Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Overload and Skywarp
8/02/03

Snagged the last of their kind at a Wal-Mart last night, after being tipped off by Sam / shellspark. Whee!

OVERLOAD:
He's really a big accessory pack, and I don't own the guys he's supposed to be accessorizing. His trailer resembles nothing known to mankind, and compared to his weapons and robot forms it almost seems an afterthought, a way to just get all his bits into a compact form that can be towed.

All this is not to say I don't like him -- just the opposite. I tend to enjoy the occasional "freeform" Transformer, where the alternate mode is so vaguely defined that you can come up with a whole pile of alternatives. For starters, unfold his arms in trailer mode and stand him on them, and you get a mode that looks remarkably like the gun emplacement "Gladiator" modes of the hovertanks in Robotech / Southern Cross...if they were red and had a tendency to fall over backwards.

Poor Rollout has the toughest towing job of any Transformer since the Micromaster transports; he's the biggest Mini-Con by a long shot (almost the size of a Basic), but he's vastly undersized compared to the hulking mass of trailer behind him. Little Prime can tow the trailer quite handily, however.

Overload is massive and stocky in robot mode, with his limited number of joints ratcheting and clicking as you move them. Very satisfying, but not very quiet. No knee or elbow joints, which is disappointing. His feet are enormous, and can shoot missiles out of the ankles. He's got six dead Powerlink points in this mode; they really could have stuck a couple more on his upper shoulders. He's virtually kibble-free in this form, though that's largely due to his rather undesigned trailer form. Instead of the usual robot made of vehicle parts, he's a vehicle made of robot parts.

Ah hah.... so Big Prime is supposed to use Rollout as a gun, Overload as shoulder armaments, and finally the whole schlemeil an enhancement to the Container's base mode. Interesting. And holy crap... Overload can do it without actually coming apart. That's BRILLIANT. You swing his arms down to his sides... they peg into his upper legs.... and that aligns a pair of tracks which let you slide the lower legs across it, so they're now attached to the arms. AWESOME. He actually forms a modestly plausible command station for Rollout all on his own, though of course the instructions don't want you to stop there. BUY, kids, BUY! Little Prime can hold Rollout as a gun, but at his size it's more like a Light Anti-tank Weapon.

Rollout has a similar setup with his legs -- they can stay attached to his waist as you swing it down into robot mode, or they can swing around with his arms for some other function I haven't figured out yet. Damn, if this is a hint of what's to come with Energon, we are in for a treat. Sadly, this gimmick kills all posability in his legs. Hrm... yeah, seems to be an undocumented weapons mode, maybe? Something like what the Emergency Team has. From truck mode, leave the legs attached to the arms as they swing forward, and all his guns now point forward. Small problem in that the arm panels no longer peg securely into place, but hey, minor detail, right?

Their also seems to be an almost-face on top of the big Overload head, formed by the details on top of Rollout's tucked-away head. Bizarre.

Overload only seems to have one sound effect, the transformation sound. It's a bit sped up from the norm for the original series.

Overall: Would be nice if there were more posability involved, but he's still a big massive chunk of fun.

SKYWARP
I waffled back and forth about getting Starscream, till pics of Skywarp finally showed up and I instantly knew this was the one I wanted. As always, the classic Skywarp color scheme of black with purple trim is beautiful, and the remolding makes him look really slick. He looks really great teamed up with the Air Military team.

The Skywar/Starscream mold has some bizarrely incongruous elements, things like the downward-pointing cockpit and his overall chunkiness when viewed from below. Certain viewing angles on this toy are much more forgiving than others; his jet mode looks great from above, questionable from below, and just awful from the side. His arms are weakly "disguised" in this mode as what has been described to me as "pontoons".

His robot mode is nice -- well proportioned and with a backpack that, though massive, is at least interesting. I've never liked the strange hollowed-out cannon things on either side of Starscream's head on the cartoon, and they look equally bizarre on Skywarp -- guns that aren't. Having the wings rotate forwards is a nice homage to G1, as well as looking cool in its own right. Does Starscream/Thundercracker do this also? It does rather discourage use of the one unfolding wing as a sword.

Four sound effects on this guy -- one from clipping Thunderclash under the cockpit, another from pushing the cockpit down, and two related ones from moving the missle launcher switch in back (one requires a mini-con.) Skywarp's sounds could easily be remixed into a techno song.

Thunderclash is a vastly superior mold to the tired Swindle/Mirage/Zapmaster design; he's decently posable and looks great in both forms. His transformation is basically a reduced version of his parent toy, which is really cute. I picture him as another version of BW Razorclaw to Skywarp's BW Rampage -- "Yeah, yeah, you tell 'em, boss! Yeah!" In jet mode, his colors and wing/gun configuration make him look like nothing so much as a tiny version of the Pretender Bugly. His arm design has changed since the instructions were drawn, as it's no longer possible to swing them around backwards for link-up mode the way that's shown. Still, having them face forward as weapons makes more sense anyway.

Overall: Whether it's due to the new colors or the remolding or just a lack of appreciation till now, I like this guy a lot more than I thought I would. Not as complex and fiddle-worthy as Overload, but a slick, well-designed package. If you've been kinda eyeing Starscream but found him a little lacking, Skywarp's a good alternative.

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