"Generations" Titans Return Nightbeat Toy Review
Release Date: July 2016
Price Point: $4.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Nightbeat Titan Master, Vehicle
Very early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!
Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons. In true "Generations" fashion, Titans Return gives us characters from the Headmasters era in new forms that pay homage to the originals.
The Titan Master figures are packaged on a bubble card. The front of the card is universal across the assortment. It features Fortress Maximus' head floating above his body. To the side is a black bar with the "Generations" logo above the vertical "Transformers" logo. The insert in the bubble has a render of the figure in head mode. The head and vehicle are in the area under Fortress Maximus' head. The back is almost universal in that it features a diagram of the Titan Master "eco system" showing that the heads can attach to Deluxe, Voyager and Leader Classes. The difference however is in the bar code, which is specific to each character.
Nightbeat is a character that could have easily faded into Transformers history, but thanks to being written as a fun character in Marvel's Generation One comic book, he took on a life of his own. Years after the original figure came out, the Transformers Collector's Club created a version based on the "Energon" Hot Shot review. Years later there was an "alt universe" version of the character in the "Revenge of the Fallen" toy line. More recently an updated version of the character came out in the "Generations" toy line. That version however was not a Headmaster. This time out Titan Master Nightbeat is now just a Headmaster style robot.
Nightbeat isn't alone however. The figure is packaged with a small vehicle that has three forms: a jet, a drill tank and a weapon form (really just a variation on the drill tank).
Nightbeat's robot mode was a surprise to me because it does not appear to be based on Muzzle (G1 Nightbeat's Headmaster partner) nor does it appear to be based on any other Headmaster design from 1987 or 88 (if it is, it's a pretty artistic interpretation). The head has two flat panels on either side with a crest in the middle. Instead of a humanoid face he has a mouthplate. This part is probably the one most similar to Muzzle. However the rest of the figure is quite different. The torso has a circle design on the chest and his arms and legs have layers of angled details on them. I really like the design of this figure, I just can't quite place the source of the design.
While his design may belong to this figure, the colors of this figure are definitely based on G1 Nightbeat. The head, arms and lower legs are metallic blue. The torso and thighs are yellow. These were signature colors for Nightbeat. Indeed, the blue is a lighter shade that has not been used on many Transformers over the years. The eyes and mouthplate on the head are painted yellow. That's it for deco in this mode. It's not super detailed, but it looks bright and visually engaging.
Transformation to Head Mode:
Push the arms down. Swing the legs up at the hips, then the knees. When attaching the head to a larger figure, I recommend having Nightbeat's face pointing in a different direction than the larger robot face.
This mode is based on the G1 Nightbeat's head design. A bit of trivia: the head most people associate with Nightbeat (including visor eyes) was actually G1 Siren's head design, but way back in G1 somehow the character models for both characters swapped heads. Since then most of Nightbeat's portrayals have used Siren's G1 head design for Nightbeat including the "Generations" figure. Unlike that head design, this one features a large central crest, angled panels flanking the crest and thin eyes instead of visor eyes. The sides of the head have antennae sculpted onto them, resembling the small weapons that attached to the sides of G1 Nightbeat's head. This sculpt is really nice and does a great job of representing the original Nightbeat.
Metallic blue makes up most of this head. Yellow paint is used for the face. His eyes are painted red and his teeth are painted white. These colors are a bit simplified from the original. G1 Siren had an orange face with yellow around the edge of the helmet. Still this deco is in the "spirit" of the original and I like it.
Nightbeat's vehicle is packaged in jet mode. Now, to be honest the vehicle looks more like a tank than a jet. The sides have huge treads with a cockpit and nosecone sticking out in front. The sides have wing panels that angle upward at the ends. On the top of the wings are sculpted missiles. This may look goofy to some folks, but to me there's an Old Skool charm to it. This vehicle reminds me a bit of something that would have come out of the Diaclone era of Takara toys. I find it very charming.
The same plastic colors used for Nightbeat are used for this vehicle. Most of the vehicle is metallic blue, with the center and rear sections cast in yellow. The cockpit is painted red. You can see the silver drill on the other side of the nosecone/cockpit section. It's a very basic deco. I found myself wishing the missiles and the sides of the treads had been painted silver.
Nightbeat is able to sit in the middle of the vehicle. His feet can connect to the pegs towards the back of the vehicle. It's a bit of an odd look. He looks more like he's hunched over repairing the jet instead of operating it. Going back to my Diaclone comment however, I find there to be a charm about this too so I don't mind it at all.
Transformation to Drill Mode:
- Make sure Nightbeat is separated from the vehicle. Convert him to head mode.
- Push the wings up.
- Swing the cockpit section back to reveal the drill.
- Swing the yellow section in the middle.
- Push the head into the yellow slot in the middle, then push Nightbeat into the rear section of the vehicle (the larger robot face should face down).
Drill Tank Mode:
The drill tank mode is clearly the design that this vehicle started with. Large treads make up the sides, angling forward. The front o fthe vehicle has a large drill and the rear section looks like a pile of machinery. When I first saw this sculpt last year I mmediately thought of the drill tank Powerdasher from Generation One. Among the more distinct details in this mode are horizontal line patterns on the side panels and blunted spikes on the drills.
This mode feels like the form where most of the deco went. The side panels are painted silver with red Autobot logos on top. The drill is also painted silver. These splashes of color look great and really elevate the look of the vehicle.
Swing the peg down at the back of the vehicle and a larger figure can hold it as a weapon. You don't really need Nightbeat attached to the vehicle for this feature. This allows Nightbeat himself to serve as a head for a larger figure.
Let's talk about the elephantbot in the room: Nightbeat was a Transformer with a Headmaster partner in G1. However this version is just a small Titan Master with a vehicle and no body. For such a fan favorite character this could be seen as lackluster treatment, and I can empahtize with that. If that's your gut feeling then this isn't the figure for you. If you want a neat little figure and vehicle combination that also serves as a homage to a G1 character, then this set is a cool addition to your collection.