Height: 13cm to top of head
Articulation: 15 total points - Swivel neck plus neck hinge; 3 points each arm: Ball joint shoulder, hinge elbow, swivel wrist; Waist swivel; 3 points each leg: ball joint thigh, thigh swivel, hinge knee. Plus additional joints for wing positioning.
Colors: Molded red, black, colorless clear, white; Painted black, red, gold, clear blue, clear pink, pearlescent white, metallic blue, yellow, white.
Accessories: Tessen war fan, Stormfall Sword plus scabbard
Release Data: Released in Japan on February 14th, 2015 at a price of ¥2,800.
The Fan-Built Bot was designed well in advance of the character's supporting media being produced. And as tends to happen some divergence occurs when the media catches up. Especially when the character is interpreted by an artist such as Sarah Stone who has a distinct style which she brings to her Transformers work. Hasbro's release couldn't try to line up with that, but TakaraTomy had some extra time to tinker with it before releasing it in their confusingly named Legends line.
For sake of better clarity, when necessary I'll use the prefix abbreviation
"LG" rather than say Legends so as not to confuse with the Generations Legends
price point. Because saying "Legends Windblade" could quickly become
misleading, especially given the third party effort along that very line...
Physically there isn't much difference with LG Windblade versus the Hasbro release. The joints don't behave significantly differently, though you may find the knee hinges feel slightly different thanks to being painted where the Hasbro version is bare plastic. But you're not going to find that Takara made some revolutionary advancement on the toy with just the deco change because Hasbro Windblade did pretty well on that regard to begin with. And the things that weren't so great still remain there, like the awkwardly designed heels, being a bit back-heavy, the shoulder armor always wanting to stay with the bicep when the arms are moved. None of that has been changed. The hinges on the heels might be a little bit stiffer, but the amount falls in what I'd consider the margin of individual variation anyway, so I can't say this is really representative of a difference across the production. Basically if you had issues with how Windblade worked that weren't the product of actual defects, the Takara release is most likely not going to fix that for you.
This sets out to fix the deco and do what it can to bring it more in line with the comic book art. The color arrangement has been changed, mainly in swapping positions of red and black areas on the body. Hasbro's black wings and red pelvis and thighs have become red wings and pelvis, and black thighs. The first two are plastic colors, while the last is brought about by comprehensive paint coverage. This again leads to a painted knee hinge that may be seen to slightly tighten that joint.
So let's talk about the face. When I reviewed Hasbro's Windblade, I acknowledged that the face deco was very different from how Sarah Stone interpreted the design in the comic art, but the sculpt underlying it wasn't nearly as removed from that as it had initially seemed. And this proves out that idea. The whole deco of the face and helmet is directly based off that comic art, doing as much as it can with paint to make the face sculpt resemble media produced after the toy was designed. In a way it's like going back to the old days of Takara releases, where they used their later release to tweak Hasbro's stuff to better reflect the show it came out of. That still happens on occasion, but seeing how Windblade falls in that pattern is a happy trip of nostalgia for me.
Right, so instead of silver, the base coat of the face is white, and it has finer red lines that are a fully different shape from Hasbro's, and reflect what was seen in the comic rather well. The sculpt of the face is different enough from how Sarah drew Windblade's face that it's never going to look quite the same. There's more contour and some lines that the white paint tends to accentuate a bit more than was so with the silver. And in particular the shape and relative size of the eyes is completely different which will be the main thing keeping this apart from passing exactly like the comic appearance. At one point it appeared a bit of the face outside the eyes was planned to be painted blue to try to expand them and modify the shape, though it wasn't necessarily to the benefit of the figure. That was dropped in any case, but we have rings of bare black plastic around the eyes seemingly where the extra blue would have been. That's another element in the face looking older than the way the comic shows the character. I'm nitpicking a little maybe, but given the face is by far the main selling point of this version, I feel a thoroughness is called for. That said, I like the way the deco came off. It isn't a perfect representation, but it reads so much more like what I was taught to expect Windblade to look like, and the minor variances don't really matter that much.
It's not just the face, either. Comic Windblade's helmet has much less complicated decoration that the toy was sculpted with, and for this version fewer details have been painted, with the rest being allowed to fade in to the surrounding black plastic. This is much less obvious than the general treatment on the face, but it's good attention to detail that finishes off the most important changes on the figure. I will give one word of warning: this Windblade ships in Vehicle mode, so there's no opportunity at all to make sure there aren't paint flaws on the face before purchase, even if you can see a selection in person. I recommend only purchasing this somewhere that will work with you if you need to exchange a figure that might have a defective deco.
The transformation isn't affected by the deco changes. Issues like the
forward wing edges not tabbing securely to the fuselage is in fact exactly the
same as the original release. The only thing I really found to feel any
different was the tail planes tabbing down a little better and the hands
grabbing underneath more smoothly. For the most part nothing is better or worse
in any really meaningful way.
Hasbro Windblade was a largely black jet, while Takara's is mostly red. For one thing that lets the shins blend a little more smoothly visually even despite the toes sticking straight up. I'll always envy the alternate reality that kept those able to fold down as was obviously the original design intent. What this really highlights though is how interesting the jet can look and how we didn't get such a clear picture of that with the black jet of the original release. There's a section of fuselage that's black plastic, just behind the cockpit and I really wish that was red as well. It's not the only spot of black here, but it's the one that seems most out of place because of its positioning. With it red you'd end up with a red-dominated jet with a black cockpit, tail, and the leading edges of the wings. The black would become a focused accent color because the layout would be solidly tied together. That could have even been the intent but the piece in question may be unpaintable. Ultimately it's one small knock against a deco that I think serves the vehicle really well.
A notable improvement in looks is found on the fan-blade weapons stored on the head. It's not fully painted in gold instead of having an unpainted clear face that relied on seeing the gold paint through the other side. The unfortunate downside to being fully painted is that I can't get it out now. No level of force I'm willing to exert would even get it to start to move. It's probably paint fused in. I'm really not that bothered about it. It was always an interesting extra and offered a couple of neat poses, but it's not anything I ever felt like was important to the use of the figure overall. I'm happy to leave it stuck in the head - at least that way I'll never have to worry about potentially losing it!
If you aren't particularly a fan of the Windblade comic, some of what this release does probably won't matter to you very much. But this thankfully doesn't come down to being something that will only appeal to people who got trained to recognize Windblade a certain way well in advance of the toy's original release. The robot's appearance is very little changed outside of things that appeal to the comic fans, but for the most part what it does outside of that helps the appearance. But for the general interest crowd, the jet mode is probably where it's at and what will sell this ultimately. The jet looks so much better taking on all this added red. It has a completely different visual identity from the Hasbro release and makes so much better use of the toy's design. Honestly, if you're not sure you want to pay the small import premium just for the more accurate face, the major change to the vehicle mode ought to justify the purchase handily. This is no minor deco tweak, you're getting something very different.
Now I am a comic fan, and I was made to expect Windblade to look a certain way, and this hits those marks for me. This is probably as good as I could hope for without actual sculpt changes - and I probably would triple-dip on this is some way or another a retooled comic accurate face version happened - and it does so much more besides that. TakaraTomy Windblade is Excellent on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale. They took a toy I already liked and just made it better with a stereotypically Takara deco overhaul. Much like their release of Generations Armada Starscream, it's one of those cases where the extra cost is justified for what they're offering.
|Date||March 12th 2015|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|
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