Monday, 22 July 2013

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2013 Members Incentive (Timelines) Depth Charge

(Members Incentive Monday #9)
I have developed a nasty habit with this blog of writing up repaints/remolds before the original iteration of any mold... I'd aimed to break that trend over the weekend with Terradive, but just couldn't seem to keep myself interested, knowing full well that he was just the preamble to this Beast Wars homage.

Little has been seen of Depth Charge so far in the 'Beast Wars: Shattered Glass' storyline currently running in the club magazine, but I was intrigued from the moment he was announced. Naturally, all the Beast Wars characters had pre-Beast Wars forms (as investigated by Botcon's 'Dawn of Futures Past' set and Club exclusive Airazor), but the story suggests this is set after Beast Wars, and possibly on a different planet... so what form could Depth Charge take after spending time as a large robotic ray?

Vehicle Mode:
The interesting thing is that the forward-swept wing design of this model is actually vaguely reminiscent of a ray... moreso if it weren't for that elongated nose all aeroplanes seem to have for some reason. It's even possible to increase the resemblance by folding out his trident weapon, clipped to the underside, to act as a tail.

Like the old-style Cyberjets, this mold has full undercarriage - a single wheel under the cockpit and one wheel each side in the extra bulk at the back. It's a neat arrangement, works very well (aside from the front wheel, which is slightly blocked by the trident weapon), and it's surely part of the reason that this basic design has stood the test of time.

The paint job seems a little garish at first glance. The blue plastic is rather less 'electric' than it would appear from my photos but, even so, cyan mixed with magenta and yellow? It's like they had a special deal on process colour pigments, and it's all rather eye-searing. The original Beast Wars Metals character used much the same colours, and in metallic paint, if not chrome. Somehow, the colours blended better there than they do here. There is a graduation in the magenta on the wings, but it ends rather abruptly and quite a bit too early. The yellow markings refer to similar details on the wings of the original but, where those followed the contours of molded detail, these are just blocks of yellow placed on the jet's wings. Might have made more sense if they'd kept inside the panel lines of the flaps. The silver parts around the cockpit lead into stripes running almost the full length of the plane, which blend quite neatly into the plain grey plastic of the fins. In a strange twist of events, the paint colours match the plastic colours remarkably well... Why is it Hasbro never seem to manage this?

One amusing thing about the paint job is that the molded gun ports are painted yellow, outlined in magenta and have the tips of the gun barrels picked out in black. On the early publicity shots, these looked like eyes and, while it certainly looks as if that's the idea, it's less blatant on the toy in-hand. Still, much like Terradive, this plane could only ever pass as a test vehicle or, much more likely given the lurid colourscheme, part of a display team.

The way the weapon stows is quite clever, but it neither looks like a weapon for a plane nor like a part of the plane itself, so it's not exactly disguised down there. The part it clips into is molded to allow for a very close fit, however, and it has surprisingly little impact on the silhouette of the plane. Even in that colourscheme, it doesn't stand out a great deal.


Robot Mode:
The first thing you'll notice about Depth Charge in robot mode is that he's neither as chunky nor so burdened with alternate mode parts on his back as the TransMetals original. Like all the Cyberjets, this is a very tidy model - possibly the tidiest yet - with very few 'waste' parts in either mode. Even so, this version of Depth Charge seems positively emaciated compared to the original.

The colourscheme holds over from jet mode, though far more silver appears, as it's on the underside of the front wings and the nosecone, all of which fold together to make the robot's chest. They've even done a reasonable job of approximating the look of the Beast Wars model, with yellow highlights suggesting the eyes and disc launcher on BW Depth Charge's chest, as well as yellow panels on the shins referring to the original's beast mode eyes. The arrangement of the coloured plastic is very close to the original though, obviously, there's no chrome on this one, and it really doesn't need it.

The head sculpt is unchanged from the original mass release of Terradive, but it suits the mold amazingly well. Again, he seems rather skeletal compared to the Beast Wars model, but the construction of the face is similar enough for it to work. The paintwork is rather different, with a gold mouthpiece rather than the original's green crescent mouth and yellow chin, but the feathering of the paintwork just above the gold part gives the 'upper lip' area a sort-of greenish look. The crests are odd - the panel lining of the head suggests that the frontmost panel of his forehead could have been painted the greenish colour of the three crests, thus matching the original even more closely. Instead, the main protrusions are highlighted and the frontmost panel is unpainted. Whereas the light-piping on the original featured colourless plastic, painted over in red, this version uses transparent magenta, like the cockpit, and is far more effective.

While the trident seemed out of place on Terradive, it's almost appropriate to this formerly aquatic Maximal. Although the original Depth Charge had a dual missile launcher cunningly shaped like a kind of shark, the trident looks cool enough that this version doesn't feel short-changed in his armaments. There's a slight construction error on mine which leaves the outer prongs a little loose - the connecting part wasn't properly fitted together before being pinned together. It holds in place reasonably well, and certainly doesn't slip from spear to trident without effort, but it does rattle somewhat, and the prongs don't splay to their fullest extent. Another thing about this weapon is that the first iteration was made with metallic flake plastic, and it didn't take long for the plastic of the hinge to break. This one is made of basic cyan plastic, so I'm hopeful that it'll hold together better.


When I first got this model out of the box, I had great trouble getting him back into jet mode after transforming him to robot mode. I don't remember this being the case with Terradive, but the nose cone sticks very stubbornly in place for robot mode. Other than that, his transformation is much the same as any Cyberjet-derived TransFormer, virtually identical to Energon Starscream/Superlink Nightscream.

As a Deluxe from the extended movie line, the Terradive mold has excellent articulation and, thanks to the many improvements on the already excellent Cyberjet mold, he's far more stable than just about any other of this kind. While Energon Starscream did have individually mobile 'heel' and 'toe' pieces, they tended to be quite floppy and not very useful for balancing on. In this mold, the 'toe' is screwed into the ankle, and the heel is pinned to the toe. Both are fairly stiff, and give great support to the model as a whole.

Most of the freebie figures from the club have been quite divisive. The 5-year gestalt was rather underwhelming, Dion was reasonable, but the character barely appeared in the Club's own fiction and the mold was rather flawed, Side Burn was the billionth repaint of an outdated mold, and Runamuck was accompanied by a premium release of the other Battlecharger (Runabout, aka Over-Run), making him almost bittersweet to those of us who couldn't afford his partner at the time. I've no doubt that plenty of people will be complaining that this is a terrible homage to a Beast Wars character/toy but, for me, it's a highly novel usage of a very impressive mold, which looks just enough like the character that inspired him (albeit after a serious diet). The Club, sadly, doesn't get it right very often... but when it does, it does a fantastic job. Depth Charge is one of their better efforts, though I'm inclined to like it purely because it's so darned quirky. It's almost tempting to order one of the carded versions they had on sale at BotCon this year... Though that's not something I can quite justify to myself at the moment.

And, just for fun, since I haven't done one of these in a while...

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