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Blackjack's Review: Kreon 'Ultimate Collection' Five-packs

Kreon ‘Ultimate Collection’ Five Packs
Set One: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Sentinel Prime, Soundwave, plus mystery character (Starscream)
Set Two: Bumblebee, Jazz, Red Alert, Mirage, plus mystery character (Skywarp)

Introdump time!

Generally, side-toylines don’t get too much publicity, but Hasbro’s Transformers brand is starting to branch out outside their comfort zone of transforming robots. One of the more prolific attempts is the ‘Kre-O’ subline. Crudely put, Kre-O is a ripoff of Lego.

See, to those unaccustomed to Lego, Lego sets generally have giant playsets made out of building blocks which you build, as well as little cute minifigures made out of three parts – the head, the body (and hands) and the legs, plus whatever hat or cape or lightsaber or accessory you see fit. It’s great, since it really saves the costs of making new molds. Anyway, Hasbro released ‘Kre-O’ at around 2011, which is, again, a Lego ripoff. They even use similarly-sized pegs and whatnot.

Kre-O is based mainly on G1 aesthetics, but with some movie influences seeping in. Now, I don’t really care for the ridiculously expensive sets with building blocks where you can build big, unwieldy robot or alternate modes. I don’t like those, you get blocks left over and I am really, really bad at tracking spare parts like these. Anyway you have to take apart the huge set to ‘transform’ it into the alternate mode, which is irritating. It’s not like Lego Batmobiles or X-Wings where you just build it and you get an awesome-looking interactive toy that you happen to build out of bricks yourself. Maybe I’m missing something, but I really dislike this.

What piqued my interest, however, are the Kreons included in these sets. See, these are basically minifigures. So the big Optimus Prime building set came with cute, adorable minifigures of Optimus Prime, Bluestreak, Skywarp and two random humans. Humans eventually get phased out because Hasbro remembered no one buys Transformers products to get human toys.

But adorable as it is, I’m not going to waste a ridiculous amount of money to get the Kreon minifigures. It’s not until they announced Kreon Microchangers, basically Kreons but with extra parts so they’re allowed to transform. I bought the entire first wave – Spinister, Scorponok, Sunstorm, Galvatron, Waspinator and some random white Hound repaint. They’re cute, no? And they’re relatively (emphasis on relatively) cheap.

Well, those six suck. They’ve got terrible quality control, stress marks appear everywhere, and their pathetic ‘transformation’ included a lot of surplus parts and whatnot. Also Sunstorm and Scorponok aside they look nothing like what they’re supposed to be, being cheap repaints and everything. Admittedly I should’ve realized this before buying them. Anyway, I kind of forgot about these dudes. They’re adorable enough to maintain a place in my collection but I’ve since lost every other part they had other than the ones that are attached to their robot modes.

A year or so later, Kre-O sets dominate half of the Transformers product on retail, which pisses me off since I have no desire to buy any of sets. But one day I chanced upon a new Kre-O product. A ‘Five-Set Ultimate Kreon Collection’. Just minifigures of characters I love which were initially included with the larger, expensive sets. They were relatively cheap, and didn’t come with that terrible surplus transforming gimmick of the Microchangers.

So I brought one set. I built them. They are cute. I bought the other. And then I started buying the new Microchanger sets randomly, but that’s a story for another time.

Let’s get to the gist of the minifigures themselves, shall we? Since these guys aren’t exactly standard transformers, I’ll go over them in general, then one by one quickly and then give my final thoughts in the mark section below.

In General:
So each Kreon is made out of at least four parts: the helmet, the head, the body and the legs. And you can swap them for zaniness, but I prefer not to. All of them come with a gun as well. Most Kreon minifigures have an additional part or two to replicate their proper appearances, although since these guys aren’t the more expensive (and extensive) Microchangers they don’t get much in lieu of additional parts.

These guys are relatively well-articulated. The heads turn although you’re more liable to turn the helmet instead of the head. The head is pretty tightly attached to the body piece, whereas the helmet piece generally isn’t. It’s a point of annoyance for me, since the helmet often pops off and roll onto the floor if you so much as turn some of the minifigures upside-down. On mine, Starscream, Skywarp, Sentinel Prime and Jazz are especially prone to this.

Their hands can turn around a full 360 degrees. Their shoulders can swing around and can angle a bit here and there so they can adorably point the guns at their opposing faction. The main difference with Lego lies in the lower body. Instead of boxy hinged legs that Lego minifigures have, Kreon minifigures have ball-jointed legs, and they have rotational waist joints. While this allows more freedom of movement such as sideways leg moving, this also wreaks havoc with balance if the legs are not aligned properly. In the end there’s not much of a difference, and arguably on some of my microchangers said ball joints have shown stress marks, but hey.

Both Lego and Kreon minifigures are near-identical in size, so you can swap them around for additional zaniness. Be warned, though – Kreon helmets, especially those that warp around the entire head like Optimus’ or Soundwave’s, will grip very tightly to Lego heads. Apparently Lego heads are larger than Kreon heads, or something to that effect? I haven’t tried mix-and-matching them with the few Lego minifigures I own, but whatever.

Optimus Prime:
Most characters are based on their G1 appearances unless noted. Optimus Prime is pretty iconic, and he comes with wheel pieces that plug onto the sides of his feet, a special helmet piece, smokestack pieces that peg onto his arms, and a unique weapon based on the G1 character’s iconic ion rifle. It’s a bit long so Optimus has to hold it at an angle. It’s unmistakably Optimus Prime, and they certainly put much more effort into making him recognizable. Hasbro had a lot of fun with the head pieces, especially those that are covered with faceplates like Optimus. Of course, if you remove the helmet-mask thing, Optimus has a stern line of a mouth under it.

Megatron:
Megatron is a basic minifigure with a unique helmet based on Megatron’s unique bucket-headed helmet. His chest has some nice detailing evocative of the G1 toy. Indeed, most Kreon minifigures have some pretty awesomely detailed chest art for such simple toys. Megatron’s got a tiny adorable fusion cannon that clips onto his arm. I don’t really have much to say about Megatron. He looks very happy to be in a super-deformed cute form.

Soundwave:
The more serious a character is, the more funny it is when something ridiculous happens to him. This truth holds credit, for minifigure Soundwave looks positively adorable. It has its iconic serious, emotionless face (with yellow toy visor) and that iconic tape-deck chest. No buttons, though, sadly. Soundwave comes with a little black handgun based on G1 Megatron’s alternate mode, which I thought is pretty cool. I said before, they had fun with heads under helmets… for Soundwave it isn’t a face, but rather he’s got some sort of crazy creepy speaker-mouth deal going on. Unnecessarily creepy, but ridiculously funny.

Sentinel Prime:
The Kre-O line was released around the time of the Dark of the Moon movie. You can tell by the fact that Sentinel Prime gets one of the bigger sets as part of Kre-O’s first wave, and thus his minifigure is included in here. The problem is, while the large Sentinel Prime playset is basically ‘Movie Sentinel Prime with Animated Sentinel’s head’, the Kreon is very vague. It’s mostly red with a yellow chest. The yellow chest has some sort of generic kibble, a bunch of headlights and not much else to go on with. He comes with a large rifle. His helmet is a generic thing with head crests and spikes and whatever you call them, which is only good for repainting into other characters that suit the helmet better like Galvatron. He really doesn’t look like Animated, Movie or G1 incarnations of Sentinel Prime, but some kind of oversimplified amalgamation of them. Thus I feel absolutely no attachment whatsoever to this dude and he’s my least favourite because of that.

Starscream:
Starscream looks just like an oversimplified version of his classic G1 design, just like the rest of the guys here. I’m going to hazard a guess that he’s going to be repainted into the rest of the Seekers as well. Starscream comes with a ‘wing’ piece which slides into the ‘neck’ of the minifigure between the head and the main body, giving Starscream wings. In addition, he has the trademark Seeker shoulder-cannons clipped onto his arms. Starscream has a G1-accurate helmet which has a ridiculous tendency to pop off.

Bumblebee:
Bumblebee is surprisingly fully based on the G1 design, instead of the more common ‘Movie Body with G1 Head’ most modern interpretations of Bumblebee like to have. Instead he’s got the detailing of the original Volkswagen roof on his chest. Bumblebee’s pretty basic, just a standard Kreon with a Bumblebee helmet and the same small handgun shared by many other minifigures.

Jazz:
Jazz has a pretty basic design, except of course with his iconic chest appearance. He’s got that cocky grin of his, and his helmet comes complete with Jazz’s trademark visor which covers his eyes. I told you, Kreon designers like having fun, and in this case they gave Jazz a pair of real eyes under the visor. I like it… calls back to two obscure panels in the ‘Target 2006’ comic where Jazz has eyes under his visor like some sort of baseball cap. Jazz has a similar wing accessory like Starscream did, except his accessory is in the form of a car door wing assembly. Oversized car door wings, which simply looks ridiculous as it takes up Jazz’s entire torso/abdomen. Kind of disproportionate. Jazz comes with the same tiny gun as Bumblebee.

Mirage:
Pretty standard, no additional pieces here. Mirage’s pretty faithful to his original appearance, with chest decals resembling the front end of his original F1 Racecar alternate mode, plus a special semicircle Mirage helmet just for him. He comes with the same small gun as Bumblebee and Jazz.

Red Alert:
Red Alert shares his design, of course, with Sideswipe. Sideswipe gets his own big Kre-O set, but not Red Alert. Red Alert has the same helmet as Sideswipe does, of course, but is much more detailed, with even the fire chief emblem and words being tampographed onto his chest. It’s pretty nice. Fitting his paranoid personality, Red Alert comes with a humongous gun similar to the one Sentinel Prime uses. Neither Red nor Sentinel can point this gun straight down, so they have to hold it at an angle. Have fun balancing Red Alert! Red Alert and Mirage has absolutely identical face pieces. It’s a conspiracy. It’s an adorable face-stealing conspiracy.

Skywarp:
Skywarp is the ‘bonus’ minifigure for the second five-pack, which was someone I wasn’t expecting. I’m not sure who I was expecting… Sideswipe, Ratchet, Prowl maybe, because they each had sets of their own, whereas Skywarp is just someone packed into the big Optimus Prime set. I am a big, big Skywarp fan, and it is a very pleasant surprise to acquire this adorable representation of Skywarp. Other than the obvious difference in colours, he’s otherwise nigh-identical to Starscream. He’s got a different face as well, a serious frown… which is a shame. Skywarp is a jerk, dumb prankster; he should have a mischievous smile.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 0/10 They do not transform.

Durability: 6/10 They’ve survived a lot of harsh falls due to their unstable footing, and they certainly seem to be made of sturdier plastic than the Microchanger preview wave. However, past unpleasant experiences with stress marks put me on hold of giving these guys anything high, since as of the moment of writing I’ve only owned them for a short while. Also, they have tampographed paint which may scratch off with harsh handling.

Aesthetics: 9/10 I really, really like the simplified, minimalist chibi look of these guys. They do look all sorts of adorable. Of course, not everyone might feel this way.

Articulation: 5/10 Yeah, they can’t really articulate much. I mean, enough to get the point across, but they won’t be doing anything pretty extensive. They’ve got decent leg movement, but they’re likely to topple over if you don’t stand them on a Lego (sorry, Kre-O) brick. Granted, it’s pretty much what you expect from a Lego minifigure or a ripoff thereof…

Fun: 7/10 Despite myself I find myself having quite a bit of fun putting them together and posing them. There’s also the thrill of opening a pack without knowing what character you will get.

Price/Value: 5/10 This is where it hurts the most, I think. For the five-packs it isn’t that unreasonable, but I really think that any set with bricks or additional surplus parts are not worth the increase in price, especially when my experiences with the more expensive sets are pretty painful.

Overall: 7/10 I have to give these Kreons minifigures a positive review. I’m on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to the building blocks themselves, and will take the opportunity to once again bash the preview wave of Microchangers for their shoddy durability, but these minifigures are adorable, satisfactory and all-around pretty fun little guys. Overall it’s up for you to decide whether they’re worth your money or not. For me, I really like how these adorable little guys break up the monotony of my collection.
 
 
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