Articulation: 24 total points - Ball joint neck; 5 points each arm: Ball joint shoulder, upper arm swivel, double-hinged elbow, ball joint wrist; swivel waist; 6 points each leg: Universal joint hip, mid-thigh swivel, double-hinged knee, hinged ankle.
Colors: Molded black, "safety" orange, red, grey, clear red; Painted white, "safety" orange, red, dark red, black, yellow, silver.
Accessories: Speakers x2, rifle
Release Data: Released with Shattered Glass Optimus Prime in a bagged souvenir set available for purchase exclusively at Botcon 2012 at a price of US$95.
There's two things that I really love: New uses of obscure characters, and the Reveal The Shield Jazz mold. Taking one of the new-character Action Masters and putting it on the Jazz body is essentially a perfect fusion of elements to make me want something to the exclusion of all rational thought. Well played, Fun Publications. Well played. But seriously, Botcon 2012 was really good to the Jazz mold. While it still has yet to see reuse at a retail level ...well, anywhere as of this writing, three instances of it turned up among the convention's exclusive toys. Giving a really good toy its due, is what I'd call it. Even though I could only obtain one of these examples for myself, I was glad to have any chance at adding further dudes built on this model to my collection.
One quick note too - while the character being referenced is Kick-OFF, for trademark purposes, all the print materials and advertising refer to it as Kick-Over. Well, at least it wasn't Kick-Blast or Kick-Run or something. I think I'm just gonna stick with Kick-Off during the review, though.
So yeah, the whole "being a car" thing is a little new to Kick-Off. Primarily being black, there's a distinct contrast against Jazz, but it does end up calling to mind a bit of Stepper (or Ricochet, if you prefer). But that's averted by the rally stripes over the hood, roof, and spoiler. A white base takes up most of the width of those panels, with a slightly narrower, beautifully eye-searing orange stripe running down the center. There's also a yellow tip at the front end, which I only now realize may have been mis-applied on my example, since it looks meant to fit within the white base layer but is visibly not. And that's how ExVee learned to scrutinize everything while still AT Botcon. Oh well, as errors go that's pretty easy to live with. Now, anyone who has handled this mold would know that there's a few separate panels in the hood, which drop away for transformation. And for the most part the deco accounts for that well, and everything manages to line up evenly in the color layout. The panels that drop out of the middle of the hood have a noticeably different shade of orange than the surroundings though. I'd guess that's a fault of not having to be over a white base coat on those surfaces. My example goes one step farther and has the two panels each a different shade from each other, probably from one getting an extra coat of the orange paint by accident or some similar error. Still, that's a little bit nitpicking, and it should not be downplayed how well it actually does work out given what factors had to be considered in mapping these colors on to the toy. And to its credit, that's about all the fault I can find with the deco - just mild errors of execution. The one blemish in actual placement of colors is another case like Octopunch where the mold layouts worked against the toy, and leaves a small piece of either front fender with a little grey block that can't help but stand out. I'm sure this would have been patched over, but since it's main structural plastic, it's probably one of the unpaintable types.
All the clear plastic is a somewhat dark red that works really well on the headlights, but seems to vanish on the windshield thanks to the orange elements inside. The rear window is painted in, but the shade of red is bright and doesn't come close to the shade the actual transparencies present. Something a little darker like the shade used for the pinstriping around the bottom would have served much better in that role. In truth, I kind of wonder if the paint colors didn't get swapped accidentally, since the bright rear window color seems more appropriate for body deco than the darker shade. Even while not working out 100% perfect, the extensive deco really agrees with this mold, and helps enhance it quite a lot, and Kick-Off's colors in particular just seem to suit it.
There's not any major problems that have come up with the toy for how the vehicle mode holds together. It repeats certain issues present on Jazz, like finicky alignment between the roof and doors. Whether you'll get those all fixed and set just right seems a matter of luck as much as it does anything else, which was exactly true on Jazz. Keeping the hood panels all lined up - particularly the mid-hood panels - takes some fine adjustment among the wheels, undercarriage, and the panel surfaces themselves, but it's usually pretty well set once you get them a way you're satisfied with. A major credit the mold has always had going for it was that when transformed right, the car mode hangs together really solidly, and that hasn't changed as it became Kick-Off. Heck, I think the wheel alignment of Kick-Off is a bit better and more true than I could typically get off of Jazz.
During Botcon, I was able to handle Kick-Offs others got, and along with my example they all shared a particular fault where one rear-quarter/robot leg was wedged closed and needed a pretty firm and uncomfortable push to move past and unfold in to the leg. It won't break, but it's still a point to take care. After that first pass it has not become a problem again, so it'll just be that one time to make you think you're going to break your expensive toy! One other issue I've observed is the hood can become pretty easily popped off the gearing system that controls the automorph at the end of transformation to robot mode. A tab slips out of place, and the hood suddenly starts flapping in the breeze. It'll pop right back in, but it might indicate a mild parts fit issue. Just be careful when moving that part, and you can keep it in place. I'll need to check my other versions of this mold; it may be glued in normally and that step was missed when this toy was assembled, but I've never paid attention before.
Kick-Off is an odd duck! ...in as much as it has a unique headsculpt. See, Treadshot out of the boxset uses the pretool head for the Jazz mold, a generic robot head not meant to look like any particular existing dude, and Longarm's Shockwave form uses a resin head said to be a casting from Action Master Shockwave. Kick-Off is a rarity among souvenir toys in that it has a fully unique head sculpt that does not occur elsewhere. Surely so many of this year's toys having built-in alternate heads to use eased up Fun Publications' burden of having different heads considerably to allow something like this to happen. I certainly won't complain, though! Kick-Off's head is very much based on the original figure's head, but IDW'ed up a couple notches and fitting in really solidly with most of the Classics style. The head is not built for lightpiping, so the visor is just paint over a raised surface on the face sculpt. Pity, too; the red clear plastic on the toy would have made for excellent glowing eyes. To the unassisted eye, the paint work on the head and face is pretty good. There's a few visible instances of bad edges or overflow on to other surfaces, but you have to really scrutinize for them. That being said, my photo of the face is going to make it look pretty horrible for the level of detail it will capture. Sorry about that. The head has a good range of motion on its ball joint. The flat, square base of the head offers surprisingly little challenge to its movement, and in some ways it actually feels a bit more free to move than the original Jazz head.
Little is changed in the toy's coloring for robot mode. More grey can be seen on the thighs, but it manages not to stick out the same way as the blocks on the sides of the car body did. More opaque red is added, this time as a plastic color instead of paint. Kick-Off also takes on orange plastic in the forearms and the speakers behind the doors. This is probably a good time to mention that without having the toy in front of you, you'll never know the actual color of the orange on it. See, it's a particular, legitimately fluorescent orange, both paint and plastic, and it can't be reproduced in the RGB and hexadecimal colorspaces computers use. This color is notable as being 90% of the color of Armada Laserbeak and is frequently used as a safety color on toy guns, including certain Megatrons, just as a couple examples of the true nature of this shade. And damn but this stuff glows under blacklight. One of the odd quirks of this mold is that the left and right half of each knee fall on different sprues, so one side needs to be fully painted or just allowed to mismatch. Some prerelease samples of Jazz had the knees mismatch like that, in fact. Kick-Off is among the better cases of getting the knees looking homogeneous that I've seen, thanks to black being a bit easier shade to match to bare plastic than others. Only a slight change in the gloss level really gives away that one half has been painted over. My Kick-Off has a little bit of a bare spot just visible going to an inner surface, so I can report that the off-halves are from the safety-orange sprue, in case anyone would find that information interesting or useful.
All the joints manage to have a just-right level of stiffness, so they'll move smoothly, but hold their place when you get to a pose you like. Since a fair number of the important moving parts are the same color as Jazz, it probably shouldn't be unexpected that the tolerances seem to work out well this time around. But one place it's not quite alike is the flip-around panels on the side windows. That is a very tight hinge, and while with care I'm sure nothing bad will happen, it's worth making everyone aware that it will resist a bit. I also want to warn against trying to clip any accessories other than the included speakers on those bars; I did that with Jazz once and got nice stress marks at the edges for my trouble. They're not really made to fit general parts, and if this plastic cured a little bit tighter as I suspect, the situation will be even worse than I had with Jazz. Alas, one thing that has not changed at all is how the chest/hood has no locking in place in robot mode. It is truly the single design flaw that prevents me from seeing this toy as effectively perfect, no matter the iteration. And sadly the plastics do not work together in any way to help stiffen this or anything like that. So, remember to grab from the waist, not the chest.
This has always been one of my favorite gun designs. It's fairly specific to Jazz in style, especially when you become familiar with Pretender Jazz's gun, but at the same time it has a general enough appearance that it can work well for anyone else. Plus I always liked to see it as able to switch between a pistol and rifle mode, based on its open and storage configurations. In an entertaining coincidence, the gun is cast in orange plastic, making Kick-Off's entire weapon Safety Orange! Oh, how the memories of Armada Laserbeak come rushing back...
Just as with Jazz, or Stepper, Treadshot, or Longarm/Shockwave, Kick-Off has a set of speakers to clip on the flip-around panels in the side windows. It makes no greater degree of sense for him to have them than it did for anyone besides Jazz. Cast in safety orange and with black speaker surfaces painted on, there is a very Halloween-ness to them. I kind of think that they would have looked better with these colors reversed, even though black is the typical color for speaker membranes. And naturally they are able to combine with Kick-Off's gun just as they can in every other instance of this mold.
Kick-Off was enough to sell me on a $95 souvenir set with a toy I had no interest in and no frame of reference for what I might be able to sell the other unwanted figure for. Mind, it took me most of my time at Botcon to remember Kick-Off's name, but even before I made that connection it just looked really nice and was on a mold I love. The character adds huge points for me too, but wasn't necessary to sell me on it. I know Shattered Glass fans seem excited to have a shot at a new version of SG Prime, and so this set will probably work out well for a lot of people that way. Make no mistake though, this is easily the more popular and in-demand of the non-troop-builder sets, and actually did sell out before Botcon ended. The good news is that if you decide to put down the asking price on this set, you'll be getting what I feel like is the single best toy out of these souvenir sets, and maybe even the entire range of Botcon 2012 toys. (Treadshot, also on the Jazz body is a close contender for me, at least.)
While the paint on my example is not absolutely perfect, I can't hold those faults against the toys in general. This toy does nothing worse than its original form, and definitely improves on it visually thanks to the bigger budget for paint work available to a Botcon toy. Add on the great new character-specific head, and Kick-Off is the complete package. It's Excellent (as rated on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale, of course) all around and suffers only for the one great fault of the toy it's recolored from, and even so I couldn't ask for a better toy to give Kick-Off an update on. I sure can't think of one that better fits what the original Action Master figure looked like. Talk about surprises, I never expected this to be the highlight of the Botcon toys for me...
|Date||May 11th 2012|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|
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