Transformers Universe 2.0 K-Mart Mini-con twelve pack toy review
Release Date: October 2008
Price Point: $25.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: K-Mart, Sears Express Exclusive
Gallery to images of Mini-Cons
Text from Transformers.com:
The SAFEGUARD TEAM was designed with the role of battlefield support in mind. HEAVYTREAD's deco is based on the G1 Minibot WARPATH. FLATFOOT’s name comes from a slang word for a police officer.
The OVERCAST TEAM was designed to fill an aerial assault function. CLOUDRAKER was originally the name of a G1 AUTOBOT clone, repurposed here for a helicopter gunship. BOLTFLASH’s name was inspired by both lightning imagery and the flash of a breech loading rifle. SKYHAMMER is also an old G1 name taken from the rare AUTOBOT Ultra Pretender. This SKYHAMMER is based on the COBRA RATTLER from the GI JOE toy line.
The LANDSLIDE TEAM and RANSACK Team were intended for combat engineering and toxic warfare capabilities.
Mini-Cons are among the most beloved of Transformers sub-groups introduced in the past six years. The tiny Transformers were evocative of the Micromasters from the G1 series, but their ability to attach to other Transformers and act as weapons or activate abilities make them super special. Add to that the tendency to have some rather unique forms (either in vehicle, beast or robot mode) and Transformers fans in general can't seem to get enough of these little robots in disguise. Recognizing this, Hasbro put together a twelve pack of Mini-Cons, all redecos from the Classics line as a group of Mini-Cons celebrating the Armada line within the "Transformers Universe" line. This review will focus on the changes made to the figures for this review. For the original reviews, please refer to the list below that indicates the current name of the character and the figure they're based on and its review.
For the sake of simplicity, I will review each figure in alphabetical order with the team they belong to in parenthesis. It is interesting to note that while their bio on the packaging seems to indicate these Mini-Cons have tried to separate themselves from the Autobot/Decepticon conflict, the packaging gives each character an affiliation, so that will preface the name of their team.
Backstop (Autobot Landslide Mini-Con Team)
Backstop is a redeco of Sledge, which is a neat switch up as it takes a character originally offered up as a Decepticon now as an Autobot. Sledge was a rather dark colored figure, and I must confess I don't remember seeing many construction vehicles with black as their base color. Backstop uses a bit more of a realistic color scheme, using orange and grey plastic for its base. The grey is used for both his shovels and the side sections as well as the cabin/control section. Orange plastic is used back hoe arm and the arms of the front shovel. However, looking at the vehicle, you'd think a lot more was cast in orange since the sides, the front section and the cabin all appear orange. Those sections are in fact painted orange to distribute the color across the figure. The windows of the cabin section are painted silver, adding a touch of variety to the vehicle form. A bit of blue paint is used on the front section fo teh vehicle and a Mini-Con symbol is stamped onto the top of the cabin in black.
The robot mode reveals a few more orange and grey parts, particularly with those that form the torso and head. His head and the part immediately under are grey. The middle of the torso is cast in orange. Blue paint is used on the face and the left side of the chest. The orange from the sides of the vehicle now face front on the lower legs, starting at the knees.
All of Backstop's joints are tight, showing this sculpt/tool still has some life left in it. The colors look great together and are very different than the base figure, always a plus when it comes to a redeco.
Blight (Decepticon Overcast Mini-Con Team)
The way the Mini-Cons are lined up in this set's packaging is most likely incorrect. The biggest clue to this is Blight being included in the "Overcast" Team, a team that is supposedly meant for air assault. However, since that is the "official" label, I will stick with it for now with the caveat that most likely Blight was intended for the Ransack Mini-Con Team.
Blight is a redeco of Dirt Rocket from the Dirt Digger team. Instead of yellow, Blight uses a much brighter neon green color as its base. He also uses black plastic for parts like the rear of the motorcycle and the wheels. I was surprised at how the paint deco is very much simplified from the base figure. Paint applications are done in silver and black. There appear to be two shades of silver. A darker one is found on the headlights and the windshield. The lighter silver is on the sides, painting the exhaust pipes and the mechanical details leading to the rear wheel. Black paint is found on the sides as well as a Mini-Con symbol on the top of the vehicle. While he does not have as complex of a deco as Dirt Rocket, he still looks cool and reminds me of some of the flashier motorcycles I see on the streets of New York City.
In robot mode, Blight's colors really distribute nicely. The black winds up on his lower legs and his arms are solid black, contrasting well against the green. A bit of the black detail from the side of the vehicle mode wraps around the sides of his body as well. Then you'll find silver on his face and mid-body, completing a nice combination of colors. I also like the way the silver on the exhaust pipes make them stand out in the back.
All of Blight's joints are tight. Part of me muses that Blight may be a bit of a homage to the "Batman Beyond" character Derek Powers (aka Blight) as he was also a neon green and black character with the same name. That alone wins some coolness points in my book!
Bodyblock (Autobot Landslide Mini-Con Team)
Grindor was a monster truck that was part of the Dirt Digger Team and now the sculpt has been given a new identity as an Autobot: Bodyblock. The colors are super different between the original figure and this one. Red replaces the grey plastic that made up much of the figure. A reddish brown replaces the green plastic and the monster truck style wheels are cast in black. Paint applications are done in silver, gold and black. The windows are silver and black is used for a Mini-Con symbol on the top of the cabin area. The gold color is almost a metallic green and can be seen on the back where it really makes up his robot arms. While I do wish he had some kind of detail such as Grindor's "splash" detail on the hood, the red and the silver work so well together along with the black on the wheels that I really don't mind. This is one of my favorite color combinations on Transformers and it looks great here.
In robot mode, Bodyblock shows a lot more gold color on most of his arms and his face. The red brown color shows up again not only on his legs, but also his torso and shoulder joints. The color distribution looks really nice partly in thanks to the red brown color showing on both the torso and legs. The metallic gold looks great on the robot face, I love how it's used to accentuate the huge sculpted lower jaw.
Bodyblock's joints are nice and tight, which I was glad to see especially on the ball joints. I also like the name Bodyblock, which is new to the Transformers catalog of names. It really fits the bulky "tough guy" look of this character. Very nice redeco.
Boltflash (Decepticon Ransack Mini-Con Team)
Keeping in line with my note on Blight above, I believe that Boltflash and his fellow "Ransack" Mini-Con Teammates were meant to be the "Overcast" Mini-Con team since all of their forms are aerial ones.
As indicated in the official notes above, Boltflash's name comes from a real term, and I believe the color scheme is also based on a vehicle used in the G.I. Joe series: The Skystriker. That G.I. Joe jet was an F-14 Tomcat that was primarily grey with some black colors on edges and the nosecone. Boltflash is also mostly cast in grey, along with some black on the rear vetical stabilizers. White and black paint deco is used on the top of the jet. White can be found on his wings, the horizontal stabilizers in the back and the sections on either side of the cockpit. The cockpit has black paint used for the windows. This is perhaps, one of the more dull color schemes in the set, but I have to admit that it appeals to me on a nostalgic level. The wings slide out and in perfectly in this form, with no flopping around at all.
In his robot form, Boltflash uses the same colors, giving him the same clean but somewhat flat look including white and black used for detailing. His chest and face are painted white, with a black Mini-Con symbol on his chest. His visor eyes are painted green, which is a nice bright spot of color against the white and grey.
Boltflash's robot mode joints are tight and the figure transforms without a problem. I do wish the Skystriker homage had been taken one more step, with some red and blue added in with the white, but I think the paint applications on the Mini-Cons are fairly limited so that would have been tough. I do like Boltflash, but he is one of my least favorite figures in the set.
Brimstone (Decepticon Overcast Mini-Con Team)
Brimstone almost fits the aerial assault role of the "Overcast" team all by himself, but coupled with Blight and Suppressor I'm still sure the names of the teams were switched. Brimstone was a name used in "Cybertron" for a Decepticon, but as the name of a Decepticon dragon I think it is much more appropriate.
I'm a huge fan of this sculpt. It definitely shows how diverse the designers were willing to be when creating Mini-Con figures. When first introduced, Mini-Cons were all vehicles of some type, but with the introduction of "beast mode" Mini-Cons, a new dimension was added to the sub-group. Brimstone is very different than his predecessor. The red on Nightscream has been replaced by yellow and the orange has been replaced with green. Despite looking exactly alike in sculpt, this does look like a completely different character and not just a variant on Nightscream. Paint decos are done in red and an olive green. the green is used on his sides, the head and the spikes on his shoulders. Red is used for his beast mode eyes. A Mini-Con symbol is found on the left shoulder, stamped in green. The distribution of colors is slightly different than on Nightscream, and I like that. It shows that the sculpt has enough detail to allow different deco permutations. His joints are all tight and move well without popping off or flopping around.
In robot mode, Brimstone shows more yellow and green color. I really like the way his head deco is different not only in color, but also pattern from Nightscream's. Only the face here is painted, along with red robot eyes. This makes a big difference, differentiating him quite a bit from his predecessor in deco pattern. The yellow plastic shows up mostly on the head/torso section and the legs. As with the dragon mode, all his parts are nice and tight. Brimstone is easily one of my favorite figures in this set.
Cloudraker (Decepticon Ransack Mini-Con Team)
Like his fellow Ransack Mini-Con team members, it seems that this Mini-Con was meant to be part of the Overcast Team, being an aerial vehicle and all. His name comes from a G1 Autobot who was a twin of the Autobot Fastlane. Either way the name is appropriate. While the figure he is based on was meant to be a rescue vehicle, Cloudraker's color scheme aims towards military colors. His primary plastic colors are olive green and black. The front of the vehicle is green and the rear rotor is also green. The rotors and the tail of the vehicle are cast in black. Silver and yellow paint are used for detailing. The windows and Mini-Con symbol are painted silver while the missile tubes are painted yellow. I really like the way these colors contrast against the green. The rotor still spins well and none of the parts feel loose at all.
In robot mode, I was surprised by the amount of new deco revealed. Many of the parts revealed in this form were hidden in vehicle mode such as the robot chest and the wings on his arms. All these parts have yellow paint on them. The robot head has silver paint on the face. The yellow contrasts really nicely against the green and black in this form, looking almost like energy glowing on his body. While his funky arms are still a bit weird for my tastes, I do like the new deco on this figure.
Flatfoot (Autobot Safeguard Mini-Con Team)
I really dig the name Flatfoot. As the blurb above indicates, the term is slang for a police officer. It fits the vehicle mode of a police car perfectly! In many ways, this vehicle looks like the inverse of Strongarm. His primary color is white, with black used as the secondary plastic color. Metallic blue, black and silver paint are used for detail work. Black is used for the windows and Mini-Con symbol on the hood. Silver is used on the grille and front fender. The siren light bar is painted metallic blue. It's a rather simple color scheme, but it reminds me of other black and white police car Transformers such as Prowl.
In robot mode, Flatfoot's colors break up a lot more than they do in the vehicle mode. It's almost as if every other part alternates between black and white. The head and forearms are black while the chest and upper arms are white. The legs are mostly white with black parts on the top and bottom. The way the silver shows on the chest and the metallic blue on his waist looks great. His face is also metallic blue, which looks nice as well. I'm glad to see the robot mode looks a bit more interesting than the vehicle mode since this could have been a super dull figure otherwise. Still, Flatfoot is hardly the most interesting figure in the set, but he makes a nice addition to the set.
Heavy Tread (Autobot Safeguard Mini-Con Team)
Heavy Tread is a redeco of Broadside from the Classics Demolition Team. The name Heavy Tread originates from the G1 line, where it was used for a Micromaster from the Monster Truck Patrol. It's fitting that the name now goes to a Transformer who is a spiritual descendent of a Micromaster, a Mini-Con. However, even more fitting is the color scheme on this figure, which is based on the G1 character Warpath, who was one of the most popular "tank" characters in the G1 series.
Heavy Tread is made up of two primary plastic colors, dark red and black. These were also Warpath's primary colors. Paint decos are done in silver and black. Silver is used for stripes running down either side of the tank. Black is used for a Mini-Con symbol stamped on the top of the tank turret. Surprisingly, that's it for the deco, yet somehow it looks great. Part of it is my attachment to the character of Warpath for sure, but I think part of it is also that these colors simply work together very well. Red makes up most of the tank, but the color is broken up on the sides by the silver and on the tank barrel and treads. Heavy Tread's tank turret and barrel move just fine in this form and his little wheels on the bottom of the vehicle spin without a problem.
In robot mode, Heavy Tread reveals a bit more black coloring. His fist and arm mounted gun are cast in black plastic, and his face and parts of his forearms are painted black. The silver from the sides of the vehicle mode wind up on the outer edges of his legs, looking really nice. While all his joints are tight, the general design of the figure is still a paint in the neck to get standing sometimes. His feet are just so thin! Still, with enough practice/effort you'll manage and he's a cool looking figure for sure. Aside from the color scheme being a neat G1 homage, it's dramatically different from the original figure it's based on which is always a plus with a redeco.
Knockdown (Autobot Landslide Mini-Con Team)
Knockdown is a redeco of Wideload from the Classics Demolition Team. Knockdown fascinates me a bit as I can't help but wonder if he was originally intended to be a Decepticon and got jumbled up with some of the other characters in this set. Replacing the mostly green colors on Wideload, Knockdown is cast in black plastic. Traditionally most "good guy" characters aren't black since it is a color that is most often associated with evil. Japan has practically turned this into an art form, taking almost any Optimus Prime/Convoy figure they can get their hands on and turning it into an "evil" version of the character. Taking things a step further, Knockdown's paint applications are done up in silver and purple. Put this all together and he looks a lot like the construction vehicle equivalent of Skywarp from G1 and Armada. The purple color is used on the edges of the vehicle's top side while the silver can be found on the grille, windows and on the top in the form of a Mini-Con symbol. It looks really nice, but if I knew nothing about this figure I'd swear up and down it was a Decepticon. The joints in this form are tight, allowing him to tip back the container on the back with ease.
The same color trifecta carries over to the robot mode. He's still mostly black, but his head is painted purple with a silver face. What's neat is that the way he transforms allows the color details from the vehicle mode to carry over into the robot mode and face front and center. His arms show off the purple edges from the vehicle mode well and his feet have the silver details from the grille and windows. All of Knockdown's joints are tight, indeed, his knee joints were so tight I had to apply a tiny bit of force just to straighten them out during transformation! Overall, Knockdown is a fantastic looking redeco.
Makeshift (Autobot Safeguard Mini-Con Team)
Makeshift is a redeco of Oil Slick from the Classics Dirt Digger Team. This sculpt is a fan favorite thanks to its old skool type vehicle mode and the robot mode's unique hand designs. It's also one of those vehicle modes you really just want to see in a huge variety of colors. In this case, the designers decided to cast Makeshift in purple and black colors. Purple makes up most of the car, with his wheels and grille cast in black. His paint applications are done in black and light grey. Black is used for all his windows while grey is used for stripes running down the side of the vehicle and the Mini-Con symbol on the top of the cabin section. I really like both the choice of color and design, it harkens back to another age of cars around the 60's to the 70's when such vehicles were commonplace while bringing in the color aesthetic of modern day vehicles with its "Hey look at me!" purple color scheme. That combination is super cool and works well on this figure.
Makeshift's robot mode is really fun as well. He's very posable, and with one claw hand and a dagger like right hand, he looks like one mean punk you wouldn't want to take on. His form is also very lithe, differentiating him from some oddly proportioned Mini-Cons such as Heavy Tread. In this form we find that his claws and waist section are cast in black, with the rest of the robot mode cast in purple. The light grey color is used for most of his chest and the lower portion of his face. I like the way the stripes from the vehicle mode look on the sides of his arms, and the grey color is an interesting one to use in contrast with the purple, making Makeshift one of my favorite figures from this set both in sculpt and deco.
Skyhammer (Decepticon Ransack Mini-Con Team)
As indicated in the official Transformers.com notes, Skyhammer is a bit of a double homage. His name is from one of the G1 Autobot Pretenders and the color scheme is based on the Cobra Rattler from G.I. Joe. This makes the figure very different in color scheme from the base figure, Steel Wind. The primary color of this vehicle is blue. Silver, black and red paint details are used to add to the Rattler homage. red can be found on a stripe lining the front of the wings while his cockpit is painted light grey. The nosecone is painted black. While he lacks the well known Cobra logo, he does have a Mini-Con symbol on the left side near the cockpit. I think this vehicle looks great. It's the perfect Mini-Con to use as a homage to the Cobra Rattler, which was an A10 Thunderbolt with modifications. The shade of blue is a bit off, but overall I think it looks great in this form.
In robot mode, blue still dominates as Skyhammer's primary color. Light grey shows a bit more now on the robot head and fists. Red is colored across his chest from shoulder to shoulder. Looking at his legs from the side, you'll find the red stripes from the wings stand out quite a bit as well. I love it when details from the vehicle mode work out so well on the robot mode. Between the homage Skyhammer represents and a neat color scheme, this is one of the best figures in this set.
Suppressor (Decepticon Overcast Mini-Con Team)
As you're probably tired of reading by now, several figures in this set were most likely placed into the wrong "team" on the packaging. Suppressor is listed as being part of the "Overcast Mini-Con Team", wh ich makes very little sense in my book. I can however see him being part of the Ransack team fairly easily. Instead of the fire rescue color of red, Suppressor takes on the bright color of neon yellow with black as the contrast color. Considering the form, it's a perfect alternative to the red color (with powder blue being the other that comes to mind). Deco is painted in black and silver on this redeco, with black used for windows, his Mini-Con symbol and the words "Haz Mat" on the sides. Silver is used for the rectangular section behind the front wheel on each side. Black and yellow always offer a great contrast against each other so this vehicle mode looks great. I like the way the words "Haz Mat" convey that this is more of a "toxic warrior" than a rescue vehicle. Nice work.
Of all the Mini-Cons in this set, the robot mode sculpt on this figure is easily one of my favorites. The wide shoulders, high crest on the head, arm mounted weapons and nice, stable feet make for one neat Mini-Con. Here, the contrast of black and yellow comes on strong with black deco on his legs. A bit of flair is added with red on the robot face. All of Suppressor's joints are tight, making the figure nice and stable. Excellent work on this redeco.
For an exclusive set, a lot of effort went into thinking of each Mini-Con's deco. It's also great to see the "Classics" Mini-Cons getting the redeco treatment as so many of their predecessors have before them. It's also neat that figures originally meant to be part of the "Classics" G1-esque universe are now officially part of the Armada universe. The decos go from somewhat simple to awesome homages and I love the reuse of many G1 names. Overall, for the price this is one awesome set and the way the Mini-Cons are packaged looks great. If you want to bolster your Mini-Con forces, this is definitely a way to do it in one shot! Highly recommended.