Saturday, 29 April 2017

TLK Definitely Out...

After a false start last weekend - when I was under the mistaken impression that The Last Knight toys must have hit the shelves because photos were cropping up all over the internet - I popped back over to the recently-opened branch of Toys'R'Us in Uxbridge this morning, with a somewhat greater sense of certainty that I'd find something new and exciting...

Sunday, 16 April 2017

CW Sky Lynx Addendum


Several Subtle but Worthwhile Adjustments to a
Flawed but Fun Figure

Straight out of the box, there were several issues with Sky Lynx. First and foremost, not one of the white hip-caps had been properly attached in the factory, so I had to remove and reseat all of them. Next up, I couldn't understand why the two angled fins had been attached backward (ie. angling forward) compared to the main upright fin, so I switched both around. It has a negligible effect on the look of the Sky Reign torso, but nothing serious and, frankly, both vehicle mode and robot mode look far better with all the fins angling backward.

The two vertical extensions of the red neck
piece had to have their tips shaved back
to allow the joint to move
The more serious modifications actually required the use of tools: in Sky Lynx's robot neck, there appeared to be three hinges - one at the base, one at the mid-point where the red part connects to the grey, and one at the back of the head - but only the outer two would move. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the red part of the hinge had been melted slightly, or otherwise damaged, such that the warped plastic blocked the movement of the joint. Cutting away a thin sliver of plastic on each side released the hinge, granting smooth movement and a more natural-looking 'curve' to the neck.

The blue parts of the wings are exceedingly floppy, and I'd seen a fix online where the wings are opened up and a layer of sticky tape is placed over the hole in the blue part to add some extra friction. For mine, I used pieces of plastic film because, basically, while I remembered the gist of how to fix the problem, I'd forgotten that sticky tape was used... It worked exactly the same way, but the downside was that the pieces of plastic film had to be held in place with tweezers because, unlike tape, they didn't adhere to the plastic of the wing.

Definitely a more natural, animal-like look
The front legs form the gestalt's thighs and, straight out of the box, the ratchets are barely functional. Fixing this required the gestalt's groin to be unscrewed to access the workings of the joint. There are small white plastic pieces seated in grooves on the inside, but the grooves are so deep that the protrusion barely meets the teeth of the ratchet wheel. They need to be yanked out so that the grooves can be filled slightly. I used four slivers of an old business card (two in each groove seemed to fill to a more functional depth), but thin styrene sheet might be longer-lasting for this purpose. Once done, the ratchts are firm enough to allow Sky Reign to stand even in some fairly wide stances.

The back legs were a different matter, and - I believe - more personal preference than assembly error. I think the idea of the back legs is that the hip and ankle are the only joints you're meant to use in robot mode - the 'knee' is really just a transformation joint. Thus, the thigh is supposed to be more than just the broadly circular hip joint, the actual knee - where the combiner point sits - is fixed at a 90° angle, and the ankle is intended to be poseable. There are two problems with this idea:
  • With a longer thigh and a fixed knee, the sculpted 'wheel' details on the belly flap get in the way of the legs, and they can't raise into a natural enough standing position.
  • The ankles are generally far too loose to be worthwhile, and sag under Sky Lynx's body weight.
Hence, in just about every photo of CW Sky Lynx I've seen, his back legs were in a bizarre zig-zag configuration that just looked wrong. I figured all it needed was for the lower red sections of legs to switch round for the legs to look more natural without exposing the screws in robot mode (technically, one could just rotate them round, after all, and then flip the blue feet upside down, but this exposes the screws). As a result of this change, the blue feet are stopped in a fairly natural position, allowing the leg as a whole to look more natural without any sagging. It also leaves the combiner ports on the backs of the legs, where they're far less intrusive on the overall look of Sky Lynx.

There are two problems with this, however:
  • In vehicle mode, the feet no longer fold into the lower legs and just have to either be left extended out the back of the vehicle, or be folded over each other. Given that the rear of the vehicle looks crap without modification, neither of these solutions makes it look any worse and, arguably, overlapping the feet offers some improvement on the stock model.
  • With the feet attached upside down, they no longer peg into the shoulders in Sky Reign's torso mode, which leaves the rotation joint effectively giving the gestalt an additional joint at the shoulders, allowing him to reach across his own chest to a small degree. Swings and roundabouts, I guess...
I also feel that the rear claws didn't need to be extended quite so far from the ankle, so perhaps some enterprising Shapeways user will come up with shorter, alternative feet for this configuration, with a peg at the toes so they can lock into the shoulder for greater stability in gestalt torso mode...

Sky Lynx - The Fan Modes

Naturally, when it was revealed that Sky Lynx was no longer the gestalt machine-beast-thing of yesteryear, it didn't take long for fans to start messing about with his transformation to create a 'dinobird-only' form and a 'lynx-only' mode, with varying degrees of success.

Clumsy and lumpy, there's far too much breast on this weird hybrid bird, though it actually looks pretty good from behind. From the front, the wings seem way too small to be effective... but then, he does have rocket boosters for thrust... My reconfigured legs work far better than the stock figure's, not least because his feet actually support his weight, but mainly because they bend in the right direction to be robo-drumsticks.

Sky Lynx's weapons look best as an extended tail in his form, giving him another point of balance if necessary. They can be mounted on this wings, but don't look any more effective in this mode than they do in vehicle mode.

Not perfect by any means - the legs are even more bizarre in this form than on the official transformation - but the biggest problems are the continued presence of the wings and the undisguised shuttle-tail. Most folks seem to take advantage of the former to make him a sort of robo-Sphynx, but the latter has no truly effective solution. The best I've seen has the shuttle's nose fully extended, then twisted upside down at the robot's neck joint... it looks more like a tail that way, but it's an extremely chunky tail. Due to Sky Reign's head coming out of the booster section of the shuttle, Lynx mode has a large white ruff with wings of its own... Not exactly majestic, but not terrible either.

The weapons can be mounted on his front legs, and look pretty good there, though quadruped beast-type robots traditionally have their weapons mounted on their bodies or their back legs.

Combiner Wars Sky Lynx

Back in the days of Generation 1, Sky Lynx was yet another of those toys that Hasbro 'appropriated' into the TransFormers line and, like Omega Supreme and Shockwave, he never appeared in the UK (in retrospect, it's rather suprising we got Jetfire!). In fact, Sky Lynx was one of the very strange few who never had an official Japanese release until appearing in the Encore line back in 2008... and he's still never had an official UK release.

I'd been debating whether or not to try to track down the Encore figure - it's still fairly easily available almost ten years after it appeared, albeit pretty expensive on the secondary market - when, all of a sudden, a year or so ago, Hasbro released images of a whole new Sky Lynx for the Combiner Wars line - a Voyager class figure that would become the torso of a wholly original gestalt named Sky Reign. It met with a fairly mixed reception, so I wasn't entirely sure I wanted it after all... and only really made up my mind when I realised that my purchase of the Deluxe class Groove left me with three 'spare' limb-bots (two from the Collectors' Club's Subscription Service year 4), giving me the opportunity to level the playing field between Autobot and Decepticon gestalts with a slightly customised Sky Reign.

But is this new Sky Lynx sufficiently glorious as a homage to be worthwhile in and of himself..?