Series: Animated The road to enlightenment is paved with deactivated enemies.
With Lockdown returning again and again to plague the Autobots, Prowl is determined to take him down, once and for all. To combat the Decepticon bounty hunter, he upgrades his body to its ultimate limit, adding weapons and armor until nothing Lockdown can do will stop him.
Let's get the shorter part out of the way first: The actual Prowl robot is mostly, though not completely, identical with the first Animated Prowl
figure. His head is slightly smaller (to accomodate the helmet), he has a bit more black on him, and the windshield of the motorcycle on his chest is tinted blue. His knees are slightly different, too, which makes it a bit easier to bend them. The wings on his back are now jointed, so they can angle upwards, a necessity for attaching the armour. And finally, the hubcaps on his legs, which form his throwing stars are... messed up. They're identical to the first ones except for the colour, but the three blades can't extend. They're actually welded in place. Don't ask me why. I don't know whose idea that was, but it was a pretty bad one. Thankfully Samurai Prowl is fully capable of using the original Prowl's throwing stars and those fit on his legs as well.
The real reason for this new version of Prowl is, of course, the battle armour he comes with. It's basically a rucksack with an attached helmet, shoulder pieces and hip guards. Additionally there is a new weapon, a long Samurai-style blade which unfolds from the big wheel that Prowl can attach to his arm as a shield. Look-wise the armour and weapon fit Prowl very nicely. The shoulder pieces integrate seamlessly with the rest of his torso, the helmet fits well on his head (though he can no longer turn it now) and the blade also looks very nice. So absolutely no complaints in terms of look.
Much like a real suit of armour would, though, the pieces somewhat restrict Prowl's awesome posability somewhat. His legs can still more freely, as the hip pieces can be pushed aside whenever necessary, but his arms are hampered by the shoulder pieces. The connection to the rucksack actually goes under his arms, so while he can still move his arms sideways, moving them forward is almost impossible now. He can bend his elbows, of course, but he can't angle them forward at the shoulders.
So the bottom line here is: Awesome look, but some minor points deduction for the hampered posability. And really, what's up with those throwing stars? Whose idea was that?
Prowl still transforms into a motorcycle, of course, and the changes to it are the same minimal ones I've mentioned above. More black, blue-tinted windshield, that's pretty much it. Much more interesting is the samurai armour, which folds together quite nicely into a side car for the motorbike. Here, too, the look integrates very nicely with that of the main figure. The side car plugs into two tiny slits in the bike's side and is pretty stable there (and provides more stability to the bike in turn, of course). I'm not sure someone could actually sit in it, seeing as the helmet forms the interior (or rather just fills it up), but the look is spot on.
Not really a whole lot more I can write here. The side car looks very wholesome, not like the jumble of different parts it becomes in armour-mode, and fits perfectly. So pretty much a flawless alternate mode. No complaints.
In the Animated episode "A Fistful of Energon" Prowl joined forces with bounty hunter Lockdown
to hunt down Starscream
. Lockdown supplied Prowl with an upgrade package, which is what we see here in this toy. Prowl was all for it at first, but later rejected Lockdown's upgrades-rule philosophy and returned to his previous form. Now, according to the toy's profile, he's rediscovered the upgrades for the purpose of dealing with Lockdown once and for all. We'll see if that somehow factors into season 3 of Animated or remains a marketing gag.
As a toy Samurai Prowl is great, though one can't overlook the fact that it's basically the same figure we got once already, just with a little upgrade (and messed-up throwing stars). A great upgrade, but it's still little more than a re-issue. So while I really, really like Samurai Prowl, I'm not sure I can recommend him to those who already own the first Prowl. Then again, you actually need to have the first Prowl, because Samurai Prowl's hubcap throwing stars suck, so you need those of the first Prowl for this new Prowl. Complicated, I know. Let's see if I can boil it down to a one-sentence conclusion:
Samurai Prowl is a great figure, but unless you're a die-hard Animated and/or Prowl fan, you don't really need both versions of Prowl. If you don't own a Prowl yet, though, go get him. Damn, two sentences after all. Well, you can't have everything.