Overview: While minicons will not serve as the focal story element of the Energon series, they will still be around. No longer will new toys have a partner (though repaints of Armada toys will still have theirs), but it does seem as though there will be at least one new minicon team with each wave. It is a shame that the toys are being scaled back just as Hasbro seemed to hit its minicon stride with the Sea Team, Emergency Team and Air Military Team, but with nearly 200 minicons out there (counting both Armada and Micron Legend remolds and repaints), I do think another full on minicon assault would could prove overwhelming. The main advantages are 1) larger figures, while sporting minicon powerlinx points, will no longer need minicons to “unlock” basic abilities, and 2) Hasbro will be producing the first new basic sized figures since Beast Machines. This is an elegant solution sure to keep the largest percentage of fans happy.
Energon’s first minicon set is, sadly, not anything new but a remold and recolor of the popular Air Defense Team (hereafter referred to as ADT). No question this was one of the most popular minicon molds, but with at least 7 versions of these toys floating about, I can’t say that 8th version was high on anyone’s list. I can only assume that the Energon Saber will be a key story element in the series, necessitating its inclusion in the first wave of toys.
Oddly enough this set is not marketed under a “team” name, but under the name of its gestalt mode. The same seems to be the case with the forthcoming Street Action Team remold, being sold as “Perceptor.” Most likely this marketing move is a bow to the popularity of the Star Saber in Armada, but it makes me wonder if all the new minicon sets will have gestalt gimmicks.
Before I get into specifics, let me address the color scheme else I’ll be repeating myself ad nauseum. Where the ADT sported colorless, transparent plastic, the Energon Saber upgrades use a translucent golden yellow. This is much darker and richer than Battle Ravage’s yellow-green energon weapon, and is a big improvement over the original colorless plastic. The opaque pieces are a bit unusual. Where the ADT had white and gray, we have an off gray color. It is hard to peg exactly what shade it is. Checking an online color chart ( [url]https://eies.njit.edu/~kevin/rgb.txt.htmlI[/url] ), the closest match I could find is “dark khaki.” The other opaque color is an off-dark blue, which the color chart calls “dark cyan.” I’m in no position to argue. Highlights are more basic - silver, black and steel.
A remold and recolor of ADT Sonar, Skyboom borrows the name of the Armada Race Team’s shield gestalt.
As with Sonar, Skyboom is a single stage space shuttle. Only 2 parts have been remolded, the “midsection” just behind the cockpit. An extra pair of small, stubby wings has been added, and the tile pattern is replaced by numerous ridges and pods along with some detailed line work. Sadly the tile pattern is kept by the rest of the toy, making the new parts an uncomfortable fit. Unlike Sonar, the transparent plastic here is unpainted save for a steel stripe running down the middle. It looks nice, but obscures some of the new details. On the underside, the midsection is completely painted with the same steel color.
The rest of the toy is untouched save for a fairly straight forward color swap.
The khaki cockpit has forgone most paint save for black windows. The rear body is also khaki with a minicon symbol in the center. Just behind the symbol is a patch of silver (gold on Sonar). Skyboom’s wings are dark cyan with a steel stripe (blue and white on Sonar).
Not a bad retool, but not quite different enough. It’s very clear that this toy was once something else, as no attempt is made to seamlessly blend the new with the old.
Skyboom retains the same basic colors in robot mode, but the translucent gold is much reduced in favor of the steel shins. His chest and face are colored silver, his arms and feet in the khaki color and wings still dark cyan.
While Skyboom’s colors were an improvement on its shuttle mode, it is not the case for his bot mode. It looks ok, but the colors blend together a bit too much. Sonar’s gold chest and red face highlighted the detail in this section, while Skyboom’s silver is washed out in Skyboom’s darker colors.
Articulation remains the same as Sonar. Arms have simple back and forth motion on shoulders and elbows. The legs – both hips and knees – move side to side, but not front to back. This limited articulation is fine for such a small figure, but not something to brag about.
Sonar’s robot mode was never my favorite, and I find Skyboom’s even more lacking. By minicon standards its not awful, merely average.
Skyboom Grade: C+
A Jetstorm remold. “Scattor” was the name of the Night Attack repaint of minicon Bonecrusher. Honestly of all the names they could have chosen, this is probably the least deserving of having its copyright protected.
At first the retool for Scattor seems as minor as that for Skyboom, as the only readily apparent difference is an additional pair of wings. Careful examination will show that a great deal has been changed on Jetstorm’s translucent wings, giving the plane an entirely new profile. Where Jetstorm was a SST, Scattor is a futuristic “x-winged” fighter craft. He has a number of lines, vents and other angular details carved into his wings, a sharp contast to Jetstorm’s smooth curves. Unfortunately, as with most transparent plastics, the details are lost under most lighting conditions.
Molded pieces are a straightforward pallete swap - gold for clear, dark cyan for blue and khaki for gray. The painted details are almost completely different. Sliver and steel striping outline the wings. There is no paint at all on the cyan tail fin, The nosecone has a silver stripe running beneath black cockpit windows. The black paint on the cockpit spills over onto the fuselage, but this seems a deliberate attempt to alter the shape of the cockpit, rather than sloppy application. As it is the black doesn’t really stand out enough from the cyan to be readily apparent. Lastly his landing gear is completely painted khaki, not just the wheel.
A cursory glance won’t reveal the quality of this retool. The plane has been completely changed into a sleek, lethal looking (space?) craft. I still don’t like the way the nosecone is a completely different color than the body, but that’s been the case on all the translucent versions of this figure.
As with Skyboom, the darker colors tend to mute the details in robot mode. The khaki plastic blends too well with the golden yellow, and there is almost no paint at all visible on the front. Even his leg vents, black on Jetstorm, go unadorned. Again the facial detail is in silver rather than red, and is barely noticeable.
Articulation remains unhampered, and I would argue this is the best articulated of the 3 toys - hip swivels, ball joints on the knees, hinges on the elbows, and swinging “in-out” motion on the arms. While the ability to move the upper arms forward would be nice, this is still a great range for a small figure, better, in fact, than many larger Armada toys.
Jetstorm had always been my favorite ‘bot mode of the ADT, and Scattor is still pretty nice, but the lack of paint applications hurts.
Scattor Grade: B-
Wreckage borrows his name from a Land Military minicon, and is a remold of the ADT minicon Runway.
Again the only real change to the mold is in his translucent parts, but since this made up the vast majority of Runway’s vehicle mode, the differences are much more dramatic than with his teammates. Rather than Runway’s sleek outline, Wreckage has a severely jagged, almost serrated, profile. His plane mode resembles no Earth vehicle that I know. Long, flat, but still bulky, this gives me the impression of a very lethal war machine. Black striping and a silver, visor-like windshield emphasize its predatory design. Some silver on the wings provide unusual highlights as they follow the planes rugged contours.
The engines remain unchanged from the original mold, but it successfully blends with the new design, despite its bizarre appearance. The thrusters are painted steel on top with a black, backwards pointing triangle between them. The rear fins are also edged with black. The only other visible paint is on the engines beneath the wings, which are also steel, but, again, only on top.
This is a terrific redeco. One legitimate gripe about the ADT was the similarity between Jetstorm and Runway. I don’t believe that anyone will accidentally mistake this bulkly monster with the sleek Scattor.
Wreckage fairs best in robot mode. A rather muscular looking robot, this is a much better fit for his new alt mode than his old one. There are no new painted details, but enough carries over from his plane mode (the steel engines, black fins and black triangle) to break up the gold and khaki. The only complaint is that no paint is used to bring out his face, not even the silver of his teammates.
Articulation is more limited than Scattor and Skyboom – back and forth knees and hips, and what I’ve always assumed to be elbow hinges (though they may be shoulders – its hard to see if there are upper arms molded to the wings or not). About average for a minicon.
I’ve always found Runway’s bot mode to be a bit on the bland side, but there is no question in my mind that he makes the best use of the new color scheme.
Wreckage Grade: B
Thanks to the extra wing tabs on Scattor, the Energon Saber is much more stable than the Star Saber, but that’s not saying much. Wreckage still tends to fall off easily, and the whole thing collapses too easily when being played with. The main advantage is that it is unlikely to collapse while on display, which several of my Star Sabers tend to do.
I should note here that those fond of the notorious “leg fix” will be disappointed. For some reason Scattor’s leg pegs have been remolded into a shape that won’t fit over in Skyboom’s powerlinx holes. I don’t see any reason why this change was necessary, but it is sure to frustrate at least some fans.
Many have said that it looks more like a sword than the Star Saber. I don’t know what kind of swords they have in Topeka, but have never seen a weapon looking anything like this. The undercarriage kibble and broad outline still makes it questionable as a sword, if not a weapon of some sort. I think what helps more is that Wreckage and Scattor no longer have easily recognizable alt modes, so its harder to see the Energon Saber as 3 space craft stuck together.
What does really sell this mode is the color scheme. The golden yellow glows nicely under a good light.
Energon Saber Grade: B-
It's hard to know whether or not to recommend this toy. The translucent yellow is the best color so far used for this set. The robot modes are good, not great, and thanks to color they're largely worse than other versions of the ADT. The Energon Saber is an improvement over the Star Saber, but not very much. The alt modes are nice, but I know many fans will prefer the more authentic designs of the originals. Then you have the fact that at least 7 versions of the ADT have been released in the past 18 months, so I couldn’t blame anyone for being sick of them. I guess if you have no minicons (or are a completist), I’d recommend these, but not over any of the original Energon toys. If you have the ADT already, I can offer a mild recommendation. Even if you normally steer clear of repaints, the changes to the alt modes are substantial enough on Scattor and Wreckage that you may wish to reconsider.
Final Grade (not an average):
B (as a first minicon set)
C+ (for veteran collectors)
|Reviewer||Michael T. Dunleavy|
|Date||December 15th 2003|
|Score||(10 out of 10)|
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