Sunday, February 16, 2014

Transformers Pretenders Waverider

It's 1988. I have allowance money burning a hole in my pocket, and it's one of the rare instances I didn't find a toy I wanted at Roses. We've made one last stop at People's Drug, and I realize, if I don't get something now, it will be a whole week before I can get back up here again. I scan the toy aisle for something, anything that might catch my attention, when my gaze settles on a box with a familiar font. "Transformers", it reads, "Robots in Disguise". I already have a large box full of the form shifting robots, but it's a rare occasion that I get to pick one up brand new. I look up and down the aisle again, and decide to go home with this guy:



Waverider, from the Pretenders line. I got inside the car, opened him up, and was immediately disappointed.
I'm not sure why, since I was more than capable of reading, and I'm sure I knew what I was getting. Still, the drab colors, and lack of articulation ended up being a let down once I got the figure in hand. He still got played with over the years, and I actually picked up a couple more Pretenders, but they were never my favorite Transformers. You see, the Pretenders were an oddity among a toy line that had a train that turned into a space shuttle that changed into a robot. The premise still confounds me even today. As I understand it, the Pretender shells were developed as a way for the Autobots and Decepticons to blend in on different planets. I'm not sure how well 25 ft tall monsters and humans would blend in on Earth, but this is also the toyline that had a 20 ft tall robot with the alternate form of a regular sized Walkman.

Honestly, I kind of like the way the human form looks, and I would have loved to see a more articulated version. He's big and brawny, and looks like he could throw down with the toughest of the Decepticons. Waverider was well equipped too, coming with a blaster rifle,


and a large axe.



So, I'm sure you're wondering what the gimmick is with these guys. Well, I'll tell you. You take off Waverider's belt and helmet, then split him in two to reveal...




Waverider robot version. There isn't much to the figure, as they had to keep it pretty basic so it would fit within the Pretender shell. The arms are articulated at the shoulders, so he can hold and point his blaster at you,


but that's about it. The leg are articulated at the hips and the knees, but they only allow side to side movement. Basically, they're only articulated to allow Waverider to transform. And what does he transform into?


An attack sub, or a boat. I'm not sure. It never really mattered to me, because I used to pretend he was a starfighter. His design reminds me of some of the ships from the NES and SNES shoot'em up games. As you can see, his gun fits nicely on top of his alternate form, though that's not the only thing that fits...




Yep, the battle ax will go in there too. I'm not sure how effective it would be, since he'd have to get close enough to ram the Decepticons for it to be effective. Of course, just the sight of the thing might be enough to discourage any attackers. If I saw that thing slicing through the water, I'd have to believe I just witnessed what has to be the most badass shark in existence. I doubt I'd ever go in the water again if I thought sharks were arming themselves with battle axes.

You kind of got two toys in one with the Pretenders. After you take the robot out, you can put the shell back together, instantly doubling your fighting force. I know the shell is mostly a statue, but I have to admit he's still pretty cool looking. Both the shell and the robot are rather robust compared to some of the other Transformers offerings of the same period. The blaster and ax are large and pretty tough, so they're less likely to get lost or broken. The same goes with the helmet and belt.


My perception of the Pretenders line has certainly changed over the years. Rather than disappointment, I've come to appreciate the simplicity and robustness of the designs. Trying to transform some of the new figures is an exercise in frustration, so it's nice to have one that only requires a couple twists to change forms. I know it's a long shot, but I'd love to see Hasbro release a line of modern Pretenders. I see they are releasing newer figures closer to the G1 style, so who knows, it could happen.

Either way, just keep pretendin' Waverider.

7 comments:

  1. The axe sort of looks like a sail on top of the vehicle mode.Maybe a Christopher Cross inspired Transformer? ;)

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    1. I had to look that one up to get it, but still, touche my good man. ;-)

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  2. I love these figures but i have yet to pick any up but am sure i will at some point.

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    1. Some of them can be picked up for a decent price on eBay, especially the first series. The second series seems rather rare and expensive though.

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  3. The Pretenders concept is an absolutely bizarre one, for sure, but I loved the designs of the outer-shells. Especially the Decepticons. I managed to score one [Sub-marauder] at a thrift shop, though it was missing the transforming robot that should have been inside. Which I was perfectly okay with, since the colorful, creature shell was a million times better than the robot that turned into something that sorta' resembles a ship.

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    1. Yeah, I have to admit, the second one I bought, Skullgrin, was a hell of a lot cooler than this guy. The crazy thing is, I was just looking for some more info on the Pretenders, and apparently they had their own series in Japan, separate from the Transformers.

      I guess I sometimes forget just how many toylines make up the Transformers line.

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  4. I had Cloudburst and Submarauder. This line came out near the end of my Transformer collecting, when I was merely putting therm up on a shelf and no longer playing with them. Submarauder at least looks like a cool monster/Battle Beast hybrid, but Cloudburst is pretty vanilla. I'm not even sure if I still have them packed away somewhere or if I sold them a few years back when I was thinning my TF collection. Either way, I don't miss them!

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