Cybertron Toy Reviews: Dark Scorponok

in 2005, Action Figure Review, Cybertron, Decepticon, Generation One, Ultra

Cybertron

Dark Scorponok General Information:
Release Date: 2005
Price Point: $29.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 4
Accessories: Cyber Key, Missiles x 2

Images:

At the end of the "Energon" cartoon series, the character of Scorponok had fallen and was not seen again. However, he would later appear again in the "Cybertron" comic book published by the Transformers Collector's Club. Resurrected by events around the fallen Unicron, "Dark Scorponok" emerged as a violent, crazed creature hungering for Spark Energy! As part of the launch of the "Cybertron" toy line, the Armada Scorponok action figure was given a new deco and retooled a bit to help launch the line. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release. For a more detailed look at the base sculpt, check out Enerogn Scorponok's review.

Ground Vehicle Mode:
Scorponok's ground vehicle mode is some type of construction vehicle as indicated by the shovels and scoops on the underside and arms of the vehicle. The rest of him however looks like a tank meant for combat including a large "tail" with blasters, dual blasters on each side towards the back, cannons flanking the "cockpit" center and missiles built into each arm. The design has many elements that make it appear similar to G1 Scorponok's beast mode. The large tail in the back looks like a scorpion tail and the arms look like giant claws. He even has sharp mandible like sections at the front of the middle area. Overall it's a rather exotic yet interesting looking vehicle mode sculpt.

The major change to the figure can be seen best in this form. To fit in with the "Cybertron" play pattern and theme, the tail end has been altered so the two blasters flip out when you insert his Jungle Planet Cyber Key and push it forward. Have no fear if you want to attach a Mini-Con however, Dark Scorponok has a peg on this section that allows you to attach an Energon weapon or a Mini-Con for added weaponry! Speaking of which, don't forget about the holes near the "shovel claws" and the one son the sides of the treads. Many of the holes on this figure accomodate 5mm peg weapons, allowing you to arm Dark Scorponok to the teeth!

Scorponok's new colors are indeed "dark" as his name suggests, but they do have some history behind them. In "Generation One", the Scorponok toy of that era was retooled and given new colors as a character named "Black Zarak". This character sported red, black and gold coloring, and that is the source of the colors for this modern da Scorponok. The plastic colors do indeed include black, gold and translucent red, however they also have dark grey, light metallic blue and orange in the mix. The colors are nicely distributed, with the dark grey and black making up most of the colors while the gold, metallic blue and translucent red play more supporting roles.

The deco colors match up with the plastic colors, with gold being the main paint color. You'll find it on the edges of his claws, the middle section of the vehicle and even the "cockpit" section on the tail. Metallic blue paint is used on the arms while silver is used on the edges of his Cyber Key. The homage to Black Zarak is not 100% perfect, but it is quite strong and to long time fans in the know, it will be instantly recognizable. The translucent red and gold are perfect colors to put agains the black and dark grey and overall the figure looks awesome.

The vehicle still rolls on four wheels on the underside of the tread sections. The arms and tail are where most of the movement comes from in this form. All the sound effects from the "Energon" Scorponok release are intact.

Aerial Vehicle Mode:
The aerial mode is just a slight variation on the ground mode. It does however make Dark Scorponok an official "triple changer", giving him both ground and air based modes. It also puts the "cockpit" detail on his stinger tail section front and center (literally), which really does play with the idea that different parts of a Transformer can serve multiple functions, in this case a cockpit section also serving as a weapon (the stinger). Since the tread sections are now on the top of the vehicle form, it makes any weapons you attach to the treads more obvious.

One word of warning: during transformation, I found I had to use more force than I'm generally comfortable with moving the arm/shoulder/chest sections out to the sides. Interestingly, I didn't have to use any real force to move them back into position for the ground or robot modes, but it was a bit worrisome. Nothing is broken and I heard no unpleasant sounds coming from the toy (such as "snap"!) but I thought it best to give proper warning. It could just be the tolerance on my figure is a bit tougher than others. From what I can tell this isn't a pervasive problem with this sculpt.

Robot Mode:
The Black Zarak homage comes to its fullest realization in the robot mode. Part of this is thanks to the physical form of the figure, which is reminscent of G1 Scorponok and Black Zarak's sculpts including the "claw arms", the tail mounted on the back and a chest panel that sticks out a bit. Add to all this the head sculpt which features a flip down visor (like G1 Scorponok and Black Zarak) and the homage is very obvious just with the sculpt.

In terms of color, the black and dark grey plastic continues to take center stage, making up most of the body. Smaller parts like the claws near the elbows, his ankles and waist cannons are cast in the gold and light blue plastic. Here and there you'll find translucent red such as the missiles embedded in his ams and his knee armor. Gold paint is used throughout the figure but is focused on the arms, torso, waist and shoulders. A purple Decepticon symbol is found in th emiddle of the torso. Again I'll say how wonderful the colors work together. Even if you had no clue who Black zarak is you'd definitely get a sense of menace from this figure.

All the functionality of the figure is intact, and a majority of the joints are ratchet joints so stability is not an issue despite how odd some of his proportions are. The Cyber Key mechanism in the tail also works but the slot you insert the Key winds up being upside down so you may want to flip it up first to insert the key.

Final Thoughts:
My instincts are to give this figure a "highly recommended" rating, but years after its release it is somewhat expensive to find (a quick search shows none near the original retail price) I have to factor that into account. Also the joint that connects the shoulder sections to the main body are a bit too tight for my tastes, though your mileage may vary on that. Some early reviews indicated this joint was loose, so be warned.