numbat's review: Powerlinx Cyclonus
I was an impoverished zoology student when the Armada line was in full swing, and was unable to afford any of the figures when they were available in stores. However, after enjoying the intricate, realistic designs and complex transformations of the RID Autobots, I was fairly disappointed by the simplistic designs and childish cartoon faces that characterized the majority of the early Armada releases. On the other hand, I loved the Mini-Con concept (basically just because it meant that there was a huge variety of wee Transformers suddenly flooding the market, many of which were complete with innovative transformations).
A while later, just as Energon was winding up and Cybertron began to hit the shelves, I came across a wee store in Cardiff, Wales which was selling off a fair number of old Armada and Energon releases (including Unicron! What a day that
was!). Picking up a few for a pittance, I discovered that they were remarkably good fun, despite their shortcomings.
That said, many of the early Armada figures suffered from another affliction – horrendous
paint jobs! And, unfortunately, to me, Cyclonus had by far one of the most horrible (as well as being a prime contender for worst head sculpt to date). A real shame, as Cyclonus was easily one of the coolest characters and designs to come out of the Generation 1 series. Needless to say, Armada Cyclonus has no connection to his namesake.
However, towards the end of the line in 2003, a repaint of Cyclonus was released in forest green, black and grey, which looked far more attractive than the original. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to trade some surplus G1 figures for this repaint (Powerlinx Cyclonus) a couple years back, I jumped at the opportunity.
Cyclonus transforms in to a helicopter gunship, measuring 6 ½” (16.5cm) nose to tail. It's reminiscent of the Apache helicopters, but only in passing. The snub nose cockpit is a terrible detractor from what is otherwise a fairly cool alternate mode. The body of the ‘copter is forest green, with grey wings and tail, and an exceedingly dark maroon for the rotors, missiles and the odd other component. A grey wash has been applied to the green, which picks out the incredible level of moulded detail. The Decepticon insignia is moulded (and painted) on the right wing.
A trigger activates the rotors, while two missiles (one on either side – both different moulds) can be fired by attaching a Mini-Con to the appropriate port.
Unfortunately, the robot mode legs are poorly folded underneath the helicopter. Despite a poor effort to hide these by attaching cannons at the fronts, this merely draws attention to them, and gives the impression of a giant grasshopper. Similarly, the fists are in full view, folded beneath the wings, but are not quite so obvious, almost
blending in to the moulded weapon details.
The mode is improved greatly when Cyclonus’s Mini-Con, Crumplezone, is combined with his larger companion. Crumplezone is something of a Triple Changer-come Target Master in that he can become a new, far more Apache-esque cockpit for Cyclonus. He blends nicely, despite the tank treads which now flank the body of the ‘copter. Unfortunately, the old snub cockpit merely folds up, and is in full view above! You can almost convince yourself that those are additional windows to the new, extended cockpit, but the fact that they are moulded in silver contrasts with the black of Crumplezone’s. Puling the trigger now causes the rotors to rotate and
also the nose cannon to swing from side to side. Nice touch, if bizarre. With Crumplezone attached, the helicopter now measures 9” (23cm) to the tip of the cannon.
Frankly, you will only ever display (or probably play with) Cyclonus in his alternate mode with Crumplezone attached. The alternative just looks daft.
The transformation is as simple as it looks (it's a wonder they managed to extend the instructions to seven steps!), and, as with most helicopter transformers, the designers have had difficulty deciding what to do with the tail and rotors. Rotors on the back of a robot always look cool to me (although best folded as with 2007 Movie Blackout as pioneered by G1 Rotorstorm long before, giving an insectile feel). However, the tail hanging between the legs is just irritating.
The robot stands 6 ¼” (16cm) head to toe, and is pretty ungainly. Cyclonus has a huge upper body, with an unusually long, emaciated waist. Furthermore, he suffers from being cursed with an exceedingly long, flat crotch.
There is, at least, a huge amount of moulded detail – all carried over from the ‘copter – which adds a great degree of interest. The colours are the same, with the maroon becoming more obvious in the upper arms, legs and waist. Silver paint can no be clearly seen outlining details of the arm missile launchers. The balance works well up to this point. Unfortunately, we have the introduction of bright – and I mean bright
– orange. This is acceptable picking out details in the legs, and dulls down against the green, but for some unbeknownst reason, the designers have splashed this on to the face (and the bright green eyes do not help!). And let’s make something clear – attention should be drawn away
from this head sculpt – not
The head sculpt is highly stylized and organic, although with odd attempts at introducing geometric lines to this fluid mess. Set with some sort of smirk, Cyclonus looks like a stereotypical playground bully, with broken nose and all. I appreciate a lot of careful work must have gone in to creating this, but, to me, it just does not suit a Transformer. However, I’m sure younger fans loved it!
Articulation is limited. Swivel joints at the knees, hips, shoulders and elbows do not allow for any dynamic poses to speak of. There’s also a totally unusable waist joint, blocked by the helicopter tail which hangs between his legs (which also limits leg movement).
Mini-Con ports activate the missile launchers as in the ‘copter mode, and a new robot mode feature – swing out knee cannons! It looks a bit strange, but there’s no reason why a large mech couldn’t have guns wherever it wanted, I suppose, and it does give a heavily armed impression!
Crumplezone follows Cyclonus’s colour scheme nicely. He transforms in to a tank (2 ¾” [6.5cm] long) – largely black, with green armoured sides and rear, grey treads and maroon cannon and rear upper plates. The turret moves, and the front of the tank is abounded by moulded detail. Unfortunately, the rear is clearly both the robot legs and an inverted helicopter cockpit, detracting mightily from the success of this mode.
The transformation is simple, as you’d expect, and results in an odd looking robot (2 ¼” [6cm] tall) – half helicopter cockpit parts, half tank (reminiscent of the G1 Duocon robot modes, or G1 Overlord, who was arguably the largest Duocon of all time!) – but he looks cool. He is slightly top heavy, but can be balanced fine. Articulation is limited to the shoulders, waist, hips and knees… so actually not so limited for a Mini-Con at all!
Alas, at the end of the day, Crumplezone has been given a tall order. Transforming in to a tank, helicopter cockpit and robot has proven slightly too much for such an early Mini-Con, but it was an ambitious goal on that scale (The best comparison being with Overload’s Rollout Mini-Con who became a transport truck, robot, gun and head for Overload. In that case, the gun suffered, and the whole figure ended up being arguably too large to truly be called a Mini-Con. At least Crumplezone remains comfortably within average Mini-Con size limits.).
To summarise, this remains the best version of an often released mediocre mould. Why it receives so many releases (and often garish ones) is beyond me, but should you feel compelled to own this figure, this is easily the one you should aim for. Plus, he makes a fine companion piece for the KB exclusive Armada Demolishor repaint from the Energon line.
Marks out of ten for the following:
2 – Exceeding straightforward, without any innovation. Still, at least the moulding has been done in such a way as to hide as much of the robot mode in plain sight as is possible. In fact, it’s amazing how well that has worked out!
7 – Although largely solid, the waist construction feels fragile.
5 – He’s not boring, but he’s not mind-blowing, and does not display well.
7 – I have just sold mine for £6.50 (insert appropriate $ - I can’t keep up with the changing economic climate!). That seems reasonable for the best version of this mould.
5 – Cyclonus is a mediocre mould cursed with horrendous colour schemes that tip the balance. This is the only version with a good paint job, is not extortionate, and so he falls neatly down the middle. He’s never going to be the highlight of any collection, but if anyone feels compelled, this is the version to buy.