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This is the end of Combiner Wars. Okay, that's not actually true. Thanks to boxsets with further recolors and retools, Combiner Wars will probably carry on as a sub line for at least the rest of 2016. But in terms of full new molds, we are at the end. Sky Lynx winds up being the final expression of this design style. Except for Blast Off, I guess. Okay, so maybe no part of this is even true. But look, we have an honest Generations Sky Lynx here. Do those details really matter?
Sky Lynx prioritizes the most commonly depicted robot form for the character, where all components are combined and transformed together. It's not really surprising that at a Voyager price point we wouldn't see the separable shuttle and base components and dual robot forms. But structurally, it almost could do it if not for a couple pins and rivets.
The shuttle-derived parts are largely self contained and could conceivably work independently as a passable bird half. Conversely, the lower half would end up with some major empty space problems in this theory - something the top half helps to disguise. So changes would have had to be made to the design that likely would make the whole idea budgetarily unworkable, but I find it interesting how close the toy actually came to being able to do the full classic Sky Lynx.
Sky Lynx does not boast any extreme of poseability at all. The back legs are at full bend for a proper standing pose as-is. You can bend them back, but there's no real benefit, and parts of the under body will block the legs going forward so you can't even use this for a laying pose. The block happens also thanks to the lack of outward movement at the hips. I can kind of see why it would be deemed unnecessary with the official use of the toy, but it's hard to not feel that limitation at times.
The front legs have a little more mobility, featuring that outward joint most notably. But there's still not a ton you can do for posing.
You can kind of get laying to work, though a bit awkwardly.
But with the back legs as restricted as they are, you won't have a lot of action poses to choose from.
The wings have some poseability, but again it's just enough to mostly make you wish there was more. And the flip out wing panels themselves are a little too movable. There's no stopping point built in, so you have to rely on friction to hold them at the desired angle. I've tightened screws on the wings already to try to stiffen the joint, and the wings still seem far too easy to move.
The tail has a joint at the base, and another for the fin, but strictly speaking I wouldn't call it poseable. These behave more as transformation joints. You can get some small movement in the tail, but going very far just starts to put the pieces back in vehicle mode position. Not very useful.
The neck is hinged at the base, and has a swivel just above. There's another hinge above that and a final hinge with a small movement for the head itself. The neck tabs down to be more stable, but you can pull that up and use a transformation joint for a little more movement range if you need to. But what you'll end up finding absent is a swivel right at the head. It's good there's some swivel in the structure, but for ideal natural posing the head itself needs to turn as well.
Sky Lynx does feature an opening jaw. I like the execution of this as it closes very cleanly so the mouth isn't obvious in vehicle mode.
Slightly lacking articulation isn't Sky Lynx's only problem There are issues with parts fit. The back feet are a great place to see this, since just setting Sky Lynx down tends to be enough to overcome the joint tension.
That's not the only place where this presents. The wing panels can be seen as another expression of the same problem, for instance. But most of the rest applies to the other modes more, so stay tuned on that.
In terms of deco, I'm actually well satisfied. There's plenty of plastic color variance, and Sky Lynx kind of does just go for the major areas of color without a ton of little details. The plastic layouts really do a good job breaking up the colors, like the grey joints in the legs, and the white caps over the shoulders and hips. It gets by with a remarkably minimal amount of paint in this mode and still looks totally fine.
It definitely helps that the paint that is used all focuses on picking out essential little things, mostly on the white parts. Sky Lynx's "face" is realized with the ring of gold windows. Details which continues down the neck and along the "spine", and finishes off with the engines at the back. It's just enough to give vital contrast and keep it from looking incomplete. Very nice paint economy on this one.
In terms of visual style I really like how Sky Lynx came out. The proportions work well, there's plenty of sculpted detailing. The legs in particular have nice mechanical elements added to them. It's a good looking robot. Unfortunately any inspection deeper than that is where you start hitting the problems.
Shuttle transformation can be a little annoying. That mainly comes down to just a couple things. The tabs to hold the front of the shuttle to the body are very difficult to correctly engage on both sides. The front legs are a bit finicky to get positioned just right to be able to close the underbody back up without further adjustment. And despite pegs and tabs that look like they should be doing something, nothing holds the tail fin in place. All the movements themselves are very simple, but the toy feels like it's doing a lot to fight you the whole time.
With the original Sky Lynx it was a concept of a space shuttle on a transport carrier, and that was the underbody chunk. This toy replicates the block of stuff underneath, but seems to have lost the idea of what it was originally for.
Besides these two pointless fake wheels, there's no sign that this is supposed to have any means of moving.
So Sky Lynx ends up pulling a Silverbolt in having a big block of robot parts underneath now for no reason besides that being how Sky Lynx always looked. I'm not asking for a ton here, just some attention at the detailing phase to make sure the vehicle mode looks like it can do what it was originally meant to.
I mentioned in transformation those tabs that wouldn't catch right. Even at the best they still leave a big gap, and that's not the only place. Parts fit is a major problem with the shuttle mode, because so many of the separate panels simply will not rest flush. The gaps and unevenness you're left with really hurt the look of the vehicle mode.
But despite this, the majority of the vehicle mode comes together pretty solidly. The exceptions are basically all in back. The wings are pretty stable despite not really having anywhere they secure to. But the tail fin is easily bumped out of place, and worst of all are these stabilizers. Besides that the forward swept orientation may already hurt some people in their OCD, they also have very weak hinges. This is a problem in all modes, but in the others you can push them far enough to minimize the effect. When they need to stand at a certain angle, it's much worse. I've also accidentally popped these off a few times because the hinges are so weak.
There's nothing officially here in terms of moving parts. The jaw can still open if that carries a value for you.
You can also flip out the wing panels, if you maybe want to pretend Sky Lynx is trying to function for atmospheric flight. Be mindful though, those wing panels are all that holds the wings secure in vehicle mode. When you flip them out, the stability goes with them.
You know what I really dig in vehicle mode though? Check out those gold-edged Autobot emblems. Now that's doing things right!
So, you can fan mode the lynx, something that the Hasbro folks made reference to themselves when they revealed the toy at Botcon last year. It's easiest to start from the normal robot mode. Basically you're just turning everything backwards. The bird head and neck can be done a couple of ways to make a tail. The legs just turn around and adjust orientation a bit to fit their new placement. And then just pull out the lynx head.
Now I'll grant you, this is far from perfect. The tail is a little awkward looking, and you need to still do something with the wings which can't entirely be done away with.
But I have to say, for not being intentionally designed in to the toy, this works better than I would expect. It still has the same poseability hangups, though the arrangement of the feet now helps counter some of the tolerance problems from the regular robot mode. But it's nice that to some degree you can represent most of Sky Lynx's capabilities in this toy.
Going to the torso mode is the easiest process overall. It's just straightening out the front legs, folding the back legs over themselves, pulling the neck back, and folding the engines over to be the new chest. In doing that, start by slotting the tail fin in the torso, then pull the chest down over it. It's much harder to get the tail to tab in if you do it after. As for the wings... well, there's different choices there depending on certain factors.
This is officially the torso mode, as the instructions have you do it. The neck becomes something of a tail, and the wings stick out back with the extended panels pointed up.
If your wing parts don't have good joint tension, you may want to arrange them differently. One option is to reverse them like this. You can keep them just as out of the way, but the wings needn't be extended anymore.
I would also recommend reversing the tail. It becomes a little lower profile, and the neck flap helps stabilize it when you tuck it up the body.
Now, I purposely chose not to get the second round of Deluxe Autobot cars that officially comprise Sky Reign, so I can't show off the official combined form. But this line is all about mix and match, so I came up with an alternative - Call the cops!
Ultimately it doesn't matter what set of limbs you attach, because it doesn't change the aesthetics of the body, which is classic super robot in all the right ways. Color layout, the chest winglets, basic proportions, big, gold animal head. Even optional wings!
Sky Reign goes in what I feel is a distinctly different direction on styling versus the prior three basic torso designs. And I love it for taking this approach.
By the numbers it's not unreasonable to also expect this to be functionally a very strong torso, at least as good as that of the Silverbolt mold family which has been regarded as the best torso. But in practice it's a little short. For one, the shoulders don't lock in place strongly. There's a catch to help them stay in position, but it's not difficult to overcome. So the result is not quite as stable.
The other problem comes back to those tolerance and parts fit issues. One hip joint is incredibly loose. You might want to say that it's a one off issue and won't affect all of them. But talking with other Sky Lynx owners, it seems like every one of them has been reported with one bad hip. Often the right, such as mine, but it can be either one. Regardless, one hip is always like this, at least at this point in the production. The ratchets just don't engage solidly. This might be something that got corrected out later in the production run, but we won't know that for sure for a while.
Now let's talk about adding a Legends figure to this. Sky Lynx has no obvious connection points for mounting an associated figure to the body. So, Sky Reign could still utilize a Legend with a hand carried weapon mode like Powerglide, but Powerglide is busy with Superion, and the other options are from the wrong faction. Wreck Gar, the Groove remold is the only new figure in the Legends wave concurrent with Sky Lynx, so you would presume they're meant to work together. But how to do it? There is a way. But Wreck Gar isn't released yet, so we're gonna need a substitute. And my combiner already has a Groove...
This isn't too far removed from the chest plate mode for this mold family, but we're plugging it on the back, in the 5mm ports on the wings. To do this, you need to reverse the wings like I showed earlier.
And then we bring it down over the shoulders like this. The idea is to make Wreck Gar, or Override in this case be a shoulder cannon unit, imagining the motorcycle's jets are the barrels.
It's entirely unofficial, and not the most stable thing. But if you are just set on having the wave's new Legend figure be part of the combiner, you do have a very workable option!
Sky Lynx comes with a pair of ...these. They look kind of like radiators or solar panels for a space craft, though there's not any good way to attach them as such to the shuttle mode. In that case you can pretty much only use them like guns.
In the normal robot mode, they're to be attached to the tail to extend it out. I'm just as happy to leave them off, to be honest.
As a combiner, these can either be two small swords or pegged together to make an awkwardish combined sword that is at least slightly less awkward than the end-to-end combined guns have been.
Or you can plug them on the hips with these convenient ports. They don't hold in all that well, though.
As the last new mold designed specifically for the Hasbro Combiner Wars line, Sky Lynx is a mixed result. A lot of the design level ideas seem good, but things are hurt by odd issues with the materials leading to parts not working together the right way. The degree to which the toy is affected depends greatly on what mode you're focusing on at the time, which can be good or bad depending on your perspective.
I'm really happy to have an updated Sky Lynx, and for the most part I can work around the material issues. There's some shortcomings in the articulation that I really wish could have been different to make this a really excellent figure. But it's still pretty great. The design style is basically solid, it does a tremendous amount with what feels like relatively little paint, and it has a very distinctive look to the torso mode that I love.
This isn't going to satisfy everyone, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for maybe a TakaraTomy release to have the tolerances and such dialed in better - not to mention that given Grand Galvatron I just want to see what sort of crazy they might do with this for a full Unite Warriors set. But in general I feel pretty good about Sky Lynx, and I think it's not at all a bad way to see the main Combiner Wars line off.
|Date||February 24th 2016|
|Score||(7 out of 10)|
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