Cliffbee.com: Universe Smokescreen Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Smokescreen
Series: Universe
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Racing Car

Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Smokescreen for this review.



POLICE CAR MODE
Height: 4.5cm Length: 13cm Width: 6cm

   A red and blue racing car similar to the original Smokescreen, with red on top and blue around the bottom and white stripes along the sides. His tyres are black plastic with gold painted hubcaps while there's a black on white "38" on both doors and his hood. The front and side windows are colourless plastic while the rear windows are painted black. The spoiler is blue with odd yellow painted areas on top while the taillights are transparent yellow and the headlights composed of the same colourless plastic as the windows. There's a red painted patch at the front which sports a stamped Autobot logo. This patch is a distinctly different shade of red compared to the rest of the toy. While I'm not keen on this different shade of red, I'm less than impressed with the choice of yellow on his spoiler and taillights - the involved colours of Smokescreen really don't need random yellow - especially when red taillights would have made more sense. While this colour scheme is broadly faithful to the original, the end result feels quite cheap and sloppy.

   While Smokescreen is no longer a 280ZX, the shape of this car is fairly similar, since he's based on a Nissan 350z, with some changes to avoid trademark infringements (thanks for FortMax Reed for this info). There's a spoiler on the back and twin double exhausts at the back, providing some new aspects. I'm a bit miffed that the spoiler gets yellow paint for no good reason while the exhausts are left unpainted blue. There's a sunroof panel on the roof - a remnant of the mould being used for Prowl.

   While there are some good aspects here such as the well defined numbers on his doors and hood, and the addition of paint to his hubcaps compared to Prowl, I'm not happy with the quality here overall. The plastic feels very cheap and the random mismatched yellow is jarring. As with most Classics style toys, there's minimal play value here. The wheels roll and that's it.

   Well, it's a focussed tribute and a well designed vehicle mode but the overall finish is cheap, which really holds Smokescreen back. The end result is frustrating since with a little more focus this would have been an excellent vehicle mode. While it's not a failure, it just doesn't satisfy me.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Lift up the rear bumper panels, flip out the rear to form his boots. Pull out the feet and flip out his heelspurs. Pull the doors out and fold the front fenders inside the doors, pull the arms out to the sides. Detach the gun underneath the cabin, lift up the widow's peak, flip out his head and push the widow's peak back down. Lift up the roof, flip out his shoulder cannons, fold the chest down, swing the arms down. Unfold and give him his gun.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 13.5cm Width: 13.5cm

   Smokescreen's colours are now quite mixed. His chest, forearms and much of his boots are red while his waist, groin and feet are black. His hands, knees, head and wings are blue while his upper arms, thighs and shoulder cannons are grey. I don't see why he needs grey on his limbs when the original didn't have any grey - white would work a lot better, even if his arms weren't white originally. It's not so much the colour mapping that I object to as the addition of another colour for no real reason. His face is silver with yellow horns and black eyes. I'm really not a fan of the black eyes - which just hide from view in plain sight. Why? His chest is the front of the car, complete with headlights and bumper. The red Autobot logo is on his chest and the doors - complete with numbers - are wings behind his shoulders. The basic idea is still very much Smokescreen, but again the end result feels quite cheap, thanks to the muddling effect of the grey plastic.

   The layout here is quite faithful to G1, with the chest, shoulder cannons, wings, arms and head all closely matching the G1 version of this character. The boots are different, with the bumper on the knees now rather than the toes, but the effect is essentially the same, since the rear window forms the shins. I really like how well executed this layout is - especially the integrated shoulder cannons. His red gun looks nothing like that of the G1 version, but this is a fairly minor issue. The sides of the torso are hollow, since the fenders fold back behind his doors, which looks a little odd if you look at Smokescreen from an angle. I'm glad that the shoulder cannons aren't the same colours as the chest as was the case on Prowl - even if I would have preferred white to grey.

   The play value here is fairly formulaic, but by no means poor. His head and waist turn while his shoulders swing and lift out to the sides. His elbows bend and there are rotators above the elbows, as well as in his wrists. His hips are ball jointed while his knees are hinged with rotators. There are an extra set of hinges - part of the transformation - below the knees which can help with poseability. The ankles are hinged, while the feet can wiggle from side to side. Prowl has very useful heelspurs which fold forward, anchoring poses very well.

   While the gaps on the sides of his torso are a flaw, they've coloured the shoulder this time and as with Prowl, the tribute is again well done. The integrated shoulder cannons are a great feature and I'm a fan of the redesigned boots which allow for more poseability whilst still looking like the boots we saw in G1. Smokescreen is very poseable, especially when you consider that he has only two ball joints. Sadly he ends up looking quite muddled thanks to the needless addition of grey and the yellow elements now visible on his knees, which really visually detracts on what is otherwise a strong robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned he is a repaint of Prowl minus the stroberack, and shares the mould with Bluestreak.

OVERALL

   A really good idea with a great design, Smokescreen is a good update of the original concept, with excellent poseability. The colours are annoyingly unfocused - the grey and yellow seem to serve only to make the colours busier than they should be. The plastic also feels quite cheap, so I can't really recommend this version of the mould over Prowl (I've yet to sample Bluestreak), but despite the flaws I'd still recommend at least one version of this mould - 6.5/10

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