Sunday, 5 April 2009

'Con'-fide in me

King Grimlock is back for a Kermodian review of Dropshot.

"I'm back once again with the ill behaviour! Yeah.... right, for my second review I'm going to step firmly into the current Classics 2.0/Universe/25th Anniversary series. Following on from the success of classics, Hasbro decided that they hadn't milked the cash cow quite enough and produced another filler line, but this time, they had a cunning plan. Repaints! Endless miles of repaints! Hmm, but how, asked a naive apprentice working his first and probably last day at the company, but how can we get the normally savvy Transformers fan base to accept these repaints as their favourite characters without them fragging us endlessly on forums? Well, replied the line manager, we won't have them as their favourite characters, we'll do them as....... Micromasters! Micromasters? Yeah, Micromasters, no one will remember what they originally looked like, or which faction they represented! Brilliant, roll out those boxes boys, I've just made us another million....

Or something like that. You see, classics featured all new molds. The entire line was new (with the exception of Devastator but the less said about him the better). Fantastic new toys to experiment with and fall in love with once again. There were repaints, but they were from within the line and, for the most part, expected and normally store exclusives. Prime as Magnus, Bumblebee as Cliffjumper, Starscream as Skywarp. These are accepted in the Transformers universe. And then 2.0 came along and we saw more and more repaints and fewer and fewer new figures. The series is knocking on the door of 9 months old and the UK still hasn't seen the first new mold voyager (Inferno for those who don't know). We have seen 7, count them, 7 repaints in voyager form. Blaster, Overload, Leo Prime, Heavy Load, Treadbolt, Blades and, my review subject for the day, Dropshot. Now for those who don't own ANY Unicron Trilogy toys, this isn't too bad a thing. Blades looks like G1 Blades and the Cybertron Evac toy it's based on was excellent to begin with. But when we are getting repaints of repaints then even the most patient fan can get a little tetchy. Dropshot started life as Cybertron Defense Scattorshot and has since become Autobot Overload and now Botcon exclusive Flak, which is the only character he should have been repainted as! And they even got the colour scheme wrong on him because they have plastered it all over Overload!!! Anyway....

On to Dropshot (you can kind of see how this review is going to go can't you?) and where he began life. G1 Dropshot was a 'Con Micromaster, a blue armoured personnel carrier with the military team. And you look at the original toy and you can kind of justify him becoming his new mold, a TOS-1 Buratino multiple-launch rocket system for those who care, but I'm lost on the yellow and brown colour scheme. Then without a warning, he became an Autobot! Yep, in 1991 he switched sides in the Japanese return of Convoy and hasn't looked back. In fact he hasn't looked anywhere because he just gets killed every time he makes an appearance. In the Armada continuity, now sporting a jet-styled robot mode, supposedly based on an unreleased G1 triplechanger, he is cut clean into by one of Unicron's Heralds (Bludgeon), in Energon he is swiftly decommissioned by Scorponok and in Shattered Glass he is nicely beheaded by Razorclaw, from behind no less! Clearly no looking back. Probably about time to head back to the 'Cons me thinks...

So maybe I should discuss the toy. First things first, the colour scheme is terrible. Brown, green and yellow. Brown and yellow treads? Don't be daft. For me though there is two things very wrong with it. Well, one very, one a little. The little one first. If you move the missile launchers up and anywhere, you can see his robot head and, in fact, most of his face. Not the best disguise really. It's a minor niggle but most G1 toys got this right at least. And secondly, you can easily see how he is going to be a robot. As I implied in my Megatron review, I love a good, complicated transformation, especially on larger figures. Dropshot just looks easy, you can get an idea of his feet, the split down the middle of the missile launcher screams 'ARMS' and the ball joints halfway down the treads almost spell it out for you. BUT... I like him in this form. A lot. He looks solid, dangerous and has masses of firepower. Insert that Cyberplanet key and out pops a multitude of weaponry. Why he needs it is beyond me with 20+ rockets sitting in the launcher but he has it and boy is it big. I really dislike the whole 'gimmick' things in Transformers. For me, the more that pops out, transforms or lights up of it's own accord (Animated aside) makes it more of a toy. Not an action figure or a collectible, a toy. And that loses something for me. And I know they are toys, but I'm a 28 year old chef and ex rugby player, I collect action figures! But all of it aside, I still like this alt mode. There is something very reassuring about military alternate modes, it conjures up imagery of war (obviously) and the sheer scale of destruction that the Transformers have been part of and you can give them license to run freely as a weapon of mass destruction, we would pick holes in cars or animal alt modes, but nuances in military ones are forgiven. So yes, I actually really like this alternate mode!

After 12 seconds of transforming, we have the robot. And anyone who owns this guy, I defy any of you to transform him without one of the stupid-ass ball joints coming out! Anyway. Fail! Sorry this is supposed to be an unbiased review of this DIRE robot mode. Sorry. But seriously this guy really doesn't look good. The colours have, again, taken a lot away from, what is essentially, a fairly good figure. His balance is terrible and this affects his articulation greatly. His legs don't move at all below the knee and only a little at the hips so he is fairly set from the waist down (a perfect g1 Micromaster homage, woohoo!). The arms fare a little better, articulation points at the elbows and shoulders but here everything is limited by the missile bays being attached to the forearms. If they were attached to the bicep like the seekers he would move much more freely I would care a great deal more for him. The hands pop out of the forearms and they have no covering panel so look fairly floaty and rubbish. I could go on but I'll just stick with he looks all wrong. I know some people love this mold but, unfortunately, I'm not one of them. I'll finish bashing him by highlighting his rifle which is actually quite a decent looking gun. In his alt mode it attaches on the side of the tank, safely tucked away, but ultimately useless. Now, in robot he has nowhere to put it except in his hands, which is fine until you activate the Cyberplanet key and have him holding those two massive pop out cannons. Then it has nowhere but upside down on his leg. Genius. In 'real-life' he wouldn't have any need for this rifle due to the mass array of exploding weaponry he already carries so why include it? I have, literally as I write this, found that you can slot it into a screw hole in his back and it actually looks quite cool, almost slung over his shoulder. But still.... oh, and I also noticed the massive hole in his back which makes it look like Trypticon has trod on him.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh on Dropshot. He isn't a bad toy by any means, but after the excellent range in classics and the fabulous deluxes and ultras in 2.0, he feels dated. He truly feels like a Cybertron toy. Which is a shame because with some thought the mold could have been used to great success. I got him for two reasons, firstly, I needed more 'Cons as the classics line is massively 'Bot heavy unless you own the Botcon 'Games of Deception' or the HTS exclusives and secondly because he cost me $6.49 brand new. The equivalent to £4. And I'm still this bitter about him. I wouldn't say write the mold off, but I would recommend getting the Autobot Overload version and call him Flak, at least that way he is a true 'classic' representation."

No comments:

Post a Comment