Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Universe Red Alert

Every so often, a TransFormers toy enters my collection as a gift. When it's a birthday present, chances are I bought it myself and then handed it over to a family member in exchange for a refund (sometimes that's easier for them than trying to pick out a present themselves). This one, however, was a gift from a friend and correspondent in the States, and came as quite a surprise when I opened the package.

Vehicle Mode:
What we have here is a repaint of the Legends Class version of Galaxy Force Exillion/Cybertron Hot Shot. At first glance, it seems like a strange choice for Red Alert, but then he was a Lamborghini Countach back in Generation 1, so perhaps it's not so strange. The block on the roof, representing the key slot in the full-size version, doubles quite convincingly as a lightbar of sorts.

Virtually the entire model is molded in white plastic (and it's proper white, rather than the off-white which is so often used), with only the wheels in black, then the front bumper and the 'wings' molded in red. There's quite an extensive paint job to supplement the lack of plastic colour, most of the front and sides of the car are painted red, with an Autobot insignia split over the two haves of the bonnet, and a tiny interpretation of Red Alert's old 'Fire Chief' shield on the doors. The windows are filled in with a metallic sky blue.

While there's no key-activation, the same wing gimmick is present, though the tips of the wings protrude from their coverings so they can be yanked out with a flick of a fingernail. They look proportionally larger than those of the full-size version, and it doesn't seem to be the most appropriate gimmick for a character like Red Alert.

One sad omission is the weapon. It should been possible to include something to plug into the roof-mounted 'lightbar' box, and most Legends Class figures these days come with weapons, but that sort of thing was too much of an extravagance back in 2008, I guess.
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Robot Mode:
All things considered, this isn't substantially different from the full-size version - it's only missing joints in the neck, elbows and knees, and the fold-out feet are replaced by completely flat surfaces. It's surprising that there isn't a tiny wedge of protruding foot, considering the shin angles back very slightly from the knee. Had that angle been steepened, a small 'toe' could have been added without causing clearance issues with the wheels.

Considering the lavish application of red and metallic blue paint on vehicle mode, it's strange how plain robot mode is. There's a splash of red over the face and visor, then the central detail on the chest and the whole crotch panel are painted black. Stranger still, the black on his chest is further overpainted with white to allow the Autobot insignia to stand out more effectively.

Aside from the aforementioned omissions, this is a fairly detailed scaling-down of the full-size version. The head sculpt in particular is very accurate. The forearms and upper legs are the only sore points - both are hollow. The former was just for the sake of cost-saving, the latter due to the simplified transformation mechanics.

The same non-key-activated gimmick is accessible in robot mode, with the wings blending in with his shoulders due to the colouring.

Again, without a separate weapon, Red Alert is reduced to using the three molded wrist blasters in robot mode.
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While missing a few steps, transformation is broadly identical to the full size Exillion/Hot Shot. Certain aspects are a bit of an improvement - it's far easier to get the arms into place in either mode, and the roof of the car becomes offset from the robot's back when twisted round, so there's no need for the canopy to open.

Naturally, articulation isn't as good as the full-size model - the legs have only the ball-jointed hips (albeit hindered slightly to the rear by the fixed canopy), and the shoulders are also ball-jointed on this version, rather than having an additional split in the front of the vehicle to allow for shoulder rotation. He may not win any awards for poseablility, but it's certainly more stable than I might have expected, given the small footprint.

On balance, the lack of a separate weapon is probably a good thing, since the weapon given to the full-size version wasn't especially impressive and seemed too large. On a figure this small, it would have been even more unwieldy.

I don't tend to buy Legends Class figures myself, since I like the complexity of the larger figures and dislike the sacrifices in detail and articulation on the smaller versions. That said, it was a very cool gift from a friend.

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