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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's review: Kmart exclusive Minicon 12 pack

Name: MiniCon 12 pack
Alligeance: Autobot and Decepticon
Repaint of: various Classic Minicons
Functions: Tiny Troops
Series: Universe Armada

Firstly, when my mother saw these Minicons she said "These are soooo cute!" My mother is not too big on TFs but she loves these guys for some reason. She also likes Barricade. So that's how I got the Minicon dozen. In retrospect these guys are much much better than a Legends five pack or some such. Besides, my Metroplex needs some more Minicons other than Drill Bit to create a true base.

Before I go to my one of my usual sarcasm-filled reviews, let me tell you something about this Minicon set--the box is bloody hard to open. Sure it looks good but although I had the intentions of keeping the box for display purposes, it's nigh impossible to open without damaging it.

That aside, though, I'm always interested in the controversial Minicons. Most people dislike them, but many like them too. Yeah, Numbat. Don't act innocent. I'm pointing at you. But like our dear old Numbat I enjoy tiny Transformers, and find the few Minicons I have (Cybertron Golden Safeguard and Cybertron Drill Bit) are interesting. Then, I read the rather positive reviews on the Classic Minicons (unlike the evil ones you gave for the Armada Series) and I was intrigued, photos and all. (especially Clay's short and sweet review. Mushu?)

Anyway, the four teams--Landslide, Safeguard, Overcast and Ransack, all take their names from Transformers past. Landslide was a construction vehicle from Universe or Energon or somesuch. Safeguard is a Minicon from Cybertron. Overcast is a Minicon from Cybertron, and a Decepticon from the Movie toyline. Ransack is a G1 Insecticon, a G2 Corsair jet, various assorted Minicons, a bike from Cybertron, and Decepticon most of the time.

Holy crap, I had to go through one of those Collector Books to find the visual references to G1 toys. Call them from the 'Armada Series' all you want. Almost all are referenced from G1 Micromasters.

The Minicons are redecos of Classic Night Rescue Team, Demolition Team, Dirt Digger Team and Clear Skies Team, with the team members shuffled a bit.

Landslide Minicon Team:

Backstop

Right. Backstop transforms into a farm/construction vehicle known as a 'backhoe'. Looks like a payloader with an excavator's... thing... strapped on the back. A quick search to the G1 Autobot Micromaster Construction Patrol reveals that the orange-black colour scheme is lifted from G1 Payloader, a payloader in his own right.

In his alternate mode, Backstop is a rather nice Micromaster (what? I like Micromasters!) in vehicle mode, and is a redeco of Sledge of the Demolitions Team. The backhoe and payloader attachment work excellently.

He has a decent robot mode, but not as good as some of the others in this set. His head is too small for me.

The name Backstop is first used in Cybertron as an Autobot rhino with equally-weird hands.

Bodyblock

Bodyblock transforms into a red monster truck, which surprisingly isn't based on any single G1 toy. We have at least six Micromasters in G1 that change into monster trucks (Mudslinger, Greasepit and the Monster Truck Patrol) but not a single match. Cute.

Now Numbat got all excited over Grindor's (guy's pre-redeco original name) vehicle mode, but Blackjack goes ga-ga over Bodyblock's robot mode. I've always been a fan of unnatural robot modes, inhuman ones and unusual ones. That's why I gave the likes of Payload and Overcast from the Movie toy lines such high grades, much to others' chagrin.

Oh, and there are other weirder offerings in this set as well, just you wait and see.

Anyway, a picture speaks a thousand words, and Bodyblock's picture of his cute and unusual robot mode (love the legs transforming!) and a Cybertron Crumplezone/Animated Bulkhead-esque head.

One of the definite wins for the Minicons.

Bodyblock is an original name for the Transformers. Or it might have been used for a Minicon on Cybertron or Japan. Don't care.

Knockdown

Knockdown is a monster truck. If Wide Load of the Demolitions Team is based on Energon Demolishor, then Knockdown is exactly... Blot!

Really, in dump truck mode to the long armed robot mode, Knockdown resembles Blot if the Terrorcon ever picked a vehicle mode. And the vile guy would surely pick a dump truck.

Knockdown doesn't stand very well due to wheels, and the hands are weird. The large purple head shows in vehicle mode, but it is an excellent head. I must agree with Zeoman's review that his robot mode is not so good, but with a Blot paint job it's better.

Knockdown has been used as the name of the Classics Triceratops Minicon.

Safeguard Team:

Heavytread

Obviously, this Broadside redeco is meant to be Warpath. The colour scheme says so. So... Why on Earth this one isn't called Warpath, but a never-used-before name, Heavy Tread?

My theory is that Hasbro didn't want to discourage buyers from buying the 'coming-soon' Legends Warpath, which I'm also planning on getting. Anyway, War-- I mean Heavy Tread, is cute in tank mode, but in robot mode falls down easily due to top-heaviness.

With hand support though, Heavy Tread is a fun and poseable Minicon. He has a gun-barrel for an arm, and stands quite taller than the others. And I wonder, why, for crying out loud, did they put a TANK in the Safeguard Team?

Not bad, but a wasted potential for this one...

Makeshift

My personal favourite! I always fall for military vehicles, jets, and muscle cars. And Makeshift--not the Minicon from Armada--transforms into a 80s muscle car. A redeco of Oil Slick, Makeshift is painted in a paintjob that greatly resembles G1 Road Hugger and G1 Groundhog, both Decepticon Micromasters.

Makeshift. Muscle car mode is wicked. Yes, it features a more milder paint job than its predecessor, but purple-and-black works find for me. After all, one of my favourite Micromasters (Road Hugger, which happens to be Blackjack's rebellious pal.) finds new life in this Minicon.

Makeshift's robot mode is excellent, with a grappling claw and a knife as hand. *snikt*and there goes Mushu's head! His head is nicely done too. Oh, and he's the only one out of the twelve whose port is hidden in vehicle mode. Smart guy.

Flatfoot

Flatfoot is an original name, and I'm sure of it. I would remember a name like that. (It's a slang for a cop, thanks A1.) A redeco of Classics Strongarm, a police squad car. Guess who this Minicon is based on? Stakeout? No, you're wrong! The colours are more Prowl or Siren than Stakeout. His colour scheme is also the same with Minibot Tailgate.

Regardless, Flatfoot is a cute Minicon, and unlike his comrade Makeshift, he can actually stand properly in robot mode. Hey, he's not called Flatfoot for nothing.

While Strongarm looks 'too black', Flatfoot doesn't have the tough enforcer look anymore to him. He's not too poseable in robot mode, but is more detailed in regard to the paintjob. So Flatfoot is one of the weaker Minicons of the set.

I still think the name Flatfoot should go to the purple Decepticon jet included here. Skyhammer doesn't do him justice.

Overcast Team:

Suppressor

The Overcast team is made of the bits left behind. While the other three teams follow a theme (Landslide is all construction vehicles, Safeguard is cars plus Warpath, Ransack is all jets and a helicopter) the Overcast Team is a mish-mash of a fire engine, motorbike and a dragon. Perhaps the only theme they follow is their green-yellow paint job, which are not based on G1.

First up is Suppressor, a redeco of Classics Firebot. It's not too shabby, but lemon yellow leaves something to be desired.

The ugly paint job aside, Suppressor is an ace toy, with an excellent vehicle mode (an attack fire truck with 'Haz-Mat' around it) and a robot mode with wrist-mounted weaponry. Not your usual meek peace loving childlike Minicon. Perfect.

Blight

A redeco of Dirt Rocket, Blight is a minty-green motorcycle. So the colour scheme is not as great as Dirt Rocket. As far as bike-formers, which are controversial through TF history... Well, there's Groove, then Override and Wreck-Gar, and the Energon Arcee mold that has been repainted a dozen times...

As a tiny bike, however, Blight delivers well despite the 'ouch-my-eyes-hurt' lime green paint job. Not a bad robot mode either, but he topples backwards too easily and is near-impossible to stand.

I love his face though. The name Blight was first used in Energon as one of the tank Combaticons.

Brimstone

Brimstone is a redeco of Classics Mushu... Erm... *quick wiki* Classics Nightscream... (But Mushu is a cuter name) done in honor seemingly to Cybertron Brimstone.

The odd one out of the twelve Minicons, Brimstone now looks like one of those acid-spewing dragons in Role Playing Games instead of a fire one. Okaaaaay......

Brimstone is rather flimsy in robot mode and quite pudgy in dragon mode. But very cute! One of my favourite Minicons. With a whip-tail and a dragon head as arms, this guy matches Makeshift on the weaponry-hand contest.

That aside, I hoped for a purple redeco of this guy. An unique mold, a head in one hand and tail in other, dragon alternate mode. Yessssssss.........

Ransack Team:

Cloudraker

First and foremost, the Minicon Cloudraker has nothing whatsoever to do with the red and white G1 Autobot clone. Not even a colour scheme or alternate mode homage... He's an apache helicopter, G1 Cloudraker is a Cybertronian Jet thing.

That aside, Cloudraker's green and black colour scheme seems to be based upon another late-G1 toy, that is the Mega Pretender Crossblades.

A redeco of Classics Divebomb, Cloudraker intrigues me the most, mainly because of his rather odd robot mode. Come to think of it, the entire Ransack Team all have the weirdest robot modes. Not that they put me off though. Anyway, Clouds is very cute in his helicopter mode, with the top and tail rotors both spinning, and four missile racks. For Divebomb (supposedly a rescue Minicon) it's a bit too extreme but for a Decepticon, like Cloudraker, it fits him well. (I'm starting to think maybe they should switch Divebomb with Cloudraker...)

Now in robot mode Cloudy is rather top-heavy. The top rotor becomes his head, the missile racks become his arms (which can only bend sideways) and the tail splits becomes the legs.

The robot mode is not too good and many people dislike it, but different is good. I'm rather fond of Cloudraker compared to...

Boltflash

Yep, with an original name, Boltflash transforms into an F14 Tomcat jet with wings that can sweep front and back. It is painted gray in opposition to Thunderwing's blue. A quick search reveals that the paint job is based on G1 Decepticon Micromaster Nightflight, who also transforms into a F14. It also bears a passing resemblance to Flattop, another jet Decepticon Micromaster.

Now Boltflash might be the worst Minicon of the set--the others like Blight and Bodyblock have their charms but Boltflash sucks in robot mode. He's short, standing out from the others, relies on the wings to prop him up, and his gray colour scheme is boring in robot mode.

And he has a Minicon port on his head. That MUST hurt when he powerlinks. However, the vehicle mode is well done though.

Skyhammer

And we got to the final Minicon! Skyhammer's name is taken from the ultra-large Autobot Ultra Pretender of the same name. A redeco of Steel Wind, Skyhammer transforms into an A10 Warthog or Thunderbolt, I can't really tell. Sufficient to say, he basically changes to what Cybertron Wing Saber does.

And his jet mode is excellent, well suited for a Decepticon instead of a peace-loving Autobot. Hey, his wings is filled to the brim with large missiles! Charming in his own way.

Robot mode gave me a chuckle. His head is a Flat-top, his hands from the fuel tanks, and his feet... Forget Flatfoot, this is the one that should be called that. The cockpit forms the feet while the wings form the legs.

Oh, and the dark purple paint job isn't random either. It's exactly the same with G1 Decepticon Micromaster Tailwind.

Not as bad as Boltflash or Drill Bit (Cybertron) but needs work.



OVERALL

Finally! Took me three days to write this review for you, and another to find all the paint job homages. The longest review I've done! Thanks to Powerdasher for lending me his 'G1 Transformers photo' book, and if you are complementing whether to buy this, I have to say, "Go and get it NOW."

Marks out of ten for the following:

DURABILITY 4-6 Some like Boltflash and Blight won't break unless you drop a heavy thing on them, but the likes of Cloudraker, Skyhammer and Backstop all have fragile joints.
TRANSFORMATION 6 Pretty hard for Minicons. Except for Blight.
FUN 10 Whether you have a bigger toy to link them to (and you should, what with Unicron and Heavy Load in the Universe line, and the likes of Movie Ratchet, Ironhide, Bumblebee and Blackout) or just like little TFs, these guys are fun.
PRICE 9 worth it, definitely. Twelve little guys are much more fun than a Voyager.
OVERALL 8 Look, G1 homages, nice alternate modes, excellent robot modes, powerlinking abilities, Minicons, small enough to fiddle in your table... And to attach to Lug Nut's battle weapon! Anyway, these guys make good little support troops and Micromaster force. And they're irresistibly cute....
 
 
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