Blackjack's Review: PCC Icepick
All right, after the less-than-spectacular assortment that the Power Core Combiners sub-line had brought us, I was ready to simply give up on that particular line, preferring to save up money for the upcoming Generations releases. After all, between Huffer and Searchlight and Bombshock, I can't say that any of them were great. Huffer was the best of the ones I had, and even then he was overprized.
Plus, ugly Minicons that transform into lazy, random Quickswitch-esque 'alternate modes'.
I promised I would get Leadfoot (I have a fetish for G2 characters. Sue me.) and be done with the line. But I couldn't find Leadfoot, and the Icepick toy looks nice enough and I impulse-brought him just based on the name. It's weird, really. The original Icepick in G1, the leader of the Monstructor combiner group, never did anything at all but die in the original comic series, and some fifteen years later when a GI Joe crossover, he did not do anything but combine with Monstructor. And while he appeared in IDW's comics, again he didn't do anything but tag along as part of Monstructor, although this time Monstructor had a relatively larger role in the comics.
But I love Monstructor. He has four hands, damn it!
So, seeing that Icepick had a unique alternate mode (a snow-plow instead of yet another tank/jet/sports car/truck), a name of a G1 character I liked, and had a Minicon that doesn't look shite, I picked him off the shelf and bought him.
Like the rest of the Power Core Combiners toys, Icepick is packaged in his robot mode. With paper twist-ties instead of plastic/metal ones, tooa measure that has suddenly been applied to all of the 2010 releases in the Generations, PCC and Transformers lines. Unlike Huffer or Leadfoot, Icepick is not a Classics-style reimagination of the G1 Pretender Monster. The G1 Icepick was a light-blue and dark red robot that folded into something that's supposed to be a monster, but is actually his robot mode with parts arranged differently. His Pretender shell was an orange and blue thing with spiky, ice-like claws.
This Icepick is nothing like either of G1 Icepick's appearances, instead going with the ice theme much more literally. He is predominantly white and a shade of an almost-black blue. Some parts are cast in a chrome-like colour, and the windows on his chest are done in shiny yellow. The lights on top of his chest is orange, and his eyes are blood-red. Tiny black Decepticon insignias adorn his shoulders, and the Combiner connectors, coloured in that garish shade of light blue, hang off the jutting edges of his shoulder. Other than the ugly connector ports, it's a nice palette, and works well for someone who would be working in an arctic environment. It's sort of reminiscent of Snow Cat from the Energon series.
Instead of being another generic robot like Smolder or Sledge, Icepick has distinctive features of his own. His arms are long and monstrous, just like those on his G1 namesake's Pretender shell. However, this Icepick's arms end in long three-pronged curved claws. They were articulated at numerous points triple joints on the shoulders, a hinged elbow and the wrists are ball jointed. Iceipick's head can swivel, as does his waist. His thigh is on a ball joint and his knee is on a hinge joint. All in all, a little bit more articulation compared to the rest of the PCC toys that I have. While not as much as a Deluxe, Icepick still has more than a normal Scout/Basic sized toy. Oh, and Icepick has Minicon ports on his chest and on the top of his right shoulder. More on that later.
Plus, he is very detailed. While not as busy as the Movie aesthetic, like Smolder or Huffer he is still well-detailed, with rivets and mechanical parts like vents and whatnot adorning much of his body. He looks like one of the Classics figures, really, although sadly he doesn't resemble G1 Icepick in any way. He does look monstrous and psychotic, the way a sadist Decepticon should look. His bio suggests a fanatic that considers anyone that could not combine Autobot, Decepticon or otherwise as obsolete, and that he wouldn't hesitate to kill those who couldn't combine. It's much more imaginative than the rest of the recent toy bios that basically try to advertise another toy. It wouldn't be hard to imagine Icepick stalking through the battlefield, blood-red eyes in his shrunken head glaring hostilely at everyone, claws ready to eviscerate anyone who isn't a combiner.
Unlike Searchlight, Icepick's robot mode is actually well-executed, a pleasant surprise to someone who was expecting a half-assed toy.
Icepick transforms into an arctic vehicle, specifically a snow-plow with a half-track wheels. It's like Snow Cat's alternate mode crossed with Armada Iceberg. It's pretty detailed, and he rolls pretty nicely on the floor. The half-track treads do not move, of course, instead relying on those tiny wheels attached below his alternate mode. Icepick's alternate mode is heavily detailed. The silver-coloured snow plow has lots of spikes attached to it, so it's not hard to imagine Icepick charging through Autobot ranks with his snowplow tearing through like a siege engine.
His robot-mode monster claws end up on his back as some sort of treads like ROTF Rampage, most likely to flatten the snow that the snowplow moves through, although in this case Icepick's claws aren't that conspicuous. After all, they don't exactly blend in, but it's a nice place to hide the claws in plain sight. It's sort of a tight fit to put the claws together, though.
Icepick's cab looks futuristic and angled, so there's a decent mix of realism and futuristic alternate mode here. Icepick is lean instead of bulky, like one of those GI Joe snow combat vehicles. He looks really good with his snow-camo deco, and the only thing that breaks his paintjob up is the two combiner connector ports poking on Icepick's back. While they could easily be passed off as some sort of wacky engines, it's lazy, since with a bit more work (or damn it a different colour that would blend in with Icepick's paintjob) they could've been hidden.
But unlike Searchlight's disastrous and lazy alternate mode, Icepick has a decent alternate mode that's not something done to death. It's refreshing, really, and rather imaginative.
But wait! There's more to Icepick! He can become the torso of a gestalt mode, so long as you spend those dough and buy the five-pack combiner set. A nice touch, since Icepick was the leader of a combiner team in G1. Sadly, as a predominantly white torso, Icepick hardly makes a Monstructor substitute when combined with drones.
After a bit of folding and whatnot (folding out the knee ports from recessed compartments) Icepick's central component mode has a different head that flips out in a way similar to Huffer and Searchlight. It is mainly transcluscent icy blue, with a spiky crown around it and a stern expression. He looks sort of like an ice giant of sorts. Of course, the instruction wants you to fold up Icepick's arms, but why do so when you could have them acting as a secondary set of claws? Icepick looks okay combined with the Combaticon limbs I have, although the ports are very loose and he couldn't last long attached to them if you play around. But at least the limbs aren't as fragile as the Energon Aerialbots, and gestalt mode Icepick has articulation.
It's a neat bonus to a toy that has so far surpassed most of my expectations. I daresay Icepick is the very first successful Power Core Combiner, considering the ugly sub-par quality of the rest of the PCC toys.
Alright, so Icepick also came with a bonus little Minicon. So far, the Minicons that had came with the PCC toys were ugly blobs of transcluscent plastic. If in late-G1 and G2 Hasbro thought kids would be thrilled by bright, eye-searing colours, now they evidently think kids liked transcluscent plastic.
Backwind, Chopster and Caliburst are certainly not the best Minicons I've seen out there. And Hasbro trying to cram three modes into a toy the size of a Minicon when some larger toys could barely manage with one is a big, big mistake. 'Robot mode weapon'! 'Alternate mode weapon'! 'Body armour'! Eesh.
But Chainclaw, like Icepick, benefits from having more time to designers to refine his design. And as such, while rubbish on his own, Chainclaw works well as an accessory. Like Armada Blackout or Demolishor pointless on their own with their stupid alternate modes, but looks great when connected to their larger partners. Chainclaw is something like that. But at least his alternate modes aren't useless 'robot doing painful yoga' like Backwind's.
The name Chainclaw originated from G1, an paranoid Autobot Pretender that transformed into a grizzly bear. Like Icepick, he appeared in the Marvel comics. While he died in the main US title, he did get several moments in the UK black-and-white strip, although they usually involved Chainclaw being the resident redshirt.
Anyways, no nostalgia moment with this Chainclaw. It's just Hasbro digging out another name from obscurity and claiming dibs at it.
Unlike Backwind, who was basically a blob of transcluscent green plastic, Chainclaw looked much better. Sure, he is still mainly transcluscent, a shade of sea green, but he got paintjob that actually make him look more attractive, more like the olden days of Armada Minicons. The center of Chainclaw's chest and his arms are painted entirely silver, while his back is cast in solid dark blue plastic, so he doesn't look so damned bright and plain. His face (or the Skyscorcher-esque T-shaped visor) is painted bright red, and two sticks on his lower legs are painted black. All in all, he looks much better than every single Minicon released in the PCC line so far.
And articulation? Hell yeah, Chainclaw has got it. His shoulders are on ball joints, as are his thighs. His knees are on hinges. A nice range of articulation for a Minicon, and his body parts are in proportion, unlike Caliburst, who had tiny arms or Backwind who is wrong in just about every way. Chainclaw would surely be home placed alongside Armada series Minicons, what with his Leader-1 arms.
ROBOT/ALT WEAPON MODE
Unlike the first wave Minicons, Chainclaw has the same alternate modes for Icepick's robot mode and alternate mode. The transformation involves simply folding Chainclaw's legs up to reach his head and plugging him onto the Minicon port on Icepick's upper shoulder (or above his cab in vehicle mode). Either way, Chainclaw becomes a missile rack with painted non-firing projectiles, the first PCC Minicon that transforms into something practical. He can swivel 360 degrees on the port.
It looks great, just like those Armada Minicons that came with the Decepticons that are basically glorified weapons that could transform, only Chainclaw has articulation in robot mode. And the best part? Unlike Backwind and Searchlight, or Huffer and Caliburst, or Sledge and his drilling partner, Chainclaw's colours are distinct enough from Icepick's to say that he's a separate guy, yet they don't clash as badly as the others that I mentioned.
TARGETMASTER GUN MODE
But wait! There's more! Chainclaw has a portruding post on his back that doesn't serve any function, not even in the instruction booklet. It actually hampers transformation somewhat by forcing us to align the legs with the peg. The peg couldn't attach anywhere to Icepick, who doesn't have arm holes, so where could it go?
I'll tell you where it will go. Fold up Chainclaw's legs a bit, point them downwards, and you have a Targetmaster weapon! He's reminiscent in design to Spoilsport or Pinpointer or Aimless from G1, with gun barrels that are obviously limbs yet you could turn a blind eye and pretend they are awesome guns.
Icepick, with his claw hands, couldn't utilize Chainclaw like this, but someone from the classics line, say, Prowl or Drift or Sideswipe with their basic-sized arm holes could easily hold Chainclaw in his 'gun' mode. Perhaps a future use alongside a new partner with arm-holes?
BODY ARMOUR MODE
Again, the pointless 'body armour' mode that Hasbro seems keen on advertising for some reason. There's nothing that makes sense with in your living weapon/partner act as a glowing target in your chest, no? It looks stupid and best forgotten about, but since I have obsessive-compulsive disorder and am a perfectionist, I couldn't just let it go.
Chainclaw folds his legs up like a Powermaster engine and plugs into Icepick's chest. I was excited about the resemblance to a Powermaster for all of one minute before I unplugged Chainclaw and turned him back into his missile rack mode.
Overall? The absurd armour mode aside, Chainclaw is a great Minicon partner. So long as he doesn't leave Icepick's side, in which case his alternate mode would look odd.
Marks out of ten for the following
7/10 The shiny gold and silver paint used on both Icepick and Chainclaw seem to be able to be scratched off easily during play. Also, the ball joint on Icepick's left shoulder is worryingly loose, although I'm not sure if this is just on mine.
8/10 He's got absolutely zero nostalgic value, but both he and Chainclaw look decent in robot mode, and Icepick's alternate mode looks great. I wished they would give Icepick a better head, though.
6/10 Icepick has gotten the articulation expected of a toy his size, while Chainclaw has more than a Minicon should. They average at about six.
7/10 The combination thing is kind of neat, but Icepick monsteriffic look and Chainclaw's excellent design is pretty fun to fiddle around with.
6/10 There are places where the transformation could be improved, especially when considering hiding the blue connector ports is kind of easy. Chainclaw's armour/engine mode also doesn't hold up properly.
4/10 Just nearly
justifies for the leap in price from a Scout to a two-pack. Still too expensive, though.
7/10 Icepick and Chainclaw are great toys, surprisingly. It's a nice surprise for someone with low expectations on PCC, and had rekindled my waning interest in the new molds. However, with dozens of reimagined G1 characters down the road, PCC toys would really be low on a fan's priority, surely? But they are rather neat, and if you want something a little different, go for him.