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Cliffjumper
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Post by Cliffjumper » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:07 pm

There's also a "You snooze, you lose" principle. If you miss your two week 'deadline' (and this is mainly to stop some idiot saying they'll review all 12 G2 Go-Bots, doing about four and wandering off) and someone else submits a review instead, we go with that someone else.

But the bottom line is you are not staff on this site or this forum. You do not get to hassle, berate or speak on behalf of staff in here.

Constructive criticism of reviews is, of course, a good thing but it will not do any harm to chose your words better - avoid speaking in absolutes, give novice reviewers tips as well as negativity, and leave the forum staff to handle 'deadlines' and uploading as they see fit. We appoint them for a reason. Now, as far as I'm concerned that's the end of the matter. This is the line.

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Post by numbat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:16 pm

I always caveat my review claims with the fact it can take me a while to get them done, and anyone else is welcome to pinch them from me.

As I've said before Cal, if there's one you want to do go for it man.

In the meantime, I'm afraid I'm having to deal with real life issues such as my wife's chronic illness, my impending departure from my job next Wednesday, and trying to ensure my company can carry my finances forward (e.g. rent, food, medical bills to ensure my wife is treated properly as the NHS does not cover her illness correctly unlike every other European country...) in the absence of said job.

If you feel writing a review of a toy is more important than these things, I don't think you're an adult yet - and you're more than welcome to cover any of my reviews in the interim.

As to my reusing (with specific modifications to character) some intro text setting the scene for DOTM Legion Wreckers (the actual toy review sections were entirely original, and the intros themselves were by no means identical - and paraphrasing for the sake of it seems a bit daft, as many people will only be interested in a single review, and I'm not a fan of cross-referencing to other reviews, but that's a personal preference I don't push on other reviewers), we've been through this already, had other people's views, so it's time to move on dude. Chill out and life will go much more easily - heavens knows what mental state I'd be in if I got so worked up over nothing given the life issues I (and most adults!) have to deal with.

It's a shame you're such a prickly character Cal - I really enjoy your reviews.

New sale thread added with a range of Transformers including Masterpiece, Botcon, CHUG, RID, Movies etc.

Looking for MP-11T Thundercracker and MP-9 Rodimus v2 (Takara version with as few QC issues as possible).


Check out my new sale thread now!

Also items on eBay.

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KOToys' Gurafi & Noizu

Post by The Reverend » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:20 pm

As I noted in my previous review of KOToys' Dairu and Zauru, the Autobot "W Cassettes" (pun on "double"), or "Dino-Cassettes", are relatively obscure entries in the line, having only been for sale in Japan after the Hasbro-backed line had folded in the US and not making it into the "in-between" years leading up to G2 in Europe. Due to the popularity of the cassette Transformers in general and the relatively low number of existing toys produced in that single market, they've also fetched stupid-high prices on the secondary market. However, what I'm reviewing here are the recent reproductions of these toys made by KOToys in early 2012.

As of this writing, only the labeled cassette versions are for sale - no tampographing. The reproductions come in the same colors as the originals, and as an aside, also come in very nice reproduction packaging. Unfortunately, this same reproduction packaging is a little too close to the original, causing some unscrupulous traders on the secondary market to put these reproductions up for absurdly high prices of their own, passing them off as the originals. It also appears that in KOToys' first release of Gurafi and Noizu, the back of the package is printed upside down.

Name: Gurafi (sometimes anglicized as "Graphy")
Allegiance: Cybertron (Autobot)
Function: Aerial Reconnaissance

(Translated) "Flies through the sky at speeds up to 250km/h, and his beak can bore big holes in almost anything. He is very at ease with his companions. His aerial vision is incredible, and can spot a baseball from heights of 300m. Carries laser guns."

Alternate Mode:
As I mentioned above, the KOToys' cassette releases to date have not been tampographed - the cassette markings are labels. And you have to put them on yourself, which is a a serious pain with some of them. The problem is compounded by the fact that the labels really aren't cut exactly right. In Gurafi's case, there's only three labels to put on, and those three cover most of the cassette side well, so its not as frustrating a job as labeling his brethren. Cassette mode itself is also not quite as bad as some of his fellows, being largely solid to the heft and not possessing too many obvious joint lines. Primarily red, with molded teeth and white lines on a black background for most of his labels. Doesn't look too bad on his own, although he practically disappears behind Twincast's red-colored chest window.

Robot Mode: Gurafi is intended to be some member of the pterosaur family. His transformation is similar to Ratbat - pull out the wings from the sides, flip out the head from its moorings on top, and fold down his big triangular feet from the back. He has two joints in his neck and two at each shoulder, plus each wing can rotate somewhat. The wings themselves are big and blocky - akin to Squawktalk, as opposed to the thinner wings of Laserbeak, Buzzsaw and Ratbat. He does have a nice pointed head and beak resembling Pteranodon, complete with crest and golden slit eyes. Small chrome weapon pods attach to the end of each wing; these are his "laser guns". The laser guns themselves have no discernible barrels - they're really just endcaps for the wings, which don't add much that I can see. Notably, the shape of his torso isn't too far a cry from a pterosaur's either - where Ratbat had sort of a "fat-bat" look, Gurafi has a tapered (if flat) chest that's far more aesthetically pleasing.

Overall, while Gurafi gets some nice box art and some nice joint design, I'm a little puzzled by him in general. Shouldn't his wings extend more? Why those silly little weapon-pods at the wingtips, rather than longer guns on his back? Why did (whoever) even opt for the "standing upright" design (again, see Ratbat) when he probably would have looked better in the "flight" pose (as in Buzzsaw/Laserbeak, which incidentally would have given him thinner, better looking wings)? The answer probably has more to do with needing him to be part of the combined Decibel more than anything - Gurafi's wings have to become Decibel's legs, and that likely eliminated a lot of options within the budget allotted for the figure. Still, all that aside, Gurafi goes well with the other Autobot cassettes, sharing the air only with Raindance. Bear in mind, as well, out of all the dinosaur and pseudo-dinosaur forms in the G1 line, Gurafi only shares his look with Swoop (I don't count Sky Lynx as a pterosaur). His rather large feet also allow him to sit on Twincast's shoulder. So, to sum it up, while the design of the wings and the weapons are a little iffy, Gurafi's still a fairly good cassette-bot - maybe worth the price of the set on his own.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4. Intuition, and previous G1 experience, will get you a fully transformed Gurafi with little effort. The "wingtips" that rotate out of his blocky wings might elude you the first time until you try to figure out where to plug the weapons in.
Durability: 3. Because of Gurafi's multiple joints, and my experience with KOToys' Dauru and Zauru, I'm very careful with him. I suggest you be careful as well.
Fun: 6. My concerns about his appearance aside, I think he goes well with the other Autobot cassettes. His red coloring fits in with Ramhorn and Grandslam, and out of all the Dino-Cassettes I think he blends in the best in a crowd of Autobots.
Aesthetics: 3. Argh. On one hand, this is a decent little toy, given the size and other limitations they were working with. On the other, they sacrificed a lot to make him be a combiner part, and I don't that offsets the drawbacks in this case.
Articulation: 5. Having two joints in each shoulder and the neck gains Gurafi more points than he probably should get here, because the "upright" position he stands in limits what those shoulders can do. But still, for a G1 cassette, he's doing well in this department.
Value/Price: 7. KOtoys' price was $39.99 for the Gurafi/Noizu set. I'm okay with that, even if I only got Gurafi out of the deal.
Overall: 7. The Dino-cassettes' actual worth in play and display value is seriously debatable, but I think Gurafi is among the better of the four.

###

Name: Noizu (often anglicized to "Noise")
Allegiance: Cybertron (Autobot)
Function: "Forest Inquiry"?? (Might be better translated as "Jungle Warrior", akin to Sludge? Or maybe it's an overspecialized form of espionage - "Wooded Area Spy"? I'm not sure.)

(Translated) "He moves freely and takes it easily. The claws in both hands and the power of his fangs are the strongest out of the Dino Cassettes. His strength is weaker than Zauru's, but possesses the strongest kick. Idolizes the Dinobot Grimlock. Equipped with flamethrowers."

Alternate Mode:
Noizu is kind of a messy looking cassette. He's colored a pastel blue, with labels bearing mainly orange, and so many hilariously obvious joint lines (not to mention the dinosaur head on one side, along with the massive tail along the bottom) that he's not fooling anyone anywhere at any time. If you're going to hide any of these cassettes out of sight inside Twincast, Noizu should be the one. Just plain ugly, almost hilariously so. He also sports molded teeth, but thats about all he has going for him.

Robot Mode:
The first few times I saw pictures of Noizu in dinosaur mode, I thought "Oh, he's a retool of Overkill." That is not exactly the case. While Noizu does share some similarities in transformation, one half of the cassette actually pivots up and folds above the other half, instead of arms and legs simply flipping out of the cassette body. Noizu is also pastel, maybe plague blue here, with red eyes and molded teeth lines (the jaw doesn't open) within a small saurian head. He has little tiny forelimbs (with downward pointing claws), sprawling hindlimbs that open outwards below the hips, and a long tail. There's a minor bit of detailing above the base of his tail with some pistons or other appropriately mechanical devices. Most notably, Noizu comes with some seriously large chrome weapons ("flamethrowers", as I understand them), which attach at his shoulders and hang down to just above his hips. His teeny tiny forelimbs are too short to do much with, and his hindlimbs are required to keep him standing. Interestingly (and because of the combiner gimmick, again), the tail is not separate from the hindlimbs. Spreading the hindlimbs for stability also means spreading his tail halves. Outside of the limited movement of his limited forelimbs, the only useful articulation Noizu possesses is in his neck, which has two joints. But since he's quite shortnecked, he can really only look forward or up.

I have read that Noizu is supposed to be an Allosaurus. Admittedly, he still looks more like a weighty tyrannosaurid than the sleeker Allosaurus - the oldest artwork of an Allosaurus I can recall came from the early 1980s, and they were not depicted there as upright carnosaurs balancing partly on their tails in the pose that Noizu assumes in dinosaur mode. So I'm not convinced that Noizu isn't actually intended to be a tyrannosaurid like Overkill and Grimlock. Whatever he's supposed to be, probably his best attributes are his relatively tall height and his large weaponry. I don't think he looks that great - frankly, I think he's probably the most drab of the entire group, the Hasbro Autobots included. Makes pretty good dino-filler, I guess, alongside his fellows?

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3. Aside from the joint in the middle that folds the entire cassette into a new length, nothing to see here, move along. Again, the need to be a combiner piece inhibits what they could do with him.
Durability: 5. Well, the only projecting piece of Noizu is really his tail-halves, and they are thick and held on with a large pin. I suppose the forelimbs could break off if you were too rough. I'd actually give him a higher score in this field if not for the fact that he's a KOToys release and I've already had limbs pop off the previous two KOToys cassettes I reviewed.
Fun: 3. The big weapons are a plus, but that's about it. I don't think Noizu offers anything special to the Autobot cause in terms of play value.
Aesthetics: 3. Bad coloring really hurts him. Surprisingly so - I can usually shrug off a poor color choice, but in Noizu's case he's just bland. The fact that the tail halves separate along with his hindlimbs whenever you want to stand him does not help him as a display piece, since the tail is so long and noticeable.
Articulation: 2. Frankly, once you get him in the typical tyrannosaurid "tripod" position, there's not much else he can do. He can wave his forelimbs up and down slightly, and watch a jet flying overhead.
Value/Price: 5. As noted above, $39.99 for the pair consisting of him and Gurafi. Sure, I think Noizu could have brought more bang to the buck here, but I'm not complaining at the price.
Overall: 3. Nothing new here. Goes okay with the other three, I guess, but that's about all.

###

Combined Mode:

Name: Decibel
Function: Information Soldier

(Translated) "Has the speed of Gurafi and the power of Noizu. The flamethrowers on his shoulders emit heat of up to 9000 degrees which can melt through 10cm steel in 5 seconds. Faithfully follows Twincast's orders, but his companions think he picks and chooses himself what to do. The other combiner warrior Legout is his younger brother."

I really do not like Dairu and Zauru's combined form of Legout at all, and I'm sorry to say that Decibel is even worse. I don't know if I can convey how much I dislike Decibel in Transformers terms. I hated Cosmos' robot mode as a kid, but Decibel could almost make Cosmos look like MP-01 Optimus. Decibel is formed, essentially, by unfolding Noizu's hips all the way and attaching them to an upside-down Gurafi's back. Noizu's long, silly tail halves form his arms, with Gurafi's nether regions making his red chest, and of course theres the offset, near-featureless head (which, due to the commonality, qualifies him as Legout's brother, I'm guessing). While Gurafi's little weapons don't do much for Decibel's appearance - they just clip onto the backs of his legs - Noizu's big flamethrowers point up and over his shoulders. I'd like to say that this does a lot for his appearance, but it doesn't. Decibel is a short, fat (well, overly wide) fool of a combined robot, with ape-ishly long arms that flap uselessly at his sides and lizard-style sprawling hips. I'm not sure what an Information Soldier is, but it makes me think of a bad work meeting with some consultant babbling about "team building" and "self-love" and things like that.


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 1. Pointless and took far too much potential from the component parts.
Durability: 3. Eeehhhhhhh.... I dunno, not as many glaring weak points as Legout, I guess. But I can't bring myself to leave it in the combined mode long enough to tell you.
Fun: 1. Just don't bother. I can't see any play value in this mode, unless he happens to be the only cassette combiner you own - and maybe not even then, because then you won't want to try any of the others.
Aesthetics: 1. Ugly, fat, short, bad colors and misshapen.
Articulation: 2. Well... He can direct traffic, sort of, with those long arms. While he has hip joints and knee rotation, those don't really do anything for him and don't add any real posability. If his hips were actually below his groin instead of splaying out to the sides, it might add a point.
Overall: 1. Waste of time and space and thought.

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Post by The Reverend » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:22 pm

By the way, there's an HTML error in my previous Dairu/Zauru review - looks like a
got typoed in one of the ratings sections.

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Post by Cliffjumper » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:25 pm

Off-topic I know, but Reprolabels have just issued their set for Deluxe Leady too. I'm salivating; they made a Hell of a difference to Topspin and Roadbuster, so the effect on the naked Leadfoot should be tremendous. Such a shame the Western release got nobbled, it's a great figure.

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Post by numbat » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:26 pm

Cliffjumper wrote:Off-topic I know, but Reprolabels have just issued their set for Deluxe Leady too. I'm salivating; they made a Hell of a difference to Topspin and Roadbuster, so the effect on the naked Leadfoot should be tremendous. Such a shame the Western release got nobbled, it's a great figure.
Oh... You'll have me drooling over eBay again... No! Must NOT spend silly money on Deluxe Leadfoot!

New sale thread added with a range of Transformers including Masterpiece, Botcon, CHUG, RID, Movies etc.

Looking for MP-11T Thundercracker and MP-9 Rodimus v2 (Takara version with as few QC issues as possible).


Check out my new sale thread now!

Also items on eBay.

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Post by Cliffjumper » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:31 pm

I can honestly see him coming out in either a filler HFTD-style line or as a non-film TF4 toy; I really can't see Hasbro just not using three completed Movieverse Deluxe moulds.

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Post by Warcry » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:37 pm

Cal wrote:Anyway, I hope you'll re-evaluate your stance on criticism. Know that I am not being unfair towards other reviews.
It's not a matter of being fair or unfair. It's a matter of having some respect for your fellow posters.

You're welcome to be critical of other posters' reviews, and to ask questions, but you need to be polite about it. You take an adversarial tone far too often, addressing other posters mockingly or abrasively and frequently telling them what to do. People would be much more likely to take your critiques to heart if you were a bit nicer about it.

For example, if you'd said to me "You haven't done these reviews yet. Are you still planning to?" I would have told you that I've been short of time and that it anyone else wanted to take them off my hands they were welcome to. But because you were rude about it, you got...well, all of this.

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Post by Clay » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:48 am

Warcry wrote:It's not a matter of being fair or unfair. It's a matter of having some respect for your fellow posters.

You're welcome to be critical of other posters' reviews, and to ask questions, but you need to be polite about it. You take an adversarial tone far too often, addressing other posters mockingly or abrasively and frequently telling them what to do. People would be much more likely to take your critiques to heart if you were a bit nicer about it.
Warcry wrote:It's not a matter of being fair or unfair. It's a matter of having some respect for your fellow posters.

You're welcome to be critical of other posters' reviews, and to ask questions, but you need to be polite about it. You take an adversarial tone far too often, addressing other posters mockingly or abrasively and frequently telling them what to do. People would be much more likely to take your critiques to heart if you were a bit nicer about it.
Warcry wrote:It's not a matter of being fair or unfair. It's a matter of having some respect for your fellow posters.

You're welcome to be critical of other posters' reviews, and to ask questions, but you need to be polite about it. You take an adversarial tone far too often, addressing other posters mockingly or abrasively and frequently telling them what to do. People would be much more likely to take your critiques to heart if you were a bit nicer about it.
Warcry wrote:It's not a matter of being fair or unfair. It's a matter of having some respect for your fellow posters.

You're welcome to be critical of other posters' reviews, and to ask questions, but you need to be polite about it. You take an adversarial tone far too often, addressing other posters mockingly or abrasively and frequently telling them what to do. People would be much more likely to take your critiques to heart if you were a bit nicer about it.
Warcry wrote:It's not a matter of being fair or unfair. It's a matter of having some respect for your fellow posters.

You're welcome to be critical of other posters' reviews, and to ask questions, but you need to be polite about it. You take an adversarial tone far too often, addressing other posters mockingly or abrasively and frequently telling them what to do. People would be much more likely to take your critiques to heart if you were a bit nicer about it.

This.

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First Edition TF:Prime Arcee

Post by Warcry » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:45 am

Name: Arcee

Arcee is an important character in Transformers lore, but one who's always been handled very awkwardly by Hasbro and the fiction. She was a major character in the 1986 movie and the third season of the original cartoon, but never made it into the toyline because the designers assumed that little boys wouldn't want to play with a "girl toy" -- which, since she was a stereotypical bubblegum pink emotional team mom, is probably true. Shortly afterwards, the character was carried over into the Japanese cartoons and introduced in the Marvel comics, both of which turned her into an even more riotously sexist caricature. With the numerous retoolings that the franchise went through in the 1990s she was forgotten like many traditional characters, aside from an obscure showing in a convention-exclusive comic and what amounted to a cameo in the nostalgic Dreamwave comics. Eventually she was reimagined as an Omnicon in the 2004 Energon series. Energon itself was thoroughly forgettable and Arcee was a minor, forgettable character in it...except that it marked both the first time Arcee used a motorcycle as an alternate mode, and the first time she recieved a mass-released toy. That was about the time that Hasbro began to mine their back-catalogue for characters again, and so Arcee would appear as a background character in the live-action movies and the Animated cartoon along with a rather dreadful showing in the IDW comics, after Simon Furman (writer of her poorly-conceived Marvel appearances) decided that female robots were silly...so she should be a psychotic transsexual instead.

The point of all that is to show that while Arcee as been around a lot, the character has never really gotten a fair shake. And so when I heard that she was going to be a major character in Transformers: Prime, my first reaction was a pained groan. When I saw her first character design I groaned even more, because her slender, almost frail appearance made it seem like she was destined to be stereotypically girly and probably one of the other Autobots' girlfriend. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. Arcee is a vitally important part of the show, both as the heart and soul of Team Prime (by default if nothing else, considering the rest of the crew are the cranky Ratchet, big, dumb Bulkhead and mute Bumblebee) and as the driving force behind much of the plot. In fact, out of the cast of Transformers Arcee is pretty much the main character. Let's stop a second and let that sink in -- the girl is the main character in a Transformers show...and it's awesome. Not only is she the most relateable out of the show's robotic cast, but her tragic back-story makes her the sort of character that you can't help but root for.

Because I'd grown so fond of the character, I was very eager to pick up her toy when it came out. But because of the timing of the third live-action movie versus the start of the TF: Prime cartoon, the first wave of Prime toys (the so-called 'First Editions') didn't come out until almost a year after the show began and practically on the cusp of the show's second season. Even then they were fairly difficult to find, but I managed to get my hands on an Arcee, who was at the top of my want list. But, does it live up to the character that it represents?

Alternate Mode: As has become the standard for Arcees, this version of the character transforms into a motorcycle. Happily, though, the designers opted for a dark blue with silver highlights (along with a few flashes of very light pink). Aside from defying the "girls must be pink" trope that's so common in cartoons, it's a striking colour scheme in it's own right. Unfortunately, the colours are the best thing about her motorcycle mode. Because of her transformation scheme the proportions are pretty dramatically off -- she's about half as wide as she is long, and doesn't appear sleek at all unless you're looking at her from the side. It's no surprise that a lot of robot-mode kibble is visible here, either, because that's a long-running problem for motorcycle Transformers. Her arms are just sort of stuck to the sides of the motorcycle behind cowlings (creating the previously-mentioned chubbiness) and her legs are clearly visible in the bike's undercarriage. The latter can be hidden by attaching her robot-mode blade weapons, but doing that only makes the bike even more bulky.

As a motorcycle, Arcee really doesn't have much play value. Her wheels turn and the front one moves side to side as if she was steering. She's also got a kickstand, letting her stand up in bike mode without assistance (although if you have her blades attached there's really no need for it). Beyond that she really doesn't do too much, and sadly there aren't any small, poseable figures of her human partner Jack to ride on her either.

Robot Mode: A common feature in many of the TF:Prime toys released so far is that there's a lot of robot crammed into some fairly small vehicle modes. Arcee is no exception. Her motorcycle mode is fairly small by Deluxe standards, but her robot mode is quite tall, if slender. The figure looks quite a bit like the character, but it's not entirely accurate to the CGI model. There are a few main points of divergence -- she's carrying her windshield and front wheel behind her as a very prominent backpack, her wings are quite a bit larger than they are in the show (and attached to her shoulders instead of behind them) and her, uh, breasts are made up of her vehicle-mode kibble and wind up being much blockier than on the show. The newer Arcee figure (the one released under the Robots in Disguise banner) is more accurate in terms of molding, but at the cost of some of this version's nice paint apps.

In fact, 'nice' is too mild a word to describe how good Arcee looks. The dark blue plastic is a great base colour, and the silver, black and silvery-pink secondary colours combine with it to create a very unique colour scheme. The pink especially is a really good addition to the palette, and in my opinion it's the First Edition's biggest plus when compared to the Robots in Disguise Arcee (which replaces it with more silver). There's very little of it on her (just her head crest, cheek protectors and a couple flashes on her shins), but there doesn't need to be. Pink is colour that usually works well in moderation, and the small highlights of it on Arcee give her a distinctly feminine flair without metaphorically shouting "look at me, I'm the girl!"

There's only one thing that makes Arcee imperfect, but it's a big one. Her head mold just looks...wrong. The helmet is right, but the expression on her face is soulless and a little bit creepy. She's so expressive in the show, so it's a bit of a disappointment that Hasbro couldn't capture that in toy form. An angry or indignant expression is what comes to mind when I think 'Arcee', but the figure's got a little smirk that doesn't carry through to her eyes. Other Prime toys have done a good job at this, and it's too bad that they couldn't quite pull it off with Arcee.

Arcee's more than just looks, though. She's also got quite a bit of articulation. Her legs are wonderfully engineered, integrating the rear wheel of the bike seamlessly enough that it doesn't interfere with poseability at all. The transformation scheme keeps her from having ankles, but her ball-jointed hips, thigh swivels, knees and even a rare waist swivel more than make up for it. Her upper body, sadly, isn't quite as well designed. Although she's got double-jointed elbows and shoulders as well as hinged wrists, the wings mounted onto her shoulders tend to catch on her handlebars and backpack, hampering her poseability. She's also got a double-jointed neck that lets her look around a bit more realistically than your average transformer.

She's also got some unfortunate, unwanted articulation. Since her breasts are made up of robot kibble, they're mounted on hinges and tend to get bumped out of place very easily. More seriously, it can be very difficult to get them to sit symmetrically -- and I just realized how creepy a direction this was headed in, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

Arcee also comes with two accessories, based on the forearm blades she uses on the TV show. They're far from accurate, though, being about three times as big as they should be. They look kind of silly, honestly, and they only make the shoulder-wing kibble problems worse. They can mount onto the outsides of her legs when they're not in use, although they kind of silly there too. But they make much better "play weapons" than they would if they were the right size, so there's that going for them.

All in all Arcee's pretty good toy, but not one without flaws.

Transformation Design: Although there are some obvious robot-mode parts in bike mode and some problems with upper-body kibble in robot mode, when you compare Arcee to other Transformer motorcyles she comes out looking pretty good. 7.5/10

Durability: I've heard a few complaints about this mold, especially about the swivel that her feet swing on during transformation. I haven't had any problems personally, though, and she seems like she's pretty tough. 8/10

Fun: Arcee's a pretty basic figure, when you get down to it. She doesn't have any gimmicks and her alt-mode's nothing special, so transforming her and posing her in robot mode are the only real draws. 6/10

Aesthetics: Arcee's looks are definitely her best asset. Even though she's not 100% show-accurate, she's pretty close and the divergences aren't ugly -- just different. Her great colour scheme and distinctive silhouette makes her a great display piece. 9.5/10

Articulation: Lots of joints, but she's not without her issues. I suspect the RiD version of the character might beat her out in this category, but she's not bad by any stretch of the imagination. 6.5/10

Price: If you can find the First Edition toys, then she's neither hard to get nor particularly expensive. If you can't...well, you'll end up paying a fair bit more. Unfortunately, as a Toy'R'Us exclusive she's not going to be marked down as often as your average Transformer. 7/10

Overall: Arcee's a pretty good toy, and if you're trying to build a TF: Prime collection she's not a bad choice. Honestly, though, she's not good enough that I can recommend searching for her if you can find the Robots In Disguise figure. She's worth owning, but not a must-have by any stretch. 7.5/10
_____________________________________

Pics in a bit...I forgot to install a decent photo editor on the new computer. :)

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Post by Warcry » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:07 am

Here we go...
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Post by Cliffjumper » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:35 am

Fair review, I think. Arcee is a toy I want to like a lot more than I actually do - I love the (current) character and she's the most radical Prime toy I yet own. I mean, when you compare her to the things Hasbro were doing with bike TFs even a couple of years ago (hello, RotF) she's amazing, but I agree she really could have been even better. I'm glad I'm not the only one who really doesn't like the weapons - I just outright leave them off her. I'd love her ten times more without those plates hanging off the shoulders.

She's not bad exactly, but she's the one FE I have that I'm going to have to consider the RiD version as well; with Cliff and Bee it's FE hands down. With Arcee I'm not so sure. TBH, if the RiD version had a figure of Jack or Sadie rather than another comically oversized weapon - accessories look like being a blind-spot for Prime as they have been for a lot of TF lines over the past 3-4 years - that'd probably be game over.

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Post by Heinrad » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:57 pm

Now I just have to redo the pics.
As a professional tanuki (I'm a Japanese mythological animal, and a good luck charm), I have an alarm clock built into me somewhere. I also look like a stuffed animal. And you thought your life was tough......

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Post by Warcry » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:54 pm

Cliffjumper wrote:I mean, when you compare her to the things Hasbro were doing with bike TFs even a couple of years ago (hello, RotF) she's amazing, but I agree she really could have been even better.
That's a fair point...if she was a car or a plane and had the same issues (chunky alt-mode and bad robot kibble) I could see myself being a lot less forgiving. But when her contemporaries are the likes of Wreck-Gar, ROTF/Movie Arcee and those two ROTF scout molds, she winds up looking a lot better. Motorcycles, I guess, are just a difficult alt-mode to work with.
Cliffjumper wrote:She's not bad exactly, but she's the one FE I have that I'm going to have to consider the RiD version as well; with Cliff and Bee it's FE hands down. With Arcee I'm not so sure. TBH, if the RiD version had a figure of Jack or Sadie rather than another comically oversized weapon - accessories look like being a blind-spot for Prime as they have been for a lot of TF lines over the past 3-4 years - that'd probably be game over.
I dunno...the RiD mold has it's flaws too, and I'm not sure it looks any better than this one. It looks to have better poseability and it's probably a better toy, but the colours don't look as nice. Not only does it look like they dropped the silvery-pink that's such a big part of her look, the blue plastic doesn't look as nice (at least, in stock photos). I don't think either one is really all that great, it's just a question of which flaws bug you less.

The Prime figures seem to be really hit-or-miss when it comes to accessories, I agree. Some of them are very faithful to the CGI model in that respect, and others have giant weapons that look like they've been stolen from someone twice as big.

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Post by Cliffjumper » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:47 pm

The size might be the swinger for me; while the cheating on the CGI model means a genuinely in scale Arcee is a pipe-dream, having one that's not taller than the other Deluxes would be nice.

On the other hand, the FE one can do a hand-stand. I suspect I'll end up with both, TBH.

One of the things I really like about FE Cliffjumper is the show-accurate rotating guns... on the other hand, the thing that tips RiD Optimus from "not bad" to "****, I should have saved the money towards the FE" is the shit weaponry.

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Post by Warcry » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:30 pm

Note to self: buy FE Prime and Cliff, not RiD...

Er, if I can still find them that is.
Cliffjumper wrote:The size might be the swinger for me; while the cheating on the CGI model means a genuinely in scale Arcee is a pipe-dream, having one that's not taller than the other Deluxes would be nice.
Actually, I think a Scout would've got it just about right (at least in robot mode, because the size-changing between modes is ridiculous). If it unfolded the same way as the FE toy does, I think you'd end up with a toy that's just about right compared to Bee and Voyager Prime/Bulkhead. The problem is we're not likely to ever get one, since Cyberverse Commander slots are usually reserved for guys with legitimately big alt-modes.

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Post by Cliffjumper » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:53 am

Yeh, it's a shame that for the first time in a long time we've had a real character that needs a Scout figure but the bracket's been killed off by too many mediocre figures in that size.

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Post by Warcry » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:29 am

I can see why they did it, though. with the exception of Arcee, what else could you do with Prime toys in that price point? It'd be ROTF all over again.

The Cyberverse idea was a great one in my books, singlehandedly breathing live back into the Legend and Scout assortments. Instead of being half-assed pocket-money filler, they're now a well thought-out way for kids (or cheap fans) to collect the whole cast of a series in half-way respectable scale.

Though that being said, Scouts always seemed to move faster than any price point here. Not quite sure why, since both Legends and Deluxe lines had far more characters that the kids would recognize.

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Generations Sky Shadow review

Post by Warcry » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:38 am

Name: Sky Shadow

Don't mess with Sky Shadow -- he's one of the most foul, dark-hearted Decepticons in the galaxy. He takes no prisoners and always finds his target. Even the evil Megatron shudders when he hears the whine of jet engines in the distance, for it may be Sky Shadow coming for him!

Well, that's the worst toy bio I've ever seen. Since it tells you absolutely nothing about the character, here's a quick rundown. Sky Shadow is a remold of Generations Thunderwing, and is based on Thunderwing's original 1980s Japanese counterpart, Black Shadow. Like Stepper, Artfire and Minerva, Black Shadow has a bit of a cult following in the west on account of being an obscure Japanese character and a redeco of a popular Western character in Thunderwing. His only substantial media appearance to date came in the Japanese Victory anime, where he and fellow Crossformer Blue Bacchus were gangsters hired by Breastforce to steal Energon from a planet of Micromasters. They failed, naturally, and were never seen again. No one actually cares about this, though, and Black Shadow's fandom notoriety is almost entirely due to the fact that his tech spec function was mistranslated by fans into the hilariously Futuramaesque "Space Mafia".

As an obscure nobody, Black Shadow isn't the first character you'd think of when you're naming characters likely to be revisited in a nostalgia line like Generations. But once a new mold for Thunderwing was designed, a redeco into Black Shadow was almost inevitable because Hasbro like to reuse every mold they design at least once. It was a pleasant surprise to see that they went beyond the typical redeco, though, giving Sky Shadow a new head and chest based on Black Shadow's anime character model. It's a nice touch, especially for an obscure character, but is it enough to surpass the thoroughly mediocre Thunderwing? For my part, I didn't really care -- I bought the toy solely because he's an important character in the Archive's RPG. But I suspect that's not reason enough for most of you.

Alternate Mode: Although the original mold was a generic alien jet, Sky Shadow is an undeniably earthly machine that cribs a lot of design elements from the F-22 Raptor. It's a nice, vaguely futuristic design that maintains a lot of the original toy's most recognizable features, including canted-forward wings and a nosecone that detaches to form a separate mini-jet. Unfortunately, Sky Shadow's more vivid colours make the design look very, very busy compared to the more sedate Thunderwing. He's a riotous mix of red, silver, grey and gold on a mainly black fuselage, and walks a very fine line between awesome and tacky. Which side of the line he falls on is going to be strictly a matter of taste.

His arms and legs are both clearly visible in jet mode, although the preponderance of grey and black on the limbs make the effect a fair bit more subtle than with Thunderwing. He's still very obviously a robot that's been folded up under a plane, though. He also has one flaw that Thunderwing didn't. His new head is quite a bit larger than Thunderwing's, meaning that it won't fit properly in the little cubby that flipped up to hide the head on the original iteration of this mold. In particular, Sky Shadow's giant anime ears stick out quite prominently just below his air intakes, changing the look of the jet's front end.

Just like the original, Sky Shadow is bristling with weapons. Spring-loaded missile launchers hang off each of his wings, with two smaller, non-firing missiles molded onto each of them that can double as mounting points for 3mm C-clip weapons. He also sports a pair of jointed cannons mounted on...well, on the obvious robot-mode shoulders under his wings, and a pair of what look like machine gun ports molded into the nose of his detachable nosecone jet. He definitely looks like a threat.

The detachable nose is a nice touch, a throwback to the original toy which was a Mega PretenderCrossformer with a small, transforming robot and a large transforming shell. Sky Shadow's mini-jet doesn't transform, obviously, but being able to split him in two adds a lot to his play value in jet mode. Honestly, I'd love it if more Transformers had features like this because far too many of them turn into vehicles that don't really do anything. Sky Shadow may not be a very convincing jet, but he's fun to fiddle around with and that's important too.

Robot Mode: Sky Shadow is, honestly, not all that impressive at first glance. He's short, squat and doesn't have the best colour scheme. His chest, shins and wings are black with red, silver, white and gold highlights. That's not the problem...looks really good, actually. Unfortunately, his thighs and arms are molded in a bland dark grey with no paint apps at all. Not only does it look bad in it's own right, it's actually a divergence from Black Shadow's original colours -- which featured white biceps and silver thighs that broke up the grey nicely. It's a really odd mix of detailed paintwork with big completely undetailed chunks, and a big disappointment because it could easily be so much better.

Beyond the obvious colour scheme differences, Sky Shadow manages to stand out quite a bit from Thunderwing. The new chest and especially the new head make a big difference. Thunderwing's head was a bit on the small side, but Sky Shadow's is on the other side of the spectrum. It's fairly big, and the giant ears make it seem even bigger. It's just enough to change the silhouette of the figure and make him look different from his mold-brother. It also looks really nice, albeit a bit generic. If Sky Shadow was easier to find, it would be a great head to use for any number of kitbash projects.

To further differentiate the two of them I also tend to pose Sky Shadow with his wings split open and his missile-launchers still attached, which has the unintended side effect of further underscoring his origin as a minor character in a ridiculous Japanese anime. The wide wingspan that results from it also compensates a bit for his short stature, making him look a bit more impressive than if he was carrying the missile launchers in his hands with the wings folded up (though obviously, that works just fine if you want him to be more conventionally armed).

In terms of articulation, Sky Shadow is fairly standard. With ball-jointed hips and shoulders, mid-thigh and bicep swivels, hinged knees and elbows and wrist swivels, along with a ball-jointed neck, he's certainly got lots of joints to fiddle with. Unfortunately, "fiddle" is about the best you can do with him. His shoulder movement is seriously hobbled by the cannons mounted on them, because they get blocked by his wings and prevent the arms from being raised more than a few degrees. Likewise, the ball joint on his head is seated so deep that for all intents and purposes it might as well be a simple swivel. His legs are the only parts that have unrestricted movement, and he's got good balance, but in terms of poseability he's below par.

Honestly, there's not all that much to say about Sky Shadow. He's not bad, but by modern standards he's a very, very simple toy.

Transformation Design: As I said, very simple. The visible ears in jet mode don't do him any favours either. 3.5/10

Durability: Unlike Thunderwing, he's not covered in stress marks all over his body. In general, the mold seems to be pretty durable. The only parts that worry me are the large swing-wings. 8/10

Fun: He's nothing special at all. Aside from having a lot of guns in jet mode, he doesn't do anything better than dozens of other, nicer toys. 5/10

Aesthetics: He's a pretty jet, but his robot mode leaves something to be desired. 6/10

Articulation: Just not up to modern standards. 4/10

Price: Sky Shadow's a very small Deluxe, and he's not easy to find since he was distributed at the tail-end of the first batch of Generations toys. If you have to pay inflated online prices for him, he's not worth it. 4/10

Overall: Although he's a decent figure, there's really nothing special about the guy that makes him worth going out and searching for. Thunderwing is better, cheaper and easier to find, and the mold just isn't worth owning twice. Unless you can get Sky Shadow for a reasonable price, there's really no good reason to go looking for him...unless you're really keen on SPACE MAFIA. 5/10
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If someone could make sure I refer to him as Sky Shadow where I should be, I'd really appreciate it. :)
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Henkei Silverbolt

Post by Cal » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:30 am

Name: Silverbolt
Allegiance: Autobots
Function: Aerialbot Leader

Strength: 6
Intelligence: 8
Speed: 9
Endurance: 8
Rank: 8
Courage: 8
Firepower: 8
Skill: 5

”Don’t look down. Look straight ahead.”

As the leader of an elite group of Autobot warriors known as the Aerialbots, Silverbolt shoulder a great deal of responsibility. He is a careful planner who never risks the lives of any of his men, unless it is absolutely necessary. All his care, however, hides a deep insecure nature. Optimus Prime actually put Silverbolt in such a stressful position largely to distract him from his paralyzing fear of heights; a weakness he hopes the other Aerialbots never discover. He is a capable leader nonetheless, and has honed the Aerialbots into one of the finest Autobot units in the Universe.


I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the phrase “Optimus Prime actually put Silverbolt in such a stressful position largely to distract him from his paralyzing fear of heights” for a moment. It’s hard not to doubt the ethics of our noble Autobot leader when you stop to consider that decision. Not only did Optimus Prime personally build the severely acrophobic Silverbolt into a high-flying Concorde, as seen in The Key to Vector Sigma, part deux, but his ingenious remedy to cope with the stress is to add MORE stress. Bastard!

As part of the Universe Ultra-class figures, the combiner team leader Silverbolt seems to be a counterpoint to Combaticon leader Onslaught. But without the release of the rest of his wingmechs to keep him focused, Silverbolt flies alone and exposed to the stratospheric dangers above. It’s enough to turn a bot white with terror, and the Henkei release seems noticeably paler than Hasbro’s version. Does Silverbolt have the spark to survive until the Beast era, or is this one plane that’s doomed to be grounded?


Alternate Mode

In the cosmic joke of Silverbolt’s fate as a Concorde SST, the only small consolation is that the airlines had a perfect safety record, with nary a crash in over twenty years since its introduction. (Well, that and the thought that the seasick/aerophobic Broadside is worse off than him.) Then when tragedy struck flight 4590 in 2000 and sent the jet ablaze near Charles de Gaulle, Concorde became the most deadly commercial plane to fly based on the number built. Since then, Silverbolt has tried to drown his sorrows at Maccadam’s Old Oil House, downing shots of raw Energon and slurring clumsy passes at Lickety-Split. Unwilling to abandon the sozzled bot, Optimus Prime picked up Silverbolt and had him reformatted into a new supersonic jet based on the XB-70 Valkyrie. No, not the Macross jet. Get your head out of Shoji Kawamori’s ass! With only two prototypes built of the XB-70 - the X standing for experimental - that leaves far fewer opportunities for accidents. Of course, Prime neglected to mention that one of the prototypes collided with another jet and crashed. Hrrmm....

Unlike his fellow Ultra-class flier Powerglide, who has stuck firmly to his original A-10 Thunderbolt mode, Silverbolt updates his wardrobe for the Classics style to stay hip and happenin’. The irony here is that the Valkyrie predates Concorde by a good five years, having first flown in 1964 when Simon & Garfunkel blazed the charts with The Sound of Silence. Nevertheless, they share a very similar delta wing planform, which is a crucial aspect of making Transformers recognizable in any guise. As Silverbolt was originally the only passenger airliner in a formation of fighter jets, it’s hard to imagine him striking fear in anyone but himself. If he took one of Soundwave’s cassettes for a ride outside of Paris... nah, maybe not even that. But now returning as a supersonic bomber from the Cold War era, Silverbolt’s insane killing power is enough to send Decepticons and Soviets scattering.

The overall shape of the design follows the Valkyrie quite closely, including twin stabilizers and a pair of canards behind the cockpit. One of the biggest changes is the addition of two exhausts on the afterbody that house the toy’s batteries and electronics. Now a lot of fans find electronics in Transformers annoying, but I helplessly regress into a dribbling five year-old when handed a toy that flashes and makes noise. And yes, I still dribbled at five. The switch for this is located between the exhausts, letting loose a sound and light show that would put Jazz to shame. The sweet part is that, unlike Powerglide, the lights vary on the sound emitted. The exhausts flash for a take-off sound, the forward lights flash for a machine gun sound, and nothing flashes for a swoosh sound. Another change is that the tail has been sculpted in a zigzag wave reminiscent of the B-2 Spirit, and the same shape extends to Silverbolt’s Electrostatic Bolt Rifle pegged underneath the cockpit. Unlike Powerglide’s weapon that rubbed uncomfortably against his pelvis, Silverbolt can fly freely unmolested.

It’s not all roses and wine. Although Silverbolt looks great from atop, try peeping underneath like you would a schoolgirl’s outfit to expose a shocking amount of robot kibble. Judging by the overall shape and intakes formed by Silverbolt’s feet, I can only assume it’s a gross parody of the Valkyrie’s undercarriage. Hasbro didn’t even try to reconcile the two modes, and the appearance of a plane sitting on top of a robot is so obvious, it makes Grandus look like Mirage, in disguise, at Monaco, with Auggie Cahnay behind the wheel. You could argue that the electronics restricted the design of the figure, but Powerglide managed it without supergluing his two modes together. Dear, oh dear.

Henkei Silverbolt is molded in pure white, which helps the silver trims stand out sharply compared to Hasbro’s grey version. While Takara retained the “BOLT-25” deco on the fuselage in homage to Transformers 25th anniversary, the numbers on Silverbolt’s wings have been replaced with an Autobot logo. Regional differences are more apparent in robot mode, and getting there involves one of the most simplistic transformation I’ve seen in years...


Robot Mode

You can’t be serious.

To transform Silverbolt, you have to fold the plane in two, pull out his arms and legs, and slide his head up. That’s it.

No, really, I’m talking Shyamalan-meets-Avatar-level you can’t be serious!

I know that this figure is meant to be a throwback to G1, but that doesn’t mean you need a frickin’ 25 year-old transformation too! It’s all the more egregious that it belongs to an Ultra-class figure when I’ve seen Scout-class toys show more imagination. It’s for this very reason that I avoided Silverbolt for years, relegating him to the bottom of my ‘to buy’ list, just below powdered milk and Katy Perry’s latest album. It was only when the Henkei version surfaced on eBay recently that I figured, “Ahhhh, what da hell!” and added him to my collection.

While the transformation is nothing to write home about, it does have its perks. Sliding Silverbolt’s pelvis into position pops up his head with a transformation sound effect and flashing green eyes. Transforming him back also produces a sound effect, although it’s much more sensitive and only seems to work half the time. Since the fuselage folds up behind him, it creates the impression of Silverbolt wearing a plane on his back. I’m sure that this is an intentional throwback to the G1 era where Aerialbots found plane backpacks to be the height of fashion, but another stroke of irony is that Silverbolt’s backpack was more discreet on the toy and absent in the cartoon. It still doesn’t affect the electronics, since the switch is cleverly extended on a peg that allows you to play the machine gun sound effect while you run around pretending you’re holding a fearless leader in your grubby, wee mitts.

Since the design is reduced to basics, it does have the advantage of keeping Silverbolt’s robot mode supremely faithful to his G1 roots. He looks the spitting image of his cartoon self, which is enhanced further by Takara’s choice of colours. The chest design is accurate to a tee, and he sports the same winglet shoulders as in the show. Silverbolt’s ratcheted legs are conspicuously thin and blocky, resembling those on the G1 toy (and the stress problems that resulted). His articulation is unremarkable, especially for his size, with Hasbro restricted by the backpack from including waist articulation, and forgetting to add any in the hands altogether. One small boon is that Silverbolt possesses elongated heel struts to help support the weight of the backpack, and his balance is quite good overall. The head sculpt has the same horse blinders design to help him stay focused ahead, only this time his brow has been painted gold, crowning the Aerialbot commander as a flight fit for a king!

Now the big change here is the colour palette. Like Cyclonus and Inferno, Takara have painted Silverbolt in the most saturated version of his cartoon colours. Since the white plastic is lighter than the silver trims compared to Hasbro’s dark grey, it creates the curious impression that Silverbolt’s values have been inversed. While this does boast a more classic look that should please many fans, it does remove any subtle variations in tone as seen in the shifting shades of maroon on the Universe toy. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what seems like chromasplosion to me would be nostalgia porn to G1 pimps.

At the end of the day, I find Henkei Silverbolt to be no better or worse than his Western counterpart. Like other Ultra-class figures, he’s noticeably out of scale with other Classics - even towering over Autobot giant Jetfire - and would probably have worked better as a Voyager release to mitigate his austere transformation. With his updated alt mode, Silverbolt’s future remains as bright as his colours - or at least that’s what he believes. Prime also neglected to mention that the XB-70 Valkyrie was cancelled due to Soviets divining how to blast high-flying bombers out of the sky. Mum’s the word!


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 2 - It works, but it’s as simple as sin. Clearly something that was planned out on the morning train.
Durability: 8 - Reasonably robust for a heavy Ultra-class toy. Compared to G1 Silverbolt and his cursed gold plastic syndrome, this is rock.
Fun: 6 - You can switch between modes quicker than Quickswitch while chorusing the sound effects with your own burrs and hums, but more thought and creativity could have been invested to make Silverbolt a winner.
Aesthetics: 7 - A solid choice of alt mode and props for cartoon accuracy, but the humongous undercarriage would make Sky Lynx blush.
Articulation: 5 - Functional, yet as uninspired as the transformation. No ball joints, waist, hand or foot articulation. The plane backpack restricts the arms somewhat, but he has good balance despite it.
Value: 7 - Perhaps due to his simplicity, Silverbolt’s value hasn’t soared along with the rest of the line. I paid £22 for mine loose, although I still think he would have been better off in the Voyager class for financial reasons among others.
Overall: 6 - Henkei Silverbolt is a curious oddity that satisfies the look of the character at the expense of any real insight in the design. Is it possible to be G1 to a fault? Fans will no doubt delight at posing him with the rest of their Classics figures, but Silverbolt’s shortcomings forever gnaw at his already shaky confidence. Don’t let this plane crash and burn.
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