Unicron & Dead End - Armada - Figures

We've waited 17 years for the ol' planet muncher, and believe-you-me, Unicron is worth all that waiting, and the fifty or so bucks you'll have to lay down for him. So here's the lowdown:


DESIGN: Dead End is a dark grey planetoid which sports a proportionately huge blaster-gun of some sort. The grey is dark enough that it works well with the yellow, at least in robot mode. In moon mode the effect is rather jarring, and I wish that yellow detailing had been applied to the dark parts so the yellow plastic would blend in better. At least in robot mode the yellow bits distract from Dead End's chunks-for-hands. Little effort was made to sculpt fingers or manipulators of any sort on the ends of his arms. Fortunately, the blaster on the left arm covers this up, leaving only the right hand to play eyesore. Oh, and you can see his head in planetoid mode, but in this context it looks like a multi-directional thruster, so no gripes here. Robot mode looks better than moon mode, but as far as he looks he's only average for a minicon, like Jolt or Zapmaster.

TRANSFORMATION: It reminds me of a Rubick's cube. It's surprisingly complex for a minicon, but not frustrating, floppy, or fragile. Nice.

POSEABILITY: Good. It has ball-joint hips, hinged knees, weird swivelly toes, elbows that swivel but don't bend, and weird double-jointed shoulders. Dead End's a little above par here, and not as inconsistent as many other Armada toys. The weird parts are almost bonuses, even.

GIMMICK: Not much, but better than having too much and ruining everything. Dead End can rotate at his equator to aim his blaster when he's attached to a powerlinx point. He also has a custom hardpoint that's located in a crater by Unicron's hungry maw. You may have to take some clear nail polish to it though, because it's too small to hold Dead End securely. When he's attached here, he looks like some asteroid that escaped Unicron's jaws and rammed into his forehead. (Aww, and just before the senior prom, too. Doh!)

OVERALL: Dead End's a little better than average for a sidekick, even though he's uglier than he should be. But who pays this much (or reads this far into the review ;} ) for the minicon, yes?


DESIGN: Like many Armada toys, the sculpt is a worthy homage of its predecessor. I was surprised to find how little was changed, particularly considering the mutations two earlier Unicron prototypes suffered. I guess the third time's the charm. Details on the feet, hips, abdomen, wings, and spikes on his forearms have hardly changed at all, and though the head is not an exact copy, it's easily recognizeable as the face that menaced the likes of Galvatron and Optimus Primal alike. About the only bit I miss from the movie model is the dracula-like collar he had, although the claws on his shoulders kind of suggest that.

Anyway, I was also shocked to find how well Unicron's planet mode was integrated into his robot mode--there's hardly any random planet parts hanging off the guy, and what little there is doesn't distract. The worst parts are the two huge shells that form the surface of the planet around Unicron's mandibles, but you can do one of three things with them and easily remedy the situation. First, they're small enough that you can hide them behind his back. Since they're transparent lavender what little you can see becomes insignificant visually. Second, you can use them as membranes for his wings, or simply detach them and set them aside. Any way looks decent.

Planet mode isn't quite as awe-inspiring, but it looks good nevertheless. I like how they carried over the suggestions of craters on the planet's surface from the original. Look at the silvery areas near his north pole to see what I mean. I also like the silvery paint wash on his claws and the horns on his head. The Uranus-like ring he has doesn't extend very far away from the planet's surface, but with good reason. The mechanical patterns on his wings manage to look random, even though they seem to repeat every two inches. Also, I was afraid they would make Armada Unicron look like a giant egg, but that isn't the case. We'll just say he's slightly more spherical than an eyeball, which is perfectly acceptable.

TRANSFORMATION: It's simple, but not simplistic, and simple is good when considering the size of this toy. It even takes a little practice if you want to transform it without detatching the wings or planet shell halves. I would recommend moving the shells into place once the arms are fully transformed. Then, when transforming the legs, swing the wings to the front half (in front of the jaws). Don't secure anything until it's all in position.

POSEABILITY: The best in Armada so far, outdoing even the great Supercon Prime. I think it even beats out RID Primal, which is comparable in size and technology. You can put this guy in almost any position you want. You can have him clutch at his knee to prevent it from blowing off (go watch the movie if you don't get that), or swat at offending dinobots attacking his hindquarters. Nearly all of the joints will stay where you put them, despite the weight of the toy. However, he wings do sag a bit, and the shoulders tend to disengage from the torso whenever you want to pose the arms. Well, at least on mine they do.

GIMMICKS: He has a fair amount, but he's not gimmick-driven like Prime or Megatron/Galvatron, which is a little odd considering the size of the toy. It would be interesting to compare the lot. Anyway, he has a whopping maximum of 31powerlinx hardpoints (two on his left wrist if you store his hand) in robot mode plus storage for maybe 5 more in his abdomen and limbs, 27 in planet mode plus inaccessable storage for 5 more in his murky bowels. The two dead hardpoints on his shoulders can swivel to accomodate minicons with weird powerlinx sockets, and I'm sure I'll find that useful. But of all those many hardpoints, only three of them are live. Two of them activate ripple-fire launchers on his calves. These same launchers flank his jaws in planet mode, which is a definite plus. The third can be found on his back and activates his chest missile.

Early reports stated that the Star Saber or the Dark Saber were needed to activate this mode, but I think that was simply meant to allude to some upcoming plot device in the show, because any minicon can activate it. The peg is too small to store any minicons there, incidentally. Once the powerlinx is activated, Unicron's chest rips open and a baby alien pops out. No, just kidding: A ginormous barrel extends with a loud whining noise and fires a huge missile that springs open in midair. I love how his chest panels were molded to look as if they had been torn open from the inside--you can even see stress marks along the fracture. Granted, the effect is stylized to the point of being cartoony, but it still looks neat.

If Unicron's head is facing forward when this gimmick is activated, his eyes will blink red for a while. You can also make his eyes blink by pressing a button on his head, which will work even if his head is turned. I would have preferred a steady glow like the old Laser Rods sword gimmick, and green eyes would have been more accurate, but it works. His left hand will do the blinky thing when you press it in at the wrist. He has the missiles in planet mode plus a jaw-chomping action when you squeeze his mouthparts. Again, the effect is a bit cartoony, but fun. Like I said, he's not dripping with gimmicks, but that doesn't detract from the toy at all.

RANDOM RANTS: I don't normally comment on the packaging, but Unicron's was really clever. He's in robot mode with his right fist clenched and his left holding Dead End like an orb. He's Unicron, king of all England! :P I might also mention here that there's a lot more soft bendy plastic on this toy than I expected. This was probably done for safety reasons, of course, and to improve the durability of the toy. His shoulders, horns, wings, mouthparts, and the spikes on his forearms are all made of the bendy stuff. Just an observation.

OVERALL: You probably don't need me to tell you that this toy is well worth the hefty chunk o' change you'll have to pay for it, but I have to finish this review somehow. We've waited 17 years for a decent version of Unicron, and we've got it, so don't miss out. Hasbro has done an excellent job. Go buy it. You won't be sorry.

SAUROCON sez: "Me Grimlock kick butt!!"

DateAugust 1st 2003  
Score 10 stars (10 out of 10)  

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