Thursday, 17 February 2011

Classics Cyclonus

One of the best things about the Classics line is when it takes a character from Generation 1 which had a really terrible toy back in the 80s, and creates something that is both an excellent homage and a vast improvement. Cyclonus is one such toy. The 1986/87 version of Cyclonus could, theoretically, have been more poseable than it was - it had articulated knees, hips, shoulders and elbows, more than most TransFormers back then - but the joints were designed for transformation, rather than for movement.

This update, using the very best of current toymaking nous, manages to look better than both the G1 toy and animation model, while retaining all the design cues that make it Cyclonus... and even manages to improve on the old TargetMaster gimmick quite significantly.

Vehicle Mode:
This plane basically looks like four bloody great rocket engines with wings and a cockpit. The central pair of engines wouldn't look out of place on something built for NASA, while the outer two, wing-mounted engines could just be extra afterburners... Whatever they are, it looks as though Cyclonus can generate positively obscene amounts of thrust.

The nose of the plane is far more like the animation model than the original toy, with it's long, retractable spike protruding from the end and guns molded about halfway between the tip and the cockpit. The colour scheme is more like the toy, however, with a dark purple being predominant, and two shades of grey used quite liberally.

The TargetMaster partner - named Nightstick, in accordance with G1, but more closely resembling Fracas in design, if not colourscheme - can be mounted as a turret, just behind the cockpit. While it undoubtedly looks like a powerful weapon in this form, it's almost certainly not an aerodynamic addition to the plane.
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Robot Mode:
Here's where Classics Cyclonus really starts to shine - not only is it an excellent homage to the G1 original, but it's seemingly based on the design used in the IDW comics - very much more angular and skeletal than the original.

The only real let-downs in this model are the poorly-matched plastic colours - most visible in the thighs, where the hip part is a very flat grey and the lower part is a warmer, yellowy grey. It's not quite so noticeable in person as it is in photographs, but it is still quite jarring. I'm not even sure why two different greys were used, considering every other iteration of this mold has used perfectly-matched colours.

That said, some of the paintwork is also a little suspect, particularly on the head, where the purple paint doesn't quite cover everything it's supposed to, and the face is completely unpainted, giving it a very dull appearance.

Still, as far as the colour scheme goes, I think I do prefer this to the animation-inspired, pastel-shade colourscheme of the Henkei version.

One nice feature in robot mode is that Nightstick can either be held as a gun, or plugged into a small socket in the wrist, if the hand is rotated back into the forearm. Quite a cute system, echoing the way TransFormers' weapons appeared to form out of their arms in the live action movies.
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TargetMaster Partner Nightstick:
One of the coolest things about what is - so far - the only Classics TargetMaster weapon is the extra detail and articulation they've put into him. He's basically a Mini-Con - shoulders and elbows move, hips move, and even the toe-pieces have some limited articulation so, while the G1 weapons were basically bricks, this guy can actually be posed. I wish they'd do more of these, just to see how complex they can get...
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I cannot adequately express how impressed I am by the transformation of Classics Cyclonus. The legs on the G1 original were quite well-done (albeit without any useful articulation in robot mode). These are just stunning. Rather than just folding back, the lower leg splits in half, then each half folds back up the thigh, and the two-part foot folds back to form flaps on the vehicle mode's two main rocket engines. The arm-to-wing transformation is equally impressive, and the way the nosecone folds down into the chest is a massive improvement on the G1 model's simplistic flipping-back.

All this, and Cyclonus is exceptionally poseable, easily one of the best Decepticons at the time, and far outstripping the otherwise excellent Seeker jet mold.

Aside from neatening up the colourscheme - and, frankly, adding a bit more paint - there's not a thing I would have liked to have seen different about this model. Cyclonus is one of my favourite Decepticons in the Classics Deluxe range.

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