Friday, 4 December 2015

TransFormers Legends (Takara Tomy 30th Anniversary) LG15 Nightbird Shadow

(Femme-Bot Friday #33)
Since the G1 TV show was aired so patchily on terrible Saturday morning television in the UK, there are quite a number of episodes that I didn't get to see (until they started appearing online). Then again, given the quality of most of the original TV series, it was hardly a sad loss. One rather random episode featured the Autobots failing to protect a human-built Femme-bot ninja from the Decepticons, leading to all kinds of silly hijinks and the sort of cringeworthy dialogue for which the show was notorious.

That Femme-bot was Nightbird and, considering that she didn't actually transform or utter a single line of dialogue, it might seem strange for her to be honoured in Takara Tomy's 30th Anniversary Legends series, but there's always been some level of fan demand for a Nightbird figure... and now, finally, there's an official one.

Vehicle Mode:
It should probably come as no surprise that the Generations/Legends Arcee mold was selected to double as Nightbird as their builds are, loosely speaking, much the same. It also gives Nightbird a fairly classy vehicle mode that vaguely suits the idea of a robot ninja. Molded largely in black plastic, then painted extensively with silver, this almost looks like a Nemesis Arcee. The only colours other than black and silver are the touches of yellow for the rear and side indicators, the purple for her seats and the translucent yellow of her small windscreen. Towards the back of the vehicle, the silver paint seems to stop rather abruptly above the robot's thighs, level with the highest part of the raised section behind the seats. It doesn't look bad or wrong, as such, but the silver thigh continues on right next to it, which does make it seem like an oversight rather than a deliberate choice because the nearby black parts don't make for a continuous surface (not that it's that obvious in the last few photos below).

But this isn't a simple repaint of Arcee - the very front section of the car has been remolded to better resemble Nightbird from the TV series. One side effect of this is that it no longer matches up with the car's bonnet as well as the original Arcee part did and, with the addition of silver paint over the entire area, the seam becomes that much more obvious. That's something of a running theme with this model, wherever silver paint has been applied to black plastic... which is pretty much everywhere in vehicle mode.

All the weapons can be stowed around the car body - the two guns on the underside, one keeping her hands from flopping down to the ground, while the blades can be mounted in the four sockets toward the back of vehicle mode. If you wanted, it is (just about) possible to mount the sai at the front, using the two sockets beneath the headlights. That would, at least, make them vaguely useful in vehicle mode... though it does require the feet to hang down closer to ground level.

Robot Mode:
All of the new parts on Nightbird are front and centre, from the newly sculpted robo-chest and belly/groin flap to the entirely new and pretty G1 cartoon accurate head. Robot mode continues the pattern of giving most of the model a lovely coating of silver, with the upper arms, hip and knee joints left as unpainted grey plastic. She features the strange star pattern on her purple belly, and the black 'loincloth' piece from the animation model, but it's rather strange that the very bottom part of her groin has been left unpainted, where it was black (or dark grey) on the animation model.

Nightbird has all the same weapons as Arcee, but cast in translucent yellow plastic rather than blue. She also has the two sai which were permanently attached to her arms in the TV show, and never actually came in to play in her fights with the Autobots. It's nice that they were included, as they can be mounted on her forearms in a cartoon accurate fashion... but they are rather large and can inhibit the movement of her arms. I'm not surprised that the same sword mold was used here, but Arcee's swords look nothing like the light sabre (and, let's face it, they ripped off the sound effect from Star Wars, so that's basically what it is) wielded by Nightbird in the TV show. What she doesn't have are the saw blades that came out of her wrists, her grappling hook, the devices she used to silence Jazz's speakers, or the seemingly infinite supply of ninja stars that seemed to occupy her waist.

The hands use the same mold as the Legends version of Arcee, meaning none of the weapons will sit in her hands properly without some modification. This seems like and odd choice to me, considering the SDCC Combiner Hunters Arcee mold must surely have been available, and it wouldn't have had any trouble gripping the smaller pistol to keep her hands in place in vehicle mode.

Because the nose of the car was molded to align in a certain way in vehicle mode, it ends up looking just a little bit odd as Nightbird's robot mode chest and waist. The 'Robo-WonderBra' profile doesn't work as well due to the animation-accurate detail on the chest (which, from a certain angle, looks like a jacket folded one side over the other), but the exposed purple 'belly' is at least molded to look mechanical on this, rather than the very organic look of Arcee, and it does feature the somewhat incongruous 'yellow star' detail of the animation model.

The new head sculpt is a perfect representation in plastic of the character model from the TV show, from the 'hooded' look of the overall head (this model cleverly solving the problem in the animation model, where the 'hood' connects to the body, by having a silver protrusion continuing the 'hood' below her chin), to the purple mask and the very angry eyes. The light piping is as effective here as it was on Arcee, making her look particularly fierce.

For the most part, this is just as good a figure as Legends Arcee in terms of quality control (tightness of joints, clarity and accuracy of paintwork), and the only problem I've had with it is that the collar doesn't like to tab properly into place in robot mode, partly because the tab is actually molded with an angle at its tip. It didn't seem to affect Arcee, but on Nightbird it enables the tab to pop out of its slot without provocation. Her paintwork is vastly more extensive than Arcee's, and she looks completely stunning decked out in silver.

There's a very sensible question asked in the episode 'Enter the Nightbird': "why build a robot ninja?" In response, the human inventor of Nightbird spouts some guff about the limitless capabilities of technology, assisting mankind by expanding the horizons of robotic research, and how she's not meant for battle... but that doesn't explain why she's clutching a set of nunchucks when she's unveiled on stage, or why she additionally carries two sai, a lightsabre and an infinite supply of ninja stars. Furthermore, one has to wonder, when the inventor describes it as "primitive by Autobot standards", why the Decepticons would be remotely interested in acquiring it. There's also the question of why Dr. Fujiyama decided to create the world's first female robot ninja when, even less than with any of the Cybertronians, there's no need for gender to be applied. Granted, it gives me another awesome Femme-bot for my collection, and this one has attempted to ramp up the femininity of the design by giving it a more prominent chest but...

...I dunno, the more of the G1 TV series I actually watch these days, the more I see it as utter rubbish... Particularly when it delivers scenes where Megatron tells Starscream that this primitive robot is "Hot enough to replace you whenever I choose!". I don't quite understand how so many people were so attached to it when so few of the stories made any sense. Perhaps I might have been, had it been more consistently shown or if I'd been younger when it was on!

Still, this is a cool figure because it's based on a cool figure, not because Nightbird is inherently cool. The new head sculpt is excellent, the selection of weapons is decent and, let's face it, how many other uses are Hasbro or Takara Tomy going to be able to find for the awesome Generations/Legends Arcee mold?


  1. Nice review. I really dig the paint colours on this toy. The vehicle mode looks ace I think. I do think she comes with too many weapons (Yes, I'm shocked I said that too.), I really hate those swords.

  2. I wonder if Hasbro will bother releasing a Nightbird now the mold is available. If so, it'll probably be grey rather than silver, but that's what we've come to expect from Hasbro... Or maybe it'll end up as a Club exclusive in a few years' time.

    For me, it's not so much an excess of weapon as it is "Oh, it's those weapons again, is it..?". Given the effort Takara Tomy are otherwise putting into their '30th Anniversary' line, I might have expected something different.

    But, yeah, those swords certainly aren't the best part of the package.