Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Rambings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Sky-Byte
10/17/01

I broke the budget for this, but dammit, this has been a hard week -- er, two weeks -- well, shit, it's been a hard freakin' MONTH. I deserve a little treat. So last night, tempted by the offer of free Spychangers with any larger TF purchase, I snagged Sky-Byte at TRU.

Let me make it clear: this was a character-driven purchase. If I really wanted the Transmetal 2 Cybershark mold, I would have picked it up at Kay*Bee for $8 months ago. The toy, though, is secondary to getting a plastic incarnation of a character that I've grown quite fond of in the last month or so. I passed up a lot of other, more interesting toys for him, including Optimus, the Build team, and the Autobot brothers.

My basic impression is that I like the looks of him a lot, but he's plagued by a number of technical flaws. The repaint job is absolutely magnificent, especially in his shark mode. I have no argument whatesoever with any of his colors; they're tasteful, sleek, sharp, and elegantly restrained. The mold itself looks very good in robot mode (if you ignore the giant shark head hanging off his butt, which is my only real aesthetic complaint about his robot mode.) The shark mode is decent, though it's hurt by kibble hanging off the bottom -- his legs aren't streamlined into the shark body, and his right arm ends up just hanging onto the underside of the tail, clearly visible and not very securely attached. It was disappointing to discover that his shark mouth is only very mildly articulated, and it's permanently stuck hanging open, AND it's prone to splitting in two since the jaw becomes his robot mode feet. He can rotate his fins and his tail in this mode, but that's about it for posability (not that I expect a whole lot more from a fish TF, but still...) As with Bazooka, I don't like the fact that he's stuck in a perma-curve, forever condemned to swim in circles.

His transformation is surprisingly complex, and I'm still not 100% clear on how it works. Somehow his torso and waist are hidden inside a lot of shark panels and hinge out to snap together; his arms are folded inside the torso. Rotating the shark panels out of the way is frustrating as hell, since the two biggest ones are on some very wimpy ball joints which they pop off of on a regular basis. They also can't move right unless a pivot joint to which the ball joint is attached is also swung correctly, providing another chance for the panels to come off. And a smaller set of panels, with the shark fins attached, have to be in the right spots so as not to infere as well.

Still, when you're done, you're left with a very nicely proportioned and ornamented robot. The two frustrating panels end up as giant shoulder pads that look pretty nifty. As I said before, his main problem is that he's wearing about half of a shark on his back. His feet are also kind of skinny, and the joints holding them aren't too tight, creating some posability problems. It doesn't help that he's standing on a bunch of teeth that aren't all the same length.

Other complaints: mine's already got a couple of missing chrome chips, as well as a chunk missing behind his shark head where that part tabs together with the next piece of his shark mode..... His shark nose, as well as his robot shins, seem to have problems with the plastic halves pulling away from one another...... His shark fins are simply held in place by a fairly loose post-and-hole; you can pull them a bit too easily. I guess you can have him wield one in his hand like a giant knife.....

If you're after show-accuracy, he's got it. Kudos to the animators for sticking so closely to the toy's design, especially around the face. I wanted the *character*, and I got it. Yay!

Overall: high marks for character likeness, general aesthetics and detailing. Frustrating transformation, though, and some problems that could have been solved. And he has a shark head coming out of his butt.

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