Cliffbee.com: Armada Red Alert & Longarm Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Red Alert
Series: Armada
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Paramedic Van



VAN MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 17.5cm Width: 8cm

  A predominantly white vehicle with grey on wheelbays, bumpers and such, Red Alert has black plastic wheels and red windows. The front window and stroberack are transparent red plastic while the side windows are simply painted. He's actually a rather sporty SUV - the sort of dual-purpose 4x4 vehicle Subaru used to make in the 1980s - beefy without the bulk of your typical off-road vehicle, so it could work on urban roads. There are some blue and some beige outbursts here and there, but Red Alert's vehicle mode is essentially white, grey and red. There's a very loose connection to the G1 toy of the same name in the colours, but this guy has nothing to do wit a fire dept - there are medico crosses on the sides and that's all. The colours are decent, and while they're unremarkable I'm not complaining.

   There are quite a few painted details, such as yellow headlights and orange indicators, and a painted Autobot symbol on his hood (though sadly the entire thing is painted, not just the raised, sculpted part - so it looks like crap). Red Alert has some great sculpted details in places, but most of the finer details aren't painted to bring them out (some, like the Autobot logo, are hidden by paint). The headlights are the only aspect that is painted to bring out detail. The poor paint job is a shame, since the designer has gone to a fair bit of trouble and largely wasted the effort. That's not to say this is a bad vehicle mode - it's just that Red Alert could easily have been a lot better. The design is decent, the colour map sloppy.

   There's quite a bit of play value here, and most of it is actually quite meaningful. The ridged tyres roll, and Longarm can attach to four hardpoints - one on each door, one on the roof and the last on the hood. The door attachments don't do a lot, the other two activate gimmicks. When you plug a Minicon into the hood, the front of the car opens out to the sides (the headlight & grille section), revealing a launcher - which will be visible as long as the Minicon stays attached - to shut the panels you need to remove Longarm. Once the Minicon is attached, pulling back on him will cause an orange and black disc to fire. Three short bursts and flashes will emanate from the stroberack as the missile fires. Similarly, when you pull back on Longarm while he's attached to the roof mounted post, the left side of the roof pops out as a missile launcher - this one's activated by its own trigger, and fires a single claw-like beige missile. The launcher's force is quite impressive, although it covering the windshield is a little odd.

   Pulling back on Longrarm while he's on the roof (regardless of whether or not the launcher is deployed) will activate a firing sound and the light will pulse three times. Regular readers of my reviews will know I'm not usually impressed by light and sounds gimmicks, but Red Alert's aren't too bad. They don't really get in the way of the Transformer itself and while the firing sound is a little dodgy, I like the fact that the stroberack flashes. It's nothing more than a bonus really - but I'm happy the electronics don't cause Red Alert to make compromises.

   A good rescue vehicle with fairly simple but effective gimmicks. The colours are decent even if some of the paint applications could have been better. The paint splashed on the Autobot logo is especially poor, and makes him seem a little underdone since it's so prominent. Despite the paint job, I quite like this vehicle - it's one of the better Mega sized vehicle modes.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Removing Longarm is not essential, but I'd recommend it. The doors open out as shoulder panels (with the arms attached underneath) The legs fold down from underneath, taking the side panels with them. The boots rotate while the heelspurs fold out. The roof section should simply fold down to form a backplate under its own weight, leaving the front section as his chest. All that's left is to fold the head up, unfold the arms and attach one of the two hand-lasers stowed in the right leg as his left hand.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19cm Width: 15.5cm

   The chest, which is the front of the car facing forward, is while along with the shoulderpads formed from his doors, although the limbs themselves are royal blue - a colour only hinted at in vehicle mode. The head is also blue with a silver face, red eyestrip and red temples - Red Alert has a working, albeit dull, lightpipe. It's not because of the colour of the plastic used, not the lightpipe's design. The grey is still on the front of his chest, along with the feet. The laser on his left hand is transparent red and the butchered Autobot logo is now on top of his chest. Red Alert's groin is grey, but it's tucked away underneath the hood of the car. The colours are again unremarkable, and I'm not really a fan even if there's nothing bad here - Red Alert's colours are boring.

   The legs are fairly long and lanky, and this is exaggerated by the hidden groin. The sides of his vehicle mode hand from the outsides of the knees without really getting in the way. While the shoulderpads look cool the knee kibble isn't as impressive. The arms are actually quite skinny but since they sit out from the torso, attaching to the bottom of generous shoulder pads, we don't really notice this shortcoming.

   The play value here is good. The head turns, the shoulders rotate and lift out to the sides, there are two hinges and a rotator per elbow. The hips are ball jointed and the knees might as well be, with motion on three axes. The ankles move a little while the heelspurs help him stay upright in a variety of poses despite the heavy backpack (which houses the electronics). I should point out that the backpack is not prominent, nor is it awkward. It's there, but hugs the body and stays out of view. You have a choice of two fairly similar laser nozzles for the left hand, while the missile launcher can detach and fit into the right fist.

   All the gimmicks are available here - the missile launcher now flips further to form a shoulder cannon - and as I've mentioned it can also detach as a handheld weapon. The disc launcher isn't as effective since Longarm crowds out the head, but is still perfectly functional. Longarm looks really good mounted on the shoulderpads - those dead hardpoints on his doors are really intended for the robot mode. There's a fifth hardpoint on the left leg panel, which can swing up to form a little battle platform for Longarm - who can stand behind a red screen or plug into the hardpoint.

   A good robot mode despite some rather slender legs and uninteresting colours. With five useful hardpoints and a swag of features, Red Alert really makes good use of the Minicon concept (something many Armadas toys failed at). The weaponry is impressive and the poseability is great, despite the weight on his back. There are some shellformer aspects here, but the end result is a lot of fun so I don't really mind.


Name: Longarm
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Crane

CRANE MODE
Height: 3cm Length: 9.5cm Width: 2.5cm

   A little black crane truck (similar to Hook) with a beige arm. The cabin on the right side of the back platform has silver windows, although the driving cabin at the front is unpainted. There are six black plastic wheels. Much of the length - almost half - is the long crane arm hanging over the front - which I guess explains his name.

   All six wheels spin and the platform at the back turns through 360. The crane arm lifts up to a vertical position and the hook at the end is on its own little hinge. The arm even features a lattice of support struts, which is nice, although there's a transformation hinge in the middle which doesn't want to straighten right out on mine.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Flip the front over to form boots, fold up the cram arm and stand him up.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 5.5cm, Width: 2.5cm

   Longarm's boots are arms are black while the torso and head are the same royal blue used on Red Alert. The thighs are beige - another colour seen on Red Alert. He has a very simple droid-like face with some painted details. The powerlinx port, which was underneath the crane mode, is now on his waist. The crane arm isn't a feature of the robot mode - it sits on his back, hanging off the platform, which sticks up behind the head. The colours work fairly well, better than those of Red Alert.

   There's not a lot of play value here - not that I was expecting much. The knees and hips are hinged - the latter only move with some effort. His shoulders lift up 90, rounding out average poseability. Unlike some Minicons, Longarm is unable to sit down, since the crane arm on his back gets in the way.


VARIATIONS

   There was an orange, white and grey "Powerlinx" Red Alert, accompanied by a black, orange and grey Powerlinx Longarm.

OVERALL

   A pretty good set even if there are some shortcomings. Red Alert is brimming with play value and everything the designer tried here worked fairly well. Both modes are decent, and while there are some proportion issues with the robot mode, they're minor and are easily outweighed by the poseability. Longarm actually compliments Red Alert rather well despite their disparate alt modes, and while he's an average Minicon, manages to bring something to the set. While I wouldn't recommend emptying the bank account for Red Alert, if you like the concept of Minicons using Armada toys as playsets, Red Alert should appeal to you - 7/10

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