"Age of Extinction" Strafe Evolution 2-Pack Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Age of Extinction, Autobot, Deluxe, Dinobot, Generation One, Toys R Us Exclusive

Age of Extinction

Strafe General Information:
Release Date: July 2014
Price Point: $16.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: Toys R Us Exclusive
Accessories: Missile, Missile launcher, Swords x 2

Images:

Deluxe "Generations" Strafe Images and text below from Amazon.com:
This flying Dinobot strikes fear in his enemies when he swoops down on them from above! Convert, arm and attack with all the Transformers action you can handle! This Strafe figure is a high-powered fighter whether he's in robot mode or dino mode. With a sword in each hand, he'll be a match for any enemy in robot mode. And when he converts to vicious pteranodon mode, no enemy can hope to outrun him! Keep converting him back and forth so he can handle whatever his foes dish out! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Strafe Evolution 2-Pack Images and text below from Toys R Us.com:
Strafe meets Strafe in this awesome Evolution 2-pack! You can see the evolution of your favorite robot-dino warrior from then to now in these 2 Strafe figures. Both your classic and your Age of Extinction Strafe figures convert from robot mode to dino mode and back! Can the Decepticons handle not one, but 2 fighting Strafes? It's up to you! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Features:

  • Strafe figure pack includes 1 classic figure and 1 Age of Extinction figure
  • Both figures convert from robot mode to dino mode
  • Age of Extinction figure comes with crossbow
  • Classic figure converts in 2 steps
  • Age of Extinction figure converts in 10 steps
  • Includes figure.
  • Dinobot Strafe Power Attacker converts from robot mode to dino mode.
  • 2-headed dragon mode.
  • Power Attacker figure has a spin attack.
  • Changes in 8 steps.
  • Ages 6 and up.

As part of celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the "Transformers" toy line, Hasbro has created several "Evolution" two packs in the "Age of Extinction" toy line representing a character as they appeared in the past packaged with their "Age of Extinction" counterparts. The 26th item in the "Thrilling 30" toy line is Evolution 2-Pack Strafe. For Strafe, Hasbro chose to take the regular mass release Deluxe Class Strafe figure and repackage it with "Dark of the Moon" Rav. Rav is meant to represent Generation One Swoop, the Dinobot that inspired Strafe (though the two are not meant to be the same character). Since Rav's deco was based on the G1 Dinobot color scheme, it is the same as the previous release (so check out Rav's review for details on that figure). If you kind of tilt your head and wink your eye, this match up works, especially if you consider the Rav sculpt was originally used as Classics Swoop.

Since the Strafe figure included with this two pack is the same figure as the mass release, this review will serve as both my review for the Evolution 2-Pack of Strafe and the mass release. Again, for the review of the Mini-Con included in this set, check out my review of "Dark of the Moon" Rav.

Packaging:
The Strafe Evolution 2-Pack is modeled after the "Age of Extinction" packaging with some modifications. The bubble is the same design, with an angled section where the "Transformers" logo shows but the insert features much more text than the mass release including the words "Evolution 2-Pack" and a Toys R Us sticker on the upper left corner (your left, not Strafe's). The card has a mash up of retro and modern designs. The left corner has a classic G1 Autobot symbol against a grid background with a yellow to orange color gradient. The other side has the "Age of Extinction" logo with schematics in the background. The artwork used for Strafe is the same as the mass Deluxe release but it's been reversed so the left head has its mouth open instead of the right. The back of the card features both figures in both modes against a schematic background. It's really clean and attractive packaging and I dig the use of classic G1 elements. The only oddity is found on the insert, where Strafe's "G1" self is represented by...G1 Technobot Strafe. While accurate in terms of name, the spirit of the two pack is a bit undermined by this. Technically it wouldn't be correct to put Swoop's artwork there either, but in terms of visual association, it would've made more sense. There's really no way to reconcile this, you just have to kind of roll with it.

Robot Mode:
A lot of the design elements of the robot mode remain consistent between the Power Attacker Strafe and this figure. Much of the "armor" on this figure is influenced by the look of armor on medieval knights. This is most evident on parts like the head which has visor eyes leading to an angled mouthplate with a high crest. His thighs have armor with raised ridges on them that also recall such armor, and the way his feet come up at points is also reminiscent of armor from Earth warriors of old. This design fits the character as Strafe is revealed to be one of the "legendary" warriors from Cybertron's past.

Unlike the Power Attacker figure, most of the parts on this figure are separate from each other instead of being connected. His beast mode heads can angle and form a kind of chest/shoulder armor. His wings can move independently. This allows each part to have distinct details all their own. Among my favorite details on this figure are the ridges and spikes on the edges of his wings and forearms. It gives him an extra air of danger that I think is appropriate for the character. However, due to the way he's designed, there are a couple oddities. For instance his thighs angle inward slightly. It's not terrible looking, but it's a tiny bit odd. His arms are designed to bend inward. Sure you can turn the upper arm around to bend the elbow upward, but then the hands wind up facing sideways. It's not ideal and these are perhaps my biggest nitpicks on the sculpt.

Each Dinobot in the "Age of Extinction" toy line was given a distinct color to distinguish it from its counterparts (while on screen they were mostly silver with shades of other colors). Strafe's chosen color for the toy line is blue with some black parts. He has some really nice blue and silver deco that looks really cool. A lot of the silver is found on the torso and wings. The color seems to have a blue tinge to it that matches up nicely in tone with the darker blue plastic. The underside of the wings (which face front in robot mode) have a beautiful blue to silver fade pattern that looks amazing. A similar fade occurs on the back of the robot mode (aka the top of the wings) where you'll also find black angled patterns and large black Autobot symbols. The bluish silver is also used on the tail in a similar fade pattern as seen on the wings. To top things off, his visor eyes are painted blue. Overall it's a great color scheme and while I've had my reservations about the colors used on many "Age of Extinction" figures I really like the deco on this figure.

There are twenty one points of articulation on this figure in robot mode. This includes five in each arm and waist articulation. The wings are independent pieces from the arms, but moving the arms up and down has a tendency to move the wings as well (not a big deal in my book, but there it is). The waist articulation requires that you move the tail out of the way which is no problem since the base of the tail is on a hinge and swings up without a problem. Strafe comes with two different types of weapons. One is a missile launcher designed to look like a bow. It's shape works nicely into his overall design. The missile fires using pressure. Push the back and it pops out at your target. The launcher can be stored on his back. His other type of weapon are swords. They can attach to the wings until needed. Each fits into his hand, but they sit at slight angles. Fortunately his wrists can move up and down allowing you to adjust how the swords look in his hands. For a bit of undocumented fun, you can plug the swords into the sides of the launcher to create a larger weapon (though the functionality of the launcher remains the same).

Strafe has a fun robot mode with some cool weapons and a nice deco.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Attach the swords to the wings.
  2. Swing each arm out to the sides and attach the forearms to the wings using the small tab on the wings and the corresponding slots on the forearms.
  3. Push the robot head down.
  4. Swing each beast mode head up and point them forward.
  5. Swing each lower robot leg up against the thighs.
  6. Rotate each leg around.
  7. Attach the missile launcher to the back.

Beast Mode:
This is the mode that throws most fans for a loop. Since the association of a Pteranodon-based mode is so heavily associated with G1 Swoop, many question just why Strafe has two heads. It seems Hasbro agrees this is quite a departure so he was given the name Strafe instead. Hasbro stated at Toy Fair 2014 this was not a trademark issue, they just felt the two headed design was a bit too different than G1 Swoop to name him that. Given that, this Evolution 2-Pack becomes a tad more confusing if you try to draw a straight line from G1 Swoop to this figure, but if you draw a dotted line that takes a couple left turns it makes much more sense.

There aren't any real newly revealed parts here, but many of the beast mode parts get emphasis in this form, most notably the heads. Each head is a pointed and thin triangular shape with a crest on top. Open up the mouths on each and you'll see rows of teeth inside and on the outer edges. His wings and tail also get to really shine here especially if you fully deploy them. You can have the swords attach to the undersides of his wings to keep them out of the way or you can have them point forward as "bombs" or "blasters" (whatever your imagination decides). The knee armor from the robot mode winds up forming his beast mode feet in this form. Between his claws and the sharp shapes of the robot feet and armor he looks like he could do some serious damage if he latched on to a Decepticon!

In terms of deco there are no real new reveals here. You do get a better look at the beast mode heads which have silver outlines and green eyes. The claws on the wings are painted silver and his beast mode feet are black. What this mode does nicely is bring the beautiful deco on the wings to the forefront and they are really nicely done.

Strafe has fifteen points of articulation in this form. This includes three in each leg and the ability of the wings to move in a "flapping" position. His heads have a lot of articulation, allowing them to look forward, to the sides and move at the base of the neck. The missile launcher connects to his back here so you can still use it to blast enemies. Overall there's plenty of fun to be had with this beast mode.

Final Thoughts:
Strafe is a really cool figure. This two pack is a bit of a conundrum if you try to figure out its relation to G1 Strafe or Swoop (and so on) but I say take this guy as the spiritual descendent of Swoop and leave it at that. All that said, I think including Rav as the "G1" stand in was a bit of a missed opportunity. Since the Energon Grimlock figure was re-released with Voyager Class Grimlock in the Grimlock Evolution 2-Pack, I think the Swoop from the Energon Dinobots two pack should've been reissued as well, giving that Grimlock the ability to form "Mega Dinobot" once again. If you already have Rav, I'd say wait to find the regular mass release of Strafe since they're the same figure. If you missed out on "Dark of the Moon" Rav then this two pack is a good buy.