Friday, 14 June 2019

War For Cybertron: Siege Sixgun

I realise that I've been pretty disparaging, not to say outright hostile, toward the first chapter of the War for Cybertron line, but have to admit that it's not entirely without merit... just that what merit it has is vastly outweighed by the dullest G1 reboot ever concieved and the excessive and unnecessary 'battle damage' paint jobs.

The first real ray of hope I saw was in the images of the upcoming Weaponiser, Brunt - a reimagining of Trypticon's tank drone as a Deluxe class transforming (OK, partsforming) robot in his own right. With Cog and Sixgun being the only other Weaponisers thusfar revealed, there didn't seem to be a great deal of mileage to the concept, and their alternate modes didn't really inspire me to begin with.

However, while waiting for Brunt to appear in the UK, and with a couple of Siege toys already in-hand, I found myself seeing Sixgun in a new light, and ended up adding him to a recent order with the Nottingham Robot Company, pretty much out of curiosity - both for the toy specifically and the Weaponiser gimmick generally.

Vehicle Mode:
The problem I've had with Cybertronian vehicle modes in the past - particularly back in Generation 1 - was that they didn't really look like much, and were frequently just an attempt to disguise, if not actually minimise, the chunky, simplistic transformations required by the toys. The problem I have with the allegedly Cybertronian vehicle modes thusfar revealed in WfC: Siege is that they're too familiar, and each character bears too many references to their appearance on Earth (the recently-revealed Smokescreen toy, for example, is a repaint of Prowl in red, white and blue, with the number '38' on his bonnet and doors, for crying out loud). I have no such problem with Sixgun, because his vehicle mode is just bonkers.

Described in publicity material - erroneously, I presume - as a tank, Sixgun appears to transform into a super-stylised VTOL aircraft, not dissimilar to an even less terrestrial-looking version of the helicopter that G1/Titans Return Highbrow transforms into. That, or some sort of cargo transport, if only because he already seems to have a large chunk of cargo crate tagged onto his underside in lieu of any landing gear.

While an individual vehicle mode is something new for Sixgun - whose very name, after all, comes from the fact that he was composed of six of Metroplex's guns along with a few of his city components - the colourscheme keeps to the Generation 1 pattern for the most part. The outermost sections of his wings are largely white with red tips and black tails, where the closest equivalent parts on the G1 toy were Metroplex's all black ion pulse rifles, and he features patches of silver and black paint, but those seem like minor differences against the simple fact that he now has a vehicle mode. Curiously, the silver paint 'battle damage' appears to be limited to a few patches on his red engine sections, though there are small touches of it on the outermost sections of his wings.

The parts on his wings that appear to be VTOL fans aren't actually sculpted with any internal detail of their own, so they may be some other form of engine, or simply not engines at all. He also feature black-painted rocket boosters on the backs of the stubby sections of wing closer to the main body, as well as several afterburner-like details sculpted in at the very back. The front of the wings - where the red guns plug in - are painted black and could represent guns in their own right, while the inner wing sections feature sculpted missile pods on the fronts. The central section, where red plastic becomes predominant, features a set of four large gunbarrels under the vehicle's nose which can hinge downward and are remarkably difficult to line up nicely.

While the images below represent the vehicle mode as it is shown in the instruction leaflet, it would be easy enough to reconfigure the red and black gun attachments on the wings - each has a 5mm 'grim' protruding perpendicular to the weapon itself (so either could peg in to the underside of the 'turbine' sections) but, while the red ones feature pegs on their backs, the black ones have sockets. This means that the red ones can peg in to several ports, facing forward or back, while the longer, black guns would have to stick out at odd - and pretty useless - angles.

Strange though it may seem - particularly since I got into the franchise via the Diaclone- and Microchange-derived G1 toys - the fact that this vehicle is so alien and basically unrecognisable (I mean, who knows, perhaps this is a weird form of Cybertronian tank?) really works in its favour... and I almost wish I owned the Generations version of Metroplex just to see how well the colours match, and how Sixgun's vehicle mode scales with his base and mobile battle station modes.

Robot Mode:
Given that the original 'design' for Sixgun amounted to two large missile launchers plugged into a couple of Metroplex's city form parts, with guns for 'arms' and a double-barrelled gun as a backpack, what Hasbro/Takara Tomy have done here is pretty amazing... Or it would be if it weren't clearly designed with close reference to a number of Third Party Sixguns that appeared up to five years ago now. Still, even if this does represent the TransFormers brand playing catchup with unlicensed alternatives yet again, the way it's been made to fit within the latest G1 reboot is... pretty good.

For starters, it's a brilliantly detailed figure. I've complained in the past about the excess of detail on Siege figures, but Sixgun gets it just right... which only serves to make it look all the more strange on other figures. Look at it this way: if the extent of sculpted panelling is intended as an indication of relative size, then the likes of Soundwave are utterly massive compared to Sixgun, and if it's not, it's a bizarre aesthetic choice that's applied inconsistently. If it's not an indication of relative size, then why are Sixgun (and, for example, Flywheels) so lacking in detail by comparison... Unless (as I've previously suspected) some of the figures released under the Siege brand were originally designed for previous toylines, but held over for one reason or another - I'm pretty sure Sixgun would work as additional parts for Generations Metroplex.

In and of himself, though, he looks remarkably good. Sixgun is a bulky, yet well-proportioned robot with a surprisingly traditional 'cockpit chest' look considering his partsforming could have allowed for just about any configuration of parts. Then again, the idea was to mimic the G1 toy to an extent, so this look was pretty inevitable given the parts available. Where other Siege toys have been awash with detail of indeterminate purpose, Sixgun simply refines what was present on the G1 toy. Hence, the side panels on his chest - empty slots on the original - now feature missile pods, the large gun arms of the original are now proper arms with hands as well as bicep and elbow joints, and the legs - which effectively formed the dual spines of the original - end in a more traditional fashion at the hips. There's no robot-specific paintwork, but the distribution of plastic colours alone makes him interesting to look at. The angles of his chest are a little out of the ordinary, too, with the black-painted missile pods running down either side placed in parts that slope inward toward the middle of his torso, with recessed sections of red plastic visible between them and the central 'cockpit' part. The minimal 'battle damage' paint applications serve the robot well, being mostly invisible on the outer faces of his arms, his ankles and his toes.

I won't deny there's room for Reprolabels-style improvements but, really, the only thing that makes Sixgun appear in any way ugly is the profusion of 5mm pegs, sockets and 'weapon flash' nubs dotted around his body, none of which are really designed to blend in to any degree. I've yet to get - or even feel the need to own - any of the Battle Masters, so it seems unlikely I'll ever put them to the use for which they were intended.

Since the original Sixgun toy was literally 'made of guns', it's no surprise that he's not without armaments. Straight out of the box, these are already attached, with G1 Sixgun's arm cannons represented by the longer, black plastic guns attached behind his elbows, and Metroplex's missile launchers on his back represented by a combination of the outer two gunbarrels from the front of vehicle mode, with the red wing attachments (apparently reused weapon parts from Sideswipe!) plugged in to the tops. It all looks great - very close to the G1 original, yet fully and properly upgraded for the new toyline - but this is where a QC problem rears its head. Due to some sort of plastic tolerance issue (or perhaps faulty molding, like the two Combiner Wars Rook variants, UW Wandering Roller and the Collectors' Club's Impactor), the black guns are only very loosely held by the pegs on the backs of his elbows, while they're a very tight fit into his fists, and the red tips are a similarly loose fit into the barrels of the launcher on his back. Nothing is so loose that it'll just fall off, but they certainly don't feel secure. The placement of weapons may look a little strange in his vehicle mode, but it makes a lot of sense in his robot mode. Indeed, the blasters that stay on his arms almost feel like the Seekers' arm-mounted guns, just with slightly altered placement, not least because he also has small wings protruding behind his shoulders. It's probably not intentional, as such, but it provides a certain level of internal consistency to the Siege line.

The head sculpt, much like Siege Soundwave's, is one of the best updates of a G1 toy I've seen in ages, particularly considering G1 Sixgun's head was basically a detailed peg for mounting additional city parts on Metroplex. This one has all the detail of the G1 toy, but with improved proportions and - more significantly - some paintwork. His visor is a wonderful, bold cyan - not as offensive as Allspark Blue, but just as strong - while his battlemask, contrary to even the G1 animation model, is painted white. It does help make what little face he has that much more distinct, but it's nevertheless surprising to see Hasbro diverge from their usual G1 cartoon adherence. Oddly, in another colourscheme, this head would work as an interpretation of Soundwave as they have a fairly similar look overall.

As a Weaponiser, Sixgun doesn't have a traditional transformation - he's a deliberate, unashamed partsformer. It's actually not possible to transform him without removing the white parts, and the position of the arms versus the rest of the body actually switches between vehicle and robot mode. It's all fairly simple though and, while some of the weapons aren't a particularly secure fit in their default positions, the limbs all fit very snugly and peg together for vehicle mode quite securely. It's worth noting that the CGI marketing images have the robot's head as red in robot mode, but white in vehicle mode, making the vehicle look more seamless and consistent than the final toy actually is, but the impact of a small patch of red in the midsection is pretty small.

I honestly wasn't sure what to expect out of the Weaponiser figures in terms of articulation, but I'm pleased to say that Sixgun is every bit as good as any other Deluxe class figure in that respect. The tolerance issues that plague the weapons are apparent in the leg connections, but nowhere near as bad. The upper thigh joint has to be loose enough to function as a swivel joint without falling apart when the figure isn't standing on something, and it succeeds that far. The shoulder joints would be excellent were it not for the mass of plastic above and behind it but, even then, it's only a problem if the lauchers on his back are tilted forward to lean on his shoulders, or if his arms are lifted so far out than the bulk on top hits his head. Rotation at the shoulder is a bit odd as it's a round peg in a hexagonal socket so, while they rotate freely, there are six points where the joints get noticeably tighter. He has the usual bicep rotation hindered only by the 5mm peg in the gun mounted behind the elbow, 90° bend at the elbow, a full range of a little over 180° forward/backward swing at the hip, with easily 90° outward and a 90° knee bend, topped off with 90° range of inward ankle tilt and a hinged toe. The head and waist can both rotate a full 360°, unhindered by sculpted detail or transformation pegs so, overall, he's probably one of the most poseable figures in the line so far - the toe joint in particular allow for some very dynamic, yet stable stances.

Weaponiser Mode:
Based on early images, I wasn't sold on the concept of Weaponisers. The idea of a Deluxe class robot character who basically falls apart to provide additional weapons to other toys in the line seemed like a silly gimmick. I'll grant you that using Sixgun's legs as 'gun boots' is utterly ridiculous and looks very silly in practice, while the 'giant fist' - sorry, "High-Precision Launcher Gauntlet" - mode for his core body could have done with a bit more development but, overall, it turned out to be quite a neat feature that actually succeeds in adding play value to Sixgun as well as any other figures he interacts with in this way... It's almost sad, now I think about it, that I've yet to see any other Autobot figures that seem worth buying.

Like Soundwave and Flywheels, the packaging and instructions offer very little information about the individual weapons bar their names and a graph of three different stats, the nature of which is pretty much guesswork. According to TF Wiki, the weapons that make up Sixgun are a pair of "W-5 Gyro Blasters" (not just the same part as Siege Sideswipe's, but the same name!), a pair of "MTX-LR Ion-Pulse Blasters" (Sixgun's arms) and 2 "MTX-M2 Anti-Gravity Cannons" (his legs, from the thigh down) along with a "MTX-S2A Guided Missile Launcher" (lower torso and hips) and a "MTX-50 Dual-Flank Boost Launcher" (upper torso)... but the instructions refer to them only by their abbreviated MTX- designations. I like that the names are a clear reference to MeTropleX, but it's still quite a way of Bob Budiansky's brief-but-descriptive weapon details from the G1 tech specs... And, considering the MTX-50 'Dual-Flank Boost Launcher' ends up configured as the wrist for Gauntlet mode, it's clear that some of these components also have a more passive mode. Equally, the MTX-S2A ("surface-to-air"?) 'Guided Missile Laucher' appears to be applied as a jet pack in what's described as the 'Offensive Loadout'. Still, adaptability is the name of the game and, despite only having three official configurations in his instructions, Sixgun looks to be very adaptable.

It's worth mentioning that there's a small mistake in the intructions for the 'Defensive Loadout' that gives him a total of four MTX-M2s - two on the main backpack, and another two on his feet - but I get the impression that's a genuine mistake rather than something deliberate and intended to get kids to troop-build with Sixgun figures.
High-Precision Launcher Gauntlet (and leftovers)
The so-called 'Defensive Loadout'
'Offensive Loadout'... AKA the one with a defensive shield

While Siege Brunt was an instant must-have, I was initially pretty ambivalent about Sixgun, and eventually gave in because I remembered thinking how much potential G1 Sixgun would have had if he had been more than just a convenient, if half-baked use of Metroplex's accessories, some of which could not be usefully attached to his robot mode. Even back then, he looked pretty decent given what was available, and this version is phenomenal. That said, it's basically just doing what a couple of different Third Party companies did shortly after Generations Metroplex was released back in 2013... So, fun as this toy is, and as good as it is at selling part of the core concept behind the War for Cybertron: Siege line... it's still just Hasbro's belated response to the Third Party's producing a toy which they neglected to produce at the appropriate time.

Cynicism aside, while Cog looked a bit crap, Sixgun succeeds in making me even more excited to get my hands on Brunt, despite the fact that I'm unlikely to get (m)any more Siege toys to attach them to, and don't have particularly high hopes for the second or third chapters of War for Cybertron. I kind of feel that Siege might have been more of a winner for me if they'd concentrated on these overtly Cybertronian vehicle modes, rather than the sad, unimaginative pseudo-Cybertronian adaptations of traditional G1 vehicle modes... Or if the line had been predominantly Weaponisers who were backwardly compatible with Prime Wars and older Classics/Generations toys. I'd certainly like to see a Weaponiser based on Slammer (preferably not a while repaint of Brunt) or Scorponok's semi-autonomous partner Fasttrak, but there's plenty of scope for some original Weaponiser characters, if Hasbro feels like doing something different...

But then, that's my whole problem with War for Cybertron so far - they seem to be intent on never doing anything significantly different again. WfC could have taken the toyline in a bold new direction with reimagined Micromasters (hinting perhaps at the smaller, more Energon-efficient Maximals and Predacons of Cybertron's future) Battle Masters and Weaponisers in the same way that Mini-Cons made Armada something new and - at the time - unique within the TransFormers multiverse. Weaponisers in particular are a great idea and deserve a fuller exploration, preferably within the toyline rather than just the accompanying comics. Even re-using the Mini-Con 'power-up' schtick from Armada with the Weaponisers could have been amazing - new versions of old favourites with built-in secret features that can only be activated by upgrading them with Weaponiser components? I'd have been up for that. What we've got with Weaponisers is good... but it also had much greater potential.

The bottom line here is that, underachieving though the Weaponiser concept is I don't resent paying £18 for this toy and, dodgy plastic tolerance issues aside, would even recommend it in and of itself, quite apart from its compatibility with other Siege toys, and particularly for anyone who bought Generations Metroplex. This very much feels like what I wanted out of Sixgun back in the days of Generation 1 and, once I also have Siege Brunt, I'll have the full G1 Metroplex vs Trypticon (in lieu of/in preference to the larger-to-the-point-of-being-unwieldy-and-undisplayable Generations/Titans Return versions) along with their newer, reimagined accessories/minions as Deluxe class figures in their own right... Which will be pretty cool, and might even encourage me to bring my original G1 toys out of storage at my parents' place...


  1. That was a good read. I got Sixgun after gettting Cog and 6gun exceeded my expectations. My biggest issue was that his toes were loose and later I discovered that they were on the wrong legs (labeleed L/R) so a quick swap and they were tight and much better.

    On the weaponiser front, I find the concept fascinating, it is a great idea and I too feel a little wasted. The potential is huge, but let down by a bunch of factors. My major issue with them is, despite them being partner for base-bots, they have very limited interactivity with them. Cog can only hang around with Max, Six gun looks too small when being used as weapons by Metro. Hopefully Brunt will work with Trypticon well (like Fulltilt does). However I don't expect him to. Maybe this weekend's Toy Show will reveal something a bit more tasty siege wise.

    1. Much appreciated, Tets! Your comments about the scale issues with the Generations/Titans Return citybots settle something for me: Once I have Brunt in-hand, I'll definitely have to bring my G1 Metroplex out of storage to see how well Siege Weaponisers fit with the dinky original citybots - I know Metroplex has 5mm sockets in his fists, so Sixgun's leg weapons should be a perfect fit on him.