After months of waiting, the Target exclusive Universe Nemesis Prime has finally hit stores, and I, for one, feel honored to own one! While I never owned the original Big Convoy, so this review will take on the toy as a new release, but should hopefully give you an idea about the changes made if you are familiar with both models. It should also be noted that this is my first review, and thus some of the frills will not be present.
The figure comes packed in its robot mode, so this is where I will begin. The packaging is not accurate in the least -- first, the pictures on the back feature parts colored yellow and red (notably the legs and ankle launchers). These are a beige/white on the toy, with black missiles. Secondly, one of the coolest features, the blood red missile pods, are hidden from view (I will discuss these more later in the article). In my personal opinion, the picture featured is also somewhat sub-par, but that is extreme nit-picking.
N.P. (I'm resisting the urge to call him Scourge, as it was R.I.D. Scourge that has gotten me into collecting Nemesis Prime variants) comes packaged quite securely, if a bit strangely. It is wrapped in at least a dozen twist-ties, with note bein gtaken of the tusks (on the sides), two for the trunk/cannon (one on the bottom, one on the side of the package), and its feet bound in bags. It is also strangely packaged in that its hips are 180 degrees off standard, and its legs are rotated -- so that the ankle missile launchers are between his legs. It is also packed such that its shoulders are folded down. Do not take these as sings of a mistaken assembely -- just some twists and they are removed.
N.P. stands about equal in height with his energon contemporaries at the $20 price point, or about 89" tall. His form is mostly black, although his shoudlers, hips, and lower legs and arms are all the light beige talked about before to add depth. Silver and light metallic blue accents adorn his body, including the forehead crest (marking him as Prime), his fingers, shoulders, and feet. Poseability is amazing, as there are 7 ball joints, four ratcheting joints, and waist articulation. Due to the mammoth parts, especially the ankle launchers and the tusks/missile pods off his shoulders, he looks far more imposing than his body would imply. This is further beefed up by his muscular-appearing chestplate, which is silver and translucent red.
Speaking of his chest piece, of special note is his matrix of leadership -- or, as Hasbro calls it, his "Dead Matrix Annex". The matrix itself is pitch black, with a blood red central crystal. It is housed in a silver metallic chambe,r with blood red accents and a little bit of metallic blue. The detail work is quite high in this area, although there are no ink washes or anything that fancy. Also, the Matrix sits in the chamber quite securely due to a peg system. Indeed, unless you pull from both the top and bottom (aided by some tabs on the matrix itself), it is quite hard to remove.
A couple complaints about the robot mode. First, the eyes. The eyes appear to be made out of the translucent blood red used elsewhere on the toy, but it does -not- feature light piping or electronics to make the eyes glow. As such, it looks like black on black when it comes to his eyes. Now, this may be a cool effect if you wish to look at him as some soulless creature, but I personally think the toy would have gotten quite a style boost to make its back helmet piece translucent, to allow the light piping effect to work. Secondly, and this is nitpicking, due to the beast mode there is quite a bit of excess pieces on this model, especially in the leg area. These pieces have a nasty habit of getting in the way, it seems. Luckily they snap on and off easily enough (and the rear legs of the beast mode fit quite well into notches built for them), but it can be a deterrant in the long run. In addition, it's a bit of a struggle (both in this mode and in beast mode) to attach the mortar cannon to the hook on the back that stores it. This is more due to the cannon's bulk than anything else, however. It should be noted that the front fet are on a hinge, but will snap off if you try to move that hinge... It is there simply to protect the toy, it seems.
Everyone knows, deep down, that it is the weapons that make the transformers, even for the pacifistic Autobots. What's always been cool, though, is that the N.P.'s/Scourges seem to be absolutely overgunned by most standards, and thus make them just items of sheer terror to the autobots they face! Universe N.P. is no exception, and his armarment gets its own section.
First, as has been noted before, are the missile pods. On each inner half of the beast mode halves near his shoudlers, he has 5 missile pods, for 10 in total. He also has a pair of 3-barrelled miniguns molded into his hips, reminiscent of Robots in Disguise Ultra Magnus. In compartments on each forearm, he bears 2 red tonfas, which are studded and can be attached via peg/hole to his hands (they are held on the forearms by a generally weak hinge if you wish to pose his hands differently). It should be noted that the tonfas are made out of soft, pliable rubbery plastic, as was used on Unicron's sharp points. (so are N.P.'s tusks, for the record). Again, as mentioned before, he has a pair of launchers on his ankles, which launch crossbow-shaped missiles a considerable length. Curiously enough, if you wish to truly over-arm N.P., his front legs feature 3 shaped circles in the bottom of them. Swing them forward, and they look like 3 enormous cannons -- Per Leg.
The main attraction, however, is N.P.'s "mortar cannon." Honestly, even ignoring the trunk this has to be one of the biggest indivdual weapons I've ever seen on a Transformer, let alone one this size. It features a rotating firing mechanism (which only rotates to fire one way, clockwise), which fires twin missiles. I actually got a 12 foot arcing shot out of the top of the two missiles, which completely shocked me when I had to go hunting for it. The cannon also can double as a shield, due to the trio of body parts on it.
I want to say something right off the bat: At least 1/2 of point deduction on this toy is due to the instructions that came with it. Firstly, they are from back in the Beast Wars era, which means they are loosely drawn charactures. Even when pieces need to go into detail, they do not. this is not aided by the fact that they are generally compressed. The transformation, in their markings, go through 21 steps minimum. This is compacted into about 3/4 of the sheet. Probably the worse issue, however, is that they go -From Beast To Robot-. This might be fine for how the toy was originally released, but they start you in robot mode in the US! I've found that you learn a ton about the transformation on your first attempt, and this one is no exception.
Other than that, the transformation went fairly smoothly, once you get all the body parts in place. I recommend leaving off the trunk/mortar cannon until you are complete, no matter which way you are going.
Two specific notes on the transformation which are not fully intuitive:
1) When you fold up the legs underneath, make sure that the upper legs are folded aimed straight down at the ground (if you were standing him properly), and that the lower legsare pulled all the way forward, tucked under the abdomen. This is essential, as the knee joint is a pair of ratcheting joints -- the connectin piece must be in line with the lower legs (robot mode) for the front legs (beast mode) to get far enough forward.
2) When lining up the kibble (the ankle launchers), always remember that the black points upwards. It may not seem so at first, but yes, every piece fits in place properly.
3) for the trunk attachment joint, it works properly when the trangular (bottom piece) is pointed with the slant forwards, and the notch in the oval-shaped piece is facing backwards. Don't worry, you can't rotate it otherwise, it's just so you get them lined up right.
Beast mode (wooly mammoth):
Off the bat: 0 points of articulation! Yup, get that through your heads! Heh.. okay, well, maybe not. You can move the tail, the tusks, and the trunk (and the ears).
Guess what, guys? This is still probably one of the best beast mode characters I own.
N.P. is black and silver in this mode, with the only other colors visible are little bits of the beast mode visible from the rear. The silver is towards the bottom, around the feet where the fur bleeds off, and at the end of the trunk. It has demonic-looking red eyes, and blood-tipped tusks (visible in robot mode, but just as imposing here). It looks very authentic in this mode, with no robot parts showing (save the parts mention before on the rear -- unavoidable side effect). It's size... well, I tried to find something to compare it to, and its probably closest to Energon Ironhide.. but bigger towards the front.
Action features give this mode its play value, as it does some things that really wouldn't make sense in robot mode. First, it has a "gore attack" that utilizes its tusks. Pull back on its ears, and in a fluid motion its tusks lift up into the air. These are not connected in any way, you syou can get some cool little effects going. Second, it has a "smash attack" featuring its trunk. Essentially, this utilizes the same rubbery system that Beast Wars Megatron (the dragon dude of much awesomenes) uses. Pull back a trigger on N.P.'s head and its trunk rears up. If you are talented, you can get all 3 triggers going at once for some pretty impressive moves. But in the end, the Beast Mode is simply there to sit on your shelf and stare menacingly at anyone who threatens your space.
Hmm. Upon reflecting, I should probably mention that his beast mode is a wolly mammoth. Ah well. =)
Hasbro's name, not mine.
What this mode essentially involves is taking all of N.P.'s weaponry and making it available for his mammoth mode to use. You reverse the trunk/cannon assembely so it is sticking out of N.P.'s forehead (in the process giving him quite a weird tail), and pulling out the side fur panels to reveal the ankle launchers again. It.. works, I guess, but in my humble opinion it seems more like using what is available to give the beast mode some weaponry. It should be noted that the launch trigger for the mortar cannon is on the underside with it mounted like this, thus requiring you to reach your finger in from between the tusks (in the cavity left behind from the trunk). This probably explains why it is on a rotary system, to allow it to be fired like this.
It seems tacked on to me, but then again, most 3rd forms are.
Still reading? Amazing, I applaud you -- I tend to get wordy. First I want to say that despite there not being any electronics or any terribly fancy gimmicks, this toy was definitely worth the price (I seem to be on a roll, as I picked up Shockblast this week too). Both its beast and robot modes are extremely intimidating, the weaponry is massive, and the robot mode poseability makes up in an amazing way for the lack of poseability in the beast mode.
Again, cons are the extra pieces in the beast mode, the eyes being so black, and above all else, the terrible instructions.
Go find this at your nearest Target. Go. Now. Stop reading! Come on! It's a universe mold actually worth something!
|Reviewer||Anthony Brook |
|Date||October 20th 2004 |
|Score|| (9 out of 10) |