Saturday, 28 January 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Windsweeper

And so, we come to the final limb of Thunder Mayhem, the former G1 Triggercon Windsweeper. Before even taking this thing out of its box, there was a sense of disappointment about it, because there are only three Aerialbot jet molds, and two of them - Firefly and Skydive - seem to be getting the used over and over again, while the one figure that was not made available officially in the UK seems notably by its absences in the repaints... even though it has actually been reused just about as many times.

It also seems a bit sad that the Skydive mold was only recently repainted for BotCon 2016 set (as General Cicadacon), furthering the impression that certain molds are getting more attention than others.

Vehicle Mode:
Windsweeper uses a very post-Diaclone G1 colourscheme... which is to say bizarre and somewhat ugly. There was a habit of pairing a bold colour with a more muted, pastel shade once the toyline started to require wholly original molds, which eventually led to the glorious colour clash that was Generation 2. Windsweeper uses something close to a brick red with a pinkish grey that's almost disturbingly close to Caucasian skin colour (or is that just me and my pasty Brit complexion?). The split is quite defined in vehicle mode - most of what you see, the body of the jet and the tailfins, uses the reddish colour, while the wings are thickly-coated in the pinkish paint with additional, over-painted details sort-of representing the G1 toy's stickers...

...Except it doesn't do that very well, not least because the Skydive mold was kinda the wrong choice. Looking at the original toy, it would seem to me that either the Air Raid or Firefly molds would have been a better fit - the former because G1 Windsweeper appeared to be a swing-wing jet, the latter because of the three-point tail and the generally bulkier body. Nevertheless, the painted detail on the wing actually looks pretty good, following the molded details rather than blindly emulating the G1 stickers like they did on Grabuge/Ruckus. It looks a little odd that the purple paint stops suddenly mid-wing, even though that allows for clearer placement of his Decepticon insignia on each wing... but, there again, the Air Raid or Firefly molds would better support that intent simply due to their construction.

The body of the jet, with only a couple of touches of black paint either side of the orange-y cockpit, looks a bit like a knockoff, but I suppose it's a fair interpretation of the original toy. The only other paintwork on the central chunk of plane is on the tailfins.

Interestingly, the bio makes a feature of his missing '"Trigger" tech', describing it as 'discarded', in favour of the blue hand/foot missile launcher and a grey double-barrelled laser cannon that come packaged with the figure. Despite this, the sculpted missiles on his wings and the blocks at the wing tips are painted silver, as if to represent the G1 toy's chromed gimmick weapons. While it's no surprise that he comes packaged with Skydive's weapons, it is somewhat irregular that they were molded in different colours and, in retrospect, it seems very strange for Thunder Mayhem's limbs to come with hand/foot weapons that are not entirely consistent in their colouring. The double-barrelled laser is cast in a vaguely pearlescent pale grey, rather than the blue suggested by the art on his bio card, making it look a bit more like an attempt at replacing the chromed Triggercon weapons, though the illusion is lost when it's mounted on the underside of his wings due to it being so hollow. Thankfully, this is one of the two Aerialbot molds with a third 5mm socket on the topside of the jet, and mounting the gun there almost makes it look like a variation on the old Triggercon gimmick. The hand/foot weapon is described as a 'heat-seeking missile launcher', and is molded in a shade of blue that really doesn't fit in with the rest of Windsweeper, whether it's mounted on his wings or his back.

Robot Mode:
The weird, skin-tone paintwork is supplemented by a virtually identical shade of plastic in robot mode, on his biceps, thighs, groin and the combiner peg, giving him a better balance between the two colours, but it still looks really, really strange. The paintwork is certainly more extensive than that of Skydive, but the end result is still fairly bland - partly because of the colours used, partly because it's not very imaginatively applied, and much of the colour variance visible on the jet mode is hidden on the back in robot mode. Granted, he does get a couple of silver and green panels on his chest and a couple of purple panels on his knees - all of which may or may not be referencing sticker detail on the G1 original - but he's still largely brick red and pinkish grey. For a better fit with the original toy, I do feel they could have used silver paint for his cuff armour, just to hint at the old, chromed Trigger tech weapons.

The super-broad shouldered look doesn't really fit with Windsweeper, whose G1 figure was only broad because the wings were tagged onto the backs of arms which had been artificially bulked up to accommodate the spring-loaded gimmick. The torso was essentially square, while the legs were proportionally skinny and, like so many later G1 toys, joined below the knee. I'm not saying that's what I'd want from an updated Windsweeper, particularly one shoehorned into an existing Combiner Wars mold, but it does show that Skydive was an odd choice as the basis of this update.

He has the same stock head as Skydive, albeit painted pinkish grey, with an orange face and yellow eyes. The head is another area where the Air Raid mold would have been a better fit for this character - still not ideal, but at least in roughly the same, squarish look, as opposed to the exaggerated bucket head that Skydive received.

Not photographed here is the final accessory - the Matrix of Malice - which I'll probably save for the Thunder Mayhem writeup...

As with all the other limbs, this is a simple repaint of a Combiner Wars figure, but there's a lot of paint, and it's surprisingly thickly applied. The real shame is that most of the paint is the weird, fleshy colour, with only a few touches of any other colour. The G1 toy may have been quite plain, even with its stickers, but this is a premium exclusive from the Collectors' Club, part of their penultimate Subscription Service set, and the overall impression is little better than a knockoff due to the off-putting colourscheme and lack of robot-specific detailing. There's an awful lot of molded detail to most Combiner Wars figures, but it seems as though the blanket paint coverage required to make Windsweeper vaguely resemble his G1 ancestor has eaten so far into the paint budget that he could ends up looking more like one of those misguided Hasbro repaints released as a store exclusive.

Windsweeper's bio has apparently been the source of much upset among fans due to its fast and loose interpretation of the character. Not least, it suggests that he was originally an Autobot (based on the fan theory about the G1 toy due to it being the only Triggercon with chromed weapons), and - as is all too often the case with Club toy bios - making that a 'deep dark secret' known only to a few or, in this case, only one: Grabuge/Ruckus. The biggest whinge seems to be the divergence from his traditional characterisation as a 'neat freak', but this seems to be simply to be an example of a vague G1 bio being interpreted a particular way in the comics at the time (and, I'd imagine, since), while Fun Publications took it in a slightly different direction. Either way, and as usual, it's not the best bio I've ever read, and it's the first bio to actually make mention of the Matrix of Malice... largely, I suspect, because it was actually packaged with Windsweeper. It does make it seem like something of an afterthought, though, particularly as it would have been more appropriately packaged with Bludgeon. One thing that could be described as clever is the name of his main weapon, the 'B-1B double barreled laser cannon', because G1 Windsweeper's vehicle mode was a B-1B Lancer.

According to the default configuration, Windsweeper
becomes Thunder Mayhem's right leg
Excitement Factor for Thunder Mayhem: 5/10

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