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Blackjack's Review: Transformers Legends Nightbird Shadow

Name: Nightbird Shadow
Allegiance: Decepticon
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: Two guns, two swords, two sais

So, while all of us who receive toys from the Hasbro market dealt with Thrilling 30, Combiner Wars and Titans Return, Takara had a whole slew of different lines. Legends and Unite Warriors take the place of Generations, and while the same toys are released, not all are released equally. And sometimes Takara just makes brand-new repaints and retools. One of those is Nightbird, a retool of Arcee from the Thrilling 30 portion of the Generations line. Here’s a review of that toy. Here’s another review.

In Japan, Arcee gets retooled with a new head, and released as Nightbird, which is the subject of this particular review. Now, who is Nightbird? G1 cartoon fans will immediately have an answer because they remember that one episode in season two where Megatron steals a gigantic Transformer-sized robot ninja lady created by humans, making Starscream jealous. Nightbird is a one-and-done deal character – actually, not even that, and I’m being super generous in calling her a character. Nightbird is a personality-less plot device in a single unmemorable episode (which rabid genwunners will swear up and down is a masterpiece in writing). She’s kind of whatever – her design isn’t all that great, looking absolutely generic... which is an absolute crime, considering she’s a giant robot ninja. You’re going to design a robot ninja – at least make her look cool. Put your damn hand down, Drift.

Yet she’s a lady, and she’s also reprogrammed by the Decepticons one time, so a not insignificant portion of the fandom end up really, really liking her and pretend she’s perfect waifu material to Megatron and/or Starscream… despite Nightbird having literally less personality than a brick. I’m not even saying she’s badly written, I’m saying she literally is voiceless, devoid of a soul, devoid of a personality… and yet people write fan fiction about her and Megatron. I tried to google some examples of the Nightbird fanfiction but what the shit, man, the first one I clicked had very… vivid (if poorly written) descriptions of what some people imagine how robots have sexytimes. And now I am traumatized.

So, yeah, as you can tell, I have a very, very low opinion of the G1 cartoon, and even less about Nightbird. But someone gave me this toy as a gift… and I am loathe to say that… it’s actually a good toy, and as such Nightbird is at least somewhat redeemed in my head because I have a pretty awesome toy of her.

Nightbird’s never been made into a toy before, so this “Nightbird Shadow” toy is the very, very first toy of her, like, ever.

She comes with a comic, presumably explaining how she went from being buried and forgotten into a transforming body. I don't really read Japanese, but it features chibi Nightbird interacting with Sixshot, freaking G2 Road Rocket and Road Pig, Wapsinator, Terrorsaur, Blackarachnia and both G1 and Beast Megatron. Japan, people!

Alternate Mode:
Nightbird transforms into, well, the exact same car that Arcee turns into. Except better, in that it’s not a solid blob of pink. Nightbird’s alternate mode has equal proportions of black and silver, with purple seats (it’s a convertible) and a transparent yellow windshield. I’ve never seen the Generations Arcee mould at all prior to owning this toy, so I’m definitely impressed that very little of Nightbird’s robot mode is visible, and what little that is (her thighs) blend in very well with the silhouette of her actually well-designed vehicle mode. Really a big fan of how the front end of her car ended up looking. Yes, it’s a pretty simple black-and-silver scheme, but it’s a paint scheme that works. I definitely find her to look far superior to Arcee.

She pegs in together pretty well in vehicle mode, which also allows you to store the guns on her underbelly. She rolls on the floor pretty decently, though I’m worried that the paint on Nightbird’s robot-mode crotch will get kind of scratched up a little.

The new additions to Nightbird are two brand-new sai accessories that can plug onto Nightbird’s thighs in vehicle mode, but it’s a pretty car and I don’t want to ruin it by slapping all sorts of weapons on it. There’s really not much for me to say here other than Nightbird’s a pretty car.

Robot Mode:
Nightbird’s a bit of a shell-former, with her entire car mode folding up to form a backpack. Her legs and arms extend out, and the front-most end of her car mode ends up forming her chest. In Nightbird’s case, though, the kibble backpack is a lot more visible because all the car parts are black plastic, whereas almost the entirety of Nightbird’s robot mode is silver. Her lower arms, part of her waist, her feet and her kneecaps are all black, but for the most part she’s either gray or silver. There are some purple bits, like her faceplate, her belly, and some yellow highlights on her eyes and stomach… I don’t care enough for Nightbird’s original cartoon appearance to actually look up and check, but this is Takara we’re talking about, so I’m sure she’s 100% cartoon-accurate, kibble-backpack aside.

Nightbird is a ninja, and ninjas need articulation. Fortunately, the Generations Arcee mould provides that – she’s missing a working waist, but her head is ball-jointed, and she’s got articulation points at her shoulders, elbows, thighs, knees and ankles, and despite some slight top-heaviness, her splayed-out feet make her actually pretty stable, and able to strike a fair amount of badass poses. The new Nightbird headsculpt… probably resembles the cartoon character? Nightbird’s new head has a chin that juts down and gets in the way of fully turning her head sideways without jutting her chin up.

So Nightbird comes with a lot of accessories. She’s got two ugly, stumpy-looking swords that don’t look threatening. She comes with two different guns, one a smaller pistol and the other a far more dangerous-looking carbine. The guns can be latched onto the sides of her thighs, or she can hold them. Ditto for the swords – there are also hardpoints on her lower arms, but the swords still look very chunky and un-stabby. Nightbird comes with brand-new sai weapons, though, and these look better. She can hold them with her hands, they can be attached to the thigh-hardpoints similar to the guns, or you can attach them to the lower arms to become like some sort of a Wolverine-esque configuration.

I can’t really find anything at fault about Nightbird, actually. She’s got great articulation, she’s got a great robot mode (that’s not at all sexualized but still feminine), a pretty cool paint scheme, a lot of accessories… yeah.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: It’s a bit of a shell-former transformation, but it still manages to be very fun to fiddle with, while retaining a very distinctive and relatively clean alternate mode… and, well, Arcee’s robot mode is kind of impossible to properly make into a toy. I don’t really mind this. 7/10

Durability: Nightbird’s made out of some sturdy plsatic, though the location of her, um, crotch does put it in direct contact with the ground if you roll her around too much in vehicle mode. Other than that, short of losing her accessories I don’t think you’ll break her unless you’re a huge brute. 8/10

Price/Value: I have no freaking clue how much she costs. A quick google in Amazon shows that she’s slightly more than double the price of a Generations deluxe class toy, but that’s probably due to import values. I got her as a gift, which in turn was brought at retail. At retail price she’s a lot more forgiving, and easy six or seven score, but still, for the purposes of a large chunk of the fandom that doesn’t live in Asia, her price is way too steep. 2/10

Fun: I had a surprising amount of fun fiddling around with this robot ninja car and her many, many accessories. She’s now hanging out with Drift, other Drift, Windblade and Bludgeon in a weird Japanese ninja cosplay club. 9/10

Aesthetics: It’s a very simple black-and-silver paint scheme, but Nightbird does make it look good. Especially in vehicle mode. 8/10

Articulation: The lack of the waist joint and her top-heaviness hinder her some, but surprisingly enough she can strike a lot more poses than some of the other deluxe class toys on my desk. 7/10

Overall: Nightbird is surprisingly a very solid toy. I’ve owned her for a couple of months now so it’s not the New Toy Syndrome talking – partly it’s due to the already very decent Arcee mould, but her added sai accessories and pretty cool-looking paint scheme just make her an unexpectedly delightfully fun toy to play with. Even if she’s not a character I actually care about she still makes a very kick-ass toy... though once again, being a Takara-import toy might make her slightly more prohibitive cost-wise. 8/10
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