Armada Toy Reviews: Predacon

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Armada, Beast Wars, Decepticon

Armada

General Information:
Release Date: September 2003
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price Point: Max-con (Approximately $19.99 depending on retailer)
Accessories: Tail/Weapon, Sideburn Mini-Con figure, Skid-Z Mini-Con figure

The invasion of the beasts into Armada continues with the introduction of another Beast Wars mold into the line. This time a mega sized toy is paired up with two Mini-cons in an effort to justify the price point. The mega is Transmetal Megatron (now named Predacon), the Minis are Sideburn and Skid-Z, redecos of Backtrack and Spiral from the Street Speed Team. Since it's been ages since I reviewed Transmetal Megatron, I will approach Predacon's review from scratch. For the Mini-Cons, I will focus on the changes made to them since they were reviewed recently.

Sideburn & Skid-Z

Sideburn and Skid-Z are both names carried over from Robots in Disguise. This time, these names are given to two Mini-Cons who help power up Predacon in his quest to destroy the Autobots!

Sideburn is a redeco of Backtrack from the Street Speed Team. His new primary color is red. Despite first appearances, Hasbro did not just copy the Super Stunt Team member Redline. The red color, silver headlights and black wheels are shared by both, but other colors are different. Beneath the headlights are bright green details, and the windows of the vehicle mode are black instead of blue.

As a robot, Sideburn has bright green eyes instead of the dark color of Redline's eyes. Also, the joints are all a green/tan color, matching the same color used on Predacon himself. The green/tan color is a bit odd to use on the Mini-Con, but perhaps it was meant to provide some color consistancy across
toys.
When compared to Backtrack, I prefer this color scheme, but then compared to Redline, I prefer Redline the most. Still, if you don't want to spend insane amounts of money to get a "red Backtrack", this is your best bet.

Skid-Z is a redeco of Spiral. While only certain parts of Sideburn seem to be deco'd to match Predacon, Skid-Z entire color scheme seems designed to match the Decepticon he Powerlinks with. His primary color is metallic brown. Some nice paint detail was added, contrasting strongly with the brown. His front headlights are colored white, with two smaller orange lights. The front grille is painted silver and the car windows are gold. The rear lights are orange, overall making Skid-Z one fairly unique looking car. One would think that brown is an ugly color to apply to a vehicle, but in this case, it works very well.

As a robot, Skid-Z's joints (waist, upper legs etc.) are gunmetal gray, a color found on Predacon as well. His chest has orange painted onto the brown as well, bringing out the small details there. His eyes are also painted orange, offering sharp contrast to the rest of his head which is metallic brown. Out of the two redecos, I prefer this one. It's colors match Predacon's and he's distinctive looking among the Mini-Cons (despite being a redeco). A sweet redeco overall.

Predacon

Beast Mode:
Any resemblance in the face to Megatrons past is purely intentional as this toy is a redeco of the Transmetal Megatron toy. I often say that I wish Hasbro would do more with redecos than they do. Although there is a lot of work involved in bringing an old mold back to life, at the end of the day, it's still not a brand new figure, so the fanboy in me wants to see more effort put into the paint jobs. Someone in the cosmos must have gotten tired of my complaining,
because that's exactly what they did with Predacon.

Predacon is an interesting combination of colors. His main body and lower legs are gunmetal gray. His beast mode arms, and most of the tail are green while his feet and neck/head section are a light metallic green/tan (the same color found on Sideburn). The designers didn't stop there however. On top of this basic color scheme you'll find lots of details filled in with red, orange, silver and green paint. You see, the original Transmetal Megatron had a very detailed sculpt, but a very minimalist color scheme. Much of the sculpted detail wasn't painted, so it gave the toy a nice unified look, but it did not make it very distinctive. That task seems to have been left to Predacon.

The coloring starts right at the head, where the eyes have been painted red with a bright green pupil. The area behind the eyes is colored green as well. The teeth have been painted silver while the details going from the jaw to the neck are silver. On the central body, the raised, tube like details on his back leading to the side have been painted green, at the end is orange filling in the circle around the Powerlinx point (more on those in a moment). Further down the
body on the fan blades, orange comes out from the center of the fan leading out to orange tech line details all over the hoverfan mechanism. Flip open the fan cover and you'll see some really nice painting done on the details inside. All over you'll find light to dark orange fades on details that look like some type of Transformer power cell. The tubes and gear inside these sections are painted silver. Moving on down, on the beast mode legs you'll find both a light gold and red used to detail various mechanical parts.

Quite simply, the deco on this toy rocks. It shows an extreme attention to detail. The key here is the way the colors are arranged to bring out the details of the sculpt. And what a sculpt it is. The Transmetal concept brought the "tech" element into the beast modes of the Beast Wars toys (which until then had been all "organic" modes). This mode impressed people enough where they wanted it to be used for a G1 Grimlock redeco! From the head all the way to the tail, you'll find a ton of mechanical details meant to show that this was more than just your typical beast. The tubes running into controlpanels on the neck, the etched in panels on the sides and the circular details on the legs are all fantastic and point to a lot of care going into the creation of this toy.

In beast mode, Predacon has thirteen points of articulation. This includes the seven on his tail. In a neat touch of authenticity (as authentic as a robotic T-rex gets anyway) Predacon rests at a fairly horizontal position on his legs, which is the more modern interpretation of how the T-rex actually walked and stood.

Now, about those Powerlinx points. Predacon has been given not two, not three but four Powerlinx points! Two can be found on each side, one near the shoulder and the other on his hoverfans. The ones near his shoulders are perfectly places, allowing any number of Mini-Cons to attach there and look cool (I'm a big fan of the Wreckage mold, for instance. The fan is a little more tricky. Since the fan rotates, when you attach a Mini-Con, it may (not always) just flop down. Also, the Powerlinx point does not come out enough for all Mini-Cons to attack. While I can easily attach Sidburn and Skid-Z, I couldn't get Wreckage and his various repaints to attach at all. It would have helped if the Powerlinx point was a tiny bit longer, but it's no huge deal since some Minis can attach, just not all of them.

One of the features of Transmetals was having a "third" mode. This was usually a minor variation on the beast mode, and the same holds true here. The Predacon instructions refer
to this form as the Transport Mode. Since it is relatively minor, I'll just cover it in this paragraph. Push Predacon's feet up to reveal his wheels, and flip up the hoverfans. That's it. Most people found this mode quite comical, but when the writers of Beast Wars actually found a way to make it a function of the characters in the show, that perspective died down...a bit. It is kind of neat to have Predacon being able to fly, and while a bit odd, the sculpt of the wheel designs on his feet are nicely done (for what amounts to be the Transformers equivalent of roller blades).

What's cool about the beast mode here is that there is a lot to it. It's not just a flat or detail-less sculpt. Of all the sculpts to revive, this is one of the best they could have picked.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the tail and flip out the handle inside the base. Swing the
    claws at the end out.
  2. Flip up the sections with the hoverfans.
  3. Swing the dinosaur head forward.
  4. Swing the sides of the beast mode (where the dinosaur arms are) up.
  5. Swing the robot arms forward.
  6. Tuck the dinosaur head into the space where the robot arms were.
  7. Rotate the upper body around.
  8. Attach the tab on the hoverfan section to the brown clips on the
    dinosaur head.
  9. Swing the brown, tail connector piece to the side.
  10. Attach the tail/weapon to one of Predacon's fists.

Robot Mode:
Predacon's robot mode introduces a whole new set of detailing and colors to the toy. His newly revealed parts include the robot head, upper body, robot arms and upper legs. As his beast mode is heavy on the tech details, the robot mode has a healthy dose of organic looking details. In effect, "Transmetals" were made to turn the beast "inside out", alternating the tech and organic components of the Transformers. In this case, it's uncertain if Predacon is even meant to be techno-organic (I like to think he is), but the details are still there.

One detail which I always found interesting was the upper body, which basically looks like a squashed down dinosaur head. It has the brow ridges, a snout and even a mean looking pair of eyes! His arms have some tech like detail on them such as the spikes, but they also have a lot of fine etched lines resembling wrinkled skin, and the shapes are distinctly muscular instead of blocky. The same can be said for the upper legs, which have small tech elements, but for the most part look like skin with wrinkles in it. These parts are mainly brown with silver highlights. The "eyes" on Predacon's chest are orange.

The basic shape of Predacon's robot head is modelled after the Generation One Megatron's head design. That design generally consisted of a flat top, a wide helmet section coming down to the sides. Depending on the artist, Megatron also had V shape type designs on either side of his brow ridge. This design emulates that a lot, but with an organic twist. The helmet
section of the head has the same wrinkled skin texture as the arms and upper legs. On either side of his face are horns that look like they're "growing" out of his helmet. The face itself looks mechanical however. The head is mostly brown with a dark orange face. The eyes are bright green and his teeth are locked in a gritted expression (painted white). The brown used in this form adds a very organic feeling color to the scheme. Coupled with the green, and one could even argue Predacon is very "nature" oriented in color scheme.

Predacon has fourteen points of articulation in robot mode. This does not include the articulation in his cutlass weapon. Beast Wars was a group of toys partially reknowned for their posability, so this comes as no surprise. What's cool is that the articulation is meaningful articulation. The arms can swing out to the sides, the waist can turn, the knees bend and rotate outward etc.

What's nice to see is that at least two of the Powerlinx points become very central pieces in this mode. The ones that were on the sides of the beast mode now rest on Predacon's shoulders. The hoverfan points are on the back now, and you can still attach Minis there, but they will not be easy to see when looking at the figure from the front view. The two on his shoulder are perfectly placed. Since Sideburn and Skid-z's Powerlinx points are towards the rear of the vehicle, they made a good choice for this toy. However, if you want to attach other Mini-Cons, you can just move the beast mode arms back to clear the space.

In a real cool coincidence, Predacon can hold Mini-Con weapons such as the Star Saber! Now, you're probably thinking "No, Ben, they modified the mold so he could do that." The thing is, they didn't. The cutlass handle is the same size as the original's, and in a true test, Transmetal Megatron is able to hold the Star Saber as well! Whether a planned feature or a happy accident, it's nice to see a "Beast Wars Armada" toy do more than just be able to Powerlink.

In many ways, Predacon is an improvment on the Beast Wars Transmetal Megatron design. The Powerlinx points add some playability and without having to worry about rubbing off vacuum metallized bits, kids can have a bit more fun with the toy. The deco brings out a lot of details that have always been on the toy, just simply not exploited. Fantastic and recommended!