Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cybertron Menasor

Towards the end of the Cybertron/Galaxy Force toyline, something rather strange happened. As a collector, I'm quite accustomed to some models never making it out of Japan, since Takara Tomy seems more inclined to taking a risk with the TransFormers brand these days. However, Galaxy Force came to an end before all the toys had been released, and so it fell to Hasbro to bring out the last couple of models for the US market, just for a change.

Quite how this mobile drilling rig got saddled with the name 'Menasor' is anyone's guess - the character in the Galaxy Force TV series was called 'Moledive' (which tends now to be the name I use for this model) - though it could easily be another example of Hasbro registering and using a name just so they could hang on to it for a later purpose.

Vehicle Mode:
When Galaxy Force got it right, it had some excellent models with fun transformations... When it got it wrong, you'd get something like Moledive. It doesn't look like a real-world vehicle, and it doesn't look like something that could ever serve a useful purpose if someone invented a real-world vehicle that looked like it.

This vehicle is clearly meant for drilling and digging and generally putting great big holes in things... trouble is, the two drills are on either side of the main body of the vehicle, and protrude to roughly the same extent. Seems to me that any attempt to use one drill would quickly become blocked by the other...

While this is an unlikely drilling machine, it's certainly a pretty one. Molded predominantly in a kind of ocean green plastic, it also features black, cream and acidic yellow opaque plastic, along with a fair bit of transparent sky blue plastic... the effect is verging on the movie line's 'Allspark Blue' and is complemented by a similar blue paint applied quite liberally around the front of the vehicle, mainly on the drill arms. There are also touches of red on the roof, on what could either be entrance hatches or weapon turrets of some kind. In the centre of the roof is something that could be a control tower (suggesting Moledive is huge, like Megalo Convoy) and in front of that is a curious transparent blue tube thing... which could be a gun.

The other thing that makes this a rather strange driller is the enormous great cowcatcher/plough on the front. The molding and the paintwork, while fairly simple, do make it look pretty impressive.

Two things that aren't immediately obvious are the touches of dry-brushed silver around both of the drills - which are actually factory paint, not my additions! - and the fact that all the treads on this vehicle are painted. Considering how often I'll complain about such details being left off a Hasbro release, it's nice to see they really went to town on this one.

Moledive features electronic lights and sounds, too... Or, more accurately, an electronic light and an electronic sound, both activated by his key, and both in the lefthand drill. When the key is fully inserted, there's a kind of engine startup sound, and a red LED blinks inside the transparent blue drill. This is all well and good, but there are no further light or sound effects triggered simply by rolling Moledive along... which is strange considering the drillbit is geared to rotate as it's moved forward or back. Seems like something of a missed opportunity to me. The other arm features a Mini-Con activated gimmick, though it doesn't deploy well in this mode because the cow-catcher/plough gets in the way.

All that said, there is an enormous amount of molded detail in this model... so much, that it almost feels like wasted effort because of the strange nature of this vehicle.
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Robot Mode:
So, yes, this is basically the vehicle mode stood up.

In fact, Moledive is rather a simple robot even compared to Megalo Convoy... But that was almost a feature of the inhabitants of Gigalonia/Giant Planet - their transformation was to facilitate their construction work, rather than to act as a disguise.

Even with this in mind, however, Moledive features a good few oddities in his robot mode. First and foremost is the design of his chest - if I didn't know any better, I'd think there was an extra alternate mode, because the chest appears to feature a cockpit - not just the window at the top (which is there because the chest opens onto a compartment which can accommodate Heavy Load, his Mini-Con partner), but also the curved window toward the bottom. There's also the small matter of the two acidic yellow things... I'm not sure what they are - guns, sensors, aerials - but, whatever they are, they can either point up or down in robot mode... but neither way really looks right.

As far as paintwork goes, this model just seems far too opulent for a Hasbro release - so many of the details are picked out with touches of silver, a metallic paint version of the acidic yellow plastic colour, more red, and quite a bit of black - and robot mode ends up looking rather more balanced, palette-wise, than the vehicle.

The head sculpt is among the more unusual ones for the Cybertron/Galaxy Force line, and very different from Megalo Convoy's very human look. Moledive's head looks rather like an elaborate knight's helmet... though a very anime interpretation of a knight, rather than the traditional European look (see Quickmix/Blendar). It does have light-piping, but the effect is almost overwhelmed by the use of the acidic yellow and the bizarre patch of red right in the middle of his face.

Both the key-activated gimmick and the Mini-Con activated gimmick are more easily accessible in this mode, but there are no changes to the light-and-sound effects. The right arm features some kind of claw that's released as soon as Heavy Load is plugged into the Mini-Con port, and a drill that extends by sliding the Mini-Con forwards.
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Mini-Con Partner Heavy Load:
This is one of the more simplistic Mini-Cons, but somehow manages to be pretty cool, despite having the torso and upper arms molded in the acidic yellow plastic. He also has a rather more extensive paint job than the average Mini-Con - the bulldozer blade of his alternate mode has silver panels painted in, the head is painted in not one but two whole colours (mostly the metallic acidic yellow, but there's a touch of red on his visor) and there are even silver details on his legs. Looking at the extent of his paintwork, it's a shame the windows of his cab aren't painted, but I guess there had to be sacrifices somewhere.

His alternate mode actually serves three purposes - bulldozer, dump truck... and it can plug into Moledive's cowcatcher/plough. Robot mode, meanwhile, can nestle comfortably inside Moledive's chest.
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Much like Megalo Convoy, Moledive really doesn't transform. It's quite obvious that his so-called vehicle mode is nothing more than the robot kind of flopped over and closed up and connecting together in a slightly different way.

He's reasonably poseable, within the constraints of things like the size of his feet and their range of movement. One of the coolest features is that his arms rotate just below the elbow. This is actually to facilitate one of two 'work modes' - one is for the vehicle mode, where the drill arms are out at an angle and no longer connected to the rear treads (the forearm rotation allows the treads to remain flat to the ground), and Heavy Load is plugged into the front, the other is basically a half-arsed alternate robot mode, where the legs are left more-or-less in vehicle mode position, but the body is rotated upright.

Menasor is a completely inappropriate name for this model, being the name associated with the combined form of the G1 Stunticons... Then again, 'Moledive' is a fairly typically bonkers Japanese name that probably wouldn't have worked on a Western release.

I'm really in two minds about the mold... It's certainly quirky and interesting, despite the simplicity of its so-called transformation, and levels of molded detail and paintwork are almost unprecedented in a Hasbro release... but its simplicity makes it rather unsatisfying, and it's quite a bulky model, taking up far more shelf-space than it deserves. If only Moledive had been made in more recent years - now that Voyager class figures are smaller, his 'bulk' might have been more manageable.

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