Thursday, 17 May 2012

TransFormers (Movie) Signal Flare (Target Exclusive)

I shall preface this by mentioning that this is the one and only version of this mold that I have ever purchased, and that was under duress - found at a show, along with the two other Target Exclusive repaints of Energon/Superlink figures for the live action movie, I asked to buy the other two and was told they had to be purchased as a set, no doubt because no-one in their right mind would actually pay good money for this thing...

Vehicle Mode:
Admittedly, Signal Flare doesn't look too bad in this mode. The military green and brown are comparatively soft and muted in tone, the grey doesn't quite fit, but equally isn't too jarring. The camouflage paintwork on the green plastic is nice and asymmetrical, as it should be, and the brown paint has even been used to add a sort of mud/rust effect to the treads at the back... Shame they didn't give the treads and wheels themselves a coat of silver or black paint... anything to help them stand out a bit better.

So... as TransFormers halftracks go, and considering it's a Scout mold from 2004, it's not terrible. The cannon is rather oversized, I guess, but the only massive downers are the unpainted treads and... hang on, what's that..? The robot's arm is sticking out of the back... and it's not disguised in any way. At all.

This also feels rather floppy, as vehicles go. The flaps at the front don't always like to stay in place, and it just feels... wobbly.

One neat feature is that the cannon barrel rotates as you move it around, thanks to some clever internal gearing.

Robot Mode:
Yes... Well... You can see why buying this wasn't an entirely deliberate act. The old 'cannon arm' trick doesn't do this model any favours, the other arm is nicely mobile, but comparatively stubby, the knees are in a downright weird position on the legs, and he has enormous flaps hanging off his bum.

Adding insult to injury, Signal Flare has one of the blandest faces offered by the Energon/Superlink line (though, in these colours, it almost makes him look like a Constructicon), and the additional 'Energon Weapon' parts are molded in plain grey opaque plastic. All that, combined with the muted colour scheme, makes this version of Signal Flare look like a bad knock-off.

The most frustrating thing about Signal Flare (other than his mere existence in the extended movie line) is that the head has to retract into the body well past the point where if feels like it's moved as far as it can. You really have to yank on it to snap the 'spine' into place for vehicle mode, or the legs don't properly connect with it further down. I kept thinking "there must be some way to stow the arm so it's not sticking out so much!" but there really isn't... it's a very poorly-designed figure, all told.

It has a reasonably firm footprint but the blocky feet coupled with the diabolical articulation of the legs means he's never really going to pull off anything close to an action pose.

Had I not been required to buy this as part of a set (with movie repaints of Energon/Superlink Scouts Arcee and Hardtop), I would certainly not have ever even considered picking up Signal Flare. It was a terrible mold in 2004, and it's an even more terrible mold now, with absolutely no place in the live action movie toylines, no matter how many 'Sector 7' logos get plastered onto it.

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