Friday, March 8, 2013

Transformers Beast Hunters Ripclaw and Smokescreen Deluxe action figure review

Transformers Prime introduces us to some new Predacon characters that don't exist in previous incarnations such as Lazerback, Ripclaw, and Twinstrike. We're familiar with Smokescreen as a character and he appears in the assortment along with Ripclaw, these two deluxe class figures being covered in the review today. The advent of new characters and specific gender (Ripclaw is referred to as a 'she' in her bio) has thrown some fans for a loop and created a whole new mess of arguments for figures in a canon and non-canon sense. Here we'll be taking a look at the action figures Ripclaw and Smokescreen in an unbiased review of their qualities as toys, not characters.

Packaging is the same for the whole line of figures with Predaking prominently displayed in the upper left corner. There are a LOT of paper ties this time wrapped around almost every main part and making the figures fairly difficult to remove as they need to be cut or their double knots untied. Out of the package the figures begin to shine in their design and sculpt. Ripclaw's dragon mode is slightly mis-transformed out of the package with her dragon legs in bot-mode the same way Smokescreen's arm kibble is positioned outwards so check the instructions before you pass judgement upon seeing them in package.

Out of the package Ripclaw is really nice looking, a green/red/copper colored dragon with large wings and a wicked looking claw-tail. Her sculpt is really well done with scaley panels and nice detail. The spikes on her forearms are a little too rounded looking more like pegs but can be sharpened up with an X-acto knife. Her tail is weighty and looks great in both coiled and lashing mode, more on that later. Ripclaw's robot head looks awesome and is bat-like in appearance with great inner eye/mouth detail, tho not light-piped which could have made it far cooler.

What's paint doing on my Transformers? Right off the bat you'll notice a lot of paint apps and colors here. There's grey, yellow, copper, yellow, red, two shades of metallic green, and it's all done very nicely too. I like the use of the swirly metallic green plastic that gives her a dragon-ish look but the black swirls in her wings just look like trash got caught up in the plastic and injected in. They're more splotches and specks than swirls unfortunately.

Articulation for Ripclaw is extensive with just two faults, her lack of bicep swivels and almost no range to turn her head to the side as her tall collar restricts it. Great ball jointed ankles allow for wide stances, there's an ab crunch due to the transformation, and her waist swivels. Ripclaw's wings are hinged enough to spread out or fold back and her tail can be positioned two ways. A large rubber cord runs through the sections and when tightened with a flip-down lever, curls up behind her. Flip the lever up and it straightens out and can be whipped around.

Ripclaw's accessory is a tri-claw that can be attached to her tail or held. It springs closed when the inner gold tip touches against something and looks pretty cool open or closed, like a mini Omega Supreme claw. I like this removable gimmick approach to Transformers where you can decide how you want them to look instead of having them integrated. Transformation is simple but pleasing. Her back legs have a cool folding mechanism that gives them an animal look. The koiji-like shoulder armor become the neck and her dragon head flips up from her back where it just kind of sits in robot mode unfortunately.

Smokescreen is an entirely different beast. His sculpt for both modes is nice but the front of his robot chest is a fake hood and kind of flat and not very accurate to the show model. His headsculpt looks familiar but with the completely wrong paint apps many people may be confused who it is initially. More on that later. I'm not a huge fan of his curved feet as it makes Smokescreen look like he's on high heels. Sculpt in car mode is sleek with tight seams and nice curves once you get it all pegged together...which may be an issue. He has some strange arm kibble but the rest is forgivable.

Smokescreen's paint...where to begin. Everything has been painted the wrong color from his head down to his toes. Here is what he should look like. The paint is cleanly applied I'll give them that but there's blue where there should be red on his head, red where there should be white on his arms, his kneepads should be black, there should be no stripes on his legs...the list goes on even for his car mode that's missing the checkered doors. And that's what's painted, there's even more missing. ReproLabels is going to have a field day here. I'll admit that I MISSED Smokescreen looking through the Transformers when I bought Ripclaw the day before. I only noticed him when I went back to Walmart to get Bulkhead and saw what I originally thought was Wheeljack. It's inexcusable when the paint is so bad you can't recognize the character.

Articulation is extensive here with ball jointed everything, swivel waist, great range of motion on his limbs, and swivel biceps. Smokescreen's ball jointed head is reduced to a swivel unfortunately unless you carve away a large chunk of the yellow light piping, uh, that should have been blue. Transformation is a jumbled mess of ball hinges that pop off and panels that don't want to peg together. In robot mode his shoulders fall unpegged from his chest unless you coat the tabs that peg into the wheels with superglue to bulk them up. The same with his loose hips and shoulder balls. Once you get him into either mode you'll want to leave him like that.

Smokescreen's accessories include a rubbery 'shadow quill armor' that looks ok on the car but silly on the robot. This is the same rubber that certain Bionicle/Hero Factory parts are made from. He also comes with a blaster that fires a missile and looks normal enough until you attach the rubbery net thing to it. The net has a tab and slot that lets you tab it together or perhaps you're suppose to attach additional ones together to form a larger net? I'm not quite sure. Thank goodness all the armor is removable, it will be easily tossed aside in the parts bin.

So what's the verdict on these figures? Ripclaw is a neat addition even with her lack of bicep articulation and neck movement. I didn't think I'd like her but she's instantly one of my favorite figures whereas Smokescreen whom I was looking forward too falls short in almost every category. It's bizarre passing over an action figure because it's so unrecognizable and I can't honestly recommend him unless you're willing to do some serious paint work or wait for a label set to come out. Our sponsor Big Bad Toy Store has both figures in sets or singles along with the others in the assortment like Bulkknight and Starroach. The Beast Hunters designs aren't for everyone but can still be a cool addition to your collection, check them out!

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