Cliffbee.com: Dark Scorponok Toy Review

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Name: Dark Scorponok
Series: Cybertron
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Modes: Construction Vehicle, Jet

   A grey and charcoal repaint of Energon Scorponok, Dark Scorponok represents a kind of undead Scorponok, making him a Transformer zombie. And why not - we've already had Ghost Starscream! Anyway, this is a repaint and retool of that toy.



CONSTRUCTION VEHICLE MODE
Height: 17cm Length: 25cm Width: 22cm
(exact dimensions will depend on tail and claws, might be more or less depending on pose)

   A charcoal and dark grey construction vehicle with extensive gold highlights, some light metallic blue, bronze and gold here and there, Dark Scorponok has suitably a cold, evil feel. The gold, bronze and blue plastics are metallic and are joined by fairly extensive gold paint applications, which match the gold plastic closely. The metallic colours are light and fairly cool, and fit in with the theme of the toy. There are some transparent red pieces, which are a lot warmer than the rest of the toy but there's a blood feel about them (I know Transformers don't have blood, but it works for the zombie thing), and the two lasers on the tail that were previously transparent are now a solid red. This colour scheme is a _lot_ better than the mashed colour scheme of the Energon toy - despite actually having _more_ colours (the addition of solid red), since the grey and charcoal meld together as do the gold and copper. The undead theme is very well executed, making this a slightly creepy pseudo-scorpion.

   This vehicle is clearly designed to resemble a scorpion - it's immediately obvious from the shape - the Energon toy was a G1 tribute, and this toy is at once a continuation of the Energon character and a tribute to G1 Blackzarak - a Scorponok retool. As I've already alluded to, there are mouthparts, gold curved protrusions on either side of the grille. There's also an overhanging tail (the sight of the retooling, which I'll come back to), the claws are digger buckets and there are transparent red claws hanging off the back of the treads while charcoal buckets sit on the front. The main body is still very much construction vehicle, with the treads, a cabin, grille and some blue pistons on either side of the engineblock for decoration. The fusion of the vehicle and scorpion themes is so well done that Dark Scorponok manages to effortlessly be both in one glance.

   Coming back to the tail, they've basically redone the tip piece entirely. The sliding cockpit and hook are gone, a static gold canopy is painted on, and while there's still a hardpoint behind this sits a Planet Key slot, into which you can plug his green Planet Key (code: u812). The redesigned tail lasers will flip out when the key is inserted, and can stow again once the key is removed - they're now spring loaded. Thankfully there's a half-loaded position for stowing the key, without deploying the lasers. The tailtip itself is largely remoulded with new details, along with the lasers.

   There's a lot of detail here, with an awful lot of mechanical detail all over this guy, far too much to really go through. The highlights are moulded Decepticon logo on the roof, which faces backwards and has raised relief painted purple, teeth on the various buckets and a lot of pistons/pneumatic arms here and there.

   The outer claws (charcoal buckets) can lift out to reveal transparent red missile launchers which will fire bronze missiles about half a metre. The gold inner claws will open as the outer claws are opened, which is a nice touch. The arms themselves have shoulders that rotate on two axes similar to those of G1 Scorponok. The mouthparts can lift up, there are blue cannon blocks on the sides at the back and there are two bronzes wheels underneath each tread allowing Dark Scorponok to roll. The tail is hinged at the base and midway, and has the Planet Key gimmick already discussed. The tip piece is slightly shorter than on his predecessor, incidentally.

   If you've got the batteries active (I've left the tab in - I'm not really a fan of sound gimmicks as regular readers will know), the slider will also activate a machine gun sound. As the tail moves mechanical sounds activate, while two buttons underneath the tail activate more mechanical sounds. The lower part of the tail contains a battery box and speakers (and a small white tab hangs out on the right side of mine, that I intend to leave there). While I can't attest to the quality of the sounds, I do know that the tail movement sound gets annoying, since it just keeps activating whenever you move the tail. My Dark Scorponok will stay mute just as my Megazarak is.

   Sounds aside, this is a very good vehicular mode for what it is. The whole scorpion-truck works well despite being an unusual concept, and works better in these more cohesive colours than Energon Scorponok's (the latter is still shelfwarming around here). The attention to detail in this mould is great and the colours are dark and evil, which really helps the toy achieve it's undead look. The retooling is most relevant in this mode, and while it doesn't make a huge difference to the play value, it does plant Dark Scorponok firmly in the Cybertron line, which I really appreciate.

JET MODE
Height: 8.5cm Length: 33cm Width: 25cm

   An impressively large jet compared to the more compact land based vehicle mode, this jet blurs the line between an intermediate mode and a true third mode. I say that because there's very little in Dark Scorponok's engineering that exists solely to make this very different mode possible. It's certainly different from the land vehicle though - the engine block splits and repositions on either side of the cabin, the tail swings underneath and becomes the long nose of the jet. The treads become the back and the underside buckets swing out the side as tailwings (this is probably the only joints that is specifically for this mode, a few connections go into it, though). The cockpit on the scorpion tail the sole cockpit on Dark Scorponok, the secondary cockpit is unpainted this time around. The cabin of the land mode with it's transparent red windows is of course still visible. The claws have rotated back and there are transparent red spines that stick out as wingtips.

   Despite not really asking much in terms of engineering, this is still a worthwhile mode. In reality this _is_ an intermediate mode, but it's a very strong one. The sheer number of design elements here that relate to the scorpion or construction themes tell you that this was thought up as a rearrangement of the earthmover mode. The sound gimmicks all still function here and there are six wheels underneath which Dark Scorponok has solely for this jet mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   From the earthmover mode, unfold the treads out to the back to form his legs, lift up the buckets to form feet and lift out the heelspurs. Open the halves of the engineblock out to 45, lift up the cabin roof, flip out his head and close the roof again. Rotate the claws down to form his arms. I notice that the canonical pictures have the tail lifted over his head, which was not the case for the Energon toy. This makes sense since it lets the key gimmick remain relevant in robot mode, and of course helps differentiate the two robot modes.

   There are some minor finishing touches, such as rotating the blue cannons now on his hips forwards and folding down the claws on his knees. You have the option of detaching the transparent red guns on the sides of the cabin for use as handguns, and you can also leave the kneeclaws out for extra kick-in-the-crotch goodness.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 29cm Width: 22cm

   The dimensions I quote are assuming you have the tail deployed rather than hanging in the no-mans-land on his back. Dark Scorponok is again a mesh of charcoal and grey with blue, bronze and gold highlights. The head is blue with a black face, blue eyes and transparent red eyevisor (complete with antennae, as part the G1 tribute). The colours again work well here and the facial paintmask has been changed which helps differentiate Dark Scorponok, with the black face and blood red visor really cementing the whole undead robot thing.

   The Blackzarak homage is not quite as strong as it could be - that toy had a distinct gold head - but it's still quite apparent and the undead theme is a priority for this toy, since that's how he's portrayed. The tail, head, overall leg shape, claw-arms, fold down chestplate and of course tail on his back are all elements this toy shares with the G1 toys, although the toy lacks the giant sceptre Blackzarak carried (it would have made a great accessory!). The sounds are an addition of course, and all operate as in the other two modes. The missile launchers are again useful, and sport hardpoints allowing you to attach Minicons to Dark Scorponok's arms.

   With the launchers, handguns and tail cannons Dark Scorponok has a total of six barrels. The poseability is a little limited (mainly the arms), with two joints in the tail, a head that turns and an eyevisor that lifts up. The shoulders have two rotators, the elbows bend in and out (and combined with the shoulder rotators, this provides enough elbow movement to keep me happy). The hips turn, the knees bend and twist while the feet can lift up and down. The tail can tip Dark Scorponok over in some poses, but it's flexible enough that it's not a major problem, and the heelspurs are useful (without them, he can't stand at all mind you).

   Between the poseability, weaponry options and sound gimmicks there's quite a lot happening here, and of course Dark Scorponok gains a Planet Key gimmick. The holes in his claws are of course able to hold other "standard" weapons. For a Transformer with a vehicular alt mode (two in fact), Dark Scorponok is quite playable. And with the bulky claws and towering tail, he also looks imposing. This is a robot mode that's both playable and displayable, two aspects that aren't always combined in one toy. The colours are again a clear improvement on the previous toy's, while the undead thing is again well executed.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, but this is a repaint and retool of Energon Scorponok/Superlink Megazarak as mentioned.

OVERALL

   A pretty expensive repaint, but Dark Scorponok is a far more focused repaint than most of late, and the redone tail makes a difference - I really appreciate that he fits into his line well (unlike the BW repaints in Armada with their hopelessly random Minicons). The colour scheme is appealing and far more unified than Energon Scorponok's. It's about on par with Megazarak's colours, who is slightly more unified than Dark Scorponok in truth. The mould is a good one, imposing in all three modes with a good G1 homage and lots of play value (even if the sound gimmicks are again a waste of time). The undead theme was enough to win me over, even though I already have Megazarak. If you don't have this mould, I'd definitely recommend Dark Scorponok, while if he appeals (and you have the cash), I'd recommend him as a retool - 8/10

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