Transformers Camshaft
Transformers Camshaft
Transformers Camshaft
Transformers Camshaft

Poor, poor Hound. In the first episode of Transformers he was shaping up to be a real star, getting to drive around with Spike in him and, with help from fellow early front-runner Trailbreaker, dispensing patronising, evasive answers to his questions. And then Laserbeak blew him up. Hound tried to soldier on but a solid thumping from Rumble at Sherman Dam shook his confidence, and like Karl Wendlinger after that Monaco shunt he was never the same again. Hound was relegated to the ranks of the faceless in generic "Great idea, Prime" scenes along with Bluestreak, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe and all the other Autobots who were there all right, you just can't really remember them doing anything. In fact, casual fans most commonly spot Hound doing nothing whatsoever in Transformers the Movie where he looks on as his commander goes into battle totally outnumbered.

Ever since, he's been something of a forgotten 'Bot - his original toy (based on a Diaclone Car Robot figure) was discontinued relatively early, and he never really made much impact in the comics (his highlights reel consisting of being thrown through a tree by Cyclonus; coming up to Ultra Magnus' knee; being bailed out by Blades; getting to do the infodump when Furman ran out of plots and reused the one from "Distant Thunder"). Like most of the original Autobots he retained something of a following, but life mirrored fiction and he seemed content to fade into the background. A mooted G2 figure never came out - seeing as this was an Autoroller named Sergeant Hound, this is probably a good thing. However, in 2004 the original figure was reissued in Takara's Transformers Collection series, and the character was also the obvious choice for the licensed Jeep Wrangler figure in the Binaltech series. A few more quiet years followed before the 2008 Universe series saw a small Legends figure (heavily modelled on the original) and a larger Deluxe toy (faithful robot mode, military dune buggy vehicle form).


Hound's alternate mode is one of the real triumphs of the Car Robot series. While the design is straightforward - it's a standard Army jeep and it's done to the hilt. The open roof means there's none of this 'hide everything inside' stuff. The only real concessions to the robot mode are the outline of the top of the head in the middle of the bonnet (I was cursed with an example that seems to have bypassed quality control and the head really rattles around - it's less pronounced on my original one, and it sounds like I was just unlucky), the chrome thighs and a couple of minor gaps between the seats and the dashboard, and a couple of fairly minor join lines. The large scale allows for some lovely details like the wing mirrors, (non-working) winch on the grille and a decent pair of seats.

The mode is really nicely done and Takara have done a respectable if not perfect job of matching the sticker backgrounds to the plastic. A word of warning - following the sticker map to the letter will result in a very cluttered bonnet section. What I've done is left off the Autobot symbol on top of the head (which serves no purpose in robot mode and in jeep mode only a; makes the bonnet look cramped and b; blows the whole 'robots in disguise' thing) and also removed the rubsign, which was in the front right corner of the bonnet. I've always found rubsigns to be tacky and now they're not fighting off a slew of imitators it'd be nice if manufacturers could leave them off the reissues or at least make them an optional part of the sticker sheet. The Diaclone figures weren't designed to carry them and so placement tends to be muddled. It looks much better without. One other thing I really like about the jeep mode is there's actually a minor action feature - the machine gun can swivel and elevate. It's not exactly Fun City but it is a nice little extra. One quibble I do have is the gas can and spare tyre parts - they're nice touches from a detail point of view but hardly essential, and the parts have to be removed from the robot mode, meaning they're easy to lose.


Hound also has a very neat transformation. The rough layout of the robot is broadly similar to Takara's Fairlady-Z mould, but getting there is quite different. I especially like the way the wheels swing backwards behind the arms, the folding seats that lock the feet in place and the very cool way moving the chest into place pushes the head through into position. The arms can be a little fiddly at first, but you can soon get the hang of it.

The robot mode is tiny, just 4.5" tall - not really a problem, but you have to wonder how the Hell they got away with selling him in the same assortment as, say, Grapple or Sunstreaker. On paper, Hound has big problems - tiny little arms that barely reach past his chest, and massive feet. However, he's so beautifully made and charming that he transcends these limitations. The robot doesn't photograph too well, but in your hand the chest doesn't seem half as cluttered, and the layout is a lot clearer. Articulation is practically non-existent - even by Car Robot standards there's not much, just very limited arm movement. The colours and the design gel perfectly, though - add in a fantastic head cast and some neat weaponry (I love the way the launcher clips into the back of the shoulder, though it would have been nice if the handgun was somehow adapted from the jeep machine gun rather than a separate part), and it's a beautiful display piece. He's also very well-built compared to most of his contemporaries, with no obvious weak points.


If you're looking at getting an original Autobot car, you already know the main drawbacks - no real play value, mixed proportions, and a slight over-reliance on accessories (especially in this case - Hound tooled up is much more impressive). However, with these qualifiers acknowledged, this is a stunning little toy. Again, like most Autobot cars, getting a minty fresh reissue is the way to go, just because the stickers and chrome have so much more impact this way. Hound isn't cheap for the range in any form, being towards the top end of the price range in any given condition. Buying piecemeal really doesn't work out either, the gas can being especially expensive if you're going for completing a figure. However, if you're after buying a Transformer full of retro charm rather than something that's going to be in the same ballpark as a Universe figure, this one won't disappoint.