"Generations" Studio Series Blackout with Scorponok Toy Review

in 2018, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generations, Leader, Movie (2007), Studio Series

Generations

Studio Series

General Information:
Release Date: April 2018
Price Point: $49.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Blade weapon, Scorponok mini-figure

Blackout

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
Intricate Conversion and Accessories
This Studio Series 08 Leader Class Movie 1 Decepticon Blackout figure brings the movie action from the Desert Base Assault scene to new dimensions. The figure converts between robot and helicopter modes in 23 steps and comes with 2 high-impact weapon accessories inspired by the movie. Remove the backdrop included in pack to showcase Decepticon Blackout in the Desert Base Assault scene.

Massive Decepticon Infiltrator
In Transformers Movie 1, the Desert Base Assault catalyzes military activity as the Decepticons launch their search for the Allspark. Decepticon Blackout disregards human defenses and easily infiltrates US air space. After his initial descent onto the base, he converts into a massive Decepticon and releases Scorponok into the desert. Before the humans can react, he hacks into the military database and begins to extract classified intel.

2017 was a milestone in Transformers history. The live action movie series was now ten years old meaning an entire generation of fans had grown up in an era where they had a live action Transformers theatrical film every other year to watch. In 2018 Hasbro launched the "Studio Series", a "Generations"-esque line of figured focused on the live action movies. The series boasts several figures that are made in rough scale with each other using the CAD files from Paramount Pictures as the basis for the design. Part of the idea was also to fill in gaps in previous lines by making characters who had not appeared in the line previously.

Blackout was featured in one of the first major battle scenes of the 2007 live action Transformers film. The Decepticon infiltrates a military base (he is, after all, a robot in disguise) and then proceeds to destroy it. It was a striking moment that showed the terrifying potential of the Decepticons on Earth. In the 2007 toy line there was a Voyager Class Blackout and later a Commander Class "Dark of the Moon" Blackout. However it has been a while since we have seen the character appear as a figure so his inclusion in "Studio Series" makes perfect sense.

Packaging:
The Deluxe Studio Series figures are packaged in boxes similar in size to the boxes used for "The Last Knight". The boxes are vertical rectangles with a large window in the front. Instead of the lighter colors of "The Last Knight" boxes, this box takes a more "Generations" style approach, using a black background and a vertical "Transformers" logo to the right. Above that is the "Generations" logo. Reflecting the new, unified approach to the Transformers toy line both Hasbro and Takara Tomy's logos appear on the front of the packaging. Towards the lower part of the box is the logo for the specific film the character comes from. To the left is new package art with blue borders. The packaging also has package art on the side and a large collector number designated to each figure. In Blackout's case he is number 8. The idea is that you can line up all these figures on a shelf to show off the collection numbers. It's a neat idea and has kept me from tossing out the box so far.

The back of the packaging shows Ratchet in both modes along with the logo for the first "Transformers" film. It also describes his transformation as having 46 steps! Towards the bottom it shows you how you can take the cardboard insert from the inside of the packaging and use it as a display base and background for the figure. In Blackout's case, he comes with a background showing the military base he infiltrates and destroys in the 2007 film. Next to that are the cosells for this figure: Leader Class Grimlock and Voyager Class Optimus Prime. Below that is all the requisite legal information for the figure.

Accesories:
Blackout includes two accessories: a rotor blade weapon and a mini-figure of Scorponok, his partner. The rotor blade weapon is actually formed from his rear rotor blade in vehicle mode. Here it looks like the tail piece with a four sided, dark grey rotor attached to it. This weapon was shown prominently in the film when Blackout is sneaking up on Optimus Prime (before the human soldiers attack him). Push the blade and they spin freely. The weapon has a 5mm peg on the side, allowing you to connect it to either forearm.

Scorponok has had figures made of him before. The original Voyager Class Blackout came with a PVC figure and then later he was released as a Deluxe Class figure. This takes the character back to being a small PVC figure, but he is larger than the previous one with more detailing, paint applications and articulation.

The sculpt on this mini-figure is really nicely detailed. The claws look like drills, the head has round "bug eyes" and each leg is sculpted with claw like points at the end. His tail has a really nice, layered look to it ending at a pointed stinger at the end. The tail can move at the base and bend in the middle. The arms can also swing in and out.

This mini-figure is cast in dark and flat grey plastic. Silver, gold and red are used to provide paint applications that roughly match up with the on-screen version (he never really stayed still long enough to get a long stare at his colors). Still the way the various colors contrast against each other (especially the red eyes on the gold paint) look fantastic.

Robot Mode:
For its time, the Voyager Class Blackout figure was a good toy. Keeping in mind the designers only had concept art to work off of, it is kind of amazing how good of a job they wound up doing with it. That said, this new version gave the designers a chance to create a figure that was much more accurate to the hulking creature seen on the big screen in 2007. Unlike the Voyager Class figure, which was fairly thin from head to toe, this figure reflects more of the overall proportions of the CG model from the film. This includes a very bulky top half, thick arms and then relatively thin thighs and legs leading to wide feet. He also has pods and turbines from the vehicle mode over his shoulders and above his head is a round weapon (I always assumed this is what he used to launch his giant energy burst in the film).

In addition to larger chunks of the figure and its overall shape, there are some smaller details that also come right from the CG model. These include:

  • The head sculpt is based on the CG model, with angled lines going up (looking similar to the Decepticon symbol), small eyes and a mouth area that looks like the mandibles of an insect.
  • A panel on the sides of the figure (around the underarm sections) shows off details including a rectangle with three angled lines and a large cog. These are details seen in the film (specifically when Blackout tries to sneak up on Optimus Prime).
  • The legs feature raised knee armor panels with a thin opening in the center.
  • The helicopter rotor blades wind up on his back, looking almost like a cape.
  • On each hand you will see a pattern of three raised lines over the inner finger. This comes right from a detail seen on screen when Blackout grabs the server at the military base.
  • The feet have to pieces that stick up vertically and a piece in between them (sort of like odd toes), these are present on this figure.
  • There are tons of mechanical details on the arms and legs from wires, to pistons to cogs.

I do have a couple reservations about this figure. One: it does not have machine guns on the arms like its on-screen counterpart. I am not even saying they had to include machine gun accessories (though that would have rocked). They could have just sculpted them into the panels on the sides of the arms but alas they are not there. The other issue is with the hands. They are on a hinge and stuck in one position with the top of the hands facing up. This makes them look like they have not been transformed completely. It is not a deal breaker, but they look odd as a result.

All that said, this sculpt is absolutely beautiful. It incorporates a lot of the on-screen CG model's features and it looks imposing and dangerous.

From a color standpoint, Blackout is not the most striking figure - but that is simply how the character appeared on screen. This figure is made up mostly of grey plastic ranging from light to dark. Other parts are cast in silver (such as the hands). Paint details are done using gunmetal grey, black, grey and red paint. The section that impresses me the most is the head, which has a gorgeous set of paint applications on it. The colors are what I would call "near" screen accurate. Blackout was mostly a bunch of silver, grey and black tones in the movie, but just which colors he was largely varied depending on the lighting conditions. Presumably Hasbro had the CG models to work from so they did their best to get as close as possible to the real deal.

There are seventeen points of articulation on this figure. However some of them are limited, such as the shoulders which kind of just move forward and back a bit. You're not going to get a ton of dynamic poses out of this figure, but the joints are solid and any posing of the figure will mostly involve repositioning his legs. My main concern was just how stable the figure would be given its top heavy design and from that perspective there are no issues. In a fun, movie-inspired feature the Scorponok mini-figure can be attached to Blackout's back. Just move the rotor blades aside and attach it to the peg and then you can pretend to "launch" him the way Scorponok jumped out of Blackout in the film!

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the rotor weapon and set it aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing the heel panels out and snap them into place (be gentle, the plastic is somewhat thin in this section).
  4. Point each robot foot down. This will compress the various armor pieces and legs.
  5. Swivel the legs inward.
  6. On each robot foot piece, pull the side panel out, rotate it around, then push it back in.
  7. Swing the back piece (with the rotor blades) back. The weapon above the head will move with it.
  8. Detach the waist piece from the chest section.
  9. Swing the waist armor panel up.
  10. Swing the front end of the helicopter up from under the chest.
  11. Push the robot head down.
  12. Swing the panels over and under the robot head together to cover it up.
  13. Push the two panels on the top of the cockpit section together.
  14. Swing the turbines on top of the vehicle's front end forward for now to get them out of the way.
  15. Separate the panels that connect the arms to the chest section and swing the arms out to the sides.
  16. On each arm, swing the hands into the forearms.
  17. Swing each robot arm back.
  18. Swing the panels up with the tube on them, then connect them to the other halves of the tubes.
  19. Swing the panels from the sides of the arms up, then unfold them to form the sides of the vehicle.
  20. At the tail of the vehicle, swing out the back of the tail piece.
  21. Push down the section with the rotors so it lines up with the raised sections on the top of the vehicle towards the front.
  22. Tab in the rear of the rotor section with the side panels from the robot legs.
  23. Tab in the panels from the arms, completing the side of the vehicle (This is a bit tricky so have patience. Just line up the panels and then push in gently).
  24. Swing out the rotor blades.
  25. Push in the engine pieces (they flank the base of the rotors).
  26. Take the rotor blade weapon and swing out the side panel, then attach it to the end of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
Blackout's vehicle mode is a licensed Sikorsky MH-53 Pave Low helicopter. The first thing that has to be said about this vehicle is that it is gigantic, even for a Leader Class figure! Counting the refueling probe in the front (the thing that looks like an antenna) the helicopter mode is about 14.5 inches (about 36.83 centimeters) long! While the vehicle itself roughly measures 4.25 inches (about 10.795 centimeters) across, when you measure the end of one rotor blade to another it measures about 14.5 inches (about 36.83 centimeters) wide! That is an incredible size for any Transformers figure nowadays and it looks amazing when you see it in person.

This sculpt features many of the key elements seen on the real life MH-53. This includes the refueling probe sticking out in the front with the sensor/radar pod on the other side. It also has the distinctive fuel tanks on the sides (the tube shaped pieces with the fins at the end). It also features engine sections with black lines wrapping around it. It even has the distinct window pattern on the sides and lines indicating where armor panels edges meet. From a sculpting perspective this is a gorgeous reproduction of the MH-53.

Like the robot mode, this form features various shades of grey plastic. This is not laziness or anything on Hasbro's part. The fact is, the MH-53 is simply a very grey vehicle without any crazy colors on it. Instead, the deco on this vehicle helps give it some extra detailing and references to the movie. Black is used on sections like the engine while a bit of dark grey is used for modified versions of the Air Force Roundel on the sides. White is used on the sensor pod in the front and on the tail. The tail also has a red and white band around with the word "Blackout" overlaying the white stripe. Other terms are printed on the sides of the tail including "USAF" and 4500X which was the call sign of the vehicle Blackout scanned to obtain this alt mode. There is also a small Decepticon symbol in the front of the cockpit. This was not present in the film, but it does add a bit of Transformers branding to this form.

Overall, Blackout is one of the most breathtaking vehicle modes to come out of the Transformers toy line in 2018. It looks absolutely spectacular.

Blackout's rotors can spin in this form by pushing them manually. Also, there is a compartment under the tail section where Scorponok can be stored.

Final Thoughts:
Blackout lives up to the promise of "Studio Series" by providing fans with a more screen accurate, detailed and fun figure. The transformation is very intuitive for a figure of this class and he looks spectacular in both modes. There are some minor issues, sure, but I still highly recommend this figure!

Pros:

  • Beautiful sculpt in both modes that brings both large and small details from the CG model into toy form.
  • Gigantic vehicle mode.
  • Good strong joints. A very stable figure.
  • Scorponok mini-figure looks fantastic and has more deco than I expected it to.

Cons:

  • Heel panels are a bit thin for my comfort level.
  • Needed machine guns of some sort on the arms.
  • Hands are stuck swinging up or down. Wrist articulation would have been great.