Altered States Magazine - July 2002

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    Hasbro at Wizard World Chicago

    Hasbro: Armada

    By Graham Weaver with Philip N. Zeman

    The big news is, of course, the appearances of Scavenger, Sideways, Smokescreen, Blurr, and the Race Mini-Con Team. However, there were a few notes worth making about some previously-seen figures. Optimus Prime had yet another color scheme, this one with a gold super-robot face, as well as blue fists (which are much less conspicuous in truck mode) and feet on the smaller robot. The latter also has modified chest deco, losing its old red but picking up new gold detailing. Also on display was a very extensive set of concept art and photos for Prime, including what appeared to be a very early base model, manned by Micromasters, Crosshairs' Targetmaster partner Pinpointer and a repainted, de-kibbled Big Convoy. (This provided a bit of amusement when one of us figured it out.)

    The Destruction Mini-Con Team have, as has been hypothesized, a gear-driven team gimmick, with spinning weapons on Buzzsaw and Drillbit and what appear to be reciprocating cannons like Strika's on Dualor.

    Some of the toys seemed smaller than we initially thought they'd be. One of the group expressed surprise at Cyclonus and Laserbeak in particular. However, Red Alert surprised most of us with how big he is, as well how he appears to have a good deal of articulation.

    Okay, on to the new toys. Note: We were not able to see these toys in action, so the descriptions of apparent Powerlinx uses are our own guesses based on what we could and could not see through the glass case.

    The Race Mini-Con Team were the only previously-unseen Mini-Con team at the show. The toys on display were largely grey and yellow, and combined into a shield for the larger toys. Dirt Boss, an Isuzu VehiCROSS, is quite tall for a Mini-Con in robot mode. Mirage is a LeMans-style race car (not a Porsche 962 like Daytonus, however) and has a serious Diaclone-style hood-chest. He also has very nice paint ops on his hood and doors, but is overall depressingly grey. The big surprise was Downshift, who is a minor retool of Swindle, with only a new head and spoiler. Apparently, this was not the original concept for the design, but circumstances required it in order to keep the toys on schedule. The team combines into a shield, with Downshift forming the "point". It is because of his role in the combined form that allowed Downshift to be retooled from Swindle. At the display, the shield was being held by Megatron, and it prompted one of us to exclaim how bad a job it must be to have an alt-mode as a shield. Poor Mini-Cons....

    There were three new Deluxes at the show. Smokescreen is a flattened, aerodynamic crane, with a boom that appears to use a Powerlinx point to fold out into a gigantic launcher of some kind. He also has a winch built into his rear fender which ends up in his robot chest. His partner, Liftor, is a very sleek forklift, more like a futuristic sports car with tines than the "tractor" suggested in early Hasbro material.

    Sideways is a Deluxe racing cycle with a rider who separates into a pair of Mini-Cons, Crosswise and Rook, who must be the "Twins" that we heard about in early release lists. Either Mini-Con can also transform into a helmet, covering Sideways' normal head and apparently revealing either an Autobot or Decepticon symbol. The Mini-Cons have no obvious "vehicle" modes, but the presence of Powerlinx pegs on Sideways' missile launchers implies that they are fired using a Mini-Con, so it may be that Crosswise and Rook can attach to Powerlinx pegs in robot mode, or even that they have some form of vehicle mode. Sideways himself is very reminiscent of "Beast Machines" Thrust, being a tall, predatory-looking robot in purple and yellow. His sticker-card featured both the Autobot and Decepticon symbols, and the back of his card had a merged symbol, so there's no sign of what his true allegiance, if any, might be. As a side note, the carded Sideways had Hot Shot's instructions.

    Blurr was extremely obviously hand-painted - in fact, he looked as though he may have even been a non-finalized design as a whole. He was on display only in the "battle scene" cabinet, and there only in robot mode. His color scheme is primarily turquoise, silver and orange. He has two launchers, and carries quite a lot of his rocket-car vehicle mode on his back. His Mini-Con looked just as non-production as Blurr himself, and was on display only as a dragster. We hope to see the alt-modes of both at BotCon.

    Finally, Scavenger is an Ultra-sized piece of construction equipment that can only loosely be described as a "bulldozer". He has a toothed front shovel more like a payloader shovel than a bulldozer blade, carries himself on a pair of rubber treads, and terminates in a rotating spike-covered drum (which appeared to be equipped with a Powerlinx peg). Seemingly every inch of the toy is covered in techy details. His color scheme is exceptionally Constructicon-inspired, being mostly green with some purple and other colors. In robot mode, however, he resembles nothing so much as a giant Autoroller.

    His body, below the waist, looks like a single large block. However, two false fronts are approximately where his legs should be which allows him to stomp as he moves forward, either automatically or as you push him. There is a Powerlinx peg which, if one of us understood the Hasbro representative correctly, triggers a firing projectile. Above the waist, however, Scavenger is much more modern. The detailed sculpting of the vehicle mode carries over to his scowling face and boxy, powerful-looking body. His arms actually articulate within the rubber treads, and his hands are posable by virtue of his transformation. However, he won't be wielding the Star Saber anytime soon. His partner, Rollbar, is a ghost grey dune buggy, and in robot mode can sit comfortably in Scavenger's vehicle-mode driver's compartment.

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      Copyright © 2002 Altered States Magazine
    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication