"Transformers United" Axalon Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: March 2012
Price Point: $30-40 (depending on import retailer)
Retailer: Japanese Market (Limited Release)
Accessories: Missiles x 2

Tech Specs (translated by Doug Dlin):
News of Unicron's resurrection into the physical realm spreads throughout the vast universe, bringing terror and despair. Optimus Primal and his team fight against Ark Unicron to defeat him, but they are crushed by his enormous form's power and left with no recourse. Just as they are chased into this predicament, the hull of the Autobot Spaceship Axalon glows with a blue light, and its enormous form rises up, having achieved evolution into a super robot life form. Now bearing a new spark, the Axalon does battle against Ark Unicron, carrying the hopes of the Autobot forces.

The early 2012 assortment of "Transformers United" figures moved a tiny bit away from the previous "Henkei" styled releases that focused on alternate decos for existing figures, but sticking with the primary characters of the "Classics" and "Generations" toy lines. Instead, this wave sought to introduce at least one new character: Axalon. Fans who feel a twinge of familiarity with the name need only look back to the "Beast Wars" series, where the Axalon was the starship captained by Optimus Primal himself. The Axalon eventually would go to the big shipyard in the sky, but its memory as a key location during the "Beast Wars" would live on with fans for years to come.

Axalon utilizes the sculpt that was first released as Energon Sharkticon. The choice of the name Axalon for this release of the sculpt is a bit ironic and appropriate all at the same time. Energon Sharkticon's design was based in part on the starship "Nemesis", the ship piloted by the Decepticons in Generation One. The irony comes in the design's "evil" origins, but it's appropriate considering it is a starship. Years later, the sculpt would be used in the "Generation 2" themed Botcon 2010 set which included Sky Byte and a Sharkticon troop builder. I recommend checking out all those previous reviews of this figure to get a good idea of the sculpt's strengths and weaknesses. This review will focus on the changes made to the sculpt for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
As mentioned above, Axalon's vehicle mode was based largely on the Decepticon ship Nemesis, and no retooling has been done so the pointed front and large "fins" are still present, but intermingled with that design are "shark" like elements including a cone shaped front end reminscent of a shark and the fins that stick out the back and on the underside of the vessel (I guess we could call them stabilizers too since this is a ship, not a beast). One of the major "Nemesis" based details is the tower in the center that sits high above everything else. This command center was a design element borrowed from the Nemesis and it looks a bit ominous on this ship, even if it is an Autobot vessel.

One interesting note, several parts on this figure are cast in soft plastic for safety reasons. This version of the figure uses a much softer type of plastic on several key parts than the previous iterations (at least as far as I can recall). This includes the cannon barrels on the sides and top of the ship as well as the fins. It's not a bad thing mind you, but as I played with the figure it felt distinctly different than its predecessors.

Axalon is cast in several even toned colors that evoke the "Beast Wars" Axalon ship itself. These colors include a very light beige, dark grey, a neutral grey and translucent blue. The beige and grey colors evoke the Axalon the most while the translucent blue is found on the windows of the "tower" and on the missiles tucked into the front end of the vehicle. The paint colors on this figure include silver, white and dark metallic red. These colors feel more inspired by the classic Autobot symbol than the Axalon itself. It's also noting hey were key colors on Optimus Primal in "Beast Wars" as well.

The silver color is the most heavily used paint color. It colors several details on the beige panels from the middle to the front of the ship. It's also used on the rear section (mixed in with red in an alternating pattern) and it is used to paint the cannon barrels. White is used mostly as trim on the fins, giving them each a distinctive appearance. Tampographed on the nose of the ship's front end is a large Autobot symbol in red and white. Overall, it's a very attractive color scheme that evokes the ship the character is named after nicely. The user of silver and dark grey on the cannons gives them a gritty appearance, like a warship ready for action!

All of the connection points for additional weaponry are nice and tight. This includes the Mini-Con style pegs on the sides towards the back, holes on the top section towards the back and holes flanking the tower. If you want more firepower (and who doesn't now and then?) Pull the sides of the front section out to reveal missile launchers inside. Be careful however as the missiles are sensitive and launch rather easily if you're not careful. I love how incredibly obscene this guy looks loaded up with guns and blasters all over him. He looks like a pure death machine who just happens to be part of the Autobot army!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the rear sections to the sides and straighten them out.
  2. Swivel the rear sections around.
  3. Flip the ship over and detach the robot feet from the front and swing that entire section down to form the robot hips and legs.
  4. Flip the feet up.
  5. Swing the entire front portion of the ship onto the back to reveal the robot head.
  6. Swing each arm up and lock it into place.

Robot Mode:
Axalon uses the exact same sculpt as the original Energon Sharkticon figure, so no retooling or new heads are to be found here. What you do have however is a very sharp looking figure (no pun intended) with the fins on his arms looking more like blade weapons and the points on his head and feet giving him a very dynamic appearance. Combined with his rather bulky torso and shoulders area he looks like a very powerful character indeed!

Deco wise this mode utilizes a lot more dark grey plastic (in two shades) on his torso, arms and legs. Some of the beige color carries over to this mode on his forearms, feet and bits of his hip and shoulder joints. I do enjoy the darker colors that dominate this mode. It really helps distinguish this mode from the other both in shape and color. For those curious, the "Spark Crystal" inside the chest of this figure has been replaced with one featuring an Autobot symbol in clear plastic.

All the paint colors mentioned in the vehicle mode are found here as well. Now however you really get a direct look at the combined silver and dark metallic red combination on his chest, waist and shoulders. The pattern is different than other decos this sculpt has received and evokes Optimus Primal once again a bit who had red and grey colors on his torso section. The head is all Axalon's however. Cast in grey, the helmet section has metallic red on it with white on the side edges. Silver is used for his mouth plate and the eyes are translucent blue. This deco may not sound amazing compared to some others in the toy line, but it is in fact one of the nicest decos I've seen in a long time. I'm not sure if it's the metallic colors chosen, its homage to "Beast Wars" or the fact that I love silver and red as a combination. Okay, maybe it's just all of the above! Still, the deco is very striking and honestly even in package I was drawn to it.

From a functional standpoint, all of the joints on this figure are super tight, which is nice to see since the mold has been used three times already. All of his connection points for weapons are also nice and tight as well including the pegs on his forearms, his fist holes and even the holes on his missile launchers. The hinge joints on the missile launchers are really tight, so no fear of this guy flopping around! I am very happy that all of his functionality is nice and intact.

Final Thoughts:
As a character, Axalon kind of came out of nowhere in this toy line but he's a really pleasant surprise! The deco is really strong and I've always been a huge fan of this sculpt. Highly recommended, but be warned it is an import so it's going to cost you a pretty penny.