Mini-reviews: Animated

This page includes reviews for toys released as part of the Transformers: Animated toyline (2008-2010).

Faction: Decepticon
Class: Activator
Release: Spring/Summer 2009
Acquired: TRU
Accessories: None.
Strongest mode: Robot.
- A (surprise!) repaint of the Starscream Activator mold, Dirge is in the unique position of being the only toy Animated Seeker that doesn't appear on the show. This creates a mild fictional dilemma, as in Animated the Seekers don't just look like Starscream, they are Starscream. Well, at least, clones of him - each one representing one of his personality traits. Dirge is apparently Starscream's greed or avarice. As far as the toy itself goes, the colors are a pretty big departure from most other Dirge toys, which are normally blue and brown/tan. Animated Dirge uses neither color, with a dark teal replacing blue and a sort of brown mustard color instead of straight brown. Throw in maroon and black for detailing (and a red-orange canopy) and you're good to go. It's not as pretty as Thundercracker or as identifiable as Starscream, but it looks a lot better than online photos would lead you to believe. And anyway, it's better than getting a 3rd blue Seeker in the same line and size class.

-Electrostatic Soundwave
Faction: Decepticon
Class: Deluxe
Release: Winter 2009
Acquired: Walmart
Accessories: Ratbat
Strongest mode: Robot (Soundwave), bat (Ratbat).
- You bought this for Ratbat. Seriously, the Laserbeak/Flying V that came with the first release of the mold was metal enough, but it's hard to top a goth-looking keytar that turns into a mechanical vampire bat. Black metal, I guess. One nice thing is that Ratbat's keytar mode is double-sided, so you can have Soundwave hold him such that the bat head isn't showing. However, his articulation is lacking; he can't truly flap his wings. Soundwave himself looks pretty nice, as he's done up in colors that homage G1 Soundblaster (he's actually the first Soundblaster homage to be released in the US; the Titanium repaint was canceled). I like that his eyes are unpainted; it allows the light-piping to work.

Faction: Decepticon
Class: Deluxe
Release: Summer 2008
Acquired: Walmart
Accessories: Car hood/hook weapon, engine/EMP blaster
Strongest mode: Car.
- Ah, Lockdown. One of the few characters truly original to Animated, Lockdown's toy is also pretty unique. Despite being deluxe class (and looking like it in car mode), an interesting transformation scheme that is a bit of the opposite of Movie Barricade's produces a bot mode that is almost as tall as the Leader class toys! Basically, the outer thirds of the car mode become the legs (just as they become Barricade's arms) and the inner third is the torso; the front end of the car is where the hips are found, so when properly transformed, Lockdown is almost twice as long in bot mode than he is in car mode. Speaking of which, his car mode is also pretty cool; it looks a bit like the Burton Batmobile in overall proportions, but with completely vicious customizations. His bot mode is equally monstrous; either hand can be stowed and replaced with his hook, his head looks vaguely skeletal, and then there's his overall gaunt creepiness (the finalized version of Lockdown was designed to slightly resemble an undertaker). However, this is not a perfect mold; the knees can only bend to 45 degrees, severely limiting poses; his arms are weirdly jointed as well - his hands cannot be in a normal position without modification, nor can his arms be straight at the elbows. Those things aside, this is a very visually striking toy (the awesome neon green & black color scheme doesn't hurt!) and definitely worth owning, even if you already have one of the other two Animated repaints (Stealth or Blazing Lockdown) or the ROTF mold (which is technically a different character anyway).

- Freeway Jazz
Faction: Autobot
Class: Deluxe
Release: Winter 2009
Acquired: Kmart
Accessories: 2 nunchukas/exhaust pipes.
Strongest mode: Robot.
- I'll admit, when we first saw pics of this toy, I was really nonplussed. The Animated Jazz mold is, really, one of the less exciting Animated molds, if only because his transformation engineering is so...standard compared to many of the novel transformations in the Animated toyline (see Prowl). Plus, I already had the first version of the mold in its G1-style colors, and for some reason didn't get the idea behind the very plain silver Freewy repaint. It finally dawned on me, not long after this toy was released, that the color scheme was a call-out to Movie Jazz. Also, even though he never had these colors at the end of the show, Freeway Jazz has a normal Autobto symbol, not the Elite Guard one, so the toy can represent Jazz after he quits the Elite Guard to work on Earth. And once I had the toy in hand, it didn't seem so plain. The silver plastic looks a lot better than many other attempts as the same look (see the original version of 2007 Movie Jazz), and the painted visor (which is a sort of muted "allspark" blue over translucent orange plastic) looks really nice and makes it work better as a Movie Jazz homage than just plain, unpainted orange would. Right now, I have him psoed standing next to Human Alliance Jazz, and they look fantastic together. Also, the new paint scheme makes the robot mode have an overall "cleaner" look and for some reason makes him appear more dynamic than the original. He looks great wielding his own nunchukas or others' weapons, such as RotF Bludgeon's or Generations Drift's swords. In the end, this is a great addition to your Animated collection, especially if you haven't gotten the original version.

-Shockwave/Longarm Prime
Faction: Decepticon/Autobot
Release: Spring 2009
Acquired: Allspark BST (originally a Target exclusive)
Accessories: 1 cannon/crane arm
Strongest mode: Both robot modes.
- The Animated Shockwave mold is, without further deliberation, one of the best molds of the already-strong Animated line. More generally, it's also one of the best voyagers in recent years and, more specifically, probably the best multi-changer since Sixshot (there haven't been that many, so...). Anyhow, this review is for the G1-colors Target exclusive repaint. I initially balked at the idea of getting this repaint, as at the time I was fully behind Animated being its own thing and, of course, Shockwave began the show with a totally different set of colors than his G1 counterpart. He actually had RiD Scourge's colors, which in an amusingly backward way made his Autobot guise of Longarm Prime into the "Nemesis Prime" of the show. Much later, after the black and purple repaint had come and gone from both Target shelves and the show itself, I finally realized that by getting both versions of Shockwave I could have both of his personae on display at once - the original grey & teal release in his Longarm Prime mode, and his purple release in tried-and-true Shockwave mode. And that's what I've ended up doing, now that I got this guy off of another Allsparker just over 2 years ago - Longarm Prime is over on the "extra Primes" shelf, with Vector, Nexus and the like, and Shockwave is with his other Shockwave brethren (not including DOTM Shockwave!) on a different shelf. Anyhow, this is a great toy because it successfully resurrected a great feature from G1 Punch/Counterpunch - giving a spy robot 2 different bot modes. On top of that, this mold also gives each bot mode its own alt mode - a tank for Shockwave and a crane for Longarm. Granted, the 2 altmodes aren't too different from one another, but it's enough to get the job done. The more dramatic difference is between the 2 bot modes. Getting from Longarm (who, as you can imagine, isn't that convincing as an Autobot in this black/purple deco) to Shockwave is a relatively simple but fun exercise in extending out parts until you get a toy that's almost twice as tall is it was a moment ago. Other simple but effective changes - like rotating his lower legs, revealing his shoulder cannons (those red things, whatever they are), and folding out his claws - really change the look of this guy. I suppose all of this glowing admiration can be punctuated by 2 negative points - first, that in both altmodes, Longarm's face is glaring at you from underneath, much like Armada Megatron without the face cover. Second - Longarm can't move his head in bot mode.