Movie Transformers Deluxe
Scorponok, Voyager Blackout, Starscream

"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jin Saotome checks in with a guest review of some more of those uber-cool Transformer movie toys. Take it away, Jin!

More Transformers? Yep, you’d better get use to seeing giant robots because on July 4th Michael Bay’s new live-action Transformers hits the theaters! If you haven’t seen the previews it looks mighty promising for all types of movie-goers. Of course you can’t have a movie based on toys without having the actual toys, can you? Already released in stores is the first wave of Transformers Movie figures. Last review I covered some of the deluxe class figures, now I tackle two voyager-class and one more deluxe figure that’s actually part of a special Blackout/Scorponok ‘Desert Attack’ two pack you can find at Toys R Us. So how do these larger Transformers stack up against their smaller compatriots? Read on to find out.

Packaging - ***
Again the packaging is the same as all the other Movie Transformers figures, just in a box because of the voyager class figure’s larger size. Scorponok comes either carded or in the same package as Blackout if you go for the exclusive 2-pack. The two-pack features nifty facial graphics displayed on the front and inside is a backdrop of what do you know... a desert! Starscream’s box is about the same, sans desert background. While I do like the sharp graphics and character bios on the back, something evil lurks… the curse of the unopenable box! Yes, no matter how you cut the tape or try to pry the flaps out of the slots, you’re probably going to have to trash the box in order to get them out. Perhaps with some more work you can wiggle some of the flaps loose but you’ll need to tear through the inner backdrop in order to get to the back of the twisty wires that lie behind a plastic tray in front of that. 

Sculpting - Blackout ***; Scorponok ***1/2; Starscream **1/2
If you’ve seen one transforming robot, you’ve seen them all right? Wrong! The sculpting on some of these figures is quite detailed and you’ll be amazed how they’ve become more and more technical-looking for the movie. Blackout’s vehicle mode is great, so long as you don’t look underneath. All the robot parts like the legs and arms are showing down there. From the top he’s a great representation of a MH-53 Pave Low helicopter from the top with all sorts of panel details. His robot mode is no slouch either with a great head sculpt featuring menacing red eyes. Everything else is in decent proportion with some cool-looking feet and the detailed hands.

Scorponok’s sculpt will instantly remind some of you of those ‘Zoids’ you had as a kid. He resembles a metal scorpion with an angular almost skeletal design to his body as you can see all sorts of inner turbines and biomechanical detailing there. His robot form… if you can even call it that (more on that later) looks just as if his scorpion mode decided to stand up for some reason. But in both modes you’ll appreciate the detail that went into him like the tiny rotor fans on the inside of his claws, the opposite-facing turbine grills in his middle, and the neat tail sections.

Starscream’s sculpt is a bit odd looking in both modes. In jet mode he’s left with huge chunks of robot parts underneath making it look far less streamlined than a normal fighter jet. The huge arm-cannons don’t help either and unfortunately you can see Star’s head poking out of the rear. But get past that and you’ve got an incredible amount of panels, jointed sections, and moving parts that all fit together quite well. His legs in bot mode look like chicken legs making him look a bit squat but it’s grown on me, seeing as that’s how the movie character design looks like. For some reason he has huge gunpods for hands and the claws just fold against them, leaving him unable to grab an autobot victim. I would of liked actual claws like the movie character had in this case, and you can tell the missiles are sculpted to be his claws, they just don’t open or close.

Paint - Scorponok **; Blackout ***; Starscream ***
When it comes to Transformers, Hasbro usually molds everything in color with the only painted sections being the small parts and lettering/numbering/symbols. Here they’ve actually given some extra paint ops that don’t usually appear on Transformers. Blackout is primarily molded in blue-gray and black plastic with smaller blue sections painted in here and there along with his cockpit. However he sports a dirty paint wipe across the body of his vehicle mode and a paint wash on his face that really brings out the detail. Unfortunately the paint wipe is sporadic at best and doesn’t flow into the grooves on the body, just laying on the top and making it look like Scorponok forgot to wash him before takeoff. If they had gone with a wash like they did on the face, I think it would of gone much better and I wish more of the characters had that done to bring out their facial details.

Scorponok is molded in silver and bronze with just a few sections of gold painted on and a bunch of military-looking lettering/numbers. His claws have ‘Danger, keep away’ printed on them while his body has ‘Rescue’ and numbers on it even tho he doesn’t transform into anything vehicle-wise. He does attach to the bottom of Blackout’s hull so maybe there’s a reason for these paint ops in the movie. Poor Scorp got the short end of the stick in the paint department and even the mini-scorp that comes with Blackout shows more detail with its paint wash.

Starscream is almost entirely molded in a tan plastic with some black and metallic sections painted. However he looks much better due to really nice airbrushed shading that run along his wings and body in jet mode, reminding me of a painted model. You get the same look in robot mode with some added airbrushed shading on the upper thighs and the metallic sections able to be seen when his chest expands. Other than that Starscream is as bland as the rest of the military bots.

Articulation - Blackout ***; Scorponok ***1/2; Starscream ***
You just can’t have perfect articulation and a convincing transformation at the same time usually, though the Protoform preview figures I reviewed earlier did! Here we’re treated to above the normal Transformer articulation but with missing points of course. Blackout has basic articulation with a swivel head, full range arms tho not ball-jointed and writs that move up and down. His legs are very poseable and can be turned to the side, lifted up and out, giving him just about any kicking/walking pose you need. The toes moved as does the back heel but due to the shape of his foot there’s no actual ankle articulation. He’s suppose to be a huge, slow-moving Transformer who carries others around so I’m not too concerned about Blackout needing to do a flying jump-kick.

Scorponok moves and shimmies with some great range of arm and tail movement! His arms can swivel and reach just about anywhere with opening claws, tho they stop spinning if you leave them locked in the open position. Each little side leg moves on a limited ball joint and the multi-section tail can bend and aim about. His head, or face rather tilts up and down, giving him a bit more personality than the mindless, instinct-powered robot he is. Transforming him into bot mode grants him a few more points of articulation with ball-jointed hips and knees. However they’re so short and stubby he looks pretty funny trying to run. That’s what the wheels on the bottom are for, roll on Scorponok, roll on…

Starscream has quite a bit of articulation but his short, stockiness makes less use of it than you’d be led to believe. His arms have full range of motion and his claws open up on the sides. There’s still no waist swivel (no movie figure I have so far has one) and his head only turns left to right. His legs tho are chock full of moving parts and both dual joints in his knees, including his ankle work. His hips don’t move out to the side very far, just enough and they do swivel around, though that’s limited too due to the panels and such getting in the way behind him.

Transformation - Blackout ***; Scorponok *; Starscream **1/2
Hmmm, we get into a mixed bag when it comes to the transformation here. There’s a few different things I weigh in the transformation category like how complex it is and the actual difficulty of it, along with how well it actually works. Blackout is your basic unfold, flip out Transformer here. I could transform him with my eyes closed almost and you can see all his robot parts from the bottom anyway. His automorph feature takes care of his chest and knees, and everything else is easily put into place.

Scorponok… well, I was surprised how long his instructions were given his transformation. Here it is; pull out sides and fold down to make the robot legs. Tilt head and arms down. Done. No really, that’s it. No wonder he stays in scorpion mode all the time, according to the package bio, he probably gets made fun of constantly. Arguably it’s the worst robot mode I’ve seen in a while and that’s saying something. Fortunately he makes up for it later…

Starscream is a skill-puzzle of a Transformer and I can’t see any kid transforming him, or his parents, without a major headache. The instructions aren’t that useful and even when I followed them, I was left scratching my head and looking to the back of the package. There’s so many parts to unhinge, slide down, open up, slide back, flip over, lock down, etc, etc. The end result is pretty neat but getting there makes me never want to transform him again! His automorph feature takes care of the chest for you, but you have to do it perfectly in step with everything else or things get in the way. Some people can appreciate the complexity of design here with his transformation; others will use him as a aquarium decoration when they toss him across the room.

Accessories - Blackout ***1/2; Scorponok n/a; Starscream n/a
Usually you’ll get a gun or some weapon with your basic Transformers, here with the movie figures it’s hit and miss to even get those. Blackout however has a little mini-Scorponok that locks in his rear undercarriage and can be deployed by pushing a button. The lil’ guy has a spring-loaded tail too, tho the plastic is too soft to have it do much when you pull it back. Mini-nock has a black wash on him that can either look nice or look like crap, depending on how it was applied. I’ve seen some pics where the paint has nicely seeped into all the grooves but with mine it looks Blackout dropped him off in an oil slick. The top of Blackout’s helicopter body turns into a weapon and attaches on his shoulder for some fan-spinning-action.

Scorponok has zilch, in fact if you buy the 2-pack he’s basically Blackout’s other accessory because he attaches underneath and can be carried around! So you can carry 2 Scorponoks, I guess that works, he has a little brother now.

Starscream comes with finger missiles. What else could they give him, a hunk of bridge to throw? I don’t think he even has a gun-weapon in the movie.

Action Feature - Blackout ***1/2; Scorponok ****; Starscream **1/2
There’s action features that incorporate the automorph feature and some that involve the actual toy doing something destructive. Sometimes you get both and other times you get zilch with the movie figures here. Blackout honestly has quite a few. His automorph features are his chest spinning around when you pull down on his waist and his shins flipping up when you toggle his kneecaps. The giant rotor blade on top has a spinning feature when you push the lever on the tail and works great! It can be removed in robot mode and set on his shoulder, a hinge allowing it to swivel down and make a menacing fan-chopper-thingy. Best of all there’s gears in the top that allow the spinning feature to work in both modes! On Blackout’s undercarriage is a little compartment that holds his mini Scorponok, upside down. Press a button and it flips Scorp right side up behind him ready for battle. And there’s also a little spinning plug on the underside of Blackout for some reason… I wonder what that does? Hmmmm… read on.

Now for the really amazing action feature that has me all excited. Scorponock’s claws spin when you roll him!!! What, that’s not amazing? You’ve seen McDonalds toys do that? Ok, how about this, they spin when you have his arms in ANY POSITION. Yeah, there’s an assortment of tiny gears and cuts that allow you to rotate Scorp’s arms, shoulders, and elbows any way you want… and they still spin when you roll the wheel. That alone is an amazing achievement in mechanical design for a toy, including the springs and safety cogs in there that keep you from damaging the gears if you turn them against the wheel. If that’s not impressive enough there’s gears in his body that makes his torso-turbine spin and a little spinning knob on his back… Ah-hah! Plug Scorponok underneath Blackout and attach the knob to the plug and presto, activating Blackout’s rotors activates everything at once! It’s really impressive and sounds quite cool, all the gears in Blackout and his buddy Scorp moving at once. I was really quite amazed and still am!

Starscream has a chest-based automorph feature that slides sections in various directions when you slide the cockpit up, exposing his head and such. It works rather well and looks cool in action except you can only do it if you’ve pre-transformed certain steps already, otherwise stuff locks up and doesn’t move. His other action feature is contained in each hand where cannons fire out three missiles each when you rotate the barrels. It works great, too great as they’re hair-triggers and fire out while you’re transforming him sometimes. You can stop them from firing when you turn them (unless you touch the individual triggers) by lifting a small flap that is there to bump the triggers when you spin the hands. I leave the flaps up so the missiles don’t fire off constantly and they were a good thought-out addition to an otherwise twitchy action feature.

Fun Factor - ****
If I were a kid now I’d be having a blast! You get a great robot mode, convincing vehicle mode, action features, and really dynamic looking figures all around. Some of the Transformers are way too challenging to transform for your average 8-year old but for us older fans they’re just perfect. And you can’t beat a robotic scorpion! Really.

Value - ****
The Voyager class is usually $20 but I’ve been finding them at Wal Marts for $15 and $17. That’s a steal in most cases! The Blackout/Scorponok 2-pack was just $24 at Toys R Us, that’s like getting Scorp for just four bucks instead of buying him full price separately carded. I mean what do you want? You’re getting a ton of moving parts and really cool designs with these figures, I’m surprised Hasbro is actually making money here with how intricate they are.

Things to Watch Out For -
Let’s see, Blackout’s rotor blades detach easily if you smack them against something, but that’s better than breaking. His paint job is hit and miss with that black wipe, though all of the faces I saw looked great. Everything else is sturdy about these figures and I really can’t think of anything else. Ah, don’t pinch your fingers in Starscream’s moving sections! I did that once when I slid his chest up, ow.

Overall - ***1/2
I love these movie figures. I’ve said it before and this batch only confirms my belief that Hasbro makes some of the coolest toys ever. Though some lack in certain areas, they usually make up for it in another. Scorponok is my favorite of the bunch because I appreciate the design that went into his mechanical workings and how they got him to attach to Blackout so the two really are ‘symbiotic’ in a way like described. While Starscream may be hard to transform, he’s an interesting departure from the usual robot-look we’ve come to see him in. My suggestion, snag these while you can, they’re excellent figures and I hear they’re going to be replaced by a new Cartoon series line after the movie has run its course.

This is Jin Saotome saying thanks for checking out the review and look forward to more! 

Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Blackout ***; Scorponok ***1/2; Starscream **1/2
Paint - Scorponok **; Blackout ***; Starscream ***
Articulation - Blackout ***; Scorponok ***1/2; Starscream ***
Transformation - Blackout ***; Scorponok *; Starscream **1/2
Accessories - Blackout ***1/2; Scorponok n/a; Starscream n/a
Action Feature - Blackout ***1/2; Scorponok ****; Starscream **1/2
Fun factor - ****
Value - ****
Overal - ***1/2

Figure from the collection of Jin Saotome.

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