Name: Shadow Striker
Series: Convention Exclusives
Alternate Mode: Dodge Viper
Thanks to liegeprime for loaning me Shadow Striker for this review.
Height: 4cm Length: 12.5cm Width: 5.5cm
A glossy black silver Dodge Viper with transparent windows and headlights, black rubberised tyres, silver hubcaps and protruding chrome engineblock. There are twin sapphire blue racing stripes running from the front to back. The entire shell is composed of the same transparent smoky plastic, with paint covering most of the car and gold painted taillights. Rounding this out is a large purple Decepticon symbol stamped on her roof. It's an attractive colour scheme, with a different paint mask to that of the original version of this mould, Side Burn. Shadow Striker lacks the chrome on her hubcaps that Side Burn sports, but doesn't really suffer for this. The colours are a little dark - it masks her detailing a little - but she still looks good.
Shadow Striker has a pretty realistic vehicle mode - from the detailed hubcaps and gold and silver engineblock to the moulding inside her headlights, to the rear vision mirrors on the doors, Shadow Striker is a good facsimile of a Dodge Viper, to an extent not seen since the Diaclone based toys back in 1984/85. Granted, she's not perfect, but the main break is a small notch on her roof allowing a transform joint to work. The view through the windows isn't much, since the limbs are squished inside the cockpit, but the tinted windows conceal them so you'll only really see them if you're looking for details inside. There's a blue Autobot logo visible inside the rear window, which is quite off-putting.
There's not a lot of play value here. The wheels roll, although without axles you'll find that Shadow Striker will most likely move in a large arc when pushed - liegeprime's doesn't roll well at all.. The doors open as part of the transformation, opening them just reveals squished bodyparts. I can deal with limited play value here - Shadow Striker is a very realistic toy and in a deluxe that's enough for me. Besides the play value is all in the robot mode.
Despite the kibble visible through the windows, this is a good vehicle mode. The Dodge theme is instantly recognisable and the little features like the grip on her tyres and air vents on the hood really make for a nice sports car mode. The colours are a little dark and that Autobot logo doesn't belong, but Shadow Striker still has a nice colour scheme.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
This is the most complex deluxe mould ever, so I'm going to summarise. The toy is basically a tightly packed shellformer, the rear bumper detaches to become his missile launcher and the long exhaust pipe becomes the missile. This is a tricky transformation the first couple of dozen times, and even when you're used to it you're likely to find it awkward. The rear fenders become her thighs, the engineblock becomes her chestplate, the roof ends up as a shield hanging off her left arm and the front bumper a shoulderpad on her right shoulder. The hood and doors end up as an armour skirt and more often than not the front bumper will end up on the floor - there's so much twisting involved it's challenging to not pop it off even when you're used to this transformation, which is highly asymmetrical and more involved than most ultras.
Height: 13cm Width: 8cm
Again Shadow Striker is based on on glossy black, with extensive mustard and mid blue highlights on her chest and boots. Her face is gold with pink lips and red eyes while the silver and gold engineblock is on her chest. Her head is resculpted to look more feminine - especially the lips - and but loses the transparent plastic Side Burn had. There is a blue chromed _Autobot_ symbol on her left forearm which loosely matches the blue on other parts of her body if not the allegiance symbol on the roof. While this is a busy colour scheme it blends well and looks good. The colours are certainly distinct from both versions of Side Burn. I'm not impressed with the Autobot logo on her arm - I've actually turned the arm around in the photo above, but this impacts on her poseability. While I can understand that the cost of resculpting this aspect may have been prohibitive, I would have actually preferred it unpainted.
This is a really detailed robot mode, even if the resculpted head is slightly simpler than that of Side Burn. The head is still detailed as are most of the robot mode surfaces. Of course, there are car parts hanging everywhere, but that doesn't detract from the detailing. Shadow Striker is very slight and spindly, since the entire robot mode has to fold up inside a Dodge Viper. The slender build suits a female character quite well, in a subtle way, without the hourglass waist or pseudo-breasts of some female Transformers.
While she's skinny and kibbly Shadow Striker does have fantastic poseability. The neck, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all ball jointed, as is the shield on her arm and the armour skirt halves hanging off the back of her waist. The waist rotates and the elbows are hinged with swivels in the upper arms. The end result is that Shadow Striker is about as poseable as they come, and the armour skirt and small heelspurs allow for almost unlimited posing, since she can lean back on the armour skirt if she needs to. Adding to all of this is the missile launcher, which fires about a metre, and the silver blade that can also be handheld. As I mentioned, you _can_ rotate the left arm to hide the Autobot logo, but she loses elbows movement.
Shadow Striker's biggest flaws here are the misplaced logo, multitude of car parts hanging off her and the tendency for certain ball joints to pop out - notably the shoulderpad and shield. This is the sort of toy that'd be tricky to find complete second hand - not that BotCon toys tend to get a lot of play. The silver blade is unchromed - unlike that carried by Sideburn. While I would have preferred chrome, I can live with this reduction in cost considering they've gone and resculpted the head. I can't really forgive the highlighted Autobot logo here.
Excellent poseability, good colours and a pretty effective missile launcher make for a fun robot mode, but the popping ball joints do get annoying and the Autobot logo really hurts for me. Shadow Striker is a lot skinnier than I'd like and this does serve to emphasise the kibble all over the toy. How much you like this robot mode will depend on my much you value play value and what you think of the shellformer style of Transformer. The repaint itself is quite attractive with a daring set of colours that work well, and the retooled head is a great touch, even if the pink lips are slightly cheesy. I find the Autobot logos draws attention away from the excellent colours, sadly.
As mentioned, Shadow Striker is a repaint of Side Burn, sold exclusively at OTFCC 2003. She was packaged with Roulette.
While this is a fantastic feat of toy engineering, it's not for everyone. Shadow Striker is very much a shellformer - something that bothers a lot of fans - and the transformation gets downright annoying, thanks to ball joints that have a tendency to give. The car mode is very well done and is a great throwback to the early days of G1 on a poseable toy. This is a good repaint aside from the choice of making the moulded Autobot logo very visible, although the resculpted head is a clear plus. If you can appreciate the mould, Shadow Striker is a good toy. Since she's limited in supply, I'll stop short of recommending her, but if you're willing to pay the going rate for the pair, Shadow Striker is rewarding - 7/10