Transformers Universe "Battle in a Box" Crystal Widow vs. Oil Slick

in 2004, Action Figure Review, K-Mart Exclusive, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe

General Information:
Release Year: July 2004
Retailer: K-Mart Exclusive
Price: $20.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Gun/knife for Oil Slick, Mini-Con figure

General Images:

Transformers are not created Autobots or Decepticons, they choose their affiliations. Among each group are those that walk the fine line between heroism and villainy, switching allegiances at the slightest notice, and bringing their Mini-Cons with them. Some, like Oil Slick succumb to a desire for the power promised by Unicron. Others, like Crystal Widow, join the Autobot warriors out of fear of the ultimate goals of the planet-eating Unicron. Those who switch sides often find themselves alone, hated by those they betrayed, and mistrusted and misunderstood by those they betrayed, and mistrusted and misunderstood by those they now call comrades. Some of them slip back and forth across the line from light to dark, acting as spies, double agents, saboteurs. These Transformers fight a dark and secret war that lies underneath the roiling surface of the unending battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.
- Text from "Oil Slick vs. Crystal Widow" packaging.

In 2004, it's hard to deny that Transformers is a hit toy line. Replicating the success of twenty years ago, the line has become a hot seller, so much so that stores have begun to ask for more and more exclusives. One of the ways Hasbro has decided to fill this need is with their "Battle in a Box" sub-line of Transformers Universe toys. These Transformers two packs feature one Autobot and one Decepticon, each of course a redeco of a previous figure. The first of these to be released is the K-Mart exclusive (thus far) Crystal Widow versus Oil Slick.

Crystal Widow is a redeco of Beast Machines Blackarachnia who of course, later became Universe Blackarachnia. Oil Slick is a redeco/retool of Armada Sideswipe. I recommend reading the above reviews before this one (if you haven't already). This review will cover the changes made to these toys for this release.

Crystal Widow Review

While she is a redeco, Crystal Widow adds a new female Autobot to the ranks of the Transformers (in toy form anyhow). She is also one of the few new characters being introduced in Universe following the likes of Razorclaw and Reptilion.

Robot Mode:
Crystal Widow's color scheme in robot mode is rather simple and familiar at the same time. That's because its pattern mirrors that of Universe Blackarachnia but with different colors. The blue has been replaced with metallic flake purple plastic. The orange from Blackarachnia is now red-orange. The silver details remain the same, including the stripes on her chest and the small ovals on her abdomen. Even her face uses the same pattern, being silver with eyes and a painted mouth.

This sculpt remains as posable and fun as ever. The legs feel a tiny bit more loose than on Beast Machines or Universe Blackarachnia, but not so much that the toy is not functional.

Beast Mode:
Crystal Widow is what I call a "quickie redeco". Rather than go with a totally different deco layout, Crystal Widow uses the same layout as Blackarachnia with different colors. This is most apparant in the
beast mode, where you'll find the familiar "energy" patterns so popular early on in the Universe line. This is primarily found on the rear of the beast mode, around the Spark Crystal chamber. A bit of this is found on the head as well.

However, new colors have been implemented. The dark blue from the previous version has been replaced with a metallic flake purple, which looks really nice. Several parts including the ends of her rear legs and part of the back are a bright red-orange. The neon green parts from Blackarachnia remain here. However, the designers made sure her allegiance was correct. The Decepticon symbol from Universe Blackarachnia has been replaced with an Autobot symbol.

The "Energon radiation" detailing is silver with purple outlines. Because this effect isn't all over the body, it works nicely here. Finally, the head is sculpted in translucent orange plastic, which works well with these colors.

This mold's joints are still tight enough to allow it to stand in beast mode, but the parts are starting to feel a tiny bit loose compared to Crystal Widow's predecessors. This is to be expected once a mold is used enough times, especially one from a few years ago.

The mouth/claw moving feature of this toy still works, and looks as creepy as ever in action.

Oil Slick Review

Oil Slick represents something that isn't done often (but will probably happen more in Universe): a redeco of a mold that switches the toys' allegiance. The toy that was once an Autobot is now a Decepticon! He is also one of the few redecos not representing some known character. Like Reptilion, he is a new character.

Robot Mode:
Anyone who has read my Armada Sideswipe review knows that I'm not a big fan of this sculpt. I think a lot more could have been done with it, and that it could have used a few more drafts before being finalized. Yet oddly enough, in this color scheme, he doesn't look as bad to me. Perhaps it is because purple, black and silver are such quintessential Decepticon colors that almost any time you stick it on a Transformer sculpt, it makes it look better. Basically, the black parts remin the same, the blue parts are now purple and the yellow parts are orange. It's a simple one to one replacement, and it works very nicely.

Oil Slick also marks another first in the line. The prominant, sculpted Autobot symbol on his chest has been replaced with a sculpted Decepticon symbol, painted light purple with a white background (helping it stand out more). This is a great touch since it would have been rather difficult to buy a Decepticon with a huge, sculpted Autobot symbol on his chest.

All the joints are still tight and the weapon parts hold together well. No mold degradation seems to have occurred. Also, his Powerlinx point activated "quick draw" feature still works as well.

I'm still not happy with his huge "saddlebags". The mold wasn't altered anough for me to take away my reservations about this sculpt, but I must confess that thanks to the color scheme and the remolded symbol, I like the overall appearance of this toy a lot better than its predecessor.

Vehicle Mode:
The vehicle mode is the strongest part of this toy. Listed simply as a "Sedan" in official listings, the car mode is nicely sculpted. In my original review, I stated that the thing that really dragged the vehicle mode down was the color scheme. Well, that problem's been solved!

Oil Slick is mostly purple in this mode. Silver is used for details such as the hubcaps, the front of the car and spoiler. Deep, metallic red paint adorns the outer edges of the headlights and fills in the colors for the rear lights. Yellow is used for the front headlights and a dark, metallic silver is adorns the front grill. The designers kept the "Transformers" logo running across the top of the windshield, and of course the Decepticon symbol on the hood is quite prominant. The windows are translucent orange.

Quite simply, this is an awesome color scheme. It's simple, but strong - and it identifies so well with the Decepticon identity that it fits the character spot on. Also, a lot of "street tuner" cars have strong color schemes, and he'd blend right in with them.

Oil Slick comes with a Mini-Con, but Hasbro did not see fit to give it a name. I'll just go by the sculpt's Armada name "Nightbeat". This toy has changed very little. Basically, the parts that were yellow on Nightbeat are now a deeper shade of yellow, that's it. The front headlight is still metallic red and the body is silver. Personally, I would h ave liked to see some purple on him to go with Oil Slick better, but it's a small component so I can see how it was not a priority.

Final Thoughts:
Oil Slick is a vast, visual improvement over Sideswipe. I still believe the sculpt itself has a lot of flaws, but this toy looks better and appeals to me more than its predecessor. It is unfortunate that "Nightbeat" didn't get a new identity along with his partner however. Crystal Widow is a nice redeco, not really much better or worse than Universe Blackarachnia. Overall, I'd say if different allegiances and new characters appeal to you, despite being redecos, this set is for you. Also keep in mind it is most likely an exclusive, making its collectability factor go up a bit. To parents, this is a fun way to get your kid two toys in one shot and have an "instant" battle. Recommended.