Name: Sky Byte
Series: Convention Exclusives
Alternate Mode: Space Ship (that happens to resemble a shark)
SPACE SHIP MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 18cm Width: 7cm
A dark blue, silver, white and yellow space ship, Sky Byte is a repaint of Energon Sharkticon in the colours of the original Sky Byte (also a repaint, as it happens). The front is basically blue while the back features more white. As with the original Sky Byte, there's a complex paint job featuring lots of cybernetic details and a mid blue area on the left at the rear. The bow features a purple stamped Predacon logo (I love that they paid enough attention to get the logo right.
The actual mould is designed as a tribute to the G1 Decepticon ship, the Nemesis. It's pretty shark-like, and in these colours this mould feels like it was always destined to be Sky Byte. There are yellow soft plastic winglets that resemble pectoral fins underneath the body of the ship and red painted eyes on the bow. The bridge and a total of four gun are the boat aspects of this mode. I guess the bridge is close as we're going to get to a dorsal fin.
So this mode treads the line between shark and boat well, and there are a few nice touches. He has two yellow guns on top of the hull, in front of the front and two larger blue ones on the sides above the winglets. All four have twin cannons made of that soft yellow plastic, and they can rotate while the cannons raise and lower, as on a naval battleship. The bridge is quite detailed and the mechanical sculpt on this toy is only broken by the smooth bow. Just behind the bridge there's a neutered Spark Crystal.
Along with the moving guns, there are sockets on either side of the bridge and two more in the middle of his tail, allowing you to plug in Energon weapons. There are powerlinx ports on the outsides of tail, between the lobes of his tail. There's also an "attack mode", which is formed by pulling out the sides of the bow. This reveals two fixed-in-place blue missile launchers that shoot transparent orange missiles - I guess you'd call them torpedoes if you take this to be a submarine, the launchers' location reminds me of torpedo tubes.
The underside is fairly obviously the robot legs, but the feet are shaped so they look like a shark's lower jaw, which is a nice touch. The white lower legs and top of the ship don't sit flush though, so there's a pretty obvious gap if you're looking directly side-on. Despite this, it's a pretty good ship mode, thanks partly to the attack mode but mainly to attention to detail - the guns, bridge and attachment points make a good vehicle mode out of a relatively weak concept. It's a perfect choice of Sky Byte, of course, but the paint job is spot on and far from lazy.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Split the tail halves out to the side, unclip his legs from underneath and swing back, clipping his waist together. Fold the entire bow section down to form his backplate. Fold up the shoulder joints, clipping his arms to the torso, bring the arms down to the sides and straight the legs, Flip up his feet and you're done. Simple mainly because half the ship simply folds up.
Height: 14cm Width: 13cm
Now a mixture of silver, white, yellow, blue and pink, Sky Byte's chest is the same mix of mid blue, white, pink & silver we saw back in RiD - he even has the spark crystal in the centre of his chest to anchor the asymmetrical paint job seen on the original. He gets a new head here, which is while with a yellow face, red eyes and a blue & silver helmet. He has gnashed white teeth similar to those on the original. While there's not a lot of yellow here it's quite prominent - the pectoral fins sit on his knees while the tail lobes are on the back of his elbows. The colour map is amazingly faithful.
While Sharkticon's head had overtones of RiD, Sky Byte still received a new head, which is a great aspect of this repaint. Combining this with the fact this toy has less kibble (despite a hefty albeit close to the body backpack) and this mould feels a lot like an update to the character. This is a very well proportioned robot mode with nice shoulderpads, a well formed torso and well shaped limbs. Considering that the arms and chest are visible in ship mode, they've done a great job of making such a nice robot form.
The poseability here is great - the head turns, the shoulders rotate while the arms can lift out to the sides and the upper arms rotate, helping the hinged elbows out. The waist turns - impressive when you consider it snaps together during transformation - the hips are ball jointed with swivels below them (again helping the hinged knees). The feet are hinged with useful heelspurs, making sure than the considerable backpack doesn't become an issue. The backpack itself sits quite close to the toy without restricting poseability, so despite being half the ship mode, it's not a liability. The end result is a very poseable and _stable_ toy.
Despite lacking a hand weapon, Sky Byte is not unarmed - as mentioned he has a total of six fin lobes which make great melee weapons. You get two side mounted weapon options. You can lift the arms up and rotate the side-cannons for small under-arm guns, or pull out the bow sides which very conveniently rotate to form giant hip-mounted missile launchers. Whoever designed this toy gets full marks - all angles have been covered it seems. The only aspect they've missed is that the missile shafts are too narrow to be handheld - but then with the fin weaponry, I doubt he'd miss that. Sadly, Sky Byte cannot swim through concrete.
A great mould, despite being fairly unorthodox amongst Energon, and this robot mode was good even before it was co-opted as Sky Byte. While the choice might seem obvious, this robot mode doesn't even feel like it has been co-opted here, which is testament to how well they've used the mould.
None that I'm aware of. Sky Byte was sold exclusively at BotCon 2010, and was likely limited to a single production run, making variants unlikely.
While this is an unorthodox mould, it's a very well designed one, with a simple but effective transformation and good play value without silly gimmicks. And it's perfectly suited to the memorable character that is Sky Byte, so this attentive repaint makes the mould seem like it was designed for him (okay, the head was). While the mould's concept and deliberately ambiguous alt mode won't suite everyone;'s taste, this is a fantastic repaint of a well executed mould - 9.5/10