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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Numbat's review of: Giant Planet Minicon team

Name: Giant Planet Team
Allegiance: Mini-Con
Sub-Group: Giant Planet

One of the only MINI-CON teams operating on the Giant Planet without partnership of a larger robot, these three have made a long habit of bitterness. Uninterested in construction projects – or simply without the patience to work on a building crew in the case of LONGARM - the GIANT PLANET MINI-CON TEAM roam abandoned sections of the world-city engaging their destructive impulses, and occasionally raiding work sites to steal supplies.

To be perfectly honest, I picked up this set more than five times over the last few months, only to return it to the shelf without buying. Why? Well, to be honest, if I had to give a reason it would be the glaring green of Longarm at the end of the day, and the desire to try and keep my Transformers expenditure low(er). However, after my final day at work in a nightmare job I’ve been slaving at for the last year, I was shopping for some beer, cheese and sausages, and decided, ‘what the hey?’ Being such a lover of wee TFs, I though they could be fun, and I could forgive Longarm his garish colour choice – and I’m well glad I did!

As most people are likely to know, Mini-Cons were the great gimmick of the Armada line. They have kept a presence ever since, but seemed to be a little thin on the shelves by the time Cybertron was in full swing. The Giant Planet team are the second original three pack Mini-Con release (sold in the Scout Class), and deliver well (and seem a bit better than a two pack for only slightly more of those sliced carrots). Although this team do not have a specific gimmick when combined or linked to a larger figure, they are still great fun, and look fantastic on Menasor, Dark Scorponok and Energon Tidal Wave particularly. I love that Mini-Cons seem removed from the rules that specify proportions and the like in most Transformers. By freeing them, the mode of transformation can be really interesting – and these guys just prove how fun Mini-Cons can be!

Still – Deepdive and Overcast are both consistently mistransformed, and even the instructions seem to be against Overcast looking decent!

Given that there are three figures, I thought it’d be most straightforward if each were dealt with individually.


DEEPDIVE

Alternate Mode:

First up is Deepdive. Packaged in this great submarine mode (3 ½” [9cm] long), I think he is the most attractive of the trio. He is predominantly a blue-grey, with red detailing and metallic blue camouflage along the sides. The molded detail is second to none, and the display and play value are great.

The only negative is the triangular gap in the front half of the boat.

As a fun bonus, Overcast has a Mini-Con port at the top of the tower. This can be used to join with Overcast, and the figure still balances fine on a flat surface.

Robot Mode:

The transformation is simple, but fun, and the result is fantastic! So long as you do not trust most official pictures. He stands almost 3 ½” (9cm) tall, from flat feet to shoulder pillar peaks. ‘Shoulder pillars you say?’ Yup. Unlike stock photos, if Deepdive is transformed correctly, his gorilla arms are replaced with shoulder pillars. This also results in articulation at the elbows, and little molded hands. Trust me, he looks a lot better correctly done! And very quirky. The Mini-Con port thrusts from his chest, rather like one of Professor Farnsworth’s (Futurama) atomic supermen. Over all his is rather slim, although has wide legs and feet. The head, though, is grand – beautifully molded, and almost friendly! (And very much reminiscent of the GI Joe Cobra Lamprey - an amphibious assault trooper no less [available 1990] - a tip of the hat perchance?)

He is rather well off for articulation, although I wouldn’t expect any dynamic poses. Still, I really like him, and he’s definitely my favourite Mini-Con to date.

I seriously think the UK government should reconsider their plan to spend £20 billion on replacing trident... They could spend so much less on a swarm of itsy bitsy Deepdives. Just think of the havoc they could wreak! (Oh, wait, this is just a toy...)


LONGARM

Alternate Mode:

Longarm, like his namesake, turns into a construction crane. This time, as well as the standard crane, he is also equipped with a manipulator of some description. His chassis measures 2 1/2" (6.5cm) long, and he has six wheels - all functional! As Clay pointed out to me, Longarm is somewhat out of place given the military alternate modes his companions profess. It's almost as if he were swapped out of the Classics Demolition Team (who have to construction vehicles and, erm, a tank...). However, I do think the fact that Longarm is a construction vehicle fits well if Giant planet, and adds a modicum of depth (which would be lacking with three military vehicles, likely).

I do enjoy the mold in this mode, with its superb detailing and effort that has gone into picking out many of these features with colour. However, the base colour of almost fluorescent green was a major detractor for me, as mentioned previously. The combination of this green with the purple functional arms (a warped version of the G1 Constructicons - the shades are just that bit off) is just, well, cringe-worthy. However, I have learned to get over this, and, although it'll never be one of my favourites, the colour scheme is growing on me.

Robot Mode:

Now, I really love Longarm's transformation. It is by far the best of this bunch - not necessarily due to complexity, but rather its originality. The transformation is rather asymmetrical, and the result leaves the vehicle's rear wheels in the centre of his chest, with interesting and different detailing on either side. Standing 2 1/4" (6cm) tall, the result just, frankly, looks cool!

Predictably, the crane and manipulator become the arms, which adds to his interesting appearance. It's almost 'if Beast Wars Transmetals did vehicles'.

Molded detail is largely reused from the vehicle mode, but the face is nicely sculpted - albeit with a rather standard Transformers grimace. The red does help pick it out from the horrendous green!

Alas, another colour is thrown into the mix in this mode, with the upper legs. Turquoise was really not a good idea... But at least the front of the truck can hide this for display.

Articulation is somewhat limited - or rather, sensible poses are restricted by the rigid and unforgiving straightness of the arms.

Still, he is rather nifty, despite his colours!


OVERCAST

Alternate Mode:

Overcast turns into a cargo plane, strongly reminiscent of Cybertron Jetfire. Unlike Jetfire's large scale, though, Overcast measures just 3" (7.5cm) from nose to tail, with a 2 1/2" (6.5cm) wingspan. He has nice molded detail (particularly the engines on the wings), which provides an Art Deco sense of old and new when taken with the traditional tail-plane and dated overall shape.

The dark blue works nicely, and silver paint picks out stripes. Unfortunately, this paint seems to chip easily, and my figure already had sections missing before he ever came out of the packaging.

There are large missiles (the same length as the plane, roughly) under either wing, molded in the purple plastic which links the three figures. They can be fired, using just the tension created by pushing against the plastic in the same way as the G2 Cyberjets. The missiles are a little heavier than those wonderful old fellows', but still fly quite far! (He makes a nice addition under Dark Scorponok's tail.)

Overall it's a good mode though, which works nicely with Deepdive, if not Longarm.

Robot Mode:

Overcast's transformation is also similar to Jetfire, with the exception of the legs. However, for whatever reason all photos seem to leave him looking rather awkward. This is not helped by the instructions, which direct you to make this less than pleasing version of the robot mode. I hope these are all mistakes as there is one hinge left unused by the instructions, which allows you to pull the nose of the plane up to chest level - giving a far more satisfying robot mode. Hey, if it's wrong I'm still displaying him this way! (But it does fit far too well to be wrong, I'd say...)

The robot stands around 2 1/4" (5.5cm) tall, and looks rather nifty, if nothing spectacular. The arms are cool claws, but too look a little ridiculous holding the huge missiles. Still, the guy has far better balance than you'd think! Poseability is rather good as well, although the arms are limited without an elbow joint (prohibited by the missile launcher design). Colour-wise he's similar to the alternate mode, but has more obvious silver.

Detailing is still grand, and the head is fun, with a nifty red visor. (In fact, the head reminds me a lot of Armada Longarm's [Red Alert's Mini-Con bud].)

For some reason, though, Overcast, to me, falls short of the other two in design and appeal - but I really can't say why.


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 8 - Great fun, if not taxing (they are Mini-Cons, after all). Longarm is particularly interesting!
Durability: 8 - They all seem to be well put-together bots (they have survived the Christmas & New Year runaround the country fine). However, Overcast's feet like to pop off, and could be lost (as could his missiles).
Fun: 10 - I really don't think wee Transformers get any more fun than these guys (at least, not for me)! (And they don't even have any crazy gimmicks exactly - although maybe they are one...)
Price: 7 - The fellows are often rather overpriced, really (although not so much as the two-packs seem to be). Still, they are grand fun, and do work out good value if you really enjoy them as much as I do! The RRP in the UK is around £6 ($11.70) as a Scout, but you can pick them up less if you look hard enough. The eBay prices of £10+ ($20) are insane! And, our friends across the pond can pick these fellows up for a lot less...
Overall: 8 - The Giant Planet Team is a good Mini-Con pack - if a little disparate. If you enjoy wee Transformers, or interesting transformations, you'll be missing a treat if you pass these guys by (as I almost did)!

 
 
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