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Blackjack's Review: Dreadwing

Name: Dreadwing
Allegiance: Decepticon
Series: Prime: Robots in Disguise Voyager Class
Accessories: Sword, Transforming ‘Magnetar Pulse Blaster’

Transformers: Prime introduced a slew of all-original characters that played major roles in the cartoon who share names with past characters but bear absolutely no connection whatsoever to them. Take Dreadwing, for example. In Prime, he is the obligatory Decepticon-with-honor, his character basically how Dinobot would probably behave if he wasn’t forced to fight for the other side. He’s also a ‘Seeker’, and extremely loyal to Megatron.

The original use of the name Dreadwing stemmed from Generation One, where it was the combined jet form of the Powermasters Darkwing and Dreadwind. It has since been used a couple of times for other unrelated jets, as well as modern-trademark-issue names for Dreadwind. In Generation Two, a stealth bomber jet called Dreadwing was released… whose body was used to represent an upgraded Darkwing in the comics. Afterwards, the name Dreadwing fell into Hasbro’s pile of ‘cool names we don’t want to lose rights to’ and thus got slapped onto, among others, a repaint of Mirage from Energon, a Minicon eagle from the Classics line, and the jet drone from the Movie line.

It’s not until Transformers Prime that someone bearing the mantle of ‘Dreadwing’ would be in any way major. And Dreadwing is very interesting. A bit of spoiler warning to those who haven’t watched the show: you might want to skip this entire chunk of a paragraph. He’s both brain and brawn, a rather stark contrast to Breakdown (who was kind of unceremoniously killed off a couple episodes in after Dreadwing’s arrival). In the first season, his brother (basically him in green) Skyquake showed up only to be killed off in one episode. In season two, Dreadwing shows up, and is presented as a relatively strong force to be reckoned with. He also follows his own code of honor, even though he’s completely loyal to Megatron (which puts him at odds with Starscream). It’s a shame that his character development, his grudging rivalry with Optimus Prime and his discovery of Starscream’s hand in Skyquake’s death was rather… aborted in my opinion. In the season two finale Dreadwing was killed off and while it was not a bad death, it was still kind of glossed over, as if the writers were just going through the motions. Kind of irked me since Predaking’s eventual characterization turned out to be highly similar to Dreadwing, with slight differences in motivation.

Still, Dreadwing managed to impress me among the Decepticon ranks, so much that I wanted a toy of him. Of course, with distribution shit as it is, it was difficult to find Prime toys at all, let alone Dreadwing. And the marked-up prices at that time weren’t very tempting either. But Dreadwing didn’t get much in lieu of good toys… his Commander class toy looked great, but he was tiny. His Voyager class toy… well, it’s bulky but not as bulky as I would’ve preferred. And the Voyager Class batch of Prime: Robots in Disguise line is notorious for having ridiculous weapons that stay folded in a completely ugly ‘pile-of-parts’ configuration, and you have to pull a lever for it to transform. Not to mention the liberal and random use of clear plastic all over…

But I wanted a big Dreadwing toy to go with Megatron and the rest of the Prime Decepticons, so I eventually did get a Voyager Dreadwing toy. And... it's a mixed bag, honestly.

Alternate Mode:
Dreadwing transforms into a F35 Lightning II fighter jet, one of the more advanced fighter jets at the time. It’s not the first Transformer toy to attempt this alternate mode. To my knowledge, at least Revenge of the Fallen Breakaway and his repaints are based on the same jet as well. It’s a relatively bulky jet, comprised of hard curves. It looks a bit like the F15 or F22 on steroids. Dreadwing’s in-show alternate mode, is, of course, modified from the real-life F35 and not an entirely accurate depiction of one. The Voyager class toy takes even more liberties with the design.

The top half of Dreadwing’s alternate mode is extremely show accurate as far as the mold goes. What irks me is the mess of parts down below. Now Transformers jets never managed to have smooth undersides, but Dreadwing’s is simply ridiculous. Very evident are his enormous legs that jut out so far out from the sides of the jet mode, which completely ruin the sleek contours of the jet. Not to mention the halves of the crotch area is also plainly visible, and if you look at Dreadwing from any other angle but the front you’ll see hands sticking out of his rear. There aren’t even any attempts to fold the hands aside or underneath the jet mode (which would have been simple). It looks terrible, and Dreadwing simply doesn’t look like a proper fighter jet because of all this.

Dreadwing is mainly a very nice shade of dark blue, accentuated with black and yellow, plus a hint of silver. And for the most part, the attempt at replicating the show’s appearance is pretty spot-on. The silver rims on the wings, the modified Elite Guard-esque Decepticon insignia which apparently is a sign of Dreadwing’s status as former captain of the Seekers (which Starscream is not part of in this continuity), the trademark single engine in the back like the F35… of course they missed a little silver paint in the center of Dreadwing’s body but that’s frankly understandable.

They mucked it up in some areas, though… and all of it are caused either by clear plastic or rubbery plastic. The cockpit is entirely cast in clear yellow plastic (instead of black like the show, and only the very tip accentuated with yellow) and it looks horrible. The clear yellow plastic shouts out and draws unnecessary attention to the cockpit. It stands out, and not in a good way. The tip of the cockpit, the rear wings that jut out vertically from him, and the tiny little wings just in front of the main ones are all cast in soft, rubbery black plastic. The two pairs of wings should be blue-with-yellow-borders, just like the rest of the wings on Dreadwing. The tip of the nosecone whould be blue, accentuated slightly with yellow in the center. All the molding for these paint applications are there, but because it’s cast in soft, rubbery, black plastic it’s nigh impossible to work it in.

You can attach the weaponry included with him near the cockpit or under the wings but since his weapon is a huge jumble of mess I don’t think it’s advisable.

All in all, while at first glance Dreadwing might look like a passable jet, it’s kind of a mess in more ways than one.

Robot Mode:
Dreadwing’s transformation is rather complex and fiddly, and a lot of parts move. It’s not difficult to do like some movie toys, however, you just have to know what part goes where. And I am highly impressed by the transformation of the nosecone part into Dreadwing’s show-accurate chest and shoulders assemble. Most toys, like Starscream or Soundwave from this line, rely on an already sculpted robot chest instead of going all the way to allow the individual parts to transform, and for that I give Dreadwing credit. Those shoulder pads really came from the sides of his cockpit. The transformed kibble around Dreadwing’s chest? They were the underside of the nosecone, transformed. Of course, this probably came in cost of having halves of his crotch and his legs and his hands hanging off terribly from his jet mode, so all good things come at a price, I guess.

Dreadwing appears to have lost a little weight during the translation into toy form. The mass around his abdomen and chest seems to have petered out a bit, and his biceps look rather thin. This gives him a slightly more athletic look than the burly tank that he is in the show. He still looks like Thundercracker on steroids, though, I’ll give him that. Maybe a call-back to his G2 namesake? He is still mainly dark blue, with some yellow on his chest-cockpit and all-new clear bits on his lower arms. Which completely do nothing, since those parts weren’t yellow on the character model. If anything should be yellow, it should be the undersides of the large wings that face us. He’s got significantly more silver as well. His facesculpt is rendered pretty closely to the show’s model, although the tips of those horns should really be yellow. And the placement of the wings is slightly off – the ones on his feet should be around his knees instead of the ankles, and the ones on his back should be a teensy bit lower. Dreadwing ends up looking kind of heroic with the position of his main wings like that, and they angle slightly upwards instead of down and out of the way like his show model. Despite all that, though, Dreadwing still looks pretty good and show-accurate, and a decent representation of the show’s model.

Articulation-wise, though, I find Dreadwing merely average for a Voyager class toy. His head turns, his shoulders are doubly ball-jointed elbows are hinged, wrists turn, thighs are on ball joints, knees are hinged… basically all the joints you’d expect a toy to find, except for the on-and-off hip joint. His wings can articulate a bit, echoing the show’s penchant to having Starscream and Dreadwing have the wings move depending on their mood. My Dreadwing’s got a fractured cockpit piece, however, so that makes the connection between the main torso and the waist slightly tenuous, thus he can’t really pull off that many poses. I like how his shoulderpads are on separate balljoints than the shoulders themselves, though, to prevent them from limiting the articulation.

Half of the main wings fold up in transformation, but the hinges are very loose and they are very likely to drop down again.

His weapons… Dreadwing uses quite a number of weaponry in the show. First there are these shuriken bomb things which the toy doesn’t replicate. His signature weapons, however, are a big cannon which he holds in an under-arm manner of sorts. The cannon has a sword attached to it, and Dreadwing likes to pull it out and swing it around. And for the most part the toy replicates this well. The cannon is there, and the sword can peg onto the side of the cannon like a bayonet. And Dreadwing can hold both well in his open hands, even managing to pull off the under-arm thing that his show counterpart does. He kind of looks a little silly holding his sword without the fingers closing securely around it, but whatever.

See, the problem is, the weapon immediately folds back into a ridiculous pile of parts that looks more like a mutated hairdryer than any sort of weapon. It’s not even like DOTM’s Mech-Tech gimmick where a gun folds out into a chainsaw or whatever… the default state of Dreadwing’s weapon is a folded up mutated hairdryer with a blue box jutting out of it. And it looks terrible. All for what? So you can pull on the gears and light up the horribly clear yellow barrel? It’s stupid. The pictures on this review have Dreadwing’s cannon permanently extended because I intentionally jammed the gearing mechanism of the weapon… and it still doesn’t look good, does it? Megatron is the only RID Voyager whose weapon doesn’t look like a jumble of mess in default state.

I was kind of satisfied with Dreadwing’s robot mode other than the weapon, at first… but as time went by there’s not much about him that really stands out other than being a rather decent approximation of the show model, and a pretty nice-looking display piece. All in all, we really could have gotten a better toy than this.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 5/10 Between the awesomeness of the nosecone transformation and how the engine and wings all end up in the back, and the crappiness of the position of the hands and legs in jet mode, it averages out in the middle.

Durability: 4/10 As noted above, my Dreadwing had a fractured piece in his center section, and I really have no idea how that happened, since he’s spent most of his life standing in a display case. Also, Dreadwing has a large quantity of rubbery parts (nosecone, two pairs of wings, those trident-shaped kneecaps) which are liable to deform. My Dreadwing’s vertical tailfins are slightly bent straight out of the box.

Aesthetics: 6/10 He looks pretty nice in robot mode, and the jet mode is okay… but when I consider the huge blocks of legs and the hands sticking out of his jet’s rear… and the fact that he kind of lost some weight, and I can’t give him too high of a score here.

Articulation: 7/10 Dreadwing’s articulation is pretty decent, lack of a hip joint aside. Having massive feet to offset the center of balance helps, I suppose.

Fun: 6/10 He was decent fun when I first got him – transforming him was a surprisingly fun challenge, for one – but his weapon is frustrating and stupid, and the various problems he has make handling him kind of annoying.

Price/Value: 3/10 Dreadwing has too much problems to justify the Voyager class price tag.

Overall: 4/10 Dreadwing is one of those toys that satisfied me when I first got it, but as time went by he was simply overshadowed by much more awesome toys. There are just a lot of small problems with this toy, show-accuracy, shit accessory and horrid looks being the primary ones. He’s still a pretty great toy, and if you’re looking for a full Prime collection he’s not a bad choice to have… but he doesn't look like he walked out of the screen like most of the Prime toys. And unlike someone like Knock Out who had a good but not 100% show accurate toy, Dreadwing doesn't really classify as a good toy.
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