It's dawning on me slowly that the Movie Human Alliance line of larger figures could actually be - across the board - a 100% run of successfully excellent figures. Bumblebee, Jazz, Sideswipe (good luck convincing me otherwise, flaws and all), Barricade and Skids from ROTF and Roadbuster from DOTM have all been excellent figures. They've each had shortcomings and difficulties, but on the whole none have left me cold or unwilling to praise them overall. The strongest is still Jazz, and the hardest to justify to others Sideswipe - and even then the latter has one of the most beautiful alt modes ever seen on a Transformer. With all sub-lines of such quality, the demand is high and collectors tend not to sell the toys often. Add to that short-packing or bad distribution of particular releases and you have astronomical aftermarket 2nd hand prices and a lot of incomplete HA collections. Mudflap is a fine example of this. This year I decided to finally plug those gaps, and finally Project Human Alliance Mudflap is complete.
Well, I say Project Mudflap, but I only actively started trying to add it to my collection for about 3 to 4 weeks before finding a UK collector who was willing to let a loose one go for £45 posted, and when you compare that to boxed and complete ones going for between $150 to $200 online both in America and Japan, well it seemed quite a good deal. Agent Simmons and the Chromia motorcycle are missing, but I was only interested in the main Mudflap figure to go with my newly acquired ROTF Skids and DOTM Skids. I haven't gone MIB crazy on this line because none of my store bought original Human Alliance figures have their packaging now anyway.
I was always worried that beyond Barricade, Bumblebee, Jazz and Sideswipe, the HA line tailed off quality-wise and that nothing would interest me. Then I got my hands on the DOTM Skids in the post linked above and realised that even that slightly hideous release was still an engineering masterpiece that exhibited all the best traits from the earlier HA figures. DOTM Human Alliance Roadbuster wasn't a repaint ROTF toy though, it was a DOTM HA and that really had me worried but that too ended up being fantastic. So, knowing how close Mudflap's moulding was to Skids - and after purchasing the original ROTF Skids and finding out it was even nicer than the DOTM repaint - Mudflap was surely just as good. It was quite possible that the lack of hype or praise for the figure centred squarely around its rarity and the fact that not everyone writes reviews or shares feedback on well-known websites. Also because he's hideous, but I like movie hideous. I had high hopes.
In vehicle mode Mudflap isn't the sportiest-looking of the twins, and actually looks quite sedate next to Skids - although sedate is the last word you would use to describe these to in Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. Mudflap's vehicle mode is a Chevy Trax in contrast to Skids's Chevy Beat base. Once you get over the fact that you're paying good money for representations of offensively irritating Transformers from the worst movie of the four, there's plenty to enjoy. And in actual fact, I find myself very keen to watch ROTF again, despite its flaws. These superb toys have actually put me in a position where I'd view the characters afresh and allow myself a degree of appreciation for the twins and ROTF.
I admit that I expected Mudflap to be the exact same mould as Skids, just housed in a different vehicle shell. However, even the transformations are not the same. For example, Mudflap's wheels have to be placed under his chest instead of out on his shoulders like Skids. The arms and shoulders transform slightly differently and instead of a missile launcher, Mudflap has a seriously cool grappling hook gimmick that can be reeled in again. His typical movie Human Alliance flaps and panels that can be raised, turned, rotated etc to give the full movie aesthetic appearance are a little different too. The headlights and adjoining sides of the hood fold out, and while this can obstruct the arms, I love that it contrasts with Skids.
If you thought Skids had a face only a mother could love, Mudflap is ten times worse. From a distance the head and face can be completely indiscernible from the rest of his body. He also has the push-head-move-mouth gimmick that Skids does, as well as the back-mounted minigun. But seriously, if you've bought into the movie aesthetic, and you like Skids, how can you not love that tremendously ugly face? It really adds to the horrific charm of these Human Alliance figures.
I also found that Mudflap doesn't stand quiiiite as comfortably or stably as Skids, but he's actually got a better fit in vehicle mode post-transformation. I have been able to compact and fit everything more comfortably on the Mudflap than the Skids...however that could have been fixed for the DOTM release of Skids as I've had no issues with the doors there. As a set, they're lovely, none of that foggy horrid looking grey Hasbro plastic that permeates through so many current figures. I am so thrilled to have been able to go down the Human Alliance route again and discover these figures and Roadbuster (Leadfoot is still sealed) as I had believed that after Jazz and Barricade, there was no reason to continue buying these HA figures. It remains a crime that we never received an HA Que, Dino, AoE Lockdown, Drift or Crosshairs. Another crime is that due to price and rarity, HA fans may not all get an opportunity to own Mudflap. Excluding repaints, the only HA I still need to get is Soundwave, and I know I will despite being completely unimpressed with photos. If Leadfoot ends up being as good as these figures above, and Soundwave is another success, Human Alliance for me will go down as one of the biggest successes in all of Transformers toy history in terms of quality, high-end engineering and design maintenance throughout a sub-line. That will be no mean feat.
All the bestMaz