"The Last Knight" Nitro Toy Review
Release Date: July 2017
Price Point: $29.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Rocket clusters x 2, Head
Official images and text in italics below are from Amazon.com:
Grab a piece of the movie action with Transformers: The Last Knight Premier Edition Voyager figures. This Premier Voyager Decepticon Nitro figure converts from robot to jet mode in 35 steps. Premier Edition figures are designed with eye-catching details and feature some fan-favorite characters from Transformers: The Last Knight.
In the explosive Transformers: The Last Knight movie, new evil will rise in an epic struggle where the fate of Earth hangs in the balance. The only way to contain the massive power of Decepticon Nitro is to lock him away. A tracking specialist and high-risk criminal, the Decepticons turn to Decepticon Nitro to find their most valuable targets. The lethal hunter scours the globe to trap his prey and turn them over to the clutches of his merciless leader, Megatron.
The 2017 Transformers film "The Last Knight" introduced several new Decepticon characters including Nitro Zeus, a tough talking flier who transformed into a jet fighter. This character was one of the few to survive to the final battle in the film. The term Nitro Zeus refers to a real life Cyber Attack Plan by the military. It is also the name of one of director Michael Bay's dogs (who is adorable in person). For trademark purposes Hasbro just named the figure "Nitro". Interestingly, Nitro Zeus became most well known among some fans for a scene that was planned but never actually rendered for the final movie. More on that below.
Nitro is packaged in a window box. The design feels like an evolution of the "Age of Extinction" packaging design. If you are facing the package the right hand side has a vertical "Transformers" logo against a light grey background with some metallic looking finish on it and the "Premier Edition" logo above it. Under the "Premier Edition" logo is a Cybertronian glyph which some fans online have figured out is the letter "V", which makes sense since "The Last Knight" is the fifth movie in the series. The figure sits in a plastic tray inside the packaging against a background printed on cardboard. The background has an Decepticon symbol and some ancient looking designs (alluding to some of the iconography of the movie itself). Set in front of the figure is artwork of Nitro which looks different than the figure itself in some respects. In a nice touch, this artwork actually wraps around to the side of the packaging where there is another vertical "Transformers" logo.
The back of the box has photos of Nitro in both modes with the 35 step transformation called out between them. To the side is the cosell of the wave: Voyager Class Scorn. Sadly there is zero bio information on the back, which is a shame. If you are going to call a figure "Premium" you may as well go all out on the packaging and provide some type of write up as well. Overall the packaging looks great, but this was a disappointment.
During the development of the various Transformers movie toy lines Hasbro and Takara Tomy often had to work off of initial concept art to develop their action figures. Nitro is an example of how various CG models made their way into the character. If you check out Nitro Zeus' concept art by Josh Nizzi, you will see that this figure is based mostly on this art, and not so much on the character's final appearance in the film. Complicating this a bit further is that Nitro Zeus was basically a CG "kitbash", combining the body of one of the generic KSI created Decepticons from "Age of Extinction" with a modified Shockwave head from "Dark of the Moon". This caused an interesting packaging artifact: the head shown on the package art is the one from the KSI robot, not either Nitro Zeus CG model!
All that said, it is pretty impressive how much this figure reflects the design of the concept art. Many of the key details from that art are reflected on this figure including:
- The head sculpt has a single eye, a thin mouthplate and antennae which point straight up.
- The back has the turbines from the vehicle mode mounted on it. You can also attach the rockets to them, something that was seen in the film.
- The left arm has a large cannon mounted onto it.
- On either side of the head are gatling gun like weapons near the shoulders.
- The right arm has a weapon attached to it that looks like a crossbow.
- The chest features several curved pieces of armor that are layered over machinery underneath.
- The mid-body has pointed, rib-like structures that look like claws.
- The legs have several curved panels on them and tubes running from the knees to the lower legs. The feet are shaped like they have claws at the end.
The main differences between the final CG model for Nitro Zeus and this figure mostly revolve around the head and chest area. In the film the head has horn-like structures that point forward instead of sticking up. In the film the character wears a chain around his neck which goes down to his chest but this figure has no such detail.
Nitro is mostly cast in black and silver plastic. The silver makes up most of the "armor plates" while black forms the mechanical bits underneath. To better match up with the concept drawing, silver, black and gold paint are used for detailing. Some of the paint applications are used for details (such as gold on the feet and mid-body) while others are used to simulate armor panels such as silver found on the left forearm. His single eye is painted yellow with black on the face, offering some nice contrast. Some of the more interesting details include the number 13 on his left shoulder in red and the number 1 on his right leg in black. These numbers give the illusion of the panels from the vehicle mode folding and curving to form the robot mode and I like the effect they create. The finishing touch is a small Decepticon symbol on the right side of his chest. The deco on this figure is not an exact match to the concept art or on-screen character, but it captures the "spirit" of the concept art.
There are seventeen points of articulation on this figure. Each fist has a 5mm port, allowing you to attach weapons from other figures. However the coolest feature on this figure has to do with his head! In "The Last Knight", a scene was originally planned where Cogman would remove Nitro Zeus' head, and then transform into a replacement head, showing off his "Headmaster" ability which is mentioned but never shown in the film. This figure was made to reflect that scene. Nitro's head can pop off (but it does not transform). You can then attach Cogman in head form (or any Titan Master head) to the figure! I love this cross functionality between the two figures and I like the fact that it calls back to a scene that was intended for the film but never rendered.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Detach the rockets and set them aside for now.
- Straighten out the arms and legs.
- Push each foot down.
- On the right arm, push in each of the parts of the "crossbow".
- Also on the right arm, swing down each of the panels on the weapon to form the front section of the vehicle mode.
- Swing the panel that the head is connected to forward, then swing the middle section that the head rests on back.
- Swing the fist on the left arm in.
- Swing the right leg out, then forward.
- Swing the right arm down using the space cleared from the previous step, then push it up a bit.
- Swing the left arm up into the area where the head was located.
- Swing the right leg back into place.
- Rotate each leg inward.
- Swing each leg back. There are tabs on either side of Nitro's cannon arm. These fit into slots on the robot feet.
- On the back, unfold each of the wing sections.
- On each wing, swing down the turbines.
- On each wing, swing out the small angled panel on the part closest to the main body of the jet.
- Swing each wing down. On the underside of each wing, there is a tab and a peg that connect to corresponding parts on each leg.
- Swing out the horizontal stabilizer fins.
- Swing the fin section back.
- Swing the vertical fin up.
- Attach the rockets to the underside of the wings.
During transformation be careful with the thruster pieces. They can pop off fairly easily (they snap back on easily too).
During a Google Hangout with Hasbro in June of 2017 Transformers designer John Warden told the fan media in attendance that Nitro's vehicle mode is an original military jet of his own design (which in part, avoids any potential licensing issues). Warden was on the G.I. Joe brand for years, so he has had ample experience with military vehicles. To my eye, Nitro's vehicle mode looks like a bit of a mash up of elements from both the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Dassault Rafale. Like the Dassault, it has triangular wings that end in a straight edge in the back. However like the F-16 it has two horizontal fins and one vertical one in the back. The cockpit and nosecone section form a relatively thin section in the front with air intakes on the sides. This reminds me a bit of the Sukhoi Su-27. Of course, not every section is the exact same shape as these real life jets, but I can definitely see some similarities.
It is important to note that in "The Last Knight", Nitro Zeus did have a real vehicle form: a Saab JAS 39 Gripen. While there are similarities to this figure, the design is very different in many respects. This includes the presence of two horizontal fins on the front end of the vehicle and lack of rear horizontal fins.
This mode mostly shows off silver plastic, though inevitably some of the robot bits stick out even from an overhead view. The cockpit cover is clear plastic. Black paint is used heavily on the front end, then on the wings, the vertical fin in back and the Decepticon symbols on the wings. Each wing also has a red stripe towards the outer edges. It is a simple color scheme, but one that looks like it could be used by a real life military.
The ports on the bottom of each wing are 5mm so you can theoretically attach weapons other than Nitro's into those slots. In a fun move, the designers made the cockpit of the jet compatible with either Cogman's Headmaster figure or Titan and Prime Masters! Flip it open and you can seat a Titan or Prime Master inside. I love this added feature.
Nitro is a fun figure with a really interesting transformation. Sure he is not 100% screen accurate, but he does follow the original concept art very well. Recommended!
- Good design that follows the character's concept art appearance very well.
- Cool fictional jet mode.
- Titan Master/Headmaster compatibility is awesome.
- Cool transformation that is intuitive and complex all at the same time.
- Not 100% screen accurate, which may bother some fans.
- The turbine pieces pop off easily during transformation.