Cliffbee.com: Spark Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Spark
Series: Convention Exclusives
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Fire Engine



FIRE ENGINE MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 17cm Width: 6.5cm

   A pinkish-red red modern fire truck with cadmium yellow on the front bumper and rear end, Spark has black danger stripes on the yellow rear. The windows and strobes on top of the roof are transparent red while there's gold panels on the sides, a cobalt blue cannon on top and six charcoal wheels with silver hubcaps. He's a repaint of Universe 2.0 Inferno, in tribute to Pyro (AKA Spark). There are white G2 Autobot logos stamped on either side and another on the windscreen - in typical ostentatious G2 fashion. This is a garish colour scheme, but that's by design, and it works well both in terms of tribute and separating this repaint from Inferno while remaining red. There are green panels on either side bearing "27641" on them, just as on Pyro.

   While the mould takes design cues taken from G1 Inferno, this mould bears a good resemblance to the original Pyro toy - also a boxy fire engine. There's no visible ladder here - which is common on modern fire trucks. This is a very satisfying fire engine mode, even without a visible ladder. The water cannon on top firmly defines this as a fire engine.

   There's not a whole lot of play value here since the emphasis is on a good vehicle mode, but there's still some stuff you can do. The wheels all roll and do so on ridged tyres so he'll rumble as he rolls. The cannon can lift up to around 30 and it can also turn through 360, although not while lifted. Turning it will reveal the gaps on top between the arms and feet, but this isn't a deal breaker by any stretch. The water stream is a missile - pressing the trigger on top will cause the missile to fore maybe 2 feet. There are no electronic gimmicks here, which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned - there's no awkward electronics block dominating the engineering, so Spark is dedicated to being a good Transformer.

   Aside from the limitation on rotating the cannon I have no real complains with this mode. The colours work well both in terms of the tribute and as a repaint more generally. The fire engine is detailed with elements such as windshield wipers and seats inside. It's well painted - they've nailed the tribute here. The play value is about what you'd expect of a simple vehicle mode like this, making this a satisfying and strong if straightforward alt mode. My only real criticism of this mode is a mild one - the side windows are painted a sort of pink, which clearly differs from the transparent red, but then it would be pretty much impossible to match this without adding in more transparent red plastic.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Unclip the gold side panels and fold forward. Unclip the 27641 side panels and do the same. Fold away the front wheels, unclip the underside and fold down to form his legs. Fold the front bumper down to form the groin, split and rotate the boots, fold down the feet. Unclip the sides of the cabin, lift them up, split and swing forward as shoulderpads. Swing the arms down into position, fold away the visible side windows (underneath the shoulderpads) and bring the shoulderpads down. Rotate the arms into position, rotate the panels on the outsides of his arms and the water cannon on the right forearm. Pull back the blue panel behind the torso, pull forward the right strobe - the head should spring out into position - fold the panel up as a backplate and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18cm Width: 15cm

   A red robot with a cobalt blue head, blue feet, elbows and fists, a cadmium yellow groin and black thighs. The front of the truck is his torso, complete with the very prominent G2 Autobot logo, the seats and the headlight assembly. His face is painted gold while his eyes are red with a good lightpipe. Again this is a good colour scheme - even if the colour map diverges from Pyro a little more than in vehicle mode. The colour scheme still captures the feel of that toy. This colour scheme captures the "European" G1 era in all it's pastel glory.

   has a good bodyshape and while there is some kibble, it's used well. The shoulderpads are visually unobtrusive and they can also clear room for arm poseability. The water cannon is obviously a carry over, but this integrated weapon isn't really kibble. I especially like the backplate getting itself right out of the way, it's clever and is designed purely to avoid a gap at that spot. Spark's head is nothing like that of Pyro's - it's Inferno's, which is understandable. I don't mind, since it's coloured in a manner fitting that era. I am slightly disappointed that his face isn't silver as on Pyro - since there are some silver painted elements on this toy.

   Spark's poseability is very good here. His head sits on a ball joint and his wrists rotate while his waist is fixed. His shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and _ankles_ are move in two planes of motion, despite the neck being the only ball joint used here. The range of poses available is impressive and the double jointed ankles coupled with the transformation hinges in his feet make Inferno quite stable. There are holes in his fists and while at a glance they might seem token, Inferno can hold his missile as a club quite easily. The missile can also be fired from the cannon sitting underneath his right forearm. This launcher cannot detach, which makes it impossible to lose (well, unless you break the toy), but sits in a position where it can be unobtrusive when it needs to be.

   If there's a negative here it's the lack of a waist - Inferno's torso is a box with a groinplate underneath, and no waist to speak of. Mind you, this is as on Pyro, so it's true to character even if it does look a little strange.

   A great robot mode with excellent play value, Spark isn't burdened by gimmicks. His poseability is impressive for a toy that turns into a boxy vehicle, yet he has surprisingly little kibble thanks to some clever panel tricks. The paint job isn't as good as that of the vehicle mode - the gold face is slightly disappointing. The colour map diverges but it would have difficult to do both modes well in that respect - and considering that Spark lacks the gun emplacement component Pyro has, he's done well to lose much of the yellow for this mode.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. Spark was exclusive to BotCon 2010, and was likely limited to a single production run, making variants unlikely. He shares the mould with Grapple & Hot Spot.

OVERALL

   A good mould with two good modes featuring good robot mode poseability. The repaint isn't for everyone since it's quite garish, but it does a very good job of tributing the "European" G1 era, and a great job of tributing Pyro. Given that toy's notoriously fragile nature (and rarity anyway), this one's probably more easily accessible, despite the limited production. If you like the BotCon 2010 theme - and the era he's harking back to - I'd recommend Spark, if you have the chance to get him - 9/10

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