Monday, 2 August 2010

Energon Sharkticon

Energon/Superlink is, in many ways, the odd man out in the Unicron Trilogy: each part had its gimmick but, in Armada/Micron Legend and Cybertron/Galaxy Force, it was common to both Autobots and Decepticons. Energon/Superlink, meanwhile, shook things up by giving the two factions their own, unique gimmicks.

The Autobots could combine (hence 'Superlink', though the system was called 'Powerlinx' in the Westernised TV series) in pairs (ideally of the same size class, but the joints were actually the same regardless of size) to form larger, more powerful robots. The Decepticons all had something called 'Hypermode', which generally popped out all kinds of extra weapons.

The implication, I guess, was that the Autobots won the day by co-operating, while the Decepticons relied entirely on heavier artillery...


Vehicle Mode:
And, yes, apparently it is a vehicle mode, not a mechanical beast mode: Sharkticon's alternate mode is supposedly based as much on the G1 Decepticon's battlecruiser, the Nemesis, as it is on a shark. The control tower is about the only common element I can identify and, frankly, this thing's silhouette couldn't be much more like that of a shark if it tried: it has a snout, it has flippers, the control tower is not dissimilar to a dorsal fin, it appears to have an open mouth when viewed from the side, and it has a very shark-like tail... or rather, two of them.

It's also bristling with guns, though... Two turrets on the top, just in front of the control tower, and one on each side. Each one can rotate through 360 degrees, and they can all tilt their guns up/outward to some degree... though, since they're all molded in soft, almost rubbery plastic, it's difficult to gauge how much is tilt and how much is bend.

Considering this is a US/UK model, it's surprising how much paintwork there is on both modes, but vehicle mode has more on show - from the great swathes of silver on the sides of the nose, to the gold, silver and red detailing on the back end, and that's before you get to the amazing colour-clash that is the choice of plastic colours.

Hypermode, in Sharkticon's case, means sprouting a couple of large, spring-loaded missile launchers from the sides. These can also rotate through 360 degrees, tilting in or out slightly.
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Robot Mode:
There's no denying Sharkticon's robot mode is stylish. There was something vaguely Gundam-ish about many of the Energon Decepticons - Mirage being the most obvious example. From the wide shoulders to the svelte waist and very humanoid legs, Sharkticon lives up to his name as much in robot mode as he did in vehicle mode.

Unfortunately, the whole thing rather falls apart when viewed from the side or from the back - the entirety of the shark's front is hanging off his back like a particularly bulky cape. Still, it does facilitate his use of his Hypermode weapons.

The head sculpt is actually faintly reminiscent of Beast Wars Depth Charge, but elongated, sharpened and, frankly, rather more robot-like. In general, there's a lot of molded detail on this figure - in many ways, it seems as though the Autobots and Decepticons for the Energon/Superlink series were designed by completely different teams, such is the difference in style and level of detail.
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In spite of the large chunk of alternate mode hanging off his back, Sharkticon's transformation is not overly simplistic. That said, there really isn't much to it - it's just a case of flipping up the vehicle nose, flipping back the legs to plug them into the underside of the nose, then hinging the arms back to the robot's waist to form the tail. It's cleverly designed... but I can't help but think it might be done better now.

This would be a much better toy if it weren't for the feet letting it down - there's an amazing amount of movement in the legs - from the ball-jointed hips, mid-thigh twisting joints and knees. Unfortunately, the fact that the 'heel' and 'toe' portions of the foot are the same chunk of rubbery plastic rather than being jointed separately, as is more common these days, so he's very much prone to toppling over backwards unless overbalanced forward. Even if the foot had been able to turn upward just a little more, it would have been easier to pose Sharkticon dramatically.

Even so, this is probably one of my favourite Energon/Superlink molds, simply because it's so unusual and stylish. There's an amazing amount of molded detail, and the excellent paintwork does a fine job of enhancing it all... Shame that's so rarely the case with contemporary TransFormers.

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