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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: Cyberverse Dreadwing

Dreadwing is fiercely loyal to Megatron, and is nearly as savage in battle as the Decepticon leader himself. As a Seeker, he proved himself a force to be reckoned with. As Decepticon second-in-command, he may be the end of the Autobots.

Although I'm a bit behind on watching the Transformers: Prime TV show, one of my favourite things about it is that it has introduced a lot of new, interesting characters to the Transformers universe. The Autobot side is mostly the usual suspects, with only reckless young Smokescreen and a version of Arcee with an actual personality really standing out as new. On the Decepticon side, however, new characters have been the rule rather than the exception. Stalwarts Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave and Shockwave have been backed up not by the standard cast of identikit hooligans but by entirely new creations like Skyquake, Makeshift, Knock Out, Breakdown, Airachnid, Hardshell and last but not least, Dreadwing. A Decepticon who was competent, loyal and honourable, Dreadwing quickly won over both the fans and Megatron, who made him second in command after Starscream's betrayal.

In spite of his important stature on the TV show, release lag and distribution problems conspired to ensure that Dreadwing's toys didn't start to appear until long after he joined the cast. I didn't find my Cyberverse Commander Dreadwing until eight months after he debuted on TV, and I've yet to see any of the larger Voyager-class toy at all. I'd long-since given up on collecting the Prime cast, but Dreadwing looked cool enough that I was willing to pick him up on a whim.

Robot Mode: Like most Cyberverse commanders, Dreadwing comes packaged in robot mode. For such a tiny figure, Dreadwing is very detailed and accurate to the on-screen character model. He's molded in blue and dark grey, with quite a lot of silver and yellow paint applications. He's also got a tiny amount of red paint on his eyes, but the detailing is so fine that you practically need to look at him under a magnifying glass to see it. His cockpit, weapons, a section on his back and (worryingly) a few of his internal transformation joints are molded from translucent yellowish-orange plastic, a common feature in the Prime line so far. He also features a great deal of molded details, especially on his forearms, head and gauntlets.

Dreadwing features decent articulation for a toy this size, with ball-jointed shoulders, elbows and hips along with hinged knees and thigh swivels. His shoulder pads are also articulated, allowing them to swing up and down as his arms move. With a fairly good range of motion in his limbs, though, it only underscores how disappointing it is that Dreadwing's head can't move at all. Unfortunately, that means that the rest of the articulation is pretty useless because Dreadwing looks very awkward in any pose other than standing up and looking straight forward.

One nice thing about the recent Cyberverse Commanders is a renewed focus on accessories, something that a lot of Scouts and Basics lacked all the way back to the size class's Beast Wars origins. In keeping with that, Dreadwing comes with two weapons. The first is his sword, which is fairly accurate to the Voyager toy's weapon aside from being cast in translucent orange. The other weapon is his cannon, also translucent orange and significantly better than the Voyager-class counterpart since it doesn't fold up into a weird square thing unless you manually hold it open. The sword is spot-on perfect for a toy this size, and looks great in Dreadwing's hands. The cannon is perhaps a bit too big, especially if you'd like to have him carry both weapons at the same time.

The two weapons can combine, as well, with the sword slotting into the underside of the cannon to form a bayonet. Although the combined weapon looks really cool, though, I can't recommend doing that. It's a really tight fit, translucent plastic is usually more brittle than it's opaque counterpart. My Dreadwing's gun now sports a big, unsightly crack running from the 3mm weapon port on it's underside, even though I suspected this would happen and was insanely careful when I inserted or removed the bayonet.

The main reason that's a problem is because, as I mentioned above, Dreadwing is quite small. Cyberverse Commanders are about half-way in between the old Basic or Scout price point and a Legend or Cyberverse Legion figure. But in spite of the reduced size Hasbro has packed in as much detail and articulation into Dreadwing as they did into a Beast Wars Basic or Cybertron Scout, if not more. While I do appreciate the effort, the sad consequence of that is that Dreadwing seems very fragile. The socket on his gun cracked because the plastic wasn't thick enough or strong enough to handle the normal stress of it's intended play pattern. His sword and hands are both made out of very thin plastic as well, and I could see them snapping under minimal force.

Dreadwing's unarticulated head is also directly related to his small size, because there is simply no room on the toy for him to have a neck joint. His shoulders also have issues -- the chest sections that his shoulder pads attach to are separate from the rest of his chest, and are on a hinge for transformation purposes. They don't lock in place, though, and so whenever you move his arms up you're as likely to see the chest un-transform itself as you are to see the shoulder pads move as they should. A larger toy could have fixed this problem with a simple clip.

Overall I think Dreadwing is pretty cool, but his size is the root of all of his problems. Commanders have been shrunk down from the Scouts they replaced to better fit in with Legion-class toys, but in this case the toy's design doesn't quite work at such a small scale.

Alternate Mode: In theory, Dreadwing's alternate mode is an F-35 Lightning II. In practice, he looks nothing like one. His fuselage and wings have both been heavily stylized and he's carrying so much robot-mode kibble that the jet looks a lot chubbier than it should. None of that is necessarily a bad thing, because the resulting jet still looks quite good. He does have a more futuristic look to him than ROTF Breakaway, though, who turns into a much more faithful rendition of the F-35.

Unlike the very colourful robot mode, Dreadwing's jet mode is almost entirely dark blue. He's got a grey nosecone and tail, a few splashes of yellow paint on his wings, a translucent orange cockpit and a random chunk of trans-orange plastic farther back, but these colours are subdued enough that he manages to look like a military aircraft instead of something painted up special for an airshow.

From above, his arms and feet are visible. They're arranged well enough that they blend naturally into the vehicle mode. Unfortunately, that's not the case from any other angle. His arms are clearly identifiable as arms from the sides, and from below all four of his limbs are hanging out in plain view. This isn't an uncommon issue with jet Transformers, but after innovative designs like Prime Soundwave and Hunt for the Decepticons Terradive, it's becoming less and less acceptable to me. Even at such a small size, it's pretty blatant.

Dreadwing has mounting sockets for weapons under each wing. Nominally you're meant to attach his sword to one and his cannon to the other, though they look pretty silly. In practice he can borrow any Cyberverse toy's guns, though, a neat additional play feature for the little guys and one that should let you find a more appropriate set of jet-mode weapons for Dreadwing if you desire.

Transformation Design: A lazy vehicle mode and dodgy shoulders would be a huge problem on a bigger toy. For something this small I'm willing to give a little leeway, but he's still nothing if not mediocre. 5/10

Durability: Lots of translucent plastic and several parts that are way too thin for their own good. He won't crumble to pieces, but you definitely need to be careful with him. 4/10

Fun: In spite of his flaws Dreadwing does have a lot going for him, and for a little guy he's quite a bit of fun to mess around with. That said, he's nothing extra special either. 7/10

Aesthetics: The designers did a great job getting this little toy to look so much like Dreadwing. You have to give them good marks for that, even if the jet mode suffers in comparison. 8/10

Articulation: The toy has a lot of joints, but the non-articulated head really holds it back. 6/10

Price: Cyberverse Commanders are about 15-20% smaller than the old Scouts. They're also about $1 more expensive, and only about $6 or $7 cheaper than a Deluxe that's more than twice as massive and much more durable. The cost-to-value ratio just doesn't work out in the size class's favour. 3/10

Overall: Dreadwing's got some good features, but it's an overpriced toy that suffers from some pretty major flaws. I won't say not to buy it, but you should probably wait until you can get it on sale. 5.5/10

 
 
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