Sunday, 17 August 2014

Micron Legend Scourge (TV Magazine Exclusive)

There are plenty of folks who like to own every available version of Optimus Prime, and both Hasbro and Takara Tomy are happy to keep up the supply. A friend of mine has had a similar 'thing' for Bumblebees since the first live-action movie, and Hasbro in particular are happy to release a multitude of that character, either refining and improving the model or just repainting the same thing until people realise they're buying literally the same model over and over again. By and large, I have no such compulsions... other than a mild case of Seeker OCD)... and I do like a good Nemesis Prime.

When I first spied this at Memorabilia, on The Space Bridge's stand, they were quick and keen to impress upon me that this was the infinitely superior Takara version, which featured none of the ugly beige plastic of the Hasbro version. Knowing nothing of the Hasbro version, but having an aversion to beige, I was instantly sold. Sure, it's yet another reuse of the Armada/Micron Legend Deluxe class 'Bendy' Optimus Prime, but it's one of a few well-regarded molds in a much maligned series and, let's face it, Nemesis Prime still has a long way to go before he becomes as ubiquitous within the TransFormers toyline as Optimus...


Vehicle Mode:
I don't think anyone has ever suggested that this alternate mode looks in any way realistic. Armada/Micron Legend vehicle modes, by and large, tended to be bulky and puffy. The proportions of this truck are all off: unfeasibly wide - the cab takes up only sbout half the vehicle's width, including the tyres - and with a massively oversized rear section to rival the newer Masterpiece Optimus Prime. On the upside, at least this version doesn't have giant robot fists protruding from the back. The tyres, meanwhile, are almost as deep as they are wide, giving the impression that this is intended to be some sort of bizarre monster truck. It looks almost as if the base vehicle is only as wide as the windscreen, but huge great extra chunks and panels have been built onto the sides just to make it look intimidating... Great for Nemesis Prime, but this was originally Optimus...

Another advantage this model has over the Hasbro version is that the bulk of the plastic is actually black (or very dark grey, at least) rather than deep, desaturated blue. It's far more fitting to the idea of a Nemesis Prime (although the way they handled it in TFPrime - same colourscheme as Optimus, only darker - was also pretty good). On the downside, it does make him pretty monotonous. His windows and headlights are red, he has a small amount of metallic teal trim, a dark gunmetal on the rooflights, the outermost parts of the bumper and on the plate just behind the cab, and the hubcaps are silver... but then, apart from the front grille and the exhaust pipes, almost the entire model is black.

Interestingly, this model has a trailer hitch right at the back which allows it to tow the trailer from the larger version of Prime, even though it looks too small and cannot interact with the trailer in any other way. Just to the side of the hitch is a socket for his Mini-Con/TargetMaster, Sweep. While it seems like an odd place to mount a gun, it does kind of work and it does have full freedom to rotate, hindered only by the trailer hitch, and to tilt (very slightly) upward. It's also a little odd that this is a means of connecting the Mini-Con to the main robot without using a Mini-Con port. Then again, this mold only has two Mini-Con ports, if which only one actually does anything... and that only functions in robot mode.

For me, the biggest problem with this vehicle mode is that there's apparently no way to get into the cab - the wheel arches and the protrusions upon which the smokestacks are mounted effectively block all means of access unless the driver was supposed to just climb in the window. Granted, the larger version of the mold isn't much better, but it does at least appear to have door seams - this one doesn't.
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Robot Mode:
The odd thing about Scourge/Nemesis Prime is that, by and large, he just looks like a Goth'd-up Optimus. All that tends to happen is that both the red and the blue are replaced with black, the silver/grey gets a shade darker, and the yellow highlights become metallic teal. As colourschemes go, it's not substantially different from Nucleon Quest Super Convoy. That said, there have been more Scourge/Nemesis Primes than there have been black versions of Optimus, so I guess it's generally safe to assume that a black version of an Optimus mold is going to be a bad guy. Interestingly, Hasbro's version of this character had more paintwork in robot mode... but I guess it had to have something to offset against that terrible beige plastic...

If this mold looks somewhat out of proportion in vehicle mode, the robot mode emphasizes it even more - those shoulders are broad... his width from tyre to tyre at the shoulder is about three quarters of the robot's height! It always seemed strange for Optimus Prime to have the build of a real bruiser, but on Nemesis Prime it works perfectly... and photographing him from a lower angle actually compensates somewhat for the weird proportions. The arms seem quite boxy and stubby, but that also serves to make them look powerful.

Since I don't own the Deluxe class Armada Optimus Prime (I remember seeing him in a small toyshop in, I think, Florida, but didn't feel like buying it), I don't know whether this has been remolded, but the plate behind his grille in robot mode is bereft of a Matrix. The larger version has a molded, non-removeable Matrix, so I'd always assumed the smaller version had it too... Even if it does, it makes more sense for Nemesis Prime to be without.

I have to admit I'm not a fan of this head sculpt - it seems too angular and helmet-like for Optimus Prime... which may seem like an odd thing to say considering the way the original looked... But this one, and the Energon/Superlink version that followed, really emphasised the 'helmet' aesthetic, the latter actually having a flip-over helmet for its supermode.

The gimmick from the original usage of this mold remains - plug a Mini-Con into the port on his back and push it down for a weird punching/shooting shoulder-jiggle. It actually makes more sense as recoil from his wrist blasters... as punching, he doesn't quite move far enough, yet it comes across like a super-rapid 'Fist of the North Star' style battering.
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Transformation is insultingly simple - the stuff of G1 Mini Autobots, in many ways - which is probably not a surprise considering the rest of the Armada/Micron Legend toyline. I do quite like the way the truck's grille concertinas back down to form the robot's chest, but there's next to nothing to the rest of it...

Articulation, meanwhile, is excellent. This mold isn't affectionately known as 'Bendy Prime' for nothing. While it's quite boxy, it has a far greater range of movement than the larger version, with shoulders than can swing out as well as rotate forward and back. The elbows are ball-jointed, too, making the arms very dynamic. While the hips are enclosed by plates either side and to the rear, the plates are hinged on this version to allow far more movement than the larger model's dual purpose lower limbs. Even the feet are jointed allowing them to be square to the ground in all but the most widely-splayed poses.

Micron Sweep:
The name 'Sweep' seemed odd, until I realised it's a reference to the animated TF movie, in which a very different Scourge had an 'armada' of clones who were collectively known as 'The Sweeps' (yeah, OK, Cyclonus had the armada, Scourge had his huntsmen). This model is a very minor repaint of Over-Run, a Mini-Con with an unfeasibly large gun-bust. It's certainly not one of the greatest Mini-Cons ever, but the fact that it's both a triple-changer and (technically) a Target Master makes it just about cool enough to get away with its strange proportions.
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If I remember correctly, I payed about £70 for this... which seems about right for an exclusive import bought via The Spacebridge at the time, even if it now feels a little over-the-odds for an OK toy that I was compelled to buy simply because it's a Nemesis Prime. The US version can be picked up for about £20-25 on eBay, but the colourscheme is terrible. This version now seems very hard to find.

I don't exactly regret buying this... and it's not even that I think I should have bought the Deluxe Optimus Prime and been done with it... but I don't exactly own a great deal of Armada toys, and this is the only Micron Legend toy I picked up aside from a few special-edition sets of Mini-Cons (I own about a billion variations on the Star Sabre, for example), so it's a niche figure in a comparatively small niche in my collection. It's a cool addition to my overall collection, but hard to recommend unless, like me, you have a bit of a Nemesis Prime fixation, or a special fondness for this mold.

2 comments:

  1. This mold in general catches a lot of flak it seems, but I love it in any color scheme. You are right about the Takara version of this character as it blows Hasbro's version out of the water.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Colbey, thanks for the comment!

      The mold is pretty cool on the strength of its robot mode, so I guess it's well worth picking up one version or another (for example, I seem to have neglected to mention that I have the Universe Ultra Magnus version, for which I suffer the existence in my collection of the godawful repaint that is Universe Treadshot)... but it's a bit of a clumsy, blocky mold - typical of Armada - so it's hard to recommend a premium repaint.

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