A boat! It?s a boat! A boat a boat a boat! Not a hovercraft. Not a minicon. Not a brick that grows wings and calls itself a triple-changer. Not three vaguely boat-like things that transform into robot parts, but an honest to goodness boat that transforms into one complete robot. About time.
The name Mirage seems an odd choice for the toy. Traditionally the name Mirage has almost exclusively been reserved for F-1 race cars. This is a totally different way to go, but I think most fans will welcome this change. Energon has enough homages in it ? a character completely unique in both modes is a refreshing change,
I don?t know whether Mirage will end up as a reformatted Tidal Wave (I hope not), but his above average stats would imply a fast and cunning warrior, not the terrifying yet dim-witted behemoth we?ve grown to love. I can see Mirage taking the place of Armada Thrust, serving as Megatron?s advisor and strategist.
Vehicle Mode (BOAT!)
Width: 6.5cm (9.8cm with wings)
Mirage?s alt mode is a long, lean gun boat (!). A futuristic, evil looking gun boat to be sure, but unlike so many ?future mode? vehicles, there aren?t any apparent cheats in this design. It?s an unmistakable boat, designed for nothing other than travel on water. It?ll be interesting to see how this gets incorporated into the series. He has no ?spaceship? mode like Tidal Wave, and I can?t see the writers going out of their way to include a bunch of water stuff (as was done for Aquaman in the SuperFriends cartoons). Then again the cartoon features a flying SUV.
I should note that since most kids won?t be bringing Mirage into the bathtub, he carries 5 small, clear plastic wheels under the hull. These do not roll well at all, but then boats shouldn?t roll to begin with.
I dearly love the aesthetics of this ship. Save for some kibble in the back, it?s a nice sleek yet aggressive design, and they?ve done some nice sculpting detail without going overboard. The color choices are nice too ? contrasting, but not clashing. The palette is both appropriate for an aquatic toy, as well as a Decepticon.
I was surprised how stable the boat mode is, considering all the bits and pieces that have to be lined up to get it together. The only consistent problem I have is that the hull pieces tend to pop apart at the bow, and even when connected, the seam doesn?t quite stay all the way closed.
Its nice that the first three quarters of the hull is one long piece of molded plastic, giving the profile a nice and nearly seemless flow. This part of the hull is molded in light steel blue plastic with a dark slate blue paint app around the top, The hull?s back piece is molded the same dark blue at the stern. A small rectangular ?window? is visible where the two plates meet ? actually a latch to keep them together. Pretty clever kibbleflauge.
About a third of the way from the bow, a pair of forward pointing black wings project from the hull. Measuring about 2cm wide and 6cm long, each wing carries two 2.5cm purple torpedoes beneath them. It may appear that they can detach, but it doesn?t seem to be possible.
Mirage?s deck is mostly metal-flake orange-gold plastic with light blue trim (from the hull piece). Near the bow is a near-triangular vent which covers the cursed sound chip. On either side are cylindrical dark blue and black cannons, about 9 cm long when loaded. These are connected by a narrow strip of clear plastic.
The cabin is black with clear windows. Two seats are clearly visible, and based on their size the scaled length of the boat could easily be 20-25 meters. Behind and above the cabin is Mirage?s spark crystal, which flanked by two gold painted plates. The port plate has a molded Decepticon symbol. Between the spark crystal and the cabin are two yellow lines (windows?) and light metallic blue vents.
Above and behind the spark crystal are a pair of gray and gold boxes with purple powerlink points. The powerlinx points are too close together to easily use at the same time, but on the outward side of each box is a mount for energon weapons, so he?s got firepower to spare. It is too obvious these boxes are the robot arms: hands are visible from the front and elbow joints from the rear. Not horrible, but there nontheless.
On either side of the stern is a dark blue and gold missile launcher (about 9cm with missile) with four metallic pink markings. Small (1cm x 3cm), up-angled, backward pointing wings extend from each launcher. These do not have torpedoes beneath them as the forward wings do, but below each wing is a mount for yet more energon weapons. Without weapons I suppose they can pass for large portholes.
While the design is rock solid from the front, sides and top, the stern and keel are very open and the robot legs and feet are quite noticeable. Fortunately most fans won?t be displaying him from these angels.
Hypermode, as always, is mostly a matter of showing off the weapons. Hit a switch between the forward cannons and they rise up on transparent plastic arms, making a horrible ?whrrrrr?ing noise as they do so. The cannons cannot be elevated or rotated, and any attempt to move them will wake the god of annoying toy noises.
To finish hypermode, pull the rear cannons out to unfold the two panels which make up the rear hull (doing so will uncover more metallic blue paint), and rest the cannons on their small wings for a hydrofoil effect. What is actually neat about this is that it opens up two more holes for energon weapons (one port, one aft). This really opens up the possibility for firepower as Mirage can now carry four missile launchers, a minicon, and six energon weapons.
The one problem with hypermode is that it requires disconnecting the rear hull from the forward hull, and this connection is largely what keeps the boat intact. With the link broken the whole rear becomes very unstable. Considering the fact that all the missile launchers are usable in the normal mode, and the only real gain is two weapon mounts, I don?t expect that my Mirage will go hyper anytime soon.
Transformation Though clearly there is a kinship, Mirage is no shellformer. No question there are similarities in the way he transforms, but the forward hull, the nominal ?shell,? only encases the backpack and hips. Most of the body (head, arms, legs, front torso) are tightly crammed into the back of the boat. So let?s split the difference and call Mirage a half-shellformer, ok?
Unlike a true shellformer, there is more involved than simply cracking him open and pulling everything out. There are a number of twists and turns here and there, just enough to make it interesting. Getting it all back in place is also substantially easier than for most shellformers. You shouldn?t have to fiddle much to get everything realigned. It only took me a couple of minutes to reverse the transformation the first time, and truth be told I was distracted by tv.
The real issue here is the cannons, which are easily popped up by accident, thus triggering that god-awful, parent irritating noise. And since this goes off every time you touch the cannons or move the toy, by the time you are done transforming Mirage to a robot or boat, you will be ready to kill your nearest neighbor. Since it?ll be easier for most of you to take out the batteries than to get a good attorney, I recommend disabling the device. MISBers won?t have this problem, but then you won?t really get to play with the toy at all will you?
Width: 8.5cm (shoulder to shoulder)
I don?t know exactly how the rest of fandom will see Mirage?s robot mode, but there is this is definitely a design with character. And some kibble.
?Regal? is the first word that sprung to my mind when seeing Mirage. Purple and gold with a tall crown, his chest out proudly, the vehi-kibble behind him evoking the long flowing robes of royalty. The second word was likely ?lean.? Mirage is thin, perhaps the slenderest Transformer since Beast Machines, but not anemically so. Possessing long legs, narrow waist, and whip thin arms combine with broad shoulders and a deep, powerful chest. This is a very lithe and very lethal looking machine.
Obviously I am enamored of this design. As the alt mode, Mirage?s robotic form is something different in the Transformer line. Certainly some elements, especially the torso, seem pretty typical, but overall the look is unique. This will surely play well with some fans, and turn others away.
I love the narrow, pointy chin head design. There is a mischievously sinister look about the character. Sometimes I think he?s smiling at me. Like many Energon toys, Mirage uses a light piping feature for the eyes. It would appear that Hasbro has finally figured out this gimmick, as his eyes get a terrific white glow. Not quite as good as Landmine, but the effect is dramatic.
The color scheme has changed considerably from boat mode. With the hull and deck moved to the rear, Mirage?s primary colors are black, gold, purple and gray, with some light metallic blue and metallic pink highlights. Parts that retain the colors of boat mode are the backpack (the orange-gold deck), his arm weapons (dark blue with pink markings), and the boat hull kibble (light and dark blue).
Articulation is just fantastic. Full shoulder motion, a double elbow joint, and two swivels give him the most flexible arms in recent memory. The fins on the lower arms may be positioned in a horizontal or vertical position.The lower half does nearly as well, with a pivoting waist, universal hip joint, thigh swivel, and knee and ankle hinges. A cool, perhaps unintentional, new joint allows him to bend his upper torso to the right and left, so he can duck and weave.
About the only disappointment is that the head lacks vertical movement, which seems all that much more limited in the wake of Energon Demolishor. Thankfully, the vehi-kibble does little to impede Mirage?s range of motion (only the hips run into resistance), so I expect there to be some dynamite pose pics in circulation.
In normal mode, most of the armament is in the forearms. He has two missile launchers, one on each arm. On the ?fins? extending from each launcher are two energon weapon mounts. Because the hole for the second mount goes straight through the thick fin, it is possible to put two weapons on each mount, one on each side of the fin. If this weren?t enough there is one more mount on each of his calves. Finally, each forearm also has a powerlinx port perfect for minicon ?target masters.? If Mirage were ever fully loaded I don?t know how he could ever manage to lift his arms.
The robot mode is not without its flaws. Kibble is an issue, though not nearly so bad as Big Convoy or RiD Sideburn. He?s got a big backpack which carries his two deck cannons and all the evil electronics. His 18cm boat hull halves hang off the hips. Fans are used to kibble being used as wings, but I?m not sure they?ll be willing to accept it as coattails. They are on arms that let you pose them in a few different positions (not as wings, though), but if no adjustment is to your liking, you can just pop them off their ball joints. On the other hand, when attached they can be used to keep him propped up in dynamic poses.
Besides kibble, there is a gaping hull in Mirage?s torso. Its can be tough to see if the arms are down, but when uncovered it looks terrible. Lastly there is a tendency for his legs to pop off from the thigh joint. I don?t know if this is fixable; perhaps Hasbro will make a mold change later. It pops back in easily enough, though I can see in the long term repeated removal could loosen the joint. For now, the biggest irritation is that every time it happens I get the Black Knight skit running through my head.
Flick the switch on the backpack and Mirage?s deck cannons will flip over his shoulders and summon forth the evil noise. That?s it.
Can someone please explain to me how this qualifies as a line-defining gimmick? *sigh*
You may not have noticed, but I really, really like Mirage. I?ve addressed his flaws, but they are a rather small part of the big picture. I like the way the kibble is incorporated into the overall look. I love the articulation and the sculpting. And, oh yeah, HE?S A BOAT!
I can see why some won?t like Mirage. There are those fans with very low kibble tolerances, can?t abide the thought of even a half-shellformer, or who don?t appreciate a design aesthetic that wanders too far off the well-worn TF path. And I guess there may be boat haters out there. If you belong to one or more of these groups, consider yourself fairly warned.
As for myself, in years to come when I look back on Energon, Mirage will stand out as one of its highlights.
Final Grade: A-
|Reviewer||Michael T. Dunleavy|
|Date||May 8th 2004|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|