Cliffbee.com: Energon Unicron Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Unicron
Series: Energon
Allegiance: None
Function: Chaos Bringer
Alternate Mode: Planet

Thanks to Pulse for donating Unicron for this review



PLANET MODE
Height: 21cm Length: 30cm on one axis, 33cm on the other (there's no real front)

   A smoky transparent spheroid with various solid black elements here and there, Unicron has a single grey ring around the equator, attached to the planet in four places (every 90). There aren't really any sides, but for the purposes of this review I'll treat the side which features a large black angular area (the robot feet) as the back. The top half is mostly transparent purple with a "mouth" in the centre and two curved horns on either side. There's a depression directly on front of the mouth and the southern hemisphere's front half is a mess of angular black and dark army green plastic. The bottom of the toy is flat, so Unicron is only a planet when viewed from above (he's a spheroid, not a sphere). He's a repaint of Armada Unicron, without the G1-esque colours. There's a wash of lime green paint in the relief on the front and one horn. The colours here are very dark, aside from the contrast supplied by the lime.

   While the sphere is fairly broken up, Unicron's shape is close enough that the planet works. He's flat underneath so he can lie on a table, but you're not going to look at him from that direction. Viewed from above this is very much Unicron, even if the colours are nothing like those seen in the G1 media. This works well if you want to hold him up in a "floating through space" position (back of the sphere down), since all we see is a sphere coming towards us.

   As you'd expect of such a large toy, Unicron has a lot of moulded detail, especially on the rings which are nice and complex, sporting no less than 24 hardpoints. The shell is detailed both inside and out, there's barely a smooth surface. Even the horns are moulded. There are spines on the southern hemisphere, on the front side.

   While there are 24 hardpoints on the ring, none activate gimmicks (which would be near to impossible). Two hardpoints on the side of the planet itself are live, firing three yellow missiles each - not mush use if he's standing on the table since they'll fire straight up - but useful enough if Unicron is facing forward. At any rate, this brings the number of Minicon attachment points to 26. The depression in front of the mouth is actually _another_ Minicon location, although this one is dedicated to Dead End, who can plug in and swivel around, acting as a cannon. The horns close over the mouth like pincers (as in the movie), and as you push them in, they'll cause "jaw" plates to close inside his mouth, which is a nice effect. This gimmick is spring loaded, the horns (and jaws) will only remain closed as long as you hold the horn. I'm not sold on the flashes of yellow and red on Dead End - they don't gel with the lime green, so I actually prefer the look of this planet mode with Dead End left aside.

   While this is really only a side show to the robot mode - there's enough planet here for this rather unique alt mode to work. While it's far from a perfect sphere, I'm happy enough with what we get here, since I can't see how much more could have been achieved without the robot mode being a mess. The rings, mouth and horns are all nice touches and the profusion of Minicon attachments is pleasing. I'm not entirely sold on the colour scheme - although the basic idea of a dark planet is good, the bright colours on Dead End really break things up too much.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I'm not going to go through a fairly long description. Simply put, the front opens out to reveal his chest, the arms are unfolded from storage against the waist, the back of the planet folds down to form legs. The rings end up as skeletal wings on his back while the purple shell of the planet sits on his back as well.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 39cm Width: 35cm

   As the dimensions suggest, Unicron's robot mode is a colossus compared to most Transformers. Unicron is dominated by black and transparent orange. The upper arms, head, left hand, boots and parts of his torso are black while most of the front of his torso and right hand are transparent orange. The forearms and thighs are dark army green while his face is silver and metallic purple with orange eyes. The skeletal wings are grey and there are some silver and lime green painted details here and there - I'm really not a fan of the latter. The mix of transparent orange and lime green does not work well - there's a lot of lime green painted on orange, in fact, and the seemingly random use of purple on his face only makes Unicron more garish. On a positive note, the lime green paint is quite detailed, and asymmetrical (with far more on his left side), While the overall look is quite garish, considerable effort has gone into the paint mask.

   This is a very well laid out robot mode - the shortcomings of this mould are all in the planet mode, allowing this robot mode to really work. Other than the transparent panels tucked away on his back, Unicron is all robot. The size itself is impressive, and the wingspan helps give Unicron a sense of majesty. The planet mode horns sit on his shoulders while a smaller pair of similar horns sit on his head - and as in planet mode, only one has lime green relief. Other than the horns on his shoulders, this robot mode is remarkably faithful to the G1 Unicron, aside from the repainted colours.

   As you might expect of such a large recent toy, there are quite a few gimmicks in this mode. Unicron's 26 hardpoints are all available here (the depression for Dead End is gone, split in two and on his back), with the missile launchers now on the outsides of his boots. These sections can rotate, allowing the yellow missiles to fire forward, up or backwards. Two more dead hardpoints are introduced on his shoulders, and while they might not activate anything, they provide a great location for mounting Minicons - and Dead End can form a nifty mini shoulder cannon.

   Unicron has two LED gimmicks, and they're more impressive than many electronic gimmicks (the lack of crappy sounds actually helps). There's a subtle button on top of his head, pressing it will cause an LED inside his head to flash eight times, and this LED shines through his eyes very well. It's not the green eye-lasers we saw in the movie, but still looks really good. The transparent right hand also houses an LED, which also flashes eight times, activated by pushing the hand up towards his forearm. There's another live hardpoint on his back - and while this one's no good for displaying Minicons, it activates another electronic gimmick, pushing a missile launcher out from within his chest (the mechanism is mechanised) and activating the LED inside his head. The chest panels will only stay open as long as the missile launcher is extended, but you have to manually push it back into the chest. This launcher will release a single missile once it fully extends. The missile is an odd yellow and black affair which opens like a flower when released, it doesn't fly too well since it's quite heavy - it'll travel a reasonable distance mainly since the launcher is so high off the table. While this chest gimmick isn't really impressive, I like the fact that they've tried something different. The LEDs work quite well, mind you, with both the hand and eyes lighting up impressively, if slightly less so than the Armada version which used a colourless plastic. Unicron has three storage compartments (for yet more Minicons, presumably), with his waist and shins opening up to reveal cavities. Along with the various electronic gimmicks, boot missile launchers and array of dead hardpoints, this results in a _lot_ of play value.

   Unicron is quite poseable and has what would have to be the largest heelspurs we're ever likely to see on a Transformer. The head turns, although if you turn the head too far to one side the chest missile launcher gimmick can't light up the eyes since the contacts no longer line up. This doesn't bother me, since I appreciate this gimmick not getting in the way of poseability. You can always just press the button, anyway. His shoulders swing and lift to the sides, his elbows rotate and are hinged (inwards). The wrists rotate while the fingers have two joints each and the thumbs a single, lateral hinge. The inwards hinging elbows and natural posing of his fingers allow Unicron to flip you the bird. Unicron's waist rotates while the wings have some poseability. The biggest flaw of this robot mode relates to the wings - which can't actually clip into place. They sit on top of stalks that tend to flop down, which is exacerbated by the planet shell halves hanging off these stalks. You generally have to unclip the shell halves or fold the wings over his shoulders (both enhance the look of his robot mode, anyway).

   The hips swing and lift out to the sides, with groin and hip panels that can lift up to accommodate this movement. The knees have both hinges and rotators while his feet and heelspurs are hinged. Other than the knee rotators, all the joints I've just listed are ratcheting joints, along with most of the arm joints. This is important on such a heavy toy, since the weight is more than capable of topping Unicron over. While the pointed feet do limit the leg poseability a little, the tight joints make sure that Unicron is far more poseable than we might expect him to be.

   All in all this is a good robot mode, which makes sense since it's clearly the focal point of the toy. The repaint really does make him quite ugly, but it can't overwhelm the sheer scale of this robot, nor the impressive play value. There are several gimmicks, some work really well and some aren't so good, but with a whole bunch of things to do with Minicons, there's oodles of play vale here. Unicron is far more poseable than he deserves to be - most toys of this size are unposeable, and those that are usually have unrealistic alternate modes. While Unicron's planet mode is nowhere near the standard of his robot mode, the poseability achieved here is still remarkable.




Name: Dead End
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Moon

MOON MODE
Height: 3cm Length: 4cm Width: 3cm

   A small light grey ball with some yellow here and there, Dead End's only notable feature is a gunmetal cannon protruding slightly (which is why the dimensions aren't even). There's a reasonably well moulded circular pattern on the sides and a powerlinx port opposite the cannon. The cannon can flip out, which allows Dead End to form a cannon for Unicron or as a stand alone gun. The ball can rest on either the cannon side or the flat area around the powerlinx port, and the latter works well if you want to stand Dead End up as a cannon. The red face stands out much more than I'm comfortable with.

   The real value of this rather unusual alt mode is its combination with Unicron - on his own Dead End's moon mode is okay without really being much to look at. The moon concept itself is quite cool - even just placed alongside the planet itself, Dead End is a good partner for the Chaos Bringer - but you have to hide that red face. The silver cannon works best mounted on the planet mode, and also works quite well on Unicron's shoulders. As a bonus, Unicron is able to hold this little ball in his hand - which is how Dead End is packaged.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Unfold the ball basically. The cannon half becomes the arms, the cannon ending up on his right hand. The powerlinx port half then becomes the chest, head and legs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 5.5cm, Width: 4.5cm

   A light grey robot with yellow elbows, thighs and feet, Dead End has that gunmetal gun permanently attached to his right hand. As you might expect, this toy has lots of arcs, making Dead End awfully distinctive if not terribly attractive. His simple droidlike head is painted red, and the droid theme fits for a minion of Unicron who would have little in the way of free will. The generally curvy shape is also rather droid like, as is the cannon.

Dead End is reasonably poseable, with shoulders and hips that swing, knees that bend and wrists that rotate. All the poseability is part of his transformation, and while some of these joints end up being restricted, there's enough articulation to keep me happy. Dead End is essentially a companion for Unicron, and considering how spherical he is I'm happy enough with this robot mode, if not the choice of red paint.
VARIATIONS

   None as such, but this is a repaint of Armada Unicron, as mentioned.

OVERALL

   This is a very playable toy, and while his planet mode is only passable, it does sport a ring and the mouth that consumes planets. While the planet mode is on;y partly spherical and looks dicey from some angles, it does enough to sell the toy. The real focus of his design is Unicron's robot mode, which is terrific as play value goes. With lots of gimmicks - including two good LED gimmicks - the robot mode is very poseable and imposing on display. Dead End is a somewhat limited Minicon, but is by no means the worst Minicon Armada produced. Significantly, Dead End is a great compliment to Unicron, which makes sense since he's really along as a supplement to the main show. The colours here are quite garish - especially in robot mode - so I'd strongly recommend the Armada version over this one. I'm not sure that a garish repaint of such an expensive toy after only one year was a good idea (and this one sat on shelves for a while around here), but even in these colours the mould still has something to offer - 6/10

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