Hasbro’s Transformers franchise evolved from its humble Generation I (G1) roots in 1984. Primarily a toy line of robots capable of converting into vehicles and other everyday objects, the Transformers franchise is also a series of cartoons, comic books, and Hollywood films. The war against heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons wages on through the Transformers Animated cartoon series.
In Transformers Animated, characters from older Transformers series like G1 are occasionally reintroduced to appeal to older fans clinging to nostalgic memories or revised to create new fans of that character. When a toy version of that character hits shelves, fans who like this character or see the potential for a fun toy will flock to buy it. Transformers Animated Wreck-Gar is a classic example of this practice.
Wreck-Gar initially appeared in the 1986 Transformers animated film. Residing on the planet Junk–a planet resembling a garbage dump–he was the leader of a race of robots known as Junkions who allied with the Autobots. During one of the memorable fight scenes in the movie showing off Wreck-Gar’s power and toy potential, Weird Al Yankovic’s song “Dare to Be Stupid” plays in the background. About 20 years later, a new version of Wreck-Gar appears in the Transformers Animated episode “Garbage In, Garbage Out” and resembles the original. The Transformers Animated Wreck-Gar comes to life amid a pile of garbage and junk. He eventually joins the Autobots. And in a circular turn of events, Weird Al Yankovic voices Wreck-Gar in the Transformers Animated cartoon. As expected of Hasbro, a Voyager Class toy version of Wreck-Gar is now on sale after introducing him in the Transformers Animated cartoon. Priced between $19.99 and $21.99, does the Wreck-Gar toy warrant a purchase outside of fan appeal?
Alternate Mode: Garbage Truck
Wreck-Gar comes packaged in its Alternate Mode as a garbage truck. Whereas most vehicular Alternate Modes in Transformers Animated feature futuristic designs, styles, and angles to match the futuristic Detroit setting, Wreck-Gar’s garbage truck resembles the common garbage truck currently seen on the streets. Perhaps its obsolete design was why this garbage truck was among the trash intended for disposal before gaining sentience. The cab of the garbage truck is orange with black tinted windows and a gray bumper with yellow headlights in front. Six black wheels, red lifting forks, greenish-gray lifting arms, red fuel tanks, a gray garbage bin, and red rear lights complete the color scheme. A silver Autobot insignia is displayed on the driver side door.
The garbage truck features a few gimmicks. Each lifting fork is raised with the flick of a switch on each arm. This gimmick fairly useless since the elevation of either fork is negligible. The lifting arms can be raised manually, but must be done individually. They are too weak to actually lift anything on their own.
The box also bragged about weapon storage, which immediately raised a red flag. At this stage in the Transformers toy line, stating that the Alternate Mode includes storage for the Robot Mode’s weapon(s) is like stating that the toy includes printed instructions for conversion. Including weapon storage as a key perk implies a lack of creativity in the toy design with a hint of desperation from the marketing department. But this garbage truck incorporates weapon storage well. The weapon–a pair of translucent blue blades–slide into the garbage bin and secured. A sliding switch on top of the garbage bin retracts the blades and hides them from view. When the blades are exposed from the garbage truck and viewed from above, they resemble the wings of a housefly. Since garbage attracts flies, this visual fits.
At first glance the vehicle seems small for a $19.99 Voyager Class Transformers toy. It is not much bigger than the $9.99 Deluxe Class Transformers cars and is barley longer than a dollar bill. But this garbage truck looks great. The wheels roll well and the garbage truck has some nice paneling detail in the garbage bin and front bumper. This is a very convincing Alternate Mode for Wreck-Gar provided no one flips him over. To do so would expose Wreck-Gar’s head and arms from the undercarriage. Having Robot Mode portions blatantly visible really ruins the illusion of the Alternate Mode.
Following the simple instructions, the garbage truck unfolds and converts into the Autobot rookie Wreck-Gar. In an additional nod to G1 Wreck-Gar, Transformers Animated Wreck-Gar is primarily orange. He has gray hands, thighs, and a gray chest. His feet, knees, forearms, neck, and abdomen are black. The red fuel tanks now form his shoulders. Wreck-Gar’s head is fashioned after an orange portable television complete with gray handle, dials, and bent antenna. He has a white face with black facial hair and blue light piping for the eyes. Wreck-Gar has a smirk of overconfidence or gullibility. The bladed weapons stored in the garbage truck can attach to wheels on his arms as pincers. Or the blades can attach together and form a shield mounted on the arm.
Wreck-Gar has great articulation thanks to the joints in his knees, waist, shoulders, elbows, and neck. His large hands each have a set of moving fingers capable of grasping other Transformers weapons and accessories. The garbage bin resembles a backpack in Robot Mode. He did use his garbage bin as a backpack in the cartoon. The main problem with Wreck-Gar in Robot Mode is that his backpack renders him top heavy, which makes him prone to falling backwards in some poses.
Wreck-Gar has more than nostalgia and celebrity voice talent going for him. His toy is top notch as well after forgiving its minor flaws. Fans should look forward to purchasing this toy and future episodes of Wreck-Gar in the Transformers Animated cartoon series…
…just as soon as they fish him out.