Cliffbee.com: Undertow Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Undertow
Series: Power Core Combiners
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Speedboat



SPEEDBOAT MODE
Height: 3.5cm Length: 7cm Width: 12cm

   A black, grey and metallic gold attack speedboat, Undertow has twin black hulls and a transparent green "bridge" in the middle, flanked by some grey areas. There are gold pinstripes on the outside of either hull along with gold gatling guns on either side. The black is actually a very very dark brown and the grey is a very cool grey (ie there's a distinct blue hue there). There's a small silver Autobot logo stamped onto the portside hull. Overall it's a fairly drab colour scheme on a rather unique vehicle mode. It's not especially coherent, either - it reminds me of the messy colour palettes common in Energon - but at least the colours are dull enough to not clash.

   This isn't an especially realistic boat - but then how often do we see attack catamaran speedboats? I'm sure they're out there (somewhere) but I don't think they'd be too common and probably don't look like this. Undertow's bridge is really just a transparent blue patch, and it doesn't scale with those gatling guns - if only a single human were able to fit inside the bridge the guns would still be around 2 metres diameter. On either side of the bridge are two smaller cannons, which are slightly different shade of gold (they're composed of gold plastic while the gatling guns are painted), so he;s very well armed. The robot head is fairly visible underneath the bridge and those blue blocks found on every PCC toy are visible just in front of the head.

   There's some play value here - enough for a scout, certainly. Waterlog's gun mode plugs into a powerlinx port on top. It doesn't really work visually because this much transparent green _does_ clash. It's a shame really since it's a well designed gun that clips together properly - something that earlier PCC MiniCons couldn't manage. Of course Waterlog can simply be left aside if you prefer - Undertow has enough guns anyway. The gatling guns can swing up and down, giving them aim (in one plane anyway).

   A good vehicle mode in concept, but sloppy colour placements and some bad kibble hold back this unusual vehicle mode. The muted colours almost work, but Waterlog's green really throws a spanner in the works. The bridge is far too generic and the robot head really needed to be concealed better than this.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Detach & set aside Waterlog, if attached. Unclip the hulls, swing behind the boat & rotate so that the underside of the hulls is still underneath. Fold up the tips of the hulls to form his boots, flip out the feet & heelspurs. Fold the blue blocks down as shoulderpads, swing back the arms, rotate the gatling guns behind his arms as forearm-mounted weapons. Pivot the bridge down onto his chest, revealing the head & forming a chestplate.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 11cm Width: 8cm

   A black and grey robot, Undertow has a black & transparent green chestplate with gold guns on either side. His boots and head are also black while the arms, groin and thighs are grey. The face is gold but it's mostly covered by a transparent green visor which doesn't move, so the eyes can't be seen. Again the colour scheme is mostly dull, and it works better here, since the green elements are now work as features. There's no visible Autobot logo here, but the colour scheme works better here than in boat mode so I don't mind.

   As I've just touched on, there's quite a few well placed features here. The bridge is poor in vehicle mode but works well here and even those blue blocks on his shoulders (which look so poor on many toys in this line) make for a decent feature. The guns on his chest are also a nice feature. On the flipside, I do wish we could see his eyes, and the legs are designed so that he stands on a weird angle, perpetually leaning forward. The reason for this the curvature of the front of the hulls (now his shins).

   Undertow's poseability is good although the weird legs do limit him somewhat. The head turns while the waist is fixed. The shoulders and elbows are ball jointed and the latter joints also have hinges. The hips swing and lift out to the sides. The knees are hinged with rotators, but the hinges are actually part way down the back of his calves and there's another set of hinges above the knees - and this pair swing side to side. So the hinges are in the wrong spot and those in the wrong spot move in a very unnatural way. So even though there are hinges on his feet and heelspurs, the end result is pretty bad leg poseability.

   The underarm gatling guns look good and again are targetable (not that it matters now, thanks to his excellent arm poseability). The green handgun formed from Waterlog isn't as impressive - as with many PCC guns, there's nowhere really for Waterlog's legs - they awkwardly hang off the back of the gun. Frankly, he's better off without Waterlog.

   A visually attractive robot mode with good arm-mounted weapons but a poor MiniCon weapon. The legs are something of a mess, so in the end this robot mode is neither poor nor good - it's mediocre.

Waterlog

   A transparent green robot with gold arms and thighs, Waterlog has a silver breathing mask and a black mask for a face. twin orange-tipped cannons stick out behind his head and there are also green wings hanging out the side. It's a visually attractive robot mode, and with ball joints in his hips and shoulders (along wit hinged knees) he's fairly poseable - although difficult to balance thanks to small heelspurs.

   You might think that Waterlog's not a great Transformer since his weapon modes don't really add much to Undertow, but that's not actually the case. if you take boat mode gun and fold out the wings, Waterlog's a pretty handy little jet. While a transparent green jet isn't quite realistic, at this size it's enough to make him a fun figure. This plane really reminds me of Slugslinger (and the transformation is very similar!).

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   I'd read some very good reviews of Undertow and picked him up based on these opinions. I found myself fairly disappointed since there are just too many shortcomings here. The boat mode concept is nice - and the built in weapons are good - but there's a lot of kibble and scale issues. The robot mode looks good and the colours work well there, but the leg jointing really hurt his poseability. Waterlog's a fun little MiniCon, but the gun modes don't mesh with Undertow - he's fun without Undertow (and is the better of the two toys, once you make him a plane). Overall, I do think Undertow has something to offer, but there's a lot of unrealised potential here. Recommended only if you get him at a good price - 6/10

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