Cliffbee.com: Henkei Strafe Toy Review

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Name: Genkei Strafe (note: He was sold as "Gentei", which means exclusive, rather than "Henkei")
Series: Henkei
Allegiance: Cybertron
Alternate Mode: Cybertronian Jet



JET MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 17cm Width: 15cm

   A white repaint of Henkei Cyclonus, Strafe has red chromed wings, a deep red needlenose, some orange cannons flush against the nose (but behind the needle) and red windows on the cockpit. There are no Autobot logos visible here, but otherwise it's a good colour scheme. The colours are close to those of the original, although the layout differs somewhat since this is a very different airframe. There's less orange here, and only a single spire at the front, but the colours are still enough to make this jet work as Strafe. The colour scheme works well visually, too, and the red chrome on the wings really sets this jet off.

   The wings sweep forward with forward sweeping fins at the back of them, just ahead of the thrusters. The shape is very much Cyclonus, although I've seen a hack where two Rocketbots are attached to the hands (the wings are flipped forward) for a more Strafe-like look. Given the rarity of this toy, I'm not going to try track down a second Rocketbot myself, although the effect is pretty good.

   Sadly, Strafe isn't very stable. The wings are a bit of a mess - they unclip too easily. The rear section doesn't _quite_ clip together properly, and while it looks okay, the fact that it floats around hurts because if you pick the toy up and the back moves a little, one or both of the wings will then unclip. The needle slides away as part of the transformation, but there's no internal notch to keep it fully extended - so if you brush it against something it'll push in with only minimal contact. All of these are fairly minor engineering issues in themselves, and really should have been addressed, but combined they make this vehicle mode far less stable than it should be. I'm mildly disappointed that they haven't been fixed on this repaint, although given his limited nature I'd only expect this investment if another use of the mould was planned.

   The play value here is decent, aside from the loose nature of the vehicle. Rocketbot plugs into a hole just behind the cockpit and looks pretty good there, adding some silver to the jet. There are black false wheels which can retract - one under the nose and two under the rear section. Unlike some modern plane Transformers, Strafe is still stable on the table with the landing gear stowed.

   An attractive mode with some nice play value and good use of chrome. The colours work, making his jet mode quite striking. There's still a lot of Cyclonus here, but it's a very nice repaint so I don't mind so much. It's such a pity that it's so unstable - and needlessly so. This is still a good jet mode - but you can't ignore the flaws, sadly.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Detach and set aside Rocketbot, if attached. Stow the landing gear, if deployed. Slide the needle in (you can just push it in, of course). Unclip the wings, lift out the panels above and below on the back, pivot them back and plug together to form his boots. Lift up the cockpit, fold the nose away and close the cockpit. Rotate his head, fold out the feet and heelspurs, stand Strafe up. Clip the floating wings onto the sides of the torso to form shoulders, extend the forearms, flip out the fists. Fold the chrome wings back behind his upper arms, attach Rocketbot if you wish.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 15.5cm Width: 10.5cm

   A white robot with orange feet, hands and thighs, Strafe has a silver painted face with black eyes. His forearms, shoulders and head are red while there's a red stamped Autobot on his chest and a couple of hints of black on his body. The colours actually match his G1 version closer now, but with Cyclonus' distinct head the tribute isn't all that pronounced. Having said that, the colours again work very well - to the point where I don't really care about the iconic character we see here that's _not_ Strafe.

   For all the failings of the vehicle mode's engineering, this robot mode is very stable and carries pretty much no kibble. Sure, the wings sit behind the upper arms but this is a deliberate tribute feature. The head really is that of Cyclonus, the bodyshape is good, although his legs are a shade skinny. The only kibble here is some black transformation struts on his hips, but you'll barely notice them anyway.

   The play value here is excellent. The wings can sit facing inwards as on the G1 toy or pointing up and out as on the cartoon. Rocketbot can plug into a hole in Strafe's right fist or you can fold away either fist allowing the gun to plug directly into his forearm, as seen on the Headmasters cartoon, where the Targetmasters actually fuse with their partners. His poseability is good - the head turns while his waist is fixed. His shoulder swing and lift out to the sides while the elbows are hinged with rotators above them. The wrists are fixed but as mentioned you have Targetmaster options. By the way, the "cartoon" configuration gives his shoulders a wider range of motion, since the wings sit further out to the side, whereas the "toy" configuration has them overlapping his torso. The hips swing and lift out to the sides while the knees are hinged with rotators. The rotators are mid-thigh and the thighs are quite angular, so turning the boots too far will look bad, but Strafe still has a wide range of poses. The feet and heelspurs can both fold down, and he's quite easy to stand in dynamic poses.

   An excellent robot mode with great play value and great colours, even if the tribute does feel forced here. The look of this robot mode is good anyway, since it's a well laid out mould with great colours. The options in his wings and gun really please me - while I prefer the "cartoon" wings and Headmasters style gun, the fact that TakaraTomy gave us the options at all says a lot about the design of this toy.

Rocketbot

   A silver gun with a green tinge on the barrel tip and some black towards the rear, Rocketbot is 6.5cm long. The handle is (wisely) unchromed black plastic. There's an orange (unpainted) notch at the back which plugs into Cyclonus's wrist. The transformation is fairly standard Targetmaster, with the top twin barrels folding down as legs and the longer, lower single barrel ending up on his back. The twist is that he has feet that fold out - something G1 Targetmasters never had. The robot has a black upper body with a red face, orange groin and feet with chrome silver legs. At 5.5cm tall, he's about standard height for a Targetmaster. The hips and shoulders swing while the elbows bend, giving Rocketbot poseability well beyond that of any *master in G1, and better than many G1 toys, period.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, he is a limited repaint of Henkei/Universe Cyclonus. Strafe was only available to owners of a Transformers branded credit card, which was only released in Japan.

OVERALL

   With an excellent robot mode, a very well designed Targetmaster partner, a clever transformation, excellent play value and a very nice colour scheme make this a nice toy. Strafe should be an amazing toy, but the looseness of some parts of the jet mode really hold him back in ways they didn't need to. A little more tweaking of the vehicle mode's stability would have topped of an good effort, but even without that, the engineering is still impressive - especially with the options we get. Assuming you can _find one at a decent price, I'd recommend Strafe -7.5/10

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