"Transformers United" Artfire with Nightstick & Sparks Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: December 2012
Price Point: $125 (depending on import retailer)
Retailer: Generations 2012 Mail Away Exclusive
Accessories: "Nightstick" and "Sparks" Targetmaster partner figures

Profile (Translated by Goktimus Prime)
Artfire holds the unusual Autobot profession as a sniper. Very patient; selects his targets one by one and accurately shoots them. Extremely considerate of his comrades; will take action against orders for his friends’ sake. Nightstick and Sparks are versatile partners. Able to connect to the tip of Artfire’s long crane arm for a long range mode, or be hand-held for use as short range weapons.

During the Generation One era many Transformers were released only in Japanese markets. Many of these figures have been highly sought after by fans over the years. One of the more storied "Holy Grails" of toy collecting for years was "Artfire". In Generation One, Artfire was a redeco of Inferno. To add some value to the figure, he included Nightstick, a reuse of the Fracas mold (G1 Targetmaster Scourge's partner). While his fellow Autobot Stepper was reissued in both Japan and released in the United States years later, Artfire has, to date, never been reissued. This makes him one of the highest priced Transformers on the secondary market. I personally have resolved myself to never owning one due to the insane amount of money it would cost me.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when it was announced that Universe 2.0 Inferno was going to be given new colors and tooling and released as Artfire! It should be noted that this mold has made the rounds in the past few years. This includes Solar Storm Grappel, Protectobot Hot Spot and even a Botcon exclusive: Pyro. To bring him closer to his G1 source, he was released with Nightstick from the Universe 2.0 Cyclonus figure and Sparks, a redeco of Pinpoint from the "Power Core Combiners" Leadfoot set.

Definitely check out the reviews linked above for a look at the sculpts in their previous releases. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

This release was an exclusive figure offered through the "Transformers Generations" magazine. Buyers of the magazine were able to mail order the figure. U.S. fans such as myself had to go through second hand dealers to get him (hence the fairly high price listed above).

Nightstick Review

Robot Mode:
Nightstick's colors are based on the G1 version of the character. The first iteration of this sculpt was purple, black and grey. This time out it's much more simple. Nightstick is mostly silver and black. Almost every part is silver except for the legs, which are cast in black. The face is painted red. Except for the red face, the colors match up nicely with G1 Nightstick.

The joints on the figure are still tight and he can be posed with no problems.

Transformation to Weapon Mode

  • Straighten out the arms
  • Swing up the cannon barrel from the back
  • Swing the feet up
  • Swing the robot legs up.

Weapon Mode:
In this mode the main barrel and body of the weapon are a really nice metallic silver. The two barrels on top are black plastic. Again this mirrors the color layout of the G1 Nightstick very nicely.

Sparks Review

Robot Mode:
Sparks is an interesting addition to this set. Sparks is callback to Generation One in his own way. "Sparks" was the alternate name in G1 for "Firebolt", the Targetmaster partner of Hot Rod. A "Firebolt" had already been part of a promotion prior to Artfire's release, so "Sparks" was created instead to add another Targetmaster partner to the set.

The mold Sparks was based on was mostly translucent yellow and black plastic. To match up with Nightstick's colors, Sparks is black and silver plastic with red paint on his face. The black and silver colors are homages to G1 Firebolt, though the arrangements of colors are different than Firebolt.

All of the joints on this figure are still nice and tight. I could pose it with no problems.

Transformation to Weapon Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms to the sides.
  2. Straighten out the robot legs.
  3. Swing the weapon barrels up.
  4. Swing the legs up, then rotate them around so the pegs on the knees point down.
  5. Swing the lower legs up, attaching them to the tiny pegs on each robot arm.

Weapon Mode:
In weapon mode Sparks winds up looking more like an engine modified into a weapon. He is mostly rectangular in shape with engine details including exhaust pipes on the sides. There are two barrels in the front making him a weapon.

This mode winds up mostly being black with silver on the exhaust pipe parts. It's an interesting looking weapon for sure, but I think Nightstick is the more successful weapon design.

Artfire Review

Robot Mode:
Artfire is not just a redeco, he's also a retool. The figure uses the Universe 2.0 Inferno as its base mold (including Inferno's head), but the "water cannon" from the Inferno figure has been replaced with the crane arm from Solar Storm Grappel. This makes him a unique combination of parts from these two base sculpts.

Like Stepper, the designers of this figure wanted to replicate the look of the Generation One version of this character as much as possible. Looking at photos of Artfire (via TFU.info) I would say they did a bang up job of it. Artfire is cast in red, white, black, silver and translucent blue plastic. For the most part these colors match up with their arrangement on G1 Artfire. This includes the torso being mostly white, the windows being translucent blue and the red forming limbs such as the forearms and legs. The red color used on Artfire is a lighter shade than the one used on Universe 2.0 Inferno. I'm really impressed how much the layout of colors mirrors G1 Artfire, though there are some variations of course. For instance, his elbows are black plastic whereas G1 Artfire's elbows were red. Another detail I really like is the use of black on the wrists, mirroring G1 Artfire's wrists. This doesn't sound significant, but it speaks to the attention to detail in this redeco that such a minor detail was given attention with this figure.

To further enhance the deco, Artfire uses quite a few paint applications to solidify the homage. Colors used on the figure include silver, blue, white, red and black. The silver is the most heavily used color. It's most prominent on the torso where it is used on the grille and the bumper underneath (both direct callbacks to G1 Artfire). Silver is also used for his crest and face. Blue can be found on the eyes and the "ears" on the helmet section of his head. These too are one to one homages to G1 Artfire's deco. White is used on parts of the translucent blue plastic on the chest and the top of his feet. Red is found on the sides of the torso. Black is used on the knees which help match up the colors to some dark grey parts on G1 Stepper's knees. Of course, this is an Autobot so he has a tampographed Autobot symbol on the left side of his chest in silver and red. Overall, it's amazing how well this deco matches up this incarnation of the character with his G1 counterpart. I'm very impressed with what the designers pulled off.

The joints on this figure are all nice and tight. He doesn't have any of the looseness I felt on the Solar Storm Grappel sculpt, particularly in the hips. Given the price and exclusive nature of the figure, that made me breathe a sigh of relief. The Targetmaster partners can be held in his fists and they fit nice and tight. Like Grappel, he can use his crane arm in this mode if you swivel it around. There's definitely a lot of play value here and not just a nice deco.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Rotate each of the panels on his forearms around.
  2. on the inside of each shoulder armor panel, fold out the pieces that form the side windows.
  3. Rotate the shoulder armor so it covers the front of each shoulder.
  4. Straighten each arm out.
  5. Straighten out the panel that forms the back section.
  6. Swing the head back and lock it in place.
  7. Swing each arm back and connect the two shoulder armor pieces together.
  8. Press the panels that form the side windows against the sides of the vehice in the front.
  9. Swing the arms up and rotate the crane arm around.
  10. Swing out the panels on the sides of each forearm.
  11. Push up each of the robot feet.
  12. Rotate each robot leg around and connect them together.
  13. Swing the legs up.
  14. Connect the panels from the sides of the arms to the legs.
  15. Swing the panel on the shoulder armor section back to finish forming the middle of the vehicle.
  16. Swing the front wheels out from under the chest section.
  17. Swing up the front bumper.

Vehicle Mode:
Structurally this vehicle mode is basically Inferno's with Solar Storm Grappel's crane arm on top. It was an interesting choice because if the designers had wanted to be slavish to the original Artfire they would have kept the ladder intact. However that would have made this figure less distinctive than some of its predecessors so given the price point I think the designers made the right choice. This design choice makes the figure different than other incarnations of the Inferno/Grappel sculpt making it more valuable as a stand alone figure set.

Most of this mode is white in the front and red in the back - both colors being true to the original. The windows and lightbars on top are translucent blue. Paint details are used to enhance the homage even more. Black paint can be found on the sides towards the back, mirroring the black colors on G1 Artfire's robot feet (which wind up in the back of that vehicle mode). Even better? His black wheels have red deco in the middle echoing the look of the G1 figure. Silver paint is used on a panel in the middle, the front grille and the side view mirrors. Tying everything together are tampographs including an Autobot symbol on the front and a red strip with a gold line and Kanji on it. These are the same as those found on G1 Artfire. This deco is absolutely gorgeous and I love how true it is to the G1 version.

All the panels are nice and tight. The vehicle form is stable and there are no functional issues with the crane arm. You can combine the weapons by pushing the peg on Nightstick through the opening in the hook and attaching Sparks to Nightstick. I'm not a big fan of doing this only because it forces the hook to expand out a bit more than it is meant to. I don't see any stress marks on mine, but given the expensive and limited nature of this figure I'd prefer not to risk damaging the figure.

Final Thoughts:
Like Stepper before him, Artfire is an amazing homage to his G1 counterpart. The deco is awesome, the inclusion of two Targetmasters adds value and it is a unique combination of the Grappel/Inferno sculpt parts. If he were only a bit above retail I'd tell every fan out there to go buy one, but he is very pricey. On average he'll cost you about $80-125 nowadays. However if you are into more expensive figures and love the deco enough, this is the figure for you!

Lightbox Gallery