Blackjack's review: Cryo Scourge
Long exposure to the freezing waste of deep space has irreversibly mutated Scourge. No longer a flame-spewing monster consumed by his passions, he is now a creature of ice and cold. Calculating, cruel, and without mercy, he radiates a freezing aura that causes circuitry to short out, and renders Autobot alloys brittle and easily shattered. His breath, once a raging firestorm, is now a creeping cold that sneaks into joints and mechanisms, destroying from within. The blade of his axe is a razor-sharp shard of supercooled hydrogen ice that leaves a deadly numbness wherever it strikes.
One of the more major characters in the Cybertron cartoon was Scourge, known as Flame Convoy in Japan. The concept of Cybertron was that the Autobots have to go to four colony worlds with their own wacky cultures and obtain the ‘Cyber Planet Keys’ to seal a black hole that’s threatening their planet, and they have to deal with the respective leaders there. Scourge, leader of the Jungle Planet or Animatron, was the only one that’s openly antagonistic to the Autobots. The Jungle Planet culture dictates that whoever is the strongest is leader, and Scourge indeed as the strongest in his planet. Through one way or another, Scourge ended up getting recruited to the Decepticons and went through some internal turmoil as he struggled between honour and power before a girl gives him a lecture and he suddenly turns good.
Scourge transforms into a dragon, and his original toy (and the cartoon’s CG model of him) is coloured in a fire-theme. Reds, oranges, blacks, that sort of thing. Near the tail end of the Cybertron line is the group of inevitable repaints no one really cares about, one of them being Cryo Scourge.
I didn’t know anything about the TV series at this point, though—I found Cryo Scourge shelfwarming around the time of the 2007 Movie, and that was my ‘buy whatever is a Transformer’ phase. While I did obtain a couple other Cybertron-era toys at that time, Cryo Scourge was one of my first toys not from a movie line. The backstory supplied on the back of his box described him as being mutated by the cold of space from a fire-based warrior to a cold-based one, and it grabbed my attention. An ice-breathing dragon! Scourge basically stood as a guard dog to the Decepticon forces to little me until I watched the Cybertron cartoon, was wholly unenamoured by the wishy-washy idiot that is Scourge, and he remained a guard dog to little me.
Scourge transforms into a dragon. A stark contrast to his original paint scheme, Scourge is now coloured in mainly dark blue, with light blue colouring his head, the spikes of his front legs and the majority of his rear legs. The light blue is further painted with a brush of white, and random speckles of silver and yellow pick out the details throughout Scourge’s mould. His claws and a chunk of rock on the base of his tail is cast in clear plastic that seems to suggest ice. It’s a really beautiful paint scheme, one that I later found out was to homage the relatively obscure Beast Wars character Cryotek. I don’t particularly care about Cryotek, though – I found Scourge’s ice-based colours pretty. I do like how the light blue and white centralized on his upper skull gives the impression of him wearing the skull of another dragon, something that’s certainly won’t be considered an oddity among Jungle Planet culture. Sadly, time has eroded some of the white paint on his spikes.
Scourge is kind of a poorly articulated dragon. Compared to beast-mode toys before and after him, Scourge is pretty bricky. He can open his mouth, the base of his neck is hinged, the shoulder and elbow part of his front legs are hinged and his rear legs are hinged in three places, but the placement of his dragon claws makes posing him in anything but a static pose difficult. Moreover, his tail basically only juts backwards like a long cone from his butt, with only a single hinge in the middle. Scourge has really pretty paint, though it’s a shame his mould’s kind of terrible.
You can insert the Jungle Planet cyber key included with Scourge (mine is in a box somewhere) onto a slot near the base of his tail which will cause the two spring-loaded secondary dragon heads that are obviously folded on the sides of his chest to flip out, apparently with the classic cartoon transformation sound. The additional heads are coloured in light blue with white highlights, similar to the rest of Scourge’s ‘frozen’ parts. The box notes that Scourge is a triple changer with a ‘hydra mode’, and it’s rather ridiculous that a cyber key gimmick constitutes a second alternate mode. Again as with everything cyber key related I wished this doesn’t exist so the dragon heads can easily swing out and swing back without having to ratchet through springs that seem like they’re going to break. Transforming Scourge is annoying when you have the hydra heads out because Scourge’s main head has these horns that will no doubt catch onto the hydra heads.
Overall a rather sub-par alternate mode, though damn pretty colours.
Scourge’s transformation is extremely simple. Keep in mind that he is an Ultra class toy, basically one of the larger toys in the toyline. He’s got slightly more mass than modern Voyager class toys… and yet his transformation is ridiculously simple. He’s got the same complexity of a Legends class toy, and this isn’t even hyperbole – one of the first Legends class toy was of this very design, and they incorporated practically an identical transformation. It’s really quite shameful. It’s an extremely basic design common to many transformers with quadripedal beast modes – the front legs move around and become arms, the legs become legs, you move the head to the chest and flip out the head… except toys released easily thirteen years before Scourge during Beast Wars, and half the size of Scourge, had far more complex transformations. It’s really quite laughable.
The simplified transformation would be great if the end product is actually satisfying. A complex transformation does not always equal a good toy, after all, but Scourge is not. His articulation is basically the same as before, only with fists added… and the fists can only face one direction. While Scourge can assume a boxing stance, the combination of short lower arms and really tall upper arms end up making posing his arms somewhat of a challenge. His paint scheme feels less coherent in robot mode, though I can’t really put my finger exactly why.
The tail ends up becoming an axe. Scourge, however, can only hold said axe on the base, making it ridiculously impractical both as an accessory and in-fiction. To make matters worse, the point where Scourge’s fist-hole meets the peg on the axe is cast in a different, tiny piece to the rest of the tail-axe, and it tends to pop off with alarming frequency. Scourge’s axe is supposed to transform by having the ice block bit hinge down, better forming a polearm blade and pulling out a light blue spear tip, but the one on mine is broken on the inside after doing it once or twice as a kid.
Overall, Scourge is really posable, and would have been impressive… if he was three size classes smaller. As it is, though, he’s a rather disappointing large toy with a slightly-pretty paint scheme that takes up too much space.
Marks out of ten for the following:
1/10 Laughably simple... which wouldn’t be a problem if his robot and beast modes aren’t so annoying to pose. I have Minicons more complex than Scourge.
3/10 The white bits on Cryo Scourge apparently wear off with rough play. Also watch out for broken electronics, broken tail-axe tips, and missing tail-axe handles... all of which has been found on my copy of Cryo Scourge.
6/10 On one hand, I do find the Cryotek ice-based paint scheme pretty nice. On the other hand, Scourge’s dragon and robot mode end up looking pretty unimpressive – the shoulder spikes are sorta nice, but compared to Beast Wars era toys, or Prime-era dragons, Scourge really falls short.
5/10 He’s basically static in beast mode other than tilting his head a bit and messing around with his rear legs. In robot mode his arms are a bit halted by the largeness of his shoulders, his long legs don’t really hold up the rest of him well, and the axe accessory is so unwieldy that Scourge can’t really hold it in any meaningful way.
7/10 He is an ice-breathing dragon that turns into a robot, and I would be lying if I didn’t have fun with him as a kid. However, he is also a rather fragile ice-breathing dragon, and between all the parts that broke and generally being unwieldy to pose, Scourge ended up basically being a prop before being banished for other, newer toys.
7/10 Pretty sure he’s going on cheap because I remembered getting him on clearance and he’s really the only toy from the Cybertron line to remain in the stores even until Revenge of the Fallen. The question is if you want to buy him or not.
2/10 Scourge is a pretty disappointing toy. He’s got a pretty paintjob – but that isn’t exactly unique to him. The original Cryotek and Skystalker from the Prime line both have ice-based paintjobs without being ridiculously oversized and simple, there are a lot of other dragon Transformers out there and Scourge is generally a lukewarm disappointment. He doesn’t completely suck, but other than his paintjob I literally can’t say anything particularly good about him. He's a really dated toy that fails to impress compared to both older and newer fare. That’s probably the reason I never really took him out of the display case where he hugs the rearmost wall.