Height: Robot: 15cm (head) ; Vehicle: 16cm (length)/14cm (rotor span)
Articulation: 22 total points: double jointed neck; 4 points each arm - double jointed shoulder, pre-elbow swivel, hinge elbow; 6 points each leg - ball joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, hinge ankle, hinge "toe", hinge "heel".
Colors: Molded turquoise, pink, purple, black, metal-flake grey, clear turquoise; Painted pink, purple, black, turquoise, silver, yellow.
Accessories: Missile launchers x2, with missiles
Release Data: Released with Shattered Glass Octopunch in a bagged souvenir set available for purchase exclusively at Botcon 2012 at a price of US$89.
Some toys just come with an automatic expectation of certain recolors in their future. Of course in most cases it's just based on having a vehicle form that vaguely matches someone else's rather than any distinct resemblance or connection. But as such things go, Spinister from Tomahawk was a pretty common idea, and it inspired no small number of custom repaints. I myself have a certain appreciation for 1988's toys because of the rather distinct coloring they'd tend to sport. No surprise then that at the TFCC display case at Botcon I caught notice of this figure almost immediately. And so from the first evening I was there, the prospect of buying a souvenir exclusive set tugged at my mind. Took me a while longer to notice and figure out Kick-Off, admittedly, and longer yet to decide to drop cash on two sets where I only really wanted one toy from each. Good thing I was so sleep deprived that I couldn't talk myself out of it!
Spinister's vehicle mode is everything that is good and happy, wrapped in bacon and puppies. ...okay, technically the bacon is sold separately, but you get the gist of it. The intro probably did a good enough job establishing that I simply love these late-G1 style colors, and Spinister is one of the best examples of it. Plus I dig turquoise a bit, and most of the vehicle mode shows that pretty, pretty color. (although the photos may not entirely accurately represent it) The other major visible color? Pink! There's some teal and purple there too, but that pink is really going to capture your focus just for being so bright in contrast to the bulk of turquoise on the toy. The majority falls to the underbody of the helicopter, but the little machine cannons on the wings, the tail rotor and a solid stripe down the back make sure that you're going to get a little bit of pink no matter where you look. Let's see THAT get put on a retail toy! The only thing not standing out in vibrant color is the main rotor and the tailfin, which are both made of a grey, metal-flaked plastic.
The other toys I've reviewed so far this week have focused their extra paint apps towards abstract uses like paint wipes, or stylistic detailing. Spinister goes a different way and gains tampographs meant to resemble sticker detail from the original toy. The nose gets the pattern of the pelvis sticker from the original Spinister, looking like a small yellow light and generic techy shapes. The original sticker made it appear the light was accompanied by a vent, but that level of complexity is not found in the painted version here. The wings also get matching silver rectangles with pink arrows pointing forward. In case Spinister forgets what direction he's traveling...? The wings also get largely filled in with black paint, but sadly it does not follow the sculpted panel lines on to the next surface the way it looks like it should. Replicating sticker detail is not a new technique for Botcon or fan club toys, though sometimes it seems like too easy of an "out" in a case where no other option is immediately obvious, and more often than not I find these kind of paint apps to look out of place among regular toys who don't have these kinds of details anymore.
Parts fit in vehicle mode is solid. With few moving parts to consider, plastic tolerances are not much concern. There are some cautions though. The rotor plastic is a bit softer than on Tomahawk. This is a double-edged sword. Since these are packaged in a plastic bag rather than a firm, supportive plastic blister, it reduces the chances of a blade snapping along the way. At the same time, these are bagged and so the rotor not only lacks support, but the bag is wrapped tight enough to bend the blades down, even if just a little bit. The soft plastic then allows them to warp and set like that. Riding around in shipping cartons piled full of these sets with no protective structure isn't helping that either.
In functional terms, this toy is a great vehicle option for Spinister. Since this is based loosely between an Apache and some super-fictionalized Patlabor vehicle, it looks like a solid attack helicopter, instead of the vague box-with-a-rotor thing going on in G1. Tomahawk was a favorite of mine for the styling of the vehicle mode, and the great variety of colors on Spinister really helps bring out all of those elements much more clearly. All he's missing is some dudes strapped under his wings with gun barrels sticking out their backsides.
The only issue I've ever had in transforming this mold was working the wings and arms around the rotor blades, regardless of which way I was going between modes. In a way the softer plastic might make that less uncomfortable. But whether well-founded or not, the softer feel of the plastic makes me worry for the true strength and so reluctant to push it too far. Granted, the way these were packed and shipped, the plastic has probably more than proven itself, and I'm just needlessly paranoid. I have a way of doing that.
So, in favor of preserving some vehicle mode color accuracy, the colors of the robot are reversed compared to the original toy. Somehow I think the new hot pink leggings actually make Spinister stand out as even more The 80's than accurate color placement would have been. I can't exactly complain there. I might have tried to find a compromise between the extremes of coloring options if it were up to me to figure out the deco, but it works just fine. ...except for when I see it out of the corner of my eye and swear it's Piranacon. 1988 was a very pink and turquoise year for the Decepticons. The way this toy works, there's not any deco that's "exclusive" to the robot mode, so it's all the same elements as the vehicle mode.
So far unseen at US retail, Spinister utilizes Tomahawk's pretool alternate head. This has been used in Japan for their DOTM Vortex, among other differences to Tomahawk. It's not an especially Spinister-looking head, since he was another one of the dudes with square helmet, faceplate, and a forehead crest. Basically, the most generic generic head design you could think of, that was Spinister. This head is more complex in shape and detail, and through creative application of paint, is made to try to match some of the basic form of Spinister. Helpfully there's even vaguely crest-like details high on the forehead. If this headsculpt had eyes instead of a visor, it probably would work out to not being all that far off. In the end though, it kind of makes me think of Darkwing more than Spinister. Still, at least it wasn't the Tomahawk head. That would not have done at all.
For some people, the rather chicken-legged Tomahawk was not an appealing choice for any potential Classics-style character recolor. But as far back as that original Tomahawk use of the mold, it never seemed a big deal to me until you hit those giant feet that appear composed entirely of hydraulic pistons. But more and more, Transformer legs and feet have rarely been the simple blocky affair they once were, and these are mild, I'd say compared to some toys that edged the line in the transitional period between ROTF and the return of Classics. It's true this shape and the build of the figure are not appropriate for everyone who turns in to a helicopter - you'd never get a decent Springer out of this for instance - but I really can say that it works for Spinister. I hope that you would not condemn this attempt just for one small portion of the lower body being a little unusual.
Spinister does have one seemingly common issue I was able to identify almost immediately: the wing sockets tend to pick up stress marks. This is not a user-level problem, either. My example and others I had a chance to examine during the weekend in Dallas all showed similar stress marks fresh out of the package. It seems to just be a result of assembly, likely the plastic cured the tiniest fraction too small and picked up the lines the first time the wings were popped on at the factory. This can't be identified in vehicle mode at all, since the affected surfaces are completely concealed. I'm not concerned by it; as long as you're not taking the wings on and off a bunch, there's no sign or reason to think the socket is going to break just as it sits on the ball joint. Other than this, plastic tolerances seem to not be an issue at all. By and large Spinister is just alike in joint stiffness with my Tomahawk. In fact, the elbow might be a bit tighter, even. Since that's put together with a screw, I think it might be variable depending how far tightened that is rather than the way the plastics fit together.
Sadly Spinister could not come with two Targetmaster buddies. Instead, he features a reuse of Tomahawk's missile launchers. These can peg under the wings, be hand-held, or by way of their c-clip Miyake Joints, mount at various points elsewhere on the figure. Thanks to those clip system connections, they're certainly one of the more versatile sets of launchers around. As packaged, the missiles are held by the stems from the clips, which is probably a good way to keep them stored if you're not mounting the weapons on the 3mm rails, as they won't be wearing the launcher springs down that way. It also gives the illusion of increased armament in vehicle mode, which he needs to make up for the lack of his pair of little dudes.
Spinister was the start of pleasant surprises upon arriving at Botcon. And while it was overtaken not too long after, it held a strong impression upon me. Sadly Spinister may be the most imperfect in capturing an existing character deco, thanks to the build of the chosen toy. Changes could possibly have been made to help offset this, but then we'd have lost the beautiful vehicle mode color layout. I think I can live with a color-flipped robot mode with its hot pink pants and all for the sake of a great looking vehicle mode, and a still really nice robot form.
Spinister ranks in at Very Good, as defined by the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale, and I'm very happy I was able to get one. Of course, while Spinister made the strongest first impression on me, ultimately it would be overshadowed by another of the Botcon exclusives I ended up purchasing that weekend. And tomorrow, see just how Kick-Off won ExVee's heart!
|Date||May 10th 2012|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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