Buried Treasure Review - Energon Tow-Line
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 6:43pm CDTCategories: Toy News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: Skowl Views: 74,067
The year 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the Transformers franchise. To celebrate this incredible milestone, Seibertron.com will look back at a quarter-century of great Transformers toys, bringing back into the limelight some brilliant figures that have fallen through the cracks over the years. Once a week, a fan (be it a member of the staff or a user on the site) will have the opportunity to write about one of their favourite "hidden gems" of the Transformers Universe, and have their review posted on the site's front page.
We hope this feature will be a great success, and that many of you will be encouraged to look back at the last 25 years of Transformers and perhaps take a worthwhile second-look at some real unsung classics of the Transformers universe.
Buried Treasure - Tow-Line (Energon series - 2004)
Before the notion of cyber keys was even imagined, and sometime after minicons had become accepted into the Transformers continuity, there existed a series called Transformers: Energon, or if you are a Japanese purist: Transformers Superlink. Now that the novelty of the “gotta catch ‘em all” minicons had worn off, Hasbro decided it needed some new gimmicks and after much debate it was announced: the Spark of Combination and Powerlinx.
For those who are new to the fandom, or re-emerging from their pit of solitude, Powerlinking is the term that means Autobots of the same size class may combine with eachother to form a myriad of upgraded Autobot warriors. One Autobot decided to take that idea one step further, and that is Energon Tow-Line.
Even in package, Tow-Line is an unassuming character. While the rest of his size class were race cars, fire trucks, and futuristic trucks, Tow-Line putters along as a harmless, block-like communications vehicle; much like the FBI has parked two blocks away from your house listening to your phone calls, more on the alt-mode later however.
Tow-Line was released precisely in the middle of the Energon packaging change, so it was not uncommon to find him either in the black with the yellow grid background style of the original packaging, or in the red with lightning bolts design that was the Powerlinx Battles style. With the original style of packaging, you could see the full artist-rendered version of Tow-Line’s battle mode charging forward as if daring you to pick up the packaging and never let go. With the Powerlinx Battles style, they enlarged the same art piece, but cut off the lower half, so you could only see half his gun, and everything below the torso is up for imagination. As a matter of personal choice, I always preferred the black packaging as it made both the artwork and the figure stand out better.
I’ve never been a fan of keeping figures in packages, so within seconds of acquiring Tow-Line, he was free of his prison. His van mode is still unassuming and possibly even more brick-link than it looked in the box. His windows are the same dark transparent red as his scanner/gun and it is a nice contrast to the two tones of blue that make up this figure. A rich royal blue takes control of his sides, rear and grill in this mode, with a teal-coloured roof. The front of the van is all white, and is a shade of white that makes Universe Ratchet very jealous. The only things that distract from this mold is the protruding circle that is meant for an omnicon’s Energon star, and on his rear side panels there is a hole on either side. I would suppose that it’s for holding his scanner/gun, but there’s a nicer place on the roof to hold that. Oh well, it’s easy to overlook them because Hasbro did a nice job of encorperating them into the paint scheme.
Enough babbling about the vehicle mode and let’s take a look at the robot mode. Remember when I said that Tow-Line took the idea of Powerlinking one step further? Yes folks; he Powerlinks with himself. You fold the rear side panels down and with a little tug that requires more strength than the average 7 year old can muster, the cab and roof section separate from the bottom chassis. Tow-Line is the first figure since G1 Ironhide and Ratchet to do something like this, and there was so much clamour for an updated Ironhide and Ratchet that FunPub did just that. Botcon Ratchet now goes for well over $400 on ebay, Ironhide. can fetch upwards of 150. Thanks FunPub.
Let’s focus on the top portion for now. Tow-Line is a fully-formed robot now with only half a vehicle. His doors fold up, his arms swing forward and twist out, his legs fold out, separate and then fold into his torso in a move that would make any contortionist cry. Finally in a move of German-precise engineering, the section above the cab slides up, forward and back all at the same time to reveal the head. At first glance, you may think that there isn’t any paint apps on his face other than the sheet of matte gold, however under the right light you can see his optics are a brighter shade of gold. It’s a shame that the helmet mold shadows them.
Tow-Line’s robot mode has 9 points of articulation, 11 if you want to throw his shoulders back. They are his shoulders, elbows, legs, knees, feet and finally his head, which can turn 90 degrees in each direction. If they could do it with this figure, why not Cybertron Downshift eh? Oh well. He can hold his scanner/gun single-handedly but it looks out of scale for him to be honest. Then again Energon/Superlink figures almost always had oversized weapons, so I guess it’s the norm.
Tow-Line’s scanner/gun is a large, mostly square thing which has a fold out arm with a little scanner attachment connected to its end with a ball and socket joint. A word of caution to those still wanting the figure: examine this part closely! I say this because the type of plastic used doesn’t seem to wear well and even as I examine it for this review, I fear it will further disintegrate into nothing, as it barely holds the scanner attachment and is all cracked and frayed. And I got mine MISB!
That said, this scanner/gun looks much better on Tow-Line’s lower half, which folds out into a mini gun emplacement, with holes for the scanner/gun to nestle into perfectly. There’s not much to say about this part, except that it’s wonderfully detailed and Tow-Line looks awesome standing beside it with his hand resting on the barrel.
Powerlinked with other deluxe figures, Tow-Line’s legs wrap up and around and his feet further fold out to reveal guns. He makes any figure look more intimidating this way, however due to his unique mold, Towline is unable to form the lower half of a Powerlinx Autobot, however if one wishes to attempt to make a Stephen Hawking Autobot, other deluxe fugures mayu Powerlink with his weapon emplacement. I’ve yet to see a combo that actually can make that look threatening.
Bottom line is that Tow-Line is an awesome figure. He’s the only deluxe figure to have a mini base, and not only that; he’s still a very poseable figure. Just be careful with his gun/scanner should it fall to pieces. It’s a real shame that there haven’t been more widely available repaints of him.
Visit the Energon Tow-Line gallery by clicking here
Visit the Botcon Exclusive Ratchet gallery by clicking here.
Visit the Botcon Exclusive Ironhide gallery by clicking here.
...Or find your own buried treasures by visiting all the toy galleries here!
* If you would like to write a review for our "Buried Treasures" feature, please send a private message to Skowl on the Seibertron.com forums!
Previous Buried Treasure Reviews:
Cannonball by Skowl
Snapdragon by Jeep
Cybertron Downshift by Chuckdawg1999
Frostbite by Duke of Luns
Octopunch by Jeep
Emergency Mini-Con Team by Nekoman
Cybertron Dirt Boss by Skowl
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Posted by ShGarland_1383 on April 22nd, 2009 @ 7:27pm CDT
Mkall wrote:It’s a real shame that there haven’t been more widely available repaints of him.
I agree. It's one of only 2 deluxe class Autobots from Energon that I didn't get at least 1 of, the other being Mirage. If I could buy the 2005 BotCon Loose Set from the TFCC - which I think you've gotta get the box to get - I'd actually think about buying it next month, even if I did have to call the club to do it. I point it out here because Tow-Line was remolded into Botcon Ratchet & Ironhide. (Ratchet was a loose figure given out at Boncon, going by the gallery, while Ironhide was part of the box.)
It really is a bummer this figure hasn't been used more than that, though. It's one of the few figures I didn't get where I kinda wish I had, and I'd take a repaint if it's done well.
Thanks for the review!
Posted by First Gen on April 22nd, 2009 @ 10:23pm CDT
The Botcon versions of Ratchet and Ironhide are superior to the recent Universe releases to boot, IMHO, which makes this figure even more of a must have.
If you were to only own a handful of Energon figures, as I do, this guy is definately one you want to have.
Posted by Mkall on April 23rd, 2009 @ 12:02am CDT
ShGarland_1383 wrote:Mkall wrote:It’s a real shame that there haven’t been more widely available repaints of him.
I point it out here because Tow-Line was remolded into Botcon Ratchet & Ironhide. (Ratchet was a loose figure given out at Boncon, going by the gallery, while Ironhide was part of the box.)
Thanks for the review!
Thanks, I used the phrase "widely available repaints" to mean store releases such as a TFU repaint or something that kids could pick up at a store.
Posted by ShGarland_1383 on April 23rd, 2009 @ 4:28am CDT
Mkall wrote:Thanks, I used the phrase "widely available repaints" to mean store releases such as a TFU repaint or something that kids could pick up at a store.
Thought as much. I wish this'd get a repaint too. Think I mentioned that I don't think I can just buy the loose set without also buying the boxed set, and even with the extra money I expect I'll get next month, that won't be such an easy thing to do. Not that the set wouldn't be worth getting, I'd just rather they find another way to use this mold...
Posted by Editor on April 23rd, 2009 @ 9:52am CDT
I fully admit when I first got him I thought he was crap. I didn't care for the teal and the lower unit just seemed like a waste, but he grew on me, and I have to say I am actualy quite glad that I do have him.
I don't know if anyone else has tried this but if you attach the gun to the base it can be converted into a oversized sheild. Not the best looking shield, but decent enough that I've posed him that way for quite a while.
Posted by Powersa on April 23rd, 2009 @ 9:54am CDT
Posted by SJ21 on April 23rd, 2009 @ 10:35am CDT
Powersa wrote:Great review. The toy is nice, the BotCon repaints are among the best.
Posted by Overcracker on April 23rd, 2009 @ 11:33am CDT
His a homage to G1 Skids. With the blue and the red and silver stripe.
Still I really do like him
About the weapon, I've no problems.
The square piece at the end is not very tight, but doesn't flop around either.
The Energon line had better weapons than his.
Posted by kirbenvost on April 23rd, 2009 @ 1:42pm CDT
Tow-Line is one of my favorites too, I just always liked the way he looked in both modes, and the base is pretty cool, even though it doesn't really combine with anything in a cool way. Still works as a nice gun emplacement, I always thought he looked really cool as some sort of artillery commander or something.
He makes a pretty good shirt mode too, I like the shoulder cannons quite a bit.
Lucky for me, all the gun parts are fairly tight on mine still.