Cliffbee.com: Needlenose Toy Review

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Name: Needlenose
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Aerial Warrior
Alternate Mode: Swept-Wing F-16 Fighter Jet



JET MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 14cm Width: 9cm (10cm with guns attached)

   A light grey F-16 with swept wings, similar to those of a Concorde, Needlenose has a blue cockpit and nose, red painted canopy and a blue tailfin. There are silver and green stickers running down the length of his wings, which taper in towards the cockpit as the wings narrow. There are matching stickers on the wingtips - which sport Decepticon logos - and on the tailfin. While the red canopy is a little random, this is a fairly decent colour scheme. The most notable thing about it is the plastic used - the grey plastic was a favourite for 1987-88 Decepticons, but has turned out to be very susceptible to UV damage. I only recently managed to find a (weaponless) Needlenose to replace my yellowed one - so I'm reviewing him now that I have one that's not yellow.

   Sunbeam and Zig Zag can attach underneath the wingtips, and while having one purple and one purple gun under the wings dispels any sort of realism, they do look fairly cool. They're also fitting for a military vehicle, too - unlike the weaponry that graces his Autobot equivalents.

   Aside from the main Targetmaster gimmick, Needlenose has three wheels underneath, all of which roll. The rear undercarriage cannot retract, the front wheel can fold forward. With the front wheel down his nose points up slightly - normal for a fighter on the ground - if it's retracted the jet dips down slightly.

   Needlenose has a lot of jet-panel detailing in his mould, although most of it is easy to miss since there's no paint wash to bring it out. He also sports an unpainted thruster underneath the tailfin. While by early G1 standards the moulded detail isn't really anything special, by 1988 it's at the better end of the scale.

   I'm not so sure about the red cockpit, and there's an awful lot of grey plastic visible - just waiting to turn yellow. Otherwise this is a decent jet mode. there's enough detail in the mould to keep me happy and the guns attach well, so the whole Targetmaster thing comes off.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Retract the front wheel, remove Zig Zag and Sunbeam if they're attached. Lift up the nose, Swing the legs out from up the wings and forward. Swing out the feet and stand him up. Swing up the crown, lift the arms out from the sides of the torso and fold out his hands. Place a gun in either hand of piggy back them and place the combined weapon in one hand.

   You're meant to fold the tailfin against his back, although there's no need to. It'll show up behind the cape formed from his wings if you fold it down, alternatively, it wont get in the way if you leave it pointing out and remain symmetrical.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12.5cm Width: 9cm

   Needlenose's robot mode is less reliant on grey, and the grey in this mode is less likely to suffer from UV damage since it's not so flat. The wings, chest and thighs are light grey, while the "crown" on his head is a darker grey plastic that looks like a soft plastic, but isn't. His groin and shins are blue while his arms and feet are light purple. He has a yellow face, which is just as random as the red cockpit in jet mode, but it suits his robot mode, so I don't mind random here. All in all, it's a pretty good colour scheme, certainly better than that of the jet mode, largely because the blue makes more sense and the yellow works really well.

   There are three main visual features of this robot mode's design. The first is the cape formed from the wings, which sits behind his arms, and looks good there. The second is the "crown" I've already alluded to, which has a grille on the front that reminds me simultaneous of the crowns on the Statue of Liberty and the giant robot from Spaceballs - The Movie. These two features fit in with each other quite well, I should point out. The third feature is the knee area - the kneecaps are an odd mix of grey and blue with the front landing gear between them. This knee area is probably the worst aspect of Needlenose's robot mode, and isn't helped by the hinges on the outsides of his thighs.

   Needlenose sports a Decepticon logo in the middle of his chest, mine has an extra set of wingtip stickers on the underside of his wings for some reason, giving him 'Con logos on his cape. While I'll never know why the original owner of this toy put thee stickers on, it looks really good - if you've got some extra Decepticon logo stickers, you might want to donate them to Needlenose.

   All of his Articulation is in his shoulders, in the form of ratcheting joints on two planes, allowing him to swing his arms and lift them out to the sides. The ratcheting joints are notched rather than spring reliant, so they're quiet, but still very strong. Considering the weight of the combined gun, it's a good thing he has nice strong shoulder joints.

   It's a fairly good robot mode, even if his knees look a little weird, since he has good colours and a cape in the form of his wings. Ok, so the poseability is limited, but no more so than the other small Targetmasters - in fact it's better than most.

Sunbeam
   A single barrelled purple rifle, Sunbeam is a typical "Decepticon" purple, and is noticeably darker than the lilac arms and feet of Needlenose, but not enough to clash. In his human form he has red arms and a red face, although the left arm is concealed by a giant gun it's holding - which has been left unpainted. His groin and legs are light grey. The handle is on his chest.

Zig Zag
   A black double barrelled rifle, Zig Zag has yellow arms and legs, a white face and white groin. The yellow is the same of that used on Needlenose's face (in fact, Sunbeam's red matches the cockpit red). This is a better colour scheme than Sunbeam's, but the post sticking out between his knees looks bad, so both partners are about as mediocre as each other. Zig Zag's gun mode is a slightly nicer weapon.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   One of the better small Targetmasters, Needlenose's jet are robot modes are fairly good, and the colours used are nice, for the most part. By far the biggest flaw in Needlenose is that the majority of second hand Needlenoses are badly yellowed. If you can fine one without UV damage, I'd recommend him to G1 fans - 6.5/10

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