Friday, 26 June 2015

Mastermind Creations Reformatted: Azalea * (Asterisk Mode)

(Femme-Bot Friday #24)
While I love the standard Azalea figure, I can't help thinking it went through an explosion in the pink factory and came out rather too thoroughly empinkened. It could have used a few more non-pink painted details in some places, considering the character it was based upon - Arcee in IDW's Spotlight story - features touches of orange/gold to break things up a little.

When Mastermind Creations decided to make a couple of even more exclusive versions of their short run model, one was a sort of Nemesis version, featuring darker pinks, purples and greys, and the other took its cue from one of the other colour options in the early concept artwork options by Alex Milne...

And, knowing what a sucker I am for limited editions, it's predictable enough that I'd go after one or the other (or both, eventually)...

Whereas the normal version of Azalea comes in a box printed with all kinds of computer display-ish details, the Asterisk version comes in a bright, almost fluorescent green box with a sleeve featuring digitally painted artwork of Azalea leaping away from a huge explosion, guns at the ready, like something out of a Michael Bay movie. The inner box has a simple silhouette on the front and metallic foil lettering on one side, with the inside of the flap showing a CGI version of the model, much like the front image on the standard version. There's also a short piece of storyline on the front, which seems to be referencing the Spotlight: Arcee story, but with 'subtly' altered names to avoid trademark infringement.

Inside the box, everything is pretty much the same - no unique equipment was supplied with Azalea Asterisk. Even the included comic/instruction leaflet features exactly the same story - not even any recolouring of Azalea to match the figure.

Vehicle Mode:
So basically, it's the same figure with the same alternate modes - the 'Steelian' hovercraft and weird jet/spacecraft mode - just in different colours. This version looks even more like something that might appear in an old-school shoot 'em up videogame due to its slightly wider range of colours.

While the back end is still horribly open, the colourscheme generally works better on this version of the model. One might expect the whites, blues and oranges to look terrible when put together, but the fit together quite well. The front of the vehicle now has a translucent orange piece, and the cockpit window is also translucent orange, which does look far better than the opaque, painted plastic of the standard version. Towards the back, this same translucent plastic is used for the tiny fins on her small directional jets and for the extendable wings.

Robot Mode:
Again, despite the wider range of colours, this manages to look quite sober, and proves that an Arcee (or Arcee analogues) need not be pink to be feminine and awesome. It's worth noting that the orange paint matches the orange plastic very well, and the dark blue accents on the knees add a nice bit of contrast to the figure.

The head sculpt is exactly the same as the standard version, but painted as per Arcee's appearance in the Spotlight comic - silver face, yellow eyes and, bizarrely, blue lipstick. Given Azalea Asterisk's expression on the sleeve art, it's a shame the face wasn't remolded slightly to match that and to make this exclusive that much more special.

She also comes with another plastic card with her tech specs on the back and a unique computer generated image on the front.

Since her accessories are all the same (bar the metallic blue paint used on the guns and sword handles), I figured I may as well just go to town on the photos (again), starting out a bit cheesecake, and then turning all Escher Girls for a while before getting a bit more sensible towards the end...

Compared to the standard version, I found this model a little loose around the waist. It's not floppy by a long shot, but it's certainly easier to move and harder to keep in place. All the other joints are excellent - she holds poses very well, however ridiculous they may be. Other than that, exactly the same flaws are present. Now I have two version of this mold, I feel that that main issue is how great an effect the backpack (the part that's permanently attached, that is) has on the figure considering its relatively small size. Also, the waist joint doesn't allow for much tilt, even forward, without first pulling the transformation extension joint.

As a very limited edition exclusive - sold only at one convention in the States and one in the Far East, though I'm not sure about the total quantity made, and the box sadly wasn't labelled to indicate - I paid quite a bit more than the original asking price for this on the secondary market... Possibly more than it's really worth, in many ways. Yet I'm still quite tempted by the Stealth Assassin variant, even though that's another limited edition (only 500 made, I have read) and therefore also rather expensive. The fact that it uses exactly the same head again, when the box art shows a much more feral face, makes it a slightly less attractive prospect, given the current price.

While I like that Mastermind Creations are making the most out of this mold - two new variations are on their way - I can't help but feel a certain disappointment that they're not varying more pieces - literally everything up to the chest is common, then the plug-in chest plate, shoulder armour and head are the only parts that change between the Azaleas and Zinnia. While the upcoming pair have unique heads and weapons, only one gets even a new chest plate. I hope that they change up a few more pieces here and there in any subsequent models... and possibly turn the G1 Predacon Rampage/MMC Reformatted Tigris-inspired colourschemed testshot into an official 'Predaqueen' figure... as long as it gets a new head, armour parts and unique accessories. With a new head, chest, fenders and weapons, this model could also make an excellent - non-shellforming - Cybertronian version of Galaxy Force Chromia.

I certainly recommend trying to acquire at least one version of this excellent model, though the limited editions are getting very expensive now, and the easiest one to find cheaply is now Zinnia.

I'm very excited to see what Mastermind Creations come up with next...

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