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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Numbat's review: Scorponok

Name: Scorponok
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function:
Sub-Group: Deluxe Class
Scale: 1/40*

Roaring in low over the landscape, Blackout pours fire down upon any target that comes within range of his sensors. The only creature for which he displays something other than open contempt is his companion Scorponok. The frenzied smaller robot serves its huge master more as a pet than a friend, hounding any enemies that attempt to flee and driving them towards the larger robot’s blazing cannons. Together, they are a relentless force of destruction, bent on bathing the landscape in superheated plasma charges until the desert itself is a fused, broken plain of lifeless glass. [From Decepticon Desert Attack Boxset.]

Ever since his first incarnation in G1, Scorponok has been a fan favourite. I was personally very excited when it was announced that he was to be included in the 2007 live action Movie, as I had thought they would stick to characters who could be represented with a real vehicle alternate mode. Of course, they could have done that with Scorpy, but it wouldn’t ring very true. Thankfully, they did go with a giant scorpion.

Scorponok figures have always been pretty cool, as well. Although, they have now ranged in size fairly. After all, the original 1987 Headmasters Scorponok turned into a city-sized mechanical scorpion! Beast Wars (1996) had him as realistic giant scorpion, while Energon / Cybertron (2004 / 2005) made a half-hearted attempt to give him a real world alternate mode – a massive (imaginary) scorpion shaped construction machine. Now, Scorponok has been shrunk mightily, to the size of a mere car!

Interestingly, the Movie has Scorpy as Blackout’s minion (Soundwave / Cassette style). It works very well in the Movie, giving rise to an excellent sequence – one of the most memorable of a myriad of unique shots!

Scorponok, definitely among my favourite Movie designs (and all time designs, actually), translates well into a toy – surprisingly so, in fact!


Alternate Mode:

As ever, Scorponok’s ‘alternate’ mode is a scorpion. This incarnation is highly detailed and totally mechanical, and around the size of a car (with this figure at roughly 1/40 scale, thanks to Clay's careful calculations). He is highly poseable, but, in a ‘normal’ position, he measures around 8 ½” (22cm) from claw tip to end of stinger. Quite a respectable size – and jam-packed with detailed sculpting.

The Movie only ever presents Scorponok in this mode – and so, arguably, the massive mechanical scorpion is his primary mode.

I really cannot express the level of detail on this figure. It is mind-blowing. Every panel, rivet and vent is perfectly sculpted, all over the body. Silver plastic works well on the body, stinger and arms, with steel plates painted to add interest. Gold paint is further used to bring out smaller details. The tail is molded in a lighter coloured silver plastic, also used on the elbow joints. Gold and copper plastics are add relief for the legs, claws, claw cannons, rotating central barrel, head, shoulders and stinger components. The head is flat, and film accurate – although the eyes have been painted entirely red. The overall effect is great, and very accurate to the appearance in the Movie (down to the weird twisted pincers and three cannons per arm, set to rotate). The only slight niggle is that the silver paint used on the head really contrasts with the silver plastics.

Normally a head is a centrepiece of detail on a figure – with Scorponok, the same level of attention has been applied to the entire figure.

The decals are rather interesting. Warnings are printed on the claws, and head (fuel? Odd place to keep that!), while a number (0360) and ‘Rescue’ are printed on the sides of the body. I can only surmise that the toy is meant to represent some high-tech military rescue robot as a disguise. This seems unlikely given the troops’ reaction to the giant mechanical scorpion in the film, and I do prefer the idea that he’s just a big scorpion because that’s what he is. They do not detract from the figure, though.

Of course, no Deception would be complete without the insignia – this time emblazoned just behind the head.

Articulation is totally phenomenal. There are full 15 points, most with multiple plains. And then there’s the gimmick. Roll Scorponok along, and his pincers spin – ala Movie – while the barrel in the centre of his body (nasty spiky looking thing – reminds me of some form of meat grinder!) rotates. The system uses multiple cogs, which is great as it allows the arms to be fully articulated without hindering or putting strain on the mechanism. Of course, there’s also the stinger, which fires forwards, solidly attached to the tail – a nasty piece of work!

The thing I find most striking, in an abstract way, though, is that Scorponok is the smallest Movie figure to have rubber tyres, and yet the film version has no wheels! Still, they are inconspicuous, and allow for the features to work on almost any surface thanks to the grip they afford.

All in all, this mode is more fun than most Transformers deliver with two.


Robot Mode:

Now, here we have it – Dr Robotnik rides again!

To skip back a beat… As I mentioned previously, Scorponok does not transform in the film, remaining in mechanical-mega-death-scorpion mode for the duration of his appearance. So, the robot mode here is arguably a secondary.

The transformation is ridiculously simple. The idea this guy is ‘Skill Level 3’ is comical. You only have to pull his legs out and reposition his arms and head. But anyone who has seen a single photo of the robot mode already knows this, and worked out the transformation scheme before ever seeing the real-live toy on the shelves. This is not a bad thing. Simplicity is very welcome in a line where astronomical complexity and maddening Automorph features are the norm. Of course, if this were to be Scorpy’s robot mode, he would have the shortest and biggest let-down of a transformation shot in any forthcoming Movie (even if they move thousands of random panels to define his features a little more).

However, I for one enjoy the robot mode. Not nearly as much as the scorpion, of course, but certainly enough that I keep on switching from mode to mode.

Measuring around 5” (12.5cm) in height, this is one oddly proportioned ‘bot. As ever, Scorponok’s arms are massive, with the bulbous forearms reminding me a little of Popeye (or, erm, myself…). His head sits a little squat on the shoulders, no matter how you pose it, and he does have a rather elongate body. The short legs do look a little daft without the option of folding the scorpion legs away (which would have been easily possible). Alas, although detail has been molded nicely, in the spirit of the Movie robot designs, no paint has been used on the underside to bring it to the fore.

Still, the fellow has good articulation, especially given the obvious limitations imposed by the spinning barrel and claws. 13 points to be precise. And a great centre of gravity to boot, allowing for fantastic lunging and running poses, even with the heavy claws. The tail can be folded out of the way, so as it never touches the ground in any pose, with the figure still standing tall. However, that tail does irritate me somewhat, just stuck there at his back, totally useless in this mode.

The spinning claw feature still works in this mode, with the rubber wheels easily accessible from the front or back. The stinger, though, is rather hazardous – in serious danger of piercing Scorpy’s chest!

The robot mode is certainly not the highlight of this line, or toy. However, it is rather good fun, and nicely poseable – more a bonus to the toy, considering a robot mode is not shown in the film, and Hasbro could have gotten away with a single mode action-packed figure. Instead, we get an action-packed figure with a phenomenal scorpion mode and serviceable robot mode. Pretty good I’d say. Plus, he actually has a transformation a child could manage and enjoy.


In Combination with Voyager Blackout:

As a side note, and yet another bonus, Deluxe Scorponok can combine with Voyager Blackout. With both in alternate mode and Scorponok’s tail folded beneath his body, Scorpy can be clipped to the copter’s underside. Massive scale difference aside, there is much fun to be had – now, by pressing Blackout’s rotor button, not only do these rotate, but so do Scorponok’s pincers and central barrel! Great fun!


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 1 – There is no chance of difficulty here. But kudos to the designers for building in such articulation with the spinning features!
Durability: 8 – Scorponok is pretty solid, and the use of cogs should mean the features last (as long as they are not abused). However, for some reason pins have been used to attach many pieces, and in my experience these almost always go sometime.
Fun:10 – Scorponok comes up trumps on fun! You have to play with him to believe it. And, as a Scorpion, he should please anyone who collects for display.
Price: 7 – 10 - As Deluxe, Scorpy costs around £10 ($20) in the UK, or $10 in the US. However, he is also available in the ‘Decepticon Desert Attack’ 2-pack with Voyager Blackout at Toys R Us in the US, at $25 – an excellent price for both figures (and thanks to my bro, the way I got ‘em – for equivalent to around £12.50! now that’s a bargain!).
Overall: 9 – Scorponok is an excellent play figure for kids, or those of us who never grew up. However, he also offers a great and highly detailed representation of the one mode displayed in the 2007 live action Movie. The robot mode, also great fun, lacks on visual appeal for many, knocking him down a notch. But, in my opinion, this guy could not be better.

* The mini-Scorponok PVC, included with the Voyager Blackout toy, is 1/110 using Blackout's scale. It's 1 1/8 inch long from nose to base of tail. That gives a real length of 123 inches, which works out to roughly the size of a car. That's consistent with what's seen in the desert attack scene, so it's realible enough to apply to the deluxe. The same dimension on the deluxe version (head to base of tale) is 3 1/8", and that works out to a scale of roughly 1/40. -Clay

 
 
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