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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's Review: Commander Class Predaking

Name: Predaking
Allegiance: Predacon
Function: Overlord (functions are back!)
Accessories: Missile Launcher/Tail, Missile

So, as with any major character, Predaking receives multiple toys in the same toyline. The pièce de résistance, of course, was the imposing ‘Ultimate Class’ Predaking. However, he comes in two other size classes, namely a Voyager class toy (which is apparently not bad, aside from a severe lack of show-accurate paint and horrid plastic QC problems) and a Commander class toy to scale with the smaller Cyberverse series.

This review’s going to cover the Commander class toy. My first impression was that he’s a rather loose interpretation of the majestic-looking show model, and would end up being a relatively sub-par toy. In the show, Predaking is more of a plot device and a Bay movie styled fighter than a proper character, but what an awesome-looking one he is. He’s an ancient revived fire-breathing metal dragon robot! How can you not go wrong? He looks great, and he’s a refreshing change and callback to the beasts of older series. And the name Predaking hasn’t been used since the equally-imposing Predacon combiner back from G1, and it is fitting that this majestic dragon would be the next to inherit that title.

Of course, Commander Class toys are rarely very majestic, usually losing a lot of detail during in translation. So how does this Mini-Predaking… Predaprince… Predapawn… work out? Well…

Beast Mode:
The beast mode is what the Predaking spends most of his airtime in, and it therefore is the most important part of his appearance. Predaking is also ridiculously complicated, with spikes, spines and whiplike protrusions all over his body from head to tail. Now I understand that I cannot hope for perfection in such a small scale, but there is only so much you can get away with. Let’s go with the obvious one first – this toy gets the colours done right. Predaking is mainly black and orange, with silver and yellow highlighting some details. But a closer inspection will reveal that, Predaking gets a lot of colours in the wrong places. His head is pretty much okay, with the sculpting they had. Predaking’s lower jaw, yellow eyes, big silver horns (which the Ultimate toy didn't pick out, it should be noted) and smaller orange horns are all picked out nicely. Predaking’s main body is also coloured black, with orange highlights in the lower neck and chest, harkening to the show’s animation when Predaking spits out a ball of flame.

However, there are a lot of discrepancies. I understand that being mostly black wouldn’t be too attractive to children, but Hasbro has decided to paint all four of Predaking’s legs orange, where they should be black. And it’s not like his legs are any good… they’re misproportioned, have ridiculous paw-like things that look like they belong on a puppy and not the ‘most feared hunter of all time’ or whatever. Predaking’s legs and feet are just bad. The fact that the rear legs are criminally stunted doesn’t help either.

Predaking’s wings are really majestic in the show, being these huge leathery monstrosities that take up the screen whenever he appears. And since Predaking is based on the stereotypical Western dragon – a dinosaurian build, four legs, long tail, long neck ending in a reptilian face, bat wings – he ends up with leathery wings… but this toy has inexplicably given it feathers. Like a bird. It’s very weird, since none of Predaking’s other toys has feathers or feather-like sculpting, and it bugs me a lot. Being the most distinctive feature of Predaking’s dragon mode, the wrong wings certainly make it look really odd. The fact that they’re completely orange instead of having the ‘skeleton’ parts black doesn’t help either.

Predaking’s proportions are pretty terrible as well. I’ve covered the legs, but his torso is also outrageously large, making him look kind of potbellied, or something. His wings are also criminally short. It’s also pretty obvious that his robot head is poking out of his fat chest, and that those are robot legs running down his back. He really doesn’t have much going on for him being Predaking, In fact, if you change the colours and sell him as Ripclaw or Grimwing or someone else, I wouldn’t have gone and said ‘oh, this is supposed to be a Predaking toy’.

Articulation wise, he’s got some in his beast mode, but not much. His wings are on ball joints, and his front limbs (by virtue of turning into his hands) have joints on the shoulders and elbows. He’s got very limited movement in some other parts, but that’s about it.

Predaking’s tail becomes a blaster weapon thing in robot mode, and in beast mode it plugs pretty securely. Without it his beast mode becomes even more terrible-looking. Predaking comes with a missile, of course, and it plugs into the tail, and sort of ruins the claw-tipped deal that the tail has going on for it… although really, it doesn’t make much of a difference because he’s messy enough as it is.

Really dislike this beast mode. Owning Ultimate Class Predaking as a comparison doesn’t help him either.

Robot Mode:
Predaking fares a little better in robot mode, if only just. He’s pretty show-accurate in robot mode, although again he gets the colours wrong. He’s pretty spot-on in the head, torso, abdomen and legs, having all the proper colours, detailing and sculpting, as much as can be expected from a toy his size. His arms are still very terrible, though, having generic hands, generic shoulderpads and being nearly completely orange. It’s a far cry from Predaking’s supposed sharp spiky shoulders and Dinobot-clawed hands.

Transformation is pretty simple, although since all the kibble is placed in plain sight it’s hard not to figure it out. The dragon head splits into two and hangs from his back, the robot legs unfurls out, the rear dragon legs hide behind the robot legs, and the front legs become hands. It’s basically a slightly modified, simplified version of the generic dragon transformation seen a lot in the Beast Hunters subline, albeit one that favours the robot mode much more than the alternate mode.

I’m pretty sure Predaking’s wings are not very visible in robot mode, folding up perpendicularly from his back or being absorbed into his body outright, but I’m pretty sure they’re not splayed out like a cape the way this toy has them to be. Of course you can have them fan out like demonic (or angelic, in the case of this toy) wings, which looks a bit better. Of course, his wings look rather terrible.

He’s still pretty red and orange, but adds some more grey (thighs, awesomely sculpted boots and elbow) and random yellow here and there. The yellow really stick out like a sore thumb.

Articulation wise his head rotates, he’s got ball joints in the shoulders and thighs, the elbows are double-jointed and the knees are hinged. The ankles are hinged somewhat due to transformation and the wings are ball-jointed. Pretty decent, but still on the par for a Commander class toy. Definitely much less than the Scouts class toys of old which I’m far more accustomed to.

His tail detaches to become a missile launcher, which operates under a pressure-launched system thing. It’s pretty long, and the tail end of the missile juts out from the other end of the tail-launcher. This missile tail acts like a handle which allows Predaking to hold the weapon like some kind of club, similar to how his larger toys hold the tail like a sword. Of course, mini Predaking will be hard-pressed to slice anyone up with his weapon.

All in all, a decent if meh robot mode.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 2/10 Very lazy. They basically started off with a decent robot mode, but just tacked on dragon details and had him do a contortionist move, resulting in a horrid-looking dragon.

Durability: 5/10 Predaking doesn’t seem to lean on either fragile or particularly durable, so I suppose I’ll give him a score of five. He does feel a little light, though.

Aesthetics: 3/10 Eesh. The robot isn’t so bad, but the dragon mode is ridiculous-looking.

Articulation: 3/10 Pretty sub-par, even for a toy as small as him.

Fun: 3/10 I cannot say I had much fun with him. He’s basically just overshadowed by the much more awesome toys in the Cyberverse like the Terrorcons, or larger versions of his character.

Price/Value: 2/10 Commander class toys aren’t exactly that cheap, and Mini-Predaking definitely isn’t worth it.

Overall: 2/10 A poorly-designed toy which you should really avoid unless you’re a completist or if you only collect Cyberverse. Either way, I really discourage you from buying him. The only thing he’s got going is that he’s got a mostly-correct paintscheme, and a robot mode that barely looks show-accurate. He doesn’t really look that good, and is pretty disappointing all around.
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