Phil's review of TFC Dr. Crank
Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:58 AM
For more pics, click on the picture above
Prelude: Legal stuff first, as always. Dr. Crank is not an official Transformers product from Hasbro or Takara-Tomy, he hails from third party provider TFC Toys. He?s clearly meant to be an updated version of G1 Hook, but for legal reasons he can?t be called by that name.
Robot Mode: Let?s start with the resemblance this figure has to the original Hook. It?s pretty good. They don?t look identical, mind you, but if you put them side by side, the resemblance is definitely there. They have the same basic design and share several elements such as the front of the vehicle mode becoming the lower legs and the crane being on the back. Dr. Crank is twice as tall and I?d say at least three times as massive, but it?s clearly meant to be the same guy.
Dr. Crank?s design clearly places him in the Classics era, which is more than fine by me. The figure is very nicely articulated, the only thing missing is a waist joint and twisting wrists. Otherwise, though, no complaints. Dr. Crank isn?t exactly a contortionist, but he poses just fine. The detailing is also very nice, I especially like the way the chest clearly has a place for a Decepticon emblem (have to check my Reprolabels sheets for a fitting one) and the stomach being a near-perfect match for the sticker the G1 figure had there.
Let?s talk accessories. Dr. Crank carries two handguns, which he can either hold in his fists (the standard fists-with-hole) or plug into his forearms. He can also put them onto his legs or on his back for storage. One is red and one is purple, both will become part of Hercules? combined weapon. Additionally Dr. Crank has the big crane on his back, which he can plug onto his shoulder, too. He can then either use the crane itself as a weapon (extending it gives him quite the reach) or use the two bigger guns on the crane?s sides. The two hand weapons can also plug into the sides of the crane. Finally, he has what I believe is a muzzle for the combined Hercules weapon, which serves no real purpose for Dr. Crank on his own. It can plug into the side of the crane, too.
What?s left to say about the robot mode? I like it a lot. It?s not a revelation as far as robots go, but it?s so far the best Classics-style Construction I?ve seen (him being my first TFC Hercules robot). The main draw of the figure is, of course, the combiner aspect, but even as a stand-alone figure he?s pretty good.
Alternate Mode: Seeing as the word ?crane? occurred numerous times in the review of the robot mode, it?s probably not a big surprise that Dr. Crank transforms into a ? you guessed it ? crane. Now I?m no expert in construction vehicles, so I can?t tell you what model or company this crane is, but it looks like you?d expect a crane to look and there are no obvious robot parts visible. The resemblance to G1 Hook is less pronounced than in robot mode, but still present (they?re both cranes, after all).
The crane can do all the same stuff here as in robot mode, of course. It can turn a full 360 degrees and extend quite a bit. On the side of the vehicle you can see grey flip-out pegs that are used for combining into Hercules, but can also be repurposed as stabilizers when the crane extends, such as real-world crane vehicles often use. And in case anyone wonders, yes, you can fully extend the crane without the vehicle toppling over. Both weapons and the muzzle mentioned in robot mode can be stored on the crane arm as well, so no loose parts in this mode. Bottom line: a good, solid vehicle mode.
Combiner Mode: Dr. Crank forms the head and shoulders of the Hercules combiner robot (not called Devastator for legal reasons only). There will be a separate review on Hercules once I have all the members.
Remarks: The original Constructicons hold the distinction of being the very first combining robots in Transformer history. Strangely, though, Hasbro has never really made an attempt to create an updated version of them, at least not one with the original?s look and feel. ROTF Devastator is an entirely different animal and while Energon Construction Maximus was much closer, he was still pretty far off. Now, though, TFC Toys brings us the closest thing to an updated G1 Devastator we?ll ever see (along with the one currently being made by MakeToys).
As for Dr. Crank / Hook himself, well, the G1 Constructions never had a clearly defined team leader. Most of the times it was Scrapper giving the orders (and he had the most lines in the cartoon), but Hook is the one forming the head (which is the leader?s job in every other combiner team ever made) and was named team leader in the Transformers Collectors Club ?Wings of Honor? comics. He also seemed to give the orders in the G1 cartoon episode ?The Secret of Omega Supreme?, so he does have some claim to the leadership position.
As a toy Dr. Crank is a good figure. The only real drawback it has is the price tag. Quite frankly, no one would pay between 80 and 100 dollars just for a Voyager-sized Classics-version of G1 Hook... if it weren?t for the fact that he combines with five more like him. So that?s the crux here: you buy him, then you buy the other five, too, otherwise it makes no sense. Which means dishing out between 400 and 600 dollars for six figures. It?s what made me hesitate a long, long time before finally succumbing. From what I?ve seen so far, I think it?s worth it (again, Dr. Crank being my first TFC figure, still waiting on the other five). But you need to decide whether you?re willing to dish out this much money. Money and combiner issues aside, Dr. Crank is just fine by himself. Not a revelation, but good. I?ll rate him again as part of Hercules when the giant is fully assembled.