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New for mid-2011 is an evolution in Bandai's Ben 10 4-inch figure collection. Since the line's introduction as the "Alien Collection" it has brought fans and collectors fun small scale figures based on the show's unique aliens, heroic humans, and vile villains. Last time we took a look at three of this year's cool aliens (see the review of NRG, Ultimate Cannonbolt, and Ultimate Spidermonkey HERE), and today we've got something even more interesting. As a sub-line of the 4-inch series Bandai is unveiling a new series called HAYWIRE. Ever since the very beginning of the television series Ben's Omnitrix (and later Ultimatrix) hasn't always worked quite perfectly. From time to time the device will produce the wrong the alien DNA or do something else unexpected. It's a great aspect of the show that limits the mind-boggling power and utility of the Omnitrix, but it's not something that can be translated into toy form easily.
But, that's exactly where the Haywire series comes in. While they may look like the rest of the aliens in the 4-inch figure line, the Haywire figures represent DNA mix ups in which an alien manifests with the colors of another! In simple terms, each new Haywire figure is a repaint of an existing sculpt, but with the color palette of a different alien. It's a pretty genius move by Bandai that covers a lot of bases: giving us cool new unique figures, capturing a heretofore unproduced element of the show, and reusing sculpts (which every toy line does). Today we'll examine Ultimate Humungousaur and Ampfibian... gone Haywire!
The Haywire figures are part of the latest Ben 10 toy releases, and as such feature the new packaging design. The new 2011 design has a bright green and white color scheme and a distinctive logo featuring an image of the current Ben Tennyson along with a silhouette of his original, younger incarnation. The overall shape is the same as the previous/existing 4-inch figure packages with an angled bubble and card. The clear plastic lets you see the new figures so you know what you're getting, and it also shows off the included mini-figure for use with the Revolution Ultimatrix (more on those later). To distinguish these from the main line, there's a Haywire brand on the bottom-right corner of the bubble, and it even includes an image of the figure and the alien with whom it's trading colors!
And while the back of the regular 4-inch figure cards typically shows a wide variety of other available toys, these show only aliens in the Haywire line and their "regular" versions so you can compare. These include Ultimate Swampfire, Ultimate Spidermonkey, Water Hazard, and Terraspin.
Ultimate Humungousaur is an upgrade from the previous season’s Humungousaur, a dinosaur-like alien with vast strength and the ability to grow to great size. The Ultimate version is even beefier and gains heavy armored plates on its chest, an attached helmet, a spiked turtle-like back shell, and a spiked ball on the end of its tail. Ridges on the back of its hands can transform into projectile launchers for bad guys at a distance. The Ultimate Humungousaur action figure faithfully replicates this look with a huge torso, long arms, and relatively tiny legs. It has good articulation with joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and tail.
Ampfibian is a relatively new alien, added to the Ultimatrix when Ben encountered Aggregor's Andromeda Galaxy prey Ra'ad the Amperi. An aquatic species somewhat resembling jellyfish, the Amperi have hooded upper bodies with no separate head. Extending from below that is a small torso and legs surrounded by four prehensile tentacles. The Ampfibian action figure achieves the look of the animation with a large upper body consisting of overlapping sections, relatively normal legs, and two limbs comprised of two tentacles each. The unique alien has articulation at the neck, "shoulders" (so both sets of tentacles move together), hips, and knees.
The "regular" version of Ultimate Humungousaur is kind of scary with a color palette consisting of dark green skin with deep blue armor and accents in light gray and bright green. Meanwhile, Ampfibian is bright white and pale blue, reflecting his watery composition. But in the Haywire lineup, these two aliens swap colors. The resulting blue and white Ultimate Humungousaur looks downright arctic, and is a huge change visually. Meanwhile, the new dark Ampfibian accentuates the bizarre alien's appearance even more, giving it a sinister tone. Of course, both still show off the bright green of the Ultimatrix on their chests and their eyes, and Humungousaur adds some black and light gray to the limited Ampfibian palette on his claws and spines.
Along with the new batch of regular 4-inch figures, the Haywire versions come with cool translucent plastic mini-figures. Representing the same alien as the figure, each is color appropriate to the Haywire version (so this Humungousaur's is so white it's essentially clear and Ampfibian's is dark green). These mini-figures and the ones that come with all new 4-inch figures aren't just fun to look at and display, though. They are actually components to the new Revolution Ultimatrix role-play toy, perfect for younger fans of Ben 10. Stick any of them (they're all fully interchangeable) on the spin top that comes with the Ultimatrix and activate it for "battle action." You can also fight against your friends to see who's the most powerful Ultimate alien!
If you’re a fan (young or old!) of Ben 10 or a collector of its figures, these Haywire figures are perfect for you. Re-packaging some of the most interesting alien designs with all new color schemes, they're a whole new spin on the characters you already know and love. Look for these and plenty of other new Ben 10 toys this summer!