Armada Toy Reviews: Road Assault Team

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Armada, Mini-Con


General Information:
Price Point: Mini-con
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: September 2003
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)

In an attempt to keep the "Unicron Battles" Mini-Con assortments somewhat fresh, the Race Team has been given a new deco and released as the
Road Assault Team. However, the characters are the same (Dirt Boss, Downshift and Mirage). This review will cover the changes made to these little guys for this release.

Dirt Boss:
When preview pictures of the new Dirt Boss first went online, a good chunk of Transformers fans thought they were looking at the new incarnation of a classic Generation One character Big Daddy, who was part of the the Hot Rod Micromaster patrol. The "flame" patterns on a black car with some red detail was enough to draw the parallels, so fans (including myself) were already tickled pink. Alas, the campaign to name him Big Daddy (which consisted of about two minutes worth of begging) didn't bear fruit, but we do have a cool toy.

Part of the original problem with Dirt Boss is that the yellow was so bright, it drowned out details and was a bit plain looking. Here however, Dirt Boss is made up of much more subdued colors. In vehicle mode, he's primarily black with some red details showing. On his hood and the sides of the car you'll find flame patterns in yellow. The same yellow is used for the headlights. The windows are now silver. These colors actually help to give him a stronger
contrast from color to color (yellow against the black for instance) and all in all, makes for a more visually striking toy.

The mold has not suffered any degradation, so the joints are all still tight and work fine. For those into noticing excruciating detail, on Dirt Boss' back in robot mode, you'll see a hexagon. It looks like a Mini-Con symbol could have gone in there, but was never put in. On Dirt Boss from the Race Team, this hexagon is smooth with no detail. On the "new" Dirt Boss, there is a tiny "X" inside of it.

Downshift has an odd appeal. I mean, he's not the best toy in the world. His arms are so heavy that if you move them up, he tends to fall over. But he has an interest aesthetic that kind of harkens back to classic G1 toys while being distinct. However, it's often amazing to see how a color scheme can change how one feels about a toy.

Downshift's new scheme is mostly white, with red and orange used for detailing. In vehicle mode, he has a nice lightning pattern on the front hood and what looks like stylized comets or energy balls on either side of the car. The central part of the hood has been painted red, and the spoiler is cast in red plastic. In robot mode, Downshift shows off the aforementioned orange. His face, fists and details on his legs are all orange. The orange offers an
unexpectedly welcome splash of color to the toy. What I love is that the white is still so prevelant, that nothing gets overwhelmed. A really nice redeco.

Mirage is nice and color coordinated with the rest of the team. His primary colors are red, white and dark gray. In vehicle mode the driver's seat has been painted black. In robot mode, his face is painted silver. It is interesting to note however, that the new Mirage's face deco is done a lot more carefully than the original's. If you look at the face sculpt carefully, he has a helmet that surrounds the face, with edges leading to the mouthpiece. On the Race Team Mirage, the orange paint on the face was used on both the face and the edges leading to the mouthpiece. Here, only the eyes/nose/mouthpiece section has been painted, which looks a lot neater.

I hate to say this, but next to the new Skyboom shield, the original looks almost like a knock off toy, mostly owing to its bright, bright yellow and gray. Traditionally, red, black and silver work well together as a "cool" color scheme on characters and mecha. This holds true here as well. Dirt Boss' head is the handle for the shield, and when placed into a couple different Armada toy hands, it fits fine, so no mold degradation seems to have occurred.

The Road Assault Team is almost like the "street racer" answer to the "rally racing" Race Team. If you never bought the original Skyboom shield, definitely pick this set up. If you already have a Skyboom and don't mind a redeco (especially a cooler looking one),
then this team is for you! Highly recommended.