Friday, 28 June 2013

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2013 (Timelines) Scourge

As with their first, stumbling steps into being the official TransFormers Collectors' Club, Fun Publications' new 'Subscription Service' hasn't got off to a good start. Announced around the middle of last year, the service was supposed to deliver one of six figures every month, starting January 2013. Pretty much every update from the Club thereafter was about delays, with the starting month getting gradually pushed back due to the almost inevitable 'circumstances beyond their control' (not least the likelihood that Hasbro is gearing up for the fourth live action movie toys)... All this, despite the fact that a similar service for FunPub's GI Joe Collectors' Club has been in operation for years...

And so, six months later than initially advertised, the Subscription Service figures are starting to appear... and we kick off with yet another Nemesis Prime/Scourge...

FunPub were always up front about the fact that the Subscription Service figures would be in plain packaging, so it's no surprise to find that Scourge arrived in a standard brown postal box. The foam insert was a surprise, and a pleasant one at that, since all the Membership Incentive figures have been inside plastic bags, but otherwise loose within their boxes.

The round sticker puzzles me - initially, I took it to be "I [heart] Scourge" but without the heart because the second colour wasn't printed. Upon closer inspection, however, the 'I' is actually a '1', so it seems it just indicates that a single Scourge figure is contained in the box. Shame, as a stylised "I [heart] Scourge" would have been a hilarious addition to the package.

Underneath the foam insert, Scourge has the standard full-colour bio card and the usual kind of Timelines instruction sheet, bagged together.

Vehicle Mode:
Hasbro's 2012 remix of the mid-90s Generation 2 'Laser Optimus Prime/Battle Convoy' figure (also recoloured into RiD Scourge) never seemed to surface in the UK, but that didn't bother me as it didn't seem especially interesting. This is a slightly curvier truck than the G2 model, but also far smaller - this is a small-ish Deluxe, versus the original which might almost be classed as a Voyager these days, even sold without its trailer. Naturally there's no trailer here, unless you go after Maketoys' version, though there is a trailer hitch.

The paint job is very firmly based on RiD Scourge, albeit completely focussed on the front of the vehicle and with rather more silver (front grille and windscreen frame). There's a touch of metallic teal on the rear wheel guard, but none of the tanks are painted, leaving this iteration of Scourge looking decidedly plain from the sides, even with painted hubcaps and smokestacks. This version of the character has inverted G2 Autobot logos on his doors, rather than the standard Decepticon logos that RiD Scourge had.

Whether this is mold degradation or a problem that's always existed with this mold, the front of the truck doesn't line up very well - the two halves of the nose aren't quite at the same level, they don't hold together very well, and the nose doesn't want to align very snugly with the cab.

Robot Mode:
Where RiD Scourge was very boxy and angular, this version looks more like a robot action figure with truck parts tacked on. The clever use of the truck's windows as the robot's chest is a huge improvement on the fake sticker windows of the original, and the truck's nose, split across his shoulders, somehow doesn't look as ridiculously oversized as those of the G2 model.

The colourscheme and paint applications broadly follow the RiD version, with a few extra touches of metallic teal to counteract the lack of colour on his tiny hands. I am more than a little puzzled as to why the light-piped lines on his shoulder launchers have been painted over with grey, since it reduces the impact of those launchers, making them look more dull than they could have... I may attempt to remedy this in future.

A couple of cool features of this model revolve around his weapon. For starters, the weapon itself - stowing between the robot's legs in vehicle mode, just like the G2 original - transforms into his trailer hitch, with the hilt and guard being separate pieces that swing into place. This makes for a much better looking sword, since it's more than just a sword-shaped block of transparent red plastic. Another feature is that his wheel guards snap together on his back to create a place to stow the sword in robot mode. It's a bit loose, but cool nonetheless. Finally, with such well-articulated wrists, it's actually possible for Scourge to wield his sword two-handed.

The head sculpt - held over from Reveal the Shield (G2) Optimus Prime - seems to suit an evil character, since it's so angular and spiky. As well as light piping for his eyes, which is very effective, there are a couple of transparent red stripes on the top of his helmet and on his biceps.

Somewhat obscured by the transparent red, the opaque red 'window' panels from truck mode fold into the chest and show a matrix-like design.

Despite being smaller than the model upon which it is based, this version of Optimus/Nemesis Prime/Scourge offers a more complex and very innovative transformation. I'm particularly impressed by the way the wheels collapse into the legs (though they're prone to sticking on mine), and the head reveal is a huge improvement on G2 toy mechanics. The flaps on his arms are a bit of a pest, and detract from the look of the robot, though not as much as those massive shoulders always do.

The true delight of this version of the character is in the articulation. Technically, the G2 version isn't bad, but it was rather limited by the way joints tended to be handled on larger models. This one improves on the original with better shoulders, fully articulated wrists, upper thigh swivel (though one side is stuck on mine) and ball-jointed ankles that are (coincidentally, for transformation) mounted on a hinged rod. This allows for far more fluid posing and far more dramatic wielding of his sword, which looks good even without LED lighting. The only area in which this model falls short of the original is in the waist articulation, which is hampered by truck parts at the back.

The thing with the inclusion of Scourge in the Subscription Service - at all, let alone as the first figure anyone receives - is that it's desperately unoriginal. Not only is Scourge/Nemesis Prime an inevitable repaint of virtually every Optimus Prime model ever to be made, but this particular mold had already been used by the Club twice for BotCon 2012 (Shattered Glass Ultra Magnus in the boxed set, Shattered Glass Optimus Prime as one of the attendee extras). The again, another SubServ figure is going to be a Classics remix of G1 Breakdown, a repaint of BotCon 2010's G2 Redux Breakdown, itself a reuse of the same mold used for the Club's 2010 Exclusive Punch/Counterpunch, albeit with another new head.

To be honest, the only reason I signed up for the Subscription Service was that it was a known (financial) quantity - had I ordered only the couple figures I really wanted from a third party, the cost to me would likely have been hugely more expensive than going for all six straight from the Club. This comes from a decent enough model, but all this recycling - not just of the models, but of the characters as well - gives the impression of laziness and lack of imagination.

That said, I do quite like black repaints generally, and this isn't the first time that I've owned a Nemesis version of a mold without the Optimus version.

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