Cliffbee.com: General Grievous (Starfighter) Toy Review

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Name: General Grievous
Series: Star Wars Transformers
Allegiance: Separatists
Alternate Mode: Starfighter (an increasingly loose term amongst Star Wars Transformers)



STARFIGHTER MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 20cm Width: 11.5cm

   A matte dark grey single-man spacecraft with gold and bronze lines on it and some transparent panels on the canopy towards the rear, this vehicle has both a simple colour scheme and a simple look about it. As is typical of SWTFs, the sculpted detail is excellent with careful attention paid to the relatively sparse seams and the like on this vehicle, including subtly painted bronze elements on the sides and twin bronze thrusters visible from behind. There's actually more colour underneath than on top, but the simple colours still work for the look of this vehicle.

   The most distinctive feature of this vehicle is the shape. The hull reminds me of a trimaran - there are two outriggers which protrude to the bow and a larger central hull which is wide at the stern and features the cockpit at this wider end. There are legs underneath the outriggers and at the rear a sort of rudder which acts as a third leg. It's still a relatively generic vehicle since the lines are subtle, the detailing is low and the colours are very understated.

   There's not a whole lot of play value here, but what Grievous does have is typical of SWTFs. The legs under the side can retract while the canopy opens forward to reveal a pilot's seat. Unlike many earlier SWTFs (including the Wheelbike version of this character), there's no pilot included, although I guess you could coopt the pilot of the wheelbike if you have it. It's worth noting that by the time we saw this vehicle being flown on film Grievous was already dead - Obiwan Kenobi used it to escape once he had defeated Grievous. There's a missile launcher underneath, which can fire a single bronze missile. The mechanism is fairly weak but it's accessible without any difficulty, and it won't randomly fire. One aspect I appreciate is the fact that this vehicle looks good standing on the table with the legs retracted - as well as with them out.

   A simple and understated but well executed vehicle mode. It's not exciting but the attention to detail typical of the vehicle modes in this line is evident here. The loss of a pilot counts as as potential shortcoming, but as a fan of Transformers over Star Wars, this doesn't bother me at all (even if the value is slightly worse). The simple design and minor role this vehicle plays in the movie saga mean this vehicle mode isn't that memorable alongside other SWTFs, but I'm very happy with the execution.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Stow the legs, remove and set aside the missile launcher. Open the panels underneath the front of the central hull, unclip the robot legs underneath and pull the outriggers (as well as the front of the central hull) loose. Rotate the waist, fold back the outriggers and panels. Unclip the arms from the sides of the cockpit and plug the hull section in as a backpack. Split the legs, rotate the knees and swing the feet and heelspurs down into place. Unfold the arms, fold the rudder onto his back, revealing the head. Split the tail, rotate the halves out to the sides to form shoulderpads, pivot the head forward into place. Plug the missile launcher into either hand and/or place the light sabres stowed in the outriggers in his hands.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18cm Width: 11cm

   Again largely matte dark grey, Grievous's arms and legs are augmented by beige painted details while his head is off white with red eyes. There's also some off white on his thighs while the feet are gunmetal and the transparent canopy forms much of his chest. The colours are a little more complex here, but not much. There is a lot more contrast and while the grey still dominates, we do see more of the lighter colours Grievous has on the silver screen.

   As with many SWTFs, there's a lot of kibble here. The backpack is huge and while it sits close to his back the dark grey colour really makes it stand out against the lighter colours added here. The widest part is around his thighs so it can't really be a cape - even though Grievous wore one in the film. The rudder is visible behind his head which is something of a feature, along with the shoulderpads and the cockpit on his chest. This robot lacks the lankiness of the character on film, and the second pair of arms are also absent. The kibble is prominent but overall this robot mode works - it's not as awkward as some of the earlier SWTFs which weren't really sure how to deal with their kibble. The kibble here isn't perfect but it still stays out of the way of the robot's shape.

   The play value here is mixed. The articulation is good but the poseability does have some issues. The head turns but the plate it rests on unclips quite easily so care is needed. The shoulders, elbows, knees, hips and ankles all move in two directions and the waist rotates - although this last one really works for the transformation only, since the hull plate is flush with his back. The ankles and elbows are fairly delicate, especially the elbows which look like they're going to break at any moment - there are thin, flimsy, connectors between the upper and lower arms. The rotators where these connect to the forearms are difficult to move, too, which can put considerable strain on these pieces. As you'd expect of a robot with a significant backpack, Grievous can topple backwards easily - the range of stable poses is very limited. The ankles can also collapse in some poses. I do like the choice between the missile launcher and the two lights sabres. While strictly speaking the green and blue light sabres make more sense, the missile launcher intended for the vehicle mode can be used here, which is a bonus really.

   A decent robot mode and while it has a few issues, it does a good job of supporting the vehicle mode. Sue the vehicle mode is understated, but as with most SWTFs the design focus is on that mode - so the robot mode has some kibble and much of the colour here is that of the vehicle rather than the character. The poseability has some issues and the kibble does detract, but this robot mode is a decent effort if not a great one.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of although as mentioned there is a Wheel Bike version of the same character.

OVERALL

   A fairly average SWTF with the hallmarks of that line - great detailing in the vehicle mode, kibble and poseability issues in the robot mode, a robot mode which basically folds up inside the vehicle mode and colours centred on the vehicle mode. The vehicle here is fairly uninteresting despite an unusual shape but the designer has done a great job of the Starfighter all the same. The robot mode is a decent effort despite kibble and colours that largely fit the vehicle mode. I like the inclusion of light sabres and the vehicle mode's play value, but I'm not a fan of the elbows which just feel like they're trying to break. Recommended if you like SWTFs, and it's the stronger of the two General Grievous toys, even if the vehicle mode is far more obscure - 6/10

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