For his formative years, Prowl was just another Autobot along the lines of many of his contemporaries, fitting the full first series pattern - his toy quickly became holy grail due to being stupidly brittle and also being discontinued before most kids had caught up with the series; he had an awesome unique gun that ended up rendered as a laser rifle most of the time; and he had an intriguing tech spec profile that was largely ignored by official media. But then in 1991-ish, Simon Furman made him the anti-Grimlock. On paper, his characterisation was sound as he spoke near-constant common sense - however, Grimlock is a fanboy favourite, and morons have long sided with him because he's a Dinobot, even if he managed to get nearly the entire Autobot army killed in about ten minutes flat (to the extent where God had to get involved and sling Optimus Prime back into the mix just to save the Autobots from Grimlock's breathtaking level of stupidity and incompetence). Sadly, Furman's recent move into recycling his old stuff without realising why people like it has seen Prowl cast as a dick because Grimlock is 'badass'.

Not sure why exactly this is relevant to a review of Prowl's toy, but to be honest you know what's going on here. This is Bluestreak as a police car.

Prowl stuck by the usual Takara principle of getting further use out of a mould - if in doubt, chuck some lights on a toy and make it into something from an emergency service even if it's an exotic sportscar or a mini van that wouldn't have space for a stretcher inside. Prowl is arguably the sanest of these - while the Fairlady-Z probably wasn't used as a police cruiser (Bandai's Police Robo is probably a more accurate, if less stylish, example), it doesn't look miles out of place (though this may be because we've had best part of 25 years to get used to it).

Realism aside, Prowl has a dynamite car mode. It's 4.6" long, and very realistic and detailed. Prowl is also a Hell of a looker. I love the Datsun 280Z, and it looks superb in the black and white police scheme. The stickers aren't overdone (well, they are, but in a good way), and the rubsign looks best in front of the windscreen (though personally I wouldn't have missed it had it been omitted entirely). It's one of my all-time favourite alt modes, topped off with opening doors and rubber tyres, rendered superbly. However, a stiff breeze could do for the roof and rear windows, and Prowl's to be handled with the best of care to avoid destroying him.

The transformation is nice, again one of my favourites. Moderately complex but never frustrating. One minor complaint is that the Takara Transformers Collection reissue example that I have seems rather stiff, and feels a little like it's being forced.

The robot mode is wonderful looking, the scheme working really well - remember when they used to think stuff through so a colour layout worked just as well on the robot mode as it did on the alternate form? Adding grey and chrome to the mix (beware - the Hasbro reissue replaces the chrome with flat black), plus a colourful sticker sheet, really keeps the look interesting, and the level of detail is really very good. I have left a couple of stickers off mine as the early stuff tended to go a little overboard on the printed circuits and the like, and the headlight ones look dreadful. Some of the ones I have used do have too much white bordering on them, however .

Prowl is something of a statue, with movement at four points on his arms but little else. However, as a display piece he excels. The missile launchers do work on the Takara version too, which is a nice touch, if somewhat irrelevant given the fact he's really more of a display piece than an actual action figure. I've had a knackered Prowl for a while, but neither this nor innumerable pictures really prepared me for how beautifully crisp a mint example would look in both modes.

Prowl has a great mould with two slick (if fragile and limited) modes and a nice transformation. He doesn't quite have the visual impact of Smokescreen, but this is more a point in Smokescreen's favour than a criticism of Prowl. The clarity of the design really deserves appreciation, and he makes a marvellous display piece.