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Old 2018-08-27, 12:49 PM   #1
Skyquake87
One with the Matrix
 
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Default PotP Predaking

Name : Preadking
Sub-Group: Predacons
Allegiance : Decepticon

Bio: Predaking has hunted many things, but this may be his greatest bounty: an ancient relic that bestows beast power beyond imagination: the Onyx Matrix.

“On Cybertron – our elite cadre of hunters still exists - - The Predacons!” And with those words, so began the hunt in Prey!, a story that is one of my favourite Transformers stories of all time. Introducing the Predacons to UK audiences as a fearsome, deadly group of hunter-killers, the story has really stuck with me. With Optimus Prime exposed and on the run -and in mortal danger – from Divebomb, Headstrong, Rampage, Razorclaw and Tantrum. Although a typical 'new toy' story, showing how awesome the new guys are, with their mix of bright colours, wild animal alt modes and steely prowess, the Predacons quickly became favourites of mine. The toys remained out of reach for those of us in the UK, as they were one of a number of figures that didn't make it over here. So, all I could do was moon over their Universe profiles and imagine how cool they must be as toys.

Fast forward to 2004, and Takara reissued the Predacons along side their Transformers Collection series to mark the Transformers 20th anniversary. I snapped them up, but was surprised by how massive and super-deformed they were. These weren't the brutal looking bunch I was familiar with, but incredibly boxy and blobby versions of them. I was disappointed by the aesthetics, but their crude charm won me over; they were chunky, hefty (thanks to the die-cast) and good fun (thanks to all the swords and guns they came with). They weren't quite the fearsome warriors I was expecting and felt like they'd stumbled in from another toyline entirely, which ruled out any in-scale re-enactment of Grudge Match.

It all went a bit quiet for the original Predacons after that, so I was very excited when they were announced as part of Power Of The Primes as an impressive Titan Class combiner. Although my expectations were tempered having seen how the Constructicons had turned out at this scale.


Divebomb robot mode: Divebomb's robot mode is a funny one. It's not half bad, being decently proportioned and nicely posable. The colours are all on point (and he probably has my favourite livery after Razorclaw) and the sculpting is fantastic, but his head is just a shade too small. I like the bird head framing the robot head – it's a nice design touch – but here, the robot head is on the lower half of the jaw, leading to a rather narrow and squashed looking head. He feels a little bit long in the torso too, but honestly I think this is because Transformers proportions have always been a bit squiffy in this area, so it's more likely that his arms are a little too short which gives this illusion. The back pack is obviously massive and does put a huge amount of weight in on him, but he has big enough heel spurs that he can stand or pose without toppling over. The guns are a bit of miss for me. They pull double duty as Predaking's shoulder cannons, and he can only comfortably hold them at the rear hinge, and not the peg further down the stock,so he doesn't look great holding these. For reasons best known to Hasbro's design team, these also split in half for no good reason, leaving you with two barrels you can''t do anything with. Why?

Divebomb beast mode: Transforms in about 5 seconds flat by just tucking up the arms and legs to give you the chunkiest looking eagle/ hawk whatever you've ever seen. It's a flying shipping crate with wings and a bird head. It's not great, and doesn't improve on the original design at all, but I really dig it and it's enormous fun to swoosh about. It's very swooshable, despite having all the subtlety of a breezeblock.


Headstrong robot mode: The two leg-lads are pretty much identical in proportions, being these hefty looking beefcakes. Headstrong is marvellously yellow with a massive puffed up chest with neat black 'H' motif. His arms are great big blocks on the world's biggest ball joints and he has a fabulously grumpy looking face. The legs are a bit iffy though. They're solid enough, but once you pose him, you see how there's nothing really there, just some folded panels and a gaping void. It's a shame he and Torox couldn't have been engineered so that the beast legs tuck in to fill the space. No guns for him to carry, but you can plug in Predaking's feet to either of his shoulders. I think its supposed to be a rocket or grenade launcher or something, but it just looks like a massive early '80s ghetto blaster and that him and Torox are off break dancing, Wyld Style. The massive leg chunk dangling down the back isn't subtle, but neither is it particularly awful. It does inhibit the waist rotation if you leave it plugged flush against his back and it is a bit unsightly, but I can see that if this had been left as some kind of add-on connection part for the gestalt, folks would have been up in arms (or rather legs) about how that was cheating. So, I don't mind it, but it might bother you.

Headstrong beast mode: Rhino mode is decent. The boxiness suits the beast form and the bright colours do enough to draw your attention away from the leg chunk underneath. As with all beast mode Transformers, posability doesn't exist. You can wiggle the legs about, but that's it. I don't mind, after nearly 35 years of largely static beast forms, I'm used to the design compromises that have to be made for these things. Looks good, and works for imaginative play. You can plug the foot gun on the beast mode back, but it doesn't half look silly.

Onyx Prime robot mode: This tiny fellow is alright, he's standard for these tiny robots. Sadly, whatever sculpting he had has been killed by one of the worst paint jobs I've seen on these mighty micros. It's like someone sneezed with a brush in their hand. Anyway, he can wave his arms and sit down, which is all you need.

Onyx Prime Prime Master mode: I'm not a fan of the Prime Masters. These abstract shapes they wear on their back are ...well what are they? A whole heap of 'well the Titan Masters went down well, lets do more of them, but not as heads.' 'Ooh! Shall we make them look like engines or something?' 'We could do, but I was thinking more along the lines of Hieronymous Bosch.' 'Oh. Okay then.' (sulks). So, they are what they are. I'm not sure what Hasbro were going for, and with nothing to contribute to the larger figures, they seem utterly superfluous. Which is exactly what Onyx is. I just leave him buried in Razorclaw's head and forget he's there. He doesn't unlock anything, or make a head or do anything useful, so its all he deserves.

Rampage robot mode: The least flashiest of the group, Rampage is probably the one that works best as an action figure. His combiner chunk is all up his back, looking like a soldier with his kit and he's free from a lot of the mess that knackers the others. The colours are a bit too strong though. I do think Rampage could use something to break up the red and orange, which are so dense that they run into each other. Some gold highlights and bits of black do what they can, but they get a bit lost. Much like his eyes, which are buried under this massive forehead platfrom.

Rampage beast mode: What the lord giveth, he also taketh away. Seems the trade off for a good, solid robot mode is easily the worst looking beast of the bunch in this box. The head is nice, with it's opening jaw, but it's stuck looking at the ground. In fact, the front half generally looks pretty nice, but then you get to the back and the rear legs and it's just a bit of a mess. It's just a horrible bungle of boxes with two pitiful hind legs and an unintentionally comical butt gun sticking out the back. When fully extended, the back legs give Rampage some forward rake, which makes him look even worse. I think with rampage, they should have gone full on chunk with the hind and forelegs, as I think with a bit more beef this would have had a better chance of working. That, and a flip out tail, rather than this silly gun tail, which isn't convincing anyone.

Razorclaw robot mode: As updates to the originals go, this is lavishly faithful; stumpy arms that can't reach past his chest, a body dominated by a massive beast head and a ridiculous weapon that looks like it's recoil would take your arm off. Despite this, Razorclaw does look pretty cool. I like the shoulder cannons and the more refined head sculpt. He's decently posable and although his weapon is a bit of a lump, it works for him – although its not very secure and doesn't peg in well to his fist. Which is why he doesn't fare as well as Rampage in my eyes. There's nothing more irritating than the constant clatter of things dropping off that shouldn't. Razorclaw is the only one of the group that isn't cluttered with combiner kibble, so has a free range of motion. He's just a bit too podgy to look dynamic, like a fat bloke in a tracksuit.

Razorclaw beast mode: I like Razorclaw's beast mode. Sure, its fat and massive, but the bulk in the beast legs means he can carry it off – this is precisely what should have been done with Rampage. Well, except for the weird flaps hanging over his arse. Why those couldn't have been designed to hinge down flat against the rear legs, I don't know. Like Rampage, he lacks a tail. It's not a big deal, but seems a shame to have missed off something so crucial to the appearance of the beast mode. Otherwise, everything here looks pretty great. The head and opening jaw and that big daft mane, the clawed rear toes – okay the front ones are pretty much stumps, but c'mon, they've got robot hands pinned inside.

Torox robot mode: Torox is like Headstrong, another gang-banger in search of his breakdance crew. Only with horns and a slightly less loud jumper on. He's chunky, lumpy and quite clearly doesn't care about it. Like Rampage, the orange and red tend to blend into each other, but the presence of a stronger colour in all that black means its less likely to make your eyes sore. My example does seem to suffer with a slightly loose right hip, so needs to wear the foot bazooka on his left shoulder or he falls over, so there's that.

Torox beast mode: As with Headstrong, Torox carries off the bulk well and just about manages to distract your attention from the huge amount of leg he's hawking about. It helps that both he and Headstrong have bulky animals for their alt modes. If the designers had had some mad ideas about updating the beast modes and made them, I dunno, horses or something, they'd look bloody awful. As it is, Torox is alright. Rear legs are perhaps a bit skinny and the beast head looks odd – not helped by the massive nose and no nostrils, but otherwise he's pretty good. He can also wear the foot on his back. And it still looks silly.

Predaking robot mode: And here's what the fuss is all about. Two feet of terrifying totem-pole, Predaking is an impressive conclusion to the five-'bot hunter-killer crew. He looks lean, muscular and seriously powerful. The worryingly hollow waist is surprisingly solid and ably supports the weight of the upper torso and arms. He feels solid and decently weighty, and that weight is distributed very well, meaning Predaking can both strike a pose and hold it – he can stand on one leg in a kicking pose without toppling over. This is the one thing that's striking about Predaking – he's the first of this decade's combiners that can take all that modern articulation and use it. Whereas pretty much all the Combiner Wars figures will fall over or collapse into a contorted mess when you try and move them, Predaking just doesn't. He keeps it together and the satisfying 'clip, slide and lock' combination means nothing's going anywhere. Although a little awkward to handle because of his size, he's probably the best action figure Hasbro have ever produced at this scale. He looks brilliant too, with the shoulder cannons looming over his... shoulders (should have thought that through) and his beefy arm cannon (much more practical than Megatron's), he looks terrifying and something I can imagine being terrifying to face in battle.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation design: It must be hard for Hasbro's designers – they know what adult fans are looking for, but have to be mindful that kids have got to be able to play with this too. They don't have the freedom of third party designers (and, with Lego recently having success against bootleggers Lepin, you have to wonder how much longer this sort of thing will be allowed to carry on) and have things like budgets, part counts and safety tests – not least of which will be the drop test for something like this – to contend with, so I can understand why so much of this set of figures is as compromised as it is. That said, in the process of transforming and combining this thing, you can really see where all the thought and care has gone. It's great fun to transform, doesn't eat up hours of your day and gives you a bunch of things to do. I also like that the gestalt fists can be stored in the feet. 8/10

Durability: Each of the figures are tough and blocky, the joints are used appropriate; ball and socket and pins for the robot arms, swivel hinges and ratchets for the robot legs and some majorly heavy duty ratchets for the gestalt. The dense plastics mean these don't feel like they're putting strain on anything they shouldn't either. The only thing I've noticed are some stress fractures on Rampage where the robot arms/ forelegs pin to his sides in arm mode. 9/10

Fun: The Predacons are fantastic blocks of joy. They're big, huge colourful figures with decent posing power and some acceptable beast modes. I would have liked some better weapons for the smaller robots – and it would only really have taken Divebomb's drainpipe guns to split into smaller guns for Headstrong and Torox – but that's about it. And no, I don't miss his bloody sword. 8/10

Aesthetics: Even allowing for the design and engineering compromises that have gone into this, there's no escaping that the beast modes aren't the best, coming off worse overall when compared to their 1980s counterparts. The individual robot modes suffer too much from having to contribute to the stability of the gestalt and, as much as I enjoy playing with them and find them fun, I'm not blind to how much this has affected each of the team. I think if this sort of scale was possible in the days when Hasbro wasn't in the habit of making everything hollow to keep costs down, then this lot would have turned out very differently indeed. 5/10

Value/ Price : Online prices vary, but the two main specialist online retailers (ID toys and Kapow) here in the UK have Predaking for 149.99, which works out at 30.00 each with Onyx as a 'bonus'. So, going rate for Voyager figures. I sold a bunch of stuff to pay for Predaking, so the cost to me has been mitigated by that, and I don't know that if I'd handed over 149.99 I'd be a 100% happy with him and it might be worth waiting to see if regular toy retailers (if there are any left by the time you read this) get him in and wait for the sales (as I did with Trypticon). I certainly wouldn't pay the 2 - 300 that he's available on ebay for. You've got have some personal investment in the characters and be mindful that this is a fun, if heavily flawed, set before taking the plunge. 5/10

Overall: I have incredibly mixed feelings with this set. I like it, but it feels a bit simplistic and basic. It's not a nice thing to say, because I can see how much work has gone into this, but I wonder if there was really any need to make the likes of Predaking and Devastator this massive. Maybe if they were just a shade taller than the other gestalts and not these... attempts at cock waving against the third party IP thieves, they'd have been able to be a bit more refined. As with Devastator, the whole project seems to have started with the combined mode and worked backwards from there. It's from that you can see why various choices have been made. It's a really good, fun set of figures and brilliant to play with, but the combiner kibble, simplistic, blocky robots and poor beast modes might be too much for some to get past. 7/10
 

Last edited by Skyquake87; 2018-08-29 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 2018-08-27, 12:57 PM   #2
Skyquake87
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Pictures!
 
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Old 2018-08-27, 12:59 PM   #3
Skyquake87
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More Pictures!
 
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Old 2018-08-27, 07:42 PM   #4
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Even more pictures!
 
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Old 2018-08-28, 11:23 PM   #5
Tantrum
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Torox?! This name change makes me want to throw an angry fit of some kind!

I've always set up Predaking with the orange limbs on the right. Is that possible with this set? I saw 1 pic with Divebomb and Rampage swapped, but read something about the shoulder cannons not mounting that way.

At worst, it seems like you should be able to rotate the waist and thighs to swap the legs. You'd lose the yellow deco on the hips. Would that affect hip articulation? It looks like the legs might not swing forward.

Nice review. I'm glad people are still writing them. The foot cannons mounted on the animal backs wouldn't look bad if it weren't for the ankle joint sticking out the side.

You might get a decent price for Onyx Prime from anyone wanting to complete their Prime Master set without buying Predaking.
 

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Old 2018-08-29, 08:13 PM   #6
Skyquake87
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If you swap the arms around, there's no corresponding holes for the cannons to plug in, but you can always stuff them into Razorclaw's arse flaps behind Predaking's head.

I think you can swap the legs around, but the backs don't have the yellow panels, so if you don't mind a bunch of screws showing it'll be fine. I've not tried though, so I might have have a fiddle and report back!

As much as I'm not thrilled by Onyx, Razorclaw does need the Matrix holder otherwise the Lion head is a bit incomplete looking. It's not that I dislike the tiny 'bots, I'm just not impressed with the 'nothing to contribute' nature of the Prime Masters - it doesn't make them particularly fun to play with. Small fellas being guns, heads and engines, or just tiny Transformers, fine.

Yeah...Torox .. Ox .. see what you did there. Good one :P

I've been wanting to sit down and do some reviews for ages as I like writing them, but just haven't had the time. Stupid life.
 
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Old 2018-08-31, 01:48 AM   #7
Tantrum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyquake87 View Post
Yeah...Torox .. Ox .. see what you did there. Good one :P
I didn't intend anything Ox related, so I guess I don't see what I did there. I just meant the character I got my screen name from had been renamed, and was playing dumb by not being able to think of a word for angry fit. Did I inadvertently say something more clever?

And you could keep the Matrix holder if you sell Onyx; the other PrimeMasters don't come with one. 4 come with SDCC Optimal Optimus, 8 come with the Pretender shells, and the other is Onyx. There'll be quite a few people who get SDCC OO, with his display-your-PMs throne, don't get Predaking, and will be looking to fill that spot. If the matrix holder sits OK in Razorclaw's head without Onyx, toss the little bugger on ebay and see what you get.

Or, use him for a passenger in a figure like Beachcomber or the clones, who can fit a TM/PM but don't come with one. PMs tend to have painted faces while TMs don't, so they look a little better.
 

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Old 2018-08-31, 11:03 AM   #8
Skyquake87
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Oh! I was referring to Hasbro's naming convention for Torox. Silly me.

So I messed about with his hips, and yes, they have a full 360 swivel so you can have the orange/red limb bots all down one side. Although the back of the hips are black and covered in screw holes which would then face forward.
 
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