Transformers Prime – SE FE Bulkhead Stress Marks

I posted before about how the SE FE voyager Optimus Prime is missing paint compared to the first edition of the first edition, and I mentioned that the SE FE voyager Bulkhead was a bit more complicated.

While the lack of paint on Optimus is something I can overlook, Bulkhead had a problem that’s not aesthetic, but functional, and from what I’ve seen is widespread to the point all of them seem to be affected to varying degrees.

FE Bulkhead’s upper arms have a bicep swivel of pretty standard design, with a T shaped peg where the top of the T is round like a table, and that fits into a slot that both holds it securely in place and allows it to swivel.

Pretty standard so far, but while one arm worked fine, even gently rotating the other arm would cause the slot to push the peg out and his arm would fall off. I noticed that joint was overly tight in the slot anyway, and looking at the peg I could see a stress mark at the base of it.

Also, it's brownish greenish instead of gray.

The other arm had no such stress mark, but when doing a quick google search I saw that there were already other people complaining about it. That was soon after they shipped from BBTS, and while Optimus’s paint had gone unnoticed by a lot of people until it was pointed out, Bulkhead’s was hard to ignore, and as more got delivered more people started complaining about it on various message boards.

Some had stress marks on both sides, but most had at least one stress mark. One person even reported that instead of a stress mark there was a crack in the peg. Some had arms that pushed off the peg when rotated, some just had overly tight joints.

Superquad7 over at TFW suggested sanding down the peg and the joint until it fit better. When I took a close look at mine, I found that it wasn’t so much that the slot of the peg had excess plastic, but that the peg itself was warped.

A little to the left...

That may not seem like much, but the slot on the arm that doesn’t have the problem is already very tight.

So this is, right? I’m posting about a problem with a transformer, and you’re expecting me to fix it.

Well, tough!

You could probably do something similar to the ‘boil and pop’ method used for softening up action figure joints to get the piece warm enough that when slid into the arm slot it would form back into the proper shape.

How hot would the plastic have to be? It’s not a thin piece, so I’m not sure. Honestly, that method is just a guess.

After you do that, if it still has issues you could sand down the peg and the slot until it fit properly, but that’s not something you can precisely follow along with. Your hand motions with the sand paper would vary, so I can’t just tell you to have at it with a certain grade for a few minutes and have it work out that way for everyone. Just go slow and test things out as you go along.

As for sandpaper, you’d start out with a rougher grit and then finish up with a smooth grit.

But like I said, those are things that would probably work. I’m not going to do an official guide on how to do it. There are already a few different variations on this QC issue, so what would have worked on mine might not work on someone else’s.

A lot of the people were saying the figure was awesome enough and it didn’t matter if the arm rotated off, as long as it looked good on the shelf.

I can’t blame them for that. It’s their own collection, and I did something similar in liking Optimus even with the lack of paint.

But to me, that pushed FE Bulkhead firmly into DO NOT WANT territory. If I returned it to BBTS for another, the next FE Bulkhead might have two stress marks, cracked pegs, or two arms that fall off when rotated instead of just the one. Some people were also reporting stress marks on the hood pieces too.

With SE FE Optimus, the mold itself was great and each one had the same lack of paint. With SE FE Bulkhead, most of the reports are varying degrees of awful to bad and might get worse just sitting on the shelf.

And honestly, I like the PRID version of Bulkhead better. The FE had a lot of hype, being an expensive figure that a lot of people wanted, and not all of it was undeserved. Like FE Optimus, I don’t think it’s a bad TF.

It’s got an interesting transformation, and its hands fold away to sort of resemble cannons, but that’s about all I liked about it. The vehicle mode was just as kibbly underneath as the PRID, and while I can’t fault the robot mode for show accuracy it just looked, well, ugly.

For those of you that like it, or those that have vehemently despised the PRID \ squeed about the FE, try not to be offended. I’m not saying you like Transformers wrong. :)

But to me, the FE Bulkhead looks ugly. The face is angular, and the proportions look like a squat fat guy propped up on a pair of skinny legs. Or a fat girl in hipster pants, with it all spilling out the top.

Even though the PRID has smoother lines, its more rectangular shape looks more heroic, like the buff version of Mr. Incredible. If the FE wasn’t broken, I’d still think the PRID was the better Transformer.

So why in the heck did I buy FE Bulkhead in the first place? The PRID is my Classics Bulkhead, which is more important to me, but I still have a TF Prime shelf, so I wanted a Bulkhead for that. Also, the FE looked like it had a cool transformation.

And the transformation is cool. That and having it for the Prime shelf would have been enough to keep FE Bulkhead, but the QC issues were even worse than the complaints I already had. A mediocre TF can be okay, but not when it’s broken right out of the box.

It’s not so bad, though. My Transformers Prime shelf doesn’t have an Arcee either, and that doesn’t bother me. It’s one of those lines that I have a few TFs from because I like the designs, but since I’m not super invested in the show I don’t feel compelled to buy things like Airachnid. :)

FE voyager Bulkhead went back to BBTS for a refund. They have excellent customer service, and the guy I spoke with was nice about the whole process. They even refunded the cost of shipping.

~Matt Booker

4 thoughts on “Transformers Prime – SE FE Bulkhead Stress Marks

  1. That does put into question my search for SE FE BH. I’ve already did some customizing on PRiD Bulky(your hand mod, some paint apps) and I’m happy with him.

    If I happen to come across FE BH, for a standard price, I’ll probably nab him, but I doubt I would get him if he runs up past the 30 dollar mark.

    As usual, thanks for the heads up!

  2. So have you heard anywhere if a hair dryer works to remove stress marks? I heard somewhere that a hair dryer works on stress marks but I was wondering if it would work on Bulkhead because the peg is rather thick.

  3. The hair dryer method can remove cosmetic stress marks. If they’re deep enough the marks can still be a problem, and can even come back.

    As for Bulkhead, you can try it but someone on TFW posted that they did it to theirs and the stress marks came back.

    ~Matt Booker

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