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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Inflatable Dalek's Review: Botcon 2010 "Autobot Spark" [Pyro]

Botcon 2010 Exclusive “Autobot Spark” [Pyro]

Allegiance:
Autobot.

Function: Leader for the original toy, the Botcon version doesn’t seem to have one. For the IDW version “Cannon Fodder you care about” sums him up pretty well.

Think of the most awful unspeakable menace you can - and then double it. That's what we're up against.

In terms of character, you’ve basically got three choices to make. As this is the version used in the Wings comic, he’s a British Transformer who talks like David Tennant. But equally you could view him as the totally awesome and amazing Obliterator from the crossover period between G1 and G2. But let’s face it, only the parents of the person who wrote the lazy original toy tech spec or the folks behind the TFCC comics give a toss about either of those, to the rest of us he’s Pyro from Last Stand of the Wreckers.

Pyro is an extreme sufferer of Primus Apotheosis who desperately wants to be Optimus Prime to the point of trying to look like him, had a bit of a breakdown but made the ultimate Prime like sacrifice when he died a in a similar way to that bloke at the end of Shaun of the Dead (though the short story Bullets did round him out a bit more by showing for all his eccentricities he could still lead troops effectively in battle). The rest of this review will be treating him as IDW Pyro and reviewing him on those grounds. Because not one person in the whole history of humanity has ever given their reason for joining the TFCC as “Because the tie in comics are really, really good!”

The original 1993 Pyro toy had something of a resemblance to Optimus Prime (though Last Stand exaggerated that for comedic effect, other than the faceplate the bug-eyed head on the original toy isn’t especially more Optimus-ey than, say, Soundwave), but as there’s no Generations Optimus fire-truck this Botcon toy used the default fireman of all Transformers toy-lines: Inferno. I’ve never been a huge fan of the 2009 Inferno as- at least in photos- he never felt very much like the lanky G1 character he was supposed to represent. The question then, is how well does he translate to Pyro?


Alternate Mode:

Right off the bat the fire-truck mode works much better as Pyro than it does for Inferno. Whilst G1 Inferno was a long thin more traditional fire engine of the sort Sir Roger Moore hangs off in A View to a Kill, Pyro was a flat squat vehicle with a gun on his roof rather than a ladder. As such, the new truck (apparently loosely based on a Pierce Contender) automatically fits him like a glove.

Normally I would say this sort of truck has a fairly dull sort of look to it, but that’s where the faithfully recreated colour scheme of the original toy comes in. As is typical of the era it’s bright and garish, mixing neon pink, lilac and yellow in a way that really shouldn’t work, yet strangely all three colours mesh pretty well. It’s worth noting at this stage how much paint there is on this toy, it coming from the days before the small children in Hasbro’s sweat shop became too lazy to put this much effort in.

There are also some nice little details all over the toy, most noticeably the seats in the cab and the way the gun is seemingly shooting a wall of flame (this is actually a firing missile, but works better for mid-battle action poses than as an actual projectile). The join lines are mostly well hidden, with the truck looking nice and solid from the front and sides.

However, things do fall down a bit when you look down on him from above, as the arms and hands are clearly visible from each side of the missile. It’s a pity that, with all the fold out panels on the toy already, that these couldn’t have been hidden a little better. However, that aside this is a fairly decent fire engine that’s sexed up by the colours.

Robot Mode:

Transforming the toy is fairly obvious and easy to work out (my loose example didn’t come with instructions but I managed it within five minutes), mainly being a variant on the default Autobot car transformation of chest=hood and legs=folded down from the rear. There are various panels that have to be folded down and out, which does result in a fair bit of kibble, most notably the “wings” he winds up with on his shoulders, but more on them in a second.

Some surprisingly restrained black highlights are added to the colour scheme in robot mode, which again combine with the three main parts of the scheme to work in a way that shouldn’t but really does. The robot mode also has the advantage that, whilst you’ve really got to stretch your credulity to accept a fire truck looking like that there is as yet no firm evidence either way that aliens wouldn’t be these lethal colours. Pyro’s look was actually muted somewhat for Wreckers (relatively of course), meaning it’s not quite a perfect match for his comic look, but it’s still a very striking visual.

Though the toy in theory has the full range of articulation you’d expect from a modern Transformer- arms and legs all have bendy knees and elbows and can move 360 degrees- in reality having a massive gun on one arm and wings on his shoulders do somewhat limit what you can make him do. However, you can still strike a great many poses and the balance is better than you’d expect from such a lop-sided toy.

Even more so than the truck mode it’s amazing the extent to which the robot looks like Pyro (and how much he doesn’t look like Inferno), he even has the same over the shoulder kibble as the original toy. On that score, it comes so close to being perfect, but is let down by one really unfortunate thing: He has Inferno’s head.

That’s not unusual of course, even for convention exclusive toys (though remoulding is becoming more and more the norm for Botcon), but whilst it’s normally not a huge problem that, say, Big Daddy has Wheeljack’s head, here we’re talking about a character whose look is a big part of his personality. And said personality wasn’t based around him having a face like Inferno.

Obviously this isn’t the fault of the Botcon people as the comic came out the same year, it’s doubtful they’d have been aware that he was going to go from obscure nobody to one of the stars of the BIG (and indeed only) comic success of the period. And if you want to imagine this as the version from Wings (the TFCC comic, not the ones who sang Band on the Run) it’s not in the least a problem. But, no one is going to do that last one. There are probably more people who would prefer to pretend he was Paul McCartney.

At the time of writing I do have some plans to swap the head for a Kreon-Optimus-Painted-Lilac one, but in the form it was released the choice of head just stops him being the perfect Pyro, which is a shame.

Transformation Design:

For the other versions of the toy the amount of kibble would count against it, but here it all actually helps him look like Pyro. Otherwise, everything is pretty solid, an extremely trusty old design that HasTak knows well enough at this stage not to screw up.

7/10

Durability:

As one of the more stocky and brick like classics toys there’s very little that can go wrong here, though (and I’m not sure if this is just the version I have being a bit faulty) the panel you need to flip up to reveal the head is extremely stiff. Other than that, the only real potential weakness is the amount of paint apps run the risk of chipping easily. Though the novelty in 2013 of holding a classics toy with paint on it more than counters that.

8/10

Aesthetics

A lot of your enjoyment will depend on how much you like the G2 “Make it so bright it buuuuuuuuuuurns the eyes!” style, but for those of us who do enjoy it (and who else would be tracking down an expensive three year old Botcon toy?) this does it perfectly, making the garish layout work much better than it has any right too. The toy itself is so Pyro-esque it’s a genuine head scratcher he was actually designed as Inferno first. Docked two points though for that bloody head.

6/10

Articulation:

Despite not being able to take full advantage of the range of arm and leg movement because of the kibble and arm-gun, there’s still some pretty solid poses to be made out of Pyro.

7/10

Price:

I paid £44 for my completely loose example, which, based on a quick eBay search seems to be an excellent bargain as the only one currently on there is selling for £60. Whilst the later may be a fairer price for a convention exclusive toy, it’s more than I’d have been willing to pay despite my mad urge to go complete on the Wreckers. However, it’s still a bargain compared to what the original 1993 toy currently sells for.

6/10


Overall:

If not for the head (did I mention he has the wrong head?) you would be hard pressed to think of how Hasbro could make a better Pyro toy to complete your Wreckers diorama. Whilst anyone without a prior attachment to the character might be less impressed (and telling, before Nick Roche and James Roberts came along the world was hardly clamouring for a new Pyro toy), just because the colour scheme really is an acquired taste. Or lack thereof.

However, small niggles (and the head. Did I mention the head?) aside this is such a distinct improvement over the same toy’s use as Inferno it’s well worth your time if you’re lucky to find one cheap enough. He will certainly stand out on any shelf. Even in the dark with the lights off.
7.5/10
 
 
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