Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Cybertron Armorhide

Perhaps the strangest aspect of the Cybertron line was the inclusion of characters unique to the toyline. Not just repaints of existing molds as new characters, but whole new molds which did not appear in the original Galaxy Force line or the TV series.

As one such model, and in keeping with Galaxy Force's tendency towards G1 homage, Armourhide offers something new mixed in with something surprisingly familiar...

Vehicle Mode:
In all honesty, I believe this is one of the smallest, tidiest TransFormers trucks outside of Generation 1's Mini Autobots. The cab is solid and well-proportioned, the back end is more believable than any of the Masterpiece Optimus Primes because it's not too bulky. Sure, you have visible robot hands right at the back, if you care to look, but you also have something that looks remarkably like a trailer hitch. In many ways, I consider it a great shame that the only accessory this model has is the oversized gun/tow hook thing. None of the third parties have produced a proper trailer for Armorhide or his repaints.

As standard, Armorhide looks a little plain. from most angles, you'll see a lot of grey, and the cab is little more than a block of blue (actually darker than these photos suggest!), albeit blue with metallic flakes. He does have a couple of bits of silver striping, all his windows are painted in a metallic sky blue, and he even has some of his headlights picked out in blue and yellow, along with an odd metallic red panel just below the windscreen... Surprisingly, all of his hubcaps are painted silver, too. All this sounds interesting... yet he somehow manages to look pretty dull. Considering the amount of molded detail - from the truck's panel lines and grille to the fairly intricate texturing around the trailer hitch, that's quite a feat.

Adding the weapon/tow hook livens things up a touch, with a red strip running the length of the arm and a red barrel at the end. The weapon is basically a solid block of plastic with a square peg to attach at an angle in vehicle mode, and a round peg to be held in the robot's fist. The hook part is a separate piece with limited mobility, though there are two sets of holes where it attaches, giving the impression it can be attached to either. Having tried, the default pair of holes is the only one worth bothering with, though the difference is minimal. One thing worthy of note is that, other than Fang Wolf/Snarl, Armorhide is the only Galaxy Force/Cybertron model to have a storage slot for his key, on the side of his weapon.

For such a small model, Armorhide has a pretty impressive key-activated gimmick: a rack of eight (non-firing) missiles are concealed behind the grille. They appear where the engine should be, which would make them rather unlikely in a normal terrestrial truck. It's also one of those gimmicks that reminds me of MASK, where normal-looking vehicles could sprout weapons from all kinds of unlikely places.
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Robot Mode:
Armorhide is, proportionally, one of the stockiest robots in the Cybertron line. Many others make up their width with large shoulders or weapons permanently attached to their arms... This fella is virtually all chest - broad and deep - and, while his arms are in proportion with his upper half, his spindly waist and stubby legs seem far too small.

While he's nothing new in the colour department in robot mode, the distribution of colour does liven things up a little, with his shoulders and thighs being white. Due to its placement, not much of the silver paint is visible in robot mode and, with the only paint on his arms being the silver on his wheels he looks even plainer.

The big surprise for me was the head sculpt - it's a dead ringer for Huffer from the G1 cartoon series. Evidently Fun Publications also thoughts so, as they repainted Armorhide into an updated Huffer as an attendee extra for the 2007 BotCon boxed set. The head seems rather small given the size of the rest of him but, given that it folds down into the area where the key activated gimmick sits, I guess their options were limited. Had it been larger, it would have had to be flatter to compensate. The face is painted silver, with the eyes picked out in the same yellow as the truck's bumper lights.

While the tow hook arm looks reasonable enough in vehicle mode (albeit a tad out of place considering the type of truck Armorhide transforms into), it looks very much oversized as the robot's rifle, not least because it's longer than he is tall. There's enough mass at the back of the gun to prevent Armorhide bending his elbow fully, but that's not a massive problem.

The key activated gimmick works just as well in robot mode as it does in vehicle mode, but now that missile rack is right in his chest... so one has to wonder... where are the robot parts in this robot?
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This being quite a small model, transformation is necessarily quite simple, but also quite surprising... it's almost the opposite of the standard Optimus Prime-type truck transformation, with the roof of the cab becoming the legs and the rear end becoming the arms. Considering how effective it is, it's a shame it's still such an unusual configuration of parts, and a larger size class could do a lot more with the idea.

Since virtually all the joints are ball-joints, Armorhide is exceptionally poseable, and he's built in such a way that there's virtually no clash between parts to hinder his movement. The feet are static, though they're large enough that he stands well even on the edges.

It's strange for Hasbro to have released version of a mold that TakaraTomy did not... but that happened quite a bit with the Cybertron line - even two of the larger models were Hasbro-only releases. Armorhide is a cute little fella, great fun to transform. The only downside is that he's a little plain, and his gimmick may be fun, but it's extremely implausible.

2 comments:

  1. I love this guy. The icing on the cake would be a trailer that transforms into a jet he can fly and his name being Overload. Colours are about right too. Still a fave of mine from Cybertron

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    Replies
    1. Something like that really would be awesome, and it's a shame the likes of FansProject, TFC Toys, etc. weren't operating back then.

      Around the time he first came out, someone on the fan forums discovered he was more-or-less in scale with a Hot Wheels truck that came with a trailer containing a helicopter, which looked pretty cool hitched up to Armorhide. I managed to track down the set, but still haven't done anything with it...

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