Toy Review: Takara-Tomy AM-20 Ironhide (with アイロ/Ai-ro)

Ironhide is a name known to Transformers fans since G1. A solid, dependable, but surly and brusque old Autobot, he appears in most continuities as a long-time friend and lieutenant to Optimus Prime. He skipped out on Transformers: Prime cartoon, but it seems that in Japan, at least, he didn’t miss out on being part of the toyline.

 アイアンハイド (Aianhaido)/Ironhide comes in a box with no clear parts, so the picture is all you have to go on whilst he's MISB.

アイアンハイド (Aianhaido)/Ironhide comes in a box with no clear parts, so the picture is all you have to go on whilst he’s MISB.

The back of the box shows Ironhide psoing with his "Super Combo Weapon"; a huge gun made by combining Arms Microns from Ironhide, Ratchet and Optimus Prime.

The back of the box shows Ironhide posing with his Combo Weapon “Burst Cannon”; a huge gun made by combining Arms Microns from Ironhide, Ratchet and Optimus Prime.

So, in the Japanese version of the Transformers: Prime toyline, each character came with an “Arms Micron” –  a smaller robot who transforms into a weapon for the bigger robot to wield. According to Figure-Ō magazine, the Arms Microns are formerly ordinary weapons transfigured and given a spark of life and ability to transform by a bizarre interaction with Earth’s energon. The Arms Micron gimmick looks to me to be a modernised version of the Targetmaster gimmick from G1.

Opening the box, you find three things:

Inside Ironhides' box: Ironhide himself, in a thick plastic bag; a pack of leaflets including Ironhide's instructions and stickers, and Iro on a sprue.

Inside Ironhides’ box: Ironhide himself, in a thick plastic bag; a pack of leaflets including Ironhide’s instructions and stickers, and his Arm Micron partner Ai-ro on a sprue.

Boxed with Ironhide is a sticker sheet that can be used to apply much of his colour detail, faction symbols, and so on, and a sprue that can be used to assemble his Arms Micron partner アイロ/Ai-ro. Ai-ro is a funny name for an Autobot Arms Micron; most of them have a name made from the first initials of their Autobot partner’s name, for example Optimus Prime’s partner is OP, and Bulkhead’s is BH, but Ai-ro appears to have a Japanese transliteration of “iron” based on the spelling, rather than the sound of the word. There might be some sort of bi-lingual pun there, but it’s beyond me. (There is another odd one among the Autobot Arms Microns – Bumblebee’s partner is called B2, rather than BB.)

The rationale behind packaging these toys in kit form, with a little work needed to assemble them, is quite interesting: “Arms Microns need to be assembled from parts, and stickers are included to be put on the main figure – to give the feeling of “completing” the toy as one’s own.

Ai-Ro amongst sprue debris.

Ai-ro amongst the detritus of his plastic afterbirth sprue. I’m fond of his non-functioning cogs, his minimalist face design, and his pincer hands.

The first thing I did was to get out a decent craft knife, and remove Ai-ro from his sprue so I could assemble him. He’s a pleasingly blocky little fellow with pincer hands & sculpted gear-like details, but he does have one flaw. On my copy, his “Energon crystal” a pink translucent “gem” in his right shin, did not peg in properly, and falls out. After carefully studying the socket, I realized that a small burr of plastic was preventing the pink bit from clipping into place. After trimming this away (extremely carefully), I found that the hole into which the pink piece was to fit went from being too tight to being too loose. Eventually, I ended up gluing it. My previous experience has been that these kits are all snap-fit, and I’m pretty sure that that’s supposed to be the case.


So, with the prelude over, let’s go on to the main event: Ironhide.

Ironhide front view, with Ai-Ro

Ironhide brandishing Ai-ro in robot mode.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that Ai-ro makes a gigantic gun. He’s clearly referencing the cannons that Movie Ironhide uses, although this Ironhide’s predominantly red and grey colour scheme, and his rounded head blatantly homage G1. As I’ve surely said before, Takara-Tomy love to do these cross-continuity/mythology jokes. A lot of his colour detail, especially on his legs, is provided by stickers that must be applied when he is un-boxed. Most of these are a doddle to apply, but the shiny gun-metal details on his ankles required extremely steady hands.

Surprisingly un-wrinked for a chap his age.

Ironhide might be the only Autobot in Transformers: Prime with a nose. That off-centre Autobrand came like that – the symbol is off-centre within the sticker. Deliberate, or sloppily printed?

He’s well-articulated, with ball-joints in all the places you would expect them on a Deluxe-sized transformer: shoulders, elbows, hips, ankles. Suprisingly, he has no wrist articulation, and just a rotator at the neck, rather than a ball-joint. Not that the neck joint matters much, considering how much bulk the shoulders have. Although Ironhides’ head turns through 360° there’s little point in turning through more than 45° either side of dead-ahead: his hugely-armoured pauldrons completely block the figures “line-of-sight”, his head being nearly as buried as that of a WH40K Space Marine. He gives the impression of being a solid, heavy character. He’s a little short for a Deluxe size transformer, but relatively wide, which I’ll mostly ascribe to his stumpy legs and arms. I would assume his short stature is a necessary sacrifice to make him as wide and bulky as he is whilst using the same amount of plastic as is used for taller, more svelte characters like Arcee or Prowl. It’s the same with the Japanese Bulkhead from Transformers Go!, who is the least tall deluxe in the range, despite representing the biggest Autobot in the cartoon.

His truck mode is basically Movie Ironhide in G1 Ironhide’s colour scheme; a red pickup-truck/SUV thing that appears to accommodate two rows of seats in addition to a boxed-in flat-bed at the back for cargo-carrying. I’m told it resembles a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, but frankly, it makes little difference. The Prime toyline is a little less anvilicious than the Bayformers line about making sure that each character turns into an identifiable, branded vehicle, because Saturday-morning cartoons are expected to sell less cars than blockbuster movies.

Ironhide in truck mode, from the side and front. That's a hell of a bumper, but still, the front looks a little plain.

Ironhide in truck mode, from the side and front. That’s a hell of a bumper, but still, the front looks a little plain.

The back of the truck is full of robot feet, and there’s a hole through the bottom of the flat-bed, but it’s not like I bought this figure to display in alt-mode, anyway. He’s going to be posed in robot mode on the Autobot shelf. (Yeah, the robot shelf overspilled onto two shelves, and right now, they’re sorted by faction.)


In conclusion, Ironhide is a solid and stocky figure, who seems slightly short, but still fits in nicely on the robot-shelf with my other figures. But since I like his Arms Micron partner too much in robot mode to display him as a weapon, Ironhide is going to be standing guard on the shelf unarmed, at least until I get around to knocking him up something on Shapeways!

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9 thoughts on “Toy Review: Takara-Tomy AM-20 Ironhide (with アイロ/Ai-ro)

    • Red does suit him doesn’t it? Do you have many Arms Micron figures? I’m really fond of them but they’re not so easy to get over here. I’d love an AM Breakdown to go with my AM Knock Out but he’s stupidly rare and expensive. Maybe one day I’ll get a lucky find.

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  1. Ironically we (as my kids collect too) only have Arms Micron Arcee and Cliffjumper. My daughter LOVEs Arcee although I find her metallic stickers a bit too bling for me compared to the Hasbro version. You can still find some of these guys on shelves here – especially Black Arachnia – and not too badly priced (Around US$20 to US$30 depending on the character). Want me to pick one up if I see Breakdown in my travels?

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    • Wow thanks for that offer if you ever do see an AM Breakdown I would love one & am more than happy to square up costs & postage. Likewise if there’s ever anything you or your kids are really seeking that’s more readily available in the UK do let me know! 🙂

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  2. That seems to be the only problem I have with the Tomy Transformers. They do something different than the US releases. Here we got Sergeant Kup. He came with two guns, similar to the Arms Micron in design, but smaller, and one for each arm. It seems to me that Ironhide would have been much more suited with a pair of cannons rather than one oversized one.

    I have to say he looks great upscaled from the Commander Class Ironhide we got with the Prime Line. He looks almost exactly the same. That face is timeless.

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