McDonald's brings us what may be the most ambitious wave of Transformers toys yet. Will they live up to our expectations?
Vehicle Mode: A transluscent red semi-truck, Optimus' only color variation in this mode is supplied by his black wheels, blue smokestacks, gray grill, and a prominent yellow button (with a faint Autobot symbol) atop his roof. While this may sound like a decent variety of color, the translucent red completely dominates this mode. Even the windows are left this way - a fact that hurts Prime's appearance here badly. McDonald's obviously wanted as much light as possible to shine through Optimus; unfortunately, this uniform color scheme takes away from any detailing that he may have. He has two Powerlinx sockets, both side-by-side at the rear of the truck bed.
Robot Mode: To transform, just flip the grill back, flip the head up, pull the arms out, bend the elbows, and flip the feet down. Prime has now transformed into... well, at first glance, it appears to be a featurless block of blue plastic. Upon second glance, there is actually a good amount of detail, inclding an Autobot symbol on the chest, molded into this form, but the translucent blue plastic (which now dominates as much as the red did) makes it very difficult to see. Prime's two Powerlinx sockets are now below his feet, and his articulation is limited to his arms and elbows. His "gimmick", besides being translucent, is a Kung-Fu Chop! Yes, pull down on the yellow button (now on his back) and Optimus Prime will move his right arm up and down slightly! Evildoers beware!
Overall: All joking aside, the Kung-Fu Chop actually works well, and the toy is no more blocky than any other McDonald's toy. However, the main gimmick doesn't make any sense... when you think of Optimus Prime, is translucent the first word that comes to mind? I suppose you could set two of these toys on the real Prime's shoulders and have them play his smaller, glowing "angel" and "devil", telling him what to do... or you could paint him and vastly improve his play value. Rating: 5/10
Vehicle Mode: A very close resemblance to the real Hot Shot, the McDonald's version is bright yellow with a gray bumper and "trunk", black wheels, red "signal lights", and blue windows. Two Powerlinx pegs stick out where the tail lights should be. This mode is very well done, with side mirrors, engine details, and a barely-visible Autobot symbol on the roof. Hot Shot's "gimmick" fits him perfectly - pull the car back and it goes forward... slowly at first, then very fast! On top of that, you can open the front bumper/feet up, just like the real Hot Shot, exposing two Powerlinx sockets that could also double as weapons. Very true to the original.
Robot Mode: To transform, just separate the arms and pull them to the side, flip the "trunk" over to reveal the head, pull the legs down and apart, and flip out the feet. In this mode, he looks like a much stockier version of the real thing. The detailing on his chest is still all yellow, but is very easy to see and similar to the full sized toy. His arms are orange and articulate at the shoulder; his legs can also move in and out. Oddly enough, he doesn't seem much more limited in articulation, or goofy-looking, than the real Hot Shot. His Powerlinx pegs are now on his shoulders, and two Powerlinx sockets are now exposed, on the soles of his feet.
Overall: I hate to say it, but I'm not sure which I like better: The Armada toy or this McDonald's version! The real thing is larger and has a missile launcher, but this little guy can speed across the room by himself and looks a lot more buff! In other words, it's a great toy and a lot of fun. Rating: 9/10
Vehicle Mode: Arguably the best looking vehicle of the bunch, Red Alert is white, with red windows and detailing (door stripes and a medical symbol on the back), a blue "gearbox" coming out of the hood, and a translucent red lightbar on top. The color scheme works very well, especially the translucent lightbar, and bears a strong resemblance to the original. You can tell that the gearbox is Red Alert's head, unfortunately; there's no way to miss the face on the other side. Pushing down on the gearbox activates the "gimmick": a friction motor that sends Red Alert speeding away for a short distance. Red has a Powerlinx plug on his hood, just like the original, and a Powerlinx socket on his left door.
Robot Mode: To transform, just pull up the door panels (arms), unfold the legs, pull the hood down, and turn the head around. Red Alert's color scheme in this mode is also fairly true to the original - blue and white - though white predominates over blue quite a bit. His Powerlinx peg is now next to his head and his socket is behind his left arm... if you can call it an arm, that is. Red Alert's arms are really just molded to the inside of the door panels - they look nice, but are nonfunctional (aside from flapping them in and out as if he wanted to fly). His head can turn and his legs bend forward at the knee for an unusual kick.
Overall: Red Alert is definitely the best looking of the Autobots (and possibly of the whole bunch), with a gimmick that works as well as Hot Shot's. It's a shame about his arms, but it doesn't really take away from the play value that much. Rating: 8/10
Vehicle Mode: Smokescreen's crane mode is pretty true to the real toy, except for the crane facing the wrong way. You can put it on the right way (it looks nicer if you do), but his gimmick won't function properly if you do. His "gimmick" is a fly-apart crane; run Smokescreen headfirst into any obstacle and the crane literally flies off of him. Not really the kind of feature you'd think Teletran-1 would have built into an Autobot ("Let us make this warrior more powerful by having pieces of him fall off upon impact!"), but a neat feature for play, obviously. Smokescreen is one of the few McDonald's toys to feature a Powerlinx socket in the normal place (underneath the vehicle), and he has a Powerlinx pet mounted on his rear, but the bumper prevents its use.
Robot Mode: To transform, just pop off the crane, swing the arms out, pull the chest down, turn the head around, flip the foot panel down, and reattach the crane a little differently. Now, when you look at this robot, you realize that McDonald's made certain choices. One of them was clearly to sacrifice things about the robot mode to achieve a cool vehicle mode. The only thing gained in this mode is the use of the Powerlinx peg (now on his left "shoulder") in addition to the Powerlinx socket (now under his "feet"). What's lost is... a lot. His arms are not only as nonfunctional as Red Alert's are, they look idiotic as well - they protrude from his lower back. His "feet" are just a single flat panel that lacks even molded feet. His head looks nothing like the real toy's. His only articulation is that he can wave his arms up and down, making them look even worse. Let's... just move on, shall we?
Overall: The vehicle mode is really neat, and the gimmick works well. The fact that you can choose to keep Smokescreen in this mode helps prevent a drastically low score. I'd give his vehicle mode an 8/10 and his robot mode a 0/10, so we'll split the different. Rating: 4/10
Overall: This... is NOT "One Mighty Robot". This is group acrobatics. Hot Shot stands on top of Red Alert and Smokescreen's shoulders, then Optimus Prime stands on Hot Shot's shoulders. I think we all can tell this is not a robot. It is a totem pole. For what it's worth, it's pretty amazing how well they stay together... I walked away from this "gestalt" for over an hour and it did not topple. So we'll give it a few points for that. Rating: 2/10
Vehicle Mode: Megatron is made with the same general design as the real toy, but on a much smaller and simpler scale. The front treads are translucent green on black; the rear treads are fluorescent "lemon-lime" green on black. This same fluorescent green makes up the turret (with a light gray barrel). Purple (translucent and normal) and blue (the grabber claws) make up the middle body section. Frankly, I don't know why they had to use this tame, fluorescent green - it not only makes the treads mismatch, but it makes Megatron looks far less menacing. Still, it's a fairly close design to the original, which makes it a tough, futuristic tank. Megatron has one Powerlinx peg on its front right tread and one socket on its rear right tread. Though not listed as a "gimmick", the tank turret rotates smoothly through 360 degrees, and the gun barrel bends up and down. The turret can also be knocked off to simulate "battle damage", much like Smokescreen and Demolishor.
Robot Mode: To transform, just pull off the turret, rotate the bottom/rear half, pull down the lower arms, flip down the feet, and reattach the turret with the gun barrel poking around Megatron's side.The Powerlinx socket is now on his left foot and the peg is behind his right shoulder. In this mode, the fluorescent green shares dominance with purple (translucent and normal) and black, along with the toy's blue head and gray gun barrel. The colors clash a bit, but Megatron still looks very evil and very dangerous. In this mode, he has two additional "gimmicks", as well! First, you can push the turret on his back for a Kung-Fu Chop, similar to Optimus Prime's. (On my toy, his arm has a tendency to get stuck in mid-chop; I don't know if this is a common problem.) Second, if Megatron is near a light source for a little while and you turn the lights out... his forearms glow in the dark. I would guess this represents energy blasts or something similar - regardless, they glow pretty brightly.
Overall: One of the coolest toys of this release, featuring (by far) the most gimmicks. If only they had used a darker green, I could declared this Megatron's Perfect Mini-Me; still, I have to endorse this toy heartily. Rating: 9/10
Vehicle Mode: Starscream looks like a "superdeformed" jet with pontoons on his underbelly. He resembles the larger version in color scheme and general design, but is far more squat, short, and blocky... this, however, is required for his gimmick. Let's just say that for what this Starscream toy is, it actually looks really good - sort of a squished version of the real thing. His Powerlinx sockets (two) are side-by-side, right where you'd expect them, underneath the airplane.
Robot Mode: Starscream's transformation is his "gimmick"! Pull him back and he speeds off, just like Hot Shot. However, if you pull him back far enough, after a few feet, he literally unfolds and springs to his feet, fully transformed! (Of course, don't let "fully transformed" imply that it's complex - the unfolding is pretty much it.) In robot mode, Starscream again bears a strong resemblance to his real-life toy, owing partly to the good job done on his head and face. His Powerlinx sockets are now found on his rear shoulders. If you're familiar with Flipchangers, you already know that there's no real articulation; Starscream's head can rotate, but that's about it. But you can't complain about articulation with a Flipchanger... that's like complaining about lack of sounds and lights in the first wave of G1 toys. There's a lot of play value here.
Overall: Starscream brought back a lot of nostalgia for the Flipchangers of old. Sure, they were only one-trick toys, but it was a pretty neat trick. It was nice to see McDonald's not only pay tribute to Starscream, but also bring back a line of toys from our past. If, for some reason, you hated Flipchangers, lower this rating drastically. Rating: 8/10
Vehicle Mode: It's obvious that this is supposed to be Cyclonus with Crumplezone attached, but the color scheme makes you wonder. The cockpit and wings are deep purple; the guns/hands are a very light cyan; the underbelly is gray; the tail/feet is a slightly lighter gray; and on top of it all, the helicopter blade is bright orange. Odd, but aside from the color differences, the 'copter mode is fairly faithful. Unfortunately, Cyclonus' head doesn't retract into the 'copter, so you can see his face, easily and clearly, at all times. (With Red Alert and Smokescreen, you can see if it you look from the right angle - you can't miss it with Cyclonus.) Cyclonus has a Powerlinx peg on his tail, but appears to be the only McDonald's Armada toy without a Powerlinx socket. His "gimmick" is very cool and related to his larger toy - push him forward and his helicopter blade spins around. Push him fast enough and it'll hop out of its hole and go skidding around on the floor! (I think it was meant to fly, but I sure couldn't get it to.)
Robot Mode: To transform, just unsnap the tail/legs, pull them down, and resnap them, then flip the arms down. This is pretty similar to Cyclonus' real transformation, except the blades end up atop his head instead of on his back. This mode pretty much looks the same as the 'copter mode, just with the tail folded into legs... considering that that's not too far from the original Cyclonus, that's less of a complaint than it might sound. His articulation is limited to moving his arms up and down (and spinning the blade, but I don't think that counts) and his Powerlinx peg is now behind his feet.
Overall: Cyclonus has a very cool gimmick, a good vehicle mode, and a decent robot mode. I wish they'd used more accurate colors, but still enjoy this toy a great deal. Rating: 7/10
Vehicle Mode: Interestingly, McDonald's seems to have gone more for copying the concept than for copying the toy directly. Instead of two missle launchers with two top-mounted gatling guns, this toy has one huge missle launcher on the right with a smaller missle launcher and top-mounted (but rear-facing) gatling gun on the left. The colors are accurate, with the exception of the green (why not gray?) left launcher/arm. Demolishor is modelled as if Blackout were attached - his center section protrudes forward with two yellow guns sticking out. The end result definitely looks different than the real Demolishor, but cool nonetheless. His "gimmick" is similar to Smokescreen's; when he hits an obstacle in front of him, his main missle launcher flies off. He has one Powerlinx peg on the front left tread and one socket atop the main "turret".
Robot Mode: To transform, just pop off the big missle launcher, pull the treads forward, lower the treads, flip the feet up, flip the head up, lower the left arm, and reattach the right arm/launcher. The result sort of looks like Demolishor and Drillbit had a child: Huge legs, torso and hips compressed into one (yet sticking out oddly, as if he were straddling an exercise horse), and two rather mismatched arms. It doesn't really look bad, mind you... just odd. He loses the Powerlinx socket in this mode, and the peg moves to his left foot. Unlike Smokescreen, the "battle damage" gimmick works in this mode as well. An interesting and playable robot.
Overall: Well, looking at robot modes, he looks a lot more like Demolishor than Prime looks like Prime. And regardless, he looks big, mean, and tough, which is really the whole point of this guy, I suppose. Frankly, he looks tougher than Megatron, now that they're scaled differently. Heh. Rating: 6/10
Overall: This mode more than makes up for the wannabe "One Mighty Robot" that the Autobots tried earlier. This truly is "One Mighty Vehicle". Starscream locks his two Powerlinx sockets onto Megatron's and Demolishor's pegs. Cyclonus, interestingly, swivels his gun barrels down and inserts them into holes atop Megatron and Demolishor - his cockpit then rests perfectly between Starscream's tailwings. Wow. It holds together and looks cool. Cyclonus will come off if pulled, but you can pick the whole thing up by Starscream without any problems. Rating: 10/10
McDonald's has really gone out of their way to try giving us some neat toys. Each one has two modes, at least one gimmick, and forms a part in a gestalt. Sure, there are some faults, but taken as a whole, this set of toys is as good as the sum of its parts, and then some. Grab 'em while you can, because you might regret it later if you don't.
|Reviewer||Reverend Pee Kitty|
|Date||November 6th 2002|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
|Link||McDonald's Official Armada Page|