Alternate Mode: Robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex
Click here for my fanfic tech spec for Predacon.
Height: 15cm Length: 23cm Width: 7.5cm
A grey robotic T-Rex with with pine green forelimbs, a green tail and a spearmint head along with spearmint hips and hindclaws. There are a lot of green paint applications here and there along with some red and orange - including red eyes. This is both a radical departure from the colours seen on Transmetal Megatron, the original incarnation of the mould and a colour scheme that somehow suits the mould. It's certainly an unusual colour scheme but on a toy that's really designed to work around a distinctive head colour these colours work for me. The paint mask is radically different and detailed, so the guy who thought up Predacon certainly put effort into the repaint itself - if not the name.
This is the corrected anatomy T-Rex - the designer meant for this toy to walk with his tail in the air - however there's no neckjoint and the head is moulded in such a way that the line of his body slopes back about 30°. The forelimbs are very robotic with two claws each while the hindlegs are also robotic but with three more organic looking claws each. The head is also somewhat organic looking, mainly thanks to smooth, rounded panels rather than any skin textures - closer inspection will reveal that it is smooth and metallic, not smooth and organic.
The spearmint hip panels are actually fans, and they'll actually turn (if not spin). When flush against his body they look like ventilation fans, but they can lift up for his flight mode. New to the mould for Predacon are two powerlinx ports on the centre of the fans, allowing you to attach Skid-Z and Side Burn. There are two more above the forelimbs, and you're much better off using the latter in this mode since the weight off the Minicons on turning fans will cause them to droop. The fan connectors work if you've deployed the fans as VTOL turbines.
Along with the fans we have feet that flip up to reveal green roller skates, not for take-off and landing (the fans give him the VTOL capacity), but for zooming along the ground. Granted, the skates have false wheels but then this thing is now so top-heavy that if you pushed it, it'd topple anyway. I suppose horizontal fans give Predacon a lot of manoeuvrability, but the skates give him a lower power method of fast travel. At any rate, both work together to give the toy a "vehicle" mode, which looks pretty nifty and gives some extra play value to this mode.
The poseability itself is pretty good compared to most dinosaur Transformers. The forelimbs are on restricted ball joints that function as rotators, the lower jaw opens and closes (revealing teeth) and the hips are hinged and below the hinges are rotators, allowing the legs to turn around to the sides. The tail has six segments, with five freely turning joints and a up-and-down final joint near the tip, which can open and close as a claw (which is really for the robot mode). Adding the vehicle mode, you end up with a very playable mega.
Transmetals tend to be very well sculpted and Megatron was no exception. As mentioned, he has teeth, the neck is covered in mech details and the body itself covered in mechanical detailing (mainly panelling). The tailclaw comes together in a series of zigzagging teeth and there are small spines down the length of his spine and tail. On top of this is a complex paint mask. I'm really impressed with the level of detail on this toy, which easily beats that of Megatron thanks to the new paintmask.
There aren't really any shortcomings here, although I'm not sure everyone will like the colour scheme. The poseability and play value make this a fun toy, the colours work very well, the flight mode is fun and there's a lot of detail. It's clear a lot of thought went into this robotic T-Rex. The best part for me is that is a repaint with effort, and the powerlinx ports bring even more to a Dinosaur mode that was already a lot of fun.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
You're meant to remove the tail, but it's possible to leave it attached. At any rate swing the tail's attachment point (with tail or not) under the body between his legs, swing up the hip panels. Fold the head down slightly to unlock the front of the dinosaur, which folds out as two panels that swing to the front. This will reveal his chest and head. Swing out the arms from within his back, then stow the dino head in the resulting cavity. Swing the forelimbs forward to form shoulder-cannons, fold down the forearms. Rotate the waist so his legs face forward them rotate the tail-stem around to one side (either will do). Position the toy, swing out the handle inside the tail's base, place the tail in his hand as a weapon. Of course, you can leave it attached to its stem and it'll happily sit off one hip. You can attach Skid-Z and Side Burn to the stable powerlinx ports now on his shoulderpads.
Height: 13.5cm Width: 7cm
A fusion of grey, brown and silver now with less green. The shoulderpads, forearm and boots are grey while the torso and thighs are brown with a lot of silver paint. The head is brown with an orange face, green eyes and white teeth. The spearmint is really limited to his feet (the beast feet), and the green restricted to his shoulderpad cannons, small sections of his shins and his weapon. The brown pieces are covered in reptilian skin sculpting. There's a set of red faux-beast eyes on his chest. This is a more unified colour scheme than the beats mode, since most of the orange and red has disappeared along with the spearmint. The fusion of colours actually enhances the organic look since the colours are all close and tend to melt into one another. The lost of spearmint makes this a more tasteful colour scheme, and it's a nicer colour scheme than he has in beast mode.
The head is an organic take on the traditional Megatron buckethead shape. The shoulder-cannons give Predacon some ranged weaponry, and if you've left the tail on his hip, some weaponry period. The heelspurs are rounded since they're moulded wheels from the skates, so he'll tend to rock back if the tail is left attached - it's clear the designer meant the considerable weight of the tail to be at the front of this toy, in one hand or the other. While the rocking back could count as a flaw, the hip-holster for his tail is more an accident of design than a deliberate feature, so I'm not going to hold the stability against the toy.
Poseability here is great - as you'd except of a Transmetal - Predacon's poseability is excellent next to most Armada toys. The head doesn't turn, but then with the shoulderpads and cannons on either side, there's no point. The shoulderpads give his actual shoulders plenty of clearance, and the shoulders are ball jointed with swivels just below them allowing the hinge elbows to act like ball joints. The hips are double joints and might as well be ball jointed, the knees are hinges with swivels right above them, his ankles can swing forward and the waist swivels. The shoulder cannons can aim out to the sides and the hand weapon has the six segments, opening claw and a hinge at the base of its handle. The pincers of the claw can actually open independently although I can't see why you'd want to open just one. The shoulderpads stop him from lifting his arms above horizontal, which is really my only complaint about the poseability. Head movement would be nice, but as I said with this toy they'd be no real point.
There's a lot of play value here, he's well armed with the shoulder cannons and tail-claw. The powerlinx ports add some more play value, although Side Burn's red doesn't quite match (Skid-Z's brown fits in fine). The poseability is great despite a couple of shortcomings. The colours are well done while the eyes on his chest, shoulderpads and detailed sculpt make this a visually attractive robot mode. The paint mask isn't as complex as that of the beast mode, but the effort put in by the guy who repainted this toy is still apparent.
Name: Side Burn
Alternate Mode: Sports Car
Height: 1.5cm Length: 5.5cm Width: 2.5cm
A red sports car with black windows and silver headlights. No idea what type of car he is but he's a repaint of Backtrack, the incredibly green Minicon from earlier in Armada. The red brings out the details in the mould better than green did, and as a result doesn't overwhelm Side Burn as badly as the green did on Backtrack. Side Burn has taillights, a front grille and a Minicon symbol behind the rear window. His rear wheels are slightly larger than the front ones, and all four have silver painted hubcaps.
The only real action feature of Side Burn in car mode is the fact that he rolls along. But he's a nice looking car with good detail. I'm pretty certain he's based on an actual production model sports car, rather than being a made up car make. One thing that impressed me about the Street Speed Team is that there's no obvious robot mode kibble on the underside of the car. Side Burn does have a socket under the rear bumper.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Pull out the front, then pull the feet out and flip them up. Carefully pull out the sides and then slide them back. Carefully spin the waist 180°, fold down the back of the car to form the chest and fold the arms down. Pose. Care has to be taken in a few steps, as mentioned, or things (arms, legs) will pop off. Having said that, they pop back on pretty easily, so it's not a huge thing. A complex transformation for such a small toy. In fact, it's very similar to G1 Mirage's.
Height: 5.5cm Width: 2.5cm
Still mainly red with khaki connecting pieces (thighs, shoulder struts, etc). His eyes are green but otherwise it's red and khaki. He has a Spychanger-esque chest in that the rear of the car sits on his chest, but it doesn't really protrude much. He has fists moulded into his arms, although they're on the insides to not spoil the sides of the car mode.
His hips & shoulders are ball joints, and he has swivel joints on his ankles, elbows (though they only move about 30° before his forearms pop off), waist and shoulders. Yes, there are two joints per shoulder, ball joints in the arms and swivels on the sides of the torso. Very posable for a toy this size. Heck, he's very posable for any TF that turns into a realistic car.
Aesthetically a good looking mode, with good poseability. The only real drawback is the tendency for things to pop off - especially the forearms.
A repaint of Backtrack as mentioned, and I prefer the red simply because Backtrack was overwhelmed by green.
The red doesn't quite match Predacon, granted, but it's easier on the eye than Backtrack's pool-table green. Poseable, detailed and fragile, and a nice bonus to Predacon despite not matching the onetime Transmetal at all. It's a great mould and considering they didn't bump Predacon up a pricepoint despite the inclusions of Minicons, I'm calling him a bonus - and he's a good bonus - 8/10 (dragged down slightly for the mismatch).
Alternate Mode: Mercedes Benz Sports Car
Height: 1.5cm Length: 6cm Width: 2.5cm
A brown Mercedes sports car with gold windows, white headlights, orange taillights, silver grill, black tyres and silver hubcaps. Oddly the brown is a slightly darker shade than that on Predacon, which would have pushed the set's cost up slightly.
His elbow hinges break the side windows up. The gaps almost look like the doorframe gap in windows, but not quite. Still, this is a fairly minor thing.
Due to his rather innovative transform, Skid-Z has some trouble staying together in car mode, and it's fairly easy to move things out of place. He does stay together a little better than Spiral did, so either they've improved the mould since the Street Speed Team was made or used a better plastic.
Like Side Burn, Skid-Z has very good detail in car mode - including door seams, sports lights & taillights. He has about 1mm of clearance above the ground... er... table, but still rolls freely. Like the others in this set, he's got no obvious robot mode kibble on his underside. There's a Minicon symbol under there, that's only visible in this mode, too.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Pull out the front, fold the doors under the hood, pull out and flip up the feet. Split and fold down the halves of the roof, twist the waist 180°. Fold down the spoiler to form the chest. Pose.
Height: 6cm Width: 3cm
Bulky, very posable and mainly brown again with dark grey thighs and groin. His arms are the side windows, so there's gold on the front of his arms. The darker brown plastic makes this robot mode a little boring, and the bulkiness doesn't help.
The arms are little more than the two halves of the cabin's roof, with the windows on the front of them. there are fists moulded to the insides, but the arms still look like giant fins. The car mode doors form stabilising heel spurs, which are huge in proportion. While it looks a little kibbly, it makes this guy incredibly stable in terms of posing. Just don't try fold his elbows more than 30° or they'll pop off.
Like Side Burn, he's got the Spychanger-esque chest, which is wider and sticks out a little more than his red companion. Very chunky, mainly due to the heelspurs and chest, but also the fin-arms. Spiral was probably the most poseable Minicon ever and this guy's inherited ball joints on his shoulders & hips, hinges on his ankles, knees and elbows with swivels on his shoulders and waist.
Despite the poseability, this mode is hampered somewhat buy the fin-arms. They just look odd. While it's not awful, it's got some flaws. Add to that the brown bringing out less detail than Spiral's purple did and I'm not all that keen on the recolour in robot mode.
As mentioned he's a repaint of Spiral.
Very poseable and his colours are a better match for those of Predacon that Side Burn's are, but the brown doesn't work well in robot mode, which is kibbly and awkward. I really wish Hasbro would stop using the name, it sucks and is reads like a playground insult. Combining the name and dark robot mode I'm calling this one a regression from Spiral, despite the tighter vehicle mode - 4.5/10
None as such, but Predacon is a repaint of Megatron as mentioned, and his Minicons are repaints of two thirds of the Street Speed Team.
A great mould that I don't mind seeing again, and Predacon is a detailed repaint who is significantly different with some minor remoulding to accommodate the Minicons. Side Burn is a great little Minicon but Skid-Z's repainting didn't quite work and I hate that name with a passion (I really wish Hasbro would try with names). Still, two Minicons thrown into a mega's box at no cost means that one's a great bonus and the other's no loss. Even without the Minicons Predacon's cool and Side Burn just ups the ante - 7.5/10