Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jacked Up

[The Original Wheeljack: pick his favorite ice-bar flavor]
Written by GL

Everyone has their favorite Transformers character or characters. The cartoon proved that there were a lot more Autobots and Decepticons to look on in desire than purely Megatron and Optimus Prime. Personally, I have always been a fan of Generation One; the focus and ultimate beginning of our favorite convertible alien-robots. And partly, Generation One is my thing because I'm such a retro geek.

A couple of weeks ago I did an entry on the very awesome Perceptor. This morning however, I wish to share with you another one of my Generation One favorites (hope he's one of yours too): a fella named Wheeljack.

Wheeljack is better known as the mechanical scientist of the Autobots, based on that totally awesome toy line produced by Takara and Hasbro. His vehicle mode is a Lancia Stratos Turbo racing car - a car that I heard may have been limited to only 300 or so around the world.

[The Lancia Stratos: too cool for words]

Wheeljack is described as the mad scientist of the Autobot forces as he is always inventing new weapons and gadgets. These weapons and gadgets, while born from a desire to benefit the Autobot cause, often bring great danger and introduce unpredictable situations to the moment. Surprisingly enough, he is the most accomplished driver (while in car mode) among the Autobots. Wheeljack is one of the few Autobots who possesses the ability to fly for relatively short distances (800 miles) using solid-fuel rockets in his arms. From his shoulder mounted cannons, Wheeljack can shoot magnetic inducers, shrapnel-needles, and gyro-inhibitor shells which can disrupt his enemies' sense of balance.

Wheeljack was the very first Transformer ever shown in the Generation One cartoon series. Also, his is one of the few Cybertronian vehicle forms shown in the cartoon - a boxy vanlike vehicle.

His robot form from back in the day is very noticeable due to the large bulbs on either side of his head that light up when he speaks. In most episodes, he was seldom seen at the front lines in battle - but he was often important to the plot.

Wheeljack was the primary architect of the Dinobots, although they rarely seemed to have any particular affinity for him. Along with Ratchet he also helped to create the Aerialbots out of old Cybertronian shuttles. As the series progressed, Wheeljack's responsibilities were increasingly taken on by the Autobot scientist Perceptor.

In The Transformers: The Movie, set in the year 2005, Wheeljack was assigned to Autobot City on Earth. Wheeljack was in fact killed in the invasion of Autobot City by Megatron’s forces, and his possibly deceased body can be seen dragged to cover by Arcee.

[Windcharger & Wheeljack: this scene still makes me cry]

Funnily enough, that's where the story of Wheeljack reaches a stop. However, the character is noticed in various places in the 80s, especially in television commercials. And yet, here at Classic Articulation, we strive to remember the figures that helped to bring out favorite characters to life.

Takara and Hasbro released Wheeljack in the very first wave of Transformer toys, almost in unison with the Generation One cartoon series. The toy that was the Autobot Wheeljack was originally released as part of the Japanese Diaclone series by Takara. He was later released in 1984 by Hasbro in the U.S.

Wheeljack was released with left and ring detachable wings and two shoulder mounted missile launchers - these were for aesthetic purposes and made the action figure all the more cooler.

According to a panel discussion at BotCon 2005, the original Wheeljack mold is 'no longer available, and is most likely destroyed, limiting the likelihood of a future reissue of the toy. This fact probably shoots up the classic-ness of the figure.

[Original Form: boxy and true]

That's a real shame. Wheeljack was one of the more stand out characters of the Generation One era; not only in the show but in design as well. He's one of those characters that I hope fans will never forget.

[Car Mode: amazing]