Review: MakeToys Trash-Talk and Cogwheel

It may be oversaid at this point, but James Roberts’s More Than Meets the Eye ongoing comic book is some of the best fiction Transformers has ever gotten. If you’re unfamiliar with it, do yourself a favor and check it out. One of the downsides of adult-oriented fiction for a children’s toyline by Hasbro is that the fiction will rarely get much toy support, and MTMTE suffered from this… f0r a while. For the first two years of its run, fans had to accept that there was little chance of comic-accurate toys, until 2014 rolled around and gave us hits like Whirl, Skids, Brainstorm, and several others. Before Hasbro started catering to MTMTE fans in the Generations line, however, it was up to third party companies to provide comic-accurate figures, and MakeToys answered the call with Trash-Talk and Cogwheel, serving as unofficial IDW Swerve and Gears. Both of these characters have received official Hasbro toys in their IDW designs at this point, but do the unofficial versions still hold up?

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Vehicle Mode

Trash-Talk and Cogwheel are more or less the same toy, but with some remolded features. As such, they both assume more or less identical altmodes, turning into a Cybertronian jeep-truck-car-thing. It’s worth noting that while Trash-Talk is based directly off of Swerve’s Nick Roche design from MTMTE, Cogwheel has a lot more artistic liberty taken for the figure, as Gears has only shown up in robot mode a couple of times in the comic. So while Trash-Talk’s altmode is very comic-accurate, Cogwheel’s doesn’t really have anything to be accurate to. That said, I actually prefer Cogwheel to TT in this mode due to the different cab area. They both roll well and have slots for weapon storage, and Trash-Talk can even mount his serving tray on his roof, which is a great touch. Both vehicles have their own additional features: TT’s cockpit can swing up to reveal a ball-jointed sensor optic thing, and Cogwheel’s hood swings up to reveal additional headlights. Uh… cool!

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Transformation

MakeToys is one of my favorite third party companies, mostly for their design aesthetic but also for their intuitive transformation engineering. TT and Cogwheel have relatively simple conversions that are compounded by some very subtle yet effective engineering choices, such as the sections of the truck cab folding up to fill out the torso. It makes for a simple and really fun transformation.

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Robot Mode

Starting with the resident goofball bartender, Trash-Talk is a nearly perfect representation of Swerve from the comic. I say nearly only because of the headsculpt, which I do have a bit of a problem with. On one hand, it’s plastered with a characterful grin, boasts some surprisingly light-catching clear blue plastic for his visor, and generally looks like Swerve. On the other hand, the lines aren’t quite right and the sculpt is very different than the styles of Roche or Milne. Swerve’s head is a bit more rounded with the “helmet” part covering his cheeks, and I really do think a painted visor would have worked better.

IMG_0873Despite the inaccuracies on the head, it’s certainly not a bad sculpt, and the rest of Trash-Talk is very spot-on to the lineart of the comics, with a few exceptions for the sake of being a physical toy. Comparing him to the Hasbro Generations toy really isn’t fair, as the Hasbro version is a fraction of the price and made for mass retail. Obviously Trash-Talk is more complex, more articulate, and more accurate, but Hasbro Swerve is still a pretty great figure, and he does have a more accurate headsculpt. Both are great in their own ways, really.

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Cogwheel gets a resculpted chest and head, and benefits from not really having to look like any preexisting version of Gears. He comes with two different heads: one with a normal face and bland expression (which I actually can’t find), and a much more interesting faceplate head representing Gears’s G1 toy. I much prefer the faceplate head, as it differentiates him even further from Trash-Talk and makes him look more like a soldier than a regular dude like TT.

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Since these are pretty much the same toy, they share identical articulation: ball-jointed neck, shoulders (with additional outward swivel), wrists, waist, hips, and ankles; faux-ratchet elbows and knees; and bicep and thigh swivels. Due to the design, the heads are near-impossible to pose, but thankfully MakeToys designed a way for the entire head, chest, and arms assembly to simply slide out. It’s a smart solution that maintains the look of the altmode and reduces the parts count necessary for an additional joint, and works great.

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The two-pack comes with a fairly expansive pack of accessories. Starting off, Trash-Talk gets his serving tray complete with a pitcher and two small drinks. This is, of course, the best accessory and might be my favorite part about the figure. The only downside is that the pitcher and cups both use very small pegs that are perfect for TT’s small hands, but are much smaller than the standard 5mm fistholes. It makes sense considering the size of the figure, and fortunately the cups can still rest in the fistholes of normal figures with ease.

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Both figures each get a gun, although it’s not really specified which gun is meant to go to whom. The first one is a bit stubby with a large circle portion, and I think it’s supposed to resemble the rivet gun that Swerve and Rewind utilized in issue #6, particularly when the former blew off someone’s head on accident. It’s not exactly accurate in shape and certainly not in color (it should be yellow), but it makes for a fine firearm. The second gun is sleeker and longer and is meant to represent the Shoomer, a gun named so by Whirl that was given to Swerve in issue #12… which he used to accidentally shoot his face off. To complete the package, Swerve comes with an alternate head representing his skull-like blown off face, which is just as disturbing as you think it is. (Sadly, I can’t find it, either.)

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M.F.B.

The final accessory is actually sold separately from the two main figures, likely added very late in production due to the timing of the comic release. In issue #17 Swerve’s now-signature firearm debuted: My First Blaster™, here represented perfectly, right down to the tagline of “Big grip for little hands” and the cartoony Brainstorm logo. This is absolutely brilliant, and really completes the Trash-Talk package even though it is sold separately. It’s also worth noting that the Blaster is not preassembled: it comes as multicolored plastic parts on a sprue that you have to clip out and assemble yourself. It’s not Gunpla-levels of assembly, but it does add a neat buildable aspect to the weapon, and there’s no paint required.

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Overall

Trash-Talk and Cogwheel were the first of MakeToy’s Manga Mech Series, and also the first third party figures to be directly based off of MTMTE designs. Sadly, they’re still the only ones currently on the market. However, not only is MakeToys continuing the Manga Mech Series with an amazing looking Tailgate, but MasterMind Creations is working on a full line of figures for the Decepticon Justice Division. Roberts fans rejoice! Even if you’re not a MTMTE fan, Cogwheel and Trash-Talk are two incredible little transforming robot figures. If you don’t have the connection with Swerve as a character, see if you can make a deal with a comic fan to just get a hold of Cogwheel, who I think looks pretty badass on his own. Considering the quality and accessories of these guys, $60 is a very fair price to pay for the complete package.

Where to Buy

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