Sunday, 8 May 2016

Revenge of the Fallen Legends Constructicons set

Much as I despise the way Devastator was wasted in Revenge of the Fallen, turned into a mindless brute apparently made up using duplicates of Demolishor (offed by Optimus Prime in the opening minutes of the movie), Rampage (offed by Bumblebee in a separate fight) and Scrapper (ripped apart for spares at the behest of Scalpel, to resurrect Megatron), amongst others, and unceremoniously wrecked by a terrestrial battleship's high tech weapon, I have to admit I quite like the concept and the look of the result. It was nothing like G1 Devastator, but it looked like a robot that should be called Devastator. It had potential and, perhaps, if production of Revenge of the Fallen hadn't clashed with the writers' strike, it might have been more impressive.

The giant-sized, light-and-sound infused version of Devastator was tempting, but the fact that it was so huge, yet his components had no individual robot modes, made the whole thing pointless. I still kind of wanted a RotF Devastator toy, though, and thankfully Hasbro decided to release a cut down, Legends class set... with a bonus extra character not used in the larger figure, but who did feature in the movie... though not necessarily as a component of Devastator.

It should come as absolutely no surprise that, even in a set of seven Legends class figures who are all part of a team of construction vehicles, there's no consistency of scale... After all, these things have to have robot modes of similar sizes and also combine into a coherent gestalt robot. That tends to highlight quite a significant problem with the scaling of the CGI characters in the movie, since Scavenger, Long Haul, Hightower and Overload should be far larger, meaning Long Haul and Rampage could never be the same mass as Devastator's legs. Broadly speaking, Rampage and Scrapper are to about the same scale, while Hightower, Scavenger, Long Haul, and Overload appear to be in a similar ballpark to each other, leaving Mixmaster in wacky scale all his own.

Given their size and the necessities of their robot and Devastator component modes, these are all remarkably detailed models, and there's really no mistaking what they're supposed to be. There's even limited articulation where it's needed - both Scavenger and Hightower have some movement in their arm/crane and, while the three tracked vehicles obviously don't have mobile tracks, almost all of the wheels are pinned and free rolling. Where this set gets let down - unsurprisingly given the size class of the models - is the paintwork, which is on a range from virtually none to absolute bare minimum. Scavenger probably gets the lion's share, closely followed by Mixmaster, while the likes of Long Haul and Overload have paintwork only on their cabs (Scrapper's cab paint being pretty much blanket coverage of the window area, rather than just within the molded windows). That said, several of these fellas has paint on their wheels, whether it be colouring their hubcaps to match the vehicle or actually painting in the tyres on wheels that're only molded detail.

Despite 'superficial' similarities to Demolishor, this is supposedly a whole different character. In fact, later (multipack) releases of Demolishor had him in largely white plastic rather than red, to better fit the character's appearance from the beginning of the film. So the big red excavator who forms part of Devastator is clearly an entirely separate character, and not a symptom of the lack of coherence in the 'story'.

In any event, this is actually a remarkably effective model for its size. While it can't repurpose the treads the way the Voyager class figure did, it cheats by having a pair of wheels stowed inside the vehicle which switch into place for robot mode.

Scavenger probably has the most highly decorated head sculpt of the set, giving him the appearance of a miniaturisation of the Voyager, with gunmetal paint for his mandibles and around his eyes, which are then picked out in yellow.

His only articulation is in his arms, and much of that isn't very useful - the shoulders are rotation joints only, while his inverted elbows are pinned. It seems that what little articulation there is exists more for Scavenger's role within Devastator than for Scavenger himself. He does roll quite well as long as the wheels are lined up and tabbed into place, but the arms are as much brakes as they are support for this awkwardly-designed bot.

Long Haul:
While I don't have the Voyager class version of this character (as far as I know, he was never released in the UK), I do have the G2 Constructicon-style repaint, Payload, who ended up getting a better paint job anyway. This version of Long Haul follows the Voyager's pattern of a fairly minimal paint job, but it's nevertheless quite effective - the strip running down the centre of the body from below the head to the groin and around the waist is covered with gunmetal paint, breaking up all the green very well.

Also like the Voyager mold, this has ridiculously overlong legs. I know I complain a lot about the thigh-to-shin ratio of far too many TransFormers toys, but this guy's entire upper body is only about as tall as his thighs. The strangest feature, though, is that the knee detail appears on both the fronts and the backs of the legs, and is painted on both sides.

One amusing feature is that this also foreshadows Combiner Wars Long Haul drawing one of the short straws in terms of arm articulation - he can't swing 'em forward, but he can flap 'em from side to side. While he only has ball jointed hips, he does feature 'toes' that fold away for vehicle/leg mode, so he can almost pull off a walking pose.

If the Voyager class version seemed to have weird, long, gangly arms with far too many joints, this one trumps it by having even ganglier, longer and weirder arms with virtually no articulation, and then also has Devastator's face hanging off his arse. Making this all the more freaky, the legs look just like the hollowed-out flanks of the truck cab with no molded leg detail inside (he has thighs, certainly, but no lower legs and definitely no proper feet) and the slender body is topped with a tiny rendition of the alternate, almost apologetic face used on the G1-styled 'Back Road Brawl' remix that appeared in Toys'R'Us rather than the sinister, insectoid mug that was actually used in the movie and on the original Voyager.

This was never going to be an easy character to create at such a small scale because his transformation was so bizarre - bulldozer to Zebedee? Even the Deluxe class version cheated in several very noticeable ways, not least using the blade as a stand to keep him upright. This version turns the bulk of the treads into a somewhat less conspicuous stand and splits the blade between the stubby, whip-like 'arms'. Transformation is actually quite ingenious for the size, but the ball jointed shoulders have a habit of popping out during either transformation or posing. Were it not for that, they'd have a decent range, but this figure still has no legs, so he's never going to be the most dynamic part of the set.

The only bit of robot-specific paintwork is on the face, highlighting some of the details with the same gunmetal as is used on all the other figures to some degree

Aka "ze leetle one", or rather, a variation thereof because, obviously, a character who gets torn apart in the opening few minutes of the movie can't possibly appear later on as a component of the first gestalt in the live action movie series. Can he?

Weirdly, Scrapper is about the most articulated figure of the bunch, with ball jointed shoulders, hips and ankles. He also has 'hands' that almost appear to be molded into a permanent Cybertronian gang sign, which is utterly awesome. It's not even terrible that he has virtually no paintwork - the strip of gunmetal down his chest like a very square tie, the gunmetal shoulder protrusions and the red visor are about it - because he's made with two shades of yellow plastic. To be honest, though, in most light, the two are virtually indistinguishable.

I do find it a little disturbing that the rear end of the vehicle, with its two suspiciously rounded exhaust pipes, looks in robot mode a bit like weirdly erect nipples in extremely saggy robo-boobs, but perhaps that says more about me than it does about the toy.

With a decent vehicle mode and an excellent, if underdecorated, robot mode, Scrapper is about the only part of this set that might have been worth buying on his own at the Legends pricepoint.

One can have nothing but pity for this poor, misbegotten, malformed creature, with its weird proportions and tiny T-Rex-style arms. Hightower barely transforms, and ends up simply looking like an elevated truss crane with silly little arms hanging off his front and a face behind an American football-style mask. Unless you count the crane's hook and claw, there's zero articulation, and the only paintwork specific to robot mode is that his weirdly human face. It's somewhat surprising to find that, having coated the entire 'head' and a strip of the 'chest' in gunmetal paint, they also picked out the eyes in red.

Despite the overall simplicity of the model, I do find it's transformation fairly impressive... what little there is. Only one end of the vehicle actually does anything, but the way the front of the robot swings up into place with barely any effect on the crane arm is, in itself, quite cleverly done. It's just a shame that this thing is such a piece of junk whose sole useful function is as Devastator's arm.

Maybe I'm missing something, but how or why would an articulated dump truck (which isn't, in Legends class toy form) transform into a robot with a long, articulated arm hanging off its back? At first glance, this almost looks like a red, battle masked variation on movie Bonecrusher, with his stubby legs, long arms and scorpion-style stinger/claw thing. Mind you, even this makes more sense than the four-armed quadruped monstrosity that was the concept art for this character.

The molded detail here is a bit sparse and, hubcaps aside, the only paintwork on this thing is the thin sliver of yellow highlighting his visor. On the upside, the red plastic is somewhat broken up on the legs due to the gestalt's grey combiner ports on the insides of the calves. The arms, while reasonably well articulated thanks to ball joints for transformation and pinned shoulders, look incomplete - it's not so much that they're lacking detail (though I'm not sure what may count as his hands) as much as it is that what detail is there is all hollows cut into the plastic, obscuring what's actually represented there. The legs are only slightly articulated - Overload can do the splits and nothing else.

Overload forms the groin and spine of Devastator, and feels like a wasted opportunity.

Gestalt Mode:
I really don't know what to make of this... It's recognisably RotF Devastator, but its hunched posture is exaggerated, leaving the head directly in front of the groin, and not aligning properly with Mixmaster's barrel, which hangs virtually straight up. It all pegs together fairly securely, but the forearms seem too long and unwieldy, while the upper arms are barely articulated - the swivel joint at the shoulder doesn't offer enough range to avoid clashing with his legs thanks to the scoop halves hanging off his elbows. Also, the hands aren't nearly as effective as the feet, since the forearms barely transform between vehicle mode and limb mode. That said, as limited as the arms are, they still have more articulation than the legs.

Devastator's face is dry-brushed with silver (some of which spills over onto the sides of Mixmaster's cab in vehicle mode) with the eyes and the insides of the mouth painted an almost fluorescent green to better resemble the concept art. The Takara Tomy version added red paint to the face to match the movie's CGI - and to break up the column of grey down the middle of an otherwise colourful character - but this version looks OK without. The head moves thanks to a ball joint on the top of the head but, due to the way it's molded, it tends to tilt upward as it's turned left or right.

On thing I rather object to - particularly in the light of Combiner Wars - is that this Devastator, like the G1 original, was designed to come together in one form only. Granted, you can switch the arms around, or switch the legs around, but you can't turn Rampage or Long Haul into arms, nor can you make Scrapper and Hightower into legs. I guess that's accurate to the movie CGI, but that goes to show how underachieving that really was. One can only hope that, should gestalts be revisited in future movie, they're given the 'Scramble City' treatment, and can reconfigure for different situations.

When dealing with the Legends price point, it's always best to have low expectations. I'm pretty sure I picked this is dirt cheap - far cheaper than one would normally expect for seven Legends class, fully transforming figures - so it's much better value for money than the lights-and-sounds 'enhanced' behemoth that was also available. Despite it's many shortcomings, this set also cured me of any lingering desire to own the larger version, not least because the components of that version didn't even have individual robot modes. For the size class, all seven figures are very ambitious, but it should come as no surprise that the reality doesn't quite live up to the idea.

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