Cliffbee.com: FAB Blackout Toy Review

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Individual Review




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

Thanks to Tiby for loaning me Blackout for this review



HELICOPTER MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 22cm Width: 10cm (rotorspan 14.5cm)

   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. The radar dome on the portside of his nose isn't painted as it was on the Blackout, but there's a Decepticon logo stamped on the front of the cockpit which looks nice so I'll call it even. They grey is drab, but it's meant to be on a function military helicopter, so as with the original, grey works for Blackout. There are some yellow danger lines (opposed by unpainted grey) on the outriggers and his silver hands protrude slightly at the back of the outriggers, but all told I'm pretty happy with this colour scheme. The danger lines are lazy, but I'm still happy they went to the trouble of including them.

   As with pretty much all FABs the chopper mode is shortened, although I wouldn't really say Blackout is "cutesy" as some are. He's not as realistic as the regular version of the character, but still fairly good. The main rotor blades are on an angle and the centre of the rotor is riveted. There are seams on the body of the chopper and some doors and hatches on the sides as well. Perhaps the main distraction is a rather obvious missile sticking out of the nose, between his radar and refuelling probe. There is one aspect where this toy exceeds the bigger version - that annoying and distracting cage for the silly little Scorponok figure.

   Instead we get a simpler and more effective gimmick. There's a black button just below the Decepticon logo which fires the missile maybe four feet. It's a simple idea but works quite well, and the missile is relatively subtle. There's no gimmick in the rotor this time, although it will spin freely - which just enough clearance between the main and rear rotors, thanks to the shorter tail. Curiously, the grey piece at the centre of the rotor remains fixed as the blades spin, which is unusual for a Transformer helicopter. There are black plastic wheels underneath the outriggers, which feature bombs, and two on a small plastic axles (a single piece, all told) underneath the cockpit. He doesn't roll that well, however.

   Whilst it's not a fantastic chopper mode, this is still a good chopper mode which is pretty much on par with that of the larger one. Granted the shape isn't quite right, but then the loose cage of the regular version brings them together. The missile gimmick is simple but it works without really getting in the way of the chopper mode itself, despite its visibility.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fold the tail rotor down, swing the outriggers down to become arms and swing down the legs from underneath. Folding up down the tail section will cause the robot head to flip up, essentially completing the transformation. There are a few options available - which is good - but I'll cover those a bit later.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 11.5cm

   The grey is still the main colour, although it's joined by black on the shoulders, thighs and feet. His face is painted a mixture of silvers and blacks while the ankles and open hands are also painted silver. The Decepticon logo is now central on his chest, which is the front of the helicopter. The missiles protrudes, which is a little unsettling, but there are other options available. While it's necessarily simpler than the robot mode of the other version, it actually has less kibble - since the two gimmicks of the other require substantial dedicated sections. Again the colours are fairly straightforward, again they work for the character.

   While his head is slightly bigger than it should be, Blackout isn't really dumbed down here, which I appreciate. The transformation scheme is obviously simple - but that's also the case on the larger toy, and he's actually relatively involved for a FAB. The bombs of the outriggers sit on the outsides of his arms, which sounds good, but they point _up_, so they're just kibble. They do stay out of the way of his playability, mind you.

   As I alluded to already, the play value includes a few options. The missile can be removed so that the radar dome and refuelling probe fold down, which is essentially how he's meant to be - although Hasbro pictures don't acknowledge it (mind you, the Hasbro pictures, which I have used for this review, fail to fold up the tail as well). There's no dedicated place for the missile to store otherwise, so I prefer to just follow Hasbro's lead. The main rotor can stay on his back, or you can flip up the black socket to which it attaches, lifting the blades up into a prominent position behind his head. You actually have to remove and reattach the rotor, but that's easy enough. His "attack mode" involves flipping a plate out from his back and over the chest forming a less chopper-like chest. There's a non-functional cannon at the front, but it obscures his face. Pressing down on this plate will push it against the button, firing his missile. As cool as the firing mechanism is, I don't like the obscured face, so I'll leave it on his back. Still, we get the option and I'm happy about that.

   The other gimmick - and the one which is advertised in his name - is the ability of Blackout to hold the rotor in his hand. It actually plugs into a grey tube which is nestled inside the left hand, and this only works if you lift the arm up, since his legs get in the way if the arm is down by his side. This makes perfect sense, anyway. The free spinning blades make for a pretty nice melee weapon, it has to be said. Yes it's a simple and fairly obvious gimmick - but it _works_ and has a coolness that many of the other FAB gimmicks don't. The missile will get in the way of the rotor, you can kind of stow it in the black socket, even though it's not really designed with this in mind.

   There is a flaw here - Blackout _really_ needs heelspurs. The articulation is pretty good for a FAB - and the poseability is also decent, but with his small feet Blackout can be tricky to balance. The arms lift up and rotate, allowing you to twist his hands. The hips are restricted ball joints while both the knees and ankles are hinged. If you lift the left arm up, it would appear at a glance that the missile should be able to plug into the tube inside the hand, but the missile is the wrong shape. Even if the cost of a launcher wouldn't have worked, I would have liked to a standard shape for a false launcher - but this is a fairly minor issue.

   Other than the lack of heelspurs, this is a decent robot mode. As FABs go, Blackout's robot mode is great, with a worthwhile gimmick and a few options which add to the play value. The poseability is nice even if the heelspurs do hold it back a little. With less kibble than the regular toy, he actually looks really nice.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   Along with Starscream, this toy is actually worthy of comparison with the non-FAB version of the character. The tail in chopper mode is a little short and the robot head a little big, but he lacks the kiddie proportions some FABs have and there aren't any blatant simplifications. The gimmicks are all worthwhile and both modes fundamentally work. Whilst I wouldn't say it's as good as the regular toy, it's a cheaper option and represents about the same value for money. If it had heelspurs, I'd recommend this over the larger toy, as it stands I give Blackout 7/10 - the same as his other version.

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