Dark of the Moon Laserbeak Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Dark of the Moon, Decepticon, Deluxe, Generation One, MechTech

Dark of the Moon

General Information:
Release Date: May 2011
Price Point: $12.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Cybertronian cannons x 2

Images:

*Images and text in italics from the Official Transformers web site:
LASERBEAK grows more independent each day spent away from CYBERTRON. The loyal servant of SOUNDWAVE and the DECEPTICONS has become more self-aware since arriving in the Milky Way. LASERBEAK continuously monitors AUTOBOT troop movement from afar, plotting the perfect moment to unleash his laser attack.

Spring into action with this vehicle-to-robot villain! Convert your mighty LASERBEAK figure from hover jet mode to battle-ready Beast Mode. Then convert him back to vehicle mode so he can chase down his enemies and attack them with his Cybertronian cannon! As the battle rages on, keep converting him back and forth, so he’s ready to face whatever his enemies throw at him! Ages 5 and up.

I remember the mid-90's, when the "Beast Wars" line of Transformers was released and caused quite a stir with fans (including yours truly). No matter what arguments people used against the line, the one that I could never quite understand was "Transformers aren't animals". It's interesting to see over the years that characters like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee have become so ingrained in the minds of fans that all they think of are vehicular Transformers. However, a look back at Generation One shows that animal Transformers not only existed but were also heavily featured, especially Ravage and Laserbeak.

Ravage was already featured in "Revenge of the Fallen", and this time out, another G1 based "animal" Transformer gets to shine: Laserbeak! This character got quite a bit of screen time in "Dark of the Moon", so it's cool to see him get a deluxe sized toy to go along with last year's deluxe sized Ravage.

Mech Tech Weapon:
Like his G1 counterpart, Laserbeak includes two weapons, one for each side of his body. However, unlike his G1 namesake, his weapons are not just mirror images of each other. Instead, the two weapons are very similar in design, but have key differences. There is a larger weapon that contains a transformation mechanism, and then a smaller weapon that is just one solid piece.

The smaller weapon is very powerful looking for something that gets mounted on a bird's wing! The back has a huge tube shaped section that leads to a tall central area that includes details such as tubes and vents. The top of the weapon has a handle sculpted into it which gives you an idea of how heavy this weapon supposedly is. The bottom has a peg to attach to Laserbeak (and to allow other Transformers to hold) while the front ends in a gatling gun like front end. The back has a thin piece set high that looks like a hammer on an old style gun. This is a very intense looking weapon and I love the design.

The larger weapon has a very similar design to the smaller weapon. However, the bottom section has an extended front end that has a rounded area in the front that could be an energy weapon or perhaps even a rocket launcher. It also has a handle on the top like the other weapon and a peg on the bottom. This is the weapon that transforms. If you push the "hammer" piece in the back forward, the weapon barrel swivels around until it ends in the front with a wider open barrel that looks more like an energy weapon. Unlike many Mech Tech weapons, this one can actually be locked in place by attaching the other weapon to it. Just push the barrel of the other weapon into the back section of the larger weapon and it holds the cannon in place. This is awesome. Not only does it form an awesome and destructive looking weapon, and really does exactly what I expect a Mech Tech weapon to do.

Both weapons are cast in gunmetal grey plastic with no paint applications. Normally I would want some paint apps on here, and had they been added I think it would have looked good, but the raw look of just having the grey on the weapons works given the bulky and powerful looking sculpts. They look like something a military would put out. All function and no glamor, and in that context it works very well.

Vehicle Mode:
Unlike many of the vehicle modes seen in the Transformers films, Laserbeak's is not a licensed vehicle of any sort. Indeed, it looks a lot like a Cybertronian vehicle done in the style of the movie universe. The inspiration for this vehicle seems to be one part World War II style bomber and one part hover vehicle. The front end (which still resembles a head even though the beast mode head is covered) looks like a thick cockpit seen on many old style bombers. The main trunk of the vehicle is fairly small and curved in comparison to his thick wings which house both his hover fan deetails as well as his beast mode wings. It's a really interesting design that combines powerful looking elements and sleek design bits you would expect from an aerial vehicle. Perhaps the part that illustrates this best are his wings which are thick in th emiddle, but end on thin, blade like extensions at the outer edge. I'll be the first to admit it's a bit of a funky design, but in a cool, semi-retro way.

There are some neat little details on Laserbeak as well. Like his counterpart, Ravage, he has many sharp parts that look like blades or spikes. The most obvious in this form are on the tail of the vehicle and angled blades pointing forward on each wing. His cockpit has a grid in the front where a pilot would presumably sit. The wings have a ton of sculpted detail in them including vents and panel lines.

Laserbeak is cast in silver, black and red plastic. In many ways these colors are very true to his G1 counterpart, who had all these colors albeit in different proportions. Most of the body is silver including the middle and the top and bottom of the wings. The black parts are found on the front and back of the vehicle. Red plastic can be seen on the sides and sandwiched inside the wings. Red is also used for hover fans inside the top of the wings. Paint applications show up in metallic blue, white, red, silver and gunmetal grey. The metallic blue is found on the front end where it paints the windows of the cockpit. White and red designs are found on either side of the cockpit, forming a pattern that looks like a bird's head. The silver and gunmetal colors are used on the wings and the tail section. Overall it's a simple color scheme but like his weapons, it works well for the character. Perhaps a bit more detail could have been given to the silver panels on the underside of the vehicle, but that's really a super minor issue.

There are six points of articulation in this mode, four in the wings and two on the legs (which are tucked into the sides here, looking more like big thrusters). One could imagine Laserbeak using this articulation to navigate and change course as he swoops into the battlefield. For a bit of extra fun, his hover fans can spin if you push on them. The best part about this figure has to be the sheer number of places you can attach weapons. In total, there are eight holes to attach Mech Tech weapons (or those with equivalent pegs). Two are in the cockpit area (top and bottom), four are found on his wings and there are two on his feet which stick out a bit in the back. While G1 Laserbeak may be more beloved, this Laserbeak has him beat in a fire fight!

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached for now.
  2. Swing the cockpit and lower panel on the vehicle down to reveal the beast mode head.
  3. Pull the head forward to extend the neck out.
  4. Swing the bottom panel back in place.
  5. Swing the robot legs down.
  6. Extend each robot foot out to fully form the legs.
  7. Swing up the small red "feather" panels on the sides.
  8. On each foot, swing the heel piece down.
  9. Swing the black panel on the tail back and extend the tail out.
  10. Lift the top panel on each wing up.
  11. Rotate the blade piece on the top panel out.
  12. Pull each wing out and swing the panels back into place.
  13. Attach the weapons to the wings.

Beast Mode:
In Generation One, Laserbeak was based on a condor but heavily mechanized with lots of right angles and machinery. The 2011 version of Laserbeak is not based on any specific bird I can think of off-hand. Instead, he looks like he was designed to be frightening and a bit gross looking. What I found interesting is how many design elements are similar to those found on Ravage from "Revenge of the Fallen". The first detail that really resembles Ravage are a row of spikes sticking out his back. Another is the design of his neck and tail, which has several segments that resemble those found on a spinal cord. Finally, he has blades on his tail, similar to those found on Ravage. It is cool to see this kind of design continuity between the two Transformers since they are both minions of Soundwave.

Other interesting details include the head design, which has a beak and giant, bulbous eyes and what appear to be spikes sticking out on the lower portion of his mouth. His wings are spread wide across the body with "feathers" that resemble blades. These "feathers" are found not only on his wings, but also near the legs pressed against his central body. His feet are designed with fierce looking claws on them and have fine details such as circles representing the hinges at each segment. These details all appear on his CGI model that appears in the "Dark of the Moon" film. One additional design aspect I like a lot are the hoverfans built into his wings. While Laserbeak is shown flapping his wings in the film, it is hard to imagine how simple flapping would be enough to give such a Transformer adequate lift. It makes more sense that he has an extra method propulsion and lift, which these fans offer.

The primary colors in this form are still silver, black and red, but in this form we get a lot more black showing thanks to his neck, feet and tail. His wings are dramatic in sculpt and color, with the bright red color contrasting nicely against the darker silver and black colors. The paint colors used in this mode are silver, blue and red. The silver is the most heavily used. You'll find it on his tail blades and his wings. The wing details are my favorite as the details are sprayed on beautifully from the hoverfan area outward. The blue color is used on his bulbous eyes while red is found on the smaller slits on his head and th einside of his mouth.

There are thirty points of articulation on this figure, which was a bit surprising to me at first, but when yo see how Laserbeak moves in the movie it does make sense for him to be able to angle his head and tail a lot. While he is a "bird", the way he moved was sometimes very snake-like, as if he was coiled up and ready to strike at his enemies. This articulation includes five points on his neck/head area and five on his tail alone. Each of his wings can move up and down as well as rotate on a hinge at the base. In this form you can connect weapons to his wings just like the vehicle mode. He has one connection point on his underbelly and there are two holes on his feet. Interestingly enough, his heel pieces are pegs that would allow a larger figure to hold him in its hand, a nod to Laserbeak landing on the arms or shoulders of Transformers (something seen in G1 and "Dark of the Moon").

Final Thoughts:
Laserbeak is one awesome beast-based figure. We don't get a lot of these nowadays so when we do it's cool to see what a great job the designers can do with it. He's also fairly accurate to the movie model (though I confess I'd have to watch the movie a couple more times to really get a true appreciation for the CGI model). Most of all, Laserbeak is a fun toy and that is always a welcome item in my collection. Highly recommended!