Despite having 63 previous homage figures, Prowl was an obvious choice for a new figure in the Universe line. Mainly because there are two recolours available straight off the bat even before they resort to generics, animation errors, homages of the messed-up Mexican releases, retooling the figure as some random Micromaster and so on. So, here he is.

I'd like at this point to offer a personal apology to Notabot, my intrepid figure-finder. It's not your fault, mate, I asked for this thing =)

Prowl is modelled on a contemporary Nissan 350Z, a successor to his original form that may or may not be actually used by the Japanese police. I was going to check, but watching Dee D. Jackson videos on YouTube sort of took over. The original colour scheme has been transferred over to the toy as well.

Sadly, the thing is a dog. The 350Z probably isn't a bad car for one of those modern generic squirts of toothpaste that designers are so fond of, but this isn't a good rendering at all. My too-bright picture eradicates the join lines, but let me assure you on the toy itself they're horrific - thick black lines along the bonnet, down the rear end, across the back of the roof... Hideous stuff. Solid black plastic wheels? Even Zybots rarely did that... As for the decision to make the wings and doors entirely from painted transparent plastic (and then frost the windows to the extent that they might as well be coloured, totally undermining the point) - a company with a better record for colour matching would have struggled, but Hasbro haven't got a prayer.

Prowl's transformation isn't so much difficult as just irritating - the wing and door sections of the car mode tend to pop off, while everything around the front end is a little fiddly. The resulting robot is a resounding failure. While the basic layout is sound, there are just too many problems with it. Unless seen from profile, Prowl is anorexic, with even the iconic chest seeming undersized. The rest of the torso is full of gaping holes too. There is plenty of articulation, but the badly-cast head is stuck in a single position, meaning the figure's genuine poseability is halved... The head is too small and suffers from a ridiculous black wedge of plastic as a neck. The arms are restricted by the doors behind them, while the waist joint can only be deployed if the car roof is moved up his back - and if it is, it just flops around.

Plus points are limited to some well-designed legs, complete with independent feet, and a doomed attempt to recreate the toy's shoulder-mounted missile launchers.

Prowl just fails in too many key areas to really be enjoyable. Considering the original Sunstreaker was used only as a vague starting point for the Universe figure, you have to wonder why Prowl's design was compromised so massively just to follow the layout of the original figure. This one looks like the wrong starting point was used but the process reached the point of no return. It's a shame, as Prowl deserved an ultimate figure of the quality received by the likes of Starscream, Bumblebee, Sunstreaker et al., and now both he and his 'brothers' Bluestreak and Smokescreen are lumbered with this eyesore...