Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Surely if anyone knew about the presence of a giant cube, the governments of the world and their associated military forces would have that information. The Decepticons just needed to find it. Well, Blackout was ordered to infiltrate the nearby United States air base in the Middle East, break into their computer network, and find that information. Blackout decided the best time to strike would be at night since these humans’ biological functions seemed to slow at that time, and there would be fewer of them around. The largest Decepticon was actually escorted to the SOCCENT-FWD; but he had cleverly recreated the appearance of one of their own rotor-powered aircraft, and so was able to spring a surprise on them even as he was jamming their communications. Transforming in the middle of the tarmac, and absolutely devastating their “advanced” weapons, Blackout quickly made his way to their communications node. Unfortunately, the humans were quicker than he expected, and they disconnected the computers before he could gain anything of value. To punish them for their insolence and for daring to defy the will of their glorious but long-absent leader Megatron, he destroyed the base. To make sure that all stragglers were rounded up and killed as well, he deployed his partner Scorponok to perform clean-up duty. The next day, Scorponok stalked several soldiers who had escaped and followed them into the desert until he knew what they were up to. When they attempted to contact the outside world, Scorponok pounced... Scorponok’s beast mode (back) is that of a generic scorpion. (Take your pick as to what species he may most resemble. Good luck on that...) Unlike all of the characters featured in the film, Scorponok’s beast mode is his primary form, so he does not transform into a vehicle or object for a disguised mode. When he’s attached to Blackout, he’s hidden as part of the larger Decepticon’s body even in his own disguised form as an MH-53 Pave Low heavy transport helicopter. So this is why you’ll find all kinds of abstract markings all over Scorponok’s body- registry numbers, caution labels, notification & hazard marks, etc.- in a way very similar to the real US’s military aircraft. His single-piece head is very flat and wide, but you can clearly see the layers of panels surrounding his four red eyes. A small black Decepticon symbol sits right behind his head at the front of his torsotorso. Running down the length of his body is a cylindrical turbine-like object molded in brown ABS and black rubber, which is not too unlike what you would see inside a real jet engine. On either side of him are six brown skeleton-like ABS legs with clawed feet very close to each other. To either side and just behind Scorponok’s head are his arms. Thick appendages, they are covered with layers of armor and vents, and end in three wildly curved thin claws. In the space between the individual claws are three smaller molded turbine-like blade fans- which, in the film, are the location of his micro-missile launchers. Mounted to the back of his body is his tail. It is made up of four movable segments, with the fourth at the end housing the multiple knife-like blades of the stinger assembly... all safely made of rounded ABS and PVC, of course. Since this beast mode is Scorponok’s primary mode of operation and movement, all of his special features and movement are geared towards it. First, poseability. His arms have a full range of motion at the shoulders and elbows. However, the claws cannot be moved. His head can only tilt up-and-down, but due to how he transforms, it can be pulled away from his body a little way as well to allow a greater range. The legs have one ball-and-socket joint each at the hips. Unfortunately, because of how close they are to each other, they are very restricted in side-to-side motion- I’d claim non-existent- and can only wiggle a little up-and-down. Potentially he could support his own weight, but the legs don’t move down far enough to give him a chance to do that. His tail is also fairly flexible. At its base, it can twist side-to-side through 360-degrees. There are three independent joints with about 45-degrees movement each which allow the tail to curve up and down, though the shaft exiting out the back of the stinger assembly can restrict downward range in some positions. The stinger assembly can also twist side-to-side through 360-degrees in addition to up-and-down.
. . .
Scorponok has two special features, both of which are seen in the movie. The first is in his arms. On both the top and bottom of his body- just in front of his tail, but behind the center turbine- are two black wheels. And under his head is a wide tan ABS wheel. When he’s flat on a surface and those back wheels turn, two things happen at the same time:
- the center body turbine spins
- an internal gear system through his arms turns both claws
In the movie, the body turbine is constantly spinning. The claws, on the other hand, serve two purposes- the other being they transform into drill bits so that Scorponok can ‘swim’ underground. And unlike the turbine, Scorponok was seen turning the spinning feature of the claws on/off at will. However, on the toy, even though the claws spin, they can’t change into drill bits since each of the six fingers cannot move. The second is in the stinger assembly. On top of it, there is a trigger button, and when it is depressed, the largest stinger shoots forward along that shaft sticking out back like a spear. Now, unlike most missiles in any Transformers figure, the stinger does not disconnect from the tail once it has been triggered; this applies to the film version of the assembly, while immensely more complex, it also does not disconnect.
Surprisingly, unlike the entire movie’s Deluxe-, Voyager-, and Leader-class line of figures, Scorponok has no Automorph feature to be used when he transforms! Whereas they all have at least one unique special feature in them (missiles, spring-loaded weapons, deployable mini-partners, etc.), this toy has none specifically involved in transformation. And- really- why should he even need one...?
Scorponok’s robot m-- "Hah-!? What ‘robot mode’???" ...let me finish, please. Scorponok’s robot mode (back) is uninspired. Mostly because he has no robot mode in the movie. The producers of the film claim that he truly has a robot mode, but they didn’t design one for him the first time around. So this is a... well- ‘gimmick’ which Hasbro originally came up with. Basically all that happens is his head folds down 90-degrees, his arms flip down, his tail curls up behind him, and then the sides and legs of the beast mode flip down 180-degrees, forming the robot mode’s new legs. The arms don’t change in any way, just folding over and twisting at the elbows into a more-human posturing. The tail near-constantly points towards his back. While you can still deploy the stinger assembly’s springing spear, it just sinks back under gravity; which means (no pun intended) it’s a pretty pointless feature now. ‘Bout the only thing it’s good for now is acting as a third leg. (Oh- it only gets better from here...) The legs have no definable foot, and the knees- or rather their function as such- are near non-existent since they’re so close to the hips and it makes no difference. The spinning claws/turbine function remain intact, however you now have to turn the wheels manually, which are located... on his crotch. (You do the math.) The legs are really the only thing you can pose other than the head and arms as usual as described above. The hips are ball-and-socket, and the knees can pivot 90-degrees, and twist side-to-side a little. But because the legs are so insignificant in their motion, he is naturally top-heavy unless you lean him back on his tail as that improvised third leg. So, posing is tricky and lame.
. . .
In the film, Scorponok is deployed from a hidden compartment from inside his far-larger companion. For the Voyager-class Decepticon Blackout figure, a miniaturized and non-functional Scorponok figure was provided, which was to scale with that toy. However, there is one gimmick which could not be utilized with Blackout unless you bought a full-sized Scorponok like this one. Underneath Blackout’s vehicle mode is a six-sided hole and two pegs about half-way back. These match-up directly to the two holes and six-sided peg on top of Scorponok’s torso. So, when you flatten out Scorponok’s tail, you can attach him to the bottom of Blackout. Now, here’s the cool part: when you activate Blackout’s spinning rotor feature, that same function triggers Scorponok’s claws and turbine at the same time! Very cool idea... Unlike all of the toys released that transform, Scorponok really only has to serve one master here: his beast mode. This means that, more attention can be paid to how close Scorponok can get to his CGI counterpart in the film. And seriously, it is pretty dammed close. Only big difference I can find is that the turbine on the CGI model stretches out right up to the back of his head, while the toy’s ends behind the shoulders. Also, while his eyes have red dots for the multiple iris in each, the toy’s eyes are just overall red even though the iris are still represented as thin lines. Also, the stringer assembly is rather simplified on the toy even though it shares similar traits.
Now, everything I have described up to this point matches the regular Deluxe-class Decepticon Scorponok toy. But this is not the regular Deluxe-class figure; it is a part of the Battle Scenes line, which means some things are different… The biggest difference here is that there is a slight change in paint applications here- the addition of pockets of sand randomly added to him. Nearly all crevasses, vents, and armor-joints on his lower arms and the lower legs of his robot mode have very thin sand-colored paint apps to make it look like he’s been burrowing underground in the desert. This is the only change to Scorponok here which is different from the regular Deluxe-class figure. The other difference which sets the Battle Scenes line apart from all other transformable toys is the inclusion of to-scale figures. In this case, the Desert Attack set includes three US Marines figures, each posed standing on top of some broken sandstone formations and ground. All three figures are made with PVC plastic, cannot be posed, and have no detachable parts.
- a dark-skinned soldier (back) with both a pistol and a rifle.
- a tanned soldier (back) with a single rifle, who is jumping down from a short wall
- a pale-skinned soldier (back) who is aiming a rifle while crouched down
[I suspect that the first figure listed above might be related to the character of Air Force Tech Sgt. Epps (actor Tyrese Gibson) from the movie, though he’s not marked as such. The only difference might be that he’s wearing a cap backward. And he doesn’t have ten back pockets...]
I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a toy quite like this one before in my life. And here’s what I mean... For every single trait that exists- be it just good or super-awesome- there is always a downside to it to balance that out.
- poseable scorpion legs . . . they don’t pose very well
- the claws and turbines spin at the same time . . . if not perfectly lined up inside, the gears constantly grind against each other, making it difficult to spin them evenly
- you can roll him on a flat surface to activate the claws and turbine . . . because of the previous, you have to press down really hard to get those wheels turning
- the arms are poseable . . . if there’s resistance while the claws spin, the arms tend to move back and forth along with, so they appear to shift all by themselves (which they’re not supposed to if the joints are tight enough)
- in beast mode, the head can tilt up and down . . . if you tilt the head up far enough, it pulls it away from the body when you set it back down
- you can attach this toy to Blackout and then activate both special features at the same time . . . because of the resistances in both features, gears grind very easily, and the union hardly works at all
- the beast mode appears in the film, and functions accordingly . . . the robot mode, which does not appear in the film, functions very poorly
- he has legs in robot mode . . . they don’t pose very well or help keep his balance
- claws can spin like in the movie . . . claws cannot open like in the movie
I mean it just goes back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth like that the whole time, and I’ve never seen anything like that before! Now, some things that I’ve read/heard other people complain about, I won’t make a stink about. The biggest one I’ve heard is that the stinger can’t shoot away like a proper missile. Well, ya know what? It didn’t in the movie, so I have no problem with that. The level of detail is awesome, the colors match for the most part (it’s more a pale copper in the film than brown; no biggie), and the functions match. As has been said by many before, I too absolutely hate the robot mode. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t appear in the movie, it’s just poorly done in toy form. So just leave him in beast mode and you’ll be fine; you won’t miss it a tiny bit.
Now, the only reason I got this Battle Scenes figure was because he had those dripping-sand paint apps on him which I thought was a really nice touch, and put him closer to the feel of what you see in the film. That’s the only reason. I like both the springing spear and spinning claws/turbine features, but those gears inside the arms just totally screw that up. The soldiers, again, are a nice bonus, but I wouldn’t have cared if they weren’t in there and this was just a regular Deluxe-class repaint. Overall Scorponok and all his toy flaws really drag it down to the point where I just can’t really promote getting the Desert Attack set (let alone the original Deluxe-class version). If you’re a hardcore fan of the film, or your kid is too young to care or notice the flaws, then go ahead. But for such a bad-ass character in an awesome scene, I’m really disappointed. (Now all we need is a to-scale and fully-functional version of Blackout that isn’t super expensive or stupidly-gimmicky like that super-sized Bumblebee figure that popped up around X-mas ‘07 to match; now that would be kick-ass!)
|Posted 22 March, 2008 - 02:29 by EVA_Unit_4A|