Arms Micron Smokescreen with S.2 Toy Review

in 2012, Action Figure Review, Arms Micron, Autobot, Deluxe, Generation One

Transformers Prime

General Information:
Release Date: March 2012
Price Point: $40 (Import Stores, prices may vary)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: "S.2" Micron figure/weapon

General Images:

*Images with asterisks are from Amazon Japan

One of the challenges in having a toy line that exists in multiple countries is making those toys unique somehow between countries. This is especially true between the United States and Japan, which traditionally take different tracks on marketing their figures. In the case of "Transformers Prime", Takara has engineered an entire campaign that centers around Microns (a.k.a. Mini-Cons) being included with each figure. Unlike traditional Mini-Con figures, these Microns are being included as small model kits that the buyer assembles. Another interesting feature is the use of stickers for details instead of paint, which is almost the antithesis of the current Generation One "Encore" series where old details that used to be stickers are tampographed onto G1 figures.

The character of Smokescreen had been introduced in the "Transformers Prime" television show in 2012, but Hasbro had not revealed a figure for the line until almost the end of the year. Not to pass up an opportunity, Takara Tomy decided to take the mold previously released as Knock Out with a new head to serve as Smokescreen for the "Arms Micron" toy line. Paired with a new Micron sculpt named "S.2", for a while fans were convinced this may be the only Smokescreen figure released in the line.

This review will focus on the changes made to the "Knock Out" sculpt for this release, so check out that review for details on the figure. S.2's review will of course be an all new one.

Tech Spec/Packaging Translation (courtesy of Doug Dlin):

Smokescreen Profile:
Smokescreen was a member of the Elite Guard, a select corps of Autobots, and is a fiery warrior who is ready to combat his enemies fair and square. His current vehicle mode is one he chose for the sake of his mission, but it's considered a problem for being too conspicuous. He is equipped with a variety of weaponry, utilizing such things as magnetic smoke emitted from his muffler. On Cybertron, he fulfilled the vital role of bodyguard to the Autobot mentor Alpha Trion. His reasons for suddenly appearing on Earth are still a mystery.

Box Translations:
Stragy Gun [Maybe a contraction/typo for "strategy"?]
Diverts his opponents and downs them with certainty using three types of guns. It combines three types of guns so he can make the optimum attack for the occasion. This invincible mode can blast through any sort of mayhem.

["Arms-Up example" text omitted]

S.2 Micron Review

Images:

Robot Mode:
S.2S.2 is a Micron partnered with Smokescreen. Unlike other Microns in the toy line who pay homage to other characters in "Prime" (such as Megatron Cannon) S.2 is an unlikely design homage to a Generation One character who has not appeared in "Transformers Prime". Who you may ask? Devcon! Wait, who? Devcon was a character featured in the episode "The Gambler". An Autobot Bounty Hunter, he had a tough attitude and became the favorite of many fans. He had a somewhat generic design, consisting of a distinctive tube on the top of his head, a blaster built into his right arm and while blocky, he had some curved shapes on him. S.2 has many of these design elements including circles on the distinct head design mentioned above, the blaster on his right arm, circles on his shoulders and the layers of armor designs on his legs. It's such a fun and unlikely homage I can't help but love it.

The other part of Devcon's design are the "weapon parts" on his back including parts of his crossbow form which wind up looking like wings in this form. It's a nice little extra design element that adds to the figure. His arms also move up and down, but that's about it in terms of functionality.

S.2 is cast in white plastic. His "Spark Crystal" is grey with an Autobot symbol sticker inside the cavity the crystal fits into. His feet have dark grey stickers on them. That's about it in terms of color. Given how fun his robot mode design is, I really wish he had been given a couple more stickers to help bring out his detailing. Here's hoping for a blue redeco down the line!

Transformation to Weapon Mode:

  1. Swing the pointed section on his back up over the head.
  2. Swing each of the "wings" up so they point out to the sides and form the front of the crossbow.
  3. Swing each arm down so they are straight.
  4. Swing each lower leg out to the sides and up.

Weapon Mode:
In this form S.2 looks a bit like a bird with the middle section of the weapon looking almost like the head of a bird and the front of the bow being wings. However, the detailing is all mechanical and there's no head in the center, just a narrow design that resembles an arrow fit into a groove to guide it upon launch. You could also interpret this as a blaster barrel.

The stickers used in this mode are metallic red and blue, matching sticker colors found on Smokescreen himself. The details look nice but because of the white plastic I found myself once again wishing there were more stickers.

There are two pegs on this figure to allow it to attach to other Transformers. One is on the bottom and the other is on the side. Functionally the only issue I've had is that the "back pack" consisting of the weapon barrel and wings doesn't hold 100% secure, so it has been known to pop off in tranfsormation, but it snaps back on easily enough.

Smokescreen Review

Images:

Vehicle Mode:
SmokescreenKnock Out's vehicle mode was a stylish sports car, so it made for a good base vehicle mode for Smokescreen, though the curves of that character's vehicle form do differ from Knock Out's. Still, it is a curved vehicle form with sleek lines running from front to back so it serves the purpose.

The most significant change to the figure in this mode is on the back of the vehicle. The pieces that make up the rear of the vehicle have been replaced with completely new ones. Instead of a simple curved piece with rear light details on them, these pieces have the halves of a spoiler on top, 5mm pegs on the sides and holes in the back allowing you to attach additional 5mm peg weapons and/or Microns. The spoiler kind of hangs off the back a bit similar to the CG model, and the rear lights and vent details distinguish themselves from Knock Out's equivalent pieces. These aren't "retooled" bits, they're whole new pieces.

Smokescreen is cast almost entirely in a pearlescent white color (looking almost like a light grey). The wheels are cast in black. Like most Arms Micron figures there is a minimal amount of paint applications. The only obvious ones are on the front grille which is painted dark grey. The rest of the details are filled in by stickers including Smokescreen's distinctive blue lines running from the front of the vehicle to the windshield and the designs on the doors with the number "38" on it. He also has stickers on the spoiler, giving it some color detailing as well. There are also stickers that cover the headlights and give them some detailing, but I have to admit these are the ones I am least fond of. The headlights are cast in a really nice clear plastic and look fine just on their own. They really didn't need stickers to enhance them in my opinion. I do wish the designers had taken the opportunity to paint the wheels however. It's a pet peeve of mine since they could have easily created stickers for them or use a bit of silver paint.

Smokescreen retains the same holes for extra weapons found on Knock Out, near the rear wheel wells. The aforementioned pegs and holes on the back of the vehicle add to this ability. The pegs on the back look a bit awkward as they kind of stick out a bit more than I'd prefer, but this allows any weapons you attach to fit snug, so at least there's a functional reason for it.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the weapon and set it aside for now.
  2. pull the rear of the vehicle back.
  3. Split the rear of the vehicle into two halves.
  4. Rotate the panels that form the back of the vehicle around.
  5. Swing down the robot feet and rotate them around.
  6. Push the front of the car down slightly to release the tabs from the middle section of the vehicle.
  7. Split the middle section and swing the halves out to the sides.
  8. Rotate the front wheels out then in, bringing the robot arms out.
  9. On each arm, use the central hinge joint to swing the section with the windshield halves forward.
  10. On each arm, swing out the hand, then collapse the window pieces over each other to form the forearms.
  11. Swing the panels with the headlights on them up.
  12. Swing down the waist/chest piece (formed from the front of the vehicle's center section).
  13. The headlight panels do not lock into place, but just sit over the shoulders.
  14. Swing the robot head up.
  15. Near the waist area, swing the side panels from the vehicle mode grille back.
  16. Attach the weapon into either hand or you can split it into two pieces to give him two weapons.

*Note: The instructions show a modification that involves not folding the hood panel. The functionality of the figure isn't hampered either way.

Robot Mode:
There are some design similarities between Knock Out and Smokescreen's CG models, so it's not a shock that Smokescreen's first figure was based on the Knock Out sculpt. Perhaps the most distinctive feature the two share is the way their car forms appear as the torso/upper body. They both have the sides of the car's front end sort of wrapping around the upper body while forming raised armor pieces on either side. This is perhaps the primary feature that this figure shares with the CG model for Smokescreen. Similar features also appear on the legs, which have pointed knee armor and curved armor on the legs.

Perhaps the most significant change to the figure is the new head sculpt. It's based on the CG model, complete with a long/high crest, "horns" that wrap over the top of his "helmet" section and a long face with a chin piece at the end. Set in a grim expression, this head sculpt looks fantastic.

Where the design of the figure differs quite a bit are the arms and back. Unlike the CG model, he has no doors as "wings" on his back. His arms don't have the same bulky shoulder armor and forearms as the CG model, though the bulky forearms are somewhat duplicated by the way the car parts form curved forearms. Overall however, he does have the same general outline of the CG model and he is instantly recognizable, due in large part to the new head sculpt.

In this form you get to see a lot more black plastic on the upper arms, shoulder armor, hands, thighs and feet. His blue and red colors come mostly from the stickers, which break up and wind up everywhere from his torso to his arms and even the area behind his feet. The head is painted however, with silver on the face, blue on the eyes and red on the "horns" on his head. A few sticker show up in this mode that don't appear in robot mode including the area around his waist and his knees, all of which feature dark grey/metallic stickers with some extra blue line detailing.

Smokescreen's joints are all as tight as Knock Out's. He does not include the staff weapon that came with Knock Out. Instead his lone weapon is S.2, but that works out nicely. He can hold the Micron in either hand or attach him to the sides of his legs. For weapons storage you can attach the weapon to his back.

Final Thoughts:
Overall I'm really happy with this figure. When I purchased it, the "Beast Hunters" Smokescreen had not yet been announced, but even after I'm happy to have the figure. It's a really interesting example of how designers can take an existing figure and turn it into a character it wasn't intended to be with a good amount of success, similar to some of the things pulled off by Botcon exclusives or figures in the "Generations" line. While not perfect, S.2 is a fantastic homage to a classic character. Recommended!