Armada Toy Reviews: Street Speed 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: October 2002
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)

In a line that relies on the Mini-Con gimmick, it is necessary to have as many of the little critters as possible. To do this, Hasbro has focused the basic assortment of Transformers on three packs of Mini-Cons. These Mini-Cons are Transformers in themselves, and each three pack features abilities unique to the team.

Long before fans knew what Transformers Armada was, the designers were aware that for the most part, Mini-Cons would be viewed as just glorified Micromasters with little articulation and uninteresting transformations. Part of the reaction to this was the creation of the Street Speed Team. This team's "gimmick" is that it offers above average transformations (even by Supercon standards) and good articulation in small toys.

Backtrack Review

Vehicle Mode:
Backtrack is a Cadillac XLR in vehicle mode (check out this site for pics: http://cadillac-xlr.com/).
His primary color is green with white windows. The headlights are silver. The designers were careful not to make this car an exact replica of the Cadillac, or they would be faced with having to worry about licensing issues. Still, overall it is a fairly unmistakeable outline. the Cadillac's distinctive, angled front end is present, along with the sharp angled windows and the angled rear of the vehicle. The Mini-Con symbol graces the top of (what I presume to be) the trunk cover of the car. I would have liked to see a bit more silver used for details
such as the exhaust pipes and front grille, but it is still a nice looking vehicle.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Extend the front of the car forward.
  2. Separate the halves of the front and flip up the pieces that form the feet (these are the front grille and part of the hood in vehicle mode).
  3. Rotate the waist around so it faces the opposite direction.
  4. At this point, you will see the "L" shaped sections where the sides of the car (the robot arms) connect to the toy. Slide the arms out to the sides, then up and swing them down.
  5. Flip the rear of the car down to form the robot chest.

Robot Mode:
Backtrack offers little surprises in the color department in robot mode. The only additional color is the yellow used for his eyes. This is a bit disappointing considering some color could have been used for details on his arms or the sides of his arms (which would then show in vehicle mode and add color to that as wel).

In terms of sculpt however, Backtrack is a good looking 'bot. His face has a very intense stare set in it and his arms look thin yet large at the same time. Actually having feet is a great touch too. Backtrack has seven points of articulation including his waist. One thing which some people will have problems with, the lower arms are connected to the upper arms by a small bump of plastic that fits into a slight groove. This makes the part very prone to pop out, so be very careful with this piece. What is nice about the arms is a detail that is easily missed. On the underside of each lower arm is a piece of the exhaust pipes, which in this mode look like arm mounted lasers.

Overall, Backtrack is a cool looking vehicle with a neat robot mode, but he is a bit fragile.

Oval Review

Vehicle Mode:
Oval's vehicle mode is a Sallen S7 sports car (see this site for pics: http://www.saleen.com/auto/S7/s7.htm). Like Backtrack, the designers changed just enough details that this is not an exact replica, but easily a sister car to the Saleen. It has many of the distinctive features including the somewhat oval shape of the car, the lined ridges on the doors and the sleek layout of the rear lights and spoiler. The Powerlinx point is located on the underside of the car, towards the rear on the left.

Oval is mostly a light shade of brown. The windows are black. Grey is used to detail vents in the rear and the front grille while the headlights are painted white. It was nice to see a bit of extra paint used on this car. Even the tiniest bit of paint can sometimes help make a car look a lot better, and this case certainly counts!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Lift the passenger section (with all the black windows) up.
  2. Swing down the rear of the vehicle.
  3. Pull the rear halves of the car down to form the robot legs.
  4. Point the car's front section forward and flip the robot head up from the hood. This involves swinging the chest piece back a bit so the holes on it
    fit with the grey pegs on the mid section.
  5. Swing the sides of the car forward to form the robot arms.

Robot Mode:
Grey is the color added into the mix in robot mode. Oval's mid section, eyes and upper legs are all grey. Some may disagree, but to me, Oval is the personification of a Mini-Con Generation One style. The "car hood on my chest" design is not one that is seen too often in the Transformers line nowadays (Car Robots avoided this as much as possible with the Car Robot brothers for instance). Because Oval is so thin and sleek however, it does not look bulky and "brick like". Rather, it looks like an updated G1 character of some sort.

The design is not completely retro however. The legs are thin and not big chunky rear halves of a car. Each has mechanical parts sculpted in. The left leg has the Mini-Con logo etched into it. The arms have fists molded in the interior of the arms and the pegs which serve as connection points in vehicle mode look like wrist mounted blasters here.

Oval has six points of articulation in this form. Like Backtrack unfortunately, his arms suffer from the "pops off too easily" syndrome. Overall, he is a great looking toy and the concept is wonderful, but the arm problem is a bit annoying.

Spiral Review

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Spiral is a Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor (or some other C-Class). Like his fellow team members, Spiral has been altered a bit to avoid licensing issues. The vehicle appears to be more of a sports car modification like those seen in "The Fast and the Furious" along with the low riding tires and big spoiler in the
back.

Spiral is mostly dark blue in this form. His windows and front grille are silver while his headlights are white. His tires are actually quite different than those of Oval or Backtrack, having smaller space between each spoke. Of the three, Spiral looks like the car you'd most likely see driving down the street. He looks very cool and offers a familiarity that people will like. Spiral's Powerlinx point is located at the back of the car on the underside.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Slide the front of the car forward.
  2. Split the front end of the car and slide the robot feet down and then forward.
  3. Swing down the car doors to form the back of the lower legs.
  4. Lift the passenger section of the car up a bit and swing it to the sides.
  5. Rotate the lower body at the waist piece 180 degrees.
  6. Flip the rear part of the car down.

Robot Mode:
Of the three members of this team, Spiral is probably the most "chunky" looking team member. He is mostly blue in this form but the silver and yellow from the vehicle form add welcome detailing. The robot visor eyes are blue. Although hard to see, Spiral has fists molded into his arms. The robot face is a simple, yet nicely sculpted one. The yellow vents on his chest are nice details that keep the toy from looking plain.

Structurally, it was a neat idea to make the doors of the car supports for the legs. It makes the figure a lot more stable and it deviates from the typical "make the doors the arms" design. Spiral has nine points of articulation including the knees and waist. However, since his chest piece is so large, the arms barely reach beyond it. Also, although this may just be mine, the left leg on Spiral is a bit loose, causing the upper leg to droop into the lower leg a bit. This doesn't really kill the toy's look or anything overall, but it is a bit annoying. Still, it could just be mine, so I'll wait to hear if anyone else has experienced this.

Overall, the Street Speed Team is very ambitious and for the most part, it delivers what it wanted to. I would have liked to see a bit more deco on Backtrack and stronger parts, but those may have driven up the price beyond a Mini-Con price point (especially if you're talking about using metal pins and other such pieces). Recommended, especially if you're into the real cars this team represents. Just be aware of the potential problems.