Cliffbee.com: Onyx Primal Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Onyx Primal
Series: Convention Exclusives
Allegiance: Predacon
Function: Predacon Assassin
Alternate Mode: Bat



BAT MODE
Height: 4.5cm Length: 10.5cm Width: 11.5cm (flat on table)

   A black bat with gold eyes, grey inner ears, white fangs and red inside his mouth, Onyx Primal is covered in fur patterning on top and crammed with light grey and black robot kibble underneath. You're not really meant to look underneath, so this mode is essentially just black - hence the name. It may seem obvious, but Obsidian has been sold in green, purple and brown but not black, so Onyx Primal gets credit for being black!

   The underside kibble is basically his robot arms and legs, which unfortunately don't clip onto anything, and rely on tight joints to keep them from flopping around. The limbs are fairly well behaved, but it'd be nice if he had some bat feet to hang from. As it is he has the robot feet and hands stowed under his tail, but they're not bat feet and won't hook on anything.

   The play value is laughable - his lower jaw opens, and stays open, since the hinge is too loose. OK, so I don't want all that much from a bat, but being able to hang would have been nice. Onyx Primal is a recolour of Optimus Primal, one of the first BW toys, so he inherits a very early BW mould, with all the raw edges that comes with the turf.

   One of the strong points of the Beast Wars line was attention to small details. Onyx Primal's wings have fingers and the "thumb" (which is a spur on the front of the wings on bats), nostrils and moulded fur all over. Oddly, he has some blood vessels moulded on the undersides of his wings - which is weird considering how much kibble's under there.

   It's a very early BW mould as mentioned, so the bat mode isn't really that exciting, since the designers were still learning. Mind you, I wouldn't really recommend playing with convention exclusive toys anyway, so lack of play value isn't as much of an issue for Onyx as it was for Bat Primal. It's hard to go wrong with a black bat mode, and the black suits the mould well.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   A feature of the original Beast Wars basics was the auto-transform, In theory you pull the tail up, a series of gears and springs get working and Onyx transforms himself into a robot. In practice you'll have to flip his feet up and position his arms. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close, and better than the Machine Wars flipchangers that required you to dig the weapon bits out and assemble them - Onyx's black swords are easy to unclip from underneath his wings. You can leave the swords stowed if you like, by the way.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 10cm Width: 12cm

   Wider than he is tall thanks to the wings forming a pretty sweet cape, Onyx Primal is now black with light grey blue with gold highlights. I should mention the gold is a metallic gold rather than a rich yellow, and goes very well with the black. The bat head is his chest, his robot head, groin, thighs and shoulders are light grey, his mouth his black and eyes gold. The forearms and knees are also painted gold. A very sinister colour scheme, it really _looks_ like a repaint, since the mould has heroic elements (cape, face). The colours are very different from those in Bat Primal, it's immediately obvious he's a different character.

   As mentioned, the wings form a cape, and sit far enough behind his arms they don't get in the way. The cape is fixed, and the wings curve downwards. You can see the bones of his fingers as well as the blood vessels already mentioned, giving the wings a semi-organic feel. The bat head on his chest works well. The bat ears sticking out are a little unusual, but looking strangely good.

   A feature of Beast Wars robot modes was excellent poseability, and Onyx has pretty good articulation. His shoulders, elbows, knees and hips are all ball joints, which are nice and tight. The hips and shoulders have tendencies to pop out, but they'll fit straight back. His head is also on a ball joint, but all it can really do is wiggle a little. The ankles are hinged, for his transformation, and this helps balance the heavy backpack that is his cape.

   The swords stick up out of his fists at 90°, so he can only slash, which works fine for his curved sabres anyway. Lots of cool poses are possible, allowing him to release his bible-spouting wrath on Maximals. One good thing about his sabres is that they don't form vital parts of his alt mode, so losing one (or both) isn't the end of the Transformer. As mentioned, his limbs can pop off fairly easily, and losing one of those _is_ the end of the toy, I'm afraid.

   Easily his better mode, this is a good looking robot mode. The heroic elements are offset by the black and gold, giving him an antihero look. The articulation is pretty good, his ball joints and swords give Onyx good poseability.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, he's a repaint of Bat Primal. There were two versions of Onyx Primal. The more common version has no writing, the slightly rarer Dealer Exclusive has the words "BOTCON™ '96 DEALER EXCLUSIVE" on the back. From a toy purist point of view, the standard version is probably better, although as a Convention souvenir the Dealer Exclusive has a charm. I ended up with the Dealer Exclusive, although I didn't really get any choice in the matter.

OVERALL

   Onyx Primal was overproduced by the organisers of BotCon '96, MIB Collectables, and as a result is one of the more maligned convention toys, and is relatively common on the secondary market. He might be common, but he's also a great repaint, and so I think he's an excellent exclusive, that's underrated and underpriced. If you don't have the money to lavish on some of the more expensive BotCon toys, but want one, I'd really recommend Onyx Primal. Granted, the bat mode isn't much but he looks really cool in robot mode. I actually like him more than Bat Primal, and would almost recommend him over his predecessor, except for the fact he's a lot harder to actually find - 7/10

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