6 points. Heavytread:
4 points. Runway:
6 points. Centuritron:
: Molded green, black, and dark silvery gray. Painted yellow, green, and light gray.
: Gatling gun, Tank turret/cannon, booster pod/twin cannons.
: Released in the United States in January 2014 at a retail price of US$14.99
When you need a target reduced to a smoldering heap of scrap metal, the Mini-Con Assault Team has the power to get it done. Their combined Centuritron mode is an unstoppable unit of pure destructive force, a walking weapon said to have the power of 100 warriors.
Dual-purpose toys continue! In the IDW universe, using a completely different insignia than the classic Mini-Con emblem used on the packaging, these are Ammonites,
the Decepticon-equivalent faction of a completely separate species of transforming sentient robots first encountered by the Autobots in "Little Victories,"
which was printed in More Than Meets The Eye #22 and packed in with Skids. Ammonites can combine in any configuration they wish with no upward limit- which is a little bit more ambitious than you can be in a 3-pack at the Deluxe-scale budget and engineering. I'm kind of glad Hasbro didn't get that ambitious, because what we have here is a more traditional set of combiners that does all but one of its seven modes very well.
All three Mini-Cons are somewhat larger than the name would lead you to believe: Windshear, for example, is half again as long as Hot Shot's Mini-Con partner Jolt (and that's not counting the gatling gun which puts Windshear to twice
as large.) So it's not quite as painful to be paying $15 for what would've cost you maybe $6 or $7 back in 2002. It's much more like paying $15 for what would've cost you $10 up until three or four years ago like we usually do. Slightly better! I guess! But it's also worth noting: the faction is printed on the figures' cards as "Mini-Con," complete with the faction symbol, and the instructions are printed in the same dark blue ink that Mini-Con instructions were originally printed in back in Transformers: Armada.
Nice attention to detail!
In a rare move for a Mini-Con, Windshear is largely a recognizeable vehicle, a Mil Mi-28 "Havoc" attack helicopter
with robot legs folded up underneath it. Most of the details are extremely similar, but different enough to avoid trouble in the "we didn't license this vehicle" sense. The vehicle is largely black with a little bit of yellow paint (which sadly looks a little thin, as yellow paint on black plastic often does), plus the green side pods and weapon. The weapon here is a gatling gun, which is always a good choice for small-scale weapons even if the Havoc uses an autocannon instead. Not only would a scale autocannon be as thin as a toothpick, but it wouldn't look as neat. So, gatling! The rotors are mounted on a very small pin that causes enough wobble to make spinning kind of problematic. And yes, the legs are just sort of there and there's nothing to do about it. From top-down they're minimally intrusive.
Transformation is simple, as befits a Mini-Con: unfold the legs, tilt back the tail of the helicopter, swing the arms into position, and fold down the nose until it's a torso. The only problem part is the nose- it's a bit loose on its hinge, which is one of those bump-connectors that relies on friction. This is something I expect to vary from set to set, but on mine it likes to pop off frequently. Windshear's robot mode is the most slight of the three, as helicopter Transformers often are. The figure has heels reminiscent of Prime Starscream, and the overall build of the character is not dissimilar. The very slight arms are sculpted into the bottom of the side-pods of the chopper, and because they are very thin the gatling gun is attached to a 5mm socket on the pod behind the arm in this mode. There are 6 points of articulation in this mode at the shoulder, hips and knees. The shoulders and hips have good range on both axes, and legs can double over on themselves at the knee for transformation. There's a lot of limitations on what you can do in this mode because of the helicopter's tail, but at least the poses that do work are extremely stable.
The biggest of the three, larger if not bulkier than Armada Overload's
Mini-Con partner Rollout, who was probably the biggest of the original Mini-Cons. If Heavytread is a specific model of tank, I've been unable to find it. All I can say for certain is that he's a black tank with a green main turret, treads, and mine plow. He's kind of similar to Generation 1 Quake in construction, with his turret being made of arms. Because of this, and because of the shape of the removable cannon weapon for the robot mode, the turret cannot turn and the cannon cannot elevate. Not a big deal on a Mini-Con, really.
Transformation is even simpler than Windshear's: fold the sides of the treads down, remove the gun and split the turret, and unfold the plows into feet. As a robot, Heavytead is the weakest of the set. He's chunky and has a big gun, but only moves at the shoulders and hips, both of which are swivels functionally speaking. He also has an unfortunate tendency to split down the middle, which reminds me of Energon Swoop. But the good news here is that while Swoop made neither a good robot nor
a good set of legs, Heavytread actually makes pretty good legs. But it's pretty obvious just from looking at him that his destiny is to be pants.
Runway is a green mystery jet with a silver nose, a few yellow paint apps (which work a good bit better on green plastic) and a pair of very large black boosters on the back. I wish the boosters had been green with yellow paint as shown on the card, but my guess from the feel of them is that they had to be molded in unpaintable plastic. There are a pair of guns under the wings that are pretty obviously robot arms but, y'know, Transformers Jet.
Another pleasantly simple transformation: remove boosters, pull free arms, pull legs down, fold nose down. The nose wants to stop before it folds all the way down, enough so that you may feel like you shouldn't force it. But it can and must be moved the rest of the way.
Runway looks like any number of classic jet Transformers in this mode, with a cockpit on his torso and wings on his back. Like his brethren, especially Windshear, his face is very smooth and almost reminiscent of Transformers Prime characters in appearance- I'm wondering if that's intentional to differentiate Stentarians from Cybertronians. Proportionally he's pretty standard and pretty decent looking, though at some angles his lower legs- destined to be Centuritron's forearms -do look a bit out of proportion. Surprisingly he's the tallest of the Mini-Cons, edging out Heavytread by roughly a centimeter. Not counting the clip on Heavytread's head, of course. Articulation is equal to Windshear's in every respect, with the same six points. And of course balance is little to no problem with feet that big, so that actually gives him an edge since he has no helicopter tail dragging the ground. His accessory is the least convincing of the three being hollow- it mounts to the outside of his arm since he, too, has tiny little hands.
Combining the three isn't too difficult. Windshear's helicopter mode gets opened up to fish out the combiner head, then the helicopter is more or less folded in half. Heavytread is split down the middle from robot mode. Runway has the most comprehensive makeover of the lot: the robot mode pelvis splits in two (ouch) and the legs swing way out to the tips of the wings to become Centuritron's arms. It all locks together pretty tightly- there's a slight gap at the waist that I think maybe could've been avoided, but more importantly it is stable.
One of the things that was always irritating about the Unicron Trilogy combiners, especially Energon Perceptor, is that they tended to fall apart easily. Not this guy. Though you will continue to have helicopter nose problems since you have to fit Runway's nosecone into a recess on the bottom of Windshear's nose.
I'm not too fond of the helicopter blades behind Centuritron's head, but otherwise he looks pretty good. The jet wings aren't wide enough to look like functional wings for the combined robot, but they do a good job of making his back appear wider and smoothing out the silhouette. Without the wings Centuritron looks like a big pile of kibble and armatures- they really tie the whole bot together. Speaking of kibble, there's only one place on Centuritron where it's really a problem: Heavytread's big, meaty(so to speak) arms hanging off of the sides of the legs. The instructions tell you to fold them back, but this obstructs the knee articulation. The packaging photo and the blister show them just hanging around on the sides, looking like arms coming out of a dude's thighs. The best solution I've found is to swing the arms upwards and then put them behind the legs. They may clash with the body in some poses, but generally not enough to be a major problem, and they can usually be swiveled out of the way.
But yes, let me stress this again: Centuritron is a Mini-Con combiner which combines stably, and has articulation when combined.
Eight points of articulation in all, two to each limb. The shoulders turn in a full circle, provided you angle them around the wings, and the arms can be raised well above Centuritron's head laterally. The elbows flex to slightly beyond 90 degrees, but because the knees are so far up Runway's legs it looks a little bit weird. Just a little though. The hips have plenty of forward range and the knees get roughly 45 degrees of flex. The lateral movement of the hips is a bit obstructed because of the shape of the joints, but for what this is, it's pretty decent.
You could combine the various weapons a couple of different ways- and in fact the package art shows something different from what the instructions do. The instructions suggest Runway's giant gun under Heavytread's turret, with Windshear's mini-minigun on top. And that is probably the most compact and elegant way to do it. And lastly, you get Dark Cybertron Chapter 4! You'll get to see the Lost Light crew encounter the
Mini-Cons, and it's not a friendly meeting. Also, you get to see the Rodpod.
Really, you should be buying this figure just to see the Rodpod. But even if you already own that chapter of Dark Cybertron, the Mini-Con Assault Team is Very Good on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale.
Windshear's nose does pop off from time to time, and Heavytread's robot mode is a little weak. And I could quibble about the fact that two of the three accessories are key vehicle parts, but... come on. Overall you're looking at six
of the seven modes this set features that work well with none that feel like complete failures. The most important one, Centuritron, works very well in every important respect. It's probably the best combiner we've seen from Hasbro in a long time, it is the
best Mini-Con combiner, period- and to me is the highlight of the new molds in this wave.
|Date||January 30th 2014 |
|Score|| (8 out of 10) |
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