"Generations" Nightbeat Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: September 2014
Price Point: $14.99 (Depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blasters x 2

*Images with asterisks and text in italics from Amazon.com:
To Nightbeat, the greatest threat to the universe isn't the Decepticons, it's secrecy. The Autobot sleuth is relentless when it comes to unearthing the truth. He'll stop at nothing to get to the bottom of things, even if it means confronting bots far more powerful than he is. Convert, arm and attack with all the Transformers action you can handle! This Nightbeat figure is one fierce warrior in robot mode, and he carries a powerful combined blaster into battle against Decepticon foes. When he needs to chase down the foe, he can convert to sports car mode! Whatever mode your Nightbeat figure is in, his enemies will think twice before taking him on! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Nightbeat is one of those curious characters who could have been nothing but a footnote in "Transformers" history. However, thanks to several comic book appearances in the original Marvel G1 comic book, this detective Autobot stuck in people's minds for his curious nature and personality. In more recent time, the character has garnered enough popularity that he even got himself a "Spotlight" issue from IDW Publishing. There's even an alt-universe version of the character in the live action movie universe. However this is the first time since 2008 a G1-based version of the character has been available (and even then, it was a "Timelines" Transformers Club exclusive).

While some retooling is involved, Nightbeat is actually the third domestic release of this sculpt. The figure was originally released as Bumblebee, then Goldfire, both based on the character's appearance in the IDW Publishing Comic Book. Interestingly, there were mock ups of this figure that appeared online months ago that indicated the figure was originally going to use the Special Ops Jazz sculpt as its base. This design made it quite far if you consider the special cover for the comic book included with the figure shows Nightbeat with the "Special Ops Jazz" body! It's rare when something like this happens so it's worth noting. For the record, I think this form is a much better fit for the character but I'll go into that more below. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Robot Mode:
Before going into my usual review I'll first comment on why I think this sculpt works better than the Special Ops Jazz sculpt for the character. If you look at Nightbeat's G1 form (seen in this photo you'll notice that he has a rather flat torso section (with some raised details of course). He does not have the traditional "car front as the chest" design that many G1 Autobots in 1984 and 1985 had. Also, the feet on the Special Ops Jazz figure are (appropriately) bulky, something that Nightbeat did not share in terms of design. The thinner, more streamlined Bumblebee/Goldfire sculpt matches the profile of the character more. Also, through a wonderful bit of coincidence, if you swing the shoulder armor panels down over the back of the arms and straighten out the car doors, he resembles another G1 Headmaster released the same year: Siren (aka Goshooter in Japan - who is getting a release as a redeco of this figure).

Nightbeat features a new head sculpt which interestingly enough makes this one of the few figures where the same sculpt has three distinct head sculpts. The story of Nightbeat's head sculpt is interesting. If you look at the G1 action figure, that's not actually the design that wound up appearing in the Marvel comic books (and now the IDW Publishing comic books). Instead, the head that wound up being shown in comics all those years ago was the head sculpt used for Nightbeat's fellow Headmaster Siren. Perhaps the biggest "give away" in the design differences are the eyes. G1 Nightbeat's toy had small eyes while Siren had the large "visor eyes". Since the comic books used the "visor eyes" head for Nightbeat that design has continued to translate over the years. Another distinctive detail carried over from the Siren G1 toy's head is a distinctive raised crest with two angled details coming out the sides on the forehead. Of course he also has two antennae sticking up that resemble blasters because in the G1 figure they were blasters and separate accessories to boot. Here the antennae have been moved back slightly to allow for smooth transformation. I think the sculptors did a fantastic job giving us an updated head sculpt for Nightbeat and it has a modern and retro appearance all at the same time.

Nightbeat is cast in metallic light blue, black and translucent blue plastic. The blue is a beautiful color that has some "waves" of color running through it. Coupled with its metallic coloring and it is a brilliant choice. Sticklers for G1 accuracy may be a bit miffed however as the blue is a couple shades lighter than the blue used on G1 Nightbeat. I think the color really pops but I do find myself wondering if Takara will do a "darker blue" redeco. The blue makes up most of the parts on the figure's torso, the head, shoulder armor, lower legs and feet. His upper arms, fists and thighs are cast in black. Translucent blue is used for windows which are pretty obvious in this form so I thought I'd mention them here.

The paint colors used in this mode are yellow, silver, red and black - all colors that call back to the original Nightbeat. The antennae on the head are painted black with the eyes and face painted red and yellow respectively. The center of the chest is painted yellow, a visual reference to G1 Nightbeat who had a yellow chest panel. The legs have yellow and red details on them that carry over from the vehicle mode. You'll see silver on the headlights that form part of the shoulder armor. There are a couple cool tampographed details including an Autobot symbol on his chest and a flame pattern on the doors (connected to the shoulder armor). The flames are also a visual reference to one of G1 Nightbeat's main details. Overall Nightbeat is instantly recognizable in this form thanks in part to the deco and new head sculpt, but also the exposure the character has gotten in comic books in recent years.

The weapons are the same ones that came with Bumblebee and Goldfire. This time out they've been cast in yellow with the "flames" at the end cast in translucent blue. The armor panels that lead to the flames are painted light blue and the handle is cast in black. The colors match up nicely with Nightbeat and the use of yellow as the primary color adds a nice contrasting splash of color to the figure when he's holding the weapons.

All twenty points of articulation on this figure are still nice and tight, which I begin to worry about once a set of tooling has seen two or three releases. I found no loose or floppy parts on my Nightbeat. The weapons still combine together nicely and they stay secure in each fist without a problem.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached.
  2. Pull the chest/torso/doors section up, covering the robot head.
  3. Straighten out the doors on each of the shoulder armor sections.
  4. Pull the middle section of the vehicle mode up from the back.
  5. Straighten out the arms so they are behind the doors and swing each arm up to connect to the middle section from the last step.
  6. On each leg, push the panels that form the wheel wells of the vehicle mode out.
  7. Point the robot feet down and push them up, connecting them to the sections with halves of the rear windows.
  8. Swing the lower legs forward and slide the feet under the cabin cover piece.
  9. Connect the rear halves of the vehicle together.
  10. Push the sections with the rear lights in.
  11. The weapons can be attached to the holes on the sides near each rear wheel well.

Vehicle Mode:
The vehicle mode brings most of the armor panels together, so a lot of the vehicle mode is made up of the metallic blue plastic. The windows are translucent blue and the wheels are black. Almost all the vehicle mode paint details you see here were visible in robot mode, but now they come together in a cohesive whole. The silver headlights and wheel rims really pop, the yellow outline on the lower half of the vehicle is a great contrast and the grille is painted black. The flames on the doors really look nice and again I will state how happy I am that details on the rear of the vehicle are painted since this has been oft neglected the past few years. An additional detail I didn't expect was the paint used on the rear windows. First, I didn't expect them to be painted, so that's awesome. In addition they used a really rich, metallic flake blue paint that looks awesome.

Nightbeat's weapons fit nice and snug into the holes on either side of the vehicle. With these attached you really do get a splash of color thanks to the yellow and translucent blue.

Final Thoughts:
Nightbeat is a fantastic redeco and retool. I still find myself surprised that this is already the third head sculpt used on the figure and I'm so glad the designers didn't try to pass off Bumblebee's head as Nightbeat's (especially given how important a head design is to a former Headmaster character). The deco is beautiful and it's a fun toy to play with. My only wish would've been for this to be an actual Headmaster but that would've likely required a Voyager Class scale figure (but one can hope y'know?). Recommended!

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