Review: Transformers The Last Knight Deluxe Barricade

Well folks, I’ve finally clawed my way out of the nightmarish gauntlet that was my most recent semester in college, and I’m just in time to (in a fashionably late manner) review some of the hot new toys from what will undoubtedly be this summer’s worst most profitable blockbuster film, Transformers: The Last Knight. What we’ve seen of the film so far has left me very conflicted. On one hand, it looks like a complete and utter mess, but on the other, it looks like the new writing team is actually trying to make connections with the larger Transformers mythology and previous films. Case in point: the reappearance of Barricade, one of the 2007 film’s original characters who has since become something of a fan-favorite. Unlike his cameo (if you can call it that) in Dark of the Moon, Barricade has been explicitly featured in the film’s advertising, to the point of being in the first wave of TLK’s “Premier Edition” deluxes. 

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Vehicle Mode

Barricade’s main appeal in 2007 (and arguably the entirety of his character) was centered around the idea of a police car actually being a Decepticon. It was a pretty cool idea at the time, though recent societal events have sort of softened the novelty of police officers being bad guys. Regardless, the concept still works, and the general gist of Barricade’s look is the same: he’s a police Mustang (albeit an updated and more genericized version) with an aggressive-looking brushguard and the iconic “To punish and enslave” motto printed on the rear sides. The main difference outside of the updated car model is the fact that he’s now predominately blue rather than black, but he’s still very recognizable as Barricade. On the down side, presumably to avoid having to get the license, the toy vehicle is missing some details from the actual car, mainly the goofy-huge spoiler and ridges on the back window. 

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Being a mainline Transformers figure in the year 2017, Barricade is pretty sparse on vehicle mode paint apps. He gets off better than some (like his wavemate Bumblebee), but a little more detail (particularly more white on his roof) would go a long way. But hey, at least the motto’s printed nice and neat. You can also store his gauntlet weapon thing on the top of his vehicle mode, which works better than it should. He’s also got storage for his other accessories, but we’ll get back to that.

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Comparatively, TLK Barricade is actually quite a bit beefier than his previous figure from DOTM, but sadly has much less printed detail. I expect Reprolabels will come out with a nice set of stickers for him, but it really is a shame when this toy is coming out under the “Premier Edition” branding, and costs about $10 more than the DOTM figure. Still, at least in vehicle mode, Barricade makes for a satisfyingly-sized deluxe car.

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Robot Mode

Barricade sports an entirely new robot mode look for his 2017 comeback, trading in the messy, alien “made of knives” design theme from the first film’s Decepticons for the sleeker, more traditionally humanoid look of most of the post-AOE Cybertronians. At a glance, he looks like a completely different character, but some details have carried over, namely his bumper chest, shoulder wheels, foot spikes (sort of), and four eyes. There are just enough similarities to make me really like this new design, and if nothing else it translates far better to plastic than the original. He’s got solid, stocky proportions, decent color layout considering the minimal paint (though the beige plastic is a major bummer), and with the exception of most of the car hanging off his back, it’s a really clean robot mode.

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Barricade’s articulation is best described as passable: ball-jointed neck and hips, semi-limited universal hinged shoulders (the wheel panels can get in the way), wrist, thigh, and bicep swivels, and single-jointed elbows and knees. He technically has ankle hinges, particularly a separate hinge for the vehicle mode fender parts that sort of allows them to be adjusted for better stability, but the hinges are so weak that they’re barely functional. The enormous car top on his back doesn’t really get in the way of posing, but it always make him look a little awkward (and turtle shell-ish). 

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Where Barricade really excels is his accessory loadout, with three different weapons that have storage areas in both modes. His primary tools are his sidearm and baton, both of which can peg into rectangular slots his thighs, and can actually remain there in vehicle mode, which is a great touch. The baton can be held stick-style or tonfa-style, and actually manages to look like an intimidating weapon. The pistol is neat, though the grey plastic means it kind of meshes with his hand and looks a bit less impressive.

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His third weapon is the weird circular gun-thing from vehicle mode, which pegs into the bottom of either arm and wraps around to form a sick-looking gauntlet gun-thing. It sort of reminds me of the weird light claw things that popped out of his headlights in the 2007 movie, but I don’t think the resemblance is intentional. I also want to point out that he has “PROTECT” and “SERVE” molded into his knuckle-dusters, inverted, so it imprints on anyone he punches. This is the best thing ever, and instantly made this one of my favorite movie designs when it was revealed.

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I also want to demonstrate the popular fanmode of using the backpack as a riot shield, which… sort of works, but I’d advise caution. Popping the backpack off its friction hinge puts a lot of stress on the clear plastic clips that hold it on. I don’t think there have been any reports of breakage yet, but given the fragility of clear plastic I’m sure it’s inevitable. Once it’s removed, there’s no surefire solid way that Barricade can hold it, but if you wedge the baton into the sculpting of the roof, it kind of looks okay. This would have been a brilliant feature had it been intentionally engineered, but as it is it’s a little too unstable (and potentially dangerous) to recommend doing without proper modification.

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Putting the two Barricades side by side really demonstrates how both the movie designs have changed, and how the engineering choices have evolved over the years. While DOTM went for complexity for an accurate robot mode (though not to the extent of ROTF), AOE and TLK have moved towards simple but efficient conversions, and the CGI models seem to cater towards this. TLK Barricade is quite a bit beefier and more stable, while DOTM Barricade is about five times more complex. I like both of these toys for what they are, but it’s very clear that movie toys aren’t what they used to be.

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Overall

Premier Edition Barricade is a solid, if not terribly impressive, Transformers figure. He’s definitely one of the more interesting robot designs from the past two films, and the character concept is still one of the better ideas introduced in the original movie. The real problem with this figure is the cost. $20 is the standard US retail for movie deluxes (and probably Generations deluxes soon enough), which is a steep price for this toy. Barricade is good, but he’s not good enough to justify the price. This, unfortunately, is going to be a trend for The Last Knight’s toyline, at least for the three that I own. Pick him up if you really want him, but I’d recommend waiting for a sale.

Where to Buy

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