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Blackjack's Review: Autobot Arms Micron 5-pack

I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with these dudes. I really am not sure. I’ve gotten both the Autobot and Decepticon sets. I certainly never wanted them, but I think a friend sold them to me for cheap. Or I might’ve gotten them as a gift. Whatever the case, I certainly didn’t track them down.

Anyway, in Japan, everyone the Transformers: Prime line is packaged with these little kits that you can assemble into little Targetmasters that resembled the larger robots’ weapons. These ‘Arms Microns’ have lots of 5mm pegs and holes all over their body so you can combine them into ridiculously clunky-looking super-weapons. Most of the toys actually omit the Hasbro accessories in favour of the Arms Microns.

Owning the Takara version of Breakdown and Jet Vehicon – neither seeing Hasbro release – I have had some experience with them. They were generally frustrating, and having to assemble ten at once is probably going to be annoying. And so I left these guys in their box for a long, long time, not looking forward to assembling them and dealing with microscopic stickers. I finally got around to assembling them and stickering them.

Name: O.P.

Whichever Takara grunt is responsible for giving the names to these Arm Microns is certainly the beacon of creativity in this century. Optimus Prime’s Micron is named the extremely creative name of ‘O.P.’ He’s initially released in blue, though this version is released in red. I think his name is technically the equally moronic ‘O.P. R’, since all the repaints of the Arms Microns in various colours (and believe me, knowing Takara there are probably three dozen different variants for exclusives and promotional giveaways) have the letters of the colour after their name, because if there’s a thing more stupid than a two-letter name that sounds like gibberish is a three-letter name that sounds like gibberish.

Robot Mode:
Oppie’s robot mode is pretty generic looking, and since he’s cast in solid red with only stickers to highlight any details, which are a measly blue triangle on his chest and two random blue stripes on the sides of his arms. It’s a shame since he’s got some moulded details on his chest and stomach, and has a head looking like a cross between G1 Shockwave and Optimus Prime, but being cast with basically no details just makes him look like a solid red lump. Articulation wise, both his legs are moulded in a single piece so moving one will move the other. Not that you’ll want to move his legs anyway – Oppie’s giant barrel hangs down his back and I wager if the legs are individually articulated the barrel will end up upsetting his balance. So, yeah, all Oppie can do is waggle his hands a bit.

Alternate Mode:
Oppie’s transformation is extremely simple, turning him into a cannon with a smaller barrel below, modelled pretty closely after Optimus Prime’s on-screen cannon. The problem is Oppie’s arms and legs, while transforming to keep flush with the cannon’s contours, still have random details on them that makes Oppie’s cannon mode look like a huge chunk of plastic with a fat barrel. Granted it’s still a more convincing weapon than what some of the G1 Targetmasters turn into, but it’s still not an interesting one. The small blade-like structure under the main cannon is supposed to have blue stickers, but that particular one is held on by flimsy glue and constantly peels off in mine. I’ve resorted to using sellotape to hold it together because I can’t be bothered to get glue. A small dark blue crystal over an Autobot sticker is on the side of the barrel as part of some stupid ‘rock-paper-scissors’ elemental game system that I don’t care about.

Overall, though, it’s a serviceable gun. Quite lumpy, yes, but at least it still resembles a gun. My First Edition Optimus Prime gets to be able to dual-wield his cannons, even if one Is far shorter and lumpier.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 6/10 It’s serviceable. I mean, it’s not going to win any awards, but all things considered it’s still not terrible.
Durability: 8/10 The plastic quality’s pretty good, but like all model kits, between trying to forcibly punch them out, shave off the sharp edges with sandpaper, and the extremely loose stickers, and you’ll find a toy that’ll probably be hard to keep in mint condition.
Aesthetics: 3/10 He’s a solid red lump of plastic in both modes. It’s a damn shame since he’s actually got some details that could make him somewhat interesting if painted in, but no.
Articulation: 1/10 Oppie can swing his hands around and around but otherwise his other point of articulation – his legs – are useless.

Name: B.2.

B.2. is, you guessed it, Bumblebee’s Arms Micron. I mean, hey, they went the extra way and turned him from BB into B2! Creativity, am I right?

Robot Mode:
Bee’s robot mode is far cleaner than Oppie’s, mostly because Bee doesn’t have a massive cannon barrel on his back that obscures everything. He is still a big solid red lump, but with his outspread cannon-arms, the light blue crystal at the center of his torso and having more stickers makes Bee a marginally better-looking robot. He’s got these silver-blue stickers on his legs and around the tips of his cannon-hands, though the stickers on his cannon hands will never, ever, ever wrap around and stick, so sellotape to the rescue again! Bee has the general look of a bruiser-looking robot, and out of all the robots in this set I think is the best-looking one. Bee has articulation on his elbows, allowing him to actually ratchet them forwards and shoot his enemies. His shoulders and knees, by dint of transformation scheme, can ratchet sideways as well. Overall probably the strongest robot mode of the set, though it’s still pretty sub-par.

Alternate Mode:
Bee transforms into an approximation of Bumblebee’s wrist cannons, though compared to my deluxe class Bumblebee, these are definitely oversized. Bumblebee’s cannons are tiny little things that are barely larger than his hands, whereas Bee’s gun mode is longer than his entire lower arm. He’s also not especially show-accurate either. Still, getting past his show accuracy he actually makes a pretty good double-barreled hand-mounted weapon on larger, Voyager-class robots, and both his boxy shape and colouring actually makes me harken back to the original Targetmasters from G1. It’s not perfect, but I think he’s not bad.

As of now, Bee has graduated from being placed among a sea of Minicons into being the Targetmaster to my loose G1 Crosshairs who I bought without a weapon.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 5/10 It’s pretty good, serving both a serviceable robot and alternate mode, but again could’ve been done better.
Durability: 6/10 Bee’s legs kind of rattle around a bit when you transform him into weapon mode, and is kind of loose there. Likewise, the stickers on the tip of his gunbarrels are prone to peeling off.
Aesthetics: 7/10 He’s still a solid lump of colour, but between his cannon arms and his cohesive looking robot and alternate modes Bee’s actually quite a fun little Targetmaster dude.
Articulation: 3/10 A bit better than the rest, but by being able to point his elbows forwards doesn’t absolve him of not having usable articulation elsewhere.

Name: R.A.

R.A. is the Arms Micron of Ratchet. I initially typed the draft of this review just going around calling him Ra, but shortly before posting it I changed what I called him to Rung because it’s just funnier – he’s skinny and orange and turns into a thing.

Robot Mode:
Rung is the most articulated out of his buddies, and is a skinny, tall robot. Like Oppie, Rung’s got a massive knife hanging down his back and it looks pretty ugly. He’s solid orange, and again he’s got a fair amount of sculpted detail that’s a shame isn’t picked out. His face in particular looks like a doctor with a surgical mask on, which I thought was appropriate. He’s got googly-looking eyes, making my nickname of him quite appropriate by coincidence. He’s the most articulated of the bunch, with both shoulders and thighs being independently jointed with universal joints. And despite having stickers, they are the ones that never peel off among all the Arms Microns I own. Rung’s got stickers all over the sides of his blades, silver on his chest and darker orange on his lower legs. His arms are blades with hands molded in on the inner side of the non-sharp edge, so Rao can type with mundane hands or swing them around and stab people with stubby sword-hands. He’s not particularly attractive compared to more standard transformers, but amongst his Arms Micron ilk I think he is the most solid both in appearance and in articulation.

Alternate Mode:
Not content with just forming one of Ratchet’s arm-dagger, Rung transforms into a triple-bladed version of the weapon. Two smaller blades (his arms) poke out on the sides of the larger blade’s hilt, cleverly hiding the robot legs which fold into it. Again, it feels like a particularly bulky and wide weapon that can’t be very practical to swing around, but it looks a fair bit more cohesive than a lot of the Arms Microns I own. The fact that the sides of his blades are highlighted with silver-orange stickers helps to bring out the fact that there are blades around and makes him look actually, you know, blade-like. There’s a square-shaped blue crystal thing on one side of the main blade. While not looking quite as good if it’s held just like a sword, it actually looks good on Ratchet if you fold his arm inwards in the pretend ‘my arm is transformed’ gimmick, making it look like the good doctor’s gotten some seriously funky upgrade. Other than that, though, it looks impractical as a weapon held by anyone else, having a massively wide hilt.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 5/10 Not particularly bad, but again by today’s standards it really could’ve gone better.
Durability: 7/10 Rung is pretty durable. None of his parts have randomly detached, nor have any of his stickers.
Aesthetics: 7/10 Rung’s a pretty fancy-looking orange robot, and turns into a nice if rather thick sword. It’s not particular
Articulation: 6/10 Rung’s the most articulated of the bunch, having articulation points at both shoulders and upper legs.

Name: Wuji

Wuji is initially Wheeljack’s Micron, which, the Wiki informs me, is supposed to be an approximation of, you guessed it – the letters W and J next to each other. As much as it doesn’t make sense unless you have some knowledge of Japanese Romanization, I like it better since Wuji actually sounds like a, y’know, name.

Robot Mode:
Wuji is cast entirely in clear yellow plastic, and anyone who reads my review of toys with clear plastic will know that I am an utmost detractor of it. There are some Beast Wars toys with clear plastic that look good, yes, but they look good only because their clear plastic was offset by a paint applications and secondary plastics. And Wuji is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t cast something entirely in clear plastic. He’s literally just a huge lump with a couple of ports sticking out from the sides, and a massive blade folded against his back – and that you can only see because it’s stickered. Any details that Wuji has is lost due to it being a solid lump of clear plastic that makes details indistinguishable unless you look really closely. And he does have moulded details, and unlike, say Rung or Oppie at least tries to make some variation. He’s got a tiny version of his partner Wheeljack’s head, and his limbs are patterned after the two kinds of screwdriver heads. Unfortunately, having light yellow stickers that refuse to stick onto him even fresh after being peeled off doesn’t make his front half any more attractive or distinctive. And even if you ignore all that, the fact that there is a big chunk of plastic behind his head, a thick chunk as thick as Wuji’s torso, is hard to ignore. He can rotate his arms a big, but his legs are cast in one piece similar to Oppie, making that particular articulation point moot.

Alternate Mode:
Wuji’s alternate mode, in theory, is supposed to be a representation of Wheeljack’s sleek, curved swords that he uses in the Prime cartoon. And while all the other Arms Microns have the same basic look even if they’re either too big (Bee and Rung) or too small (Oppie), Wuji doesn’t even have that luxury. His alternate mode is best described as a “box with a short stick in the shape of a curved blade stuck onto it.” Not to mention the random 5mm peg that juts out of the blade for no good reason, further ruining the contour of the weapon. Sure, there is an attempt to make him look coherent like Rung, with silver-red stickers on the borders and a pink crystal, but Wuji’s alternate mode is a massive mess.

Bottom line is, out of the Prime line, Wheeljack is one of the scant few who come with his Hasbro weapons in addition to an Arms Micron. That’s right, Takara is so embarrassed that they were responsible for the creation of this lump that they broke their operating pattern for the line just to compensate for anyone who accidentally run into this thing.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 0/10 Neither Wuji’s alternate mode nor his robot mode is improved by the fact that there is a massive box on the back of his head that serve no purpose here nor there. His transformation into his “sword” mode involves all his robot mode parts bunching up in the hilt and the blade folding out, and vice versa.
Durability: 3/10 Wuji’s shoulder stickers have an alarming peeling rate compared to all twelve of the Arms Microns I presently own. And due to his inherent ugliness Wuji is the likeliest for me to chunk to the trashbin, and that can’t be good for his health.
Aesthetics: 0/10 He is a solid clear yellow lump and turns into a solid clear yellow lump with a sword-shaped tumour.
Articulation: 1/10 He can move his arms a bit but that’s it.

Name: Iro

In Japan, Iro is packed in as Ironhide’s Arms Micron and thus uses a random chunk of his English name. (The Japanese katakana is roughly transliterated to ‘Aianhaido’, which in no way contains the sound ‘iro’) See, here’s the funny thing. Hasbro made a toy of Ironhide based on unused concept art for the show which combines aspects of his G1 and Movie designs, but instead of releasing it as it is, they paint him green and call him Kup. Takara recognizes him for what he is, however, and releases him in Ironhide colours… but omits the characteristic twin arm cannons of Movie Ironhide and instead replaces them with a single Arms Micron.

Robot Mode:
Iro’s robot mode is, regrettably, cast entirely in clear red plastic. And equally regrettably is the fact that his transformation scheme makes the stickers around the rim of his cannon tip particularly easy to peel off on the edges. A huge chunk of his cannon hangs down from his back, giving him the same problem that Oppie and Rung has and makes his lower body look like an indecipherable mass. He can waggle his shoulders and his legs are individually articulated at the knee. There are a bunch of blue stickers that try and make him look presentable, but his head and torso section is just so messy I didn’t even realize he has a head at all. He’s got DOTM Topspin-style pincer hands, though, and that’s cool I guess even if it does disappear in all the similarly-coloured plastic.

Alternate Mode:
Iro transforms into a very fat arm-cannon extremely roughly based on Movie Ironhide’s arm cannons. Insofar that a fat, short cylinder can be called a cannon, anyway. You could call this a hammer or a jet engine and I would’ve bought it. any cannon-like details Iro may have is all washed out by it being an ugly mass of clear red. There’s a pink crystal sitting randomly in the middle. It doesn’t look entirely terrible attached onto someone’s wrist, though, and he’s one of the few Arms Microns that actually resemble the weapon it replaces without adding too much robot kibble into the process.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 4/10 Iro forms a perfect rendition of the cannon mode, and the transformation deserves credit for that, but it also results in the classic ‘big chunk of kibble on the back’ problem that plagues four-fifths of this set.
Durability: 7/10 Loose stickers, you know the drill. Otherwise quite durable.
Aesthetics: 3/10 It isn’t quite as ‘chuck it into the trash’ like Wuji was, but between his abstract-looking robot mode and being a clear repaint means that I hate it instantly.
Articulation: 2/10 He can waggle his arms and bend his knees.

Advanced Star Saber:
Oh, you can combine all of them into some kind of big, massive monstrosity of a weapon. The set gives a ‘suggested’ combination of plugging Rung and Bee onto Oppie, then plugging Iro on top of that and plugging Wuji into Iro’s barrel, ending in what they call the ‘Advanced Star Saber’. It looks positively ridiculous and horrible.

Fun: (as a set) 5/10 Assembling the kits are actually pretty fun, it’s the poor quality of the stickers that kills it. Add to the fact that they’re basically a bunch of unarticulated bricks that look like random ugly lumps of plastic from the distance thanks to being cast in a single colour, and they’re really not that much fun. In weapon mode, as small Targetmaster accessories to larger toys -- a lot of them are too heavy for deluxe class toys to hold comfortably -- but they are decent to muck around with but the constant annoyance of having stickers peel off upon touching is there.
Price/Value: (as a set) 4/10 I can’t remember whether I even paid for this thing, but whatever it is, I’d rather have the money back. Out of the five Microns only two are actually any good – Bee and Rung – and even then I won’t shed any tears if I had some extra money instead of them.
Overall: (as a set) 2/10 The Arms Microns are weak toys in general. Individually I might actually recommend Bee, who’s one of the better Arms Microns in the series, and I have a fondness for Rung since his triple-bladed weapon mode is so daft and his robot mode looks okay-ish in the attractive shade of orange… but the other three? Iro and Oppie look like lumps that vaguely pass for robots and weapons, and Wuji is an atrocity however you look at it. They work as accessories but as individual purchases I just can't be bothered. As a set it’s a massive letdown, and unless you really want a bunch of Arms Microns this set is an easy pass.
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