Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Transformers Feature: Speed Stars Stealth Force Leadfoot

I seem to have a small but growing subsection of my Transformers collection. It includes toys that have explicit references to (G.B.) Blackrock.

I've already shared how the inclusion of Blackrock's name on the spoiler influenced me to pick up Power Core Combiner Leadfoot some months ago. Folks who follow me on Twitter may have noticed when I shared a picture of a Wal-Mart exclusive movie Bumblebee that sports the Blackrock name. With the recent addition of this "Stealth Force" version of Leadfoot, I've added yet another Blackrock name-drop. That makes three times Hasbro has used Blackrock's name on a Transformer toy, all within the past couple of years.

Despite living in an era of easy access to news of upcoming toys, I still somehow managed not to be aware that this version of Leadfoot even existed until I saw it on the shelves at Ross a few weeks ago. Given the nature of Ross, this may well mean that I'd missed seeing it at any number of other stores for quite some time already! Alternatively, it could be that Leadfoot suffered a fate similar to Windcharger, and no other retailers had actually wanted the wave of toys that included Leadfoot. It's actually pretty easy for me to imagine this latter scenario. Just as fans hated the Action Masters back in the early '90s for featuring robots that couldn't change into cars, the "Speed Stars" line (which "Stealth Force" is a sub-line under, and which admittedly encompasses more than just Transformers characters) features cars that can't change into robots!1 I know I wouldn't have bought this toy if it weren't for the Blackrock connection.

That's not to say that the toy has no special features. "Stealth Force" cars feature weaponry that pops out when you move a specific part (in Leadfoot's case, you pull back on the spoiler). Simple, to be sure, but I can actually imagine young children having a lot of fun quickly alternating between modes.

Besides being a "Stealth Force" toy, this toy is branded as a "Reveal the Shield" toy,2 meaning that it has a heat-sensitive rubsign that reveals the faction symbol. As with other "Reveal the Shield" toys, the faction really isn't much of a secret. Not only does the packaging explicitly state that Leadfoot is an Autobot, but Leadfoot features an unobscured Autobot symbol on its underside. Admittedly, one can't see that until after purchasing the toy and taking it out of its packaging!

What will Hasbro put the Blackrock name on next?

1Don't let the inclusion of "robot mode" art on the packaging, shown at the top of the page, fool you. The artwork is especially noteworthy, as there isn't a Leadfoot toy anywhere that has a robot mode like this from which this art would have been taken. According to the TF Wiki, this art comes from some concept art created for Mirage, which makes sense given the similar vehicle modes.

2Another element Leadfoot has in common with Windcharger, adding further potential support to my theory that other retailers simply decided not to carry Leadfoot's wave, leaving it to Ross to pick up the slack.

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