buddies there for storage, or to flip around and display him like a Powermaster. He even features a small engine block which you can stick on little guys pegs for that later 80’s nostalgia. Still it only really works with Knok, as he is the same colour as Doubledealer’s chest since he pretty much was the bot mode chest back then. Also at least on mine Skar seems just that bit too small to fit securely.

As for his other modes. Well, they’re fun! But they’re kind of a pain to get to. Transforming his torso for both modes is fine, but his goddamn legs are annoying. For both modes you have to fart on with his double-jointed knees, positioning them just right so they line up with slots. However getting to vulture mode is the most pain in the arse way, because you have to sort of fold the knees in on themselves so a tab on the bottom of one joint can slide into a tab on the other joint and if you don’t get the knees in just the right position to allow this, it feels like you’re going to break the damn things.

And after all, that, are the results worth it? Kind of!

OK, this is one daft looking vulture, what with the front half of an ICBM launcher hanging off his arse…but it works. I dunno, it’s just stupid looking but weirdly nice at the same time. Sure, his articulation is limited to his toes, wings and head but it’s just a daft piece of fun.

And yes, you can store his missile on his crotch so he has the big bird dick if you want.

As for the ICBM mode, honestly, it’s a great mode in both transport and launcher mode, although the way his head is kinda just sticking out the back looking up makes the disguise a little daft. The rear ramp also allows you to connect him to other Earthrise bases and/or robots who turn into bits of a road for reasons.

I like Doubledealer, despite his problems. Yes, he’s got some loose joints, his transformation is finicky. He’s also technically a partsformer, but I’ve found myself softening on that now as long as it’s done OK and doesn’t involve taking the robot apart and putting it back together again. His concept is a fun one, and I’m glad they went with the robot mode allowing him to have both factions rather than being some sort of weird reverse Punch/Counter-Punch gimmick.

War for Cybertron Siege Leader Astrotrain.

So, Astrotrain then? He’s a weird guy. He’s one of those legacy characters who are popular despite not really doing much in the original pieces of media from the ’80s.  Yeah, he had an episode of the cartoon where he managed to convince a bunch of aliens he was a god, but I think I put that more down to their isolation and gullibility rather than his intelligence. I mean he also tried to take over the Decepticons with a bunch of trains. Not transforming trains. Just regular trains. So yeah, intelligence isn’t his strong suit.

After that his most notable accomplishment was Galvatron getting his name wrong in the IDW comics. But we love him regardless. Because he’s a Decepticon triple changer with the coolest alt-modes out of the lot of ‘em. A space shuttle AND a steam train? Yes please!

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For the longest time though he always seemed to get kinda shafted in toy form after his original toy. The concept was always compromised by size or design. The Classics mould had a decent shuttle mode but was happened by kibble in other modes. The Titans Return toy has a great robot mode…but the alt-modes suffered from weird design choices such as quashing the shuttle mode and stretching what you could convince people a train was. But it was decent enough in bot mode that people were mostly happy to say “Yeah that’ll do as my main Astrotrain even if the colours aren’t right unless I wanna fork out for the Japanese release.” Mainly cos he was a decent size.

But then along comes Siege with the best goddamn Astrotrain in years! In the right colours! And in the leader size class! And there is nothing wrong with him!

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So yeah, let’s get it out the way. Siege Astrotrain is another one of these “leaders” like Shockwave and Ultra Magnus where’s the main toy is a voyager and he gets extra bits. Ultra Magnus had his normal armour, Shockwave got a surfboard that became some actually cool armour in robot mode and turned his “totally not and laser-gun” alt-mode into a damn good-looking battleship.

Astrotrain gets a box that turns into boots and a backpack. Oh, and LOT of guns, that can also combine into one mean BFG.

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Yeah, this is where all that extra plastic went. You could have gotten a bigger one if say they only gave him one gun instead, but honestly, I don’t mind him at his normal size. He frankly looks so good, and as hinted at in the second image, due to how he’s constructed there’s almost no hollowness to him, making him solid as hell. He also has far more articulation than any other Astrotrain toy, including a waist swivel and ankle-tilts.  Plus, the box has other uses, but more on that later.

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I like the shuttle mode. It looks like his G1 toy/cartoon self, boxy fuselage and all, but beefier and mode robust.  Yeah, the back end is a little skeletal but you always gotta sacrifice something in a triple changer. And honestly, the transformation is pretty fun, with some nice intricacies like how the arms become the rear and connect to the boosters and keep the tail fin in place. It’s fun and looks like it’s cartoons elf, which I’m not usually needing but I’ll take it here. Like the bot mode, it features a whole load of ports so you can stick the guns all over him and make the world’s deadliest shuttle. Or you can store them in the box, which can also become a makeshift launchpad, but it looks a bit doofy so I didn’t bother taking any pics.

But honestly? The best mode is the train mode.

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I love the train mode. I love the detailing; I also love how this makes no goddamn sense as his Cybetronian mode. But it’s big, purple, and girthy. Yes, I know how that sounds and I don’t care. It just works so goddamn well. Plus, you know that box of his? It can be used as a goddamn tender!

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I have no idea why this excites me so much, but it just does. It looks fantastic. Plus, since this mode doesn’t feature as many weapon ports as the shuttle mode adding the tender means you have enough to make the DEATH TRAIN.

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So yeah, he’s short because he has a box, but I love this guy. He’s easily made it into my top ten figures of 2019 right at the buzzer. It’d be nice if he wasn’t so short but what we get in lieu of his size makes up for it. Buy him.

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