I get home, rip open the package, transform the little doojiggers a couple of times, and wouldn’t you know it, my Oval has two left arms! Bummer. So if there’s anyone out there who has an Oval with two right arms, e-mail me, okay? :} Just kidding!Gimmick
I figure I might as well start here, since they all have the same gimmick. I hadn’t heard any news on the net as to what gimmick these guys would have, and that caught my curiosity. So when I bought this team I look on the package, and it says, “BACKTRACK, OVAL, and SPIRAL figures have super-articulated arms and legs for exciting poses!” Ooooo. We’ll talk specifics later, but suffice it to say that while they are more poseable than the average minicon (Wreckage, anyone?). Heck, they’re even more poseable than the Super-cons, Max-cons, and Ultra-super-duper-cons, which says something slightly unpleasant about the rest of Armada. True, they’re not as poseable as your average Beast Wars TF, or even a lot of RiD TFs, but they’re Minicons! I digress, however. I do not think that poseability is necessarily their best gimmick. I think these guys are minicon spychangers. They have racing axles. Okay, that’s not the most complex of gimmicks, but you can zoom them around and make them live up to their moniker. They’re too small for matchbox-type race tracks, but . . . heh, forget it. Just read on. :POval
Design: I might as well start with this guy. He’s not very oval, but that’s just fine, eh? He is very orange, with black windows, grey details, and white headlights. He also has the most molded-in detail of the trio in both car and robot modes. His tires even have tiny treads. Like his automotive brethren, his fists are molded on the insides of his arms (well, on the outside of one of them in my case. Waaah!). And like the other Street Speedsters, he’s shorter than the average minicon. The Powerlinx port is on his left foot.
Transformation: Very reminiscent of G1, in good ways. His body splits in half widthwise, with one half splitting again to become the legs and the other half folding perpendicularly so that the grille and headlights end up as the robot’s chest. It makes him look old-school, kinda like an Omnibot, but it also makes him fairly unstable. The pegs that are supposed to hold his chest on his body are just to small to be entirely effective, so when you pose him he tends to start transforming. Still, he has the least extraneous car parts hanging off of him and getting in the way, so that’s a plus.
Poseability: He can rotate his shoulders and bend his elbows, and he has ball joints for hips. Oddly, though, he has no knees. If you claim to be super-articulated, you should have knees. He does have a cape, though. You can bend his window section up to look like a wind-blown cape
. . . aw, forget it again. :}
Design: This sculpt is much sleeker and less ornate than Oval. Backtrack is dark green with white windows and silver headlights. There’s not much in terms of amounts of detail: it seems the designers were going for a smoother look. What little detail there is works perfectly, like the nearly microscopic tailpipes or grille details. In Backtrack’s case I think less is more, and in vehicle mode he’s quite striking. Backtrack is even thin enough to activate Starscream’s Null Rays! He’s much stockier in robot mode–who knew you could eat Twinkies and transform at the same time?–but manages to look very smooth. There are various details molded into sundry parts, but Backtrack is very minimalist. I like the effect. In another possible nod to G1, he has two spikes jutting out of his shoulders which resemble the wings present on so many of the original Autobots, or the original Hot Rod’s spoiler. The Powerlinx connection is as far aft as you can get, on the midline of the car.
Transformation: It’s a real puzzle for such a little TF. The arms kind of freak me out: they have this weird joint that first pops the doors/arms out from the sides, then slides them up. The trouble is that these joints are really stiff, and I fear that if you use the arms to manipulate them you would eventually snap them off. You can use your fingernails to mess around with the joints themselves, but it’s tough. I might mention here that each of these guys seem to be made of a higher quality plastic than most of the other minicons, and I think it could be because their overall designs are so intricate and fragile at this scale that any lesser plastic would wear out quickly. That, and if you want to zoom them around on their racing axles, they would have to survive any obstacles they would encounter.
Poseability: Still no knees. On the plus side, he can swivel at the waist. On the minus side, his elbows bend only slightly, and since he’s bulkier his joints are effectively more restricted. Still, he’s impressively poseable for such a small toy.Spiral
Design: I was expecting six arms and a samurai helmet. No? Okay, forgive me, it’s late. :} Spiral seems to have been designed with the same smooth aesthetic as Backtrack was. He’s dark blue, and swaps silver for the windows with white for his headlights, kind of the opposite of Backtrack. Spiral’s transformation is the most complex of the three, and some of the joints interfere with his otherwise smooth appearance. Again, he looks stockier in robot mode, but trades the smooth attitude for more detail and a more powerful look. His doors hang off the back of his legs, which make them look twice as thick from the side. His chestplate has yellow vents and his rear wheels hanging off them, and he has Smokescreen style hands. And again, his Powerlinx socket is in the same place as Backtrack’s, and he can interact with Starscream the same way.
Transformation: Again, similar to Backtrack’s. I should stop writing that. :} But it’s true. They’re not clones by any means, even if I make it sound that way. But . . . aw, forget it yet again; back to transformation. His passenger compartment–well the top part of it anyway–becomes his arms, and the doors swing out onto his legs. This is another point to be careful about because you have to wrestle the doors around the wheels, and they bend outward a bit. Despite its similarity to Backtrack . . . shut up! . . . it is more complex, I think.
Poseability: Spiral is the most poseable of the group: he actually has knees. Otherwise, it’s the same as . . . MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!! . . . Backtrack’s, albeit less inhibited by extra car paneling.
Bias: I’ve gotten used to the idea of minicons being heavily gimmick-laden, or made to interact with larger partners in some intricate way. So at first I thought to myself, gee, these guys are a drag. But Thoreau said “Simplify, simplify, simplify,” and so I think they’ve grown on me, even in a few short hours.Overall
There’s not much to describe, but they’re great TF’s. In terms of raw quality, in my estimation only the Firing Squad (Bonecrusher, Wreckage, and Knock Out) can surpass them. Go buy them now.
|Date||November 15th 2002|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|