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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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SKL

The Reverend's review: Sky Lynx (reissue)

Name: Sky Lynx
Generation: One (Encore)
Faction: Autobot
Function: Lieutenant Commander
First Cartoon Appearance: "Five Faces of Darkness"

"The best achievements are worth repeating."
A powerful fighter. Self-centered and boastful. Fearless, daring, believes himself to be superior to many of his fellow Autobots. Shell-resistant and steel-reinforced hull can withstand enemy bombardment and extreme temperature variations. Possesses solar powered auxiliary engines. Acetylene blaster inside cockpit shoots 3000 degree Celsius flames. As space shuttle, has interplanetary travel capabilities -- maximum speed 30,000 mph, range 40,000,000 miles.


Due to his unusual appearance and configuration, Sky Lynx was one of the most easily recognizable of the characters introduced in the post-movie episodes of the G1 cartoon, and one of the few to display a consistent, obvious characterization as well - even if it was suffering egotism and condescension. Although he sometimes appeared in a stopgap role whenever the Autobots needed space transport (much like Omega Supreme in the pre-movie episodes), the writers also put him in a clear feud against Predaking in the early post-movie episodes. As a toy, Sky Lynx (and Omega Supreme, interestingly) were held to have been designed by Toy Box (and therefore not considered for reissue) - however, it appears that after Takara merged with Tomy, it was brought out that Tomy had actually designed the two space-faring robots for Toy Box, thus clearing the way for both to be reissued as part of the Encore line. For the Sky Lynx toy, the Encore release is actually the first in Japan.


Alternate Mode:
Sky Lynx is, specifically, a U.S. space shuttle orbiter, furnished with a crawler pad to carry it on the ground. The crawler is almost nonsensical in a way, as orbiters have wheels, and how does an orbiter take off from a crawler pad with no fuel tank and boosters? The cartoon depicted the crawler as a sort of "transport module", meaning that it (theoretically, at least) allowed Sky Lynx to carry around more than the small crew compartment of your standard United States orbiter vehicle. Whatever you make of this, the orbiter itself really is a nice replica of the real thing, with gold windows, large Autobot symbols on the wings, and lengthy golden stickers down the sides (these are somewhat difficult to apply) and on the tail - I assume these are probably the solar panels to power the auxiliary engines mentioned in the tech specs, or perhaps they just needed something to break up all that white. (I've seen people refer to them as "windows", but as shuttle orbiters don't have windows down the side I'm not buying that designation - plus, the tail has the same design, and you know there wouldn't be any windows in the tail for sure.) The cargo bay doors don't open like the real thing, although a segment of them towards the tail does to reveal some golden object that isn't removable from the shuttle (more of those engines, maybe?). The shuttle's rear engines are molded in black - very much like the real thing, with three primary engines, two smaller ones and the small thrusters as well. The underside is just white (no black heat-resistant shielding), and while the vehicle as a whole looks very nice and realistic, the underside does feature the dinobird legs folded out of the way. The orbiter also features some molding that reasonably mimics the U.S. shuttle, with the vents on the nose and some paneling etched on the body, including some semblance of the tiling on the edges of the wings, and the rudder on the tail plainly represented. Again, the lack of the black highlight is a bit distracting, but the shape overall is generally better than Astrotrain and Blast-Off, so I guess you have to allow some giving for for what you get.

The crawler is somewhat less interesting visually, but then again, who pays much attention to a crawler pad? Its a blue rectangular piece, very obviously the "lynx" portion of the toy, with its legs obviously folded up along its sides (the white hips and red legs don't exactly help). It has smaller gold (solar panel?) stickers on its sides and an Autobot symbol on the front. Equipping the crawler with batteries allows it to do its job by creeping along the ground, and pegs on the top attach it to the shuttle. I'm not particularly hip to the minute details of crawler pads, but it's got a lot of small details along its top - panels, small hatches, a few vents and so forth. Underneath it boasts two free-rolling wheels in front. In the rear it has two slider switches for the battery functions, an off/on switch and one labeled "WALK" and "ROLL". When this slider is in the "WALK" position with the power turned off, the crawler can freewheel like any Autobot car. Setting it to ROLL locks the rear wheels until the power is turned on.

Robot Mode:
First we'll deal with the separate modes. If you've ever seen a picture of Sky Lynx in dinobird or combined mode, you don't really need instructions here - the legs fold down from under the orbiter, blue wings slip out from the edges of the shuttle wings, and the rear engines open on a hinge to allow you to pull out the long red tail, which has the shuttle tail festooned on its end. Opening the top panel just behind the crew compartment allows you to pull out the similarly long red neck, which will carry along two side panels from the shuttle. Sky Lynx's mouth opens from the bottom of the cockpit, with its pointed teeth (notably, they did recess the lower jaw, meaning that the teeth aren't visible in the orbiter mode). The feet have bent toes and ankle joints which allow the bird to stand relatively well if you use the tail for support - hey, birds don't stand with their bodies parallel to the ground, you know. One thing is, though, since the bird-legs are short, you'll have to leave that hinge piece open, and that's annoying. The neck has at least three joints allowing some vertical snaking, and the tail has four, with the shuttle tail at the end. Sky Lynx's sole weapon, the acetylene blaster, is located inside his mouth (seen, I believe, in "Call of the Primitives"), but what's interesting is that in all the G1 versions I've seen, this blaster was red - whereas in the Encore version I'm looking at, the blaster is grey - and it appears that the inside of the mouth features a red interior for the lower jaw as well as the upper. The blaster is mounted high in the mouth, allowing enough room for Sky Lynx to bite other Transformers.

As for the lynx, unfolding the legs requires no real mention, the head flips out from the front, and twin red tails pull out from the rear. Basic stuff. The motorized function allows the lynx to walk on its own, which seems like a pointless gimmick if not for its sheer size. Most Transformers, standing on only two feet in robot mode, are seriously easy to push over by a stiffly stomping lynx. The lynx itself has little poseability, given that its main function is to stand and walk around. Its large, robotic paws provide adequate support, when placed properly it's not easy to knock over. The golden lynx head is sculpted nicely, even with its molded, toothless, hinge-less jaw, and features angled blue eyes. Oddly, it reminds me a lot of the red "Voltron" lion. Notably, the legs do lock somewhat into position when extended, which helps prevent them from folding under the weight of the lynx's body. Why it has twin tails I don't know, but... Regardless of it bearing somewhat more resemblance to an Imperial walker than a sleek, lithe lynx, it's still a pretty cool entry for G1 - again, half the fun is activating its walk function and letting it stomp through a floor full of precariously standing Decepticons. To some degree, you can also let other Autobots ride on its back.

Combined Mode:

Simple - retract the lynx's head and tails back into its body, fold up the dinobird feet, and attach the two halves together by matching the pegs on top of the lynx body to the holes in the underside of the dinobird. Doing so results in the vaguely saurian Sky Lynx combined mode. This mode retains the walking abilities of the lynx, so you can now happily knock over larger Decepticons (a Chinese Bruticus KO is a favorite in our house) by pointing Sky Lynx in the right direction. Looking at this mode, one does get a sense that the shuttle orbiter is positioned a bit "too far back" on the lynx. This is to avoid the combined vehicle mode being too heavy in the front, but it admittedly bugs me nonetheless. Still, in this mode Sky Lynx retains most of the neck and tail posability from his dinobird mode - he can hold his head up high in sauropod style, or he can look down to sneer at Scamper. I imagine as the joints loosen he tends to spend more time doing the latter. The height gained from adding the lynx component allows you to fully close the hinged engines on the back of the orbiter, since Sky Lynx's tail now has room to hang down. The color opposition between the white orbiter and blue crawler is notable, but Autobots were frequently bright in color and having the light color on top helps keep this from being a big visual distraction. Bottom line, he wasn't a Diaclone or a later Takara/Hasbro design, so he looks a little different in the Autobot ranks. He's quite tall in this mode, certainly large enough to square off with Predaking in a duel worthy of any Godzilla flick.



Transformation: Pretty obvious if you know what the finished product is supposed to look like, although the release buttons on the lynx legs can be relatively easy to miss. The snakelike, multi-jointed neck and tail are unusual for G1, but after a couple of times transforming him back and forth you'll get a feel for it.
Durability: Now here's a problem. I can't tell you how many banged-up, smashed and otherwise dismembered Sky Lynxes I've seen out there. The orbiter is particularly vulnerable due to all the projecting pieces (wings, neck, tail, legs), and the neck and tail joints have several weak points that can be broken during transformation. Use a light touch and be very, very careful. The neck and tail joints aren't well supported, so I imagine they tend to droop over time - no problem for the tail, but I wager that's a real annoyance for the head.
Fun: With Trypticon and Omega Supreme I did not much care about the "walking" gimmick. With Sky Lynx it's a different story. Once that wears off, though, you may find he's just too big and bulky for play.
Price: Sky Lynx has always been pricey in the post-G1 era. The upside is that since he came with no removable accessories, finding a complete one is relatively easy. The downside is that with his fragility, finding a complete one you would want to own is tricky. The Encore version sells for about $80 - which made me hesitate until I realized that a used G1 would very likely be at least that much, and since I had been curious about him since it came out in the 1980s...
Overall: Sky Lynx is a unique entry in the line - there's certainly nothing else in G1 quite like him.
 
 
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