"Transformers Universe" King Atlas Toy Review

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Ultra
Retailers: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kay Bee)
Release Date: Q4 2004
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Purchased at: Target (Linden, NJ)
Accessories: Missiles x 6

In 1992, Hasbro Europe released several Decepticons known as the "Predators". These aerial warriors all transformed into a jet of one kind or another and they were led by Skyquake. Years later, this figure would be given a new deco and turned into "Machine Wars" Starscream. When the "Universe" line was reaching its peak, Hasbro seemed to be grabbing at almost anything they could get their hands on to redeco, and one of those sculpts was the "Machine Wars" Starscream. Using the Generation One Autobot "Dai Atlas" as its inspiration, a new character known as "King Atlas" was born!

Vehicle Mode:
King Atlas' vehicle mode is a largely made up bomber jet based on the SR-71 Blackbird. Like that plane, it has an extended front section with small wings on the side and two large engine booster sections on either side of the main body. However, these similarities (however vague) pretty much end there. Where the Blackbird has a flat, relatively thin center section, King Atlas' feselage begins to widen at the base of the nosecone and becomes wider and wider until the middle where it's virtually one gigantic rectangular area. The back is completely made up, with two stabilizer fins connected to a "Megavisor" piece (more on this in a bit) which doubles as a giant booster engine. This design is actually one of my favorite "made up" aircraft designs of Generation One. It's large, foreboding looking and it really evokes a grand, powerful appearance that you would expect of a leader's vehicle mode.

The source of this figure originated from the Generation One era of "Transformers" which sometimes gets flak for not serving up detailed figures like we have today, but that's simply not true. King Atlas has quite a bit of detail. There are vent details everywhere, starting at the front half of the aircraft, then on the front of the engine sections on the sides. There's a turbine front end sculpted in the front of the central rocket booster too. Most of the surfaces either have lines sculpted into them (presumably indicating where armor panels meet with each other) or they have raised shapes such as a series of rectangles in the middle section. Overall, the base sculpt itself looks great.

King Atlas is cast primarily in white plastic, with some other parts in translucent red, blue, metallic flake black, light blue and grey. Those are good base colors and do represent some of G1 Dai Atlas' colors (mainly the blue and white). Smaller parts are cast in other colors including translucent red for his central turbine and his "solar panels" in the middle of the vehicle. Light blue is used for all his rocket boosters (on the sides and back) while the black color is hinted at on the nosecone and the small raised vent section towards the middle. It becomes much more prominent in robot mode.

Where the figure gets interesting is the paint deco. Almost all the white plastic is painted with small brush marks and sprays using grey paint. This gives the white plastic a battle worn, slightly damaged appearance that looks amazing, and quite frankly is rare among Transformers of any age. The way these details were painted on, you can tell they were painted onto the white plastic first before the other colors (allowing them to stand out more). To solidify the "Dai Atlas" connection, King Atlas also uses blue and yellow as paint colors, but they don't dominate at all. Indeed, I'm surprised how little they're used. Blue is found near the cockpit, a bit on the wings and the rear stabilizers and that's it. Yellow is found on two large lines on the sides of the front section and then a small patch near the rear booster. Other colors include metallic flake grey used on his engines and vents and red, found on the edges of his wings and the vertical stabilizers on his engines. Two large tampographed Autobot symbols are used on his wings. Against the "battle damage" deco the Autobot symbols really stand out and look fantastic.

Earlier I mentioned something called the "Megavisor". When the Skyquake toy was released ages ago, you could look through the end of the booster and see "slides" that showed the enemies he was supposedly targeting, or you could connect the slide pieces from the Predators to this scope to view their slides. Since this sculpts adaptation as "Machine Wars" Starscream, the slides built into this figure were removed, but one feature of the "Megavisor" still remains. If you swing the black piece up (which doubles as horizontal stabilizers in the back) and look through the sculpt, a small mirror comes up that allows you to see down instead of forward. This allows you to use his "carpet bombing" feature which involves rotating the drums on his engine sections to drop his missiles onto targets below. I always enjoyed this feature on Skyquake and I'm happy it's still used here. Unfortunately, due to budgeting reasons this version of the sculpt has the least amount of missiles among any of its releases. Skyquake had fifteen, Starscream had ten and this version only comes with six which is a darn shame because there aren't enough missiles to attach to his wings and the sides of his front section while still making the "carpet bombing" as dramatic as it could be.

King Atlas has also lost another accessory: a missile launcher. Originally Skyquake came with a missile launcher that could attach to him in both modes, but this would not pass U.S. Safety laws, so it was removed for both the "Machine Wars" and "Universe" releases of this sculpt. There is one other feature in this mode. There's a vertical tab in the center. Slide it back and it reveals translucent red panels underneath. According to the box, these are his "topside solar receptors" presumably allowing him to absorb energy when there isn't any Energon around.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing each of the wings up.
  2. Swing the translucent turbine piece up.
  3. Swing each of the blue stabilizers in the back down.
  4. Swing the central booster section up.
  5. In the front, swing each half of the nosecone out to the sides.
  6. Swing the entire front section forward.
  7. Pull the front halves of the vehicle apart a bit to form the legs.
  8. On each leg, swing out the foot and heel pieces.
  9. Flip the vehicle over and you can now see the robot parts.
  10. Pull the forearms down.
  11. Swing the chest panel open and swing out the head, then close the chest panel.

Robot Mode:
King Atlas' robot mode is definitely an imposing one. Keep in mind, this sculpt was originally meant to be a Decepticon so he was meant to look "evil". His head sculpt is typical of the time, with a large crest and a mouthplate with extra angles and details on it. A lot of his parts are rather blocky and chunky, which is not to say he looks like a preschool figure, but rather that the designers were going for an powerful appearance that would be conveyed by that bulk.

Some of the sculpting in this form echoes his vehicle mode. He has small vents on the top and bottom of his chest on the sides and there are beveled shapes found all over from his legs to his chest. Lines are etched in for detail including some near his knees and others on his forearm. Overall, he's a good looking figure.

In terms of deco, King Atlas still has a significant amount of white plastic in this form, but he also has other colors that help counterbalance the white. His upper body is mostly made up of metallic flake black, blue and translucent red plastic. The blue and black in particular help reinforce Dai Atlas has his inpiration. The translucent red is found in the center panel on his chest. His paint colors are white, silver, yellow (two shades) and red. The white is found on his forearms, offering some continuity from the vehicle mode. Silver is used extensively. It's found on his waist area, on the chest and the head. The chest detail in particular is a nice one as it echoes some of G1 Dai Atlas' "sharp" design elements such as the horns on his head. A dark yellow is used on the elbow section of the figure while a much lighter yellow is used on his waist and parts of his head. The yellow crest in particular echoes a similar color/design element on G1 Dai Atlas' head so I really dig the way the colors echo the design of his G1 counterpart. Echoing his vehicle mode, King Atlas' chest has two tampographed Autobot symbols on it, which really shine boldly against the dark black background.

Functionally there's not a whole lot to write home about in this mode. His arms can move up and down and his legs can swing back as part of the transformation but that's about it for posability. Mind you, this was pretty standard at the time and almost every figure that came out with Skyquake had about the same amount of posability. In a modern day figure this would be a huge deficit, but given that we're talking about a design that is now about twenty years old, I think I'll cut it a lot of slack in this regard. Sadly, without a missile launcher, there's no other "action feature" to speak of. There is a curious feature however on the head. The white parts on the side actually wrap around the back, forming a band that can be swung up to cover up his light piping eyes.

Final Thoughts:
King Atlas is not a super duper "must have" figure by today's standards. However, having grown up with Generation One, Skyquake was always one of the more "exotic" figures due to his exclusive nature (not being sold in the U.S.) and I love how big and imposing he is, even compared to many figures today. My only regret is how many features and accessories have been removed for this release. The missile launcher I get, but it would have been cool if the "Megavisor" feature had been given new art panels to show characters from "Universe". And keeping the "ten missiles" number of "Machine Wars" Starscream would have been great as well. Overall, your desire to own or not own this figure will largely depend on whether or not you dig the G1 aesthetic and if you're okay with limited posability in such a big figure. Personally I have a great affection for it despite the features that have been removed.

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