Monday, 30 June 2014

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2014 Members Incentive (Timelines) Rampage

(Members Incentive Monday #10)
When it comes to the Collectors' Club's Members Incentive figures over the last few years, the only consistent element has been their inconsistency. When I first joined, they were in the second year of a 5-year 'plan' which ended up with a semi-custom Energon-style 5-part gestalt with an extremely dubious name. From then on, for a couple of years, there was little discernible reasoning behind them (meaning no connection to BotCon, at least) - there have been two G1-inspired figures and an RiD/Car Robots-inspired figure... But this year's figure seems to tie into last year's - sure, it's a repaint from a different toyline, but it's another Beast Wars character... and this time, it's taking pride of place as one of the main characters in the club comic...

Has the Club started kind of listening to some of my whinges?

Vehicle Mode:
Based upon the Deluxe class First Edition Megatron mold, the colour scheme has essentially become the opposite of the original usage: where Megatron was largely dull grey, Rampage is all flaming orange and red. The only colour they have in common is purple, and it's a different shade used in several different places. I guess they also have silver in common... possibly even in the same places - the central part of the 'nose', and on the jet intake grilles - but that's quite sparingly used compared to the purple and the airbrushed orange.

Having never seen this version of the Megatron mold in-hand, I'm not sure how it compares in terms of Visible Robot Head Syndrome, but Rampage is suffering from the worst case I've seen since the original movie Megatron. It almost looks like there's a little Kreon version of Rampage sitting in an open cockpit and looking completely silly. It could be turned around to face backwards, but it doesn't retract in any way.

Making matters worse, his weapon is mounted just behind his head... so if he actually opened fire, the first thing he'd destroy is his own head. Then again, being Rampage, it'd probably just regenerate anyway, so I guess he doesn't need to worry...

This feels like a strange alternate mode for Rampage, who turned up in Beast Wars as a giant mechanical (TransMetal) crab that could also transform into a tank (complete with rolling rubber treads - the first and, I believe, only time a TransFormer has had that sort of lavish treatment), considering this is a flying machine and Rampage has previously had ground- or water-based alternate modes... but I suppose this could be a submarine as easily as it could be a spacecraft...

Weird Sort-of Crabby Fan Mode:
Well, I figured I had to give it a go... not least because the instructions for Rampage don't actually deal with deploying his wings. Naturally, he's lacking legs, the 'claws' aren't especially convincing and the robot head becomes slightly more conspicuous... but how many fan modes are actually better than the intended transformation?

Robot Mode:
Here's where it actually starts to convince as Rampage, whose silhouette has always been rather bulky. Granted, the lower legs are a bit larger than those of his Beast Wars incarnation but, let's face it, that was a comparatively small, very organic-looking robot with a giant crab backpack.While the TF:Prime Megatron mold doesn't exactly look organic, it looks smooth and curvy enough to suit Rampage.

Another oddity of this incarnation of Rampage is that his colourscheme remains entirely consistent with his alternate mode, whereas the original's - with all its garish, multicolour chrome stuck on its back - only really adopted flaming colours like these in robot mode. He looks kind of like one of those 'Burning' remixes of a character that Takara occationally put out, and the airbrushed orange works exceptionally well against the red plastic.

What's really surprising about this mold - considering it's smaller than the mainline release of TF:Prime Megatron - is that it's so much tidier in many ways. In particular, the backpack is very well handled - far more compact than the 'Robots in Disguise' version, and without the bizarre and wholly unnecessary 'wings'. It's still not perfect - the lower parts stick out just enough to be noticeable from the front - but it's certainly better.

The weapon, too, is vastly improved by being simplified. It's a solid thing with no gimmicks, so it's a more appropriate size and doesn't seem hopelessly out of place mounted on Rampage's arm. It's a little disappointing that the cannon can only be mounted on his right arm, due to the left not having the small, square hole necessary to accommodate the the tab on the underside of the cannon, but does that really matter, on the whole? Probably not. The weapon does feature a flip-out hand grip, but I found it's held rather loosely in his hands, and it tends to sit at an angle that would not be conducive to the accurate shooting of things.

Lots of complaints have been made about the size of the head, and I've have to agree that it looks a little small compared to the rest of his body... but that also serves to emphasise how powerful Rampage is. Plus, Megatron's head is molded pretty small in both the FE and RiD models. What's really odd is that Rampage's head seems so small in robot mode, yet protrudes so far in vehicle mode... though, looking at FE versus RiD Megatron in vehicle mode, it seems to be an issue with the FE mold generally... On the upside, the sculpt is an excellent update to the Beast Wars model, looking substantially less cartoonish and substantially more homicidally angry and willing to literally bite your head off with his evil-looking vertical mandibles.

I'm not sure if I find transforming this version of the mold easier or harder than the mainline Megatron mold. Certainly there's no faffing about with the shoulder spikes as they're part of the arms in this version, and the whole thing feels tidier... but the end result is a 'fatter' alternate mode. It does a better job of hiding the hands and they end up with slightly better articulation (a miniscule amount of wrist rotation, limited by the protruding wrist armour), plus the legs aren't hollow - there's a black plate closing off the thicker part - so his alternate mode looks more solid. Flipping out his wing tips can be a bit troublesome (at least on one side, on mine), but otherwise it's pretty similar to the RiD mold.

It should come as no surprise that his articulation is about as good (and as bad) as his larger TF:Prime counterpart for the most part. I'd say the arms are better (no clashing with a separate shoulder piece, but some clashing with the backpack, double-jointed elbows due to transformation), the legs are about the same (exactly the same terrible feet) but the head has far better range - largely because of the lack of protrusions around the base of the head... Megatron's helmet wasn't the most sensible design.

If Hasbro had ever done a product mashup with TF:Prime Megatron and Opal Fruits (aka Starburst to the Americans and young whipper-snappers in the audience), I figure this is what he'd look like. As a Collectors' Club freebie, this ranks as one of the best in my books, and the fact that it's so strongly connected to this year's club fiction and one of this year's exclusives works very well in its favour. Of course, this comes at the expense of tying in this year's Subscription Service figures so, from that point of view, it's an odd choice...

...But then, odd choices do seem to be a Club speciality.

Just for a change, his bio isn't utterly terrible. It's not great, since all it does is retell the story of Rampage and the experiments performed upon him in an attempt - by the Autobots - to recreate the 'immortality' inflicted upon Starscream's spark, more or less as it was summarised in the Beast Wars TV series. Yet again, though, they've created a bio that's nothing but backstory, and there's nothing about his armaments or his ability to regenerate, as depicted in the Club's comic.

Overall, I'd say that if you're not sold on the TransFormers Collectors' Club, this Members Incentive figure won't have changed your mind unless you're a die-hard Rampage fan... and even then, it was essentially a one-off. It's a great figure in and of itself, and works exceptionally well in the context of the Club's reimagining of the Beast Wars characters. It's interesting to note that the Club have hinted that they may create more exclusives from this Timelines continuity (and I for one would be very keen on Botanica made from TF:Prime Beast Hunters Soundwave), yet they've already announced next year's Subscription Service figures. Unless they do some kind of 'Beast Wars: Rebooted' theme for next year's BotCon, more figures from this continuity will likely be few and far between... Which would be a bit of a shame.

No comments:

Post a Comment