Superlink Toy Reviews: Kicker

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Superlink

Transformers Superlink

General Information:
Release Year: 2004
Retailer: General (exclusive to Japan)
Price: Approximately $18 at US import stores
Accessories: Energon Saber sword

Images:

Thirty years ago, Takara created a toyline called "Microman". The line had several figures which would later turn into Transformers. In 2000, Takara attempted a revival of the Microman line with highly articulated figures along with transformable toys. This revival was met with a moderate reaction, but Takara hasn't given up, and 2003 saw a quiet relaunch of the line, with new super-articulated figures and licensed characters. With 2004 being the 20th Anniversary of Transformers and the 30th Anniversary of Microman, a unique opportunity arose - turn a Microman toy into a Transformers toy.

Now, human characters have been a staple of the Transformers storyline since its birth in 1984. However, it has been rare when one of those characters gets a power suit and jumps into battle with the Transformers on a regular basis. Superlink/Energon has such a character, Kicker, making him the perfect subject for the Microman/Transformers treatment.

The Microman figure is a base figure which allows parts to be modified to suit the particular character it represents. One of the most impressive features of this toy is its articulation. Kicker features twenty five points of articulation. This is primarily achieved through making sure each part can move in more than one way. For instance, the shoulder joint is on a ball joint, but the part that attaches the shoulder to the chest is on a ball joint of its own. On top of that, the designers make sure that there are plenty of parts that can swivel such as the wrists and upper legs. All this allows you to create some really dynamic and amazing poses which Transformers fans may not be used to.

It should be noted here that the Microman body is fairly easy to disassemble. A quick tug of the head or arms easily takes those pieces apart. This is not a flaw in the toy, it is a simple fact of its design and construction.

While Kicker uses the base Microman body, a few parts were changed/added on:

  • The head is an original sculpted piece, designed to represent the helmet Kicker wears in the television program.
  • The feet are different than the standard Microman feet, adding the circles around the ankles.
  • The waist piece has had extra parts added on to match the belt Kicker has on the television show.
  • Kicker's back pack and chest armor pieces have been added on. These pieces can easily be removed to show the basic upper body underneath.

Microman figures generally come with interesting accessories. Kicker comes with one: the Energon Saber. This is not a redeco of the Energon Saber team. Rather, it is a single piece accessory shaped more like the Energon Saber appears in the television show, with the blade section elongated and a longer handle. The top half of the handle is thick enough to allow most Armada/Energon figures to hold it. The lower part is smaller to allow Kicker to hold the sword. The sculpt for the sword is really nicely done, though stylized, you can still tell where the "jet" parts of the three team members are. The sword is completely vacuum metallized silver.

The sword has three Mini-Con powerlinx points on the back, one for each section (blade, middle and hilt). However, the process of adding the vacuum metallized layer thickens the plastic parts, which keeps the points from connecting well to most Mini-Con pegs. It was a nice thought, but in execution it doesn't really work.

The best way to have Kicker hold the sword is to have him use both hands. Because his hands are made of much softer plastic than the rest of the body, and because of the shape of the hands, they don't hold the sword well at all indvidually. It would have been better had they molded a hand in the shape of a fist in harder plastic to hold the sword better, but still, you can still achieve some nice poses with the sword.

Kicker is colored red, white, black and blue - the same colors his armor has on the show. Another great thing about the Microman mold is that it is very flexible in terms of the color scheme you can lay on top of the basic mold. This allowed the color pattern to be done to match the show, instead of having to just settle for some preset scheme.

While the Kicker figure is by no means perfect, it comes darn close. There's no mistaking who the figure represents, and there are enough original parts to separate it from the standard Microman figure. The sword accessory is a cool idea. The figure (and accessory) isn't perfect, but it is very well done and fun for kids and collectors alike.