Saturday, 7 May 2016

Tokyo Toy Show 2010 Dreadwing & Smokescreen

I noted in my write-up for Reveal the Shield Strafe that I would much rather have purchased Mindwipe, but I don't think he was ever available in the UK - lost, perhaps, thanks to another of Hasbro's remarkably short-sighted marketing decisions. The mold itself was great, but Strafe's colourscheme was terrible, and meant I had a Skystalker with no vehicle mode partner.

Enter 2010's Tokyo Toy Show, at which a repainted set of the two molds was available as a boxed set of Generation 2 Dreadwing & Smokescreen (aka RiD Dreadwind & Smokejumper in blue)

Oh, the irony - a pair of movie line TransFormers toys given a stark blue repaint, and the box they come in... is black and white! This seems to be the way Takara used to do a lot of their specials - I have Micron Legend Scourge, Superlink Black Rodimus Convoy and Galaxy Force Soundblaster, all of which have monochrome boxes (all of which were black repaints, so it made more sense) - though it does this pair something of a disservice. The front features images of the toys in robot mode with their combined jet mode superimposed in the middle, each with a wide feathered border. The rear of the box features basically the same robot mode shots, with individual vehicle mode shots below all over a large grey G2 Decepticon insignia, then each side features a close up of one 'bot or the other, with their name writ large alongside. It's simple, it's classy but, personally, I think it should have been printed in blue, not black.

The box is a bit battered because it's second hand and only cost about £35 ($50), while a new one can set you back anything between £100 ($140) and £300 ($430!) depending on where you look. I'm planning to keep the box just because it's a Takara Tomy/Tokyo Toy Show exclusive box, but the inside isn't in much better condition - when it arrived, Dreadwing was rattling around because he'd only been 'secured' with one twist-tie. Very much a case of "you get what you pay for".

Vehicle Mode:
I gather Mindwipe was a dark olive green - very military, but still not a proper 'Stealth' paintjob. This pair, based on the G2 characters of the same name, are exceedingly blue. There's some kind of glittery component to the plastic, too, so not only does it look more consistent than Strafe, it looks more impressive - the mixture of matte and gloss textures in the plastic is far more noticeable than it was on Strafe, though I'm sure it all would have been perfectly apparent on Mindwipe as well.

As far as decoration goes, he's fundamentally identical to Mindwipe except in colour - the same Cybertronian glyphs on his wings (more subtle than Starscream's tattoos, but still a little conspicuous on a Stealth jet) and the purple paint has been replaced by a cyan that's only slightly less aggressive than AllSpark blue. The translucent red cockpit has its frame painted in blue, but it's a little sloppy at the front and doesn't match up. To complement this red, the small patch of exposed tech detail in the centre of the jet is painted red and, of course, his Decepticon insignia is the G2 kind, stamped in white just behind the aforementioned tech detail.

There's a patch of exposed grey plastic either side of the cockpit which, in the pre-production artwork, was painted blue. It stands out as unpainted, since it's the only occurrence of grey on the top side of the jet, but it's not the worst omission of paint on a TransFormer by a long shot.

Robot Mode:
My main reason for wanting this figure is that the pairing of a blue Stealth jet that looks like this in robot mode, and has RotF Mindwipe's noggin painted blue and silver, looked like a pretty convincing terrestrial disguise for a movie-style  Soundwave before he turned up as a Mercedes in Dark of the Moon. Had this not been a limited edition event exclusive, I'd have considered painting this up to more closely resemble a traditional Soundwave, and treated Smokescreen as a Cobalt Sentry-style minion.

The colourscheme makes for a more subdued and coherent robot mode versus the Strafe usage of the mold but, while the upper body might work for the bulky Dreadwing, the lower body with its bird-like legs doesn't suit that image quite so well. The lack of heavy armament, too, is disappointing, and I rather wish an additional component - perhaps something that could also plug the gap at the back of his jet mode - had been crafted for inclusion in this set. The flip-out daggers seem to clip back more securely than they do on my Strafe, but that always seems to depend on perfectly aligning the hand on the wrist. The 'feather' details on the wings might almost make sense if they'd been molded to look like missiles, since that could be taken to reference the many missiles included with the G2 original.

While the head sculpt is the same as Mindwipe and Strafe, the latter left his optics unpainted behind his visor. Dreadwing's - like Mindwipe's - are painted silver, and so stand out reasonably well behind the translucent red plastic.

Vehicle Mode:
Smokescreen follows the pattern set by Dreadwing and duplicates Skystalker's markings (bar the G2 Decepticon insignias on his wings) and colour layout, but uses the same blues and greys of his larger partner. Both look pretty stunning individually, so it's a bit of a shame that the 'combination' gimmick is little more than sitting Smokescreen on top of Dreadwing, in the way some large aircraft have occasionally carried experimental jets or spacecraft to get them to a certain altitude before launch. Given that Dreadwing has an enormous gap at the back, it feels as though something - perhaps a second partner - is missing.

I mentioned above that I might have liked to consider Smokescreen to be a Cobalt Sentry-style minion, and idea which stems from the Laserbeak repaint of Skystalker that turned up in Hasbro's Asian markets. If the Skystalker mold works as Laserbeak (and it does, looking strangely like his Cybertronian appearance in the old G1 TV series' pilot), then this could be considered Garboil.

Robot Mode:
Weirdly, in robot mode, this looks as much like a kind of Batman-esque robot as it does anything TransFormers-specific, thanks to the head being shades of blue, with a pair of protruding ears more than a little reminiscent of Batman's cowl, and the cape-like wings hanging off his back. He even has a pair of superhero underpants outside his trousers thanks to the cyan paint on his groin.

I'm still not convinced by the arrangement of the legs - with the knees on the inside edge of the lower legs - but there's no denying that this is a very dynamic Scout class figure.

I am absolutely ecstatic to finally have this in my collection, especially having been lucky enough to win it with an opening bid that was a fraction of the going rate for this set on eBay. As with all these things, there is a small caveat emptor: I noticed when I first transformed Dreadwing that his right ankle was very loose compared to the left (around the time I discovered the ankle tilt that eluded me entirely when I wrote about Strafe). My first instinct was to grab a screwdriver and try to tighten the joint but, as it turns out, the looseness is due to a fracture through the front of the ankle joint. According to the listing, this was "opened and displayed briefly before being returned to it's box" which means either that the seller hadn't noticed the breakage, or simply neglected to mention it. Given the much reduced cost of adding this set to my collection, I didn't see any reason for kicking up a fuss, and I think it'll be easy enough to fix, should it show any sign of getting worse.

Of course, the best thing about having this matching pair is the ability to pose them together... and they really do make for an excellent team in robot mode, even if there's no (official) way of combining them except in their vehicle modes. They both look a little odd with mêlée weapons, particularly since the G2 versions of both (and all their repaints) had quite prominent missile launchers, and considering most of the movie characters had some kind of gun, but they work pretty well as they are.

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