This page includes reviews for the transformers toys released in the trilogy of toylines known as Armada, Energon, and Cybertron that ran consecutively from 2002 to 2006. It will also cover the Power Core Combiners subline (beginning summer 2010).
Release: Spring 2004
Accessories: Energon star, energon pistol, energon scimitar
Strongest mode: Dinosaur
-Cruellock is one of the 4 basic Terrocons from the Energon line. His alt mode is a dinosaur; it looks roughly like a dromaeosaurid, although it lacks sickle claws on the feet. Closer inspection reveals that it's based on the 1998 version of Godzilla, mostly in the head. His relatively simple, mostly automatic transformation is triggered by squeezing his hips together. He has some bad kibble (dino head, tail halves) that just hangs there in bot mode, and due to his claws can't hold his weapons too well, but overall is a pretty cool basic. Great color scheme - dark teal with red-orange highlights, along with some light blue and neon green energon pieces. Also an interesting way to insert Grimlock into the UT continuity.
Release: Early fall 2004
Accessories: 2 energon missiles.
Strongest mode: Robot
- Sharkticon here, like many UT (and Energon, in particular) toys, is and homage to an earlier, G1 character. However, it's really in name only; he looks nothing like the G1 Sharkticons. He's not exactly a shark, either - he's a submarine roughly shaped like a shark (that's roughly based on the G1 Nemesis starship: double homage!). I still call him a Terrorcon, though, at least in the same way Energon Scorponok is. His "hyper mode" is simple but cool and works in both modes - the port and starboard sides of the sub extend outward to reveal pretty big missile launchers. Another cool bit are the 4 rotating and elevating cannons; they, along with the bridge, lend a sense of scale that leaves you thinking that his alt mode should be pretty big. His colors are a bit wonky, but allow him to fit in pretty well with the other nautical UT Decepticons (especially when you give him some green energon weapons; Divebomb's look the best in either mode).
-Excellion ("Cybertron Rodimus")
Release: Early Spring 2006
Accessories: Velocitronian cyber key, missile launcher, missile.
Strongest mode: Robot
- A repaint of Cybertron Hot Shot, Excellion also sports the Americanized version of said Hot Shot's Japanese name from the Galaxy Force toyline. However, one look at this toy and it's clear that he's an homage to G1 Hot Rod (it doesn't hurt that the mold was designed to look a lot like Hot Rod in the first place!). However, like in DVD's review of the toy, I'm prone to think he's more specifically intended to be an upgrade for Energon Rodimus. Anyhow, the toy itself is pretty awesome; the wing-like spoilers deploying from the key gimmick is very fun. His articulation is a bit hampered, mostly due to the way the spaces around the joints are molded. It's a great toy that belongs in any Hot Rod/imus collection; it even stands up pretty well compared to the actual G1 Hot Rod update released in the Classics line later in 2006.
-Smokescreen ("Hoist") & Liftor
Faction: Autobot (Smokescreen) and Mini-con (Liftor)
Release: Fall (?) 2002
Acquired: TRU (In the Drought of 2004!)
Accessories: 1 missile, Liftor mini-con.
Strongest mode: Crane truck (with cannon deployed; Smokescreen, robot (Liftor)
- Smokescreen is one of those toys that makes Armada haters feel justified. Granted, compared to the very detailed, highly-articulated new mold RiD toys from the year before, he can seem like a step backwards. He's very lacking in articulation; his knees only rotate, his elbows barely move, and his "ankles" are truly just a transformation joint, not helpful for posing. If you can ignore these limitations, though, Smokescreen (or, as I prefer to call him with a name that makes sense, Hoist) really is a fun toy. His crane truck mode has a towing winch gimmick that actually works very well (and there's a mini-con port on the hook!), and Liftor can transform his already massive crane boom into an ENORMOUS cannon in either mode. Oh, and when you move the cannon/crane around, Hoist looks where it's pointed! Not so helpful in vehicle mode, but it's a neat trick in bot mode. Liftor himself turns into a weird forklift/dune buggy hybrid and succeeds in having more/better articulation than Hoist; he's got his elbows and knees. He even has a neck joint, pretty rare for a mini-con. Overall, one of the more definitive Armada supercon sets, for better and for worse.
Class: Energon (Basic)
Release: Fall 2004
Accessories: Energon star, energon twin-barreled cannon
Strongest mode: Robot
- Kickback is one of the limb components of the Bruticus Maximus combiner. Being a green tank that becomes part of Bruticus, this essentially makes him the UT version of G1 Brawl; however, his name is still fitting due to a very general grasshopper resemblance in robot mode. By which I mean that, rather unusually for a tank transformer, the entire length of the treads separate from the main body to become rather insectile wings. He also has a pair of triple-missile launchers on either side of his head like "antennae." Anyway, the bot mode has pretty great articulation, including a rotating waist. The tank mode is pretty much the same as the arm or leg modes, and the cannons can elevate as the turret rotates. The energon cannons can also elevate together (being one piece). Great little mold and part of an awesome combiner, but the color scheme is kind of drab.
-Barricade ("UT Onslaught")
Class: Combat (Deluxe)
Release: Spring 2005
Strongest mode: Robot
- Barricade is a name that seems to have no real ties to it, other than being used for Decepticons; the other two Barricades (the G1 Micromaster Indy Car and the Movie Police Car) don't really have anything in common with this guy. Which is why I call him Onslaught, which is who he's clearly based on (and is also the name for his Japanese release). Anyhow, this is a great mold, easily the best of the three deluxes used as combiner torsos in the Energon toyline. Great alt mode, great robot mode, great torso mode. Everything is stable, nothing is floppy. Probably his only real downsides are his lack of personal weapons (well, he has missile toes, I guess) and his head sculpt is a bit Leia-ish and nothing like G1 Onslaught's. Luckily, the first can be overcome by simply popping Kickback/Brawl, Blight, Blackout, or Stormcloud on his arms in their arm modes, as they make great giant targetmasters. You'll just have to get used to the head. At least is has great light-piping. But yeah, other than those quibbles, this is easily one of the best deluxes from the Energon line.
-Demolishor and Blackout
Toyline: Energon (KayBee Toys Exclusive)
Class: Combat (Deluxe)
Release: Spring 2004
Accessories: Blackout mini-con, 4 missiles.
Strongest mode: Robot (Demolishor), missile truck (Blackout)
- While released as an Energon exclusive, this is actually the Armada Demolishor mold (I guess listing Blackout is a bit of a tip-off). Originally only available as a Japanese Superlink release, this version of Energon Demolishor is, I think, the best-looking version of the mold (which has seen no fewer than four distinct US releases). The original Armada version's colors are too drab, and the same can be said for the Blackout-less Cybertron release. The Powerlinx repaint from Armada is pretty good; it's actually the first version of the mold I bought (although it wasn't until much later I learned it was repainted to homage G1 Ironhide). As for the version I'm focusing on, it's basically Demolishor in classic Constructicon colors - purple and lime/neon green. This might, at first sight, seem strange on a tank, but Demolishor got a completely new mold in Energon as a dump truck, making him a real Constructicon. What's funny is that, thanks to the shade of green used on dump truck Demolishor, tank Demolishor's colors make him look much closer to the G1 Constructicons (and also peer release Energon Steamhammer). Overall, this is a fun mold, one of the better Decepticons from Armada. And while this is what I think is the best-looking release, it's also always been more expensive than the others (KB used to charge about $13 at retail, and it usually goes for more than that online). So if you're just looking to own the mold, go for one of the other releases (I'd recommend, again, the Powerlinx Armada release). But if you want Demolishor looking his best, go for this exclusive release.
Release: Fall 2005
Acquired: Christmas 2006
Accessories: Booster engine/gun, exhaust pipes, Velocitronian cyber key (s12r).
Strongest mode: Car
- Made from an interesting little mold, Swerve is a repaint of Clocker. With his more streamlined color scheme, I like how he looks better than Clocker; he's mostly red with silver and white, plus translucent black for his clear parts. He's also got a hilariously big Autobot logo on his hood a la Engergon Demolishor (truck mold). It's one of the first non-red Autobot logos, being done up in silver paint; the Cybertron Mini-con repaints would later use silver faction logos. It also looks interesting thanks to the slatted molding of Swerve's hood. Of the three versions of this mold that I own (original, Sweve, and the blue "Movie" Clocker), I like Swerve second best. If you're going to get the mold, go for the blue repaint (still available at some Walmarts as part of the Black Friday scout 2-packs for only $5!), but Swerve is a very close second. And, you know, he's kind of indispensable if you're building a Swerve collection (there's a lot of Swerves now!).
- Ransack GTS
Release: Summer 2006
Acquired: ? Some retail store
Accessories: Velocitronian cyber key, twin-barreled cannon/motorcycle seat
Strongest mode: Motorcycle
- The original Ransack toy, mostly done up in red, wasn't bad at all, but this repaint really looks much nicer. Black is the main color, along with some white plastic, translucent green for the velocitronian wheels and other clear parts, plus some nice gold paint and blue paint accents. The overall effect, on this toy's motorcycle alt mode, anyway, is somewhat reminiscent of Waspinator/Thrust - Waspinator's colors on Thrust's alt mode. It's kind of neat, even if the bot mode doesn't have any real call-outs to Waspinator. There are no mold changes from the original, red release, so his gimmick is the same. The rear part of the bike's seat accepts a cyber key and flips out two cannon barrels. Unlike the original release, though, which left the barrels as unpainted translucent plastic, here they are painted (presumably to better blend in with the rest of the seat, as they would have been some contrast that wasn't present on the red version of the toy). There are only 2 domestic, retail releases of this mold, and this one is clearly nicer looking. Also, if you own the original green version of Crumplezone, Ransack's buddy, this one kind of goes with him a bit better.
- Searchlight & Backwind
Toyline: Power Core Combiners
Release: Summer 2010
Acquired: Toys R Us
Accessories: Backwind Mini-con, removable rotor blades
Strongest mode: Normal robot (Searchlight), robot (Backwind)
- Hey, my first PCC review! Searchlight was easily my most eagerly anticipated of the first wave of PCC 2-packs, mostly due to his nice color scheme and interesting way of updating a largely forgotten G1 character (although I'd argue that Armada Rollbar was a G1 Searchlight homage, too). In hand, he's not quite as nice as I'd hoped. His major draw backs are that the rotating pieces his arms are connected to don't really lock in in bot mode, and wile they don't loosely spin, it's still irritating. Also, his torso mode for combining has really awkward placement for the normal robot's arms/rotors (they end up, basically, in his armpits). You can finagle them to be up above his shoulders, but, again, nothing locks in place, so it doesn't look superb. I do, however, like how for combined mode that Searchlight doesn't just change his head, he also gets a more substantial chest piece (that also makes his normal bot mode looks better). Also, his copter mode is pretty great, with the only real drawback being that he can't sit flat on the ground when Backwind's in place. As for Backwind himself, he looks great in bot mode and has pretty good range of motion. However, his legs' ball joints come loose in the package, making his gun mode pretty floppy. His armor mode also isn't quite as nice as Caliburst's. I'm looking forward to getting some drone limbs before making a full assessment of this duo, but as it stands, they're worth getting, if not the best execution of the concept.
Toyline: Power Core Combiners
Release: Summer 2010
Accessories: 4 Aerialbot drones
Stongest mode: Combined mode
- Skyburst, the initial Autobot 5-pack offering for the PCC line, clearly takes cues from Energon Superion Maximus while still being able to be something completely different. First of all, he's not Superion, the character; he's his own brand-new character with a brand-new name. Also, like all PCC commanders, his combined mode isn't a different character from the base robot, but rather a form of super mode, much like Energon Optimus Prime. Even so, Skyburst's core robot does have some links to Energon Storm jet, Superion's torso component, such as similar alt modes and similar general appearance in bot mode. Even the drone limbs are somewhat similar; Storm Jet combined with delta-winged fighters and modified A-10s; so does Skyburst (at least partly). Here's a quick run-down:
In alt mode, everything's an aircraft (duh) - Skyburst is a stealthy, fictional fight-bomber, the "Chopper" drone is a yellow rescue helicopter; the "Combat Helicopter" drone is a sky-blue (and therefore Whirl-ish) Hind-like gunship; the "Fighter Jet" drone is a fictional, twin-engined delta winged fighter, much like G1 Ramjet in design and G1 Skydive in colors; lastly, the "Recon Plane" drone is like an A-10 with an AWACS dish on top and underslung engines. Each of the drones has 1 mini-con port; the Recon drone's has the best placement, but both copters more amusingly have them at the hub of the rotors, causing mini-cons to spin atop them. This was a good feature to include; in addition to giving the combined mode more places to add armor/armament, it also gives the mini-cons the ability to effectively "take over" the drones, giving them something a little more independent to do in the play pattern than just hang out with the larger Commander. Skyburst's normal bot mode isn't too special, but it cleverly uses the knee power core connectors as heel spurs, much like Huffer does. The transformation to torso mode is rather clever (and very solid), and the autotransformation of the drone limbs upon attachment ins pretty neat (although more so for the arms, since you have to manually adjust some bits of the legs. Overall, it's a pretty good start to the line as far as Autobots go, and is a very fun toy. Despite the smaller size (for a combiner), it's not a bad value, either - most legends (that's what size the drones are) are $5 apiece, and adding a scout on top of that should make the whole thing be closer to $28 or so than the ~$21 price is actually is.
-Thrust & Inferno
Class: Super-Con (deluxe)
Release: Spring 2003
Accessories: 2 pressure-missiles, one spring-loaded missile launcher for Inferno, and one missile for him.
Strongest mode: F-35 (Thrust) and robot (Inferno)
- The Unicron Trilogy toylines became increasingly infamous for having a ton of G1 homages, in a time when such a thing was still sort of a novelty (remember, Thrust came out only two to three years after some Beast Machines toys!). Thrust was among the first of these, and one of the most well done, largely because he does well as both an homage (to G1 Thrust, of course) and his own guy. This is partially because of his color scheme; while his overall robot mode look (and alt mode choice - Armada Thrust is a VTOL plane like his G1 predecessor) clearly recalls the look of the G1 "conehead" Seekers, his colors are nothing like G1 Thrust, or any other Seeker, for that matter. This helps set him apart, but so did his characterization. Unlike his G1 counterpart, who was pretty much a Seeker thug, Armada Thrust is a renowned tactician and successful Decepticon leader. As a toy, Thrust does better than many Armada Super-Cons, but is a bit lacking compared to more "modern" deluxe jets. One of his strongest points is actually his jet mode which, while a bit inaccurate for an F-35, has very little obtrusive robot kibble. However, his aft section looks clearly incomplete without Inferno mounted there in truck mode (he blends in quite well, by the way). In bot mode, he mostly suffers from constricted proportions and kibble getting in the way of itself. Also, his leg joints are pretty loose, both hips and knees, so it's tough to get a dynamic pose out of him. His missiles are also useless in bot mode, just hanging on his shins. Also, while he can nicely borrow Inferno's missile launcher and peg it onto his forearms (which terminated in thrusters, not hands, something many won't like), Inferno can't really find a decent place to powerlinx. Just as well, I guess; Inferno does his best in bot mode, which is pretty posable for a Mini-con and looks awesome wielding his oversized missile launcher. Overall, Thrust (or any of his repaints, including the difficult-to-acquire G1-style red repaint) is best recommended to Armada fans (a very particular group of the fandom), Seeker collectors, or aircraft enthusiasts. I, of course, fall into all three groups.