Cliffbee.com: Movie Blackout Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Blackout
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: MH-53 Pave Low Helicopter



CHOPPER MODE
Height: 10cm Length: 25.5cm Width: 11cm, 22cm across blades

   A grey military helicopter with six black blades, a four blade rotor on the portside of his tail, a black refuelling probe on the starboard side nose and black windows. There's also a gold dome on the portside of the nose, which I assume houses radar or something similar. The grey is very drab, and with only black around in any real quantity, there's not much to brighten up Blackout - but then the Pave Low choppers are used for covert flights, so dull works.

   This is a fairly accurate helicopter, although not up to the standard of a Binaltech or Alternator. The sculpt is very good, however and there's some subtle "grime" in black paint here and there. Unlike Hasbro's usual efforts, this grime is really well done, without the awful gradients we normally see (as on Bumblebee). There are a few screws visible on the starboard side, so you might want to display the portside, although the screws are reasonably subtle, since they're silver amongst grey anyway. The tail rotor is counterbalanced by a winglet on the starboard side of his tail and the since main rotors have well sculpted mechanisms at their bases. Blackout's main detraction in this mode is the compartment for his Mini-Scorponok at the rear, and while it's on the belly, the sides are hollow with the white arms of the scorpion visible. The missile pods found on the Pave Low choppers are present here, and feature hardpoints (for his weapon in robot mode). There are three subtle grey wheels underneath, although Blackout wont rest on the retractable front wheel, instead resting on a notch at the back.

   There are two gimmicks here, one good and one abysmal. The little scorpion under the tail is the bad one - the idea is that you press a small button at the back of the cage and the hatch opens, dropping Mini-Scorponok, who is bottom heavy and will usually land the right way up. The scorpion is composed of a light grey plastic while the tail is a similar shade, but of a softer grade. There is some grime paint - again well applied - but no other colour. The tail sits on a spring, but the joint barely moves, all it can do is sting itself in the head. While the dropping works as planned, the scorpion itself is very underwhelming - frankly the limited Scorponok toy is much closer to the movie portrayal and offers more play value anyway. The gaps in the side of the chopper mode aren't worth the limited value of the gimmick - and the cage tends to pop open when you don't want it to. I'll give them points for trying, but personally wish they hadn't.

   The other gimmick is much more satisfying, without really compromising the helicopter mode as a disguise. There's a black plunger at the back of the tail, push it in and the main rotor will rotate through a turn or two. Pressing it repeatedly causes the rotor to keep spinning - and it'll do so quite rapidly. This gimmick is very cool, but there's more still if you have the proper Scorponok toy. Scorponok is designed to plug underneath the chopper, and one of the sockets turns as part of the spinning gimmick - activating the spinning claws of Scorponok. While the overall mechanism becomes a little too heavy for the rapid rotor spinning, the overall effect and seamless integration of the two toys is really nice. The only downside is that Scorponok's tail has to swing underneath to allow clearance for Blackout's tail - so the combined toys can't rest on the table - but even them the connection is quite tight, Scorponok will happily stay on Blackout's belly. The two Decepticons are actually available in a pack, and it's a great match. Scorponok himself isn't a great deluxe, but is a wonderful add-on for Blackout's chopper mode.

   On the whole this is a good chopper mode, with quite a deal of realism and a sensible colour scheme with great shading. The spinning rotor gimmick is great - the winglets acts as a handle too - and this gimmick integrates with Scorponok's gimmick nicely. The Mini-Scorponok that comes with Blackout doesn't offer as much - although it does work as intended. My main complaint is the visual sacrifice Blackout has to make in this mode to accommodate the silly mini scorpion.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove the scorpion, since it'll fall out at some stage anyway. Stow the front wheel, swing the cage up and clip onto the top of the tail. Open the front of the engine block (just in front of the rotor), swing out to the sides and flip over to reveal missile banks. Lift down the rear fuselage, which becomes his legs, swing the side panels down through 90, rotate the waist and push the nose in between the side panels, clipping it into place. The automorph feature kicks in as you do this - as the waist forms the central stripe of the nose rotates to reveal his chest and head. It doesn't work that well - everything is one tooth of the gear out, so the head leans forward a little. Rotate the boots, fold down his feet and heelspurs. Swing the arms out from underneath his missilepods, rotate the forearms, lift up the panels covering his hands and swing down the hands. Lastly, collapse the rotors on his back to form something resembling a cape.

   A common mistake here is to clip the torso in incorrectly - not place it back far enough. Even when it is correct, the panels box in the head to a large extent, and this will be even worse if you get it wrong. Mine actually came with the automorph aligned incorrectly - I had to open him up to slip a few teeth. The robot mode was okay, but it wasn't able to sit right in chopper mode. Since I picked mine up in the TRU pack - in robot mode - the problem wasn't evident until I opened him. Simple enough to fix, of course, but annoying.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18.5cm Width: 10.5cm

   The grey now gives way to a lot of black - Blackout's name makes sense in this context. There is still quite a lot of grey, but slightly more black, the two are mixed throughout his robot mode. The head is grey with a heavy wash of black paint and red eyes that should have a lightpipe, but it fails to activate since there's a lot of chopper on his back. There's a small white Decepticon log stamped on his chest, flanked to by the gold radar dome and black refuelling pod. Blackout's hands are light grey, matching his Mini-Scorponok. Other than the random hand colouring, this is a very unified robot mode that looks pretty good.

   The overall shape is pretty good, and the level of detail is generally good - with a couple of exceptions. The feet are big, clunky affairs with two big toes each, which looks a little strange. I'm not a huge fan of the overall effect, but they do make this backheavy toy quite stable, so I can accept it. The head sculpt is great, the paint mask even better. His hands have thumbs and two fingers each, and are in a relaxed position. Despite having only three digits each, they look pretty good and are well detailed. There's not that much chopper here - the missilepods are outside his elbows and either side of the chest is the front of the chopper - but much of it sits on Blackout's back.

   The rotor gimmick is essentially dead here, but the tail & rotor assembly can detach, the rotor folding over to form a huge blender weapon. It actually attaches to the hardpoint on his left shoulder, a handle resting in his hand. Again the big feet come in handy, they're able to support the now side-heavy Blackout (in a limited range of poses, but that's okay - IRL he'd be limited anyway). The blade gimmick does work here although it'd limit his mobility. The missilepods, along with the smaller missileracks above them, provide some ranged weaponry (although Blackout lacks any actual projectiles). Scorponok cannot attach in this mode.

   The articulation is quite good, although the resultant poseability isn't quite at the same level unless you set aside the tail/rotor assembly. His shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all compound joints, with full motion. The feet and heelspurs don't move much, but the giant footprint needs to be sturdy anyway. The head and waist rotate, although both are fairly restricted. His wrists don't move in a meaningful way. The hands cannot hold any weapons, although the left hand can pretend to hold his rotor assembly.

   A decent robot mode with great detailing and a good blend of colours. The poseability is good, even if weight distribution issues do limit posing to some extent. The rotor gimmick isn't as effective but can still be used, and the other one sits on his tail. Blackout does carry a lot of kibble on his back, which is perhaps his main flaw here. The boxed in head is a little impractical, but he manages to get away with it visually. The big feet are a necessary evil, making sure this mode works.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, as mentioned he was sold on his own or with Scorponok. Evac is a repaint and retool of Blackout.

OVERALL

   Blackout's not as solid as the Autobot megas, but not the worst of the bunch, either. The rotor gimmick, colours and sculpt are great, and both modes generally display well. The kibble in robot mode does drag him down, while the bundled scorpion limited the chopper mode visually and doesn't really offer much. This toy would have been better if the designer hadn't tried to squeeze in the Mini-Scorponok, which feels cheap anyway. If you have Scorponok (as I do), the figurine becomes largely redundant anyway - the combination of Blackout and Scorponok is about nine times better than the mini gimmick anyway. Recommended, moreso if you have/plan to get Scorponok - 7/10

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