"Transformers Universe 2.0" Smokescreen Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: November 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Gun

*Images and text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
This cunning robot’s job is to distract, disrupt and confuse the enemy. He is a master of misdirection, skilled at making DECEPTICONS look in exactly the wrong direction at just the perfect time. More than one AUTOBOT sneak attack owes its success to the skill of SMOKESCREEN. He enjoys playing games with the enemy, taking a huge amount of pleasure in the frustration they display.

Team up with this AUTOBOT ally and roll out! Reveal the shoulder-mounted electro-disruptors in robot mode or convert to vehicle mode for a sleek sports coupe that’s really ready to roll! The battle is on – are you ready?

Some traditions never die, and taking one basic sculpt and giving it several redecos as different characters is one of them. For Universe, the sculpt originally used for Prowl and then later modified for Silverstreak has now been used a third time, this time the sculpt has been given new colors and a new identity as Smokescreen. Smokescreen was a G1 character that used the same base design as figures like Prowl and Bluestreak, but there were heavy modifications to the point where it was basically a new figure with a similar transformation scheme to his predecessors. In this case he is a straight up redeco of Silverstreak, so check out the previous two reviews of this sculpt for more details. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
Unlike the more muted Prowl and Bluestreak, who looked like vehicles you could find on the street driving by you, Smokescreen was a triple colored car that looked like it belonged at a car race, not the street. The designers worked hard to create a color scheme that not only paid homage to the original Smokescreen, but also followed the same general pattern of colors on the figure as well. Smokescreen is mostly cast in red plastic, with smaller parts cast in translucent and blue plastic. A bit of translucent yellow plastic can be found at the back of the vehicle where it makes up the rear lights. Paint applications are done in blue and white colors, which are lifted directly from the G1 figure. The colors layer over each other, with the top section mostly red, leading to a white stripe of color in the middle and the bottom mostly blue. The hues used on G1 Smokescreen were a bit darker than those on this figure, leading me to believe the designers were going more for a cartoon-show aesthetic than a "real life" one, but that's just speculation on my part. It is important to note that yellow is also present in the form of paint applications on the spoiler and the front of the vehicle. Yellow is a color that was used on the rear lights of G1 Smokescreen, so it is nice to see that color worked into this figure as well. I also like the red and white Autobot symbol found on the hood. It's roughly in the same place that it was on the G1 figure and it is very prominant. The front end of the car has a bold line of black colored across the grille, giving it striking contrast with the red. Finally, a bit of dark blue is used for the rear windows.

The sides of the wheels have been painted gold, which I find an odd color choice as silver would have blended more into the rest of the figure, and been more accurate to the character's G1 incarnation. Another puzzler is the rectangle with the number "38" found on both the doors and front end of the vehicle. On G1 Smokescreen these rectangles were curved at the edges and the numbers 3 and 8 filled up most of the white space in those shapes. Here, the rectangles have sharp, right angles and the numbers 3 and 8 hover in the middle against white space instead of coming close to the edges. This looks a bit cheap to me somehow. The curved edges and more tailored font would have felt like a bit more effort was put into the doors instead of what this figure has now. This is my primary letdown with this figure.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the car over and detach the gun from the front end. Fold its halves out and set it aside for now.
  2. Swing up the panels at the rear of the vehicle.
  3. Swing back the rear of the vehicle.
  4. Swing the robot feet pieces forward, and swing out the heel pieces.
  5. Pull the sides of the vehicle out and rotate them around on the ball joint (if it pops off, just snap it back on).
  6. Swing the robot arms down and then out to the sides.
  7. Fold the two halves of the car sides together.
  8. Swing the center of the car's front section forward and the robot head will swing up automatically, push the section back down.
  9. Swing the robot chest down.
  10. Swing up the rocket launchers over the shoulders.
  11. Straighten out the arms and put the gun in one of the fists.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, Smokescreen shows off a new plastic color: silver. His missile launchers, shoulders and thighs are all cast in silver. Black plastic also shows up on the waist and the piece right under the robot head. The head, elbow joints and hands are cast in blue plastic. His weapon is also cast in red, which looks a bit knock-offish to me. His paint applications are all done in yellow, which appears on the horns on his head, the V shaped section on his waist and the robot legs. I think part of what I'm not fond of here is how prominent red is. Unless you're making an Optimus Prime or Victory Saber type figure, a lot of red isn't always desirable. Here it detracts from the figure in tow ways. First, the brightness of the red color borderlines on colors often seen on knockoff toys, so the volume of it (upper body, legs, lower arms and gun) is a bit much. Second, the color scheme is very different than the G1 version.

All of Smokescreen's joints are tight, and there are no signs of paint rubbing off or "soft" plastic that many said plagued early releases of Prowl.

Final Thoughts:
Do not get me wrong, this is a great sculpt and this toy is bright and vibrant. However, knowing that the Japanese version is so much more accurate to the G1 Smokescreen than this one, and uses more muted colors to boot really puts a dampener on this one. Granted, that version will cost you about two to three times this one, hence me saying that if you want Smokescreen in your Classics/Universe 2.0 collection but don't want to spend a lot of money, this is the version for you. It's not a horrible figure, I just think it could have been much better.

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