Skyquake87's Review: Titans Return Black Shadow (w/ Ominus)
Bio: Sky Shadow is a thief who sells his skills to the highest bidder. Ominus is the ultimate hacker. He can access the security systems of battle stations, space bridges, and even other 'bots. Together, the universe is theirs to raid.
Sky Shadow has done alright for himself, to say he's a reasonably obscure character from the late 1980s Japanese Transformers lines. Back then, he went by name of Black Shadow and appeared in a handful of episodes of Victory
, where he and his pal Blue Bacchus got up to no good on planet Micro. His toy was a retool and recolour of the Mega Pretender Thunderwing and featured a small transforming robot that could combine with the transforming outer shell. The organic components were stripped out of Black Shadow giving him a totally robotic appearance that, along with a far better choice of colours, made Thunderwing look a bit pokey by comparison.
Fast forward to the 2010s Generations line, and ol' Thunderbutt gets a new Deluxe toy which was shortly repainted and retooled into Black Shadow, which again, trumped the original use of the mould. Appearances in IDWs comics abound at this time, where he was one of Megatron's planet cleansing 'Phase Sixers', cementing Black Shadow's credentials and making him feel less exotic than some of his Japanese contemporaries. Though he didn't have a right lot to do other than ramp up the scary quotient for the Decepticon Justice Division.
As a character with a history of being a retool/repaint, it's nice that he's first out of the gate for the Titans Return line, sporting a hefty and impressive Leader Class toy which has the obvious of hallmarks of future reuse for both Overlord and Thunderwing. Black Shadow has suffered a name change, opting for the new moniker of Sky Shadow, which sounds a bit less threatening, so its good that his Titan Master partner sounds suitably Ominus (sorry).
Sky Shadow is perhaps the first character I've felt that is a good fit for the Leader Class in the Titans return line. Aside from a few dribs and drabs over the years, the Leader Class has been generally used to create massive looming Optimus and Megatron toys, leaving more deserving characters who need the space left with piddly looking things that don't quite scratch that itch for the character. Here, Sky Shadow is hewn in all his majesty. There's something quite regal about him, with his horned helmet and smooth features, mounted on this tough and buff looking body, all great proud chest, massive arms with these gunmetal thumpers and knee-booted legs. He looks like a royal guard or knight or something. The strong colours mean its easy to overlook the detail on him. He's got what I'd say is just enough. There's chiseled lines on his forearms, lots of texture and paneling on his legs and I love the chest plate with its red boobs and that silver collection of pipes and whatnot held over from the original toy. The shoulders are great too – I love the idea that if someone's irritating him, he can just wiggle the shoulder cannons about and shoot them in the face. The kibble on the back can be arranged how you please. In time honoured tradition, there's a large chunk of alt mode that just gets folded up on the back. Its small enough to not weigh him down or spoil his silhouette, which is good.
Ominus suffers the same fate of a lot of the Titan Masters. He's nicely detailed and looks good, but lacking any paint, a lot of the fine detail work of the mould is lost as he's just gang moulded in two colours of plastic. He's got a very nice traditional looking robot mode that reminds me of the face-plated character model Crankcase used to get in the old Marvel comics.
The space craft mode is pretty deadly looking, mostly black and red, it throws in a lovely gold colour around the engines. The wings perhaps seem a bit small, but on closer inspection its because of the huge chunky arm barrels that are pegged up underneath. If if didn't have the huge arms to contend with, this would be a remarkably sleek looking craft. The cockpit can open with room for a Ttian Master pilot. There's also a small drone craft that can unclip from the underside of the nose, which again, a Titan Master can ride around in. The rear end is perhaps the only area where the more fickle may wag the finger of criticism – the necessity of splitting off to form two distinct alt modes does leave a rather large rectangular void.
I absolutely love the tank mode. Its small, spacey-looking and incredibly chunky. Its a little bit super-deformed, so it's impossibly cute. As its a folded up pair of legs, the turret and gun barrel are static, but this thing easily gets by on looks alone. It looks sharp and deadly in its black get up. The small splashes of painted red on the top and rear are excellent and I especially appreciate the wheels of the tank being painted up too. Again, there's a nice canopy rendered in translucent red that can open up to accommodate a Titan Master pilot.
Flipping open the silver panel on the underside of the jet reveals a clip which allows the tank mode to be bolted on. It looks ridiculous, but I love it. It reminds me of one of those old motorised StarCom toys, all chunky and covered with guns. More for play than anything else, the only thing that would have been great would be some kind of 'release' button that would allow you to drop the tank onto your enemies!
The siege mode is probably the weakest of the three modes, making Sky Shadow look like Wile E. Coyote after one of his mishaps, but it's a fun enough addition and I love Ominus sitting back manning that huge cannon blowing the merry crap out of all and sundry. I'm sure if this appeared on the battle field, it'd be game over.
Marks Out Of Ten For The Following:
There's some excellent economy of engineering on show here with a lot of thought put into how to make this mould perform the functions of three separate characters. It gives Sky Shadow an intuitive and fun set of switches to perform. The emphasis of quick change and play that's been evident in Transformers since Combiner Wars continues to show that you can make some pretty banging toys without resorting to Revenge Of The Fallen levels of complexity. 10/10
Good solid plastics with no honey combing mean Sky Shadow and wee Ominous feel hardy enough to survive some pretty rough play. 10/10
The Titan Master gimmick robs Sky Shadow of a neck joint, which is the only area that really robs him of being as expressive as he could. Other than that, just the usual lack of wrist joints that see him lose a mark. Everything else is spot on. 9/10
As much as I've enjoyed the Titans Return line, this is the first toy I've bought from the line that has made me go 'must get some smaller Titan Masters to make best use of all these alt modes'. Job done, Hasbro! 10/10
Retailing around the £50 mark, I'd say Sky Shadow is well worth the money. 10/10
I've been floored by how much I enjoy this figure. He looks great, has a bunch of excellent interactive play features, works exceptionally well as a play set, and just is one of the best Transformers toys in terms of intent and execution. That it's a relative nobody again getting the love really impresses me and shows how much thought and care Hasbro have put into the line. Great stuff! 9/10