Sunday, 24 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Scorponok

Now, I'm going to be a little bit controversial with this one... Or not, depending on how you view the movies versus the toylines. In the movie, Scorponok was never depicted as a transformer and, if he was, it seemed likely that he'd transform between an Earth vehicle and a robotic scorpion thing. Hasbro's toy, however, transformed into something approximating a bipedal robot... just not very well... So I'm basically going to ignore that as far as possible.

Robot Mode:
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Back in the days of Generation 1, Scorponok was a massive city-former and, aside from Fortress Maximus, one of the tallest toys available. Naturally, he had next to no articulation, but he was the leader of the Decepticon Head- and TargetMasters on Nebulos according to the comics and, if I remember correctly, the TV series too. He was huge, he was dangerous, and he was pretty darned cool.

And so we come to the live action movies, where he's essentially relegated to the role of Mini-Con or, at best, something akin to Soundwave's minions (although they didn't fare much better till Dark of the Moon). He's 'ejected' from Blackout's back, and goes a-burrowin' through the Middle Eastern sands, chasing after the survivors of his master's attack on the SOCCENT Forward Operations Base in Qatar.

At first glance, the toy is a pretty accurate rendition of the movie's CGI monster, except that none of it is very mobile. In the movie, Scorponok was incredibly agile, leaping and rolling on top of the sand just as easily as he burrowed through it. I wouldn't expect the toy to be as fully jointed as the movie model, but I would have hoped for better from the legs. They're ball jointed at the body, but in sockets that barely allow any movement, and only just permit the claws to touch the ground.

The reason for this is apparent when one looks at the underside, however, as there are wheels in the body. These activate what would be called the 'Mech Alive' gimmick in a RotF toy - as Scorponok rolls along a surface, the barrel in his back and both sets of claws rotate. Given the size of the model, it's a pretty cool gimmick, and really brings the toy to life.

But that's not the end of it... The tail incorporates a spring-loaded stinger. It's rigged so that it doesn't actually launch as a missle, just extends forward but, even with the tail at its tightest curl, the stinger barely reaches beyond Scorponok's head, so it's not exactly a useful weapon.

But even that's not the end of it... One rather cool feature is that the two sockets on his back can plug into two pegs on Voyager Blackout's underside, and a peg just in front of Scorponok's tail plugs into a corresponding socket at the back of the chopper. Pushing the button that activates Blackout's rotor blades then also activates Scorponok's claws. A movie figure that has a Powerlinx gimmick! Hasbro sure likes to keep wheelin' out those old tricks... but this one, this time, is very welcome... even if Deluxe Scorponok is hopelessly out of scale with Voyager Blackout, which already has an in-scale Scorponok mini-figure.

The colourscheme is good, with the metallic grey and copper plastics supplemented by silver, copper and red details, and plenty of tampographed text detailing that suggests that Scorponok is part of Blackout, rather that just contained within him. The only real disappointment is that the head isn't particularly accurate or mobile, and those armour plates either side of his eyes are fixed in place.
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Alternate Mode:
Why, Hasbro, why? Given Scorponok's role in the movie, I cannot fathom why they wanted to even attempt to give him a 'humanoid' robot mode and, given the result of their attempts, it's clear that they shouldn't have bothered.

OK, perhaps the fact that the movie - and the toyline, of course - is called 'TransFormers', compelled them to create a transforming Scorponok... but this is one occasion that a Deluxe sized model should have been made more detailed and non-transforming. The beauty of it is that it would still have been possible to incorporate the 'Powerlinx' gimmick with Blackout, but the model of Scorponok would not have been compromised by the need to create this stubby-legged monstrosity...

This is one of those TransFormers that's likely to spend most of its life in it's supposed alternate mode, because that is it's 'true form'. It's not as if transformation is even a proper transformation - the legs merely detach from the side and rotate back, then the head and the claws shift position to suit a robot standing on two legs rather than crawling on six.

While I might have preferred the six legs to be slightly longer and better articulated, I do recognise that this is a toy and that, for younger players, the gimmicks make for better play value.

I have found that plastic wear is a problem, particularly with the claws - they're held in place (and intended to articulate) via metal pins in very delicate plastic loops. One of these loops has already broken on mine, though thankfully it hasn't separated from the rest of the toy (yet). It does appear that Scorponok suffers from the brittle kind of metallic flake plastic, so be cautious when posing the claws.

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