Cliffbee.com: Unicron Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Unicron
Series: Armada
Allegiance: None
Function: Chaos Bringer
Alternate Mode: Planet



PLANET MODE
Height: 21cm Length: 30cm on one axis, 33cm on the other (there's no real front)

   A transparent purple spheroid with orange inside, Unicron has a single grey ring around the equator, attached to the planet in four places (every 90). There aren't really any sides, but for the purposes of this review I'll treat the side which features a large grey angular area (the robot feet) as the back. The top half is mostly transparent purple with a "mouth" in the centre and two curved horns on either side. There's a depression directly on front of the mouth and the southern hemisphere's front half is angular and orange. The bottom of the toy is flat, so Unicron is only a planet when viewed from above (he's a spheroid, not a sphere). While this figure represents the Armada character, there is a deliberate semblance to the character made famous in Transformers: The Movie, which was a purplish colour with orange horns.

   While the sphere is fairly broken up, Unicron's shape is close enough that the planet works. He's flat underneath so he can lie on a table, but you're not going to look at him from that direction. Viewed from above this is very much the Unicron seen in the Armada cartoon (and the movie, for that matter). This works well if you want to hold him up in a "floating through space" position (back of the sphere down), since all we see is a sphere coming towards us.

   As you'd expect of such a large toy, Unicron has a lot of moulded detail, especially on the rings which are nice and complex, sporting no less than 24 hardpoints. The purple shell is detailed both inside and out, there's barely a smooth surface. Even the horns are moulded, and have a slight sliver paint wash. There are spines on the southern hemisphere, on the front side.

   While there are 24 hardpoints on the ring, none activate gimmicks (which would be near to impossible). Two hardpoints on the side of the planet itself are live, firing three yellow missiles each - not mush use if he's standing on the table since they'll fire straight up - but useful enough if Unicron is facing forward. At any rate, this brings the number of Minicon attachment points to 26. The depression in front of the mouth is actually _another_ Minicon location, although this one is dedicated to Dead End, who can plug in and swivel around, acting as a cannon. The horns close over the mouth like pincers (as in the movie), and as you push them in, they'll cause "jaw" plates to close inside his mouth, which is a nice effect. This gimmick is spring loaded, the horns (and jaws) will only remain closed as long as you hold the horn.

   While this is really only a side show to the robot mode - there's enough planet here for this rather unique alt mode to work. While it's far from a perfect sphere, I'm happy enough with what we get here, since I can't see how much more could have been achieved without the robot mode being a mess. The rings, mouth and horns are all nice touches that not only allow this toy to be a good substitute for the famous G1 character but give this sphere a personality. The profusion of Minicon attachments is fitting for the showpiece toy of the Armada line, even if there aren't really many gimmicks here.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I'm not going to go through a fairly long description. Simply put, the front opens out to reveal his chest, the arms are unfolded from storage against the waist, the back of the planet folds down to form legs. The rings end up as skeletal wings on his back while the purple shell of the planet sits on his back as well.



ROBOT MODE
Height: 39cm Width: 35cm

   As the dimensions suggest, Unicron's robot mode is a colossus compared to most Transformers, Unicron is dominated by orange and grey. The arms, head, thighs and parts of his torso are orange while the skeletal wings, hands, chestplate, groin and boots are grey. His face is a light grey with transparent eyes. There extensive purple painted details while slices of the purple spheres sit on the outsides of the boots. Much of the grey here is transparent, including his chest, groin and right hand. The colours map closely to the G1 character and work together quite well.

   This is a very well laid out robot mode - the shortcomings of this toy are all in the planet mode, allowing this robot mode to really work. Other than the purple panels tucked away on his back, Unicron is all robot. The size itself is impressive, and the wingspan helps give Unicron a sense of majesty. The planet mode horns sit on his shoulders while a smaller pair of similar horns sit on his head. Other than the horns on his shoulders, this robot mode is remarkably faithful to the G1 Unicron - it's quite obvious that this toy was designed around making a toy G1 fans could appreciate. While we've seen many G1 tribute Transformers in recent years, Unicron is really meant to be more than just a tribute - Unicron is a substitute for the G1 Unicron toy we never saw. The head is pretty much a dead ringer for G1, down to the moustache motif.

   As you might expect of such a large recent toy, there are quite a few gimmicks in this mode. Unicron's 26 hardpoints are all available here (the depression for Dead End is gone, split in two and on his back), with the missile launchers now on the outsides of his boots. These sections can rotate, allowing the yellow missiles to fire forward, up or backwards. Two more dead hardpoints are introduced on his shoulders, and while they might not activate anything, they provide a great location for mounting Minicons - and Dead End can form a nifty mini shoulder cannon.

   Unicron has two LED gimmicks, and they're more impressive than many electronic gimmicks (the lack of crappy sounds actually helps). There's a subtle button on top of his head, pressing it will cause an LED inside his head to flash eight times, and this LED shines through his eyes very well. It's not the green eye-lasers we saw in the movie, but still looks really good. The transparent right hand also houses an LED, which also flashes eight times, activated by pushing the hand up towards his forearm. There's another live hardpoint on his back - and while this one's no good for displaying Minicons, it activates another electronic gimmick, pushing a missile launcher out from within his chest (the mechanism is mechanised) and activating the LED inside his head. The chest panels will only stay open as long as the missile launcher is extended, but you have to manually push it back into the chest. This launcher will release a single missile once it fully extends. The missile is an odd yellow and black affair which opens like a flower when released, it doesn't fly too well since it's quite heavy - it'll travel a reasonable distance mainly since the launcher is so high off the table. While this chest gimmick isn't really impressive, I like the fact that they've tried something different. The LEDs work quite well, mind you, with both the hand and eyes lighting up impressively. Unicron has three storage compartments (for yet more Minicons, presumably), with his waist and shins opening up to reveal cavities. Along with the various electronic gimmicks, boot missile launchers and array of dead hardpoints, this results in a _lot_ of play value.

   Unicron is quite poseable and has what would have to be the largest heelspurs we're ever likely to see on a Transformer. The head turns, although if you turn the head too far to one side the chest missile launcher gimmick can't light up the eyes since the contacts no longer line up. This doesn't bother me, since I appreciate this gimmick not getting in the way of poseability. You can always just press the button, anyway. His shoulders swing and lift to the sides, his elbows rotate and are hinged (inwards). The wrists rotate while the fingers have two joints each and the thumbs a single, lateral hinge. The inwards hinging elbows and natural posing of his fingers allow Unicron to flip you the bird. Unicron's waist rotates while the wings have some poseability. The biggest flaw of this robot mode relates to the wings - which can't actually clip into place. They sit on top of stalks that tend to flop down, which is exacerbated by the planet shell halves hanging off these stalks. You generally have to unclip the shell halves or fold the wings over his shoulders (both enhance the look of his robot mode, anyway).

   The hips swing and lift out to the sides, with groin and hip panels that can lift up to accommodate this movement. The knees have both hinges and rotators while his feet and heelspurs are hinged. Other than the knee rotators, all the joints I've just listed are ratcheting joints, along with most of the arm joints. This is important on such a heavy toy, since the weight is more than capable of topping Unicron over. While the pointed feet do limit the leg poseability a little, the tight joints make sure that Unicron is far more poseable than we might expect him to be.

   All in all this is an excellent robot mode, which makes sense since it's clearly the focal point of the toy. Clearly designed to work as the G1 character, and Unicron succeeds, with only a few notable alterations. There are several gimmicks, some work really well and some aren't so good, but with a whole bunch of things to do with Minicons, there's oodles of play vale here. Unicron is far more poseable than he deserves to be - most toys of this size are unposeable, and those that are usually have unrealistic alternate modes. While Unicron's planet mode is nowhere near the standard of his robot mode, the poseability achieved here is still remarkable.




Name: Dead End
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Moon

MOON MODE
Height: 3cm Length: 4cm Width: 3cm

   A small dark grey ball with some yellow here and there, Dead End's only notable feature is a silver cannon protruding slightly (which is why the dimensions aren't even). There's a reasonably well moulded circular pattern on the sides and a powerlinx port opposite the cannon. The cannon can flip out, which allows Dead End to form a cannon for Unicron or as a stand alone gun. The ball can rest on either the cannon side or the flat area around the powerlinx port, and the latter works well if you want to stand Dead End up as a cannon.

   The real value of this rather unusual alt mode is its combination with Unicron - on his own Dead End's moon mode is okay without really being much to look at. The moon concept itself is quite cool - even just placed alongside the planet itself, Dead End is a good partner for the Chaos Bringer. The silver cannon works best mounted on the planet mode, and also works quite well on Unicron's shoulders. As a bonus, Unicron is able to hold this little ball in his hand - which is how Dead End is packaged.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Unfold the ball basically. The cannon half becomes the arms, the cannon ending up on his right hand. The powerlinx port half then becomes the chest, head and legs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 5.5cm, Width: 4.5cm

   A grey robot with yellow elbows, thighs and feet, Dead End has a silver gun permanently attached to his right hand. As you might expect, this toy has lots of arcs, making Dead End awfully distinctive if not terribly attractive. His simple droidlike face is painted silver, and the droid theme fits for a minion of Unicron who would have little in the way of free will. The generally curvy shape is also rather droid like, as is the silver cannon.

Dead End is reasonably poseable, with shoulders and hips that swing, knees that bend and wrists that rotate. All the poseability is part of his transformation, and while some of these joints end up being restricted, there's enough articulation to keep me happy. Dead End is essentially a companion for Unicron, and considering how spherical he is I'm happy enough with this robot mode.
VARIATIONS

   Unicron was repainted in black and transparent orange during Energon (an awfully quick repaint of such a monumental toy). This version came with a light grey and yellow Dead End. Dead End was repainted for one of the Micron Booster sets, as Bug Drone (which gained some silver paint) and Bug General (black and red rather than grey and yellow).

OVERALL

   Strictly speaking Unicron represents a new character introduced in Armada, but he's quite clearly meant to be the G1 Unicron figure we never had. The semblance is clearly intentional, and this alone will make Unicron a must have for many G1 fans, despite a hefty price tag. The planet mode is reasonable, complete with a ring and the mouth that consumes planets. While the planet mode is on;y partly spherical and looks dicey from some angles, it does enough to sell the toy. The real focus of his design is Unicron's robot mode, which is terrific both as a G1 homage and as play value goes. With lots of gimmicks - including two good LED gimmicks - the robot mode is poseable and great for display. Dead End is a somewhat limited Minicon, but is by no means the worst Minicon Armada produced. Significantly, Dead End is a great compliment to Unicron, which makes sense since he's really along as a supplement to the main show. Unicron is definitely worthwhile - not just as a G1 substitute but as a toy in his own right - 8/10

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