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Cal's Review: G1 Commerative Piranacon Reissue

Decepticon Piranacon: Limited Edition Seacons

In their individual forms, the Seacons growl and slash their way along with unique weapons and abilities. Together, their power is more than the addition of all their skill. Combined as Piranacon, their force multiplies and their minds merge into an uncontrollable tsunami of destruction.

Wow! This takes me back. For me, Piranacon is what started it all. He was my first ever Transformer, which my dad bought for me in the Christmas of 1988. (Since all of this happened in Kuwait, I can’t remember if it was the Hasbro gift set or the Takara version with Nautilator included.) Having grown up watching the Filipino dub of Voltes V on TV, I was really into Japanese robots that could combine and viewed Piranacon as a fantastically bestial version of that trend. I loved it so much that I took Piranacon with me on a family trip to Baghdad. Yeah, Baghdad was actually a nice place to visit in the 80’s. Whouda thunk! But then came the invasion, and while some of our possessions were salvaged from the remains of our charred home, Piranacon became a tragic victim of the Gulf War. I never forgave Saddam Hussein.

Since then, I have been wandering aimlessly across the Earth, trying to find answers at the bottom of a pint, staring at a burnt black and white photo of my old flame. The memory torments me so; sometimes I catch myself in the middle of the night crying, “PIRANACON! PIRANACON!” And just when I had all but given up hope... salvation arrives! Hasbro comes to my rescue and brings back my other half I thought I had lost forever. And so at last, after twenty-two years, we are finally reunited. My one true love: Piranacon!

PACKAGING

Like most recent gestalts, Piranacon comes packaged already combined. Instead of updating the deco to feature decals, Piranacon retains all of his original stickers, which come pre-applied. He is also displayed in a Masterpiece-style oblique box that is transparent on five sides, with a very nice Decepticon insignia beveled on the top. The sides of the box feature new artwork of Piranacon on a Generations background, and the back shows the Seacons in their original colours before a few changes were made to Snaptrap and Overbite (more on that later). All but Skalor and Overbite have a “Decepticon” prefix for apparent trademark reasons, and a small typo is present where Snaptrap is spelled “Snap Trap”. Commemorative cards are included for each of the Seacons and their combined form, which are stored underneath the box along with the Seacons’ weapons and accessories. Considering I love my 2004 Predaking reissue box, I was kind of hoping Hasbro would release Piranacon in his original G1 packaging. But I have to give them props for such a wonderful, clean design that really shows the toy at its best.

******************************

Name: Nautilator
Function: Underwater Excavations

“Blame someone else before they blame you.”

Despite his name, Nautilator lacks nautical know-how, often losing his way on his underwater mission. As powerful as he is in his lobster mode, he tends to get a little crabby with his fellow Seacons, blaming them for his mistakes in the deeps. Though they grumble about his attitude and poor navigation skills, they’re always willing to haul him ashore with whatever prize he’s wrested from the ocean floor.


Nautilator gets “a little crabby”. Ha ha ha! Good one, Hasbro! You know because Nautilator’s a... lobster. Oh. Wait, I screwed up that joke. Nautilator is the rarest of the Seacons because Hasbro omitted him from their gift set in 1988. Dreamwave later alluded to this as being a result of Nautilator’s incompetence. Not only is it great that Western fans can finally get their hands on this elusive crustacean, but also acquire him in one piece, considering he is often sold without his claws online.

ALTERNATE MODE

Nautilator’s lobster mode is arguably the most realistic of all the Seacons. That is to say, he isn’t designed with any extra appendages or weapons like his team mates. His primary colours are grey, black and aqua. His claws can rotate up as if spoiling for a fight and his jaw can open at a right angle in order to plug his Triple Crusher Cannon. It’s also possible to raise the back a little and peg the gun into his leg slot, giving Nautilator a frightening scorpion tail. This is also the location for placing the cannon in Nautilator’s weapon mode. The only real downside here is that Nautilator’s arms are blatantly visible above his legs.

ROBOT MODE

Nautilator’s transformation is simple: Fold legs down; flip head back. Because he’s a bit taller than his comrades, his legs can be extended or retracted to balance the combined mode. Nautilator’s robot mode suffers some obvious problems. The head is too far back, his articulation is limited to his shoulders, and his lobster legs can’t fold back unless you remove his claws. This explains why they are so often missing from loose sets, because unlike Overbite, Nautilator’s alt mode kibble must be removed in order to complete the transformation. You can leave the claws on and the lobster legs extended, but this makes Nautilator wider than he is tall.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 2 - About as simple as it gets, really.
Durability: 6 - Like a rock, but how often have you seen Nautilator de-clawed?
Fun: 7 - This eight-legged freak looks pleasingly creepy in alt mode. A blessing for fans who never owned him in their youth.
Aesthetics: 5 - A more believable design than the rest, but the robot mode’s drawbacks hurt the score.
Articulation: 1 - The least articulated of all Seacons.
Overall: 6 - Despite his ineptitude, Nautilator makes a fine addition to the Seacons.

******************************

Name: Overbite
Function: Undersea Terminator

“There are only two kinds of creatures: predator and prey.”

A bottomless greed for prey drives Overbite in his hunt for yet another victim. Relentless and unopposably strong, he finds his greatest success in the sea where his speed and endurance make him a dangerous predator. When he tires of hunting Autobots, he entertains himself by annihilating cruise ships and oil tankers.


According to my spellchecker, ‘unopposably’ is not a word. But whatever. For someone who is the scourge of the deep, it’s embarrassing to see Overbite return with a hot pink coat he bought off Tracks.

ALTERNATE MODE

Overbite transforms into a shark. With legs and claws. Naturalists around the world are crying their eyes out. I can understand the legs so that Overbite can stand up in alt mode, but the claws seem like overkill. Overbite... overkill... hmmm. To be fair, Overbite’s leg articulation is nothing short of amazing for a combiner limb, being able to bend his thighs, knees and ankles. This allows him to strike a formidable running pose - as absurd as that looks for a shark. His jaw can open, his tail can flip up and down, and his claws can rotate a full 360 degrees. Not bad all things considered. Overbite comes with a Jawbreaker Cannon that you can fit under his head. Unfortunately, the slot on mine is so loose that it needs an extra coat of varnish - a sign of mold degradation. Transforming Overbite to weapon mode requires little more than raising the head and pointing the gun forward, which is how he comes originally packaged.

ROBOT MODE

Like Nautilator, you can transform Overbite into robot mode with or without his claws attached. The claws remain on his feet, but this looks far more conspicuous than on Skalor. Despite the size of the tailfin, it is able to fold down vertically behind Overbite because the dorsal fin can be moved out of the way. He comes with elbow articulation and 360 shoulder articulation. What ruins my impression of Overbite is that, in order to save costs on an extra plastic colour, Hasbro have changed all of the purple parts to pink. This looks terrible, because not only does it end up emasculating Overbite, but it removes a colour from Piranacon’s palette. I would have happily forgone the chrome used in this commemorative set if it meant retaining Overbite’s original colours.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3 - No more involving than the rest.
Durability: 5 - Signs of degradation. Those claws can get lost just as easily as Nautilator’s.
Fun: 8 - Sharks are a popular water toy among children. Decent poseability.
Aesthetics: 3 - What happened to the purple? Hasbro’s skimping on costs again.
Articulation: 7 - Superior to the other limbs. Overbite can really haul ass!
Overall: 5 - Despite good articulation and a clean transformation, Overbite suffers the most in this release with his two-tone palette. The other Seacons are laughing at him.

******************************

Name: Seawing
Function: Undersea Reconnaissance

“The darkest depths reveal the darkest secrets.”

Like an underwater ghost, Seawing guides through the aquatic gloom, emanating danger, he likes the murky depths where he achieves a quaking respect with his mere presence. His Decepticon comrades suspect his ambition reaches beyond the Seacons to a larger role and Seawing neither confirms nor denies this rumor because he does secretly regard himself as destined to command.


Seawing is the Seacons’ Starscream. At least according to this most recent bio he is, because there was nothing on his 1988 tech spec to suggest a lust for power. I just hope he doesn’t get blown to ashes during his coronation. Will anyone else attempt to fill his shoes?

ALTERNATE MODE

Seawing’s alt mode is a manta ray. I’ve always had an affinity for this mode because of how streamlined and shadowy it looks. It even has a long, toothed jaw... I never realized manta rays were so vicious! Like Overbite, Seawing features a fictional pair of legs, but at least these can be tucked away behind him while he sweeps around your room. His colours are identical to Nautilator’s and he comes with two Venom Lasers that peg under his fins. Seawing’s advantage is that the weapons can be stored here in robot mode - including Piranacon’s combined mode! He comes with thigh, ankle and jaw articulation, and you can move his fins up and down to simulate the way mantas glide through the water. Seawing’s lasers can combine and plug into his nose for his weapon mode. A pretty faultless design all around.

ROBOT MODE

When transforming Seawing to robot mode, you might be a bit perplexed. It won’t take long to notice that there isn’t enough room at the back for both his fins and tail. So you have to keep the tail slightly raised or the fins slightly extended. Either way, the amount of back kibble is the worst of all Seacons, making Seawing as long as he is tall. His saving grace is that he’s the only teamster whose legs are separated, giving him a bit of knee articulation to go with his shoulder articulation. His transformation also grants him elbow (or is it wrist?) articulation, but you can’t bend them anyway if he’s holding his weapons.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 1 - Shoddy. There’s no excuse for the tail and fins clashing.
Durability: 9 - You can only lose his weapons. The toy is pretty rock.
Fun: 7 - Manta rays are cool. Manta rays with toothed jaws are cooler.
Aesthetics: 6 - Seawing is the sleekest in alt mode, but the bulkiest in robot mode.
Articulation: 6 - Decent articulation in both modes.
Overall: 6 - Seawing is the kind of Transformer who is best kept in his alt mode. A little extra care to his transformation could have made his robot mode a lot better.

******************************

Name: Skalor
Function: Amphibious Assault

“I stink, therefore I am.”

Skalor surrounds himself with a miasma of malodorous fluid. What his fellow Seacons regard as an easy repair job, Skalor sees as a mark of character. He’s happy in his smelly cloud of pollution even if he occasionally needs rescuing from the seafloor when his fluid levels dip and he overheats. Needless to say, he tends to be something of a loner.


Corny quote aside, Skalor sounds like he would make good friends with Blot. Or me. The bio is quite accurate, since the ancient coelacanth that Skalor is based on exudes oils that make it unpleasant to eat. Not that you’d want to eat a Transformer anyway. Unless you’re Skullcruncher.

ALTERNATE MODE

Skalor’s transforms into a blue and pink coelacanth with legs and forearms. Unlike Overbite, his limbs don’t look quite so silly in this mode, probably because he reminds me of the Terrorcon Rippersnapper. He comes with jaw, shoulder, thigh and knee articulation, and he’s very easy to balance given the size of his feet. As a species bordering on extinction, it’s hard to imagine Skalor as being any sort of threat. But his long teeth and Dual Crustation Rifles mounted on his back would tell you otherwise. Like Seawing, the weapons can be stored here in robot mode or as a gestalt limb. (Use both of them as Piranacon’s arms for some extra firepower!) As a coelacanth, he fits in quite nicely as the Hardy to Overbite’s Laurel. The guns can combine and peg underneath Skalor’s jaw when transforming him into weapon mode.

ROBOT MODE

Skalor’s robot mode comes with flip-out fists, but the fins on his arms mean that squeezing in the rifles can be a tight fit. Despite the bulk of the tail, it folds down quite well if you move the dorsal fin out of the way. Skalor looks much tougher that his comrades with his huge, bulky arms that can rotate at the shoulder and elbow, even if he is cast mostly in pink from the front. For some reason the yellow paint on my Skalor’s face is a little scratched, giving him a comical blue nose. I guess he feels stupid enough already being a fish that’s more prey than predator.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4 - No problems here.
Durability: 8 - His only vulnerable part appears to be his dorsal fin.
Fun: 4 - Depends on how much you like prehistoric fish. The bright colours don’t do much for Skalor’s persona.
Aesthetics: 4 - Skalor’s obviously making an attempt to look like a piranha, but it won’t save him from being eaten by Overbite.
Articulation: 5 - Average articulation for a combiner limb.
Overall: 5 - Probably the least desirable of the Seacons. Why would you want to play with a coelacanth when you can have a shark?

******************************

Name: Tentakil
Function: Underwater Demolitions

“Embrace your enemies... until they’re terminated.”

His insidious charm lulls his enemies into a terminal complacency. At the moment when the defences are relaxed, Tentakil strikes with his cruel and crushing grip. He takes a perverse pleasure in getting close enough to his victims to observe their dismay as they realize the lethal consequences of taking him at his word.


I think I got attacked by a swarm of these guys on my way to Cinnabar Island. It was not a pleasant experience. Tentakil is probably the Seacon I remember most from my childhood, no doubt owing to his slimy appearance.

ALTERNATE MODE

Tentakil’s alt mode is a squid with a truly terrifying countenance. If you thought Skalor was ugly, wait until you lay eyes on this foul beast. Tentakil’s squid face is a fin-like black mask with squinty eyes and a toothed grimace. It’s hard to imagine this being repainted as the much more lovable Scylla from Beast Wars II. What mars the design is that Tentakil is the only Seacon who can’t open his jaw! Pity. At least he can run like the wind with an extra pair of legs. (Doesn’t that make ten legs? Oh well.) Sadly, the legs have no knee articulation, but Tentakil has no trouble maintaining his balance because his back tentacles fold down to become a pair of stabilisers. You can attach his Slime Lasers separately on his head or combine them for Tentakil’s weapon mode.

ROBOT MODE

Like Nautilor, Tentakil’s robot mode features extendable legs that make him slightly taller than his team mates. Considering Tentakil already has two perfectly sculpted legs in squid mode, I feel it’s kind of a waste that they should be folded back to make way for the typical combiner brick-foot. There’s a lot of kibble at the back, but it’s not nearly as obtrusive as Seawing’s. His articulation in this mode leaves much to be desired, being able to rotate only his shoulders. He’s the fourth Seacon with a yellow face. I wonder if this is a new trend with the neon colours that became so prominent in G2.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3 - Using tentacles as extra legs is nice. You can keep his other tentacles extended in robot mode to give Tentakil a much more intimidating silhouette.
Durability: 9 - The tentacles are thick enough that they’re not likely to break.
Fun: 7 - If I have a fond memory of him from my childhood, he must have made a good impression.
Aesthetics: 4 - A fearsome alt mode, but his brickish robot mode could have been improved by utilising his squid legs.
Articulation: 2 - Marginally more than Nautilator.
Overall: 6 - You’d think with ten legs, this guy would be more poseable. As it stands, he’s only good for terrifying your dog with his ugly visage.

******************************

Name: Snaptrap
Function: Seacon Team Leader

“Broken Autobots never mend.”

Cold-blooded, cold-hearted, Snaptrap functions on one setting - “Destroy!”. He is never distracted by rage and only betrays agitation when he must circle back to finish off a survivor of his methodical brutality. His chilling indifference keeps the Seacons under his command terrified, and prompt to fulfil his orders.


Aaaaaand in the blue corner, weighing in at three and a half tonnes, the terror of turtles, the sultan of Seacons.... BLASTOISE! I mean, SNAPTRAP! Being the big guy in charge, Snaptrap has a lot to live up to. He needs to prove he’s more versatile, articulate and fortified to justify his huge size and right to command.

ALTERNATE MODE

Snaptrap is a huge, lumbering turtle with a pair of black cannons built into his shell. He’s absolutely massive compared to his minions and looks quite ready to crush a Minibot pipsqueak underfoot. There are two chromed razor blades at the back of his shell that can be swiveled forward to decapitate any Autobot foolish enough to get in his way. The shell also has a toggle at the front that can be wiggled back and forth to make the guns bob in and out. This is a lot of fun to play with, because it looks like Snaptrap is tearing loose with all guns blazing. If that’s not enough, an undocumented feature allows Snaptrap’s Atom-Smasher Rifle to peg into the hole at the top, making him a veritable walking tank. His legs feature ratcheted joints and his rear knees can rotate slightly, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this with his front knees because they’re hinged at the foot, making it look like Snaptrap’s legs are pulling away if you bend them. His head can also bob up and down and his jaw can open and close.

ROBOT MODE

Snaptrap’s robot mode stands twice as tall as the rest - a common trait among Scramble-City combiners. He shares the same basic palette from the front as Overbite and his head has been recoloured green. I can understand Hasbro omitting the purple from Overbite to minimize costs, but I see absolutely no reason to cast Snaptrap’s head in green when his hands and weapons are black already. In this mode, you can fit Snaptrap’s rifle in one hand and his trident-shaped Incendiary Sword in the other. Like the shell razors, the sword has been chromed for this release, giving Snaptrap a bit of extra bling. He comes with shoulder and elbow articulation, but the way in which his legs fold down sideways means that he can’t bend his knees. At least there’s a pair of heel struts to help maintain his balance. Another undocumented feature is that the shell can peg into the shoulders, acting as a makeshift shield. It’s a smart way of avoiding kibble lying around, and I wish Hasbro had thought of a way to store Snaptrap’s sword in turtle mode.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 7 - Good use of shell kibble in robot mode. The pop-out fists are an early example of auto-morphing.
Durability: 6 - Slightly vulnerable at the heels. Shell piece can get lost and the jagged sword looks like it can catch something and snap.
Fun: 8 - Heavily armed in both modes. Wiggle that cannon gimmick back and forth like a tartrazine-fueled child!
Aesthetics: 8 - Snaptrap’s got a powerful design and is well-proportioned, but the green head is something that could have been avoided.
Articulation: 7 - Not bad all around, but a Transformer this size deserves better leg articulation.
Overall: 8 - Snaptrap certainly makes his mark as the leader of the Seacons. Probably the coolest turtle not to shout “Cowabunga!”

******************************

Name: Piranacon
Function: Undersea Warrior

“To live is to hunt; to hunt is to live!”

Combined to form Piranacon, the Seacons become more than the sum of their parts, their single intent, to hunt for prey, brings their minds and weapons together at a level beyond their individual incarnations. This awesome force is channeled through Piranacon, whose lethal focus drives him on and on in the expression of his immense and destructive power.


At last! This is what it all boils down to. The reason you bought this set is to have Piranacon displayed in all his glory, complete and intact. Out of all the G1 gestalts, Piranacon is the one most in need of a reissue. The amount of accessories he comes with means that finding a 100% complete one on eBay is like striking gold - and that’s what it would cost you to pay for him. But now our prayers have been answered. After that controversial Transformers Collector’s Club exclusive repaint, Piranacon returns in his original colour scheme (almost) and is pegged as an exclusive to Big Bad Toy Store. However, most online stores specialising in Transformers also have Piranacon on sale, and there were loads of him up for grabs at Auto Assembly 2010. Where once a complete Piranacon was a rarity, now we’re spoiled for choice. But is he worth it? Read on.

COMBINED MODE

Combining the Seacons to form Piranacon requires little more than stacking them on top of each other like a totem pole. Sometimes this can take hou-... Oh wait, wrong photo. Let me try that again. Piranacon is a Scramble City combiner, meaning you can have the smaller toys form an arm, a leg or, in this case, a weapon! This makes Piranacon the first and only gestalt who is also a Targetmaster. The combiner who has the honour of being Piranacon’s boomstick can either fit into one of his hands or be mounted on a weapon stand. There’s one stand for every combiner except Snaptrap and each one is composed of three pieces, allowing plenty of opportunities to lose one. The problem with the stand is that it’s much too short, only coming up to Piranacon’s knees. It doesn’t really matter, because there’s no way for him to grasp it. All he can do is lean forward and stare at it.

Speaking of which, Piranacon’s balance is absolutely dreadful. He’s so heavy at the front that he has a perpetual forward tilt that is easily seen in the photos. I’ve tried a number of different limb combinations and nothing seems to solve the problem. Your best bet is to use Nautilator as a leg, whose head is placed further back than the rest, and keep Piranacon’s arms straight. Raising them to brandish his weapons will only upset his balance, and if you decide to place a Seacon in his hand, there’s a danger of him buckling at the knees. This makes putting Piranacon on display a real hazard, because the stress of his imbalance will aggravate what is already a degrading mold. So it might be wise to leave him disassembled until you decide to play with him.

It’s not all bad news, though. Since the Seacons are taller than the other Scramble City combiners, Piranacon’s height is second only to Predaking. (The Seacons were sold individually in boxes, not cards.) Because the group have radically different alt modes than, say, the Aerialbots, Piranacon’s figure changes noticeably with each limb combination. I’ve tried a few different configurations and I haven’t had any difficulty using the Seacons in any mode. If you decide to use a combiner with heavy back kibble as a leg, you can always flip Snaptrap’s hind legs up to allow more clearance. Piranacon’s basic articulation is limited to his shoulders like every other gestalt, but using Nautilator, Overbite or Skalor as an arm also grants him elbow articulation.

Piranacon’s overall design is symbolic of the era, featuring lurid colours and an outlandish form. Snaptrap’s shell piece doubles as Piranacon’s chest plate, and it looks really menacing with the razor blades at the front. Unfortunately, Piranacon is lacking a hip guard like other gestalts, making him look somewhat bow-legged. He is armed with a pair of cannons on his back like Bruticus, sports claws on his fists and feet, and he can hold Snaptrap’s sword and rifle. It’s a fun design overall and looks great on the shelf with the rest of your gestalts - providing you can get him to stand up straight.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8 - Despite the sheer bulk, all combiners can be used in any mode. Minus one point for imbalance and another for bow legs.
Durability: 2 - I’ve seen jigsaw puzzles with fewer pieces than this. Be careful you don’t lose anything!
Fun: 9 - You get a wide variety of marine toys, a combined robot form, and five different Targetmaster configurations. Fun!
Aesthetics: 7 - Piranacon truly looks like a leviathan from the deep. The use of neon colours is an acquired taste. Pity about the lack of purple.
Articulation: 1 - Gestalts aren’t renowned for their articulation, but the forward tilt really kills Piranacon’s poseability.
Value: 10 He’s around $60 in most online stores. I saw him being sold at Auto Assembly for 58, which is as cheap as Europe will ever get him. Compared to the cost of a complete G1 set, this is an absolute steal!
Overall: 8.5 - If you like combiners, the Seacons make a wonderful addition to your collection. Because their designs are so lively, they’re one of the few sets you might want to display in alt mode. The set comes packed with loads of accessories and Piranacon’s ability to use a combiner as a weapon is a unique treat. Hasbro have done fans a favour by re-releasing this rare set, so be sure to pick it up while it’s still cheap!
 
 
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