Numbat's review of: Scourge
Sweep / Herald of Unicron
Constructed of Decepticon wreckage.
After the catastrophic battle in which both Megatron and Optimus Prime were mortally damaged, the fleeing Decepticon forces dumped the ruined bodies of their former comrades into space to lighten their load. In the void of deep space, the wreckage drifted until an ancient creature known as Unicron swallowed it up, melted it down, and used it to create a host of mechanical servants. Among this host was a squad of elite tracker-terminators known as the Sweeps, led by the deadly and silent Scourge.
Screaming down out of the night sky of Cybertron, Scourge and his troops fell upon Autobot and Decepticon alike, destroying all those who stood against them. They were the first in a long line of heralds and servants to the evil Unicron, and to this day many of the streets and buildings of Cybertron carry the scars left by their powerful disintegration cannons.
Scourge. An excellent name for starters, and one that has had some excellent designs, despite being different characters. But as with many Transformers names, it all began with G1.
As his Unique Feature professes, Scourge was indeed created from Decepticon wreckage. A damaged Thundercracker (I believe the most likely candidate) to be precise. After the battle at Autobot City on Earth in Transformers: The Movie, Starscream ensured that he could take control of the Decepticons by having all damaged ‘bots jettisoned from Astrotrain (for fuel efficiency and safe return to Cybertron for the fit) – which included the mangled Megatron. Actually an ingenious way of finally removing the Decepticon leader from his position, rather than his somewhat variable (and often incompetent) blatant attempts in the past.
Floating in space, Unicron reformatted the damaged Decepticons, creating Galvatron from Megatron, and a number of other minions from the remaining casualties.
Scourge was placed third in the hierarchy, below Cyclonus (either Bombshell or Skywarp – the film is rather unclear here – but I’m a fan of the latter), and commanded the first homogenous group of Decepticons, bar Insecticlones (not even warranting divergent colour schemes from their leader!) – the Sweeps.
Scourge is actually given a good degree of character development in Season 3 of the G1 cartoon, and is hardly the silent type as described in the bio. He comes across as rather intelligent, but wary of crossing the line of insubordination even when given absurd orders from the insane Galvatron. However, he is pushed beyond this line by the ghost of Starscream, and after this point he seems a little more willing to follow his own judgement – even taking possession of the Autobot Matrix!
He is one of my favourite characters, and I never owned the original G1 figure. When I saw the first images of the 6” Titanium release, I was excited – and flabbergasted that such a random character would get the redo treatment! I was also a little concerned, given the mixed results of the 6” Titanium line to date, but was determined to get hold of him.
Alas, his availability has been rather lacking in the UK, and even online, with the few I have come across being exorbitantly priced. Luckily for me, Clay came across one and was willing to post it across the pond.
But, how has Scourge fared? Well. Rather well indeed…
As I never expected an updated version of G1 Scourge, I can’t say that he is ‘obviously his traditional hovercraft-come-spaceship’. However, I can still say that this is precisely what his alternate mode turns out to be!
Measuring 6” (15cm) long on the dot, Scourge’s alternate mode is super sleek, and far more interesting that his G1 figure ever managed to be. He still keeps all the hallmarks of the G1 character here, from the blue-grey hull to central disintegration cannon and flanking turbines / jets.
While keeping the design so similar to the G1 version, there have been a number of subtle changes. The most obvious of these is to the overall shape of the vehicle – which is now less rounded, far thinner in cross-section and rather pointed at the nose. The rear, also, has become an interesting cut ‘V’ shape, with the protruding box engine.
The markings have also changed, subtly. In place of the single Decepticon logo in the centre of the rear blue section, Scourge now has two symbols, directed in either direction, with a gold ribbed mechanical feature between. The simple blue bow-moon shape at the front has been replaced by a highly angular ‘V’ design, fitting with his new shape and raised rear blue section with gold highlights. The ridges at either side of the nose have been painted blue, while the locations of the piston stickers in the G1 figure are now nicely ridged. The front of the nose, finally, finds itself painted a dark grey – almost black.
The molding is also superb, with the smooth surface broken by panels and small vents. Four of these vents are painted grey – quite delicately (with another six on the underside).
I think it is important to mention that the sides of the ship do not suffer from the large gaps shown on the stock photos, and packaging. Instead, the halves fit quite flush.
There are only a few minor negatives here. The first is that, despite lovely detailing and paint work on the underside, you can see the splayed thighs of the robot mode. The second is that the flanking turbines / jets are molded from a rigid rubber, which seems keen to snap, or at least crack paintwork at the slightest push.
Still, the whole shebang is very fun, and an excellent detailed representation of the Seekers’ alternate modes in the G1 cartoon. It certainly looks very deadly! And, of course, one of the best features of this design is the lack of any cockpit. This is a functional mode, not meant for disguise.
Scourge is the
original shellformer. There is no way to get around this in any updated version, and, to be honest, there is no reason to – the design works beautifully. And, what’s more is that the Titanium version’s transformation is actually even simpler than the G1 original! Eking it out, with each movement a separate cell, the instructions still only amass four stages. So, if you can’t do this guy without the instructions, you’re a lost cause…
The robot mode presents an interesting fusion of G1 toy, cartoon and an updated design. It is worth noting, though, that at 5 ½” (14cm) tall, he doesn’t quite meet with the Titanium 6” standard, and does look rather slight when next to other figures from the line. However, his wingspan is over 6” (15cm), and his size is fairly accurate against Rodimus Prime – allowing re-enactment of that most excellent of G1 cartoon episodes – ‘The Burden Hardest to Bear’.
Whereas the G1 toy was rather spindly, and the cartoon incarnation somewhat ripped, this new version meets them both halfway. Titanium Scourge has broad shoulders and a large chest, without becoming ridiculous, and keeps well proportioned arms (although his forearms remind me of Popeye [emphasised by closed fists – no guns for Scourge], I also get similar remarks…). He leans more towards the smooth curves of the Cybertronian cartoon designs than the more bricklike toy, and actually looks rather marvelous with all his intricate sculpting. There are sufficient techno-features on his chest, while the yellow crotch sticker from the G1 toy has become a nice gold design, elevated a little. The Decepticon insignia is on the right shoulder, and looks great.
In aid of a better robot mode design, the light grey upper thighs of the original find themselves swapped with the deep blue lower legs. This keeps all of Scourge’s blue at the core of his body, and works nicely. Blue and gold designs also break the monotony on those big wings – which, incidentally, have been designed so as to look angular and broad, just as in the original cartoon – a huge improvement over the G1 effort in this area!
The head sculpt is interesting. As everyone will remember, Scourge had one of the most human looking faces of G1, even boasting a moustache! In what I assume is an attempt to make Scourge a little more mechanical, this updated version has a far more angular face, while keeping all the hallmarks of the original – including a segment of face painted silver resembling his moustache, without be quite so obvious and out of place. It is an interesting interpretation, which helps the figure fit in with more modern Transformer toy designs (excluding Armada…). For some reason, though, it just looks rather broad to me, in contract to the gaunt G1 original. This is an optical illusion, I am sure. To round him off, of course, there is that disintegration cannon, perched large and in charge on to of his head.
Objectivity requires me to point out that a shellformer design such as Scourge allows for the possibility of excellent articulation. Unfortunately, for whatever unfathomable reasons, Titanium Scourge has not benefited fully from this. Although his arms seem to have reasonable articulation, the limits of movement are severe for no good reason, his legs also suffer and there is no waist rotation. And, of course, his head can do nothing other than nod! Despite being a fan of this figure, I cannot help but feel that this has been something of a missed opportunity for the designers – especially given the wonders of other, more complex, figures in the line.
Marks out of ten for the following:
3 – Very simple, but perfect.
6 – Overall well put together, but he does have loose knees and some parts (such as the side turbines) seem ready to snap off at a glance, once you get to know them.
7 – He is good fun, but poseability is inexplicably lacking.
5 – Availability seems a little thin, and some retailers are capitalising on this, as well as the amazing fact that such a character was released in the first place. Although he ought to cost around £15 ($30) in the UK, he goes for rather more (up to £30 [$60]). The US shelf price of around $15 (£7.50) is far more reasonable!
7 – Does he warrant this high grade, given the other marks? I’d say so. The updated design is beautiful, despite its shortcomings. Certainly a great display piece for any G1 fan, and great fun to transform, if nothing else!