Cliffbee.com: Cybertron Sky Shadow Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Sky Shadow
Series: Cybertron
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Antonov An-225 Plane (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the model)

Thanks to Pulse for donating Skyshadow for this review



PLANE MODE
Height: 5.5cm Length: 28cm Width: 27cm

   A champagne gold Antonov An-225 transport plane with maroon wings and tail winglets, featuring extensive grey paint on top of the wings and fuselage, Sky Shadow is a repaint of Jetfire, and indeed represents Jetfire undercover. The cabin windows are gold, a colour also found on the front of the four grey engines underneath the wings and those within the tail. The raised red Autobot symbol on the roof has been smoothed out and replaced with a stamped Decepticon logo, representing the only retooling here. His maroon head is badly folded away on top of the fuselage, which is the only blemish on a good colour scheme which is distinctly different to that of Jetfire. I would call the two colour schemes on par with one another.

   There's quite a lot of moulded detail on this plane, including complex plane lines all over the fuselage and wings. Of course military transport planes are usually fairly simple at a glance, and Jetf Sky Shadow ire fits that bill - the detail is subtle and more than enough to keep me happy - without ruining the illusion. It's a nice balance and while the paint mask here is more complex than on Jetfire, the darker colours offset this.

   The visible head is a significant flaw, and it wouldn't have been too hard to cover it up better. Granted, it's not sticking out as on some Energon toys (Ironhide being the worst), but on an ultra sized toy it should have been done a lot better. Otherwise this is a nice plane mode, mind you. The wings attach to the top of the fuselage and the maroon missile launchers underneath his wingtips work well.

   There's not really a lot of play value here for an ultra. The missiles can be fired and will slide around two feet (60cm) along the table and there are wheels underneath the fuselage which roll. There's a sound gimmick that's activated by pressing the front panels of the tail engines. It sounds like some sort of animal in pain but I suspect it's meant to be a jet sound of some description. The transparent yellow on the back of these engines will flash four times while he's wailing. I've never been much of a fan of poor sound gimmicks and this one is especially unimpressive - the LEDs aren't anywhere near enough to make it worthwhile. The yellow doesn't stand out against the champagne here as much as the red did against green, which I appreciate.

   As you'd expect there's a Planet Key gimmick here. First you have to unclip the entire assembly and fold it up over the top of the fuselage, since the Planet Key plugs into the underside. Once you've done this, the electronic sound changes to a laser fire sound, and will continue as long as you press one of the buttons (as will the blinking LEDs). This sound makes a lot more sense, even if there's no way Jetfire could ever fly in this configuration. Plugging his blue Planet Key (code: u06h) into the top of the tail assembly will cause a now-revealed maroon and silver gun with twin yellow barrels to lift up, while the barrels extend. It'll also cause the electronics to emit another jet-like sound, which is better than the first but still underwhelming.

   This is more the most part an attractive and realistic plane, but the visible head hurts - thankfully his face is hidden. The electronics are unimpressive and the Planet Key is not worth bothering with (there are basics with better key gimmicks) and to use it you've got to distort the plane itself. The missile launchers are easily the best play value here, and while they don't sit in their sockets as firmly as I'd like, they're just enough to make this a decent plane mode. The repaint works well without being especially memorable.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove the missile launchers if they're loaded. Unclip the tail, drag down the bottom of the fuselage to form his boots, rotate through 90 and fold down his feet and heelspurs. Lift back the top of the plane, folding down the nose to form his chestplate. The back sits at an angle of about 60, the chestplate clips into the waist which causes small dark green panels to pop out as waist blocks. Fold the tail up onto his back and fold back the tailwing tips. Lift out his head unfold the engines to become his arms - the outer pair become his forearms and inner pair his upper arms. The wings are meant to lift up slightly, they can go right up but then his arms stick out to the sides.

   This is both a clever and badly executed transformation. The legs are symmetrical and can actually face either way (although one side has fewer visible screws) and the arms are quite cleverly concealed. The tail just sits on his back, not clipping into anything - it relies on a tight hinge to keep it from flopping down. Considering the tail block carries a speaker and button battery cells, this is a really bad idea. Unsurprisingly, he's back heavy. The hands are meant to push out automatically as you transform the arms but don't quite make it - you have pull them out the rest of the way.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19cm (top of head) Width: 27cm (maximum wingspan)
Dimensions will vary according to wing positioning

   Again centred on champagne gold, Sky Shadow has grey arms, thighs and feet while his head is maroon with a silver mask, red mouthplate and transparent yellow eyes without a lightpipe. Again there's some grey paint, but nowhere near as much as in plane mode. Instead there's some maroon paint on his kneecaps which is a shade or two lighter than his maroon plastic. The Decepticon logo is central on his chest. The colours again work, although the relative loss of maroon means I prefer the plane mode. Again the colours are distinctly different to Jetfire's.

   There's a nice mix of plane features and detail here, making Sky Shadow an attractive robot. The wings as giant shoulderpads work well, as do the tubular arms and the cabin chestplate is looks great. The colours lack the G1 feel that Jetfire has, if anything they're atypical for a Transformer. The missile launchers are large and powerful looking, working well as twin hand weapons.

   The poseability is pretty good for a Transformer with a realistic vehicle mode. His head is ball jointed, the wings can lift up and down _and_ rotate as shoulder joints. The upper arms themselves also lift out to the sides while his elbows are hinges and rotate out to the sides. The knees are hinged with rotators in his thighs and both the feet and heelspurs can lift up and down. The waist does not turn (in fact the chest unclips very easily), but there's enough movement in the arms and legs to allow for action poses, and the ability of his heelspurs to fold down does a great job of compensating for that heavy backpack.

   There are two really annoying aspects of the engineering here. The first is the unattached backpack, which flops down awfully easily while you're posing the toy. The second is the fragile waist connection, which unclips the same way. While it's quite possible to get some great action poses, you'll find yourself fixing both more often than not. The tail would have been very easy to clip and the waist can't be too difficult to fix either - especially on an ultra. These are the sort of problems you'd expect on a basic, actually.

   The key gimmick can be activated here, but there's really no point - it just means the yellow posts on his backpack stick out slightly higher. The electronics are all available but only the laser fire sound carries any relevance. I don't mind the electronics taking a back seat here, since I don't care for them.

   While there are some frustrating engineering problems that could have been easily addressed, this is a decent mode, visually and there's some useful articulation. The Planet Key gimmick plays no part, but that's not really a loss. If you display your Transformers rather than play with them, this is a good robot mode - but if you play you'll find the instability annoying.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. As mentioned, he is a repaint of Jetfire.

OVERALL

   The basic idea here is very good, and the colours are great, but this guy would have been better without the stupid gimmicks in his tail. None really bring anything to the toy and the weight of the backpack brings its own problems. This guy would have worked better as a mega - or even a deluxe - where he would have been spared the burden of electronics (why is it Hasbro bundle electronics in anything ultra or larger - even when the effects are crappy?). A reasonable ultra but no better, Sky Shadow represents poor value as an Ultra, and I certainly wouldn't recommend him if you already have Jetfire. He's not really any better or worse than his alter-ego, but at least the colours are distinctly different - 6/10

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