Friday, 8 January 2016

TransFormers Legends (Takara Tomy 30th Anniversary) LG16 Slipstream

(Femme-Bot Friday #34)
Whenever a new mold is introduced, it's pretty much guaranteed to be reused in new colours at some point down the road. The 'Fan-Made Bot' Windblade had already been repainted as part of a San Diego Comic Con exclusive set not long after its initial release, but it fell to Takara Tomy to provide it with a new head and weapons to create a whole new character.

Except that Slipstream isn't a new character, having been sort-of introduced by TransFormers Animated as some kind of unexplained feminine aspect of Starscream and, while the Collectors' Club created a Slipstream for the TransFormers Prime subsection of their Timelines continuity, Takara Tomy apparently consider this to be TF Animated Slipstream appearing in their Legends continuity.

Weird enough for you?

Vehicle Mode:
So here we have the weird VTOL jet thing, decked out in Slipstream's traditional purple, teal and black. It actually looks pretty good, with the only problems coming from the fact that the directable VTOL fan wing sections are molded in a pastel purple colour, without any teal paint on the wing chunks surrounding the fan's frame. They do stand out quite badly, along with the odd block of purple extending into the wing to accommodate a hinge, and it highlights that all other versions of this mold have used the same colour plastic for the wings and the majority of the fuselage. The tailfin and afterburners are also molded in the pastel purple, which seems like an odd choice... I'm not convinced the colour is used anywhere critical, so this release could probably have done without it entirely, and had a more suitable plastic colour instead. The only plus point I can come up with for the pastel purple is that it reveals a whole lot of sculpted detail inside the afterburners that wasn't apparent on either of the Windblades.

Even so, this version still manages to look more coherent that Hasbro's mass-release of Windblade despite the pattern almost alternating between purple and teal parts across the jet. All of the plastic colours have a somewhat metallic or pearlised look to them, so she looks like a premium figure - moreso than the TFCC version, to be honest. Apart from the black on the nosecone and the exposed robot leg parts, the only other colour used is a faintly metallic red, which appears, seemingly at random, on a couple of patches just in front of the robot knees on the top of the jet. The teal parts of the wings are supplemented by some nice metallic purple striping, but nothing so extensive as on Windblade. Slipstream's VTOL fans and cockpit windows are translucent blue, which works well enough for the cockpit but seems strangely pale on the fans, not really providing a good contrast to the pastel purple they're mounted in. What I really liked about Takara Tomy's Windblade was the way they painted the jet mode to match Sarah Stone's artwork (or was Stone's art derived from the Takara Tomy model?), colouring some of the molded detail on the nose in a particular way. That concept could have carried over into Slipstream but hasn't, resulting in a slightly less interesting-looking jet, in spite of its unusual colourscheme.

Due to the remolded parts to change to the appearance of robot mode, Slipstream ends up with a small cockpit window on her jet mode's belly but, by now, I think we're all used to the underside of TransFormers jets being a bit of a jumble.

The big news with Slipstream is that she has been given a pair of Seeker-style guns rather than simply reusing Windblade's sword. These are painted silver and mount on her arms in both modes, just switching orientation to ensure they face forward. Their mounting in jet mode isn't great - to ensure they face forward, they simply slip onto the wrist-fins on Slipstream's arms, holding on by friction alone. It looks as though they're supposed to clip on properly, as the front on the guns have clips protruding from them, but this leaves them pointing slightly inward. Personally, I think they should have been created with a view to connecting them to the wings.


Robot Mode:
I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest that there's been one significant improvement to this mold since its use as Windlbade - the heel pieces seem marginally longer, giving her a slightly more solid stance without the need for an exaggerated, pelvic-thrustin' pose. Other than that, the most obvious changes are to the head (obviously) and to the sculpt of the chest, which now features a fake cockpit, in the style of the old G1 Seekers and, naturally, TF Animated Starscream/Slipstream. Considering her real cockpit is hanging off her back, this kind of thing always strikes me as oddly wasteful, but that's what happens when you reuse a mold intended for a completely different purpose.

The advantage to the Windblade mold is that the legs are of a similar style to TF Animated's 'flared out at the bottom' look, so it doesn't take much for her to look like a Generations interpretation of a TF Animated character. Her svelte arms, slim waist and large shoulder armour are also a reasonable fit to the character model of Slipstream so, overall, the look works very well. The metallic paint on Slipstream's chest is a great match to the plastic colour, though perhaps a touch more sparkly, and the new sculpt works perfectly as a Generations/TF Animated crossover Slipstream despite retaining Windblade's pronounced 'collar'. The robo-boobs seem to start rather low down on the chest, but I think they're about right... and at least they're not overly large. I wonder if they might have been better if they'd protruded a little further, though...

The curious pastel purple plastic is used for her neck, upper arms, hands and hip joints and, going by the animation model, the same colour should have been used for her thighs, face and waist, though the colouring of a cartoon is always ambiguous, and that colour could be intended to represent something metallic.

Slipstream's traditional Seeker-style arm-blasters clip on far more securely in this mode and seem to be about the right size, though they're lacking the black parts of the animation model. It does seem a little odd that Windblade's sword was omitted from this release, despite Slipstream not wielding anything similar in TF Animated, but the guns are a good substitute. The only problem is that her forearms are molded in the teal plastic and painted black, and the paint is already chipping away on mine through friction from fitting and removing the weapons. On the upside, the weapons cover up the worst of the problem, but I am concerned that the paint may start to wear away or flake off elsewhere.

The connection to TransFormers Animated is rather more obvious in robot mode thanks to the head sculpt, which is very rounded and simplistic to fit the appropriate aesthetic... Unfortunately, this means it clashes horribly with the rest of the model (although Takara Tomy's versions of TF Animated figures did get metallic paint, so it's a better fit to their stuff than it is the the US/UK releases). While the proportions of the head suit the model, they're not strictly accurate to the animation model (which had rather less forehead/crests and rather more chin, as was Derrick J. Wyatt's wont). Also - and all the more curious given Takara Tomy's take on Arcee and Windblade - Slipstream's trademark lipstick is missing from her slightly goofy molded smile. The Club version defaulted to black, but I might have expected Takara Tomy to go with purple, perhaps even the same metallic purple as is used elsewhere on the model. The oddest part, though, is that the entire head is molded in transparent, colourless plastic, then the front is painted glossy black and silver, with the eyes painted somewhat sloppily in opaque red. Seems strange enough to use transparent plastic then paint over the light piping, but to mold the entire head in transparent plastic, paint over the light piping but then only paint the front of the head is downright bizarre. The ugliest result of this is that the transparent plastic that's left unpainted gives Slipstream's opaque red eyes glowing white rims when the light catches the back of her head. Also - specific to mine, I'd imagine - there's a small paint scuff on the tip of her nose... Easy enough to fix, but so easily avoided had the head been molded in a different plastic.


Obviously, transformation is identical to Windblade, and I'm happy to report that Slipstream doesn't suffer from the same slight misassembly of the legs that my Legends Windblade had, so her legs close up nicely for robot mode.

Her range of movement is identical as well, and the arm-mounted weapons do not restrict her arm movement in any major way - they extend the elbow back a little way and catch on the shoulder armour when raised fully outward, but it's nothing critical. All of the joints are nice and tight - perhaps too tight on the wrists, as I've struggled to rotate her hands on occasion, most likely due to the paint on the forearms - and, with the marginally-extended heels, she's able to stand more stably in a variety of poses. I think the head may be slightly more restricted in its movement than Windblade's, and that ball joint feels tighter as well, but the neck's transformation joint can supplement the ball joint for a slight upward/downward tilt.

Slipstream looks pretty amazing overall - I do rather wish the Collectors' Club version had been given more of a metallic finish - and is only slightly let down by the head sculpt - which doesn't quite fit the aesthetic of the body - and the decision to mold it entirely in transparent plastic and then paint only the front (not to mention ignoring the lips, contrary to Takara Tomy's earlier Legends femme-bots!). A slightly more significant let-down is the chipping paint on her forearms, thanks to the ridiculous decision to attach her silver-painted weapons to her black-painted forearm fins by friction alone. I'm not really looking forward to seeing how well Legends Slipstream ages...

It seems odd that, all of a sudden, Takara Tomy decided to release an official adaptation of a character who appeared in a six year old TV series as a feminine clone of Starscream (originally without an official name, even) as part of their 30th Anniversary line, but if the Collectors' Club can release their own interpretation as part of their Subscription Service, why not? I mean, I'm hardly going to complain about a canonical femme-bot Seeker for my (comparatively sparse) Generations Decepticons shelf, am I?

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