Cliffbee.com: BotCon 2009 Flak Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Flak
Series: BotCon Exclusives
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Missile Tank

Thanks to fatbot for loaning me Flak for this review



TANK MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 19.5cm Width: 8.5cm

   A grey and white camouflaged missile tank with a while mine plow (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the correct term) on the front, Flak is a repaint of Cybertron Defence Scattorshot. Unlike many modern BotCon repaints, he's not a tribute to any previous characters (although he does bear a name from G1. The camouflage is basically a series of white and grey lines running from side to side. Flak has moulded black treads on the sides, some red aspects here and there and a red stamped Autobot logo on the left side of the missilerack. The missiletips on the front are painted bronze. It's a good colour scheme which suits a snow combat roles, and while there's no tribute here, Flak's colours are markedly different to those of Scattorshot.

   While this is a a fairly straightforward vehicle there's quite a lot of fine detail in Scattorshot's mould, including hatches and panelling, rivets and links in on the treads, rivets on the missilerack and some pistons on the mine plow. There are 22 moulded missiletips on the missilerack, and while they don't fire this tank still has plenty of play value (which I'll come back to). There are two hardpoints, one on either side of the tank itself, towards the back (which is handy for me, since my Scattorshot came with a bonus Minicon two pack as part of an in-store promotion!).

   There's a lot of play value here, and it's all quite cool. There are four ridged wheels underneath allowing Scattorshot to roll, along with the Minicon ports I've mentioned. The missilerack lifts on a ratcheting joint to about 75°, with three stable intermediate positions thanks to a ratcheting joint (well, two working in unison). Lifting up the missilerack exposes the robot thighs, groin and head (but not the face), so I'd recommend lifting it no further than the first click. The missilerack can rotate through 360° on a ratcheting joint, which works in tandem with the lifting joint. The mine plow lifts up and Scattorshot's blue handgun can clip onto the leftside hardpoint.

   Flak has two keyslots, and a single, transparent blue Planet Key with a red Autobot symbol on it. The slots are on the back of the missilerack, side by side. If you plug the key into the left side, the left half of the rack opens out to reveal a cannon, which sits to the side of the rack itself. The right side similarly unfolds to reveal a twin missile launcher with gold missiles, the launcher extends manually from its casing, and also features a transparent yellow sight. The slots are too close to each other for two keys to plug in at the same, but the weapons will stay deployed until you fold them back in (and since both mechanisms are spring loaded, they can't fold back as long as the key is loaded). The front section of the missilerack actually stays in place throughout, giving Scattorshot a rather impressive total of 26 barrels and projectiles when you include the handgun on the side.

   While the gap underneath the missilerack is a weakness, Flak is simply brimming with play value. Both key gimmicks are good and the movement of the missilerack is impressive, even if it does expose the aforementioned gap. The toy looks good before you deploy the weapons and once you fully arm him, Flak looks like a one-robot invasion. While he's a missile tank like his G1 namesake, this colour scheme is something new and it works well.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I should point out that the deployed weaponry doesn't need to be stowed for you to transform Flak, although it will make things a little easier. You do need to remove the handgun before starting, however. The missilerack needs to be facing forward.

   The rear side panels unclip and swing around, clipping over the front of the sides. The front splits to become the legs, with the mine plow becoming feet and its pistons becoming heelspurs. The missilerack simply splits and swings to the sides, forming arms. The fists flip out and the left half of the missilerack (now on the outside of his right arm) slides down if the cannon is deployed. Flak's head swings up from his back.

   The transformation is relatively simple since the torso integrates the swivel of the missilerack, which itself merely splits during transformation, but I'm glad that the simple transformation allows for worthwhile play value rather than a large battery compartment for a stupid malformed sound (or something equally bland).

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18cm Width: 15cm

   Flak's colour scheme is essentially the same here, albeit with less camouflage. The torso is grey while the white and grey camo is restricted to his boots. The elbows, hands, thighs and feet are white while his head, shoulders and forearms are black. His face is painted silver with green eyes. There's a red Autobot logo stamped on his chest and there are touches of red in other places. Again it's an attractive colour scheme which is distinctly different from Scattorshot.

   This robot mode is well detailed, with a detailed paint job and a good sculpt all over (both robot parts and tank aspects). His bodyshape is good, although you tend to notice the weapon blocks on the arms more than anything else. The boots are big and blocky, giving the toy a rather colossal look - which is helped by the massive armaments.

   The play value, unsurprisingly, dominated by the missilerack pieces on his arms. The key gimmicks function as in tank mode - this time you _can_ plug in two keys together, since the slots are now on opposite sides of the toy. The missile launcher on his left arm more of less covers his arm while the cannon on the right slides down to line up with his hand. Both weapons hand pseudo-handles that line up to his fists, although he doesn't actually grasp the handles. Curiously, the handgun can't be held in his hands while the gimmicks are deployed, although it can attach to the undersides of the missilerack halves (in a total of four positions).

   The weapons mostly stay out of the way of Flak's articulation, although the missile launchers on his left arm do get in the way of his elbow. The head turns through about 100°, the shoulders rotate through 360°and lift out to the sides - the latter is thanks to the joints that lift the missilerack in tank mode. The elbows bend and there are rotators in the upper arms (which are limited a little by the grey blocks next to them). The waist rotates through 360°, the hips swing and lift out to the sides while the knees bend and rotate. The feet and heelspurs can swing down. The end result is a remarkably poseable robot, considering how blocky it is. He's also fairly stable, although since much of the weight is on the sides (the missilerack halves), you'll find really dynamic poses are out.

   A great robot mode that makes full use of the key gimmicks. The detailing is good, the colours are very nice without being bold or forgettable. The poseability is very good, which makes sure that the gimmicks aren't wasted in this mode. Flak can't look through the sight on his left arm and the handgun doesn't look great attached to the outsides of the gimmick, but he doesn't really need the handgun to be honest (he has more than enough weaponry) and the sight is a minor issue.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned he is a repaint of Cybertron Defence Scattorshot. As a limited exclusive, Flak was likely limited to a single production run, making variants unlikey.

OVERALL

   Flak bucks the recent trend of BotCon repaints being some sort of throwback to older toys, and while this in itself is a nice change, there are a few versions of this mould which are more easily accessible while still offering good colour schemes. It's a good snow-based colour scheme on a fun mould and while the transformation is reasonably simple for a voyager, it works very well since the lost complexity transfers into great play value. The missile tank mode has oodles of play value, and much of this transfers to the robot mode. The robot is poseable yet can still make full use of the key gimmicks, and makes a great display piece to boot. The only significant flaw of this toy is a gap in the tank mode that becomes visible when you lift the missilerack, but I find it hard to really endorse this toy, simply because there are other versions of the mould which are just as compelling and much easier to obtain. Still, if you grab the 2009 BotCon set, Flak will be one of the standouts in that set - 9/10

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