Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings


Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: TM Scavenger, Airazor, Terrorsaur, and Optimus
8/12/98

Tonight I set out on my usual Transformer hunting rounds: South Philly
TRU, Walmart by the Delaware river, and finally the Baltimore Pike TRU out
in the 'burbs near my bank.  I was hoping to find Rampage, OpOp, and Depth
Charge, but came up empty handed on that count.  Still, I finally found
Scavenger at Walmart, the first time I've seen or heard of him in Philly.
I scooped him up; it was the last one they had out.  I sure hope the new
TMs don't take that long to show up!

BTW, let me say that putting a Walmart in such a scenic location makes it
a lot more bearable to go to.  I hate Walmarts, and I hate big parking
lots.  But having the river right there, with all its boat traffic and the
Ben Franklin bridge in the distance, with the Philly skyline nearby, makes
driving into it [the parking lot, not the river :] an enjoyable
experience.  Inside the store is a different story, of course; the usual
floor-to-ceiling barrage of cluttery merchandise overwhelms the customer
from the moment you walk in and makes one feel like a visitor to the
planet of Junk.  Shoot, it's such a generic Walmart that with a little
imagination I can pretend I'm in the one back home in Louisiana, rather
than Philadelphia.  And it's so unpleasant that I won't go there for any
reason other than to hunt for new Transformers.  Anyway.

I figured I'd jot down the various impressions of Scavenger and all the
other Transmetals I've been picking up piecemeal over the last month or
two, so here goes...

SCAVENGER:  "Scavenger"... yeah, right.  This is Transmetal Inferno.  The
ant mode head is practically identical.  And he's exactly the way you'd
expect a TM'd Inferno to look.  Still, if only for simplicity's sake, I
won't pull a Raksha and refuse to call him by the name that's given on the
package.  However I do really want to know why his name was changed... was
it because of his death in "The Agenda", or because the original Inferno
had *just* come off the shelves when this toy was due to start shipping?
Or... something *else*?

The ant legs are his most striking feature.  They're very long, and all
six have THREE joints apiece, two ball joints and a hinge joint, which
allows unprecedented beast mode posability.  All those leg joints give him
a very high fidget value, which is very important in my book.  Like
Transmetal Tarantulas, they're wonderfully mechanized; each ends in a
short "landing skid", the kind of thing that forms Rhinox's vehicle mode
but thinner.  The ant legs end up mounted on his arms a la the original
Tarantulas.  You can almost double his robot-mode height by sticking the
rear ones straight up into the air.  He doesn't stand up on them
tremendously well, but you can duplicate so many Inferno poses with them
(his Tanker Bug stance from "Other Voices" part 1, for example) that I'm
willing to forgive this... it's pretty much par for the course with BW,
anyway (though somehow I'll be disappointed if Rampage can't stand on his
beast legs.)  Scavenger's other beast mode limbs (antenna and mandibles)
are also mechanized, and also look very cool.  His ant head -- in fact,
his whole body all the way back to the abdomen -- has an unfortunate
tendency to come apart down the middle (no splitting headache jokes,
please); in fact that's the first thing it did when I finally got him out
of the package [man, I am dreading all the twisty-ties that Optimal
Optimus is going to have! :]  His ant body can bend up-and-down at the
abdomen-thorax joint and in the middle of the thorax, but twist him
sideways at the latter joint and he comes right apart.

His vehicle mode is pretty groovy, much better than I'd expected from the
newsgroup reports.  I thought from the pictures I'd seen on the Web that
his legs somehow were in on the act, sorta like how Waspinator's wings
become jet wings and tailfins.  But no, you just swing 'em out of the way,
and Scavenger is instantly rolling on four free-rolling rear wheels and
two hidden front ones, actually nothing more than a pair of rubber bands
that, when rolled, make the drills on his front end spin.  [Those rear
wheels, BTW, remind me of the oversized quiesinart that Megatron had in
the G2/GI Joe cross-over. :]  This leaves a lot of possibilities for
posing the legs 

Scavenger is a nicely Transmetaled analogue of his original Inferno self.
The four rear "wheels" end up as a neat little backpack, and very much
bring to mind Inferno's quad thrusters.  Likewise the top of his ant-mode
abdomen (a shield-like orange chrome piece) ends up hanging off his butt
much as Inferno's abdomen does.  It's worth noting that this piece has
blood vessel molding on its underside that looks a lot like the trunk and
branches of a tree. :]  

He retains the Inferno toy's slightly gimpy look; he's not quite as tall
but just as skinny and oddly proportioned.  He has the thunder thighs and
skinny ankles that have become so common on BW toys... funny how G1 always
went the other way -- skinny thighs, with huge legs below the knees (the
comics occasionally referred to them as "boots.")  His arms would
definitely look better if they had some real hands on the end of 'em
instead of the drills; the arms have a blocky, unfinished look that could
use a good fist to round it off.  (Those drills fold 90 degrees out of the
way, but I haven't yet figured out which mode this is supposed to be used
in.)  To make the arms worse still, the halves of the ant head end up
hanging off the back of his arms, with no pegs or anything to keep them
out of the way.  Together with all the ant legs hanging off them, this
means his arms are a huge mess. 

Scavenger's face looks like the version of Inferno's from the Beast Wars
show -- if you grabbed it by the chin and pulled down on it till it was
stretched flat, that is, and then had him grin really big.  Scavenger has
anime-esque horns sticking out of his head, and I have to say that they're
among the coolest head ornament that I've ever seen on a TF. Finally, his
head has two slightly-detached "shell halves"  surrounding the central
portion of it; combined with the rectangular horns, it makes me want to
pull the horns apart and say "Now light our darkest hour!" 

His colors are a bit messy, a fairly even mix in robot mode of translucent
Inferno red, chrome orange, and flat green, brown, and grey.  Five major
colors are a little much IMO, since none of them really predominates. 
Replace the brown with the grey, or vice-versa, and I think he'd probably
look better.  He's an equally big mess in ant mode, where the red
organic-looking ant head appears oddly grafted onto the rest of the
orange, grey, and brown mechanistic body.  Three main colors are about the
max you can get away with, I think, before a toy starts to look cluttered
and patchwork.  Oddly, in vehicle mode the colors are a much better
balance, since the drills add enough red to make the head not seem like an
anomaly, and moving the head backwards brings it closer to the small red
bits at the end of his abdomen (the robot mode feet.) One last color note: 
the orange chrome on the abdomen piece fades into red chrome at the edges,
a nice touch. 

Overall, a solid toy.  Colors hurt his appearance a bit; robot mode is
rather ill porportioned; but otherwise he looks great and is a lot of fun
to play with.  Market him as TM Inferno and people would be going gah gah
over him. 

TERRORSAUR:  People keep raving about Terrorsaur and Airazor being their
favorites of the whole year, but I still maintain that it's mostly just
the "newness factor".  Remember, people were saying the same thing about
Rattrap and Waspinator not too long ago.  Give it a couple of months, and
I bet that for most folks they won't seem any better than, say, TM
Megatron.  I like 'em both, to be sure, but I don't feel they're in quite
the same league as Megs, Tarantulas, Cheetor, and Silverbolt.

So anyway... Terrorsaur _does_ have the advantage of evoking his
television appearance even more than his original toy did.  His robot form
has several short, stubby, gothic wings sticking out in various
directions; he also has a couple of rounded notches atop his shoulders
that could be interpreted as his shoulder cannons.  In beast mode, he can
flap and bend his wings, almost to the point of wrapping them around
himself, cape-like, as Terry has been known to do on the show ("A Better
Mousetrap" and "Equal Measures", for example.)  The beast mode looks great
in general, surprising considering how "strung together" the wing
structures are.  

His vehicle mode is a bit iffy -- for example, the hinges for the engine
covers can open out to 90 degrees or so, but if you take them that far he
comes apart.  Still, it is provisions for the vehicle mode that make him
so much fun to play with.  With so many hinges and joints, there's all
kinds of ways you can turn and twist him into Cybertronian "vehicles",
even to the point of having him fly in the opposite direction from what
the designers intended.

He suffers from the same sort of coloration hodgepodge as Scavenger;
however, because several of the colors are dark, it's less noticeable.  In
robot mode, brown, light gold, gold chrome, and purple are mixed pretty
evenly.  Purple and gold chrome dominate the beast form, a very nice
combination that is hurt somewhat by the brown that shows up on a few
parts.  Replace the brown with more purple and he'd look even better.

My list of complaints is rather lengthy.  First, he suffers from elbows
that don't quite bend to a 90 degree angle, a disability I refer to as
Pretender Syndrome since I've corrected it on so many of the G1 Pretender
robots.  IMO elbow and knee joints should be able to bend all the way back
on themselves if at all possible; there's really no reason why his
shouldn't.  As I've mentioned before his beast head would be vastly
improved by a simple hinge joint at the neck, allowing him to strike even
more classic Terrorsaur poses.  His beast foot claws spread apart to form
huge robot-mode feet, but because of loose hinges they're practically
worthless in supporting him.  And finally on the bad list is THE CLAWS.
(The claws are our master!  The claws choose who will stay and who will
go!)  These oversized talons look *great* in his beast mode... but they
become his hands in robot mode, and for someone who once had five normal
digits at the end of each arm, that just ain't right.  Also, they're
painted a metallic forest green that doesn't match anything else on him;
consequentially he looks like he's wearing nail polish.  I would really
have appreciated some flip-out fists instead of these monsters.

Overall, a good idea, but it needs a bit more tweaking to get it just
right.

AIRAZOR:  Of all the Transmetals I've seen, this one least captures the
"feel" of the character it represents.  Some of that might be because it
was derived more from the toy than the show appearance.  In retrospect,
Airazor's original toy was pretty bad, and not just because it differed
radically from the television version.  This is a worthy update, but it
doesn't quite scream "Airazor!" at me the way Waspinator or Cheetor do
with their respective characters.

Airazor suffers a bit from being a robot with a bird backpack, but looks
much better in the process than, say, Retrax or Silverbolt from Magnaboss.
She's tremendously top- and back-heavy, but there are ways around this,
particularly since she has strong ankles that can hold her in place while
leaning forward.  I really like the way the bird claws hang under the arms
in robot mode; I hope those will be weapons if this toy makes it into the
show.  And I do hope the toy makes it to the show; you can't just kill off
a babe like Airazor.  And if I haven't mentioned it before, Airazor is a
babe!  :]

Speaking of that... Walky; those aren't breasts!  At least they aren't
shaped like any breasts _I've_ ever seen.  YMMV.

The colors on this toy are rather nauseating.  It's only DVD's
"angel/demon" analogy for Airazor and Terrorsaur that keeps me from really
disliking them.  In random places we've got white, maize yellow, metallic
blue, a blue-tinted silver chrome, and bright orange and red highlights.
Ugg, what a mess.  To the designers' credit, the main robot body is
primarily yellow, with a few highlights.  Unfortunately it's not IMO a
very attractive mix of colors.  If they'd cut either the blue or the
yellow the toy's looks might be greatly improved; as is, however, there's
a bit too much to deal with all at once.  I *really* like the off-silver
chrome used on the engine cowlings, however.  Very cool color, appropriate
for a pontoon plane.

My other complaint is not limited to Airazor but to almost every bird-like
Beast Wars toy we've gotten -- both Airazors, Magnaboss component
Silverbolt, and both Terrorsaurs.  So far, not a one has had realistic
bird legs.  The bird legs and feet invariably become either arms or legs,
which means they're much more massive and fat than real bird legs should
be; additionally, it always makes the beast look like it's squatting
instead of standing.  Just once I'd like to see all the limbs unfold from
the beast torso, and have thin bird legs that fold away somewhere else.
For that matter, I'd really like to see some BW transformations -- bird or
otherwise -- where the beast limbs ALL get folded into the torso, and the
robot limbs are ALL distinct and separate from the beast limbs, instead of
ending up as backpack kibble or becoming robot limbs.  Maybe if Animorphs
has some influence on BW engineering...

In a previous post I mentioned that there are basically three workable
ways to position her backpack kibble (the wings, engines, and shield
plates.)  The first two are with the hinge that holds all this junk swung
to the "up" position.  This puts the engines behind and outside her
shoulders, giving her a well-proportioned, powerful look.  The wings can
be swung straight up behind her, like a short version of what Terrorsaur
has on his shoulders.  Alternately, they can be swung down to trail along
behind her like an extra pair of feet, which seems to be the biggest
preference among newsgroupers since it allows her to stand upright without
tumbling over.  Unfortunately, it's also the least aesthetically pleasing
position, IMO.  For the third and final position ("Find any new
*positions*?") rotate the "kibble joint" down ("Push it to the down
position.  Down, understand?"), swing the wings all the way up, then lift
the tail fin section a bit and push the cowlings back till they're snug up
against the tail fin.  Viola, a G1 Seeker look.  Very cool.

Dave Van Domelen mentioned that it's hard to get the smaller strut
unfolded; actually it's just tricky -- the pontoon has to be rotated just
right or else it won't come out.  Several people have mentioned that the
pontoons can be flipped out in robot mode to act as shoulder cannons.
This is true; however, they're not so much shoulder cannons (which for me
implies something like what Bluestreak or Soundwave have) as they are the
kind of "gun on a stick" arrangement that the base defenses use in the BW
show.  And like the base defenses, they're rather easy to break if you
twiddle with them very much.  Luckily they pop right back on.

Overall: Doesn't look as cool as Terrorsaur, mainly due to the colors, but
works a bit better and is a LOT of fun to play with.

TM OPTIMUS PRIMAL:  For a long time I didn't think I'd get this toy, but I
suppose it was pretty much fated after I bought TM Megatron.  To my
surprise, I really like him, maybe more so than the Ultra version of
Primal.  Part of that has to do with the fact that he looks *exactly* like
he does in the show.  I heard at BotCon that after a while the HasKen
execs ordered the animators to stop altering the characters so much from
their toy appearances.  IMO it was a very good decision; it'll only
increase sales for them, and for us nothing's more frustrating than
knowing there will never be a toy that closely resembles one of your
favorite characters -- who here wouldn't kill for a show-perfect Airazor,
Blackarachnia, or Dinobot?  OTOH, the Transmetals are generally so cool
that I can't imagine what the animators would alter on them if they were
free to do so.  Shows just how far BW has come since the days of
Razorbeast and Iguanis.

I really dig Primal's hoverboard.  I dunno, something about it just looks
cool.  Maybe the fact that it's a good proportion to the rest of him,
unlike for example Cheetor's tiny jets or Rattrap's gigantic wheels.  The
way it unfolds and connects is subtle and clever... I still haven't quite
got it down yet.  The gun doubling as a propulsion jet is cool.  The ape
mode is about as good as a Transmetal ape could be, I suppose... I'm just
not a big fan of apes in general as an alternate mode, but this one looks
fairly decent.  He has good coloration, with metallic grey and chrome blue
dominating.  Brown highlights (fists, shoulders, waist) and red trim
complete the picture.  I made sure I got a very blue one, to match the
show appearance, just as I made sure my TM Megs had all-purple chrome.

I really like his massively sculpted arms (he's like those guys I see on
occasion that prompt me to think, "Gee, I wish I was built like that.")
They contain a little transformation bonus; namely they pop open and you
trade his mechanistic gorilla fists for organic robot ones.  These new
fists have that damn sculpted hair that they insisted on adding to all the
early Transmetals. DAMMIT!!!  HasKen, listen up!  Robot heads do NOT look
good with fur!  >:]  Still, trading the fists is a nice touch in light of
how Ultra Primal's arms are.  OTOH, one could see it as blatant admission
that there's not much to his transformation.  I guess they figured they
couldn't leave such a big part of him untouched through the transformation
process.

Unfolding his robot head is a bit of a trip, mainly because it looks so
much like the show.  It's very rare that you get such a perfect
reproduction of an animated figure.  Good color mix in this mode -- brown
and metallic grey, with orange-yellow chest and face.  DVD disliked the
chrome blue kneecaps, but they don't bother me... aside from popping off
every other time I transform him.  And of course, his backpack can unfold
as it did in "Coming of the Fuzors" part 2, allowing him to use his clubs
as guns.  With them in their normal position on his back, he looks like
he's wearing shoulder pads.

Complaints:  Legs are a bit gimpy and kibbled together; they look like
they're supposed to end at the knees, and past that he's balancing on
something or other.  Face is ugly as someone or other mentioned [hi,
Hooks! :]  Finally, he's not a tremendously creative form.  Arms become
arms, legs become legs.

Overall:  He's not the most innovative TF, but I like him a lot more than
I thought I would.  Like TM Megatron, he's fairly low on fidget value, but
he makes up for it with sleek, solid looks.  Worth having.

CHEETOR:  Just an addendum to my last Ramblings about Transmetal Cheetor a
couple of months back.  Several people pointed out to me that, contrary to
what I said at the time, Cheetor can indeed twist at the waist, and can
move his head up/down and a bit sideways thanks to the arm joints that
form his "neck".  In light of that I must revise my opinion of him
upwards.  He's a damn fine toy.  Still not quite up there with Tarantulas
IMO, but very close.
--
Robert Powersof the Ever-Mispelling .sig
repowers@shell.faradic.net
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/6754 [Architecture and misc.]
http://members.tripod.com/~repowers [Transformers]
Just discovered that I've been spelling "delirious" incorrectly for two
years.  Do I qualify for another Dan Quail (yet another word whose
spelling I'm unsure of -- Quayle?  Quale?) Spelling Award?  Or maybe I
should keep the misspelling as a trademark... :]



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