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Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Decepticon
Categories: Ultra Pretender
Year: 1989

To show fear is to admit defeat.
The malevolent master of mayhem. Crushes everything in his path with his studded, iron-steel wheels. The front runner for the Decepticon army and locomotive of destruction. Armed with corrosive rust bombs that eat away enemy armor. Also equipped with high-intensity heat generators in exterior that provide thermal force field. Infra-red tracking and navigation systems and large scale fuel capacity ideal for remote controlled reconnaissance missions. Also armed with two proton shatter-cannons and hydraulic battle ram equipped with acetylene cutters. Outer shell transforms to subsonic windcruiser armed with two plasma blasters.

Prelude: I originally reviewed this guy, along with fellow Ultra Pretender Skyhammer, nearly a decade ago and haven’t really thought about them much since. Recently I took them back out of the box because I was updating old picture galleries and as I put them through their paces, I found that I no longer agreed with that old review (you can still read it here if you want), so I’m doing a new one.

Vehicle Shell: Like an onion (or an Ogre) Roadblock has layers. The outermost layer is his vehicle shell, a pretty big green and white assault vehicle bristling with guns and with a huge shovel / ram up front. Sure, it’s a shell, meaning it’s completely hollow to fit the Pretender inside, but the detail work on the outside is quite good and it offers play value, too. You can attach Roadblock’s various weapons, the shovel can move, and you can elevate the main cannon on the roof so that Roadblock’s inner robot can stand behind it as a gunner. Nicely done. I really like Roadblock’s vehicle shell.

Pretender Shell: Inside the vehicle comes the next layer, Roadblock’s actual Pretender shell. Like most Decepticon Pretenders it’s an inhuman monster with various tech-parts. Mostly black and dark purple, some of the detail work gets swallowed up, but the golden highlights still work nicely. It’s also one of the best-articulated Pretender shells of them all, as it has elbow joints. The Pretender can wield Roadblock’s two black guns and has a flip-down visor. Not sure why what is basically a suit of armor needs an additional visor, but what the hell, it looks cool.

The Pretender shell isn’t merely a suit for the robot to put on, though, it can also transform. It’s not a terribly intricate transformation, mind you, but the resulting wind glider looks kind of cool, like something from a 1950s B-movie or maybe planet Mungo. Roadblock’s inner robot can take a seat in the glider and the two black guns can attach as well, making for a pretty interesting mode.

Inner Robot: And then there is that tiny little inner robot, the actual Roadblock. In many ways he is a typical Pretender robot. Tiny, slim, and with but the most basic transformation (he folds in half), given that he has to fit inside his Pretender shell. Given all that, you would expect him to be the most boring part of this toy and you’d be right. Additionally, though, the robot is made almost entirely out of gold plastic (except for the legs). Just the action of folding up his legs to fit him into the Pretender shell’s glider mode made cracks appear around his crotch and I fear that any further transformation (or movement) will shatter him into pieces. So bottom line: as nice a robot as the gimmick allows, but given the gold plastic, treat him like glass.

Missing Parts: I’m missing Roadblock’s Proton Cannon, a double-barreled weapon for the inner robot’s vehicle mode (also usable on the vehicle shell).

Remarks: Let’s be honest here: the entire Pretender gimmick was pretty far out there and a big step towards the decline of the original Transformers series. Not because the gimmick as such didn’t have potential, but because Hasbro at the time didn’t diversify much, meaning just about every toy coming out back then was either a Pretender or a Micromaster. Also, most Pretenders were just plain boring.

The Ultra Pretenders take this already kind of wacky gimmick and go all the way to bat-shit crazy. A robot that transforms inside a Pretender that transforms inside a vehicle shell. Now if only the vehicle shell itself could transform... anyway, Roadblock is certainly not among the all-time classics of Transformers and even among Pretenders there are certainly quite a few more interesting characters (mostly because Roadblock has zero media presence). In terms of play value, though, Roadblock works quite nicely (as long as you tread carefully around the gold plastic). Does he make sense? No, not really. Is he fun, though? Yep, he is. I originally gave this guy a D-rating, but he deserves better, as I had a lot of fun setting him up and playing with him.

Rating: C
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