Review: Transformers Age of Extinction Voyager Drift

I bet you thought you’d seen the last of Age of Extinction on this site, didn’t you? As did I, to tell you the truth. I was confident that I could sit out the remainder of the film’s toyline, but I soon found myself in the toy isle of Toys R Us with a $10 coupon, eyeing a particular blue and gold samurai helicopter that looked way more impressive in person than initial photos had me believe. Ladies and gentlemen, Robot Ken Watanabe is back: this is Voyager Drift.

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Vehicle Mode

In the lead-in to Age of Extinction, the information came out that the new samurai Autobot Drift would be a triple changer, converting into a Bugatti Veyron and a helicopter. This bit of info was treated as a major spoiler for the film, so the general belief was that it would play a role in Drift’s character as an ex-Decepticon. Then the first images of the Drift toy came out, and he was just a car. Then images of the Voyager Drift came out, and he’s a retool of Skyhammer from the DOTM toyline. At first we all thought it was pure laziness on Hasbro’s part, but then the movie came out and revealed that Drift being a triple-changer was entirely pointless, nothing about his character was important, and his ex-Decepticon status is never once mentioned. The fact that Drift’s helicopter form is represented by a simple retool is now a lot more forgivable.

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As it is, Drift is a retool of DOTM Skyhammer, who turned into a kinda-sorta-looks-like-a-Hind helicopter. In the film, Drift’s helicopter altmode is entirely CGI and, as such, Cybertronian in nature and looked nothing like a real-life vehicle (not that you ever got a good look at it in its two brief appearances). So points for this toy; there’s no real need for accuracy. That in mind, the basic shape of the helicopter is similar enough, and it’s still a pretty great helicopter altmode. Drift ditches Skyhammer’s blue-grey-on-light-grey in favor of gold-and-light-blue-on-royal-blue, which is still the inaccurate color scheme of his Deluxe toy, but it’s more forgivable here. He also ditches the original mold’s Mech Tech weapon (though retains the dual missile pods) in exchange for two blue-gold swords. The swords can mount on his wings, and actually don’t look too bad. Colors (and weapons) aside, Drift’s chopper mode does have one noticeable tooling difference: the two engine intakes above his cockpit have been resculpted, adding large cones where Skyhammer just had turbines. … why?

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Transformation

The Dark of the Moon line was all about taking a step back from the mind-numbingly intricate ROTF toyline without downright simplifying everything (as AOE would go on to do). Drift isn’t frustrating or difficult to transform, but he is fairly complex, moreso than the other Voyagers of his line (except maybe Evasion Mode Optimus). Being mostly a straight head swap/repaint of Skyhammer, Drift also gets to have the very distinctive and very cool rotor integration on his robot mode… as inaccurate as it is.

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Robot Mode

In fact, the robot mode is where film accuracy is completely tossed out the window. With the exception of his new headsculpt (which is very nice and much nicer than the Deluxe) and kind of the colors, nothing about Voyager Drift resembles the onscreen character… and I’m totally okay with that. This toy is best seen as Drift just having scanned a helicopter, prior to scanning a Bugatti. It’s actually a really interesting concept that Transformers hasn’t done much of: same characters with different altmodes. It’s unintentional, but the idea behind it makes me really into this toy.

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That said, I am in the clear minority in that I really don’t like DOTM Skyhammer. I think his headsculpt is doofy, his colors are boring, his proportions are trash, and his legs are some of the worst legs I’ve seen on a Transformer. Thankfully, Drift solves half of my problems with the toy, which is just enough for me to actually like it. The blue-on-blue just pops and looks gorgeous, and the gold is a bit dull and unpleasant, but is generally lost in the sea of pretty blues. Also, points to this toy for having gold on places other than the head. Speaking of the head, it’s very detailed and looks great, though still not totally film-accurate. Meh.

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Articulation is my biggest issue with this mold, but we’ll get to that. Drift has a swivel neck with a bonus upward tilt, which functions much better than on Skyhammer. He also has: universal shoulders and hips, bicep and waist swivel, swivel elbows and knees. The biggest point of contention comes in the form of the rotation of his legs. He has leg rotation, but not at the thigh. Instead, the swivel joint is below the knee. This. Is. Garbage. It’s entirely unhelpful in posing, and always makes his legs look awkward and misshapen. It severely limits effective leg articulation, too, because there’s no way he can naturally spread his legs at all. Some figures can get away with this, but the design of Drift’s legs makes it horribly evident. This was Skyhammer’s biggest failure in my eyes, and it still takes a notch off of my approval of Drift… but at least he looks pretty good.

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The other major change for this retool are Drift’s newly-molded (I think) swords. They’re big and very blue. Initial pictures of this toy made the swords look cheap and ugly, but in-hand they’re actually pretty impressive and fit the toy very well. The way Drift holds his blades is a bit odd, though; the have a 5mm peg grip, but with a curved bit at the end. You have to angle the thin part through Drift’s (also new-mold) fists to get up to the actual peg. It’s hard to explain, and the only purpose it seems to serve is providing extra stability for when the swords are in their combined mode. They can be pegged together to make a, well, broader sword. It looks kind of dumb. You can also peg them in opposite directions and make a pretty impressive-looking double-ended sword, which looks kind of awesome. In addition to his swords, Drift retains Skyhammer’s missile pods, which use 5mm pegs, so you can stick them pretty much anywhere.

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Overall

I was totally prepared to skip Helicopter Drift and be done with the Age of Extinction toyline, but seeing this figure in person made me want to give the Skyhammer mold a second chance. Maybe it’s my inner Watanabe fanboy, maybe it’s the fact that I only paid $15, or maybe I just have a thing for blue and gold, but I actually really like this toy. It’s not perfect, and it’s certainly not accurate, but it doesn’t try to be. This toy is completely unnecessary and entirely inoffensive. It’s a total bonus toy to anyone who think AOE Drift is cool, and in some ways makes for a much more appealing representation of the character than the more film-accurate Deluxe toy. I recommend this toy if you either really like the Skyhammer mold or just missed out on it, or if you really dig AOE Drift. I fall into the latter category, and I am very pleased with my purchase (the discount didn’t hurt, though). If you fall into neither of those categories, don’t be afraid to leave this one on the shelves.

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Where to Buy

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