Cliffbee.com: Nightscream Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Nightscream
Series: Beast Machines
Allegiance: Maximal
Function: Aerial Combat/Recon Expert
Alternate Mode: Technorganic Bat

Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Nightscream for this review



BAT MODE
Height: 8cm Length: 45cm Width: 55cm

   A huge, spindly brown bat with metallic blue claws, metallic blue paint on the bones in his wings, a transparent orange back and wing membranes. The colours are more or less faithful to the show - not a small feat for a Beast Machines Maximal, but they're not really attractive either. The colours aren't ugly, but the orange on the back detracts from what should be good interplay between blue and brown - two colours that oppose well. There's some gold around his colourless eyes, and the head is a darker brown than most of the toy - his hands (why does he have hands? bat wings _are_ their hands) are also dark brown. The legs hanging out the back have a lot of transparent blue plastic in them, and I don't know that he needs a fourth major transparent plastic colour. Had the designer stick to blue and brown plastics of two shades with paints to augment things, Nightscream could have looked good, but the colours just feel a little too jumbled.

   Why is the smallest, youngest, Maximal in the show the largest of all of the characters? I know that some Transformers series - G1 in particular - have had scale problems, but this is not a toy that needed to be a drawn out ultra. It's a simple design anyway, and the sculpt bears that out, since the level of detail is notably below what you usually see on Beast Machines toys. The legs are far too long, looking very much like the robot legs that they are. The ridiculous part about this is that they're spindly in robot mode as well - so we have legs that would be out of proportion there on an beast mode which demands shorter legs again.

   The wing design is downright lazy. The robot arms clearly form the front surface, and while bat wings normally have a thicker front margin (the forefinger), the robot arms are not a margin, they're distinctly separate from the wings hanging off them. The fact that they end not in a fingertip/claw but a five digit hand just ruins any possibility the wings might have had of actually looking like bat wings. They're arms with wings hanging loosely off them, and not trying to be anything else. While some of the Beast Machines Maximals are poor Transformers (due to weird alt modes) but still good action figures, the wings ensure that Nightscream isn't even a very good action figure, since the membrane parts of the wing only anchor in one spot, and don't clip or notch anywhere else. They do expand - there are four pieces per wing - but this isn't much use when they're barely anchored to begin with.

   The play value here is fairly minimal, although a lot of effort went into it. Opening up the orange panel on his back reveals a disc launcher, which can then be reassembled. It fires fairly weakly and while there's a linked red LED gimmick, which illuminates the colourless eyes, it's a lot of bother for little achievement. Nightscream doesn't so much have poseability as floppiness - the groin doesn't bother clipping into place while the wings tend to sag on their attachment joints. Granted his ears can pivot back, a nice touch, and the head can move side to side while the blue lower jaw opens, but he looks too ungainly for any of this to generate cool poses.

   Annoyingly big without really justifying his size, Nightscream takes up space better than he manages anything else. The play value is awkward, the wings are awful, the legs too long and the whole thing is unstable. If Sonar could manage wings that clip together well at the basic scale, then Nightscream has no excuse. He's a lanky robot lying down with a headswap and a limb swap, rather than a bat. The bat we saw in the cartoon is only vaguely present here, to boot.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fiddly without being complex - Nightscream has a Basic-level transformation (although many Basic sized toys are more complex) that has been scaled up carelessly. His legs swing foreward with the robot groin clipping (loosely) over the bat face, the shoulders rotate to be in the correct position for robot mode, the groin rotates and panels fold down to form the chest and back, revealing his head. The rest is just limb fiddling, most notably folding out the feet, rotating the wings and extending the knees. There's nothing clever here except for the poorly-execeuted bat-face stowed in groin, and certainly nowhere near enough to make this a satisfying Ultra.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 30cm Width: 30cm (15cm if you ignore the wings)

   Again blue and brown with various transparent elements - the wings and legs most notably, along with the blue groin, Nightscream has a dark brown head with a gold stripe down the middle and transparent blue eyes - with a poor lightpipe. His chest is a plate composed of transparent blue plastic, but it sits over solid brown and the bottom is painted gold anyway. The hands are metallic blue plastic while the blue bat ears sit on his hips. Again the colour scheme isn't so great - it's pretty similar to that of the bat mode - but at least we lose that orange backplate here.

   The wings, which were inelegant in beast mode, are now inelegant kibble. Okay, so Nightscream's wings are visible on his arms in the cartoon, but these things hang awkwardly with nothing better to do than dominate the overall shape of the toy. The arms reach down to his ankles, and again everything is spindly. To be fair, he is scrawny in the show - so spindly could make sense if he didn't tower over everyone else, including your dog.

   The head is weird, with a strange outcrop that hangs over his left temple, a feature seen in the show. I don't think much of the thing, but I don't blame the toy designer, because this is merely a show accurate feature (even if much Nightscream isn't show accurate). There are also transparent blue ears on either side of his face, which give him a young boy look - a nice touch. This robot does feel quite technorganic, even if Nightscream still has a simple sculpt. The wings get in the way of this somewhat, since they overshadow the detailing of the toy.

   There's not too much play value here as such, although we do now have some meaning poseability at least. His head turns, but not in a natural way (the axis of rotation is too far forward) while the shoulders swing out and can lift up - both are via ratcheting joints, which is a good thing considering the weight of the wings stuck to his elbows. The elbows are very tight ball joints - tight enough that I don't entirely trust moving them when both sides are composed of transparent plastic (a material that Hasbro has admitted does not handle stress well). His wrists fold inward which is kind of pointless, but the thumb claws open and close nicely. The waist does not turn, but the groin comes apart easily - and when it does he immediately becomes unstable, floating above his feet. the hips swing and lift out to the sides while his knees rotate and hinge. The knee hinges and both sets of joints in the hips have satisfactorily tight ratchets, but the heelspurs do not even have notches, so for all the engineering that has gone into the leg joints, poseability is limited.

   While this is Nightscream's stronger mode, that's more because the bat is awful that anything else. Sure, the head is nice and show accurate and the ears are a nice touch, but the wings have been dealth with very crudely, the groin is unstable and the loose heelspurs ruin what would otherwise be useful poseability, although low by BM standards. The half-baked gimmick can plug into his chest now, but doing so requires lifting up the chest and backplates, which just looks dreadful, so it's adding insult to injury.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, thankfully.

OVERALL

   I really don't see what the designer was trying to do with this toy. He's not especially show accurate, the transformation feel like it belongs on a basic, the gimmick is awkward without really impressing, the beast mode feels very lazy while the robot mode isn't much better. Yes, he's big for an ultra, but all that translates to is long limbs and wings - it's like you're expected to be happy with the extra plastic for its own sake. I find myself unable to really find a significant positive here - everything about Nightscream is so unfocused. I get the distinct feeling someone within Hasbro managed decided one of the Maximals had to be made into an Ultra, and chose the least inappropriate design for this whim. I would recommend avoiding this toy to all but the most dedicated Beast Machines fans - 1/10

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