Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Galaxy Force Exillion

As much as Galaxy Force paid homage to Generation 1, it also threw in a few curveballs. At some point, Hasbro stopped using the name Hot Rod and switched to Hot Shot in the Unicron Trilogy, saddling that name with a couple of terrible toys of stereotypically hot-headed characters 'with great potential'. TakaraTomy, meanwhile, used Hot Rod in its Micron Legend range, switched to Hot Shot for Superlink... then changed tack completely for Galaxy Force and came up with the name Exillion for their Hot Rod analogue.

In just about every way, it looks like it should be Hot Rod - it positively oozes G1 Hot Rod references and, in fact, for a limited edition packaged with a DVD, they even gave him G1 Hot Rod's colour scheme... and imaginatively named him 'Exillion Red Version'. Then Hasbro, in their wisdom, released their own red version of the mold they called 'Hot Shot'... and called it Excellion. Confused yet?

So, how does this miscoloured homage stack up?

Vehicle Mode:
Well, come on, it is Hot Rod, isn't it? All those sleek lines and curves, the impression of a spoiler and an enormous engine, the canopy over the seats. If only G1 Hot Rod had looked this good. It is claimed on the TransFormers Wiki that Exillion transforms into 'a modified Chrysler ME412' but, if that's true (which I doubt) it's so heavily modified it looks almost nothing like the car it's based on... Not really a problem, though, considering Galaxy Force/Cybertron wasn't exactly about realism... I mean, look at Sonic Bomber's interpretation of the A-10 Tankbuster...

The car features some molded faux-interior detail, in the form of a couple of seats, a steering wheel and an unfeasibly high dashboard. It would be possible to see over it, but would probably mean the front of the car was obscured from the inside. Interestingly, the canopy does open... but parts of the interior are stuck to it, so that's not as effective a feature as it could be. Some brave souls have modified their models to correct this, and it looks pretty cool... but it's hardly an important feature.

Colour-wise, this is quite a curious model... On the one hand, the colour scheme is so far removed from Hot Rod/Hot Shot that it's easy to believe this is a completely new, wholly separate character, deserving of a different name. However, the odd splashes of red plastic coupled with the yellow paint atop the 'spoiler' almost make the blue look like a mistake. There are several cool touches to the colourscheme. First and foremost, the blue plastic has metallic flakes in it, giving the vehicle an almost pearlescent look. The metallic blue paint used on the doors and roof isn't a perfect match, but it's far better than some. Weirdly, one of my favourite aspects is the headlights, as they feature large red circles where another piece of plastic (from the robot mode's shoulders) breaks through the blue plastic of the car, and they look as if they're meant to be indicator lights. On the subject of indicator lights, it's a shame - given the extent of Exillion's paintwork - that rear indicators are not painted. The hubcaps are painted, however.

The key-activated gimmick is a let-down - a pair of transparent yellow wings pop out... and that's it. Other than providing further reference to G1 Hot Rod, I'm not sure what they're meant to do, and never watched the TV series to find out.

His weapon can be plugged into the large engine block/Cyber Key slot on his roof, but it doesn't quite suit the vehicle, with or without its 'wings'.

Just behind/below the key slot is a depression featuring two vertical red pieces... it almost looks as though something was meant to plug in there, but I've no idea what.
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Robot Mode:
And so the Hot Rod similarities continue - the way the car roof hangs off his back is nigh-identical and, while the 'spoiler' isn't quite so effective on its own, the key-activated 'wings' really ram home the homage. The head is also similar to G1 Hot Rod except in colour, and albeit with some of the trappings of Micron Legend/Armada Hot Rod/Hot Shot (specifically, what looks like a visor) and Superlink/Energon Hot Shot (that visor again!). The car's doors, occupying the outside of his forearms, even feature molded details which resemble the G1 character's arm-mounted exhaust pipe weapons. Molded detail on his legs and chest also seems to reference the original Hot Rod, though the chest is not painted to look like the vehicle mode's bonnet. He does have Hot Rod's v-neck collar, though.

The overall colourscheme of Exillion's robot mode is vastly more diverse than his vehicle mode, including more red, dark blue and silver, but it all seems to fit somehow.

The head sculpt is nice and clean, though I don't understand the purpose of using transparent plastic for the visor, since it doesn't drop down over his eyes, and looks as though it was never intended to... indeed, the central crest detail on his forehead continues from the opaque blue plastic into the transparent yellow visor though, even in the TV series, it wasn't coloured as if that was the idea.

The key activated gimmick does nothing new or exciting in this mode, so it's possibly the most disappointing in the entire toyline.

If the missile launcher looked awkward and ill-fitting in vehicle mode, it doesn't look any better on the robot - he has unusually long upper arms (coming right down to his hips) with incredibly short forearms (something of a recurring feature in Galaxy Force), meaning holding the weapon limits his poseability quite substantially.
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Exillion's transformation is not far different to G1 Hot Rod's - the arms, each attached to half the car's bonnet, are slightly different but, otherwise, it's basically identical. It's a very simple transformation, the only question you might have is whether or not to angle the car's canopy outward from his backside. It does rather get in the way if it hangs straight down... The most annoying part of his transformation is that the car's roof doesn't secure itself in place on the robot's back, meaning it has a tendency to slip from side to side, obstructing his oversized shoulders.

Articulation is broadly good, taking into account the aforementioned constraints imposed by actually holding the spring-loaded weapon. The arms otherwise have a decent range of motion, and the legs feature ball-jointed hips and hinged knees. The large, blocky feet don't help much with dynamic posing, and you more-or-less have to keep the feet in line to enable him to stand.

This certainly isn't my least favourite toy from the Galaxy Force line and, in many ways, I rather wish I'd waited for the UK release instead. It's a neat G1 homage (particularly in the more appropriate colour scheme of Cybertron Excellion), but the awkward construction does let it down.

4 comments:

  1. I really love the vehicle mode of this guy. Shame the robot's proportions are out of whack though. IIRC, the Force Chip/Cyber Key just provided him with a massive speed boost in the race against the 'Prime' of the Speed Planet.

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    1. Hey Tets! Thanks for the info - sounds like an instance of the series McGuffin driving a deus ex machina... Do you happen to remember if that speed boost was ever used again before he was reformatted into Exigeyser/Cybertron Defence Hot Shot? Or am I expecting too much from a toy advertisement masquerading as children's entertainment? ;)

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  2. Yo Gord. Um well, straining the old memory cells. I believe it got a couple of uses, delving into the dingy mists of my mind, I remember an episode where he drove off the guns of Optimus when I think he used them then as well.

    Oh oh oh! And after having a look at the Speed planet poster that came with some of the toys (which has been behind me the whole time...), he has them out to;
    "...takes the jump at Seti Alpha V; the most dangerous jump on the Speed Plant, dared only by the bravest or craziest racers."

    Let's just pretend that I just found the poster, as opposed to it having been up on the wall since 2005 OK? :D

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    1. He drove off Prime's guns? I may have to try to find this series, though something tells me it never made it to DVD in the UK. Good to know that some of the weirder key-activated gimmicks weren't one-time-only things in the show. Thanks for the info!

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