Cliffbee.com: Sky Byte Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Sky Byte
Series: Robots in Disguise
Allegiance: Predacon
Function: Shark
Alternate Mode: Shark



SHARK MODE
Height: 11cm Length: 26cm Width: 12cm

   A blue shark with the blue paint fading to white on his underbelly, Sky Byte is covered in silver and gunmetal paint, highlighting mechanical details, with red, yellow and orange diodes and such amongst the detailing. He has a pearl white lower jaw, white teeth on his upper jaw, white eyes with red pupils and chrome silver flanks around the area where his blue and white pectoral fins attach. The level of detail in this paint job is nothing short of fantastic, and about 90% of the toy is painted, with the tail and the outside of the lower jaw the exceptions (the inside of the lower jaw is painted pink). The end result is a terrific cybernetic shark, and makes for a great display piece.

   Sky Byte is a repaint of the Transmetal II Cybershark, a toy whose spare paint mask spectacularly wasted the excellent sculpt. Sky Byte is the great Transmetal Cybershark should have been. Both jaws have moulded teeth, the mouth is permanently open and there are ridges inside the lower jaw which resemble formative rows of teeth, which is appropriate. Most of the sculpt here is mechanical and there's little organic sculpt, which makes sense since sharks are streamlined hunters with smooth skin. There are diodes, gears, rivets, hoses and the like all over, and all are painted (silver against a gunmetal background in the case os some of the wiring and such). Close inspection reveals a fantastic attention to detail both in paint mask and sculpt, and the paint mask brings the sculpt out very well. The are turbines on his sides, which are painted black. While on Cybershark these were one of the few details highlighted, they're more subtle now, but I don't mind since black against the silver chrome is a good thing.

   The tail spins as part of his hyper speed gimmick, and two yellow blades fold down from the tail to give him a four-blade turbine. There's a gunmetal wheel on the right side of the tail's base, and turning it will cause the tail to rotate. There's a lock to keep the tail in place, but it relies on a peg being pushed down, and since the peg connects to his underside, there's inherent pressure pushing the peg back up - unlocking the tail. Having said that, this locking mechanism works better than on Cybershark. The wheel is nestled away and so the mechanism only works slowly - better off just spinning the tail directly.

   The pectoral fins are detachable and peg into the chrome panels on either side, which allows them to rotate. Previously one of the biggest engineering problems, these panels are more stable now, and while they don't peg down, the friction of their attachment joints is far stronger - no doubt helped by the fact there's no chrome in the joints now. The shark mode is now quite stable, unlike the mess that was Cybershark.

   There's a yellow missile launcher inside his mouth and Sky Byte comes with silver missiles. The launcher doesn't completely retract, rather forming his palate when not in use. It's a little angular for such a curved toy, but with the mechanical details so prominent, it doesn't look out of place. Speaking of curves, Sky Byte is moulded into a curved position, with the tail slashing to the left slightly.

   A great sculpt and good colours make for a great shark mode. The paint job is about ten million times better than his predecessor's and Sky Byte's shark mode is actually stable, if a little static. But then, when it looks this good, I don't care that it just sits there, because it does that very well.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fairly complex and counter-intuitive, but without the army of parts trying to fall off that cursed Cybershark. The lower jaw ends up becoming his feet, the chest is buried within the rear of the body, the tailfin becomes the left hand and the right arm is the underside, the dorsal fin ends up being a giant mohawk. The pectoral fins and their panels end up on his back and the rear panelling that covers his head and torso become shoulderpads. You do have to be careful with the panelling here, but it's not the house of cards of his Beast Wars equivalent, which makes for a complex, clever transformation rather than a complex, annoying one.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19.5cm Width: 14cm

   A nice mix of vaguely transparent blue, pearl white and yellow, Sky Byte has yellow upper arms and knees, white shins, chest, feet and forearms, blue thighs, underarms and gunmetal highlights on his groin and ankles. The left hand is a four-pronged claw of white, blue and two retractable yellow blades. His chest has a face-motif with blue and silver eyemasks with crimson eyes, and a crimson Predacon spark crystal as it's centrepiece. His head is white with the chromed blue dorsal fin as a mohawk, yellow face with a white toothed scowl and pink eyes. This is again a great colour set that highlights the detail of the mould. It draws less attention to his two most unusual features - the mohawk and spark crystal - than Cybershark's colour set, but it also supports these features rather than relying on them for visual impact.

   The shoulder panels are asymmetrical, since his tail is curved and they're formed from the base of the tail. As a result the left side one curved up and the right one down, which would be awkward if the colours didn't distract you - as is the case on his Maximal predecessor. The left hand is of course the tailfin, with the two yellow blades now deployed. The spinning mechanism works a lot better now, too, since the gear is completely exposed, allowing better grip. The right hand can hold the detachable missile launcher as a gun, and it detaches from his rump fairly easily - yet another improvement on Cybershark (I'm almost getting tired of having to refer to that guy!).

   Sky Byte is very articulated with hinged ankles and swivels just above them, double hinged knees, ball jointed shoulders and hips as well as the right elbow. The left elbow has both a hinge and swivel, and the head turns. While the is some kibble in the way here and there, this does give Sky Byte decent poseability. The head is restricted by the large shoulderpads and he is quite top heavy. The left elbow is a lot stronger than previously, the hips and ankles are stronger than Cybershark's, so leg poseability is fairly good, although the top-heaviness does limit you somewhat. The best part? You no longer have to worry about the panels popping off when you pose him. The feet have heelspurs, and combined with the improved hip and ankle joints, Sky Byte is a lot easier to stand than previously.

   A good robot mode with a clever colour set and great visual impact, especially the mohawk and spark crystal. Most of the engineering issues of this mould have been addressed, making Sky Byte quite poseable. The missiles can fire independently and the spinning hand gimmick works well.

VARIATIONS

   A repaint of Cybershark, and while he's not a retool, the joints have been improved. He is actually a slight repaint of Takara's Gelshark, who represents the same character, but was released first. Gelshark's pink is a little darker and the transparency of the blue plastic is more obvious.

OVERALL

   Thank you Takara. When Cybershark was first announced I got quite excited, until I saw firsthand how lazy the execution was. Sky Byte addresses the crappy engineering and has a fantastic paint job that really accents the great detail on this mould. There are still some minor engineering issues that are inherent in the design, but they're no longer significant issues (the shoulderpads, for example) thanks to Takara's efforts. If you liked Transmetal IIs, you'll like this toy. Sky Byte is for many the most compelling character in the RiD cartoon, not that you need character to sell this toy. It's not often I give wildly different scores to toys of the same mould, but this is one of those instances - this is a very worthwhile repaint. Buy him if you get the chance - 9/10

"Transformers" and other indica trademarks of Hasbro and/or Takara.