Monday, 2 March 2015

AM16 Arms Micron (TFPrime) Jet Vehicon

When I did my write up of the Legion class Jet Vehicon, I noted that a UK release of the Deluxe class model was highly unlikely and that import prices were rather high. In the run-up to Christmas 2014, I found the Arms Micron figure listed on Amazon and added it to my wish list in the expectation that I'd buy it myself once my finances seemed a bit more stable.

What I didn't reckon on was my amazing parents deciding to pick him up for me. This was probably the biggest Christmas surprise I've had in a while, even though my girlfriend's folks got me Hunter Shockwave last year, because my family generally seem reluctant to feed my TransFormers habit unless it's something I've already bought myself, which they then refund me for so they can give it to me as a birthday or Christmas present.

But I digress... One of the interesting things about TF Prime is that it showed the Decepticons bolstering their numbers with faceless, nameless (other than Steve, obviously) Vehicons, some of whom were ground-based while others were 'aircraft', though all shared a common robot mode.

Vehicle Mode:
Part of me really isn't sure what to make of this... It's not a 'disguise' even to the extent of that of the ground-based Vehicons' alternate mode and, in many ways, it just looks like a car with wings instead of wheels. While they've done a fair job of tapering the nose, it's still far wider than that of the CGI version right at the front. It's probably a huge advantage to the toy that the Vehicons' alternate modes are rarely seen in the TV show, since it allows a lot of fudging of the designs.

Colourwise, this seems identical to the UK release of the ground-based Vehicon - a very dark aubergine colour, almost a 'warm black' - with a couple of metallic purple touches on each side. Since this isn't a car, it doesn't have headlights or tail lights, so there's not a great deal of colour needed. Of course, this being an Arms Micron figure, it came with a sticker sheet... and it was all kinds of funny when people started complaining about 'missing paint applications' and terrible stickers when, for years, the vocal contingent of the geewun fandom had been bemoaning the lack of stickers on every toyline since G1. All you get for vehicle mode is a pair of metallic grey stickers for the leading edge of each wing, similarly coloured pieces for the outside edges of the nose, and a dinky Decepticon insignia for the nose.

The jet form of a Vehicon has rather more weapon ports than the car form - two sockets on each side of the fuselage, two more on top of each wing, and then a peg on the underside of each wing - offering plenty of options for arming him in flight... Except that, this being an Arms Micron release, he only comes with one weapon, his partnered Micron, Igu. This is rather a shame, not least because the Jet Vehicons in the TV show were shown to be packing missiles for air-to-air and air-to-ground use.

For the most part, this model rests on the wing framework on the underside of the vehicle, though it does have a dinky molded 'landing foot' at the front. It probably doesn't need full landing gear, as such, as they tend to just transform when they want to land.

Robot Mode:
Were it not for the wings sticking out of his back and minor remolding on the shoulders, forearms and those angled pieces on the outsides of his lower legs, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was exactly the same as the ground-based Vehicon in robot mode - and, in fact, many parts are common or barely remolded. Then again, these things appeared to come off a production line in the TV series, so the Vehicon toys are essentially troop-builders. It's also no surprise that the Collectors' Club decided to use the two TF Prime Vehicon forms as their Timelines Wingspan and Pounce in the BotCon 2014 'Pirates vs. Knights' set. Probably the most significant difference to his silhouette is that the rear panel of the vehicle sits higher behind a Jet Vehicon's head than it did on the ground-based version. This may be because of the wings, but it stops moving before it reaches them, and there's a good two or three millimetres clearance...

There are differences in the colourscheme versus the UK car Vehicon - the purple plastic is a warmer, more vibrant shade, and the paint on his chest is metallic purple, close in shade to the plastic, rather than a dark, almost blue, flat, matte colour. Also, while the inside of the chest window is still painted silver, the Decepticon insignia is a sticker on the outside rather than a tampograph on the inside. Likewise, the metallic purple details on his waist and shins are stickers. They were a pain to put in place and really don't like to stay in place, but they do look pretty good.

The head sculpt is identical to that of the car Vehicon, is painted exactly the same - silver and matte black - and even features the same light piping. It's a bit odd that only the Worker-type Vehicon got its own unique head sculpt in the TV show... but I guess it makes sense as it's the only non-warrior kind. Still, it feels like a missed opportunity rather than cheapness on the part of the designers/manufacturers... which is probably a good thing, as it almost certainly was cheapness that informed the decision.

Igu can be wielded as handgun or attached to any of the ports on his arms, or even 'holstered' on the Jet Vehicon's wings. Naturally it's a rather larger weapon than the car Vehicon's pistol and can't attach to the forearm the same way anyway, but it works reasonably well. Again, it's a shame that he didn't come with other attachable weapons...

The Vehicon's transformation is functionally identical to that of the car version, just with the additional hassle of finding somewhere to put the wings until the rest of the transformation is done... and there's so little clearance, that's surprisingly tricky. Other than that, the only trouble I have occasionally is getting the arms to properly tab into the torso in vehicle mode, which means the rear panels then cannot properly tab into the shoulder sections. The head reveal on mine feels a little flimsy, but it seems just as solid as the other Vehicons I own.

His articulation is much the same, too - the wings have virtually no impact on the shoulders, even with the elongated shoulder spikes, and the larger protrusions from the calves are low enough that they don't get in the way of the knees.

Arms Micron Igu:
Probably the strangest thing about Igu is that he doesn't look a great deal like the Vehicons' guns - he looks more like Breakdown's shoulder cannon. I guess it does bear a passing resemblance to the Vehicon wrist blasters but, this large, it just doesn't fit.

In 'beast' mode, I guess Igu is a robotic iguana... but the monocular head sculpt almost looks bird-like, and it's only really the spines on the back that suggest a lizard of some kind. The gun barrel/tail is a bit on the heavy side, meaning he often ends up with his front legs in the air.

The stickers are a nice addition, in that they bring some welcome colour to an otherwise dull, grey miniature model kit, but the fact is, none of them like to stay put. The worst offender is the one that wraps around his triangular gun barrel... I mean, whose idea was that? The damned thing was peeling from the moment it was attached and, while it doesn't seem to be unsticking itself all the way around, one end is already looking a bit dog-eared. I'm pretty sure it would have been better to finish the sticker midway through the underside, because the end of a long, slim sticker would never be able to stay on the tiny corner slice.

Igu's transformation barely counts as anything other than shrugging and lying down, with the handle ending up under his chin. Still, considering this is a bonus Mini-Con that is supplied still on its sprues, it turns out nicely and is fun to put together.

Overall, this is a rather cool package... I just wish Takara Tomy hadn't picked such a strange time to start experimenting with stickers again. The missing paintwork and unreliable stickers really do mar an otherwise excellent set of adaptations to Hasbro's output for TF Prime, and it's a rare case when you can say that Takara Tomy's version of a figure is inferior to something Hasbro mass-released. Then again, Hasbro never did release the Jet Vehicon, leaving it to the Collectors' Club to repurpose them as a weird G1 Clone reference.

Obviously, with the premium on imported figures, I'm not about to start troop building with the Jet Vehicon (then again, I 'only' bought three of the car version)... but I'm very tempted to get one Ace Vehicon to go with this one.


  1. I love the Vehicons. Managed to pick up a good 3 or so of each, with one Ace Vehicon to lead them. They Totally give me an unrealistic "Dr Claw" vibe for both their modes. Those stickers ere a pain the butt too.
    It is possible to pop off the chest window and put the sticker inside it, but the risk of breaking the tabs on the window is very high!

    Final comment. I think the transformation on these guys is very clever. The way the bonnet and roof pretty much fold up into the legs is incredible, leaving a delightfully kibble-free robot mode!

    1. Hiya Tets,

      Personally, I think the Vehicons are probably the greatest success of the TF Prime line, and one of the rare occasions when the mass-produced version was significantly better than the First Edition. They could also be a contender for the most efficient and well-designed TransFormers toy in the history of the franchise (so far)... They certainly encourage repeat purchases, the only limiting factor being the amount of shelf space one is willing to devote to exactly the same toy.

      I'd read about the possibility of popping off the chest window but, as you say, there's a risk attached... and, considering current import prices in the UK, it's not a risk I feel like taking. If only it had been modified to allow easy removal of that window...