Cliffbee.com: Armada Smokescreen Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Smokescreen
Series: Armada
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Crane



CRANE MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 16.5cm Width: 6cm

   An orange truck with a silver crane arm on the left hand side, black front bumper, tyres and windows. It's ridiculously apparent that Smokescreen's name is inappropriate - Grapple would have been a much better G1 name reuse, since G1 Smokescreen is a racing car. It's a pretty bright orange, so I'm glad the other colours here are dark. There's a fair bit of silver paint, and red paint on his headlights and on a moulded Autobot logo on his roof. Sadly the relief is also painted red. I'm really not sold on the red headlights - why they weren't done in silver is beyond me. Aside from the red paint applications, I'm quite happy with this colour scheme, which is both balanced and unified - not always the case in Armada.

   The detailing is for the most part pretty good. There's moulded pneumatic pistons on the crane arm, silver grip in places, black construction stripes on the sides and lots of other minor details. Smokescreen has a book hook on his crane arm and another hanging off the back, on a winch mechanism. While he's not quite a realistic crane, he's believable thanks to the attention to detail exhibited by features such as the pistons.

   Smokescreen has pretty good play value for a deluxe. The wheels spin, and there's a small blue switch on the back which allows the rear wheels to grip the winch, winding or unwinding the hook at the back, which is on the end of a white polyester cord. You also get the option of simply winding the winch's cylinder directly - which I prefer. There are three hardpoints here, including dead one on the winch hook and another dead one on the roof. The third is on top of the crane arm, above the base, and this one is live. If you attach Liftor (or whoever) and slide him forward, the crane arm will extend and a missile launcher will fold out, but not fire. There's a small blue button on top of the launcher which will fire the missile around two feet. I'm glad the missile won't auto fire, and I'm also glad the sliding extension isn't on a spring. Compared to Hot Shot's auto-firing missile this one's far less likely to get lost, and you can leave it ready to fire.

   The crane arm lifts up thanks to a ratcheting joint, and you can position it at either 30 or 60. The base rotates 360, although it's linked to the robot head, so if the arm is pointed to the rear, Smokescreen's face is exposed at the rear also. You can override this fairly easily by simply holding the head in place as you swivel the arm. Combined with the launcher, the arm's movement gives Smokescreen meaningful play value.

   My main complaint here is how badly they've used the red paint. Otherwise I'm fairly pleased with Smokescreen's crane mode. Of course, the name is just wrong for this toy, but the detailing is good and for a deluxe he's packed with play value.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Swing down the front wheels to form his legs, split the boots, fold down his calf panels and feet, rotate the boots. Split the cabin halves and swing down to the sides to form his arms, slide the right shoulder forward. Rotate his head and crane arm around, attach Liftor on top of the crane arm if you feel so inclined.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 15cm Width: 11cm

   Again mainly orange with some silver, blue and black highlights, Smokescreen has a metallic blue face and red eyes. The crane arm sits on top of torso, immediately right of his head, dominating this robot mode. Again the colours are fair well combined, although the blue is less prominent than before which works against this mode slightly - a little less orange would be better.

   The crane arm hangs off his shoulderblade and reaches out to the front, the winch is on his chest. The associated gimmicks are still functional, but the trade off is the white cord in the middle of his chest and a giant grey arm overshadowing everything else about this robot mode.

   Which is in a way a good thing, since Smokescreen's proportions bug me. He's wide and pudgy looking, with a wide, rounded head, and while he has moulded (and silver painted) fists, they're stowed underneath the cabin halves. I can deal with most of these shortcomings, but the covered fists bother me since it wouldn't have taken much for the covers to slide out and reveal the hands. Smokescreen has rounded heels rather than heelspurs which hurts his poseability somewhat and the shins are hollow, which hurts the look of this robot mode.

   The shoulders rotate and his arms lift out to the sides. The head turns, taking his missile launcher with it (although this can again be overridden). The hips are ball joints and the knees rotate to the sides. The effective poseability in the legs is next to nothing, since the lack of heelspurs allow him to keel backwards and with the crane arm/missile launcher protruding forward it doesn't take much for Smokescreen to keel forward. While the gimmicks in Armada often trade off with reduced articulation, Smokescreen's range of poses is more limited than most.

   As you probably can tell, I'm really not much of a fan of this robot mode. The shoulder mounted missile launcher is a good idea but it's just too big to work as well as I suspect the designer had hoped. The restricted fists really bug me, the proportions are bad and there's very little meaningful poseability. To round it out he's a fat Grapple wannabe who still has a mismatched name.


Name: Liftor
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Racing Forklift

FORKLIFT MODE
Height:2.5 cm Length: 7cm Width: 3.5cm

   If your reaction to the description of this mode was "What the...?", then you're not alone. When a forklift and a dragster get too friendly, this is what happens. That's not to say it's a bad vehicle mode - it's not - but it's certainly unorthodox. Basically he has a grey enclosed cabin at the back, complete with exhausts, an orange central block, blue sides and a blue airdam with forks. The tyres are ridged black affairs, the rear pair are huge compared to the small front pair.

   The airdam-tray can swing up, the wheels turn. OK, so it's not a lot of play value, but then this is a Minicon. Liftor looks pretty cool, and has a moulded Minicon symbol on what would be his hood. His Powerlinx port is on his underside. Working in his favour are colours that match those of Smokescreen.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Flip out the cabin halves to form his legs, split the airdam halves and swing them out to the sides to form wings. Flip the hood onto his back, unfold his arms.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 5.5cm, Width: 6cm

   With a black torso and head, blue arms and wings and grey boots, Liftor loses the orange that's all over his partner. His face is an asymmetrical silver droidesque affair, his arms port moulded fists - better than the covered fists Smokescreen got. The forks are now wings, which works well, in fact this is a nice looking robot mode.

   For a Minicon, Liftor's articulation is impressive. The shoulders rotate and his elbows are hinged. The hips are ball jointed, albeit restricted ones that mainly swing back and forth. The knees are also hinged, and without the limitations that haunt Smokescreen, the end result is a very poseable Minicon.


VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although a TF:Universe repaint saw the blue and orange switched. Armada Hoist represents an upgraded version of the same character, despite being a different mould, colour scheme and name.

OVERALL

   Smokescreen's crane mode is quite good but his robot mode leaves a _lot_ to be desired. Factoring in the horrible name reuse (what the hell were they thinking?), you end up with a somewhat limited Transformer. Granted, there's decent play value but the robot mode is a bit of a loss. Liftor is the real prize here, although whether or not you buy a deluxe just for a Minicon I'll leave up to you. Smokescreen on his own is flawed, but with Liftor in the mix it's a decent set - 6/10

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