Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Generations Scourge

Back in my write-up of Classics Cyclonus, I mused that the toyline has done an excellent job wherever it remakes a terrible G1 toy. Most of Generation 1 had a kind of charm even if the toys were basic and lacking articulation, but the models based on characters from the animated movie were invariably awful.

Scourge was a hovercraft, let's face it, however much Hasbro might say otherwise. A hovercraft which somehow flew through space, but a hovercraft nonetheless. He was also one of the earliest examples of a 'shell-former' in that the vast majority of his vehicle mode simply folded away to reveal the robot inside, in a similar way to Galaxy Force Chromia and Timelines Elita-1.

While the sequential art fiction and even the Titanium line kept him looking like a Sci-Fi hovercraft in almost every continuity, Generations has given him a whole new look... at least to his vehicle mode...

Vehicle Mode:
What we have here is something eerily similar to the Boeing X-48B Blended Wing test vehicles, or one of those reusable spacecraft being developed to replace NASA's retired Space Shuttle. Considering how ridiculous his original form was, even this completely non-military spaceplane is a massive improvement.

And it's actually a very sleek and elegant vehicle. The engines are rather more prominent in this than in Boeing's tester, and the tips of the wings angle downward rather than up but, otherwise, this is a far representation of what a full-size vehicle might look like. As well as at the cockpit on the nose, there are molded details at the sides which appear to be windows, suggesting Scourge is a much larger vehicle than Cyclonus... and possibly built for passengers?

The colourscheme is very much G1 Scourge, though the white is much purer. It's a little strange, not to mention disappointing, that the blue stripe from the nose doesn't extend down the wing - the panel lines suggest it should, but it ends rather abruptly in line with the two main engines. Naturally, the Japanese version corrects this oversight as well as adding a fair bit of metallic blue paint to the model.

Scourge has a kind of fold-out undercarriage, but it's unlike any undercarriage I've seen elsewhere - two banks of sculpted (fixed) wheels fold out from roughly the middle of the plane, and then a single wheel (also fixed) flips out of the back just below the central afterburner. A very strange arrangement, but reasonably stable.

The big addition to the later Classics-type TransFormers was the c-clip interchangeable weapon system. Scourge has three points for these weapons - one on the protrusion above the central afterburner and two, strangely, on the underside of the body, below the outer afterburners. While Scourge comes with - technically - two weapons, only one has a c-clip, and that will only attached to the upper connection, as there are clearance issues with the lower two.

Possibly in reference to a scene in TransFormers: The Movie, Scourge suffers from a very specific form of Visible Robot Head Syndrome. His head is embedded in the grey section which includes the central afterburner, and is mounted on a ball joint. Not only can the head extend, as if for robot mode, but simply tilting the central afterburner down will reveal Scourge's face because it doesn't drop down far into that section to conceal it properly.
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Robot Mode:
In so many ways, this is the Scourge toy that people have been hoping for since the movie. Just like Cyclonus, his look is iconic and unmistakable and, while this version of Scourge doesn't look any more like the animation model from the 1986 movie, all the necessary elements are there, from the weird crest on his head to the red talons.

It's actually quite amusing that, despite all the improvements in this model over the original, his wings are still not, technically, part of his transformation - they just hang off his back in much the same fashion as his G1 counterpart. They can be opened up either to store his weapons or to give him more of a 'cape', but the way they open out doesn't really look that good - he ends up with almost square white blocks hanging off his back

The head sculpt is all anyone could hope for in a Scourge head - it's far more accurate to his G1 cartoon appearance than the G1 toy's was, and features a very much more defined robotic 'beard and moustache' which, bucking the trend with such things, were not molded in rubber. The strange crest thing on his head is far smaller than the detachable thing he had in G1, but looks no less silly.

On the subject of silly design elements, while the G1 toy appeared to wear high-heeled boots, this one features much more sensible feet - larger and flatter. The lower legs generally are still pretty massive, though.

Scourge's weapon is an interesting bit of kit. It's modelled after his G1 TargetMaster partner, Fracas (much like the weapon that comes with Classics Cyclonus), but it's not a TargetMaster. Instead, it's a pair of weapons which can be connected - via the c-clip system - to resemble Fracas. The main part is a single-barrelled pistol which folds up for storage in his right wing. The secondary part is a smaller, double-barrelled pistol which can be either held in his hand or clipped on top of the larger gun, thanks to a folding c-clip/5mm peg, and which can be stored in his left wing. It's a shame that Scourge isn't a TargetMaster... but, considering they only came up with one TargetMaster mold for the whole Classics line and then reused it ad infinitum (with the only 'new' TargetMasters being either old Mini-Con repaints or Power Core Combiner partners), that's probably a good thing. Since Scourge only has one accessible c-clip point in robot mode, it's generally best not to use it... he looks silly enough with that crest on his head, let alone with a double-barrelled cannon attached...
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One of the most interesting aspects of Scourge's transformation is the way the two large engines become his arms by having the bicep part pop out to one side then rotate 180degrees. This leaves him with rather large shoulders and disproportionately small biceps, but it's a very clever arrangement. Other than that, it's pretty straightforward, with the legs having a concertina movement and the wings... just kind of hanging off his back. Getting the head into and out of the collar can be troubling - pulling on the head always feels as though the ball joint will pop out before the neck part pops up into place, and it's equally stiff pushing it back down... so far, it's all stayed together, but it generally seems safer to push the head up from below when transforming into robot mode.

Scourge has much better joints than Cyclonus, which is pretty cool considering the latter was so well put together. Just goes to show what another two years can do for articulation... The outward angling of his arms is an improvement on the restricted, slightly floppy movement of his comrade, and the thigh rotation uses the newer system of a small, almost spherical piece for the hip ball joint, with its rotation joint partly concealed in the top of the thigh piece. He also has ball-jointed ankles with an excellent range of motion and very little clash with the shin. Having the head on a ball joint naturally allows for a greater range of movement than the simple rotation of Cyclonus's neck... and, for once, the large protruding collar doesn't get in the way.

While a fair bit shorter than Cyclonus, the two make an excellent pair, and do a fine job of filling out an contemporary homage to TransFormers: The Movie toys. Like his partner, Scourge is a brilliantly-designed update and upgrade to an important G1 character - a dynamic action figure with an alternate mode just as unlikely as his ancestor.

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