Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Prototype Watch: Unite Warriors Blast Off

Today, I introduce a new, irregular format. I've done various news-related articles in the past, often based on leaks or suddenly revealed images of unfinished toys at news events. I tended to comment on such things as alternative to writing reviews, as while they age badly, its often more interesting than the old toys I tend to talk about. "Prototype Watch" will comment on newly announced toys, leaks, in so far as it can reasonably be made. With lots of speculation, and opinions. Expect the next one just after New York Toy Fair.

Now, let's talk about Blast Off. As you may recall from my recent review, there was some controversy about this guy in Combiner Wars. The original toy was, for reasons lost to time, a space shuttle in a team of military vehicles. Think about that for a moment: Tank, Jeep, Helicopter, Anti-Air Vehicle, and then fricking Orbiter. Spot the odd one out. Hasbro seemingly had an attack of common sense, and made him a Harrier Jump-jet, but were lazy with with the execution. TakaraTomy decided to do a new Space Shuttle mould in the name of G1 cartoon accuracy. This is laudable, here's how it turned out.

Source:  @nakigao_san, taken from Figure King magazine

Yeah. I don't have nostalgia goggles thick enough for this one. Compare and contrast the grey prototype with the animation model they helpfully provide. Making allowances for size, combination, and budget, they missed their target. They got the thruster feet, but the proportions are terrible otherwise, with a huge chest, huge feet, thin arms, and a tiny head. He's also go thruster hands, a major deviation from the animation, but more on that in a minute. The shuttle mode is no better, and quite unconvincing. Like Alpha Bravo, there's exposed arms, although the attempt to conceal these as thrusters is much less successful than Bravo's missile racks. These are meant to be external booster rockets, I think, but look like what they are, angular robot arms. It doesn't help they are on top of the wings, and seemingly vent an inch before the actual engines. Said engines are also massively out of scale with the rest of the vehicle, and there's only two of them, rather than three. One hopes he plays better than he looks. Maybe he just photographs badly, but then again, aren't these meant to be the best possible images for advertising purposes? Right?

Source: Knoted of TFW2005.

Still, a new mould is nice, right? Maybe not. There's some speculation as to the originality of the design, and while probably not a retool, elements of engineering seem familiar. The leg and thigh components seem similar to Rook, a feeling reinforced by the thruster hands. That may explain how his chest ended up so bulky, as Rook had a big shell backpack, just mounted on the front here. We won't know for sure until someone does a comparative photo shoot, and these moulds have to be similar for combination purposes, but would not be a surprise he resembled another toy rather closely.

I could be wrong. He may turn out to be awesome in hand. But unless you absolutely must, and really must, like take insulin or I go to hospital “must”, have a space shuttle in the Combaticons, I don't see the appeal here. If anything, you'd think more people would be complaining that they fumbled the ball on this one.

Damn shame.

Looks like you are safe in my house, mate.

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