Cliffbee.com: Henkei Silverbolt Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Silverbolt
Series: Henkei
Allegiance: Cybertron
Alternate Mode: Stealth Jet



JET MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 25.5cm (28cm with weapon attached) Width: 14cm

   A white supersonic plane, Silverbolt is loosely based on the XB-70 supersonic bomber, a military jet fairly similar in shape to a Concorde SST. The nose is composed of a soft grey plastic while there's silver paint along the front edges of his wings and around the jets at the back. There are red flashes here and there, notably two buttons on the fuselage. The black gun under his nose is fairly prominent, although you can detach if if you prefer. There are some tributes to the 25th anniversary of Transformers, with "BOLT-25" in black stencilled letters on either side of the fuselage and silver badges sporting black "25" lettering on the wingtips. Rounding things out is some transparent blue on his jet thrusters, cockpit windows and small air intakes on the sides of the fuselage. Notably, there are no Autobot logos here.

   While it's not a Concorde, this plane mode feels quite similar, with a long nose section and sweeping wings (actually, the rear section is a wedge shape). There are moulded seams here and there, tailfins and air intakes on the front of the jets. The underside is clearly a folded up robot, but there's a lot less sticking out here than was the case on the G1 version. There are three retractable red plastic wheels underneath, along with the detachable gun. I prefer the look of this plane _without_ the gun, since it's a little more realistic.

   While the wheels provide some play value, the gun fires a single red missile, adding some more play value. The red button at the back activates three light and sound gimmicks, which alternate. The first (which is an arbitrary tag) is a machine gun firing sound, accompanied by flashing green LEDs nestled within the small air intakes. This one will continue as long as you press on the button. The second sound is a wooshing sound, with no lights, that goes for about a second and that's all. The third is what sounds like an ignition sound which also lasts around a second, accompanied by flashing orange LEDs at the back of the jets. While the first sound is impressive, the others aren't. I'd be far more satisfied if you could select _which_ sound you'd like to activate, rather than being forced to cycle through the crappy ones.

   This is a big, simple toy with a robot tucked away underneath. I can deal with the fairly simple layout, since that's actually quite faithful to the character. I'm not impressed with the underwhelming electronics, which _force_ this to to be simple. I'll probably take the batteries out once I finish this review. This plane mode is a good update for the character, and works well, visually, although the play value doesn't reach any heights.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Detach the gun, fold up the wheels. You're meant to fold down the tailfins, but you don't actually have to do so. Fold the nose back and down, clipping it onto a hook on the rear of the fuselage. Unclip the arms underneath, pull out the legs from under the front and slide the groin into his torso. This will generate a traditional transformation sound (think G1 cartoon), push the robot head out from within the fuselage and cause his eyes to flash green a few times. When reversing this step, the rising pitch of the transformation sound is replaced by one with a falling pitch (and no LEDs, since the head ends up stowed). Rotate the boots, fold out his feet and heelspurs. Rotate the forearms, flip out his fists and place the gun in either hand.

   While Silverbolt is a robot stowed under a plane, this transformation hides that robot much more effectively than that of the original, and doesn't require any add on stuff, which was the achilles heel of the G1 toy. The transformation sound effects are well thought out, and this gimmick works quite well.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 24.5cm Width: cm

   A white, red, gold, silver and black robot, Silverbolt's colours match those of the G1 cartoon Silverbolt - in turn based on the tricked-out G1 toy. The torso is largely red with some silver while the shoulders, thighs, boots, forearms and head are white. His face is silver with green eyes and there's a red Autobot logo stamped on his chest (on a silver area). The knees are gold along with his forehead while the feet and hands are black. There's a large white cape, which is the wings of the plane mode, on his back - and the nose sticks up behind his head. The colour scheme works well and represents Silverbolt very well.

   When you compare the colours here to the almost entirely white plane mode, it makes sense that Silverbolt is going to be a robot with a plane on his back. Which isn't to say that he couldn't have been more complex if the electronics were left out, but he was always going to end up with the alt mode on his back in some form. The original toy was the same, and the cartoon copied that. There are few plane elements on the robot mode - only the pseudo wings on his shoulders. The original toy uses a chestplate, and this really limited the look and articulation of the arms, but the pseudo wings are part of the arms this time. The gold is no longer chrome, despite the fact that the Henkei line features a lot of chrome. I don't mind this, but it might bother some.

   The electronics here are more limited. When the head is out, the button on his back will only activate the machine gun sound - I'd love to figure out how to force this onto his plane mode. The dead red button on the front of the plane actually works to activate this machine gun sound now. The LEDs in his eyes only activate during transformation. We do have access to the missile launcher now in his hand, of course.

   The poseability here is good, with a couple of caveats. His head turns, but it's looking down slightly for some reason, which rules out some more interesting poses. The shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while his elbows are hinged with rotators. The hips swing and lift out to the sides while his knees are hinged with rotators. The feet are designed so that Silverbolt stands with his legs apart slightly - which I like, while his heelspurs are quite small and close to the line of his body - which I don't like. Silverbolt will do relaxed poses, but dynamic shooting poses are out, since he'll either be looking down, or falling backwards. With so much backpack, I fail to see why the designer gave him such limited heelspurs.

   A good robot mode which represents the character well, eliminates the need for add on chest pieces that G1 Silverbolt had, has better proportions than the original and stands in a more relaxed pose. The poseability is good, but still disappointing because the limitations on his heelspurs and head should have been improved upon early in the design process. The backpack is a slight negative - but then the character has always had a backpack. This robot mode really is one for fans of the character - it does a great job of representing the Aerialbot leader, even if the play value is limited by modern standards.

VARIATIONS

   The Hasbro version replaces white with a bluish-grey and red with maroon. Universe Darkwing is a repaint of Silverbolt.

OVERALL

   On the one hand, this figure is simple and centred on an electronics block, which is the case with most modern Ultra toys. On the other, the simplicity makes sense for the character, and this toy does a good job of improving on the concept of the original toy - better poseability and bodyshape, no add on parts for the robot mode and less junk visible in plane mode. If you're looking for a complex, satisfying ultra but don't care for Silverbolt as a character, you probably won't appreciate this toy - the transformation is cheaty and the electronics are fairly poor (despite the transformation sounds). If you want an updated representation of the character, this is a pretty good effort. He would have been better without the electronics and with some improvements to the articulation, but overall this is a good representation of the character. Ignoring price & availability, I'd strongly recommend the Takara one over Hasbro's strangely inaccurate colours - 7/10

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