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Individual Review






Name: Duneraider
Series: Armada
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Dune Buggy

DUNE BUGGY MODE
Height: 3cm Length: 6cm Width: 3.5cm

   A khaki dune buggy with a giant cannon on the back, the kind you'd expect in desert combat. Duneraider has black ridged wheels and a grey rollcage and grey barrels on his cannon, with green seats buried underneath the rollcage. I don't like the way they've done this paint job - the green seats and grey rollcage get in each other's way visually - I find he looks a lot better if you remove the rollcage, which is easy enough to do. The khaki, green and grey work well together when not competing. There are also some subtle brown paint washes, simulating battle discolouration, which is a nice touch that's subtle enough to be a good thing not a bad thing (as on Movor).

   On top of the cannon Duneraider sports a Minicon symbol, and on the front of the rollcage he has moulded headlights, and there's a few other moulded details that impress me like taillights. The Powerlinx port is underneath the buggy, right at the back.

   Duneraider's rollcage can swing up, and while it's needed for his transformation it's still play value. There's a rubber wheel underneath, if you roll him along with a little bit of downward pressure it'll cause the barrels of the cannon to swing side to side repeatedly. The cannon can rotate right around, and the gimmick will work regardless of where it's pointed, which is really cool. What's not so cool is that rotating the cannon will reveal his robot face, but you can hide it again by spinning it around so you see the powerlinx port instead.

   It's a good mould with a great gimmick, and the colours are for the most part well thought out. I don't like the grey and green jumbled together, but you can always remove the rollcage (or track down a repaint).

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Flip the front out to form the robot legs. You're meant to lift the rollcage first, but you don't have to - the legs will push it out of the way naturally. The kneecaps will also push out automatically. Rotate his head around, stand him up and position the arms. This transformation reminds me a lot of Beachcomber, the first TF dune buggy.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 6.5cm Width: 3.5cm

   Duneraider is now mainly khaki, but this is spiced up with a blue eyestrip, grey thighs, the grey gear and black tyre on his chest, green feet and the black tyres on his shoulders and knees. There's enough breaking up the khaki to keep Duneraider interesting, without it being a mismatch. The colours in this mode are easily better than the buggy mode, since nothing's interfering with anything else.

   Duneraider has a very simple, almost droid-like, face, and the mechanisms on his chest give him a mechanical look. Despite these, he still has enough personality to be one cool little Minicon - probably because of the Beachcomber overtones which are again prevalent. Maybe "groovy" is the word I'm looking for!

   Duneraider's most distinctive feature in this mode is his pointy kneecaps. Remember how the flipping legs necessitated gaps on Beachcomber's hood? Well Duneraider gets around this problem with panels that pop up to become rather pointy kneecaps. They cover half of his thighs and look a little unusual, but you wouldn't want to let him get you in a headlock!

   Poseability is pretty good for a Minicon with a gimmick. His shoulders rotate and his head turns. The hips and knees are independently hinged, and while you have to be careful if you want to put him in action poses, the rollcage can act as a third leg so you do have some options.

   This is Duneraider's better mode, mainly because I can't really find anything that bugs me. The kneecaps take some getting used to, but I wouldn't call them a flaw so much as a feature.

VARIATIONS

   The X-Dimension version is silver with black instead of grey. It has red and white stripes on the sides and the seats are unpainted, and has a red eyestrip. As cool as the regular version is, the X-Dimension is about eight times cooler (especially since the colours fit better in buggy mode).

OVERALL

   A good Minicon, Duneraider is blessed with that most unusual of Armada features - a good name. Both modes are strong and the colours are, for the most part, good. The gimmick works and the Beachcomber overtones add appeal - 7.5/10
Name: Iceberg
Series: Armada
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Snow Plow

SNOW PLOW MODE
Height: 2.5cm Length: 6cm Width: 4.5cm

   An orange snow plow with black treads and a black blade, Iceberg sports various grey bits - mainly mechanical, but also the windows, and a (non-functional) grey crane arm on the right side. The colours work pretty well without being anything spectacular. Having said that, snow plows are functional vehicles, and Iceberg's believable as an orange snow plow. The orange is quite bright, but for something that's likely to be operating in blizzards, high visibility makes sense.

   Perhaps the best thing about this snow plow is the snow plow itself. After countless sports cars, being a Transformer snow plow gives Iceberg something unique. Not that he doesn't have anything else going for him - the mechanics inside his black treads are well sculpted and painted grey, ditto the generators on the back, and of course he has a big blade on the front.

   The crane arm has a ball joint at it's base, giving this vehicle mode some articulation, although there's not all that much point, since it can't hook onto anything. There are two grey wheels underneath the generators and a rubber wheel under the cabin, rolling him along will cause the sides of the blade to close slightly, almost like jaws. The bottom edge of the blade is serrated, enhancing the jaw motif. While it's a silly gimmick, the execution is good and it doesn't compromise the plow mode.

   A good plow mode with some nice details, Iceberg's gimmick is somewhat weird, but it works better than a lot of gimmicks do, without ruining the vehicle mode. The unusual vehicle mode is interesting in itself.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Extend the rear to form the legs, rotate the waist and stand him up. Fold down the roof of the cabin - now on his back - flip out the head and fold the roof back up. Position the arms and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 6.5cm Width: 4.5cm

   An orange robot with black arms and a wide black collar, which is the blade of the plow mode. Iceberg has grey thighs and black outer shins - the rear halves of the treads (the arms are the front). There's the obligatory grey gear and rubber wheel on his chest and he has yellow eyes. The colours aren't quite as well done as on the vehicle mode, although the only thing that actually bugs me is the lack of colour on his face.

   The treads work better than you might expect as arms, since he has proper moulded fists at the end, and the generators form rather small feet. Easily the most distinct feature is the giant collar, which looks vaguely like the blade of a guillotine. While I don't dislike it, it's a very unusual look, almost to the point of being comical.

   His articulation is slightly below average for a Minicon. The shoulders rotate up about 100, the waist turns and his hips swing. The feet are wider than they are long so poseability is somewhat limited - most of the useful posing is in his arms.

   Not as cool as his snow plow mode, but it doesn't really have anything ruining it, Iceberg's robot mode looks fairly good, even if the collar is really unusual.

VARIATIONS

   The X-Dimension version is fluorescent yellow, which sounds bad but it lost the grey paint and gained a lot of black paint, as well as aposematic yellow & black warning stripes on the treads. It's face actually looks better thanks to the black eyes.

OVERALL

   A good vehicle mode that brings something new to the Transformers and a decent if unspectacular robot mode. Iceberg isn't quite as nice as Duneraider but he's still worthwhile - 6.5/10
Name: Ransack
Series: Armada
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: Off-Road 4x4 Utility Truck

TRUCK MODE
Height: 2.5cm Length: 5.5cm Width: 3cm

   A dark green utility with black tyres, including an unpainted spare on the back that houses the powerlinx socket. He's got silver windows, yellow headlights and yellow spotlights on a rack sticking out of his tray. The tray floor is painted grey.

   There are two gimmicks in this mode - the first being a winch, the idea being that as you roll the truck along the silver hook either on the front retracts or unravels. It works fairly well, so you can actually hang him from stuff and he can pull himself up. The second gimmick is front suspension. Basically, he has a set of tiny springs, so if you push down on either front corner, the wheel will lift into it's bay and then spring back down once you let go. It's kind of pointless, but it's nice they bothered to engineer it.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fold the rear down to form the legs, swing the arms up. That's it - this is a simple transformation, even for a Minicon.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 6cm Width: 3cm


Again mainly green, Ransack has black arms and silver thighs, shoulders and a yellow eyes. Sadly, his head is an unpainted green affair, which matters since it's moulded into his chest. The mechanism for the winch is clearly visible on his chest, and the innards consist of a silver gear and a black rubber wheel, as well as some red cord - surely they could have used a duller colour. The colour scheme is very dark - even the silver manages to be dark, and is pretty uninspiring. The yellow eyes and grey shins are the only paint on this robot mode.

   His poseability is slightly better than the average Micromaster - the arms swing up at the shoulders, the knees and hips independently swivel. The winch can be used, but a cord hanging off the top of his head looks pretty weird.

   Not as cool as his vehicle mode, the dull colours make this mode forgettable, although better dull than fluorescent. The engineering is geared to the truck mode, so he's not really much fun as a robot.

VARIATIONS

   Repainted in orange in the X-Dimension set, Cliffjumper is a rather ugly repaint of Ransack, who makes Ransack look good. I have all three versions, and the original is the only one where the winch works properly.

OVERALL

   The weak link of the set, but I like the winch gimmick. His robot mode isn't much but the truck mode looks alright, so if the winch works he's worthwhile - 5/10
TEAM OVERALL

   Two good toys and one so-so toy make this a good set overall. Duneraider is the stand out, but Iceberg (I just called him Mr Plow and had to correct myself!) is also nice, and even Ransack has his good points. One of the more interesting Minicon sets even if the engineering isn't as good as on some teams - 6/10

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