I will review each minicon separately according to design, pose ability, and transformation, but they all essentially share the same gimmick, so I’ll tack that on at the end.
This little guy’s lot in life is to be Sky Blast’s peon. He has no weapons or neato rocket engines to zip around the cosmos with. I feel sorry for the dude. Even so, Payload is a nice little mini-con. He has sixteen tiny wheels molded on, though he doesn’t actually roll on any of them–the functional wheels stay well out of sight. The cab has the bulk of the detailing, though, at least in vehicle mode, which gives Payload a unique and kinda nifty appearance. Most of it is molded on, but orange lights and yellow windows finish the effect, and create a nice contrast with the black plastic. I wish they’d done as nice a job on some of the other mini-cons Longarm!. His head also had some nice paint apps, like silver details and little yellow eyes. The head is blue though and kinda sticks out, even in vehicle mode, but I guess he wouldn’t look like a part of the group without it. His powerlinx connector is on behind what will become his left leg.
Transformation: Short sweet and to the point. True, it’s a little too much like a micromaster’s, but it does benefit from having to move the Requiem Blaster’s handle out of the way, and really only enhances his . . .
Pose ability: It’s above average for a minicon. Most of it is concentrated in his legs, with bendy knees and ball joints for hips. His arms are a bit rigid, but let’s not quibble.
Overall: Not the most lavishly glamorous minicon, but a very solid effort. A.
Design: Sky Blast is a rocket ship of some sort, based on the old stage rockets like the Apollo spacecraft, though I doubt this guy would dump bits of himself into the ocean as he blasts out of the atmosphere. He’s a patriotic fellow, sporting a red, white, and blue color scheme somewhat reminiscent of Countdown, the micromaster base. Sky Blast enjoys an attention to detail similar to what the designers gave his flunky, Payload. Light grey highlights some of the sculpted detail and gives him cockpit portholes. His thrusters are a kind of bronze color, and his engine housing and stabilizers have been sprayed black in such a way that they look dusted with soot from blast off. It looks great, but it would’ve looked better if they had painted all four sides this way. Also, though some attempt was made to hide it, you can see his robot head without looking too hard. Speaking of robot mode, it is typical Armada weirdness. He has no real feet or hands, just thrusters and a nosecone. His head has a detail on it that looks like the cockpit of an X-wing, so look closely. His powerlinx connector doubles as one of his thrusters. I guess if the Cybertronian he’s connected to is getting the oil knocked out of him, Sky Blast can eject rather quickly. It becomes his hand in robot mode, so he can do one-handed handstands on Grindor, or theoretically pick up one of the delux . . . sorry, super-cons. He also has a dead connector, so can use Astroscope as a blaster! While using Payload as a skateboard! Yes, I’ve tried it and it does work.
Transformation: Pretty complex. I especially like how his lower legs have joints that expand to allow his arm to fit in as the center engine.
Pose ability: The best of the bunch. His shoulders have two ranges of motion, his waist swivels, his knees bend, and he has ball joints for hips.
Overall: An abundance of pegs hamper the sleekness of his rocket mode, and some other minor flaws dock him a bit, but he was more ambitious than Payload. A.
Design: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Astroscope’s the first satellite TF. He’s got the same red and light blue as his compatriots, with some darker blue setting him apart. His paint job isn’t as spiffy as the others, but he still has some excellent detailing. His head hangs off the side, but it isn’t a problem since it just looks like a control panel or some bit of machinery–it looks like a camera with three yellow lenses and a red panel or indicator on the left side. His hand’s a little more obvious. Grrr. His robot mode looks very alien, like something out of an old sci-fi movie, but in a good way. Actually, in terms of just looks, I’d say Astroscope beats out his teammates in robot mode. My favorite detail is on his legs. I love how they mimic the grid pattern on his solar panels in satellite mode, and the purple is really cool looking.
Transformation: I think it’s the most creative of the bunch. His solar panels combine to form his legs. His head flips down, and the satellite fuselage folds up around it. Why, it’s nearly as creative as Bonecrusher’s! Unfortunately, such an odd transformation did not come without costs: Astroscope is terribly fragile. His fuselage halves pop off with no trouble at all. It’s the worst on his left side (the one with the humanoid hand) because his shoulder joint is waaay too stiff, at least on mine.
Poseability: Such a transformation scheme on such a small TF cripples his poseability as well. It’s not blindingly bad, but still . . . his shoulders can flap out to the side, and his left arm bends at the elbow. He has ball-joint hips, but no knees. I may also mention here his . . .
Gimmick: Astroscope transforms into the business end of the Requiem Blaster, so his right arm’s the spring-loaded missile launcher. At least he has a gimmick to offset some of his other weaknesses, but it’s not so helpful in robot mode since he can only aim it to the side at things shorter than himself, like astro-gophers or some such nonsense. Since the missile has to meet safety standards, it bumps into his head if he tries to aim it any higher.
Overall: He’s the weakest of an excellent trio. B+
Put simply, it’s the best gestalt weapon yet. Perceptor is still the best gestalt, but RB comes in close second in my book. The Star Saber and Skyboom looked like G1 Scrapper took Micromaster casualties from the latest skirmish and slapped ‘em together into something vaguely functional. Well, so does RB, but it doesn’t look as bad on a gun. There are some details that fit really well, like how Astroscope’s legs resemble dual gun stocks, or how Payload makes a handy rifle butt. I suppose even Sky Blast’s nosecone could count as an extra handle, although none of the toys could really grab it. The whole thing holds together really nicely, except for Astroscope, who’s always a little rickety. And its gimmick actually works, unlike the Star Saber.
Bias: I really like TFs that have space vehicles as alt modes. Countdown was/is a personal favorite, and I always wanted Sky Lynx (maybe someday . . . ), so I greatly anticipated the space team’s arrival. I hope they’ll work well with Jetfire, kind of like how the destruction team works with Cyclonus (though not as involved, most likely).
Overall: The Space team is great stuff. I highly recommend it.
|Date||November 15th 2002 |
|Score|| (9 out of 10) |