Armada Toy Reviews: Laserbeak

in 2002, Action Figure Review, Armada, Autobot

Armada

General Information:
Price Point: Role Play
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: July 2002
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Accessories: Strap

Images

Sounds

Long before the age of the Beast Wars where a division between "beast" and "vehicle" Transformers existed, Transformers that became animals worked alongside legends such as the original Megatron. One of the Decepticons that Megatron counted on the most for his capabilities as a spy was Laserbeak. Originally a member of Soundwave's cassette group, it seemed like there was nowhere this bird could not go and get information from.

Eighteen years later, the tables have turned. In Transformers Armada, Laserbeak is a new character with obvious influences from the original. He is a digital video recorder that transforms into a mechanical bird (with a plus mode of a gun).

Laserbeak also represents a return to a type of Transformer that has not been made in a long time. The toy is a role-playing toy that becomes something other than just a beast, weapon or vehicle mode.

Digital Camcorder Mode:
Laserbeak's original color scheme would have resembled the Generation One Laserbeak's colors, black and red. However, due to safety reasons for the gun mode, a whole new color scheme was thought up. The primary color is orange. Black is used for some of the detailing. Silver is used for some of the non functional buttons. The viewer LCD (non functional) is greay with black. Some details are dark blue as well. The back of the camcorder has a nice big Autobot symbol molded into it and painted red. The color scheme is quite garish, and is probably the biggest dectractor from the overall aesthetic of the toy. It is tough to blame the designers since laws vary from state to state on the need for particular colors on a toy that resembles a gun. Some laws say that only a part of the toy needs to be a bright orange or green while others say that only some of the toy has to be a bright color.

In terms of sculpt, one can see the work that went into this toy. Starting from the top of the toy, a silver microphone is built into the middle. On the right side are buttons for adjusting the zoom and an eject button. The LCD screen has a picture of Optimus Prime (presumably from his tech specs) in it and can be rotated up and down like a real one. On the left side are even more buttons that look like they can be used for playing, fast forwarding, rewinding etc. A really cute touch is the strap attached to the end of the toy, which most real life devices of course, have. There are two lenses at the end of the camera, and each actually has a small clear plastic piece.

On the top of toy are two silver buttons. Each one has two sounds associated with it. The upper button is meant for the camcorder mode while the other is meant for the bird mode. Press the button once and it makes a sound of a camera recording a scene, press it again and it activates the sound of a picture being taken.

This camcorder mode is really neat for a role play toy. Despite the garish colors, there is a lot of nicely sculpted
detail in this form.

Transformation to Gun Mode:

  1. Straighten out the LCD screen and fold it against the side.
  2. Flip the camcorder over and flip down the dark silver piece.

Gun Mode:
The gun mode is really just a variant of the camcorder mode. The handle is sized for a child's hands, so an adult may have some trouble holding it. A button on the handle triggers the sound of the blaster. Nothing ground breaking, but a nice alternate mode overall.

Transformation to Bird Mode:
These instructions assume that you are starting with the toy in camcorder mode.

  1. Straighten out the LCD and fold it against the side.
  2. Flip the toy over and push the silver gear up to flip out the wings.
  3. Press the blue button on the top of the toy to flip out the bird head.
  4. Fold down the robot legs.

Robotic Bird Mode:
Like his Generation One counterpart, Armada Laserbeak is a robotic bird. No new colors are added but we do get to see much more dark blue and silver. The bird feet and legs are blue, the wings are mostly blue and much of the detailing that is revealed is silver.

The primary sculpted details revealed are vents on either side of the main body and the ends of the wings. The wing ends have lines molded into them to give a bit more depth to the toy. The main body also has some lines etched into either side. The sculpting here is simple, yet effective.

Laserbeak has five points of articulation, mostly based in the feet. The wings do move, but since they are on a spring based mechanism, they cannot be posed and are pretty much stuck being spread out.

Pressing the lower silver button on the top of the main body will activate one of two sounds, a bird screeching or the sound of laser fire (different than the one that the gun mode activates).

When analyzing a toy like Laserbeak, it is important to keep in mind that it is a role play toy, and its primary purpose is to be used as something other than an action figure. It is also important to keep in mind that the color scheme was originally meant to be something different, and that Hasbro had little choice in the matter. With these two factors in mind, Laserbeak succeeds as a role play toy and to a lesser degree, an action figure. The price point is a bit steep, but it is a rather unique item among the first wave of Armada toys. B+