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Blackjack's Review: Mindset

Name: Mindset
Allegiance: Cybertronian Empire Decepticon Autobot
Repaint of: 2010 Hailstorm
Accessories: Missiles (8x)

"How can they believe these puddles of organic matter are life at all? To consider them capable of even the most basic creative thought... is quite laughable!"

So, with Hasbro realizing that even wacky obscure fan-favourite Transformers like Straxus would be a big hit, they decided to make a Mindset toy. Now if Straxus was obscure to you, Mindset will leave you wondering 'Who the hell is this guy?' Mindset is a generic in the Generation 2 comics. Now G2 introduced a new faction called the Cybertronian Empire, or otherwise known as the second-generation Decepticons, a vast legion of generic Decepticons who could reproduce asexually that have conquered a huge chunk of the universe whilst our friendly neighborhood Autobots and Decepticons were duking it out on Earth and Cybertron.

Since the Cybertronian Empire didn't get toys at that time, they were mostly nameless cannon fodders. The main Imperial guy was Jhiaxus, who is simply amazing. And we have Rook, Jhiaxus' yes-man. And Liege Maximo, the big bad behind Jhiaxus that would've been the main villain had G2 continued. But we also have Mindset.

See, another villain was introduced in G2. When the Imperials do their unholy method of budding, they create some leftover stuff that mutate and became the Swarm, an all-devouring... well, swarm. Mindset was a luckless high-ranking, brilliant, xenophobic Imperial commander in the midst of ordering his troops to kill off the humanoid organics in the planet Karn. The purpose of killing the organics? To draw Optimus Prime out. Nothing else. Cold. Then the Swarm attacked. Mindset literally threw everything his troops could muster at the Swarm, but the Swarm devoured all of Mindset's troops. Mindset transformed and tried to fire at the Swarm, but it was hopeless. As he was consumed, somewhere across the galaxy Onslaught doubled over in pain. It's probably a hint that Onslaught is Mindset's father or something, but never explored upon.

That's the sad story of Mindset. The token named redshirt (well, green-and-silver shirt if you want to get technical), given a few lines before dying. He's a rather pragmatic soldier who hates organics, illustrating exactly the Cybertronian Empire's views. A nice enough role which makes Mindset more memorable than other comic-exclusive guys like Fang or Macabre, but he still can't hold a candle to the legendary comic exclusive guys like Impactor and Xaaron and Straxus.

But Hasbro made a toy out of him anyway. They released an all-new mold done in the Movie aesthetics of a guy called 'Hailstorm', who is supposedly done to represent Mindset. A couple waves later, Hailstorm was redecoed in light blue and black as Mindset. While Hailstorm's green colour is closer (but not an exact match) to his comic appearance I couldn't grab ahold of him, so I had to settle for this new Mindset to appease my curiosity.

However, this Mindset is in the wrong colours. He is light blue and black, while the original Mindset was white and metallic green. There's a little blue-green, too, but unless the deco guys are colour blind, well, I think this is a foiled homage.

Hell, I would've never guessed that Mindset would have a toy made out of him, even if it doesn't really look like the comic design other than the alternate mode. I mean, sure, he is more toy friendly, but the fact that he got an all-new mold before Jhiaxus? (Yeah, I know Jhi's got a repaint of BM Jetstorm way back in 2003-ish, but that doesn't count) I mean, Jhiaxus literally carried the arc for the Generation 2 series, whilst Mindset was a redshirt who appeared to die. I'll admit that Jhiaxus isn't exactly toy-friendly. I've heard someone describe Jhiaxus' robot mode as 'a Seeker on steroids without kibble' and his alternate mode as 'the secret love child of Starscream and Scourge'. But Jhiaxus is iconic and- ah, forget it. Let's talk Mindset.

The Mindset toy is released as part of the 'Reveal the Shield' subline that has rubsigns as its main gimmick. Yes, the same things from twenty five years ago. Which is why we have names like 'Demolitions Rumble' and 'Solar Storm Grapple' and 'Special Ops Jazz' instead of putting Decepticon and Autobot in front of their names. I mean, it's obvious to you and me that Tracks is an Autobot and Scourge is a Decepticon, but kiddies will be surprised.

Mindset sure as hell will surprise you.

Rub the sign... and instead of a Decepticon insignia, he has an Autobot one! DUN DUN DUNN!

At first I thought Hasbro screwed up. Then I looked at the biography and packaging carefully. Mindset was clearly meant to be an Autobot. His packaging even went so far as to state that Mindset's mind is so set that he hates the Decepticons for trying to change Cybertron. So I guess it's a separate character. Or it's just Hasbro's way of messing with our mind. Whatever. Regardless of allegiance (I say he's a double agent!) the geek in me forces me to compare this Mindset to the original Mindset.

Mindset transforms into a multiple missile launcher tank similar to G1 Flak or Cybertron Scattorshot. However, unlike most Movie aesthetic molds designed to homage G1 characters like Brawn or Bludgeon or Seaspray, Mindset's alternate mode doesn't particularly look realistic. Wacky colour scheme notwithstanding, Mindset doesn't look as realistic as the other multiple missile launcher tanks. For one thing, he's got this upraised cab thing you'd expect from a construction vehicle (like ROTF Demolishor) or a missile carrier truck (like G1 Onslaught). And it's a rather huge chunk, too, in front of the tank, and the windows would mean that he's a positively huge-ass tank. Now I may not be the expert in military hardware—heck, I can barely tell a Ferrari from Lamborghini apart unless they've been used in Transformers fiction, much less fricking tanks—I don't think that huge black block disguised as a grille in the middle of the tank's front would exist in a real life tank. It's a shame because this glaring piece of kibble could've been easily avoided by making his feet shaped differently. As it is, well, he just looks weird with that block between his cab.

Also, do these tanks come with cabs? I mean, I know Onslaught-esque carriers that bring around multiple missile launchers, but do tanks have cabs like a construction vehicle? Wouldn't the drivers be better protected inside the tank body itself? Furthermore, the missile launcher can't come down fully to point horizontally forwards, something that these vehicles should damn well be able to do. Why? Because the silly cab is in the way. It doesn't look right, that's all. While I appreciate Hasbro trying to set this apart from the Cybertron Scattorshot mold (which have been repainted several times recently), well, frankly adding a huge chunk of a cab doesn't really do the job. It's one thing if it was done properly, but the block in his front looks messy from the front, and is a pain to get into position when transforming him from robot mode.

This is made worse because Mindset's original alternate mode design in G2 doesn't have a cab.

That aside, Mindset is a pretty nice tank, even if he's light blue. The whole missile launcher piece is block-coloured black, as is the center of the blocky front section, tank treads, and some bits of the robot mode that show. The little light on top of the cab is red. The interior (wheels) of his tank is coloured brownish silver, as is some bits of his robot mode that show and a piece of joint at the sides of the missile launcher. Not a pretty good colour scheme; Hailstorm was better looking and more realistic than this. Hell, Cybertron Scattorshot was coloured bright blue and he looked better than this. Instead Mindset just looks dull and uninspired, as if Hasbro wants to try every other colour in their palette. Which is a shame, since if coloured properly (i.e. a realistic military colour or a proper homage to the original Mindset) it would certainly look better.

The original Mindset's alien missile launcher mode had four arranged in a horizontal manner. Now understandably Mindset tries to be more realistic, and his missile launcher thing has eight—four on each half of the ensemble, arranged into two layers. Now while the missile launcher's main body is piss-poor with that webwork that showed that it isn't a solid piece, I have to commend the designers for making the Mindset/Hailstorm mold the first multiple missile launcher that can actually fire its missiles. All eight missiles could be fired by pushing on the end of the long missiles that jut out of the launcher ensemble's back. It doesn't go far because it's one of those pressure activated things instead of spring-loaded, but kudos to the designers for making it work. Now, if the missile tips were silver like on Hailstorm's instead of solid black in Mindset's...

The missile launcher ensemble can rotate 360 degrees around its axis, although the blocky section at the front with a cab restricts it from pointing backwards. It can swivel up until it stands perpendicular to the tank. Nice feature, but the general chunky mess of the tank's body doesn't particularly make this enjoyable.

Mindset's transformation is pretty unique, and I'm pretty sure it's to make himself distinct from the scores of tankformers we have been getting lately. However, the original Mindset was a fairly generic robot with no tank treads visible on his body and his missile launcher ensemble on his back like a backpack. Oh, and the original Mindset had a visor and a mouth, and his head was rather generic-looking. That was the original Mindset. What about this one?

Even when you ignore the colours, it doesn't look a thing like Mindset. The gigantic, hulking arms that seem to sprout a few inches lower than where shoulders should be, legs that have to be displayed in a Dreamwave crouch, a face that look like a puffed-up version of ROTF Sideswipe's head, a horrendously fake-kibbled chest (i.e. they stuck the thing from the ugly cab/front block onto his chest despite it not being formed by the cab)... this Mindset's missile launchers end up above his shoulders as well, although you could have them arranged into the backpack (he literally has a pouch-like backpack kind of like Animated Wreck-Gar as the result of the transformation) like in vehicle mode, to make him look more like the G2 model. And to prevent the idiot looking like he's been speared through the shoulders with the long tail-end of the missiles jutting out from the square parts of the missile launcher that end up above the shoulders.

Mindset can still fire his missiles, whether the launchers are arranged in backpack mode or the silly looking above-the-shoulders thing that the instructions recommend you to do. Oh, sure, it looks neat. But when you put in the missiles... I do quite like the backpack in this mode, though. Store all the missiles in it and it looks as if he has a quiver. Now if only it weren't so holey...

Generally, Mindset's design is quite a mess. His tank treads fold up into his upper hands, and his lower hands (painted silver with a touch of gold), which barely fit onto the underside of his tank, hang low. His chest gives him two red lamps and some golden paint applications, and a bit of shoulder kibble is coloured gold while Mindset's face has silver paint applications. The fake movie-verse kibble thing fails miserably. While proper movie designs, or toys designed to look like them, seem fluid, Mindset is just a mess with all the pieces. And the blue is just so dull.

Mindset's articulation is decent. His head is on a ball joint and his neck can crane up, something of a rarity, but ultimately useless considering that Mindset's heavy bulk around his head kind of renders this unnoticeable. His missile launchers can rotate if in 'backpack' mode, his shoulders are on a relatively unobstructed ball joint, and his elbows are double jointed. His thighs are on ball joints, and his knees are on a weird double joint.

Ah, his knees. Probably another method to try and make Mindset unique. Displayed straight, it makes Mindset look disproportionate and rather stiff-legged. But unfurl the knees, and you will find out that to balance him, you have to display Mindset in something akin to a Dreamwave crouch. Although with his short legs and gangly, thick arms Mindset does look kind of like a gorilla.

Mindset's face looks like ROTF Sideswipe's face, puffed up and slapped around a bit. Definitely nowhere near the generic face that the original Mindset had. Hailstorm (who had a different face) at least had a face that looked quite badass, unlike this Mindset, whose face looks like some village idiot. Bottom line—Mindset looks nothing like Mindset. And he's not exactly a good toy to boot, either.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Durability: 8/10 For such an ugly toy, he's an articulated brick. The missiles might break or get lost, though.

Transformation Design: 2/10 They tried to make a new transformation design, but it fails. Transforming to vehicle mode is frustrating, since the arms and the cab thing and the groin section compete for a space that can only be fitted oh so very precisely. And don't get me started on balance issues.

Aesthetics: 2/10 Blah. Vehicle mode is marred by having a too-chunky main body, and a blocky cab-thing in front that is not necessary at all. Robot mode is worse, with messy, unattractive fake kibble and an ugly head.

Articulation: 5/10 Only so average. Kudos for featuring double knee and elbow joints and a craning neck, but rather useless since it's rather redundant. His knees can't be used without making him do a Dreamwave crouch, for example.

Price/Value: 3/10 Seeing what they could do with Deluxe Class toys from his wavemates Jazz and Tracks, and even older toys, I feel robbed.

Fun: 4/10 The missile launcher is fun, and he is a nice generic with his hulking, Igor-like stance, but there's no hiding the fact that he's a rather piss-poor designed toy. He doesn't even look like the original Mindset; I can't stress this often enough.

Overall: 1.5/10 No. Vehicle mode and robot modes are both messes. It might be forgiven if he actually does look like Mindset, but neither the design or the colour scheme are remotely close other than the position of the missile launcher. Hailstorm isn't a great substitute either, since his face is also far off. I suppose I was hoping too hard, which is a shame considering the success Hasbro did with Straxus. But I guess you can't have everything. I mean, they didn't even bother to get his allegiance right, much less his paint scheme...
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