Release Date: August 2010
Price Point: $3.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Transformers are a popular item on toy store shelves nowadays, but not all store chains wind up getting larger and more expensive exclusives like the ones Wal-Mart and Target receive. Smaller store chains such as Family Dollar often need to make alternate arrangements to carry exclusives. These sometimes take the form of repackaged figures from past Transformers lines. Other times they are smaller figures given new decos and repackaged, thus is the case with Swashplate. Originally released in the United States as part of the "Transformers Cybertron" Recon Mini-Con team, this figure was once known as "Jolt". I never did review that particular team, so this will be my first review of this sculpt.
I did have a bit of a think on just where this figure belonged category-wise. While the card the figure is shipped in uses the same basic background as the "Generations" line of Transformers, it does not have the word "Generations" on it. I ultimately decided to put it into my "Generations" section partly based on the card design and the idea that the "Universe/Classics/Generations" line celebrates figures from all different parts of Transformers history. In this case, I take these as paying homage to the Unicron Trilogy aspect of Transformers.
The term "swashplate" refers to an actual device that involves reciprocating motion and a rotating shaft. On the one hand this name continues the tradition of using mechanical terms for the names of Transformers, and on the other it also could be seen as a reference to the manner in which Swashplate partly transforms, with the front end rotating around as part of the transformation.
In vehicle mode, Swashplate is a rather squat looking helicopter. It's not really based on any specific real life helicopter, but it reminds me a bit of the Safari helicopter with its bulbous front end and a tail with sectioned off areas leading to the rear rotors. There is much more bulk to this figure however. The middle section is curved to match the bulb shaped front end. The landing skids are wide and have flat bottom sections and the robot legs seem to form thrusters on either side right under the rotor blades. There are three rotor blades altogether, each curved slightly at the end.
It's easy to think of Mini-Cons as small figures with very little detail, but in the case of Swashplate there's quite a bit of detail. The helicopter blades are etched with lines and beveled. The main body fo the vehicle has intended lines, raised rectangles curving on the bottom and mechanical looking devices on the front section. The tail section has several open areas leading to a triangular tail fin with a round rotor on the sides. You can see the robot arms and legs pretty clearly in this mode, but it's cool to see how their detail could easily be interpreted as part of this mode as well.
Swashplate is cast in three colors: silver, black and translucent blue. The black makes up the "thrusters" underneath the rotors and the main body of the vehicle while the silver makes up the rotor blades, skids and tail. The front cockpit section is cast in the translcuent blue plastic. Paint applications are done in yellow, brown and black. The yellow is the most extensively used color, found on the front and middle of the vehicle. The brown is used on the black sections under the rotor blades as well as the Mini-Con symbol on the left side. The black paint is a bit hard to see, but it's used for the raised cage sections of the cockpit. I can't help but look at this combination of colors and think it's the Mini-Con aerial version of Bumblebee in color. This particular combination works very well and looks great.
You can spin the rotor blades in this mode. Being a Mini-Con, Swashplate is designed to be able to connect to Transformers such as those with Powerlinx points found on figures from Armada and Energon. In this case the connection point is found on the underside of the left side skid. I was particularly impressed by this since skids are generally not particularly thick parts of any helicopter. Here however, thanks to the robot arms being part of the skids, the thickness works out perfectly to allow for the Powerlinx slot.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- Swing the skids out to the sides.
- Rotate the cockpit section around.
- Swing the black parts under the rotors down to form the robot legs.
- Swing the feet forward.
- Swing the tail up.
Swashplate has a rather unusual form in robot mode. His head is covered by the cockpit section, so it looks like he's a diver wearing a large fishbowl type helmet on his head. His torso is rather trunk like, but the rest of him is rather slim in comparison. His arms are just thick enough to allow the Powerlinx slot to be set in the left arm, but they are still rather slim looking. The legs are similar in that they are thick and solid enough to look good and support the figure, but they're not overly thick in any way.
There are a lot of nicely done details in this form as well. The chest has a raised section with lines on either side and horizontal lines running down the middle. Each arm has small details such as the fists molded in and his legs have some good detail lines sculpted in them as well. The head sculpt is hard to see, but if you look carefully enough you'll see a helmet section with a crest on top and protrusions on the sides with a regular face with two eyes, a nose and mouth with some greebles on the cheeks. Overall it's a nice sculpt for such a small figure.
The same colors that feature in the vehicle mode are shown off here, but now you get to see a bit more black in the form of his abdominal area. This form mostly relies on the plastic colors and yellow paint applications.
Swashplate has eight points of articulation in this form, mostly thanks to his transformation scheme. Each leg has three points, related to the way his legs transform. His arms are actually set in ball joints, allowing them a wide range of motion. While his cockpit can turn for the transformation, the robot head does not actually turn with it. This is really good for articulation on a Mini-Con and it definitely enhances the figure nicely. Swashplate is a nice redeco of Jolt. Considering how many times the figure has been given a new deco (up to seven now including Japanese exclusives) I'm really impressed by how well this sculpt has held up. The joints are all still tight and there are no bits of extra plastic hanging off anywhere, showing the tooling for this figure is still in good shape.
Swashplate is a cool redeco of a neat Mini-Con sculpt. Taken as a figure by itself, I'd easily say "Highly recommended" but for one thing: the price. Depending on where you purchase this figure, it can range from $3.50 to $4.99, which is a rather expensive Mini-Con if you consider it wasn't that long ago a Mini-Con three pack would cost you $5-8. Now, for someone like me who digs exclusives and Mini-Cons a lot, I'm willing to make the purchase but that stretches even my belief in what the figure is worth. So this is a great figure, but beware that it's going to cost you a bit to own it.