Energon retro review thread

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Robots In Disguise, Armada, Energon, Cybertron - there, that's their names, happy now???

Energon retro review thread

Postby Onslaught Six » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:19 pm

I'm selling a bunch of my stuff. Partially to appreciate these toys one last time before I sell them off, and partially to generate discussion (since some of this stuff will be going to other members of the board, especially!), I've decided to review a few of them, both in their original context and against their contemporaries; I'm sure it'll be interesting to see how some of these stack up against their modern day counterparts.

Without further hoo-doo, here's my review of Energon Dreadwing.

Dreadwing is a repaint of Mirage, who was portrayed in the cartoon as being an upgrade of Tidal Wave, although this is more or less confirmed to not have been Hasbro's intention for the design. (Apparently there was a lot of this in the Energon cartoon. I believe the excuse at the time was language barriers and production time constraints, which I can believe.) Repaints are still common in TF, but it's easy to forget how unbelievably common they were in the ArmEnerTron era--so much so that a very, very frequent response to seeing brand new toy reveals was, "I'll wait for the inevitable repaint and decide which one I like better." Dreadwing was a victim to this, myself--I wasn't too interested in the original purple-and-yellow colour scheme, he was going to be a "replacement" for Tidal Wave (a character I'd have preferred to stay as, well, Tidal Wave), and he had a name that didn't really match his personality or abilities. (I still don't know why they slapped "Mirage" onto that toy aside from a desire to keep the name, which they fought for for years to keep and strengthen, and then proceeded to barely use since 2006.) However, the toys do share identical moulding, so some of this review will probably apply for Mirage as well. As it was in 2004/2005 (a god damn decade ago!), decide which colour scheme you like best, and buy that.

Dreadwing's main appeal upon his release was that he was a baby blue boat. For some reason, this yelled out "SCOURGE!" to a lot of fans, including me. Remember, in 2004, it was very rare for "old" characters to get entirely new "toys" and be the same character. Even toys like Energon Rodimus may have been intended to be "new" versions of those old characters, but with drastic changes to altmode, names, personalities, colour schemes, or more. And then there was the wealth of characters who had old names slapped onto them despite not resembling those characters at all. Dreadwing is, in part, also a victim to this. He could have been named Scourge, except Hasbro had already given that name a few years prior to the (very notable) RID Black Convoy character...who since got renamed "Nemesis Prime" in any subsequent releases. Whatever. The weird thing is that he's named Dreadwing and he's a boat. Although he has some "wings," they're boat wings, and not really the kind that you would fly with. But this era was ripe enough with this kind of inconsistency and weirdness that we would just look the other way and pretend he was whoever we wanted--in this case, Dreadwing became a "replacement Scourge" for many, until the 2006 Titanium Scourge, who was later superseded by 2011's Generations Scourge. (Was it 2011? Jesus.)

But that shouldn't take away from the toy and character now, should it? Well, hard to say, because Dreadwing has no character to speak of. His bio is one-note (he's a generic Evil Decepticon who will stop at nothing in his way, like every single ROTF Decepticon) and, according to some sources, he's a soulless clone of Mirage. So is he a clone of Tidal Wave? Or of the toy Mirage who isn't Tidal Wave, maybe? Whatever. Make him whoever you want. That was half the fun of these toylines, they were usually so fast-and-loose with characterisation that you could get away with outright ignoring the official fiction (which was usually at least as bad as the Michael Bay films--SHOTS FIRED!!) and nobody would bat an eye.

But enough about fictions and characters--what about the toy? Like I said, Dreadwing is a boat. Boat TFs are kind of a rarity; there's maybe two in any given line, and unless you're eight and play with toys in the bathtub, it's usually pretty difficult to get them to be "convincing" in any kind of play situation. (Jets are the easiest for this, followed by cars.) Still, if you like boat TFs, this is a pretty cool one. He also has four plastic wheels underneath, which is supposed to let him roll on surfaces, I guess, but it doesn't work very well. He's outfitted with FOUR different missile launchers, all useable in either mode, which was pretty impressive then and is doubly so now. Even a decade later, they hold together very well, and don't trip accidentally very easily, which is about as much as you can ask from these. They shoot a decent distance, too! As far as robot kibble goes, he's only got a little on the back, with the robot feet and arms being a little visible, though disguised relatively well as vehicle bits.

These days, we often complain about lack of painted details and cut deco, which is something that only sort of affects Dreadwing. It seems like the repaints would generally get an objectively "better" deco with more paintapps an details in these lines, which may have had something to do with them being repaints in the first place. Dreadwing has a bunch of nice gold and black detailing on his ship parts, although there's a lot of unpainted panel detailing all over the back end of the vehicle as well. While I'm not a fan of blackwash in general (I think it makes toys look "dirty" rather than bring out any details), I think these could have done with a little bit to maybe bring that out a bit. I have no idea if this stuff was painted on Mirage, since I don't own him.

As far as transformation goes, he's pretty cool. He's a shellformer, which was still semi-common in those days, but significantly less so than a lot of, say, the Movie offerings, with very little of the panel massaging bullcrap, and more "align the robot parts underneath the shell." Thankfully, there are even pegs and holes to guide you, and once you rotate everything into position, it's fairly intuitive. While it was with the first Movie toyline that we really started to see the effects of "small vehicle explodes into huge robot" syndrome, there were hints of it in the earlier lines, like this guy. The boat looks relatively unassuming and while it's long, it's also relatively short and thin. You'd be surprised at how much bigger he seems in robot mode.

It's funny I mention ROTF Decepticons up there, because that's what Dreadwing looks like in robot mode--a non-movie ROTF Decepticon. He fits right in with the likes of Mindwipe and Bludgeon and Lockdown, although maybe not with his colour scheme. From his Gundammy feet to his beastly rebreather face and crested head, he looks like he's five years ahead of his time. He's also got tons of smooth articulation, rivaling any figure that came out in his time or currently--Mirage's mould came from a time in Energon where I feel like the newer design team was starting to get a handle on what kids and fans wanted. In 2004, I was one of the few who was kind of riding both sides of the fence--I was 14 or 15, so I was too old to really be "playing" with toys but not old enough to be an "adult" collector, so I was able to see both sides of the fence; still able to enjoy gimmicks for what they were but still able to appreciate articulation, deco and detail. And on that front, Dreadwing delivers, with huge amounts of sweet articulation, including double jointed elbows and swivels in all the joints, waist, neck, and great leg and ankle articulation. He's got sweet heel struts and his hip kibble can be folded away in lots of neat-looking ways. He's got a spring-loaded gimmick on his back cannons that launches them forward onto his shoulders, which works okay but isn't very impressive or necessary--it works better in vehicle mode. There's also some electronics, which I assume still work, but don't have any spare batteries or desire to check.

Dreadwing was, I believe, at the $20 Mega price point, which in Cybertron became the $20 Voyagers that are, at this point, the $22-$25 Voyagers that we know today. In that respect, he still feels like he competes with today's Voyagers, being really complex and having some good height to him, while also having some electronics, missiles and articulation.

I would honestly recommend Dreadwing to you if you like boats, non-Movie style Movie Decepticons, dudes with lots of missile launchers, light blue guys, huge Decepticons, or just want to beef out your ranks. He's a very solid addition; if you see one, or a Mirage if you prefer that deco, for a good price, I'd say get him. (I would definitely not pay more than $20 for him, personally, which is about what I sold him to Prowl for, so!)

So why am I getting rid of him? Well, to be blunt, I need the space and the money. I haven't had him on display in years--part of my reason for getting him was as a Scourge stand-in, and that role was filled since 2006. I'm not that fond of boat TFs, and without the Scourge connection, the colour scheme really doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't help that his "character" is absolutely zilch, leaving me without any solid emotional connection to the toy, the way a notable character with a "worse" toy like Scorponok or Demolishor might. I suppose in a few years I might regret it and buy another one, or a Mirage--although if Hasbro repainted this guy in some new colours, I'd probably eat it right up. Unfortunately, that's pretty unlikely due to his expensive electronics package and the mould possibly being too "dated," although that might be more a concern about the physical mould's integrity than the toy itself, because there's nothing "dated" about this guy design-wise; Energon had its share of weird clunkers that definitely do feel out of place in the modern era (Scorponok could use another go, and the Basics definitely can feel a little half-baked at times) but this guy was definitely a forerunner.
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.


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Re: Energon retro review thread

Postby Onslaught Six » Sun Aug 17, 2014 10:57 am

Energon Megatron

Ah, EnerMegs. This was a toy that, upon release, was really sought after...and these days, isn't so much. Part of the reason he was so sought after is because, from his moulding, he is very clearly G1 Galvatron. He's got the same general head shape (with a little of Armada Megs's horns going on), the same chest and abs, relatively the same waist, and the same hexagon-shaped kneepads. What's even better is that Megatron was released in a grey and blue colour scheme, which many took as a homage to either the original G1 figure, or the Marvel comics which also portrayed Galvy in the grey of his toy. That's why I bought it--to be my representation of Marvel Galvatron, timetravelling from the future the fuck shit up. (In 2003, 2005 was still the future!) When rereleased as Energon Galvatron, they repainted him in Galvatron's purple colour scheme from the movie and cartoon. I can't speak to if that's a better colour scheme, I guess it all depends on preference, but it definitely didn't fix the problems the mould has.

Over time, the figure's initial "WOW IT'S GALVATRON" factor wore off, and you're left with...well, this.

Vehicle Mode:
Megatron turns into a...jet thing. With a tank on top. What?

Alright, they're obviously not going to make him a G1 laser cannon thing. (I always thought he was intended to be a modern update of, say, a Civil War-era wheeled cannon.) Vehicle modes is where Energon failed sometimes; a figure would be primarily designed to match an older figure's robot mode, and as a result, you get...well, stuff like this. He's got Powerlinx pegs on top to mount the tank, which is...a mini version of Armada Megatron's tank mode, in all black with some translucent stuff. I honestly don't know what the idea here was; was it that EnerMegs is so huge that the Ultra-sized Armada Megs was this small to him? In any case, it definitely doesn't "work" today.

The vehicle does have some play value, I guess. The wings open up (the Decepticon gimmick for Energon was "hyper weapons," which usually just means, "more guns") in a kind of X-Wing style spead, which looks kinda cool but doesn't really serve a purpose. The cannons in the front can move up or down, but that could be a result of the robot mode. There's three landing gears; two on the legs and one on the cockpit/nose, although in eleven years I don't think I've ever opened the nose gear, particularly because I just can't get my finger in there to lodge it out.

The worst part of this vehicle is how it makes no attempt to hide any of the bits. The huge robot legs are obviously tucked underneath, looking like jet turbines but not really making sense as to why they're there with this kind of jet design. The robot head just hangs there like an old Valkyrie. (The horns can even move so you can pretend they're guns. This is hilariously bad.)

Transform!:
Simple as all hell. Lift the wings up, rotate the back wing section, fold the nosecone down, fold out the legs and arms, flip down the head, done. Attach the tank to either arm (although obviously you want to put it on the right) and he's as complete as he'll get.

Robot Mode:
This is why you bought the toy, though. Everything else is just supplemental. Upon first looking at it, I can readily admit to why I wanted this. He looks exactly like you would expect Galvatron to look, with a few changes to make it work with his vehicle mode. If the problems with the toy were a little less, he would still be a servicable Huge Galvatron update for your collection. But as it stands now...

First off, the Megatank cannon thing is really shitty. There's a clear sword attachment to the back (why?) and it's just too large and cumbersome to really work well. It falls off half the time and doesn't look good when it's on. Toss it aside. The wings on the back are VERY cumbersome and always made this toy a pain in the ass to display with others. If you put them back as far as they'll go, Megs' footprint becomes huge and it's nearly impossible to put him near the back, where he'd be long (as a leader and a Tall Figure). If you swing them forward a bit, his wingspan is huge and makes it difficult to display anyone next to him. If the wings didn't have the X-Wing style fold out gimmick, they might have been able to fold in half and store alongside his cockpit, making them much cleaner and better.

But the real flaw in this figure is in articulation. He's still an early Energon figure, where they haven't quite worked out all the bugs, and are still focusing too much on dedicated transformation joints instead of articulating the robot and building the transformation around that, like they seem to do now. As such, his legs are nearly useless. He can move his hips, but his ratcheting knee joints are so shallow that you might as well not even try, because there's very few cool poses you're going to get out of them. His ankles don't have ANY articulation whatsoever, so even if you do get something reasonably cool looking, it's going to be very difficult to balance him in a way that works. The best poses are ones with his legs standing straight. The ratcheting joints in all of his leg joints make it impossible for there to be any subtlety of movement, and the fact that there's no swivel joints below or above the knees means his legs will always be facing forwards--very boring-looking and kills a lot of the dynamic poses he could do.

His arms don't fare much better. They seem like they have all the prerequisite articulation, but because of the huge cannons attached to the top of his shoulders, moving the arms forward or backwards ends up with the same problem as Armada Megatron--they look stupid if you move them. Considering that there's no other way to move the shoulders that would look good (a swivel joint to move the arms "outside" with the entire shoulder assembly would be great), the arms basically become useless. There's no bicep swivel, although you do get a swivel after the elbow, something the legs lack, so you can do a half-decent "Galvatron shakes his fist in anger" pose. He also has neck articulation, but it's largely worthless without waist articulation--most TFs look cool when their head and waist are aligned, and not so much when only the head can move.

That said, he does have scale going for him. He's as tall as G1 Ultra Magnus, and I'm sure 2003 me would be elated that both of them could duke it out, in all their limited-articulation glory. Part of me wants to keep him for the novelty of that, but part of me is sure I'd like the money a little more than I'd like that.

It's very easy to see how this figure could have been great, and I do have a fond memory or two of using him as a child, but unfortunately those memories outweigh his benefits in 2014, in a post-Classics, post-Generations world. We already got a new Galvatron (although he wasn't that good--I might even say he's a worse figure than this!) and I'm sure that sooner or later, we'll get another one. (A Voyager would be great.) Even if I sell this toy, there was a smaller scale version (sold in a two-pack with a smaller-scale Prime, I believe) that had much better articulation, but was harder to find.

Overall, I can't recommend Energon Megatron, unless all you want is a big, bricky, unwieldy Galvatron toy. If all you care about is scale, well, there you go. You're not gonna find a bigger Galvy than this one.
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.


People spend so much time worrying about whether a figure is "mint" or not that they never stop to consider other flavours.
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Re: Energon retro review thread

Postby Shockwave » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:37 am

Shockblast: Ok, so his name is Shockblast, but we all know that's only because Hasbro couldn't legally call him Shockwave for stupid legal reasons. The show's characterization had him more like IDW Overlord or Sixshot rather than the emminently logical Spockwave that we were used to. The toy on the other hand, evokes the character very well.

vehicle mode 1: Shockblast has two alt modes, one of the being a satelite. I like the solar panel designs and I think it looks generally pretty good in satelite mode. Not much really else to say about it.

Vehicle mode 2: Cybertronian missile truck. I can see this being a little more practical than a satelite and it still looks pretty decent for what it is.

Robot mode: This is where the figure really shines in my opinion. In fact, it almost seems like this mode was designed as an update Shockwave first and the alt modes second. My only complaint with the robot mode is the gun arm. Functionally it's just too big for the figure. I attribute most of that to the gimmicks crammed into it. With the missile launching and the electronics it could have been smaller and had some articulation. As it is, it wheighs the figure down almost making it look like the Flinstones' car when the bronto ribs are tossed on it.

Overall, I would still recommend this figure. In spite of the giant gun arm, it still has decent articulation and the two alt modes make for a decent amount of fiddle value and also being a decent homage to a classic character.
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