Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Mini-Con 3-packs + Demolishor

Toy Fate smiled on me for the first time in a good while Saturday afternoon, and I nabbed everything I currently want from Armada on my very first attempt. HAR HAR HAR.

Let me start off with a general comment: I freakin' LOVE the Mini-Cons. I'm a huge fan of Micromasters, and these guys take the concept a notch higher with creative alternate forms, interesting and nice detailing of the vehicles (something that declined in the MM's second year), and generally improved posability.

But what really sparks my wires is the incredible innovation shown in the transformation schemes. Micromasters for the most part had a pretty stock transformation: back end of vehicle rotates 180 degrees to become legs; arms swing down from sides of front end of vehicle. The Mini-Cons, however... every single one is different. Only two (Knock Out and Wreckage of the Land Military Team) even comes close to being that simplistic. The rest range from "huh" to a full-blown "holy freakin' S**T!!"

Land Military Team: a nice little trio of vehicles toting huge-arse guns... an unexpected fun benefit of child-safety laws requiring missiles to be a minimum length.

Bonecrusher, the black one, is the worst as a vehicle. His arm and shoulder are rather unconvincing as a cab unit, and his head is in plain sight, disguised only by the fact that his face doesn't look like much of a face. However -- he's got the most mind-boggling transformation ever put into such a tiny package. The design has him splitting apart into four hinged pieces, so that he looks like an X in mid-transformation. It's damn impressive. He's a very stout, blocky robot, with decent posability (he's even got an elbow joint.)

Wreckage, the green tank with the twin launchers, is probably my favorite vehicle. He's rather reminiscent of Micromasters like Sidetrack. Half of his tank treads end up on the sides of his chest... on a Micromaster, those would be his arms, and I have a hard time not seeing them as such. Here, it's the launchers that become the arms -- and they've even got molded fists on the inside of them. Cool. Unfortunately he has no hip joints.

Knock Out, the tan armored 6-wheeler, has a simple but well-done transformation. I think he's the best in terms of looking good in both modes. His big spring-loaded cannon fires with a decent kick, and ends up as a shoulder-mounted gun in robot mode. It's a nice touch that all three of these guys can use their weapons in both modes.

Air Defense Team: This is where the Mini-Cons really show up the Micromasters. Most of the MM jets I own are pretty sad as robots; the Decepticon Air Strike Patrol in particular comes to mind. These guys, however... whoah. They're well proportioned and fairly well posable, with good colors. And they turn into pretty decent jets (albeit jets modelled at insanely small scales -- yes, they all have cockpit and passenger windows, as if they turn into full-sized, several-hundred-foot-long jets.)

Sadly, two of them -- Runway and Jetstorm -- still adhere to the old G1 philosophy of having a folded-up robot attached to the bottom of a jet. This makes the jet modes unnecessarily bulky on the underside. They make up for it to some extent by using cool clear plastic and by having nice robot modes; Runway (the grey one with red trim; think: "Runway Is Red") in particular has excellent proportions and detailing. It'd be nice if his jet fusilage didn't hang off his back, though it does help him clip neatly into Demolishor's driver seat. Runway also has issues with his arms (jointed only at the elbows) bumping into his chest (the rear of his jet mode, swung down over his chest.)

The third, Sonar, is a truly sweet little toy. Aside from a big dumb round thing that clearly was included solely to facilitate the sword mode and thus irritates me greatly, his jet mode is totally kibble-free. It's some kind of bizarre delta-shaped... ship, or bomber, or space shuttle, or *something*. I dunno. Whatever it is, it rocks. [It's a "X-33 Venture Star single stage to orbit space shuttle prototype", I've since been informed.] Just as importantly, the entire body of it comes apart and becomes the robot -- not just attached pieces unfolding. THIS is what I'm always complaining about the lack of. THIS is what makes a Transformer look like a credible vehicle, beast, or whatever else -- having a (literally) solid alternate mode that splits apart into the robot mode. The molding on his vehicle mode, admittedly, is less than perfect; his pieces don't quite fit together flawlessly -- but what do you expect from a 1.5-inch long toy? He lacks any useful leg articulation, unfortunately, but he has good range in his arms.

The combined sword mode is... um.. a bunch of jets stuck together. It's not a convincing sword at all -- though I'm glad that, aside from Sonar's handle, they didn't sacrifice the quality of the individual toys any further just to make the sword better. The main value I see in it is that it reminds me of G1's Dreadwing. That impression is doubly reinforced when you ralize that Jetstorm's face and head are dead ringers for Dreadwind (the darker-colored of the two G1 jets.) Part of me likes to think of this as the latest humiliation faced by the ever-suffering pair (after what I see as Dreadwind being forced to downsize in G2 as the Smokescreen toy.)

Street Action Team: I had a moral obligation to buy these guys, long before I ever saw what they looked like. It would simply be unacceptable for me not to purchase the first ever bicycle Transformer. The fact that I got a skateboard, a scooter, and a bigger robot in the deal is just a bonus.

Grindor's probably the nicest of the bunch. His skateboard mode is... well, it's a tiny box on wheels with jet thrusters. As Sipher pointed out, it makes a passable gun, too. I can't think of any TFs that are agile enough to actually ride him, especially given the uneven surface of his top side. His robot mode is really cute; it reminds me a bit of Rewind (one of Blaster's cassette robot guys.) His arms and legs only move to the sides -- he can do jumping-jacks but can't take a step forward.

Sureshock is rather cruddy. He looks like Scooter and Wheelie's love child. He can barely move his legs; in fact his legs don't even pull apart very much, and they're joined together at the ankles by a bar (necessary to hold him together when he splits in half to become the legs of Perceptor, the combined robot form. This also means his entire body has an unfortunate tendency to split down the middle.) In fact I think he may have the worst leg articulation of any new mold since the GoBots. His arms weighed down with blobs of chunk made from his front end. I think it'd be a great recurring gag to have this guy get sliced in half in the show repeatedly... only to show up fine and dandy the next time. He looks okay as a scooter, though I haven't yet found anyone who can credibly ride him in that mode. His robot face has a wide-eyed, sad look to it that makes me feel a little sorry for badmouthing him. :] I'd be sad too if I could split in half but couldn't take a step forward.

High Wire may be shoddy as Transformers go, but he's irresistably cute. He may be the spindliest little robot we've ever gotten. His legs, as others have noted, are decidedly lacking -- but gosh darnit, I just can't hold it against the little feller. I mean, hell, he's a bicycle!!! That beats out a cow, penguin, a duck, and maaaaaaybe even a chicken for kickass alternate modes. Y'know, if he's to scale, he's only about 4 feet tall in robot mode. Sheesh. They could have made his legs longer and more credible by having the "triangle" part of his rear frame unfold, but working in those extra joints might have been difficult. Then again, maybe not -- he's already one of the chunkiest bicycles in the history of mankind; another joint or two wouldn't hurt much. He reminds me more of a kid's dirt bike than anything else.

The combined form? Well, it's a pretty sub-par robot (with a totally random and inexplicable name)... till you remember that it's a THREE-INCH-TALL COMBINER. Honestly, Perceptor wins out on engineering merit alone. Damn. As others have noted, he follows in the footsteps of Magmatron, with High Wire contributing nothing to the whole but the head and the ornamental shoulder kibble. Grindor's arms kind of hang uselessly off his waist as well.

Overall: you can't go wrong with any of these guys, IMO; however, I'd probably recommend the Land Military first, the jets a close second, and the street guys a very distant 3rd. For $7 a pack, hell, pick 'em all up.

Demolishor: Um... real quickly.... Demolishor's cool. The spiffiest part of his transform is the way his chest opens up to reveal his head. He's got 14 guns in vehicle mode; if you load him up with the Land Military guys, he gains 6 more. His mini-con, Blackout, isn't nearly as impressive as the ones sold in the 3-packs; I suspect that will be a pattern with the "packaged-with" mini-cons. His robot mode isn't as spindly as I would have thought; his vehicle mode is very impressive, essentially a mobile artillery battery. Worth your $10.

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