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Blackjack's Review: Sentinel Prime

Name: Sentinel Prime
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Voyager Class
Accessories: Mechtech ladder/cannon

"On Cybertron we were gods. And here... here they call us machines."

Ah, Sentinel Prime... for those who haven't seen the movie, I recommend skipping this review, it spoils a good chunk of the movie. With that warning given, let's get to it.

So, through most of the earlier trailers given for Dark of the Moon, Sentinel Prime appeared in only the very first trailer, and it's revealed that Sentinel is a comatose Autobot stuck on a spaceship that crashed on the moon. But from then onwards trailers focused on other scenes and are relatively Sentinel-free. The main villain is highly publicized to be Shockwave, a natural progression for anyone familiar with Transformers. And why wouldn't Shockwave be the main villain? He's a major villain in both the comics and cartoon. And a major fan-favourite, too! And all the hype made up about him by 'official' news... and true enough, Shockwave and his pet giant sandworm did appear in the obligatory opening action sequence, so it looks as if it's set up that he's the main bad guy of the movie.

So Optimus Prime revives Sentinel Prime, right, and they have this conversation by the setting sun, and Sentinel tells Optimus that it is Optimus' time to lead... Leonard Nimoy's voice is also very mentor-like and noble, and would fool anyone who has watched the recent Star Trek movie.

And then, about a couple of human scenes and a road battle scene later, Sentinel suddenly shoots Ironhide in the back and kills him. With a rust gun. It's a totally unexpected plot twist, especially to those who haven't seen any of those leaked adaptations or whatever. And especially to those who are used to the fact that Sentinel Prime is Optimus' mentor, or maybe even an exported Alpha Trion-esque character. Apparently Sentinel had made a deal with Megatron in the past, to betray Optimus in order to revive Cybertron. What seemed to be a living plot device has suddenly became the big bad. And Sentinel continues to carry the torch of the big bad, totally beating the crap out of Optimus Prime, engineering the Autobots' exile off Earth, and basically kicking Megatron off his leadership and commanding the Decepticons later on.

And he had more character development than the previous villains of the movieverse too. Unlike Fallen's vague goals, Sentinel's goal is perfectly clear: to restore Cybertron, and to end the war to do so. While certainly he betrays the Autobots and his noble ideals, you could see things from his perspective. The war had reduced them to fighting alongside humans (his only interaction with them is being bossed around by Mearing, who isn't very friendly to begin with), who treats them like mere machines. Also, the Autobots barely have a dozen fighting force, while Megatron has two hundred buried in the moon, not to mention a network of 'insect' agents. Especially with being deactivated for a couple thousand years in that ship, wires would start to get loose, what?

I can safely say Sentinel Prime has become one of the most memorable villains, not just Transformers-wise but in the general movie department!

And he kicks ass, too, with his two-sided sword thing, his bladed shield and his cosmic rust gun. Voiced by Spock, too. And he transforms into a kickass fire engine!

Problem is? Sentinel's toy is in the Leader Class, way out of a justifiable price for a toy. Can't justify such a expensive price tag to my family. But I can't stand having a dinky commander class Sentinel, so I compromised and bought the Voyager class toy. It doesn't have the swords and the shield, but let's see how good this compromise is.

Alternate Mode:
Sentinel Prime takes on the alternate mode of a fire truck. Not your average run-of-the-mill fire truck, though... the Rosenbauer Panther is a fire truck used in airports in case of plane crashes, so it's a rather huge vehicle. This choice allows Sentinel to have more mass than most of the other Autobots, thus making him a good bit taller than the average Autobot, with enough mass to be as bulky as Optimus Prime and Megatron.

First off, the Rosenbauer looks very sleek and powerful, and quite wide as well. Sentinel is predominantly black, actually, having the cab and the entire lower half black. Maroon red and light gray colour the rest of his body. Details are quite great, but relatively sparse compared to the leader class Sentinel, or even similarly-sized movieverse toys. The important details, like the Rosenbauer logo, 316, and 'FIRE-RESCUE' are all present. As a nice touch, a scratched-out Autobot insignia adorn both sides of Sentinel's rear end, hinting at his heel face turn in the movie (the toy bio is pretty vague on his allegiance).

The cab section of Sentinel is the most distinctive part of his vehicle mode, it sets the Rosenbauer quite separate from the normal, conventional Inferno-ish fire trucks. It's angled, it's powerful... and there's even this little flip-up thing... what is it? A gun? A horn? Just some random thing the designers thought it would be nice to have? Sentinel rolls very well on his six wheels, and he holds pretty well together in vehicle mode

Of course the sleekness and power of the Rosenbauer is ruined by having a red piece on top of the vehicle. This is where you plug in the Mechtech hose lift. Nothing wrong with that, but I wished that the plug would be less in your face, so if I don't want to leave the hose lift on it wouldn't look awkward.

As it is, though, the hose lift looks more like a wacky space cannon, even though it can title up and stuff. It's evident that this isn't what the accessory is designed in mind. Press the wheel button and twist it in, and the Mechtech weapon transforms into a massive cannon. Like all Voyager Mechtech toys, the weapon can remain permanently in the transformed mode without us pressing on it the whole time. Oh, and you can plug two additional Mechtech weapons onto the side of the gigantic barrel if you're the sort that like those things.

Kibble wise, Sentinel isn't pretty good. Despite having a rather shellformer-y transformation, kibble is still easily seen from the side, as well as from the transparent cab. It's not quite evident, but it's blatant nonetheless. Add it to the fact that you can't really have the hose gun off without looking silly, Sentinel's otherwise great alternate mode is marred.

Robot Mode:
Without comparing with the far superior leader class toy, Voyager Sentinel still leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn't really have a similar silhouette with Sentinel's CG model. The substitute transformation means that Sentinel's alternate mode basically just hangs off his back as a kibble backpack... which wouldn't be totally wrong, since Sentinel does have quite a bit of back kibble as a wing-like cape. And while these things vaguely resemble the cape seen in the CG model, it still looks unwieldy and actually hampers articulation if you try to move the legs in anything that involves backwards..

Sentinel's torso is very stout, and the colouring is rather off. Instead of the rather subdued mixture of maroon, silver and black, we get a terrible mixture of the same colours, done in such a horrible way that Sentinel looks as if he has some sort of tiki ornament strapped onto his chest. It's over-complicated. And his arms are in stark contrast, very simple and smooth as if coming off a Cybertron-era toy. Sentinel's head also has a quite unfinished face, and instead of a beard, he looks like he has a beak from a distance. It's a veritable mess, which is surprising, since none of his parts look bad per se, it's just that taken together, Sentinel looks piss-poor, especially side by side against the leader class.

The legs, once you get over the slight disproportion, are pretty good and stable. Sentinel has got thigh, knee and ankle articulation, as well as double-jointed shoulders, elbow joints and a rotating head. He's got less articulation than deluxe class Topspin! Shame, really.

The cannon... Sentinel can hold the cannon in two places, one at each end of the cannon. While holding it from the normal end is the sensible one, it looks kind of awkward, and can be off balance if you're not careful. An alternative would be to hold it near the muzzle, but it looks stupid. Yeah, he can barely manage to hold it in a two-handed shotgun grip, but it looks bloody stupid with the unwieldy cannon and the stumpy arms.

And when we could've gotten the twin-edged blade and swordy-shield...

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 2/10 Terrible design, really. Surely there's some more creative way other than 'plonk all the vehicle mode onto the back'?

Durability: 7/10 He's a brick. He survived falling from the top shelf with nary a scratch.

Aesthetics: 3/10 Truck mode looks quite good, but the robot mode looks like turd, and not at all like the CG model.

Articulation: 3/10 As mentioned above, Topspin and Roadbuster is more articulated than this guy.

Fun: 6/10 Character lends him some fun, and transforming him isn't frustrating at all. It's just that this bloody big cannon thing of his can't be displayed properly. And I still feel cheated of my good Sentinel toy.

Price/Value: 2/10 C'est terrible.

Overall: 3/10 Yep, definitely go for the bigger Leader class toy here. It's got more detail, better articulation, more show-accurate, and best of all, proper swords. This Voyager class isn't a bad toy per se, but it's a horrible representation of Sentinel Prime. Considering how much better the Leader class seems to be, so long as you can afford it, get the Leader class instead of getting this one and kicking yourself in the butt for not shelling out that extra bit of cash for a much better toy.
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