Cliffbee.com: Universe Depth Charge Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Depth Charge
Series: Universe Wars
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Manta Ray

Thanks to Pulse for donating Depth Charge for this review



MANTA RAY MODE
Height: 7.5cm Length: 40cm Width: 32.5cm

   A glossy brown, turquoise, beige and ochre manta ray with extensive charcoal paint wash on his wings. The glossy brown corresponds to the original BW toy, although this version is an Autobot - there's a red and white stamped Autobot logo between the eyes. The basic idea of this repaint is actually pretty good - the beige, ochre and brown with the charcoal wash is a really good concept. The turquoise, however, does _not_ fit. The matte effect of the charcoal wash is and the glossy brown areas clash badly. The whole thing just ends up rather incongruous, which is a shame because the potential of this repaint is apparent. This is still one of the better repainted beast modes from the earlier Universe toys - so many of them start with a bad idea - but in the end it's just a messy repaint.

   At this scale, Depth Charge would have looked odd with strong, mechanical lines. The seams and detailing are mechanical but there are a lot of curves - especially on the head and edges of his fins. He's still mechanical, but not really what you'd call robotic. The tip of the tail looks somewhat organic but otherwise there's mainly mechanical lines here. The level of detail isn't fantastic for an ultra since manta rays are generally fairly sleek creatures, but we have obscured gills and vents on the fins, proving the designer wasn't just cutting corners.

   There's not really a lot of play value here, since Depth Charge's beast form doesn't lend itself to poseability. The tail tip swings from side to side while the fins are concave, sloping upwards to their tips. There's a small beige dorsal fin which acts as a trigger - pulling back causes purple discs to fly out of his mouth. The launcher is powerful and quite impressive, and Depth Charge can store five discs. Depth Charge's robot mode missile launcher clips on underneath and doubles as a shark-drone, detaching to form a little beige sidekick, with glossy brown detailing on top, but unpainted eyes. It sports a complete set of fins. The drone can of course store and fire its two purple missiles. As with all Transmetals, Depth Charge has a vehicle mode, in his case you simply flip out the fins as Tie Fighter style wings for a jet mode. The jet mode is okay, it doesn't really add much nor does it create any problems.

   A good manta ray mode with as much play value as we could realistically expect, but the colour scheme isn't sure if it's earthy or not, while the glossy plastic does not fit either. The quality of the mould still comes through, and Manta ray Transformers are unusual anyway, so this beast mode still has something to offer. The shark drone and disc launcher bring some play value as well.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fairly complex and a little tricky at first, but easy once you know what you're doing. There's too much torso contortion for me to describe here, but the eye sockets fold down to become his boots, the gills his thighs. The mouth becomes the robot chest, the fins fold up to form a set of cape-like wings, somewhat similar to those on the G1 Seekers. The tailtip becomes a handheld cutlass while the drone becomes a handheld missile launcher.

   The shoulders pop off far too easily during transformation on this version of the mould.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 23cm Width: 28.5cm

   This is where the colour scheme really falls apart. Depth Charge has turquoise on his torso, knees and feet while his thighs and upper arns arm ochre. The groin, forearms, shoulderpads and kneecaps are beige, as is his head which sports an ochre mask and a silver face. The wings form a cape, and the charcoal wash is retain on most of the underside, although the lower panels are painted turquoise, which clashes very badly. The hands and outer thighs are shiny brown plastic, along with the panel his head attaches to. The chest has manta eyes on it, and while it might not be immediately obvious, these are false eyes - the real beast eyes are on his ankles. There are unpainted Maximal symbols on either wing, but no Autobot logo. A poor colour scheme with no real focus.

   The organic theme here is strong in places that weren't visible in Depth Charge's beast mode. His face, fists, sails and much of the torso are organic, with the head being the most organic aspect here. The arms are mainly mechanical as are the large spines on his knees (you don't want this guy kicking you). The facial sculpt is quite distinct and looks good, as does the sculpt on his sails. The organic theme is largely wasted in these disparate colours, and the impact of the sculpt is limited since the crappy colours draw your attention. The sails are set well back from his torso, with a distinct gap. The main shaft of the tail hangs out the back, giving Manta Ray a third leg for posing - while this appendage was nice and neutral on the Beast Wars version, it's turquoise here so you'll notice the third leg.

   Depth Charge is quite poseable, his shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while the elbows bend and there are swivels above his elbows. His head turns as does his waste (although the latter is really for his transformation). The hips are ball jointed while the knees have two hinges each and both the feet and heelspurs are on hinges. The end result is a very poseable robot with a third leg for action poses. With wings set back so far, Depth Charge is quite back-heavy, but his heelspurs are sturdy. The hips are weaker than they should be - this thing has toppled twice while I've been writing this review. The more challenging poses can get help from the tail, so you're not really limited by the weight - just the poor choice of colour on the tail.

   The cutlass and missile launcher are both useful weapons, both are well proportioned and allow Depth Charge to look well armed and powerful. The missile launcher is a little sensitive, but so long as you don't bump the triggers on either side of the tail the missiles should behave. The disc launcher on his chest still works in this mode, giving Depth Charge three launching mechanisms and a total of seven useful projectiles. Add in the impressive wingspan, cutlass and kneecaps of doom and this is one bad mofo.

   A horrendously unfocused colour scheme - there's not even a hint of earth tones this time around - really sabotages what was once a good robot mode. The organic look is largely lost, the weaker hips and far too visible tail hamper the poseability. I can live with the fact that the Maximal symbols are moulded, but I find the lack on an Autobot symbol annoying - if they want to change the faction they need to make sure they actually do it properly. The weaponry and articulation are nice, but he just doesn't display well thanks to the colours.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. As mentioned this is a repaint of the Beast Wars toy of the same name.

OVERALL

   It's rare for colours to make such a huge difference as they do here. The original Beast Wars toy is great, but this one just falls over the line as mediocre. The colour scheme could have worked without the turquoise, which hampers the aesthetic appeal of his beast mode and straight out ruins the robot mode. There are some mould degradation/change of plastic issues - I really dislike how easily the shoulders pop off. The weaponry is great and the articulation is good, although the loss of stability in robot mode is annoying. The mould is a good once, but in these colours it's just not worth Ultra price. Maybe if you find cheap - but I'd recommend holding out and paying more for the Beast Wars version - 5/10

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