Sunday, 28 February 2010

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2009 (Timelines) Razorclaw

Some of the extras offered at BotCon 2009 seemed a little... out of keeping with the Wings of Honour theme. Indeed, one pair - Razorclaw and Elita-1 - was essentially a rounding-off of missing figures from previous years: 2006's Dawn of Futures Past and 2008's Games of Deception respectively.

Dawn of Futures Past told of the events immediately prior to the beginning of the Beast Wars TV series, with a terrorist calling himself Megatron, and his crew, running off with an artifact known as 'The Golden Disk' (possibly the same gold LP that was sent out into space with Voyager), and Optimus Prime sent in pursuit with his ragtag crew. Bizarrely Fun Publications later released a 2-part movie on the internet, called Theft of the Golden Disk, which explained the events leading up to DoFP. Talk about doing things backwards. The comic featured all the characters who were part of the boxed set that year, and the Attendee Only extras, such as Megatron (based on the Galaxy Force First Gunner mold). At the very end of the comic, the story shifted back to 'the present day', and the final frame showed Razorclaw, leader of G1 gestalt group the Predacons, looking pretty darned fearsome, and based quite obviously on the Galaxy Force Ligerjack mold.

It was quite an obvious fit - both had lion heads on their chests, after all - and the popularity of the Predacons led to a reissue of the entire G1 team in a Predaking boxed set from Takara Tomy. Strangely, though Fun Publications did not release this form of Razorclaw as a Club Exclusive and, if I remember correctly, stated at the time that they had no intention of doing so.

Cut to 2009... we've already seen Hasbro repaint and remold the Ligerjack mold into Leo Prime (one version of which was coloured to reference Beast Wars Lio Convoy), and the Legends version of the mold had been repainted as Razorclaw... Was there room for another full-size repaint of this much-maligned mold?

Beast Mode:
The name Ligerjack was supposed to suggest a sort of fusing of the Wolverine-influenced Jackshot and a Liger (a crossbreed of a Lion and a Tiger which does actually exist). It certainly seems to have the bulk of a Liger, but the mane is rather too pronounced, even if it is immaculately groomed (and plaited in a couple of places!).

When the original came out, I avoided it in favour of the more subdued colourscheme of Dark Ligerjack so, while I found Razorclaw's appearance in DoFP quite exciting, I wasn't sure the colourscheme would work too well on the toy. And that was a darker colourscheme than the finished product has.

Let's face it, it's bright. Far too bright and garish for Razorclaw... if fact, it's so bright, it looks like a knockoff. Add to that, the plastic quality is somewhat below most official/Club TransFormers, and degradation in the mold doesn't help.

Even so, with a better, more subdued colourscheme - somewhere between this yellow and Ligerjack's original tan-orange - Razorclaw would have looked awesome. As it stands, it's just OK.

This mold was never the most poseable beast but, with a little effort, you can put him in a halfway decent 'stalking' pose. Also, as with all other versions of this mold, while the key-activated gimmick - spring-loaded claws - can be used in this mode, it doesn't look very convincing.

Robot Mode:
The superbright colourscheme really takes its toll in robot mode. Razorclaw should not look clownish.. but this thing does. Partly, I suppose, the awkward proportions are to blame - the thick-set shoulders and the oversized hips, coupled with a fairly small head. Also, if it was a bit of a brick in cyber-Liger mode, this mold's poseability does not improve significantly after transformation.

The arms have a reasonable range of motion, I suppose, but the jointing lets it down. The shoulders rotate, but the joint that allows the arms to move outward is near the bottom of the 'bicep', and basically breaks away from the shoulder to turn out. The elbow folds strangely, and the hands - being the beast mode's front paws - have a hard time looking good.

The legs look stubby and, yes, there's that gaping chasm at the knee which, I'm sure, could have been avoided with a bit more thought. The arms hang down to the knee, exacerbating the disproportionate look of the body. The claw gimmick looks much better in this mode and, in many ways, it looks as though this mold could have been created for Razorclaw - it almost looks perfect.

Thankfully, the electronics have been removed from this version, so it is perhaps a little easier to balance him in something approaching an action pose. The head sculpt is entirely new - I had half expected him to be a straight repaint of Leo Prime but, apparently, Fun Publications started work on this remold before they were aware of Leo Prime. Nice one, Hasbro - for once, your poor communication with your officially licensed club worked in our favour!

Transformation is easy... In fact, calling it a transformation is almost an insult. You basically stand the thing on its hind legs, break open the waist, and twist it so the lion's head faces forward again, then pull the head up by its pony-tail.

Despite my complaints about the colourscheme (which really should have been more subdued) and the plastic quality, I really do like this mold as Razorclaw... it was a perfect fit in the comic, and manages to rise above the garish paintjob and the enormous limitations of the mold to present a cool character in a contemporary way. Let's also not forget that the original Razorclaw, like the rest of the G1 Predacons, was a brick - even this mold has better articulation than the original.

While the head is a decent enough representation of the character, it does seem rather bland and expressionless. It's an accurate recreation of his appearance at the end of Dawn of Futures Past... and yet it's lacking something. Perhaps a darker, grittier colourscheme would have fixed that too - maybe a metallic red rather than the flat red used throughout.

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