Alternate Mode: Armoured Missile Truck
Thanks to liegeprime for loaning me Countdown for this review.
MISSILE TRUCK MODE
Height: 11.5cm Length: 24cm Width: 7.5cm
A red and navy blue armoured truck with a giant missile on top, Countdown is a repaint of Cybertron Defence Red Alert in colours vaguely reminiscent of his G1 namesake. This vehicle is a hybrid of two concepts rather than a true military vehicle, but the idea works well enough. He has eight black plastic tyres and silver paint on the windows and hatches. The missile is more of a rocket - hence the name reuse - which has a white front half and a dark grey back half, with a navy collar between them. The colour scheme is more complicated than you normally see on a functional military vehicle, but it's not garish. In these colours, it's the USA Olympic military truck (for javelin perhaps?).
The level of detail on this toy is pretty good, with rivets, ladders, slit windows, ration packs and such. There's a stamped Autobot logo on the roof (on one of the silver hatches), with a twin-barrelled grey cannon on top. The missile is mounted on a white base, which has an access basket at the back, allowing a Minicon (well, one of the smaller ones) to work on the missile's propulsion system. There are hardpoints on either side of the truck itself, allowing you to attach two Minicons to the truck.
As you might expect there's quite a lot of play value here. As with many Ultras, there are electronic gimmicks, and you need to install two AAA batteries (not included). Countdown comes with a milky grey Planet Key, which plugs into the back of the missile's base. As with most later Cybertron toys, the missile will sit halfway or push right in and activate the gimmicks. The front half of the missile opens to reveal a transparent blue shaft, incorporating a working missile launcher - the white tip of the main missile is actually a missile, with a white button now accessible on the shaft. This launcher isn't all that powerful, but it's a nice touch. The missile can slide off its base, which can lift around 80¡ and is able to support the weight of the missile.
If you have the batteries loaded, sliding the missile off or plugging in the Planet Key will cause flashing lights and sounds. The electronics are mediocre but the sounds are distinct at least - the missile firing is unmistakable while there are five clear beeps when you plug the key in. The best aspect of the electronics is that the mechanism is nestled inside the missile it doesn't get in the way - he's not built around a block that limits the Transformer itself. While electronics rarely impress me, Countdown has enough play value otherwise that I'm happy to view it simply as a bonus. The twin grey cannon on his roof lifts up, rounding out the play value.
On the whole this is a good missile truck, even if it is a bit of a hybrid vehicle (Fit For Natalie informs me that Countdown is a BTR-80 armoured personnel carrier with a missile grafted on top). The truck itself looks pretty good, the play value is impressive and the detailing is quite good. While it's solid without being spectacular, it's visually impressive. The colours are a little more than you'd expect of a vehicle like this and don't really create any tribute, but they work well enough.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Swing the rear side panels forward, covering the front tyres with the rear ones. Open the roof of the cabin, fold the sides of the front down to form the legs, lift out the feet and heelspurs. The centre of the front splits to form arms which fold back into position against the rear of the truck (the torso). Fold over the chestplate, which will also reveal the head. Slide the missile right so that it forms a shoulder-cannon and clears the head.
Height: 23cm Width: 14cm
A red robot with white painted thighs and head, a silver chestplate and mouth and transparent blue eyes (and a useless lightpipe). There's minimal blue now, most of that is on the inside shaft of the missile over his shoulder. The fists are black along with some small patches on his waist. The colours bear sine resemblance to those of the G1 Micromaster now, since he's red, white and silver.
The central strip of the truck now sits on the outside of one forearm - when you split the arms it'll go with one or the other, while the missile forms a huge shoulder mounted feature, as mentioned. With the arm weapon and the huge missile, Countdown is a rather fearsome looking robot, with about 40 times the mass of the Micromaster (and is far more imposing!). The boots are chunky and this figure is generally boxy, giving him a colossal look.
The arm-attachment is essentially his hand weapon, since Countdown doesn't gun with a handgun (he does have holes in his fists, however). There's a slot at the back end for his Planet Key, although you don't really need to use it - pull the grey top piece and it'll flip over, forming the barrel of a gun, and this works well as a handgun, despite it being stuck to the side of his arm. This piece can be detached if you prefer. There are has tools hidden inside the shins which can plug into the weapon. The left shin houses a red hammerhead, which incorporates a spring, so that as he hammers, the head itself collapses and rebounds. The right shin houses a white claw. All the gimmicks of the missile are available here, since it doesn't actually transform itself. Curiously, if you treat it as a shoulder-mounted missile launcher, Countdown has an enormous launcher and a single small, white missile.
Countdown is quite poseable for such a blocky toy. The shoulders swing while the elbows, hips and knees all have both hinges and rotators. The head, waist and wrists turn and the shoulder missile can lift up and down. The heelspurs allow for some leg posing, while the ratcheting joints in his hips make sure this top heavy toy doesn't collapse under its own weight. Despite his poseability, Countdown lacks any ball joints.
A good robot mode with lots of play value - and Countdown is far more poseable than he looks. His bulk and impressive weapons make sure Countdown looks imposing. The colours provide a slightly better tribute than those of his vehicle mode, but it's weak at best. The colours aren't quite as nice as those of Red Alert, since the white of that toy helps focus attention on the missile, while the red tries to complete with it. The weaponry options are fun, and I'm glad that the electronics aren't inside a huge block dominating the torso.
None that I'm aware of.
It's a very good mould with simple yet effective play value, good poseability and clever weapons. The colours aren't as successful as Red Alert in either mode, so I'd recommend the Cybertron version of the mould first, but this is an adequate substitute since the colours aren't by any means _bad_. The robot mode is more poseable than it looks, and the integrated tool/weapon on his arm works well. Generally I've found recent Ultra-sized Transformers carrying electronic gimmicks to be disappointing, but I'm impressed with this mould - 7.5/10