Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Review: ROTF Knock Out

Knock Out is one of the wave 1 scout class toys for the Revenge of the Fallen line. He's an Autobot and transforms into motorcycle ("street"/"racing" type, whatever you want to call it. It's not a Harley, anyway). This is kind of nice, since we haven't had a scout/basic class motorcycle in quite a while now - not since the Cybertron line with its Ransack (Velocitronian cycle) and Lugnutz (Harley-Davidson style) molds.

He's packaged in bot mode, but I'll begin by covering the motorcycle mode:

One of the nice things about scout/basic class motorcycle TFs is that they're closer to being in scale with other, namely automobile, TF alt modes. Knock Out's particular cycle mode has a really nice color scheme - mostly green and black (a favorite combo of mine) along with a decent helping of neon green, a few white stripes and some grey parts. Oh, and a bit of skyish blue and a weird cross between brass and gunmetal on the tailpipe. His one Autobot sigil is on the fuel tank right behind the cap and is made from black paint. It's superimposed on the neon green color, so there's good contrast that allows the sigil to stand out well. I should also mention that the black plastic is matte, not unlike a lot of the plastic featured on many of the TF: Animated toys. This helps the look quite a bit.

This nice color scheme is wrapped around a very sleek motorcycle. The front section with the headlights and windshield (what would be the hood of a car) is formed from a roughly triangular shape that comes to a point at the front. It looks a bit like the head of a wasp, actually (something that I'll come back to later). The detail level is pretty good, as you would expect from the movie line, but not over the top. Actually, it could fit in with some other TF lines, such as Energon, Classics/Universe 2.0, or Cybertron. Truth be told, it's about the same size and style of bike as Energon Arcee, a similarity that will carry over in bot mode. One nice touch that many bike TFs don't have is steering. The front wheel can be rotated to simulate a change in direction, and while it's not linked to the handlebars, the handlebars themselves form a small dial (speedometer, presumably) where they meet together.

Before I cover the robot mode itself, though, let's look at how to get there: the transformation.

First of all, the large side panels disconnect, bringing the legs that were largely hidden along with them. The heel spurs of the feet will need to be unfolded. At this point, the front wheel can be folded back, but you'll need to rotate it so that it will rest horizontally against the robot's back. It wont' naturally do this; there's a bit of plastic that prevents the wheel from goign completely horizontal. However, it can be forced, and in this case the bit of plastic adds friction to keep the wheel in place. Next, the handlebars are rotated forward a bit to allow the "hood" to be separated. Each half of the "hood" is pulled to the side and then back to partially cover the fuel tank/chest and reveal the head. The last major step is splitting the rear wheel/tailpipe assembly and swinging each half 180 toward the head. Rotate the two tailpipe pieces to reveal the right arm's gun and the left hand, and then position the wheel halves that are now on the shoulders however you like. One last optional step makes Knock Out a partsformer - the bike kibble on the legs can be removed and pegged into slots just above the front wheel to look like wings. However, I aesthetically don't care for this, so I just leave them on the legs.

Ok, robot mode. There's a lot of neat things going on here, especially in comparison to certain other TF toys and characters. A similarity to Energon Arcee (a mold that was reused twice during the original 2007 movie line) was mentioned above, and that similarity is even stronger in bot mode. This is largely due to the whole front wheel resting on the back with the rear wheel halves floating above the shoulders. Also, the general body shape isn't too different, although obviously more masculine (since this isn't a fem-bot). The head is a big divergence, though - on fist sight, it brings Marvel's Wolverine to mind, since it has a black "mask" with blade-like projections above the eyes. The underlying "skull" is neon green and the eyes are blue. Where there would normally be a mouth, there are parts that look somewhat somewhat similar to Bumblebee's mouth design; that is, more like a breathing apparatus. There are also exhaust pipe-looking tubes projecting from either side from the mouth area and toward the back of the head, somewhat similar to Armada Blurr. Aside from the head, however, it's hard to deny that there are superficial similarities to the Energon Arcee mold. Really, it's more like Knock Out's design is a perfection or improvement of that mold. What I mean is that Knock Out doesn't have many of the problems that Energon Arcee does, such as:

1. High heel foot design that makes for unstable standing poses
2. No thigh rotation in the legs
3. Front wheel sticking straight out of the back
4. Shoulder-mounted wheel halves that don't really do much
5. Elbows that only bend inward
6. Small, gimpy-looking hands

Knock Out dispenses with each of these problems.

The torso is formed by the fuel tank, but due to the transformation the tank is covered on its sides by the halves of the motorcycle's "hood." Because of the way the tank and hood halves are painted, this ends up making a sort of striped appearance on the torso. The Autobot sigil is front and center, just below the fuel cap.

Overall, the robot mode's design elements - colors, cannon arm similar to Bumblebee, and insectoid face with "wings" - make it so I can't help but feel that this is intended to be the Movie version of Waspinator/Wasp. Waspinator was a Beast Wars Predacon, and in Animated Wasp was an Autobot who was framed as a Decepticon spy, imprisoned and went crazy. He eventually was mutated into the technorganic Waspinator by Animated Blackarachnia (herself also based on another BW Predacon). It's easy to imagine, especially after reading him in the ROTF Prequel novel, that Knock-out is a young Autobot recruit eager to prove his mettle and regarding himself as an equal to battle-hardened soldiers like Sideswipe and Bumblebee. He would compete with the other Bumblebee fanboys, Skids and Mudflap, who he'd regard with disdain (despite thrir apparent effectiveness in combat). I don't see this "Wasp" going bad like the Animated version, though.

In summation, great little transformer. Visually striking with a good alt mode & transformation with a bot mode that really improves on a previous & very similar mold, Energon Arcee. It's also much better than the later red repaint named Reverb (unless you're just a gobot freak).

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