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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Cal's Review: Challenge at Cybertron Set

Name: Rodimus
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Cavalier

“Action is my middle name.”

Young and bold, Rodimus races headlong into danger, throwing caution - and his orders - to the wind. He dreams of heroic deeds and hopes one day to gain the recognition his actions deserve. Despite his inexperience, he is a talented fighter. In battle, he can often be seen racing at speeds up to 180 miles per hour, dodging explosions and laser blasts in an attempt to close on his objective.


Rodimus - by night known as Hot Rod - was the first new character to appear in The Transformers: The Movie and remains one of the most iconic Transformers of the series. Designed to be a ‘futuristic’ car in the far-flung future of 2005, Rodimus was chosen to be among the first of Hasbro’s new Classics line to receive an updated version of his original toy to appeal to modern fans. With the release of the Challenge at Cybertron set, Rodimus returns in cartoon accurate colours, along with Galvatron and Cyclonus, as a homage to Transformers 2010. Let’s see how he fares.

ALTERNATE MODE

Rodimus transforms into a modified Dome Zero concept car with his traditional spoiler adorning the rear. The design is certainly slick, as many of the early Classics were updated versions of the characters’ original alt modes. The windows are now angled acutely on all sides towards the roof, giving the body a much more streamlined look. The exhaust pipes are retained on the side of the vehicle - by two instead of three - and the engine hood is faithfully recreated. Rodimus’ weapon pegs underneath the rear of the car to create a Batmobile-style exhaust, where his flame-shaped projectile can be slotted. It’s a clever use of weapon storage, creating the impression that Rodimus is tearing around your room faster than Blurr. The alt mode also features an ‘attack mode’ where the back section flips forward to aim Rodimus’ weapon ahead of him, but this looks so ridiculous that it’s best left forgotten.

While the design of the car is without fault, Hasbro’s choice of colours for this Challenge at Cybertron set is... well... abysmal. The main problem for this mode - and this is what everyone has been complaining about - is that the windows have been painted with an opaque light blue. I can’t imagine what possessed Hasbro to make such an odious change to the Classics deco, but the result ends up making Rodimus look like a KO instead of an official release. The worst part is that the paint obscures the interior, which boasts a pair of front seats and a dashboard. Furthermore, the colours throughout are over-saturated, especially at the front of the car where the new flame decal is virtually lost against the orange hood. Hasbro really needed to take a cue from Takara and give Rodimus the same shades as his Henkei release.

ROBOT MODE

Rodimus’ transformation isn’t difficult, but the result isn’t exactly rewarding. I don’t know how Fort_Max and Knightdramon awarded this toy a 9.5 and 10 respectively, because Rodimus’ robot mode is hideous! For starters, he’s way too short, owing to the fact that much of the vehicle’s bulk becomes ‘backpack kibble’. This is doubly problematic, as it puts the spoiler at an awkward distance from the back. Rodimus has blocky, stumpy excuses for legs, which have limited backwards articulation and look broken if you twist them any more than a few degrees from their original position. The worst part by far is the arms. Oh dear Primus, Rodimus’ arms probably set toy design back at least ten years! Like the legs, they’re badly disproportioned and have about as much articulation as a Minicon. The wrists don’t rotate, the elbows don’t rotate, and the shoulders can’t extend sideways. What really makes my blood boil is that the placement of the elbow pins makes it look like his arms are splitting in two if you bend them. Worse, the length of his gun means that Rodimus can’t bend his elbow any more than 45 degrees! Truly awful design.

I have to give Hasbro some credit here for the deco - it does look a bit better than the original release now that his unsightly windows are hidden from view. Apart from the shade of red, Rodimus is painted almost exactly like his cartoon counterpart. Brownish-grey now replaces the orange on his crest and hips, and light grey is used for his face and hands. This does have the advantage of making the face sculpt look less like an old man, as well as facilitating fans’ perception of his wrist communicator as Hot Rod’s buzzsaw. All of the black parts on the Classics toy have been replaced with dark grey, notably the entire front of Rodimus’ legs, which creates a much better impression of the dark boots he had in the cartoon. One thing that surprised me is that Rodimus’ light piping has been neutered and his eyes painted blue. This is an unfortunate drawback, since the light piping was designed to cleverly blend in with the front of the windshield in vehicle mode. Also, the weapon projectile has been painted with another opaque shade of blue, which looks weird since the part is molded out of orange plastic. All in all, while the robot mode deco does have its perks, it doesn’t excuse a poor design and just as poor a palette for the vehicle mode.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 5 - Nothing complex here, but getting Rodimus’ legs back into place in vehicle mode requires a little force.
Durability: 10 - A toy this blocky isn’t liable to break soon.
Fun: 5 - The vehicle mode is a bit more fun than other Autobot cars with its flaming exhaust and *cough* attack mode, but the poor articulation in robot mode limits his poses. More for display than play.
Aesthetics: 4 - Neither mode is terribly pretty to look at. The robot mode is too stocky and the alternate mode is too garish.
Articulation: 2 - Bad Hasbro!
Value: 8 - This gets a high score only because Rodimus is currently skyrocketing on eBay in anticipation of Fans Project’s Protector set. But given the deco’s shortcomings, it might be worth investing in another release.
Overall: 4.5 - I didn’t like this toy when it was originally released, and I still don’t like it now. Hot Rod was one of my favourite character designs in the cartoon, and Hasbro could and should have done so much better with this remake. If you still want to add this toy to your collection, you’d be better off sticking with the Henkei release. Otherwise, save your money for when Masterpiece Rodimus Prime comes out.

*******************************

Name: Galvatron
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Herald of Unicron

“My power is everything; defeat is absurd.”

Arrogant, powerful, and ruthless, Galvatorn has emerged to seize control of the scattered Decepticon forces. He has formed what was once a loose confederation of assassins and warlords and turned it into an army capable of threatening the entire universe. Rumors abound, but no one knows where he came from; they only know that he arrived, and swiftly crushed all opposition to his rule. Some Decepticons hope another leader powerful enough to challenge him will soon emerge, but most are too afraid of him to even hope for someone better.


Ah, Galvatron. One of the most notorious figures in the Universe line. Legends speak of a toy with a transformation so difficult, so frustrating that even the hardiest of men have broken down and wept before this almighty conqueror. The source of this tale stems from the designer’s supposed intention to release Galvatron as a Voyager class figure, before Hasbro decided against another Voyager tank and scaled him down to Deluxe size, leading to some design nightmares. I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, that this could be overlooked and Galvatron wasn’t as bad as people made him out to be. Well, as Ace Ventura would say, “Denial can be an ugly thing.”

ALTERNATE MODE

My first problem with this toy is the choice of alt mode: a tank. Like, how many of these have we seen for a Transformer already? Galvatron was originally a cannon, and to me that made him stand out because his alt mode is unique among Transformers and a sensible evolution of Megatron’s equally unique pistol mode. But now Galvatron disappears among the likes of Brawl and Blitzwing as just another tank in the crowd. In fairness, it was the designer’s original intention to make Galvatron a Ghost in the Shell-style crab tank, and a holdover of that concept remains in the small legs underneath the back, which can prop the tank up for an angled shot. But this looks absurd, not least because tanks can raise their main gun anyway. The overall design is fairly uninspired - it just looks like a box with a turret - and is almost completely devoid of paint applications, even lacking the GALV-25 decal from the original release. The tank is armed with a pair of rockets on each side, some kind of launcher at the back of the turret, and of course Galvatron's signature orange gun. One small point in the toy’s favour is that the hairline trigger features a flat disc, making it easier to press (and easier to accidentally set off during transformation). The main difference in this mode compared to the Universe release is that Galvatron comes in a lighter shade of grey, which I think looks marginally better than the original dull grey, although not everyone would agree with me.

ROBOT MODE

Like most of his evil schemes, Galvatron’s transformation is overwrought beyond belief. There are a bazillion parts that need shifted, spun, pegged and twisted into position to complete the robot mode. I like transformations that are involving, but half the time it feels like a chore and you have to wonder if it’s all really necessary. The worst part is that the transformation doesn’t allow enough clearance for the turret to swing around to form his right arm, which means it will either pop off on a poorly-designed sliding peg, or you’ll be fighting to get his backpack kibble around it in one piece. His left arm is also liable to coming off its ball joint because of how loose it is. I had to apply two coats of varnish just to tighten it up. In fact, that wasn’t the only fix Galvatron required. The slots at the back of the tank that attach to the sides were too thick on my toy, which means I had to file them down just so they could fit properly. Grrrr...

Galvatron’s robot mode is a thing of ugly. Only the head and torso bear any resemblance to the cartoon character; the rest of the design could belong to anyone. Gone are Galvatron’s rounded, silver legs from the show, replaced by blocky, disproportioned parodies that position the knees way too high. His lower legs are more than twice as long as his thighs! Although the level of leg articulation is decent, Galvatron’s poor balance cancels it out. Moving up, the face sculpt is even worse than Tankor’s, making him look like the ugly grandpa who always rants at you. The left arm is okay, but his firing arm is bulky and restrictive. Swivelling the cannon around to face forward means splitting the turret in two, but the cannon doesn’t peg anywhere, which means you have to try and wedge it between the two halves to try and stop it from flopping around uselessly.

Concerning the deco, the layout isn’t significantly different from the Universe version. Apart from the lighter colours, Hasbro retained the annoying use of orange on Galvatron’s wheels and hinges. His left shoulder now sports a purple Decepticon insignia, which is made visible against his shoulder by applying a white backdrop. The biggest boon of this release are the painted knees, employing the same red and black colours as the character model. While this looks slightly more attractive than the Universe toy, it’s still a far cry from how good the deco should be. Considering Rodimus and Cyclonus were coloured as cartoon-accurate as humanly possible, I wonder aloud why Hasbro didn’t invest the same attention to detail to Galvatron. His joints aren’t supposed to be orange, his left forearm isn’t supposed to be grey, and the colours on his legs are the wrong way around! Purple should surround the knees and grey for the shins, but Hasbro got this reversed. I also seem to recall Galvatron having black toes. But even if he was painted as faithfully to the show as anyone could manage, it still wouldn’t hide the ugly design, the poor articulation, the obscene transformation, and the all-around crapiness. As a wise man once said, “You can’t polish dog turd.”

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 1 - You will cry!
Durability: 4 - Too many small moving parts make this a rather unstable toy, and those arms will pop off time and time again.
Fun: 3 - A rather dull tank mode, awkward transformation and limited poseability.
Aesthetics: 3 -Galvatron was mishandled right at the planning stage, not least because of the poor choice of alternate mode. A clunky, blocky, kibbletastic design.
Articulation: 5 - The humungous right shoulder means Galvatron can’t aim in as many directions as you’d like him to, and his awkward balance hampers his leg articulation.
Value: 5 - Not something I’d advise you to buy voluntarily, but he does come packed with two other Deluxes.
Overall: 3.5 - Short of Tankor, Galvatron is probably the most ill-conceived toy of the line. It comes as a particular blow to me, considering Galvatron is my all-time favourite Transformers design. I can only hope that he gets selected to be the next Masterpiece, then Takara can revisit his classic cannon mode.

*******************************

Name: Cyclonus
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Saboteur

“Compassion is the Autobots’ downfall.”

Constructed from the cast-off chassis of deactivated Decepticon warriors, Cyclonus was programmed by Unicron to be loyal only to Galvatron. Powered by nuclear engines and a small fragment of his creator’s supernatural power, Cyclonus wields enough might to sterilize the surface of an inhabited world by himself. He never unleashes this power without his commander’s leave, however, and he focuses all of his energy on ensuring that Galvatron is obeyed without question by those under his command.


Ah, this is what you’ve all been waiting for. The main reason for buying the Challenge at Cybertron set is to get your hands on Cyclonus who is, for once, painted in scrupulously cartoon-accurate colours. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this toy since BotCon photos showed up online, but I couldn’t afford him up until now. Luckily the wait was well worth it, because this latest deco of the toy is by far and away the best.

ALTERNATE MODE

Cyclonus transforms into a hypersonic starfighter that is a perfect match for his on-screen appearance, right down to the twin lasers in front of the cockpit. The design is sleek and well-proportioned, sports a pair of machine guns on the side, and comes with full landing gear that puts the Seekers to shame. I particularly like the fact that the designers retained the needle nose instead of opting for a tapering fuselage like the G1 toy. It should be noted that the new colours means the wings appear to flow more smoothly from the main body, and Cyclonus’ head blends in better underneath. In this mode, his Targetmaster partner Nightstick can mount onto the roof of the jet, giving Cyclonus a bit of extra firepower to gun down those worthless Autobot vermin. One minor point against Cyclonus is that the design leaves a visible gap in between his legs, but it’s forgivable when it allows a much slender robot mode.

ROBOT MODE

Transforming Cyclonus is arguably the easiest of the three Challenge at Cybertron toys. The parts move intuitively and nothing is forced. One clever touch is that the legs extend by splitting vertically into two halves and reattaching below the knee. It’s nice to see designers thinking outside the box. In robot mode, Cyclonus could easily have been ripped off the screen and plopped on your desk. He is that accurate! Not only from the front, but from the back too; the cockpit retains the same placement and orientation as seen on the character model. Nightstick can also be stored here if you feel like giving Cyclonus a Brawl-like gun turret. You don’t even need to remove Nightstick during transformation. Otherwise, you can place him in Cyclonus’ right hand - only his right hand - or attach him to his wrist like in The Headmasters cartoon. Cyclonus’ proportions are superb and he stands a full head taller than most other Deluxes. I love the head design with his hard-edged face and red light-piping, giving Cyclonus a demonic gaze. He’s got good articulation, balance, and is far more poseable than any other jet in the line.

Unlike the Universe release, which was too dark, and the Henkei release, which was too bright, this Cyclonus comes in a smoky shade of purple with light grey as a secondary colour. It’s a palette I find more fitting for Decepticons, who appear more ominous in darker colours to distinguish themselves from the brighter Autobots. Some younger fans might find the muted colours a bit bland, but to G1 nuts this is the stuff of legend. Besides, the deco comes with a dash of orange and more saturated purple to help break up the colours, as well as the painted silver face from the Henkei release. Extra points for painting Cyclonus’ horns purple for the first time in any toy of the character. Some fans have pointed out that the thighs feature two different shades of grey, but honestly, it’s only noticeable if you look at them really closely under good lighting conditions. The only drawback to the deco is that the purple Decepticon symbol on the chest gets a little lost in the same way that Rodimus’ flames blend into the hood. Not really something worth complaining about.

NIGHTSTICK

Like Cyclonus, Nightstick is an excellent match for his cartoon appearance and features shoulder and elbow articulation. Because the barrel of his gun folds down behind him to form a third leg, he features significantly better balance than, say, Jolt. Nightstick is coloured almost exactly like his Henkei release, with metallic silver replacing the chrome legs. The main difference is that his face retains the gold paint from the Universe release. While this isn’t as faithful as the Henkei orange face, it does have the advantage of making the red goggles easier to distinguish. Personally, I like the colours.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 8 - Apart from the fact that the legs don’t sit very well in jet mode, this is as clean a transformation as you can get.
Durability: 9 - Doesn’t feel at all flimsy for a jet. Nothing likely to pop off.
Fun: 10 - Having a Targetmaster on hand (or in hand) is a real treat. Both characters are faithful renditions of their cartoon appearance.
Aesthetics: 10 - There's drool left on my keyboard from staring at this design online. The new deco is a fan's wet dream.
Articulation: 8 - No waist articulation, but Cylonus’ spry legs make him quite poseable.
Value: 10 - Considering Henkei Cyclonus costs an arm and a leg on eBay these days, you can get an even better Cyclonus for a bargain deal.
Overall: 11! - Yes, an eleven. Kamen awarded a 10 in his review of the Universe version, and this is even better! Cyclonus is one of my favourite characters and I was enthralled when his design was revealed at BotCon. However I was a bit miffed that neither the Universe nor Henkei releases were painted with cartoon-accurate colours. Hasbro revised that and delivered the best Cyclonus in this or any other series. He is quite possibly my favourite Deluxe toy ever!
 
 
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