Wednesday, May 5, 2021

I'm A Huffer Puff

When you look at the original crew of the Autobot Ark, you’d find quite the mixed bag of characters and personalities. Sure you have the typical good guys, like the noble leader Optimus Prime or the courageous Bumblebee. But peppered in as well are a few more nuanced characters such as the cranky Gears, the narcissistic Sunstreaker and the self doubting Trailbreaker. And then you had Huffer.

Even as a kid, I always pegged Huffer as one of my least favorite Autobots. I wasn’t fond of his design which featured a plain domed helmet with diamond shaped cut outs for the eyes. His color scheme of orange and...periwinkle was kinda lame. And he was basically a whiner. That in a nutshell was his main character trait. He complained about pretty much everything, especially the fact that he was stranded on Earth. Sure he wasn’t the only Autobot that was not thrilled about being away from Cybertron, but he made sure everyone knew about it in his very whiny voice.

Despite being part of the first lineup of Transformers to debut to the general public in 1984, to my recollection, Huffer wasn’t featured much in the original cartoon or Marvel comic. Aside from all his complaining, his one other claim to fame was when he stepped up and volunteered to pull Prime’s trailer for him when the Autobot leader was damaged in battle.

Other than that he was pretty much reduced to a background character all the way up to his final animated appearance in the 1986 Animated movie. Unfortunately, just like many of his original ‘84 team mates such as Ironhide Prowl and Brawn, Huffer too met his untimely demise in the movie. But to add insult to injury, his death wasn’t shown and he was just killed off screen. It was just confirmed in the cartoon episode Dark Awakening when the Autobot human companion Daniel comes across his grave aboard an Autobot burial ship.

And that pretty much sums up Huffers rather unremarkable existence.

Anyway, even if he wasn’t a favorite of mine, since he is an original member of the Autobot Ark, he’s pretty much a requirement in any serious G1 collector’s display. So here’s a rundown of all the “Huffers” that I have acquired for my collection.

In the main line (CHUG) department, Huffer hasn’t really had that many toys that were designed specifically for him. And for the longest time, we’ve had to rely on lazy repaints (with slight retooling) to get our Huffer fix.

This one was my first Huffer. It looks nothing like Huffer. The different head and color scheme do little to hide the fact that this was basically a retooled Legends sized Optimus Prime. But this was basically all Hasbro really gave us for the longest time.

Third party company Mechfans Toys actually did a better job with their “Engineer” release a few years back and this has remained my default Huffer for my Chug-lection.

On the Masterpiece front, I pretty much lucked out on the first go. While there hasn’t been an official MP Huffer, 3rd party company Bad Cube has come to the rescue with their version of Huffer called….Huff. While Bad Cube is infamously known in the 3rd party community for their usually overly complicated engineering, Huff is fortunately one of their most straightforward, simple and solid releases to date. It’s one of the few remaining products from Bad Cube that I still have as I’ve sold off most of their other releases for better versions from other companies.

And despite news of another Huffer on the way, this time by the popular company Fans Toys, I don’t see myself trading my Huff for it. He’s just not that important of a character for me. 

Finally though, this year, Hasbro decided to step up and release a proper Huffer for their Kingdom line. And it’s fine. Actually, my first impressions weren’t that great, but the more I handled him, the more he grew on me. 

I actually appreciate the extra accessories Hasbro included. A shield and an oversized gun which I initially thought was a little much for this character. That is until I realized that these extra pieces could be utilized in his vehicle mode to create a nice truck bed. And for good measure, they also gave him the ability to haul Earthrise Prime’s trailer just like he did in the cartoon.

Anyway, that’s all I really have to say about this dude. Slowly but surely I have grown to kinda appreciate Huffer. Maybe it's because the actual toy can’t whine so that has made his existence on my shelf more tolerable. Seriously though, it’s imperfect characters like Huffer that make me appreciate the Transformers franchise even more. And it’s really the main reason why I think these robots in disguise have outlasted most of the other 80’s contemporaries.