Dark of the Moon Deluxe Crankcase Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Dark of the Moon, Decepticon, Deluxe, Dreads, MechTech

Dark of the Moon

General Information:
Release Date: May 2011
Price Point: $12.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blaster/Blade Claw


*Images and text in italics from the Official Transformers Web Site:
As an expert tracker and infiltrator, CRANKCASE serves MEGATRON from the shadows. Unseen and never recognized, he watches the AUTOBOTS and reports their movements back to his master. He rarely engages in combat, but when he does, it is swift, terrible, and final.

Fasten your seatbelts for some fast-paced fun with this vehicle-to-robot villain! Switch your mighty CRANKCASE figure from Chevy Suburban vehicle mode to battle-ready robot mode. His blaster even converts to a blade claw weapon in robot mode. As the battle rages on, convert him back to vehicle mode so he’s ready to chase down enemies! Weapons work with any MECHTECH TRANSFORMERS figure! Ages 5 and up.

Crankcase is a new character introduced in "Dark of the Moon". A far cry from the Generation One Triggercon of the same name, this Crankcase is a member of the Decepticon team known as the "Dreads" who are among the most feared of Cybertronian warriors. His looks match his reputation and it will be interesting to see this guy on the big screen!

Mech Tech Weapon:
Since the Mech Tech weapons are critical parts of this toy line, I will review the weapons separately if they have some type of functionality. How they work with each figure will be discussed in the review of the various modes. I will make one general statement that will probably be replicated throughout several of the first (and possibly second) wave of deluxe figure releases regarding the Mech Tech weapons: they cannot stay in their "transformed" state without being held in place. Most Mech Tech weapons are spring activated, and when you release the switch that transforms them, the weapons automatically revert back to their previous form. This is important to note as the packaging clearly shows the weapons can maintain their alternative forms with no mention of requiring support (this could change).

Is this disappointing? Absolutely. However, it must be stressed that this seems to only apply to the deluxe wave one so far. Larger figures do have weapons that can "stay" transformed and who knows? A future deluxe wave may have figures that can stay in their alternate form. Also please note that in my photos, I had to use various tricks to make the weapon stay in its alternate form (including liberal use of Post-It notes and paper clips to keep them in place).

As you will see in the course of this review, Crankcase has a rather savage and evil looking robot mode, so it is appropriate that his weapon have a similar nature. The default mode for this weapon is its "blaster" mode, which is mostly rectangular in shape with a small barrel at the end. It looks like some type of advanced machine gun more than a weapon that fires energy, especially with the small holes sculpted into the gun barrel. The trigger piece on top that activates the weapon's transformation resembles a hammer on an older style gun and there are plenty of small sculpted line details running along the sides of the weapon. All this high tech detail however cannot hide the large pair of claws mounted in the front of the weapon. Pull the hammer back, and the weapon extends forward, the claws seemingly grasping at its foe. It's quite dramatic in terms of transformation as the weapon extends on seven hinges. It really is a shame the weapon can't stay in its claw mode because it looks awesome in that form.

The weapon is cast in brown and black plastic, favoring the black. Brown is mostly used for smaller parts like the hinges. The claws in the front are cast in black, but painted silver, giving a nice splash of color to the weapon. I think the weapon looks fantastic thanks to a cool sculpt and concept, the paint is just the icing on the cake.

Vehicle Mode:
Crankcase is one of the Decepticons in "Dark of the Moon" representing a licensed vehicle. In this case, Crankcase transforms into a Chevrolet Suburban SUV. This SUV is known for its long profile which makes it look like a cross between an SUV and a pickup truck. Many of the distinctive details of the Suburban are represented here including:

  • The long profile of the Suburban is well represented, with three side windows sculpted along the sides.
  • The front grille has a frame around it, splitting the grille into two sections along with a sculpted Chevrolet logo in the middle.
  • The bumper under the front grille matches the real life vehicle with rounded lights on the sides and a rectangular area for a license plate in the middle.
  • The rear lights are sculpted to match the real life vehicle with its a rectangular, vertical design.
  • The sideview mirrors are the same design as those on the real life vehicle, with rounded edges that come out horizontally.
  • The top of the vehicle has a roof rack sculpted into it.

Where this Suburban differs from its standard, real life counterpart are the light bars mounted on the roof. At the time I am writing this review, I have not seen the movie yet but my guess would be that Crankcase, like Barricade before him is impersonating a Police vehicle (or maybe some other government entity). I like that element as it really adds to the whole nature of being a Decepticon. It would also appear that the wheels on Crankcase are set a bit differently than the standard Suburban, with the top portion of the vehicle raised a bit higher than one would expect, giving it an even more distinctive profile.

Crankcase is cast mostly in black plastic in this form. Some clear plastic is used on the light bars and headlights. A bit of translucent yellow plastic is used on the inside of the headlights, adding a nice coloring touch that is reminscent of real world vehicles. Paint applications are a bit sparse, but they really don't need to be gratuitious since the Suburban really isn't the flashiest vehicle around. Silver paint is used to create circles on the headlights and Decepticon symbols on the sides. A dark red paint colors the sides of the light bars while a lighter shade of red is used to paint the rear lights. The only additional paint applications I would have liked to have seen would be on the front end, specifically the Chevrolet logo which is unpainted. Since it's cast in black, it kind of fades away and doesn't stand out at all, subtracting a bit from the realism of the vehicle mode.

There are two holes on the top of the vehicle to accomodate Mech Tech weaponry. I'm actually glad the designers resisted putting holes in the side as the vehicle has a very distinctive looking profile that would have lost a bit of its visual appeal had they put holes there. The top works perfectly and still allows Crankcase to look intimidating with two giant weapons mounted on top!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the front of the vehicle back.
  2. Lift up the panel with the rear light bar attached.
  3. Swing the rear of the vehicle out, straightening out the robot legs.
  4. Split the rear of the vehicle to separate the legs.
  5. On each rear section, push in the wheels, then swing them up a bit.
  6. Swing the rear panels of the vehicle down and flip out the claws.
  7. Swing the panel back, so the wheel clearly shows from the front view and the feet are pointed forward.
  8. Rotate the lower legs around.
  9. Rotate each leg around so it points in the same direction as the torso.
  10. Pull the doors out to the sides, revealing the robot arms.
  11. Pulling the chest piece forward a bit, swing up the robot head. Be mindful of the "dreadlocks" as they are soft plastic.
  12. Swing each arm up.
  13. Swing the waist piece up on its hinge.
  14. Push the chest panel back into place to lock the arms and waist piece in.
  15. Swing out the hands on each arm.
  16. Swing the wheel on each elbow joint back.
  17. Swing the blade weapons above his head out.
  18. Place the weapon in one of the holes on each forearm.

Robot Mode:
I must confess that when it comes to the Transformers movie designs, there are few that I loved from the get go. More often than not I had to get used to a form and then appreciate it bit by bit. This is not the situation with Crankcase however. From the moment I finished transforming the figure to now I love this sculpt. Few Decepticon sculpts look so positively evil and demonic that part of me is tickled by the fact that if you ever tried to deco this guy as a good guy it just wouldn't work.

In many respects, Crankcase takes the movie aesthetic to an extreme. Almost every part of his body is sculpted with layers of jagged armor and biomechanical looking parts. His chest looks like exposed bone protecting machinery underneath. His arms look bony and end with clawed hands that have blades in the middle. Even his legs have a creepy organic look, ending in claws rather than squared off feet. The best part however is the head sculpt, which has to be one of the more unique ones to come out in the past couple of years. The head itself is a hyper stylized (and creepy) looking version of the Decepticon symbol. It has the crest in the center, two protrusions sweeping up the sides with a sunken jaw line. However, these details are not squared off and angular like the Decepticon symbol. Instead, they are curved and organic looking, with four eyes and ugly looking teeth with huge fangs on his lower jaw bones. Attached to the back of the head are (of all things) mechanical looking dreadlocks. In some ways, he looks like the Transformers answer to creature from the Predator movies. It's a gorgeous sculpt that I'd love to see in a fire red and orange redeco one day just to make him look like a demon out of Hell.

This mode exposes the silver plastic used on the figure in the form of the arms, legs and the blades over the head. Most of his other parts are black plastic while his head's light piping is sculpted in translucent red plastic (quite appropriate). Paint applications are provided in silver and gold. The silver can be found on his head, torso and feet. The gold is used to paint his dreadlocks and the details underneath his "bone like" details on the torso. I really like the way the silver and gold are used here, accentuating parts that overlap each other, and the dreadlocks are just really crazy looking and one of the last details you would expect on a Transformer!

Crankcase has twenty one points of articulation in this form. I'm cheating a bit by counting his feet, but they do need to get repositioned for certain poses. I'm also counting the blades that hang over his head, which can be moved back and forth on a hinge joint. Crankcase can attach Mech Tech weapons to the holes on his arms. Considering how thin his arms are, I was surprised how well they hold up the relatively large Mech Tech weapons. Also, it should be noted for parents that despite how many jagged edges it looks like this guy has, most of them are softer plastic, so no one is going to get hurt with this figure.

Final Thoughts:
Crankcase rocks. He has a real life, licensed vehicle mode that is fairly accurate to its source material. His robot mode is an exceptional example of unconventional Transformers design and sculpting that results in a wicked looking figure. Despite a relatively weak paint job in vehicle mode, he overcomes it with the awesomeness of the robot mode. Highly recommended!