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As we move in to our full video coverage of Combiner Wars Victorion, we're kicking off with Pyra Magna. I had planned to start with the copter twins, but there's a good reason or two that I think Pyra Magna needs to go first.
Let's start by talking about the new parts. Pyra Magna has a new head. Which takes a good few design cues from Prowl, oddly enough. It's a nice sculpt, but just like Victorion's head the eyes seem set oddly far apart. I like the red paint around the eyes making a sort of mask look. It helps set off the blue eyes, too. The neck joint has room for the head to swivel freely, and while it has some tilt range, the neck plate will more readily move than the neck joint.
The chest plate is new, and has a lot of varied detail. It can be read as presenting a feminine shape, if that's what you're looking for out of it, but that's certainly not what it's trying to make you see.
Half of the forearms are new. Thanks to how Hot Spot's construction works, Pyra Magna only needed a portion of the arm redone instead of full new limbs. So all of the green part and the hands are new, set within the normal existing outer structure. I like the way the new hand sculpt looks too. While not the most detailed open style hands ever, the shape and proportion looks nice, and they're not so simple that they seem out of place.
While made more slender, the sculpted detail is trying to copy the look of the regular Hot Spot forearms as much as possible, which I think is a neat way to go with this.
Those are all the new parts specifically relevant to the robot mode. We'll talk about the remainder when we switch modes in a little bit. Now let's talk about why I wanted to start the review series with Pyra Magna.
There is a misassembly error that so far seems to be across the whole production. If you're familiar with Hot Spot or Onslaught, you'll already have noticed Pyra Magna's knees are arranged wrong.
The reason for that is this strut piece at the base of the knee. See that triangle projection? That's supposed to be on the other side. Pointing forward here, it presses in to the inside of the shin and makes it impossible to lock the knee together correctly.
Thankfully, the joint tolerances are good enough on this use of the mold that the toy remains functional even without being able to lock the knees the way they were designed for.
Those projections seem to be intended to act in some way to help stabilize the legs when in torso mode. But since they're in backwards, clearly they're not helping anything in that role anyway. What I'm getting at is, if you just really need the knees to lock in, those triangle bits can be trimmed off and the legs will resume normal function. My friend Brickonator has already tried this to no evident ill effect. The alternative is popping rivets in order to reassemble the leg the right way. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to try to fix this, but it's good to know the option exists one way or the other.
Poseability largely works just like on the previous instances of the mold. Which is to say it's pretty awesome. Seriously, this mold family has become one of my favorites for the way it's able to move, and Pyra Magna loses none of that.
The only place there's a meaningful change is here at the thigh swivels, which are very tight. This is the result of the thigh parts being paint dipped, and so having a bit too much thickness for the joint. It's a bit bothersome at times, but the joint does still work, just with a little more effort.
But anything you could have Hot Spot do, Pyra Magna can do too. While I may feel mold fatigue for some parts of this set, this one does not fall within that number.
Transforming Pyra Magna is no different than Hot Spot, so we'll skip past that process.
Okay, so there's only a couple new bits for the vehicle mode. We'll start with what's more obvious.
Yeah, Victorion's head just isn't really hiding at all. Sure, it's turned backwards, but, who's gonna not recognize that as a head?
While the combiner head attracts the majority of your attention, it's not all that's new at the end of the ladder. The side plates, while very similar to Hot Spot's, are also new pieces.
Importantly they add these gates to block the view of Victorion's face.
They also add extra 5mm ports, which will become vaguely important. But... I'm sure there's some reason I can't possibly fathom that made remaking the whole ladder-end the preferred option over just making Victorion's head do the same hinge open trick like Defensor in order to disguise it. But it just seems impractical from my perspective.
And the other new pieces are the framing around the base of the ladder. I like these better than Hot Spot's, which kinda struck me as overly large. These feel like they fit the flow and styling of the vehicle mode better and integrate more naturally. It's a shame there was no way to have the more detailed faces point outward, but it still looks good overall.
I also want to come back to the robot mode hands. They're a lot more obvious hanging out the back than Hot Spot's were. I guess part of that is because they're painted, but Hot Spot's block fists matched a little better the shape of the surrounding vehicle parts. They just didn't stand out so much. That and Victorion's head are the only way I'd call out the vehicle mode as being weaker than Hot Spot.
Every member of the Rust Renegades has some Cybertronic print on them. Pyra Magna has hers at the back of the forward section on either side.
So I purposely held off talking about the deco until now because I wanted to address it as a complete unit. Pyra Magna I think comes in as second best in executing the team's colors. The robot mode lays out the red and green pretty decently, and while I do think it needs a third element to break it up more, it still looks okay.
But it's the way the deco behaves going to vehicle mode that sold me, because you end up with an almost entirely red firetruck with just a little bit of the green as an accent. And I think this is one of two models of how the entire set's deco should have been handled. Stick with one color as a dominant main color and use the other for accenting. I think trying to mix in more equal proportions just makes it a lot harder to find a good result.
The truck mode has a good amount of black and grey too that helps it not read as so solidly one color. It's not the best deco result, but it's one of the two really good ones.
Pyra Magna's weapon is the only one in the set to come in two pieces: A staff and a blade which assemble to become a giant toothy pickaxe thing. To be honest I kinda liked it better when I thought she just had a big staff weapon. Sadly there's nothing you can do with the blade unless it's attached to the handle.
It can only be gripped at the bottom, which maybe slightly limits how you can use it for posing. But you can still do some cool looking things with it.
The side peg is too short to be gripped by the hands, but you can wedge the back end under the shoulder and fake it. That gives an option of a really huge crossbow, and it will stay in place reasonably well if you do it right.
Storage in robot mode isn't a big issue. Those extra 5mm ports on the bucket end of the ladder can help with that, just for a start.
No, where you have possible issues is the vehicle mode, which just does not have a good way to house the weapon despite all the numerous 5mm ports. And it comes so close too. There's the 3mm peg at the base of the ladder, and if there was just a compatible port on the handle, it could store elegantly along the length of the ladder. But it just is not to be.
While I was understandably concerned upon first learning of the assembly error in the legs, the end result is really not a huge problem to the toy at all. It is fixable if you feel it necessary to do so, but the toy is capable of just living with it. Pyra Magna is otherwise every bit as good as Hot Spot. It's a really nice retool, incorporating new parts in a way that's virtually seamless in all but one instance. It's a really good job at modifying the visual identity of the toy without causing the way it fundamentally works to be any different or taking away from what it originally was. And while I'm not entirely satisfied with the handling of the colors, within the set it is very much on the better end of the spectrum. Alas, next we will be going all the way to the bottom as far as deco execution...
|Date||May 10th 2016|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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