Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transformers Feature: Animated Bulkhead

Not every character that appears in Transformers: Animated is a Generation One homage.  In fact, there are a few characters in Animated that are entirely new to the Transformers canon.  Bulkhead is one of these.*

Actually, all things considered, it's probably a surprise that Bulkhead's character-type hasn't been seen more often.  One could safely sum Bulkhead up as "big, strong, not especially bright, but a well-meaning gentle spirit."  It's an archetype that's certainly been seen in various forms, especially in sitcoms, for years.  Animated certainly used Bulkhead to great comedic effect, causing destruction that might have even given Michael Bay pause if the show had been done in live-action, yet somehow always with the understanding that Bulkhead is unquestionably one of the good guys.

I actually have two Bulkhead toys, which is a bit unusual (and not something I expect to remain true for forever, depending on what kind of prices I can ultimately get for the smaller one on eBay), but I'll briefly note both here.  The "smaller" one isn't actually all that small, being at the roughly-$20 "Voyager" price point (although because most of the mass of the toy's goes to making it look... bulky, the Voyager does remain shorter than many $10-ish Deluxes!), while the larger one is a $40-ish "Leader" figure (I didn't pay that price, but got the "Leader" figure on a fairly significant discount, as is usually the case for such large figures if I get them at all).  In pictures that show both figures, the Voyager version will be on the left while the Leader version will be on the right.

Oddly enough, the Voyager figure is arguably closer to Bulkhead's animation model than the Leader figure, which is a bit unusual for characters having more than one size of toy, since the larger toy can almost always incorporate greater detail.  While this much remains true of the two Bulkhead toys, one of the main "issues" with the Leader figure is the amount of weaponry it includes, most of which never appears in the cartoon at all.  One rather surprising cartoon-accurate feature that only the Leader figure has, however, is that it is possible to recreate a scene in which Bulkhead transforms the kibble that usually hangs above his back into an actual chair that he then proceeds to sit on!  Here is Leader Bulkhead in this configuration.

The Leader version of Bulkhead also comes with a "Headmaster" accessory, based on a human character that showed up a few times on the cartoon.  Whereas the Headmaster in the cartoon (an obvious homage to the Generation One Headmasters) would replace the original head with the Headmaster's own mechanical "head" in order to control the larger robot's body, this toy is basically just a helmet that can fit over the head of the figure, which then activates a different voice for the Headmaster character, as well as changes the colors of the lights from yellow to red.  Actually, all Animated "Leader"-sized figures were made with tabs that lock this helmet accessory into place (although only Bulkhead has the alternate voice and lights included). It's a nifty little extra, perhaps not worth buying on its own, but worth knowing about.
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*I fully expect some know-it-all to try to tell me that there was another character named Bulkhead before the Animated version, so I'll point out right here that, yes, that's true.  However, that character is pretty much nothing like this one.  They just share a name.

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