Armada Toy Reviews: Space Team

in 2002, Action Figure Review, Armada, Mini-Con

Armada

General Information:
Price Point: Mini-con
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: November 2002
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)

With three Transformers in each Mini-Con pack, Hasbro was given the ability to be very experimental with the forms these robots in disguise took. One of the most unique of the Mini-Con teams is the space team whose forms range from the mundane to interesting. Together, these three form the powerful "Requiem Blaster", a weapon of tremendous power.

Astroscope

space Station Mode:
In his alternate form, Astroscope is a space station. Since he's not exactly a vehicle, I won't call him that. His form is very interesting. The front is a red tube with small receivers on the ends. The central body begins with a large blue barrel shaped section with the middle primarily being supports for two long solar panels. You see his robot fist sticking out at the end, but considering the limitations of the size and transformation, that was pretty much hard to avoid. The red portion in the front is actually the tip of a long missile which can be launched by pressing the red trigger.

The detail level on Astroscope is nicely done. The blue tube section is sectioned off by rectangles with some details which extrude from the surface a bit. The solar panels have nice grid patterns in them and the panels on the red end have line detailing on them. Astroscope's Powerlinx point is on the bottom towards the rear.

This mode is fairly unique among Transformers. A satellite is not the most expected form for a Transformer, but in the context of the team it does make sense.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the station over and swing the blue tube section so the red end points down.
  2. Fold the halves of the solar panels together to form the robot legs.
  3. Flip up the blue piece with the robot head on it.
  4. Lift the left arm piece up a bit and fold down the robot arm. Then fold up the upper body piece so it connects to the piece with the robot head.
  5. Swing up the right side.

Robot Mode:
Astroscope is one interesting looking robot. His upper body and arms are asymmetrical by design. His right arm is a huge missile launcher now while his left arm is a regular robot arm. His chest is also asymmetrical, with one side sporting a bright green painted line design while the other features mechanical detailing. His Mini-Con symbol is molded into the lower portion of the chest's left side.

Astroscope's robot head evokes the appearance of his alternate mode. With three cryptic yellow eyes and a red solar panel-like piece on the right side, he looks as if he's still serving the purpose of a space station in robot mode.

Astroscope's deco is mostly blue and red. The missile in his right arm, his waist/hips and upper legs are all red. The rest is made up of two shades of blue. The arms and chest are a darker shade than the head and lower legs. Purple and bright green fill in paint details.

This Mini-Con is an interesting experiment in Transformers design. It succeeds to a degree. A rather unconventional form has been successfully turned into a believable looking robot. My only problem is how limited that robot is. Astroscope has three points of articulation, two on his legs and one on the left arm. His right arm cannot move to point forward at all. This is a bit of a downer since it would be cool to have him use his missile launcher in this mode as well. Overall a nice figure, primarily for its interesting alt mode and transformation.

A cautionary note. When transforming/playing with this toy, be sure not to apply too much pressure to the chest pieces that swing on small hinges. They pop off very easily, which definitely subtracts from the toy's quality a bit. The parts snap back on, so it's not serious, just annoying.

Payload

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Payload is a carrier for space vehicles (including fellow team member Sky Blast). His primary colors are black and red, with some blue as well. Orange, yellow, gray and silver are used for paint details.

The front 'cab' section of Payload is mostly black, with orange details that could be sirens on top with yellow and silver details for windows and the front grille respectively. The headlights are colored orange. This is actually quite a bit of painted detail for a Mini-Con, and it's appreciated since it keeps the black from making a very boring looking vehicle.

There are a lot of details sculpted into this toy, but the colors make it hard to see them. All along the sides for instance are wheels (four in front, four in back of each side), but they're sculpted in. The vehicle actually rolls on three wheels on the underside of the toy. On the sides are nice line details which include the "door" into the cab.

Sky Blast can attach to Payload in this form. If you look at Sky-Blast, he has three pegs near and on his rocket boosters. These can connect to the three holes on the rear section of Payload. This makes it look like Payload is carrying his comrade to prepare for a launch. This nice little design twist is nice and adds play value to the toys. Payload's Powerlinx point is on the underside of the vehicle's front, left side.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Split the front section of the vehicle so you can swing up the L shaped peg inside.
  2. Swing up the L shaped piece.
  3. Swing down the end of the vehicle to reveal the robot head and arms.
  4. Rotate the lower body around to form the robot legs.

Robot Mode:
Payload employes a very "Generation One" design with half the car forming his upper body and the other half forming his legs. Ultimately he looks like a tough guy with some bulk to him (which he needs if he's going to lug the likes of Sky Blast around!). He is mostly black in this form too, but we get a bit more blue and red. His robot head/neck section is blue while his upper legs and waist are red. Silver paint is used on the detailing of his face and robot chest.

Payload is not the most extraordinary looking robot, but on this team, he's the closest to the "norm" of two symmetrical hands and legs as we'll get. Payload has seven points of articulation, making him fairly articulated for a Mini-Con. Overall Payload is not extraordinary, but he is a nice figure overall with few problems.

Sky Blast

Vehicle Mode:
Sky Blast's vehicle mode is a rocket ship. It's not a typical cylinder however. This one is stylized to include five rocket boosters with four fins at the ends. Out of the three Space Team members, Sky Blast's vehicle mode definitely qualifies as the "coolest" of the trio. In this form he is mostly white with some red and blue parts. Detailing such as his nosecone end and cockpit windows are done in light gray. The central booster is blue while the joints connecting the main body of the rocket to the boosters are red. There is a wonderful spray op on the sides of the boosters, showing some wear on them after take off. The boosters themselves are gold. These are very classic "space" oriented vehicle colors, and they blend very well together here.

Sky Blast is one of the few Mini-Cons with a Powerlinx point that is not on the top, bottom or side of the vehicle somewhere. In this case it's the blue "fifth" booster in the center, which pretty much means he'll be sticking straight out of whomever he Powerlinks with. He does have an additional point which is a pseudo Powerlinx point, but it's not to attach him to a larger Transformer, it's for another Mini-Con to attach to him. This is explained further down in this review when talking about the Requiem Blaster.

The sculpt of this mode is very nice, with line and circular details filling in spots in the forward and middle white areas. The boosters are each sculpted to include circles in a widening pattern from the base to the end. The fins are swept backward, giving the rocket
a very aerodynamic look.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Separate the two halves of the boosters from each other.
  2. Swing them down on the red hinge.
  3. Flip the robot head to the side so it's not upside down.
  4. Rotate the blue booster at the red shoulder joint.
  5. Swing the front of the rocket around and swing down the nosecone to form the right robot arm.
  6. Rotate the boosters at the mid-section so the white, half circle piece faces forward.

Robot Mode:
Sky Blast is a very interesting looking robot. First off, he has no hands. No, really. His right arm ends in the rocket's nosecone (which the comic book has used as a "cover" for his hands, nice save!) while his left arm is a booster rocket, so one can imagine it as a cannon, I suppose. Also, despite the fact that his two rear booster engines are part of one leg each, he looks kind of like he has four legs. Still, his color scheme (still red, white and blue) combined with this appearance makes him an interesting study at the very least.

Sky Blast has nine points of articulation, which is pretty high in Mini-Con terms. Granted two of these points are at his knees which bend backward, but it was still something interesting to see. Sky-Blast's robot face is painted all silver, which distinguishes it from the rest of the head. Despite his odd appearance, Sky Blast is a very cool looking Mini-Con, and has the best deco out of the three.

Transformation to Requiem Blaster (starting in vehicle modes)

  1. Swing out the front halves of Payload and flip the L shaped piece back. Put the front halves back as they were.
  2. Flip Payload over and note the three holes near where the robot head is visible.
  3. Take Sky Blast and swing the nosecone to the side.
  4. Attach Sky Blast to Payload via the three pegs and the holes you noted in step 3.
  5. Swing the two halves of the solar panels on Astroscope together.
  6. Make sure the robot arm on Astroscope is bent in an "L" shape, then slide the elbow into the slot where Sky Blast's nosecone was.

Requiem Blaster:
The Requiem Blaster is a really nice piece of work. Although the design looks a bit haphazard, it all comes together nicely. Of course, you can launch the missile by pressing the spring. Sky Blast's nosecone looks like an extra 'grip' for someone to hold on to when firing this powerful weapon, and Astroscope's legs look like bullet clips from a gun attached at the front.

By now, you've probably noticed that there is a peg sticking up at the top on the Sky Blast section of the Blaster. This is there on purpose to accomodate
Commetor, the Mini-Con that comes with Jetfire. In vehicle mode, Commetor is meant to attach to the Blaster for added power. This is not a happy accident, the toys were planned this way. Interaction is one of the keys of the Armada line, and this does it in a unique way.

Overall, this group is a mixed bag. Astroscope is neat, but delicate. Payload is rather ordinary while Sky Blast is weird, but neat. This is one of those teams I suggest you really take time to think over before getting. I give Hasbro mucho points for ambition, and definitely some brownie points for execution. Could it have been better? Sure, but that doesn't make it a bad toy. Moderately recommended.