Monday, 30 August 2010

Galaxy Force Noisemaze

Of all the bizarre names that have cropped up in TransFormers, both the Western and Japanese releases, I'd personally say the most bizarre was Noisemaze (or Noise Maze). Most names make a crazy kind of sense, even if they're sometimes seemingly applied just so Hasbro can keep hold of a trademark rather than because they suit the particular model/character. This one is just bonkers.

But then, so was the character... And so is the model.

Vehicle Mode:
Given a rather more sober paint job, this craft wouldn't look out of place on Star Trek, and its curiously bat-like appearance means it also wouldn't look out of place piloted by Batman. This mold has been repainted as Ratbat (and looks awesome) and with a remolded head to be Scourge and his Sweeps for BotCon 2009's Wings of Honour theme. Certainly adaptable, for such a strange mold.

It also has an incredible amount of molded detail - considering it's small size, it probably has proportionally more detail than any other Galaxy Force model. It's literally covered by mechanical detail and abstract swirls, with an almost stained-glass-window-effect panel on the roof of the 'cockpit'. While it may be molded predominantly in black, it has very liberal paint applications in dull gold, silver, orange, green and even chrome panels on the wings. A surprisingly large proportion of this model is painted.

Unusually, for a model of this size, it has a halfway decent undercarriage for its vehicle mode - three small plastic wheels that roll quite nicely, although there are some clearance issues with robot parts on the underside.

Noisemaze's key activated gimmick is housed in his retractable crossbow/gun thing which, by default, displays an Autobot logo. When his - very clearly etched with a Decepticon logo - key is plugged in, four transparent orange blades/wings pop out. The key doesn't like to say in place particularly well in mine, but a secondary action caused by inserting the key is that the Autobot logo is replaced by a Decepticon logo. It's a nice looking weapon, but I can't help but think such a thing would adversely affect his aerodynamics being, as it is, on a short, flat stalk.

Robot Mode:
Noisemaze has easily one of the most striking Galaxy Force robot modes - somewhere between a bat and a samurai... And, to go right along with it, he has one of the most striking faces - or, more accurately, a lack of face. Where most Transformers have something recognisable as a face even if most of it is covered by some kind of mouth-plate, Noisemaze has an almost featureless light-piped area where his face should be. There are molded details on the helmet that could be eyes, and there are raised/angled areas on the light-piped piece that could be eyes... but the area itself is shaped almost like a gaping, smiling mouth (particularly having a piece shaped like a sharp-toothed bottom jaw on his chin), so his overall appearance is quite unsettling.

He's also a robot of two halves - the top half, aside from the head and all the ornate moldings - is fairly standard robotic. The bottom half is anything but - from the narrow, ball-jointed hips down, it looks like a skinny robot wearing armour, emphasised by the 'horns' protruding from the knees. The vehicle's wings flip round and act as guards for his lower legs, but can also detach and be held either like swords, or something like a Klingon Bat'leth.

All of the colour from vehicle mode is still present, with the addition of vastly more orange, in the form of very bright orange plastic for his forearms and for the whole hip arrangement. It might seem incongruous, but strangely works well, giving him a kind of firey appearance to complement his strange, glowing visage.

Transformation took me a while to get down properly, to the point where I didn't think I was putting undue stress on some of the joints trying to get the weapon into and out of position. I quite like the way the head hinges into place from its concealment in the cockpit, and the Energon Slugslinger trick of splitting the hips allows for slim robot and vehicle modes.

Articulation is excellent, hampered only by two things - first and foremost, the hip balljoints on mine are uncommonly loose, as are the rotation joints just below. Second, he has rather enormous feet. That said, with a heel part that's just as poseable as the front of the foot so, assuming the hips hold, he can adopt quite a range of dramatic poses.

Being such a quirky mold, it's no surprise that I like it so much... I've already picked up the Ratbat recolour, and am trying to find BotCon Scourge and/or the Sweeps... at a reasonable price...

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