Blackjack's Review: Laserbeak
MechTech gatling gun, stationary gatling gun
"My superiors want me to... suicide you."
Out of the new Decepticons introduced in the third movie, Laserbeak is inarguably the most memorable one. Hell, throughout all three movies, Laserbeak struck me as the most sinister, most sadistic and the most effective Decepticon. Why so? Well, apparently even from the days of Apollo, Laserbeak has been manipulating events on Earth, getting humans under their thumb (though he apparently didn't see fit to free Megatron, being the jerk he is). And then killing them... and enjoying it when he does so. Laserbeak also makes use of a plot loophole introduced with the concept of the movieverse Transformers being able to change alternate modes within seconds — how cool it it to see Laserbeak adapt new disguises every minute to fool the humans?
And, Laserbeak isn't afraid to kill. He turned to a tiny pink version of Bumblebee to fool a little girl — and I do mean little — to allowing him entrance to her house, plays in a tea party... and murders the poor kid's mom in front of her eyes, and later the dad. It's mostly off-screen, but you can imagine Laserbeak's killed off the little girl in the interim as well. And his voice... "Is your daddy home?" is particularly unsettling and sinister, because it really does sound friendly. This scene of callously slaughtering a family, coupled with Laserbeak's sinister voice acting and the terrified begging from the couple that he's disposing...
I think, this scene (which, really, spans about, what, one minute?) unsettles more people in the cinema compared to Decepticons blowing up random things in the desert.
What a comparison to the previous versions of Laserbeak in G1, Cybertron and Animated, who are basically Soundwave's trained pets. Here? Well, call me biased, but I think Laserbeak is much more badass than Movieverse Soundwave. I have always been a big fan of Laserbeak, lack of characterisation be damned. And I was stoked to know that he'll appear in the third movie. In the movie, Laserbeak first appeared in the abandoned Russian nuclear center, hissing at the human Voshkod who was under his 'employ' when he tried to warn NEST. As NEST was preoccupied with Shockwave's massive Driller, Laserbeak swooped down and killed Voshkod, before perching on the poor sod's car and saying with a very creepy 'pleasure working with you'. Later on Laserbeak returns to Megatron's base in Africa, shooting a poor bird to death just for the hell of it, before perching on Soundwave's arm (G1 fans rejoice!). Megatron then ordered Laserbeak to kill all of the humans, which led to the family-butchering scene described above.
Later Laserbeak managed to get ahold of one of the people in Sam's company, Jerry Wang, by disguising as a computer nmonitor, complete with a mouse that grabbed Wang's hand. Wang has, however, apparently warned Sam Witwicky about the Decepticons... not that it would matter, since Laserbeak has been ordered to suicide him. Wang tried to shoot Laserbeak, but the Decepticon easily pushed him, chair and all, out of the window. In the chaos Laserbeak disguised himself as a photocopier machine that plays the G1 theme song jingle to get closer to Sam. He transformed, killed a guy who tried to uyse him and shot the whole place apart while trying to get to Sam. Sam managed to elude Laserbeak.
Now he seems to have disappeared from the movie altogether, up until Sam stages a rescue attempt to save Carly. All is well, until Laserbeak, disguised as a television or something similar that hung on a wall, appeared and threw Sam off of the building he was in. Sam brought backup in a Bumblebee-comandeered gunner ship, however. Laserbeak swooped in and tried to kill Sam, and in the struggle Sam managed to get Laserbeak's head in front of one of the weapons. Bumblebee fired and Laserbeak's head was blown off in the least brutal death scene of a character in this movie.
The name Laserbeak originates from the very iconic and popular G1 Laserbeak, the spy-minion of Soundwave. The name was reused for a repaint of Terrorsaur during the Beast Wars line, hilariously mis-spelt as 'Lazorbeak'. In Armada, Laserbeak was a tiny drone-thing that the human kids use to spy on the Decepticons, turning from a video camera to a gun to a bird. Cybertron has its own Laserbeak, which was again a minion of Soundwave. Animated, following from G1, introduced another Laserbeak, a minion of its Soundwave.
And people — it's spelt 'Laserbeak', not 'Lazerbeak', which does not make sense.
Every Transformers movie has its own bestial Decepticon, and Dark of the Moon is no exception. However, unlike Scorponok and Ravage in the first two movies, Laserbeak can actually speak instead of just growling incoherently. This is very ironic, considering that throughout the 27 years of Transformers history a Laserbeak has never spoken a word on-screen, while versions of Ravage and Scorponok had quite verbose dialogue.
Laserbeak, obviously, does not have a robot mode. Or rather, his default 'robot' mode is a bird. The original G1 Laserbeak (and subsequent G1-based incarnations) was based on a condor, but Movie Laserbeak is not based on any proper bird. When glimpses of him appeared in the trailer, he was even often referred to as a dragon or a pterodactyl, so alien he looked. But it is still the unmistakable silhouette of a bird. Albeit a metallic, fluidly-moving bird.
Laserbeak is primarily gray, just like the movie counterpart. However, all of his 'feathers' are cast in red, no doubt in reference to G1 Laserbeak's red wings. Personally, I dislike this and think that black or metallic wings would do better. But then it probably won't appeal to the little 'wuns without colour.
Unlike Scorponok, Ravage or Insecticon, Laserbeak's CG model is much harder to replicate in toy form, because he's really thin and fragile-looking. Make him too similar to the show model, and you risk a fragile toy that'll break with the slightest repositioning of the wings. Make it too blocky and it won't look like Laserbeak. Fortunately a compromise is reached, although it still doesn't look right, due to the blockiness of Laserbeak's main body, as well as the rather too-bright red and light gray plastic. However, it would grow to you in person, even though it looks pretty ugly in stock photography.
I'll go over the best that I can the parts of Laserbeak I find ugly. The main torso-abdomen body part looks too large and blocky, making Laserbeak look less sharp and dangerous. His upper legs (the thighs) are very chunky in order to accommodate his talons in vehicle mode, which looks ugly and doesn't look good in both beast and 'vehicle' mode. The 'feathers' on Laserbeak's thighs are red, doesn't look good and stand out in a terrible way. The wings look wrong and I'd prefer them to have longer 'feathers' but I'd think it wouldn't be able to figure out on how to do Laserbeak's wings properly in a Deluxe class toy, not with the laughable need of having him to transform. But I do think that the wings work pretty well, considering things.
All of the distinctive features of Laserbeak's CG model. The alien yet bird-like head, the segmented, snake-like neck and tail, the sharp wings, the VTOL engines on each wing, the bird talons, the bird-like silhouette... sharp edges... everything important is there. Even his crazy vulture-with-boggle-eyes head is sculpted to perfection.
Laserbeak is pretty decently articulated, even for a beast-mode transformer. Laserbeak's neck has five ball joints, and his beak, alien as it is, can open. The tail has four ball or hinge joints, and the twin blades at the tip of the tail can move as well. Each wing has three points of movement, in addition to the bat-like claw. The VTOL engines spin, and where it connects to the body it is double-hinged, so it can rotate and tilt, allowing you to pose Laserbeak's wings in a variety of poses. Laserbeak's thighs are hinged, and his talons are too. It's worth noting that his legs has pegs as well as peg holes. While a Soundwave toy isn't in the pipeline yet, it's nice that Hasbro is preparing us to peg Laserbeak into a future Soundwave's shoulder or arm.
Like mentioned above, Laserbeak's main colour is sadly a light gray, with black on his neck, tail and talons. His blades are painted silver, and his head is a gunmetal gray. His eyes are light blue, with the slit-like pupils painted red. Some detailings on his forehead is also red, as is his tongue. His feathers, wings and VTOL are all red.
Laserbeak's beast mode, while not as well done as Ravage or Scorponok or Insecticon due to the chunky main body, looks excellent nevertheless, red paint notwithstanding.
He comes with two weapons. At first glance the gatling gun assemblies look identical to each other, but while one is a Mech-Tech transforming weapon, the other is a dud that only looks like one. It's a nice touch to have a bit of symmetry (although the Mech-Tech one has a block on top to differentiate it). Laserbeak has eight Mech-Tech ports. Under each VTOL engine, above each VTOL engine, under each talon and two last ones atop and below the cockpit of his vehicle mode. Pushing the handle all the way in spins the galting gun around and around, until it reveals some sort of a pronged barrel thing.
Sadly the guns are very wide height-wise, so it looks pretty silly attached underwing. If they were to peg in horizontally it would've looked better, but they didn't, sadly.
Laserbeak turns into some sort of crazy-ass twin-rotor attack vehicle. No, not an Osprey. It's one of those futuristic badass-looking vehicle design, based on the Dragonhawk vehicle from Transformers' sister franchise, G.I. Joe. Basically, it looks like a chunky attack chopper, but with two VTOL engines instead of a rotor and stumpy wings. Like one of those things from James Cameron's Avatar. By rights it should be cool, scale be damned.
But in person, it just looks like a bird without a neck. Honestly. The VTOL wings are cool, no doubt, doing a job of hiding the wings folded inside and they can tilt just like the planes in Avatar. But everything else isn't hidden well at all. The chunky main body, which by rights should serve the alternate mode better, is tilted like the bird of prey Laserbeak is. The tail and the claws aren't hidden at all, unless you look at Laserbeak from above (where this lame tail-piece tries and fails to cover the tail up. The offensive red leg-feathers are also prominent, which leads me to wonder why include them at all; they serve noting but detract in both beast and vehicle mode. Laserbeak's talons are folded into the thighs, but the tip of his talons point out, so instead of having two landing gears of engines or whatever, it looks like a bird wearing flared pants. Or a fat dinosaur.
And his cockpit... the cockpit's window is painted light blue, and there is an eagle's face painted in white. But even without painting it, his cockpit already looks like a face, with the black bits resembling an upper jaw and the lower bits resembling a lower jaw. Unlike Ravage's messy but charming 'reentry mode', or Insecticon's robot mode, I am sorely underwhelmed by Laserbeak's vehicle mode. Dragonhawk my ass, this thing looks stupid from anywhere but above. Only the VTOL engines look anywhere near platable, while the rest look comical.
I understand that a photocopier or a television or pink Bumblebee is impossible to replicate in toy form, but this is really laughable. Worse, it hinders an otherwise brilliant beast mode, unlike the other three movie beasts. Shame on you, Hasbro. Shame.
Marks out of ten of the following:
2/10 Scorponok, Ravage and Insecticon all have quasi-transformations, that, while turn into ugly-looking shits, do not impede on the main beast mode. Laserbeak's 'transformation' is uninspired and seems to be a cheap way to avoid the fandom backlash about how he doesn't turn him into a photocopier machine. It hinders his beast mode and looks stupid. As it is, I won't be transforming him anytime soon.
6/10 The neck and tail are pretty durable, surprisingly. But the 'feathers' attached to Laserbeak's legs are made out of very soft and fragile plastic. And make no mistake, they will bend. And they may break.
6/10 Not in the right colours, and a chunky torso-abdomen section. But otherwise the beast mode is very great. Vehicle mode is turd, though.
8/10 They did neck articulation, and for that alone I am happy. Objectively, for a beast mode with moving legs and wings and tails, he's a killer.
9/10 I have fun with him, but then I am biased.
7/10 It's a pain to look for Laserbeak, but I think it's worth it. Your mileage may vary, though.
7/10 Well, honestly he would score a five or six, but I enjoyed Laserbeak so much, I would've given him an eight or nine. So this is a bit of a compromise. Really if you love movieverse characters Laserbeak is a definite pick-me-up. However be aware of his problems, his rubbish alternate mode and take it into consideration. Still, a unique toy which I readily recommend despite its flaws.