Botcon: Punch/Counter-Punch is available! Um, AGAIN! Sort of…
While I lick my wounds from my week of apparently antagonizing my friends, I’m going to slink over to a topic I’m not going to get questioned with: Transformers.
Let’s talk about one of the freakiest anomalies in the Transformers universe, and one that many of you might not even be familiar with! Let’s talk about the most confused Autobot in the Transformers universe, the deep cover operative known as Punch who masquerades as Counter-Punch, his “counterpart” that always seems to be nearby during sensitive Decepticon operations.
Let’s talk about this super duper spy after the cut!
Before some smart guy points it out, YES the item in my possession is a reproduction of the Transformers Collector’s Club Exclusive. A more vulgar lout might go so far as to call it a knock-off, a bootleg or a fake.
Yes, it’s all those things, but it’s so much more. Most importantly, it’s a shockingly accurate reproduction of the Transformers Club’s most notoriously sold out figure to date. His secondary market value typically ranges into $300USD, but I ran into this little gem online thanks to Deadpool who likely pities me in all my pathetic worthlessness for having never owned my own G1 Punch/Counter-Punch figure when he nudged me towards a promising ebay sale…
(Transformers Season 4, Rebirth Pt.1: Punch makes an attempt to foil the plans of the Decepticon Clones, Pounce and Wingspan, while disguised as Counter-punch, but kinda gets mauled to near death for his efforts. “REAL nearby” may have been too good of a hint to share. His poor use in the American cartoon saddens us all, worse still we never knew he was a frequent character that played a MAJOR role in defeating the Decepticons in the Headmasters TV series.)
The original figure had a deceptively simple gimmick: He turns from a car to a robot, into a completely different robot and into a car and back again. Punch is a car with two separate robot modes. It wasn’t the mess that things got into with the triple changers or six changers, he was just two dudes in one body that shared the same vehicle mode. Made for a neat package overall that is strangely fun to swap back and forth to examine the effectiveness of his deception. Er, that “deception” being that he basically turns around to become a different dude.
He’s a pleasant oddity because Transformers subterfuge and spy tactics were never really addressed with anyone in G1 until he came on the scene. Well, anyone except for Soundwave. Soundwave was a busy blue bastard since he’s supposed to already be the communications director on top doing all the spying himself with his cassette pals in tow. Soundwave was practically chief of the spy guild and the only evidence of decent espionage that went on even into the Transformers animated film and third season.
Mirage was billed as a spy, but he more frequently stumbled into stuff and got stupidly shot on occasion. Bumblebee was always billed as a spy, but he was never actually used as such, but I think Hasbro wanted to cushion the blow that his primary function was usually “Hostage”. Having a remotely decent spy is a big deal within the Autobot ranks and Punch was such a freakish shock to the system and more importantly, to the concept of Transformer espionage since he was a Transformer that just BECAME a different Transformer was so elegantly inspired that he led to a few notable heirs to his wackiness
As for double agents Punch inspired, the only figures that demonstrated alternating allegiance as a gimmick since were:
• Doubledealer – Autobot robot, Decepticon giant chicken with two Powermaster engine buddies and a shared vehicle mode of a missile truck.
• Beast Wars Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia – Evil femme Fatale turned good guy. Or girl. Whatever. Toy had a rotating spark crystal showing her allegiance as either Maximal or Predacon, kind of pointless by this point because she’d changed sides. I guess. She’s a giant freaking chromed spider.
• TF Universe Dinobot – First Maximal convert in the Beast Wars, changed sides once or twice because he never really fit in with either camp. Toy had a section on his chest that could be flipped to reveal different allegiances or none at all. He’s a Velociraptor.
• TF Animated Shockwave – This reinvention of the Deep Cover Agent changed the ballgame entirely by having two wholly unique robots and vehicles within one body, this successfully translated into the toy which is absolutely AMAZING to behold. In the show he actually worked his way to the top ranks of Autobot intelligence and stayed for quite awhile until his cover was blown and a mole hunt began.
Meanwhile, in Japan Punch had been screwing Galvatron and Scorponok’s plans up for awhile in the Headmasters TV series that followed our third season. Damn shame too, because although his tactics as a spy were largely ridiculous, it was rewarding to see him used in the way his function was intended and that gave his entire gimmick some credible use.
Otherwise, he has been largely painted as a paranoid disaster waiting to happen in the fiction over here. Apparently, Punch is having a harder time dropping the role as Counter-Punch giving him a role that has become a split personality causing the seemingly cool ‘bot to retreat further and further into paranoia to the point that he has blackouts where he suspects Counter-Punch is taking over for the Decepticon cause.
The Club figure is actually a repaint of the Sunstreaker/Sideswipe mold and makes expert use of it as both of the Lambo Brothers had unique transformation results with the same mold. This made Custom Toy freaks lose their minds as they began a long, passionate toy love affair in creating their own Punch/Counter-Punch. Hasbro didn’t put anything out, and it was left in limbo until suddenly the TF Club snapped up the idea and worked to perfect a head that could maximize the effect of the original figure/character, but keep the cost of this glorified repaint as low as possible to produce. They came up with a rocking scalp/visor that obscures one face and uncovers the other. VERY cool.
The figure is housed in a hard two-piece decorative box with custom cut foam safely holding your figure in tow, with an extra layer of foam padding filling in the box. In addition to the figure there are instructions included and a tech spec bio card. Pretty typical of the Club figures as I’ve had the same result with Airazor, Nightbeat, Over-Run, Cheetor, Drift and my Botcon sets.
The new toy insists on attaching the backpack module to his gun and flipping the gun around to make it a “different” firearm for either robot mode. He fits in perfectly with the G1 Classics crowd and is nothing, if not a godsend to TF nerds everywhere. The problem is that he’s damn near impossible to find leaving Hasbro and the TF Club in a precarious position with people happily paying $300 a pop for this thing and the rest of the world pining desperately for it and it’s awesomeness. It was only a matter of time before Asia delivered as it so often does…
Mine is a reproduction of CHMS manufacture. Go ahead and look up their previous transformers works like the Rainmaker Seekers, Botcon Shattered Glass Hot Rod and more. They do good work. Well… Knock off type work anyway. Having this Punch/Counter-punch in hand I can vouch for the quality as it’s at least as good as that of Generations Red Alert and more importantly, I suspect it uses thee exact same mold as the TF Club exclusive or was made using the same FACTORY as the original. The only things missing from my figure are the rubsigns for both robot modes and the bio card that should have been bundled with the instructions. The other clear indicator that the toy in the box is not what it seems is the clearly indicated “CHMS” and their Weibo website plastered across the front, otherwise it’s nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.
Personally, I could give a rat’s ass because I just wanted the Autobot spy in my collection and didn’t want to blow my wad on a $60 figure for $300. The additions of a box with foam and instructions making it look borderline legitimate are just gravy.
You can still find the KO version of the exclusive for between $50 and $70 all over the place, probably less without the box. Though I do recommend reading up on some comparisons and really thinking the purchase through before you jump in there. I love my club exclusives, but I don’t have the wealth to lavish THAT much upon them. That’s where the bootlegs come in.
There’s still quite a few floating around and when the club can’t meet a demand that won’t die, there’s always a bootleg production waiting in the wings to supply it. It makes surfing the secondary market for the genuine article often risky, but for those seeking a cheaper alternative and KNOW what they’re getting into it’s not a bad deal.