email thomas









By Thomas Wheeler

Playmates has come out with a remarkable new action figure line called R.E.V.s, that I dearly wish was getting more attention than it is, because it certainly deserves to. R.E.V.s stands for Radically Engineered Vehicles, a bit of a misnomer, since although each toy does include a vehicle, the focal point of the line is a robot. These robots range in size anywhere from 4", to 5-1/2", to 7", all the way up to the two leaders, who based on observation look to be close to 12" in height. And yet, they're all essentially to scale with each other. How any of them would compare to a human being is really anyone's guess, since the vehicles they come with ARE different scales, and there are no human figures in the line.

One of the figures at the smaller end of things is named RIPROAR. I'll admit, one of my favorite colors is green, so Riproar sort of caught my eye, because he is VERY green. His body is mostly dark green, but the more eye-catching areas are a very intense bright green, a color not found on any other R.E.V.s to date, and include his head, lower arms, and knees.

Riproar is one of the MavWrecks. These robots are the good guys in the concept, fighting the evil Syndicate. The main feature of the R.E.V.s line is that each robot comes with a vehicle, which can either operate on its own -- just as the robot can -- or be combined with the robot to either create a more powerful vehicle, or as additional protective armor for the robot.

Riproar comes with a motorcycle, really a dirt bike, and it is predominantly bright green. It's interesting how effectively this figure manages to combine with the dirt bike, keeping it in the dirt bike mode. It's almost hard to discern the robot, which is sort of cool, really.

The set also comes with a spring-loaded, missile-firing launcher, which the robot can either use, or it can be attached to the front of the dirt bike.

These characters do have file cards outlining their personalities on the side of the package, and Riproar's reads as follows:


Loud and Proud All-Terrain Soldier

A dirtbike that likes to get his hands dirty, Riproar is one loud R.E.V. with a knack for all-terrain vehicles. Specialized for impossible to reach battlefield recon missions, this jumpin' two-wheeled terror lands rought and plays tough all in the name of the MavWreck REVolution... now if only sitting still was as easy for him!

Now let's consider RUMBLEFIST: Rumblefist is also part of the "Roaring Thunder" category. Rumblefist is one of the bad guys, part of the Syndicate.

The design of these robots is quite cool, sort of a "Bionicle meets Battle Droids" design, as much as anything. The articulation is excellent, with poseability at the head, arms, elbows, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. Due to the rather slender design of these figures, the range of motion at each articulation point is considerable.

Rumblefist's head design is sort of oblong, with a bright green Y-shaped visor for a "face". I don't know why, but this design reminds me of something -- I'm just not sure what. It doesn't really strike me as looking enough like a G.I. Joe Battle Android Trooper, or a Clone Trooper, or any Gundam Mobile Suits, or even a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. But I keep thinking I've seen SOME robotic design SOMEwhere that used a "face" similar to this one. I just can't quite place it.

Rumblefist is a very pale greyish blue in color, with a silver Syndicate insignia on his chest, and dark blue trim around his "collar, wrists, and knees.

Since R.E.V.s technically stands for "Radically Engineered Vehicles", of course each of these robots comes with a vehicle, that can operate on its own, or be combined with the robot. Rumblefist comes with a dark blue dirt bike with bright green wheels. Surprisingly versatile, this bike can be used either as armor on the robot, or combined with the robot to create an even more powerful dirt bike. This configuration is really quite impressive, actually.

The figure also comes with a spring-loaded, missile-firing cannon, which the figure can either hold, or it can be attached to the bike.

One nice touch Playmates has thrown in is to include character profiles in the form of file cards on the package. Here's the one for Rumblefist:


Throttle-heavy Bomb Expert

Rumblefist says it all. Whether he's maxing out his throttle or building bombs on the battlefield, this mud-driver loves to make a mess of things. Armed with a highly unstable magma missile and a keen sense of explosives, Rumblefist has become a fine protege to his firebug friend, Infernix!

Infernix is one of the characters in the next size up of R.E.V.s, and I'm sure I'll be reviewing him at some point in the future.

One additional matter. Following the annual Toy Fair in February, I tried to track down some information about what the future of R.E.V.s might be. Unfortunately, it turned out that Playmates apparently didn't bother to show up, preferring to attend another Toy Fair that takes place in October. Granted, Playmates really only has two major products to push in the action figure world these days -- Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles, and these new R.E.V.s.

It took some doing, and some help from some friends, but I was eventually able to be directed to a photo gallery that showed some of the R.E.V.s products that Playmates showcased at that particular Toy Fair. While I'm still trying to match it all up, I can say with some confidence that there's quite a few more products in the works than the fourteen that are presently advertised on the back of most of the packages.

My only caveat to that is that I know for a fact that several of the toys underwent a certain amount of color change between the prototypes that were shown at this Toy Fair, and the final product that reached the shelves. For example, a robot named Crux was shown to be equal parts of black and yellow, and is even shown that way on the package, but the toy itself is predominently orange.

However, color alterations cannot explain ALL of the pictures I saw. There are some new head designs, for example. And, fortunately, some really radical color schemes. If I have one complaint about the existing line of R.E.V.s, it's that none of the robots really possess truly eye-catching color schemes. And this is a line that could really use it.

One further note of observation. I am about 90% convinced that, for whatever reason, these smallest R.E.V.s are a Wal-Mart exclusive. I have discussed this on a couple of message boards, and I have had one individual tell me that they saw them at Target, but I remain uncertain myself, and I certainly haven't seen these smallest R.E.V.s anywhere except Wal-Mart. What makes me think even more that they might be exclusives are some indications on the packaging. Cases in point:

(1) - Although the "Roaring Thunder" series is pictured on the "Roaring Thunder" assortment, of course, it is NOT pictured on the packaging for any of the OTHER size assortments, which of course are available everywhere.

(2) - Similarly, the Roaring Thunder size assortment is not pictured at all in the product catalog that is included with the toys.

(3) - On one of the boxed items, which offers a more extensive origin story than some of the smaller carded items, including these 4" R.E.V.s and the 5-1/2" versions, the origin reads, in part, "...One rogue engineer, Dr. Tucker, programmed 5 units as honorable MavWrecks..." Excuse me, five? There are, including the Rolling Thunder assortment, a total of fourteen R.E.V.s, evenly divided into SEVEN on each side of the conflict, MavWrecks vs. Syndicate. This line effectively disregards the Rolling Thunder size assortment.

Taking this evidence and drawing the logical conclusion, which admittedly I do not have confirmed at this time, but assuming that this assortment IS a Wal-Mart exclusive, one sort of wonders how and why this happened. I find it difficult to believe that Wal-Mart would demand that an entire size range would be CREATED especially for them. The costs alone would be too much, especially for a brand-new and completely untested toy line. I don't see it as being logical that Toys "R" Us, Target, and whomever else is carrying R.E.V.s in their toy section would intentionally turn down an entire assortment, especially the smallest and least expensive one. If anything, they'd probably be MORE interested in it. I suspect that what may have happened here, assuming my conclusion is correct, is that Wal-Mart got in early and told Playmates that they wanted an exclusive deal on the smallest R.E.V.s, seeing the greatest profit in them, more than likely, and Playmates agreed.

This worries me from only one standpoint -- the next stage up in the R.E.V.s line tend to retail for around $10.00 in most stores. That's a fair chunk of money for an "entry-level" toy in a brand new toy line that -- unfortunately -- doesn't have much backing it as far as media is concerned. This as opposed to the under $7.00 price tag that the Rolling Thunder assortment is carrying at Wal-Mart. Now, granted, Wal-Mart is just about everywhere, so it's not as though this particular assortment is going to be hard to come by. But I do consider it unusual from several standpoints.

Whatever the case, though, these R.E.V.s, including RIPROAR and RUMBLEFIST, are very cool toys, and they all have my enthusiastic recommendation!