Review: Transformers AOE Deluxe Drift

Diving into wave 2, we start out by looking at a new version of a character whose introduction to the franchise was… controversial, to say the least. Drift made his first appearance in the IDW comic series All Hail Megatron as an original character by writer Shane McCarthy. While Drift himself was primarily a background character and didn’t really do or say much, a few aspects of his introduction made fans less than happy to welcome him. McCarthy was already garnering disdain from the fandom due to the questionable quality of AHM, primarily for ignoring much of the previous IDW “-ations” series by Simon Furman in favor of a more G1 cartoon feel. Also, the character was hyped up quite a bit as “super awesome,” and his Japanese ninja motifs, as well as his backstory of being a turncoat Decepticon trying to atone from his actions, made Drift more or less a stereotypical Mary Sue fan character. Drift was mainly ignored after McCarthy’s writing tenure ended, until the character was picked up by writing god James Roberts for More Than Meets the Eye and caused many of the Drift haters to do a complete 180. He’s now one of the core Autobot cast in the new movie, voiced by big-name actor Ken Watanabe. Shane would be so proud.

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Vehicle Mode

Drift the Japanese samurai robot turns into the French-designed, German-owned Bugatti Veyron. Sure! The Veyron is the car that people only know about because it’s really fast, and why it was heavily rumored that the Veyron would be Blurr back when set pictures were leaking. Admittedly, Blurr would be a better fit for the car, but I think it works fine for Drift. The actual vehicle in the film is a very, very dark blue, while the toy sports a brighter royal blue. Both are a far cry from the namesake’s white-and-red, but I like it because the Transformers films need more colorful robots. The car is fully licensed and as such looks a lot like a Bugatti Veyron. The high-speed spoiler is deployed and sadly can’t be pushed down, but that just means Drift is going really fast all the time. One major issue I have with this mode is that no matter what I do, I can’t get him in car mode without having robot mode parts (specifically his thigh armor) scraping the ground. I’m not sure if I’m just doing it wrong or my figure is somehow defective, but it’s very irritating and makes him unable to story his long swords underneath the car without them lifting the vehicle up. Despite that, Drift looks like a sleek car and has all the paint apps he really needs, though some engine detailing would be cool.

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Transformation

In one of Hasbro’s Designer Desk videos, the lead designer described Drift’s transformation as “elegant” to match his “elegant fighting style.” It’s a neat idea, but I’m not seeing any excessive elegance in this conversion. Not to say there’s anything wrong with it, but you do have to do things in a specific order or else things get frustrating. It’s a lot of making sure panels are out of the way before moving anything too much. It’s not a complex figure my any means, but it’s not quite as simplified as you’d expect. It’s also a bummer that you do have to remove the swords when converting from mode to mode, especially since Crosshairs pulled it off with his guns.

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Robot Mode

While IDW Drift was somewhat ninja-influenced but had the design cues from many a Japanese anime robot, AOE Drift is a straight-up robot samurai complete with dual daisho armament and a kabuto helmet. This mode is where I feel more paint apps could go a long way. His entire body is primarily a big chunk of solid blue, with some metallic blue added here and there. He really could have used some gold and silver accents to break up all the blue, but the only gold detailing comes in the form of a big glob all over his face. Like the silver paint on Crosshairs, it completely washes out his face detailing, which is already looking a bit… dire. What is up with that weird puckered-lip grin? Is Drift supposed to be the Kit Fisto of the Transformers films? The other bits of gold found on this toy come in the form of his swords: a pair of katana and a pair of wakizashi. They can store on his back in a myriad of ways thanks to the many 5mm ports on Drift’s backpack, but he can also hold them for the cool sword-wielding giant robot look, one that he pulls off quite well.

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Another element of the toy pointed out in the Designer Desk video is his articulation, as a melee fighter like Drift needs to have good articulation. Disappointingly, like the “elegant transformation,” Drift’s articulation is really nothing special. His head is balljointed with a decent range, but it likes to pop off if you move it too much. His shoulders are on universal joints and his elbows are faux-ratchets with an over-90 degree range, which is quite good. The part that really flies in the face of the designer’s claims of better articulation is that Drift has no wrist swivels despite being stressed as a sword-wielding character. Hasbro is usually good about this sort of thing, as seen in the IDW Drift toy and the RTS G2 Optimus Prime, two sword-wielding toys with exceptional wrist articulation. Poor AOE Drift only has hinges that allow his wrists to move in and out, which is useless for sword posing. It doesn’t ruin the toy by any stretch, but Drift really should have had wrist swivels. He has no waist articulation, which is a bummer but unsurprising. His hips are on universal joints, and his knees are heavy faux-ratchets with a limited amount of range due to his vehicle kibble. He has no ankle joints to speak of, except the transformation joint that lets them flip up.

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Overall

If we’re ranking these figures on the wave 1 scale of Crosshairs to Scorn, Drift falls somewhere around High Octane Bumblebee-tier. He’s certainly not a bad toy, but he has a lot of little problems that keep him from really being good. His transformation can be a bit frustrating, his paint apps are lacking, and his articulation is a big disappointment. Despite this, he still manages to look great in both modes, and it’s honestly hard not to like a samurai robot. As a fan of both Drift and samurai, it wasn’t a hard decision to buy this guy on sight, and I can’t say I regret the purchase. He’s totally acceptable.

Where to Buy

  • Retail: Target and Toys R Us (as of this writing)
  • Amazon
  • BBTS (Takara version)
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