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Blackjack Reviews Beast Hunters Lazerback

Name: Lazerback
Allegiance: Predacon
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: Tail, Missile Launcher, Missile

Right, so about two seasons of Transformers: Prime, the higher-ups Hasbro decided to reinvigorate the line and rename it ‘Beast Hunters’, and the direction that the series will be taking is ‘Predacons’, led by a gigantic fire-breathing dragon called Predaking. Here’s the catch, though… instead of being a variable assortment of bugs, dinosaurs and other creepy-crawly animals in addition to dragons, they decided to have the entire Predacon faction be nothing but dragons. And there’s only so many ways you can turn the design of the Western dragon before people get fed up. Regardless of how you may feel about dragons, though, you don’t really get that many beast toys in modern lines, and knowing me, I’m bound to buy a couple Predacons.

At the very first deluxe class wave is the character ‘Lazerback’, who, as far as I am concerned, is a simple nobody who doesn’t have any in-fiction appearance, since he looks different enough from the standard European dragon-styled Predaking or Ripclaw. Lazerback’s more of a… I don’t know, a wingless gryphon? With a toothy mouth? A gargoyle creature? Bristleback’s long-lost cousin? Whatever. Look at the pictures and decide whatever you want to call him.

First off, though, I want to say that I really, really wanted to bitch about how little effort they put into the bios. After, oh, Revenge of the Fallen? I think Revenge of the Fallen was the last time they put any effort into making toy bios about characters that actually describe the characters instead of trying to cross-sell or be as generic as possible. Which irks me. That was what got me into the fandom, you know? How every single character, even toy-only nobodies, have some semblance of a personality that leads credence to a far larger universe.

Lazerback’s bio? On his packaging is, word for word, ‘Chaotic Predacon whose only goal is to scour Earth clean off the Autobots!’ With an exclamation mark so you know it’s important, and a very generic list of powers below it. Disintegrates and destroys most armor, blah blah blah. Of course, before I had the opportunity to bitch about it I was pleasantly surprised that they actually had an extended bio inside in the instructions. Apparently it is part of a larger set of stories that run over the instructions of other toys of the line, but this one is a good paragraph detailing Lazerback’s birth, and actually gives him motivation and a short but interesting personality, wherein Lazerback has no interest in Megatron, his creator Shockwave, not even his supposed Predacon leader Predaking. All he wanted was to see the world burn. Lazerback’s got a lot of balls for a toy-only character! So anyway, all he wants to do is to see chaos reign. And see chaos reign he did, for I am denied the opportunity to bitch about Hasbro. Well played, Lazerback, well played.

Yeah, his name is ‘Lazerback’. With a Z. That bit annoys me since the word is really spelled ‘laser’, you know? But I suppose that is part of Lazerback’s grander scheme to plunge the world into chaos.

Beast Mode:
Lazerback takes up a fair bit more space than general RID Deluxes, probably because none of his limbs have to tuck into a vehicle mode. He’s a mechanical dragon – no attempt to make him look organic here. He’s a four-legged dragon that I suppose is kind of bird-themed. His entire dragon face with the exception of the lower jaw is patterned like a bird’s head and he’s got these feather-like protrusions on both sides of his neck. Of course, he ain’t got any wings to speak of. Lazerback’s a mainly red dragon with dark purple and yellow being the secondary colours, with black colouring some of the inner parts and gold highlighting parts of the borders on his front limbs. Overall it’s a pretty fetching colour scheme that I really do like. It’s bright. Lazerback’s a bright-coloured chaos-bringer.

Being a beast mode, naturally he gets articulation. His shoulders are ball-jointed, his elbows are ball jointed, but strangely his front claws are pretty awkward. It’s ball jointed, but instead of the ball joint running perpendicular to the claw piece so it can move freely, the ball joint is moulded so that the claw can only move up and down and wiggle a bit, but does not have the full range of movement that a normal ball joint should. It’s strange, really. Each rear leg has no less than six points of articulation, which is pretty damn impressive. Combined, Lazerback can assume many poses from crouching to stalking to running to sitting nicely like a dog.

Unfortunately, that’s all the articulation he has. The tail is a static piece curving upwards and ending in an axe-like design, and his bird-head is forever drooping downwards. Which is all and good for looking like a hunter on a prowl, but without being able to look forwards and bite his prey or aim whatever fire or acid breath he has, his head is only good for munching whatever’s directly under him. Of course it’s hinged, and there is a lower jaw that can open to reveal a mouthful of sharp teeth, but all he can do is bend the head inwards and inwards. This lack of articulation annoys me more than it should.

That isn’t to say Lazerback is completely useless, though. He’s got a weapon in his beast mode, a function that many beast Transformers (sans Transmetals) sorely lack. The entire part of his spine can crank upwards to reveal the ‘Toxic Strike Blaster’ (which would actually work pretty well with the redeco, named rather appropriately as ‘Vertebreak’). It’s an actually fun-looking feature. As a bonus, the red parts (his ‘skin’, so to speak) can be folded open to reveal some black mechanical details. I suppose this would carry more weight if Lazerback looks more organic than mechanical, but it’s a nice gesture nonetheless.

It’s a standard missile launcher that shoots out a missile with a cobra frill, supposed to represent a double acid blast. It’s very annoying how 50% of the missile juts out from behind the missile launcher, no doubt to comply to safety standards, and kind of interferes with positioning the cannon, either deploying it or putting it in place as Lazerback’s spine. There is a groove on his tail for the missile’s rod to rest, but it is annoying nonetheless.

Kibble wise, Lazerback’s purple hands are very, very visible on his front legs. The robot hands being highly detailed and coloured purple smack dab in a red piece doesn’t help either. And design-wise, Lazerback’s beast mode head does not peg well at all to the neck piece (the one with the frilly ear bits). At first I thought the robot mode head was getting in the way, but even with the robot head removed the beast head still refuses to peg into the tabs well. This makes him look pretty… wrong.

All in all, Lazerback is a great beast mode riddled with many little flaws that make him less enjoyable than he should be.

Robot Mode:
Lazerback’s transformation is standard beast mode transformation for anything quadruped. Stand him up, fold the beast head away, and do some minor altercations. It’s pretty basic. The result is a pretty chunky, albeit rather bestial, robot. The general colour layout is still similar, and different head aside, it really simply feels as if the beast mode has just stood up. He’s pretty chunky and generic, and there’s nothing really to him that’s properly distinctive. Frankly his design here is pretty boring.

Lazerback’s spine missile launcher thing ends up slightly raised from his back and poking over his head, between the frills… which isn’t a bad look and actually makes him look rather unique. It can also be detached to be used as a hand-held weapon. Good luck getting the missile into the launcher if you decide to go this route, by the way, since the rear part that juts out of the launcher will go to war with the rest of Lazerback’s arm.

A good chunk of Lazerback’s tail also detaches, forming a whip-axe weapon thing. It slides over Lazerback’s hand like those accessories in Prime toys that are meant to represent the hand actually retracting and being replaced by the weapon. It’s actually pretty nice, even if the whip doesn’t give him that much range.

Lazerback’s articulation is more or less the same as it has been in beast mode. No waist joint or whatever. The ball joint on his head in my specimen is very, very loose, and the slightest movement will rattle the head like a bobblehead toy. At first I thought this was what made the beast head refuse to peg properly, but removing the robot head had no effect. His head is a rather unique, and like his beast mode, I have no idea if the golden bits are just the borders around his face, or his lower jaw. He could have a mouth, or he could have no mouth.

I’m kind of pissed that the front dragon feet just hangs under the arm like that. Both the dragon feet and the robot hands are purple, and the bulk of the dragon feet are pointing downwards towards the arm instead of spinning around like good kibble and hiding on the other side. With proper ball joints like I complained above, this could’ve been done, but no.

Also, since I forgot to mention it earlier, his yellow frills and the pieces of skin that split apart on his cannon are made out of soft plastic, so be careful with those.

[i]Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3/10 It falls a bit short of the mark. The head, the front limbs, and there is just the feeling that his transformation could’ve been tweaked to eliminate all this problems, or even add more articulation to the toy.

Durability: 4/10 The head joint feels very loose, and the shoulder joints on mine seem pretty lackluster as well. And then there’s the problem of soft plastic which can tear. And lazerback would look pretty damn ugly without his funky feather spine things.

Aesthetics: 6/10 I do like the paintjob myself, and I find the Birdbrain/Bristleback-esque gargoyle beast mode thing pretty unorthodox looking, but the robot mode is fairly boring. He’s not ugly by any means, his design just doesn’t look that good.

Articulation: 5/10 On one hand, his lower legs are insanely articulated. On the other, focusing all the joints at the legs makes the rest of him a brick, so even though his beast mode has a ton of articulation, his robot mode is limited somewhat.

Fun: 7/10 He’s pretty fun to muck around with once you set aside the missile, although the shortcomings do kind of piss me off.

Price/Value: 4/10 He feels like he’s released before the design is properly finished. Even so, he’s more or less deluxe class price.

Overall: 4/10 I really want to like Lazerback, I really do. But I can describe him with one word: ‘almost good’. Almost being the key word. Everything about him: transformation, articulation, looks, design, every single thing seems to be around the average standard, but spoiled by a quibble or two that makes me fall short of enjoying him as a great toy. I really want to like the little guy, he’s a bird-gargoyle-dragon with an actually interesting bio and a great colour scheme, but he just falls short of being a good toy.
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