"The Last Knight" Leader Class Dragonstorm Toy Review
Release Date: October 2017
Price Point: $49.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Target, Walmart etc.)
Accessories: Mace, Swords x 2
Official Photos above and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
This Premier Edition Leader Class Transformers lineup showcases some of the toughest, most legendary warriors from Transformers: The Last Knight (each sold separately). Leader Class figures stand at an impressive 9-inch-scale with intricate detail, premium packaging, and high-impact weapon accessories.
High-Impact Features and Accessories
Whether in knight or dragon mode, Dragonicus and Stormreign stand against enemies as legendary forces for good. Combine these Premier Edition Leader Class Dragonicus and Stormreign figures to form 3-headed dragon figure, Dragonstorm. Convert Dragonicus from knight to dragon mode in 26 steps. Convert Stormreign from knight to dragon mode in 27 steps. This Premier Edition Leader Class figure can be positioned in intricately articulated, battle-ready poses and features 3 movie-inspired weapon accessories.
3-Headed, Fire-Breathing Dragon
When colossal forces threaten the universe, Knights of Cybertron, Dragonicus and Stormreign rise to become an even greater one - the mighty, fire-breathing Dragonstorm. The epic sky specter soars into action to protect freedom on Earth and beyond. As a cataclysmic battle looms on the horizon, Dragonstorm wields his ancient and mysterious powers with legendary force.
Includes Transformers: The Last Knight Premier Edition Leader Class Dragonicus figure, Stormreign figure, 3 accessories, and instructions.
Dragonstorm is part of the "Premier Edition" of figures, roughly aligning with the quality and level of engineering normally seen in "Generations". The packaging is a large window box with the figures combined into their dragon mode. A small cardboard piece in front shows the two robots and on the other side is the vertical Transformers logo with the "Premier Edition" logo above that. Towards the bottom is concept art for Dragonstorm with fire coming out of one mouth. The name "Dragonstorm" is set above the logo for "The Last Knight". The artwork is notable because it looks like early concept art that features the character mostly in dark colors with a feiry orange and red covering a lot of his body. The final CG model on film did not look like this, but it did have similar features such as three dragon heads and a jagged, lattice work design. The back of the box shows the figure off in its dragon form and individual robot forms. Each has the number of transformation steps called out (26 for Dragonicus, 27 for Stormreign). The cosell on the box is Leader Class Optimus Prime. The background has a nice, leather-like pattern on it, almost as if the box is printed like an ancient book. This aligns with the "secret history of the Transformers" theme from "The Last Knight" movie.
A warning: when you unbox the figure, be extra careful with the heads. The thinner parts on them have been known to snap off right out of the box if too much force is applied. I simply used clippers to undo the ties around the heads and neck and then gently lifted the figure out of the plastic tray.
In "The Last Knight", Dragonstorm was a Combiner formed by several Knights of Cybertron, not just two. Of course, for practical reasons this figure is two in one. The advantage of this is that there are only two distinct figures to mash up into one beast mode. Dragonicus winds up forming most of the front while Stormreign forms the back and one of the beast mode heads. The result of the two combined is actually impressively smooth. At first glance you would not realize there are two robots mashed up in this beast mode.
Dragonstorm's look in the live action film was fairly generic (see screen capture above). He was a three headed dragon with four legs and all over his body was a lattice work of what appeared to be sharp metal rods and strips. His heads featured some parts that swept back and he had jagged, scary looking teeth. For the most part the designers tried to replicate this design as much as they could within the boundaries of what is practical. Given that, I think they did a great job. Part of what helps is that Hasbro used the original CAD files for Dragonstorm from the film as the basis of this figure's design. This allowed a lot of these intricate details to make their way into the figure including the various strips of metal on the heads, wings and back. The only places where the design smooths out a bit are the legs and tail. The tail does however look almost like a serrated blade, similar to the CG model on screen. Dragonstorm's sculpt is beautiful, intricate and very alien looking and I like it a lot.
This figure is mostly grey, black, blue-grey and light silver plastic. The grey makes up most of the back and wings, but the top of these sections are painted silver to look more like the movie's CG model. The heads and legs have alternating combinations of the blue-grey, black and light silver plastic. The heads are soft black plastic with orange deco brushed on them in such a way that they look like fire sweeping back. You will see some beige paint on the bottom of the figure that is painted on to look like wear and dirt accumulated over many years. This feeds into the legend of sleeping Knights who awoke after hundreds of years. Sure the colors on this figure are not 100% movie accurate, but I am actually glad about that. In the film, Dragonstorm is mostly silver and black with red eyes. While striking looking on screen, it would make for a fairly dull looking action figure. I am glad the designers went in a different direction with his deco because it has more of a variety of colors and does not just look uniformly silver.
There are forty two points of articulation in this mode. If that's not a record for a Leader Class figure, it is probably very close to being one! This number is due in part to each head having six points of articulation (though the ball joint at the base of each neck and the swivel joint on top effectively do the same thing). Then add the rear legs which also have six points of articulation each and it all adds up very quickly. Dragonstorm is designed to stand on either all four legs or just on the two rear ones. Each wing has a 5mm port on the bottom, allowing you to attach Dragonicus' swords. On the back of the dragon there is a 5mm port allowing you to attach the mace. While great for weapon storage, this does detract from its aesthetic so my preference is not to have it attached when the figure is on display.
Transformation to Robot Modes (Initial Process)
- Detach the weapons if attached and set them aside for now.
- Flip the dragon over so the bottom is facing you.
- Swing the center piece towards the back down (this is a robot leg).
- Split the torso armor and swing the halves out to the sides. Note: they do not split in a perfectly symmetrical manner.
- Underneath the two panels is another torso, hold on to that and lift it up, separating the two parts of Dragonstorm.
- Fold each wing inward and swing each wing back so it is not in the way of the rest of the transformation.
- Move each of the front dragon legs inside the halves of the torso section. Collapse each lower leg up against the upper leg.
- Swing each of the two dragon heads down to begin forming the robot arms.
- Tuck the two folded front dragon legs together. This step is a bit tricky and you may need to move the shoulder connection joint around a bit so the legs tuck in nicely.
- Swing the robot head on the left side panel up.
- Straighten out each of the lower legs.
- Rotate the legs around and swing the front of each foot out.
- Swing the waist/hip halves inward to connect them in the middle.
- Push the two torso panels together.
- On each forearm, lift up the blue-grey and silver panel.
- Push the dragon heads back and the robot fists will swing forward. Push the forearm panels back into place.
- The swords can fit in either hand or they can be stored on the wings.
- On the piece you just lifted out, raise the rear part of the dragon mode up.
- Rotate the upper part to the left.
- Rotate the robot legs so the feet point forward.
- Push the left robot foot up.
- Swing the tip of the tail into the front half of the tail, then push the whole tail piece up into the right side lower leg.
- Push the section with the dragon neck/head on it around to reveal the robot head and the other arm.
- On the arm with the dragon head, swivel the arm around at the joint right under the shoulders, then pull the silver panel on the forearm open. Then swing the head back to push the fist out.
- Swing the right arm up at the "L" shaped piece connected to the shoulders. Straighten out the arm, then swing the fist out.
- Turn the robot head around.
- Swing the dragon's rear panel up to form the back.
- The mace weapon can fit in either fist.
In a movie as full of characters, sadly not all characters get a good amount of screen time. This is especially true in a film filled with action like Michael Bay's Transformers films. While he was certainly present in "The Last Knight", there were never any good full body shots of Dragonicus in the film. However, when looking at this figure, it turns out that fans did get a good look at him via one of the movie posters released for "The Last Knight"! Fan speculation at the time was that the poster represented Steelbane but in retrospect, a lot of design elements did not quite line up.
Perhaps the most distinctive design elements from the poster that show up on this figure are the asymmetrical shoulder armor and the design of the head which includes a very interesting mouth plate design that has circles set in between horizontal designs. The shape of his armor is also like the one in the poster, complete with layers of armor on the chest that angle inward as you look down the torso. Then over the hips some armor flares out to the sides. Like the Knight on the poster, he also has armor hanging down from his hip area in the middle that looks like an upside down "U" and his knee armor comes up to distinct points in the middle. Dragonicus not only looks like the character on the poster, he also has many of the classic "Knight" based designs as seen on Medieval armor. The main thing which takes away from the movie (or in this case poster) accuracy are the huge dragon wings on his back. I do wish they had folded up more, so they would tuck out of the way, but in an odd way they look almost like a cape being worn by the character which is pretty fun to imagine.
This figure is mostly made up of the blue-grey plastic, with some grey, black and silver thrown in for good measure. Silver is used on the robot head, the torso and the forearms. Meanwhile the beige "wear" paint pattern is easier to see now as it takes up his whole torso. The eyes are painted red, giving an interesting splash of color to the figure. Overall I really like the deco on this figure. The legs could have stood with being "worn" a bit themselves in terms of the beige and silver color combination but that is a small quibble.
There are seventeen points of articulation in this mode, not including the ability of the front halves of the feet being able to move up and down as part of the transformation scheme. Dragonicus can hold a sword in each hand or store them away on the wings. Structurally the wings make Dragonicus a bit back heavy. Fortunately his heel pieces are made up of the dragon claws, so they are big enough for him to stand on them but you may need to fiddle with them a bit to get him to stand. The other issue I have are the way the two panels that come together to form his waist/hip armor work. There is nothing keeping them together other than a long tab fitting into a slot. I wish there was some type of clip to hold them together because it has a tendency to come apart when you play with the figure. It displays just fine, but thrash it about and parts start flailing around, which is less than ideal.
Stormreign is one of the Knights of Cybertron who was clearly seen in one of the scenes in the film (see screen capture above). This occurs near the film's climax when the Autobots and humans are planning their strike. However his on-screen appearane is quite different from the concept art (also seen above) by artist Furio Tedeschi.
Let's first talk about the differences between the on-screen character and the original concept art. The original concept art featured a robot with a very specific design in the center of its chest overlapping the armor on it. The chest features raised armor designs on either side that end on semi-circles. Moving down the torso, there are several layers of armor that overlap and point towards each other at angles towards the middle. The arms had shoulder armor pieces that ended around the edge of where the biceps meet the elbows. It's a fantastic design and it fits the whole "Knight" theme.
Now the final product that appeared in the movie changed quite a few things. The torso design was simplified. Instead of the vertical piece in the center with the raised chest sections on the sides, the on-screen design features layers of armor going across the chest and going down to the abdominal area. The armor on the waist/hips area is no longer a series of horizontal layers but instead it is now a series of vertical armor pieces working together to form a tasset. Even the shoulder armor is different, with these panels flaring out to the sides and then curving down much further than the original concept art. The only part carried over from the concept art is the head design, featuring a "T" shaped eye/mouthplate area and a spike on the top of the head.
Since Hasbro and Takara Tomy need months of development time for a figure, they worked off the initial concept art. The result is a figure that is more heavily based on the original concept art for the character than the on-screen CG model. He includes details like the vertical design in the middle of the chest, the layers of horizontal armor on the waist/hip area and the smaller shoulder armor. His lower legs and feet also look like Tedeschi's original design down to the feet having two claw like "toes". Despite not being "screen accurate" I really like this design. It has the callback to the era of Medieval Knights while looking slightly alien at the same time.
Stormreign is cast in silver, black and blue-grey plastic. The silver makes up most of the figure with black on the thighs and arms. Silver paint is used on parts like the head for additional detailing. A combination of beige and metallic blue paint is used to provide details that look like the armor on the character is worn from age. These colors look cool on their own, but it is worth noting that both the concept art and the final on-screen model were mostly red with some silver and black details. So really, no matter how you look at it, Stormreign is not screen accurate at all. That said, I get why the designers did not use the red color. It would have totally broken the illusion of the dragon mode to have half the body in silver and the other half colored red.
There are sixteen points of articulation on this figure. That includes three on each arm and five on each leg. His hands are designed to allow him to hold his mace with one hand or both. You can store his mace on his back. In terms of being a stable figure, Stormreign is much more solid than Dragonicus.
Dragonstorm is a fun and unique figure. While he may not be ten plus Knights forming a giant dragon, I appreciate the Duocon-esque nature of the combination and I loves me some fun beast modes. However, Dragonicus does suffer some weaknesses and you have to be really careful about how you take the figure out of the packaging. This is a good figure set but if you really want it I would try to get it at a discount.
- Sculpt is partly based on studio CAD files used in the movies.
- Unique transformation scheme.
- Good articulation.
- Excellent detail in the sculpt.
- Head pieces can potentially break off if not removed from the box carefully.
- Dragonicus' chest panels do not always fit together well.
- Dragonicus' waist/hip area tends to split when you play around with the figure.