Sunday, 1 February 2015

Cybertron Quickmix

It's difficult to say whether or not Quickmix was originally intended to be a homage to the G1 TargetMaster. In Japan, he was known as Blendar and, while the colourscheme is accurate to the TV show (that is, more G1 TargetMaster Scoop than Quickmix) there was no sense that he was anything but an 'original' character, despite Galaxy Force's long list of G1 homages. He was Megalo Convoy's righthand man on Gigalonia but, other than that, I know next to nothing about him. If I remember correctly, this was one of my final Galaxy Force/Cybertron purchases, and something of an impulse buy...

Vehicle Mode:
While Megalo Convoy bore a passing resemblance to some real-world large-scale excavating equipment and Menasor/Moledive looked like a car wreck in a DIY shop, Quickmix manages to look more than vaguely like a real-world cement mixer. That is to say, he has a truck cab at the front and a large drum at the back. There's also, seemingly, a channel through which the drum is filled or emptied. The front of the vehicle features a curious grey protrusion with a red-tipped drum at the end, though it serves no discernible purpose, while a large, strangely arm-like appendage is tagged on the rear, and features some bluish-silver pipes and a Mini-Con port. There's a further Mini-Con port atop the cab, but neither have any features attached to them.

While the name comes from one of the Generation 1 mini-TargetMasters, the colourscheme comes from a different character, Scoop, most recently re-made for the continuing Classics/Generations line. The original Quickmix was a red and white cement mixer, whereas this one is predominantly orange, with yellow and dark grey popping up towards the rear of the vehicle and on the wheels. Vehicle mode isn't extensively painted, with only a few touches of red, yellow, pearlescent white and brassy colour for the exhaust pipes on either side of the cab. The largest painted areas are on the drum, which is molded in light grey plastic, then painted with a sort of creamy-white. Though it's not immediately obvious, all the hubcaps are painted a dark, blueish metallic colour.

As long as the cement chute/control deck is up, in its proper vehicle mode position - roughly parallel to the ground - the drum rotates on ratchet, though that joint is far stiffer than several of the joints in its mounting (which is already sitting at a weird angle), so attempting to rotate the drum is more likely to just shift it out of position. However, clip the chute into the key slot, flip the bin up, flip up the control panel and Quickmix's Mini-Con partner Stripmine can plug his arms into the controls and turn the drum into a very mobile turret... as long as the key is plugged in first, since locking the chute into place cuts off access to the key slot. Not great design, there.
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Robot Mode:
I have to say that, when I first saw this model in robot mode, my first thought was that it must have been based on Blaster - something about the distribution of colours (albeit orange rather than red and a darker shade of grey) reminded me of the old G1 Autobot Communications guy, and what appears to be a microphone and aerial on the helmet sealed that impression.

Granted, Blaster didn't have the barrel of a cement mixer on one arm, but I never said they were twins.

Colourwise, again, this is more like G1 Scoop than G1 Quickmix and, weirdly, the plate on his chest and the way it's decorated reminds me of Robots In Disguise's super Optimus Prime. The grey parts of his torso that are still visible now make it look like he's wearing some kind of mankini... or perhaps that's just my weird mind at work. Perhaps it's supposed to look like dungarees and big orange boots...?

The next thing that struck me was how flat Quickmix is - not in the sense of 'lacking detail', there isn't a single surface that has been left plain - though certainly some of the detail - notably the 'inner' tech detailing on his lower legs - could have used a coat of paint to bring it out a bit. The problem with this figure is that, aside from the flip-down chest plate, his entire torso and everything down to his knees is of essentially uniform depth. Every other figure in the line had some variation, be it through having a car bonnet for a chest or just more significant differences between chest, waist, groin, arms and legs... Quickmix's torso is the same depth as his arms and legs (vehicle cab parts aside) so, from the side, Quickmix is just a box.

Making matters worse, the few protrusions he does have - the 'wheel wings' on his back, the sections of vehicle cab on his knees - just seem like lazy design. Then you get to his arms... Now, I have no objections to asymmetry, but Quickmix's right arm just doesn't make sense. The entire drum of the cement mixer completes the arm from the elbow on down, but the end that would dispense cement is on his elbow... If his arm is supposed to perform the same function in robot mode that it does in vehicle mode, I can't help but think it's awkward to use... And if it's just a weapon in robot mode... why is it stuck inside the drum?

Because that's exactly what Quickmix's key-activated feature is: plug it in, and the drum splits to reveal a spring-loaded missile launcher. As a spring-loaded feature, it works very well... but, really, a missile launcher inside a cement-mixing drum? Quickmix can also wield Stripmine as a sort of TargetMaster weapon, either mounted on his arm or just using the flip down Mini-Con port on one of Stripmine's arms as the handle.

The head sculpt is the saving grace of this model - it's kind of like a heavy upgrade to the G1 character's head, with a knight-like motif and some rather excellent light piping. It's just a shame it's colourless transparent plastic, as a touch of blue would have been awesome.
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Mini-Con Partner Stripmine:
Weird-looking Mini-Cons have been common throughout the Unicron Trilogy, with many that were only loosely identifiable. Stripmine definitely falls into that category. His alternate mode has tank treads and a rotating turret with what certainly looks like a weapon of some kind at one end. Perhaps it's a mining laser? At the other end, he has a Mini-Con connection... so not only can he connect to his partner, Quickmix, but he can also connect to another Mini-Con.

And just so things are as weird as possible the two ends of his turret become his arms in robot mode... so he has a weapon on his left arm and the Mini-Con connector is his right hand (or vice versa)... Slightly creepy...

As Mini-Cons go, he's reasonably well decorated. Along with the two plastic colours, he has silver paint on his chest, a slightly bluish gunmetal and colourless clear plastic on the gun arm and his eyes are painted red. Both arms are on pinned hinges and his hips and knees are independently mobile but, again, only pinned.

As mentioned above, Stripmine can also function as TargetMaster. His alternate mode is vaguely similar in appearance to a weapon that appeared in an episode of the G1 cartoon, though that could just be coincidence. In terms of his colourscheme and, to a lesser extent, his head sculpt, he somewhat resembles G1 Quickmix's TargetMaster partner Boomer
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For the most part, Quickmix's transformation is simple enough that he could have easily been a smaller size class. The very slight extension of the body within the torso is cleverly done, but doesn't seem entirely necessary, and it leaves his hips at a strange angle. The top part of the body can't even be said to transform, really, as it's just a case of folding the arms around the top of the chest. The head only turns to face down and gets covered up by the orange chest plate. It might almost have made more sense to have the body extension work the opposite way round, which could have meant that pulling out the front of the vehicle retracted the head into the body... but then the left arm and chest plate would still be hanging off the back of the vehicle...

Aside from the weird jointing and movement-limiting junk hanging off his right elbow, my only real complaint about Quickmix's articulation is the left arm, for which the elbow is on a ratcheting joint that bends inward towards the body. He has a bicep swivel, which enables something like the right kind of elbow movement, but then there's no wrist articulation to make it look right, and the inside of his forearm is an unfinished-looking mesh of plastic. The legs, despite the wonky hips, are surprisingly good and, coupled with large, flat feet with both ankle swivel and some tilt, enables some very stable posing. Naturally, due to the body extension gimmick, he has no waist articulation, but the range of his hips and knees goes some way to compensating for this.

Quite honestly, Quickmix is one of those purchases that I rather regret. He's not terrible by a long shot, but none of the Giant Planet/Gigalonia molds were anything special... In fact, they were probably the biggest let-down of the whole Galaxy Force/Cybertron series. What is rather odd is that Takara Tomy released them in Japan in the US packaging and without any significant upgrading of the paintwork long after the TV series ended over there - almost as if they simply sold existing, packaged stock that Hasbro declined to deal with. Nevertheless, Quickmix has a weird kind of charm and is fun to lark about with once in a while. Not one to seek out, perhaps, and certainly not worth a premium price, but worth picking up on the cheap if you have a Galaxy Force/Cybertron space to fill and have a fondness for all things asymmetrical.

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