BBTS-Exclusive: Decepticon Piranacon G1 Commemorative Seacons
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
While Piranacon and the Seacons were released into the American toy market as a single combined set in late 1988, they did not make it into “The Transformers” Generation One animated series. They did, however, appear in the Japan-exclusive anime series “Super-God Masterforce” (1988) under the name King Poseidon, and the Marvel UK G1 comic book series.
The “Space Pirate Seacons” appeared in the Japanese-exclusive “Beast Wars II” (1998) under the name King Neptune, but with a radically-different color scheme, names, and backgrounds from their G1 counterparts.
This is the third reissue of this toy- the first being the repaint for “Beast Wars II”, and the second a Transformers Collector Club exclusive in 2008.
For all American releases up to this point, the Nautilator component was left out for unknown reasons (though it is rumored amongst Trans-fans to be due to lowering production costs at the time).
All decals from the previous release are included here, and they have all been pre-applied during manufacturing. Unfortunately, the heat-sensitive faction-identifying decals from the G1 era have not been included, replaced by the plain purple-on-silver Decepticon icons.
In the Japanese tradition, this set is provided with seven unique collectible trading cards, each linked to a specific Transformer character and a special one for the Piranacon combo himself. (This, as opposed to English releases where these all appear on the packaging that the toy comes in.) These cards feature a painted picture of the character in an action pose on the front, and details on their personality, statistics, and a brief character summary. (FYI: it is commonly acknowledged by Trans-fans that “Fireblast” is supposed to mean “Firepower”, but this is done because of limits on the types of words that can be used on toys in the United States.)
Decepticon Snap Trap
All of Snap Trap’s joints ratchet except for the jaw and transformation joint in the neck.
On top is a pink ABS peg that can swing side-to-side a little. When you move it, the two black cannons above his head pump forwards and backwards as if they’re recoiling after firing!
The hips swing outwards only due to transformation, but the shoulders and elbows only ratchet forwards and backwards.
A large black rifle is provided, which can fit into either fist. It can also attach to a hole in the top of Snap Trap’s Beast Mode.
Piranacon’s sword can be held in either hand.
(As another option- even though this is not in the instructions or considered canon- the back-half of Snap Trap’s shell that was removed when transforming him can be pegged into either shoulder connection point.)
The clawed arms can pivot up and down only at the shoulders, the jaw ratchets open, and due to how he transforms, both the head and shoulders section can pivot downwards as if attached to a neck and the pairs of legs can ratchet downwards.
Nautilator’s blaster weapon can peg into the inside of his jaw in Beast Mode.
Only his shoulders can ratchet forward. Because of how he transforms, the lobster arms and legs cannot move on his back.
Nautilator’s blaster can be pegged into either fist.
His wings can snap into two positions- up and down, and his jaw can be opened a little. Though manta rays do not have legs, Seawing does, and they turn with friction at the hips and ankles.
Seawing’s paired blasters can be pegged under his wings.
Seawing is terribly back-heavy. Fortunately his- umm… “hips” turn with friction so he can lean forward enough and stand unaided. Both shoulders friction-turn as well.
Seawing’s paired blasters can be placed in both fists.
(Coelacanth, an extinct fish from millions of years ago)
Skalor’s jaw is both very tight and very pointy, so take great care when opening and closing it! A coelacanth does not have legs or arms, but Skalor does, and they all have friction joints at the shoulders, hips, and knees. Additionally, his dorsal fin can loosely flip side-to-side.
Skalor’s paired blasters can be pegged onto his back on either side of his dorsal fin.
Flipping those fists out of his Beast Mode’s feet is a complete pain in the ass…or rather a pain in the fingernails!
The shoulders and elbows have single-axis friction joints.
Skalor’s paired blasters can be placed in both fists.
The paired three tentacles on each side can snap forward, while the lower two tentacles and his legs swivel on friction joints.
Tentakil’s two blasters can peg onto either side of his head.
Only his shoulders can ratchet forward. Because of how he transforms, the tentacle arms and legs cannot move on his back.
Tentakil’s paired blasters can be placed in both fists.
The jaw can open just a little. Though sharks do not have arms or legs, Overbite does. The arms can pop-off and turn with friction at the shoulders. The legs have friction joints in the hips, and ratchet at the knees.
Overbite’s blaster can peg under his jaw, but the connection is very loose and it falls out very easily.
There are single-axis friction joints in the shoulders, and ratcheting joints in the elbows.
Overbite’s blaster can fit into either fist.
Even though Overbite is used as the primary shooting weapon for Piranacon, Seawing, Nautilator, Skalor, and Tentakil are also capable of transforming into a third Weapon Mode. Because of this, all of the Seacons except for Snap Trap come with a three-piece display stand which requires assembly, but they can be taken apart just as easily; being held together only by friction…
(Call me paranoid, but the base of those stands looks an awful lot like the feet for Autobot-combiner Computron… I’m also pretty sure the long shafts of the stands are multi-purpose as well, because the Seacons can fit them into their fists like long rifles, and there are larger pegs on either side for other stuff to fit on.)
All Transformers combiners from the “Scramble City” OVA / “Super-God Masterforce” era (1988)- including Piranacon, Computron, and a few others- were designed to combine in such a way that a component which served as a leg could swap out and become an arm (or, in the case of Piranacon at least, change into a third Weapon Mode to be wielded by the combination).
Now, because Nautilator was not included in any previous US release, the way the limbs were arranged was different from how King Poseidon appeared in his animated debut in “Masterforce”. For the sake of this review (and because having Nautilator as the right arm has a lot of drawbacks despite being screen-accurate), I have assembled Piranacon according to how he arrived in the box for this 2010 BigBadToyStore-exclusive release: with Skalor (right leg) and Nautilator (right arm) switching places, and removing Nautilator’s claws and setting them aside.
Piranacon features ratcheting one-axis shoulder joints, and rotating wrists on friction pins. Optionally, his legs can be splayed at the hips, though it will not balance very well when set down like this.
Overbite is usually featured in Weapon Mode when Piranacon is assembled, and is seen being held in the right hand. Piranacon’s sword is usually seen in the left hand.
Optionally, Snap Trap’s large rifle can be held in either hand (though depending on which components you have for the arms, they may block the rifle from fitting properly into the fist).
During the G1 era of 1986-88 when Transformers was thee big thing along with "G.I. Joe", and a host of other wannabes, I had childhood friends who had several of the Seacons. The one that always stuck in my head the clearest from this time was Skalor, but I never knew what the combination looked like until years later even if I knew they could combine! Despite never owning any of them, I do have a vague nostalgic connection to this toy. (This is actually one of the few G1 toys I know of that I still want today.) To finally get one, looking just as it did over 20 years ago, with all of the features, colors, and decals intact, and in MISB condition for close to its original price, is such a thrill! (“Giddy as a schoolboy”, perhaps…?) My first reaction when I opened the cardboard mailing box was that it was so much bigger than I had anticipated! He’s certainly bigger than my G2 Decepticon Devastator. (Because, you know, things seem to get smaller as you get older…?)
(The only two Transformer combiners sets I've ever owned...)
Now, if you regularly read my reviews on CollectionDX (and my videos on our YouTube channel), this is usually the moment where I start digging into the toy- surface details, special features, decorations, plastic integrity critiques, etc.- and then at the end give my overall opinion of the toy. While I will still definitely do that last part, my commentary and analysis is going to be carried out in an unusual manner.
If you are reading this and expecting me to tear into it because of weird color selections, highly-inaccurate Beast Modes, simplified and articulation-less Robot Modes, and all the accessory parts and combiner kibble that lie around when not in use, then I’m afraid I must disappoint you at least this one time. That is for at least two reasons…
The first reason is the age of this toy. This review is being written about a toy design that- despite being a reissue- is nearly 23 years old! It comes from the beginning of the Transformers franchise, and thus you will find me giving a pass to a lot of things. The reason I automatically chose to do this is because the standards of toy design- from the standpoints of the manufacturer, the toy technology of the time, and customers- were drastically different. For one, there was less concern back then about having animal forms with accurate body shapes and coloring (even though that may have been what kids wanted back then as well); all they needed to do was look like robots imitating the appearance of alien critters but they didn’t quite get it. Also, brightly-colored toys sell better with kids (which, to be fair, still applies today). In my opinion, the Seacons were-and-are always about sea monsters- creatures that didn’t quite fit in the natural order of things, and so it was okay for them to only vaguely resemble real animals. (I mean, what kid knows what a coelacanth is at a glance!? I sure don’t know, but it makes for a pretty creepy fish monster that you usually don’t see in your typical Saturday morning cartoon line-up!)
Because of this, many of the things I complain about today- such as combiner kibble- are rendered irrelevant because of its age, and I outright refuse to apply the standards of today on a design that old. For example, one of the big ones might be that I will not complain about is articulation because they didn’t have that back then.
The other reason is perhaps out of a loyalty of sorts to the franchise. We each have our reasons for liking the Transformers and characters that we do. What works for some may not for others, as I have experienced many times both on and off of CollectionDX. I’ve found that getting this set is my paying tribute and respect to the beginnings of that franchise. Not just that I wanted it because it is a reissue, but more that it is a reminder of what was, and that I liked it back then and that it served as an inspiration for what I still follow today. I cannot possibly imagine what my reaction would have been back twenty-odd years ago if I had seen this combo and all its features back then, but I see it now as it is- the start of something I have come to integrate into my life in a positive way. I don’t care much for a lot of G1 toys, mostly because I haven’t seen them all or know about them all, and I don’t have any of the early animated series to lean on in support of my own interest(s) like most Trans-fans seem to. (To remind you: while I was aware of and wanted toys from G1/G2, the first animated series I saw was “Beast Wars: Transformers” in 1996, which to this day remains one of my favorites. I also do not have this immediate attitude that every new series- and film- that comes out ‘will ruin the franchise forever’. For those of you who do: Get over yourselves already and stop placing G1on such a high pedestal.)
I see this reissue more as a monument to the greatness that is G1 Transformers- something that is to be respected rather than just as another toy to acquire because it looks cool.
(Rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, that despite all the passes I give this toy for its age and construction techniques, if I had found issue with enough of it, I would never have gotten it and this review would not exist.)
With all that said, however, this is still a reissue. It has been surprisingly difficult for me to find reviews of the original 1988 release, so it is quite difficult for me to compare this version to previous ones. I know that the arrangement of arms and legs were different each time for various reasons, but I’ve already addressed that.
As far as I can tell, all materials are the same, hard ABS plastic with a little vacuum-metalized plastic mixed in. I don’t believe there was any die-cast metal in any of the previous releases including the original 1988 version (which was still a common practice at the time). The most obvious change I’ve found is that Overbite originally had a lot of purple in him (which was never present in any of the other Seacons), but all of the purple has been replaced with more of that darker pink. (You can tell something was changed if you look hard enough- his color scheme is rather bland compared to all the others’ who have at least three main colors, compared to Overbite who now has only two.)
I cannot comment on plastic tolerances because that comes from handling an earlier release at the same time, which I obviously have not. Something that I will complain about is this: if they’ve had these molds for 23 years, why didn’t they clean up things like how the large rifle fits into Snap Trap’s robot hands, how tight the ankle transformation joint is on Overbite and Skalor’s wrists??? Why not correct those flaws before you reissue it if they are known problems!? (I know for a fact that Skalor’s hands were always hard to fold out, and his Beast Mode’s mouth was also very tight, because I played with him personally decades ago!)
I kind of wish that I could have had the option to apply all those decals myself (nightmare as that would have been, I have no doubt), because a few of them were put on a little crooked or on plastic flash from the molds that should have been sanded down first. I’m sure some of these will start pealing and wearing off in a year-or-so just from sitting on the shelf…
Overall, I’ve had a wonderful, nostalgic, and very satisfying experience in getting this commemorative limited-edition release of Decepticon Piranacon. I also believe that, if widely released today, kids would get as much a kick out of it now as they did 23 years ago. Though they were originally sold for $6.00-per-figure in 1988, and are the equivalent of Scout- and Deluxe-class figures today, I think that upping that to $10.00-per-figure is appropriate and will not break your wallet. They are beloved enough and old enough that the updated price does not seem that unreasonable, in my opinion. Highly recommended!
|Posted 15 April, 2011 - 22:29 by EVA_Unit_4A|