I bought a lot of Mini-Cons out of habit - sales, bonus packs, the damn things just kept coming. I initially planned on skipping them, but shortly after their 2002 debut I found them in a GameStop for half price - how could I say no? By the time the Giant Planet Mini-Con Team came around, I probably never needed to see another one of these - but they're charming, and these larger toys were better-constructed than many of their ancestors. Parts didn't pop off easily, the designs did not exceed their mandate of fun, small, easy-to-transform figures that could plug on some larger toys.
This set has Deepdive the submarine, Longarm the crane truck, and Overcast the cargo plane. The molds were used for some low-run exclusives, so in the USA this was probably the easiest way to get all 3 molds. Deepdive is the tallest, with his shoulders standing at nearly 3 1/2-inches high making him one of the biggest Mini-Cons ever. Overcast got repackaged and recolored in the USA as Airlift, who I found at a Family Dollar store for about four or five bones. All three appeared in a Europe-only gift set (which I wish I could find for sale at a decent price), plus as Astro-Hook, Astro-Line, and Astro-Sinker - a team with the Transformers Club's exclusive Astrotrain toy. Longarm and Deepdive were also recolored in Japan for Boss Coffee. While I don't have those ones, I'm stupendously fond of this trio.
Deepdive is my favorite of the set - he's big, has a Mini-Con hardpoint on his chest, and his submarine kibble enclosed him nicely. It's not obvious this is a robot in a big eggshell, and the dark grey body has little metallic blue waves decorated on the side. Red paint has been added to his eyes and crotch, and purple plastic rounds out his limbs. His head looks a little like it could be some sort of SCUBA mask, but it could also be just another robot head. There's not a lot of personality here, but the articulation is admirable - 8 points is nothing to sneeze at. Thanks to the hardpoint, some larger toys can grip this figure and pretend it's a gun. A submarine-shaped gun, with a Mini-Con symbol on the side that just happens to have some metallic blue paint on it. It's utterly gorgeous - had Hasbro painted all the symbols in this color, they'd be prized, beautiful collector's items instead of just one of the better, harder-to-find sets of Mini-Con 3-packs.
Next up is the blindingly green Longarm, which I remember futzing with extensively during a meeting at work the day I found this set. The character clearly reminds old people of Constructicons with the purple highlights, and the red face has individually sculpted eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Mini-Cons don't always get complete faces, so this is nice to see. The nifty transformation lets him fold in half while the cab folds out to become feet, and the double claw arm action meshes perfectly in both modes. A sculpted, unpainted Mini-Con faction symbol can be found on the side of his cab. He has tiny wheels, but they don't do him much good.
More than anything, this is a bit of a gag figure - fans loved the name, so the update was more or less just waiting to happen and I'm glad it did as a $10 exclusive rather than as part of a $300 boxed set. (Yes, I'm cheap.) Little things like the textured roof and the silver engine sticking out of the hood still bring a smile to my face, and the red tinted windows block out most of the visible robot bits inside. If you can't get Giant Planet Mini-Con Team, try to snag Cybertron Downshift to get the mold in green, or the spectacular Downshift vs. Cannonball 2-pack if the price is right. There aren't many Transformers pirates, but that one is worth a look.
For evil-looking planes, you can't do much better than Overcast. The little guy is pretty short, and he has claw hands which can shoot marble rockets. Again, you can't ask for much more than this - few Mini-Cons had firing rockets at this point, particularly ones that didn't have hair-trigger springs. The plane has a significant amount of silver detailing on it, while the robot mode has a red visor on his largely featureless face. You can find his unpainted Mini-Con symbol on his wing.
The sculpting on each Giant Planet Mini-Con member is sharp, and the transformations are solid, easy, and fun. I've never had to complain about parts popping off, and nearly 8 years later I dug this team out to review just because I liked it so much. I bought a lot - a lot - of Transformers in this era, mostly because the prices were great. These stood out as ones I genuinely enjoyed futzing with and if I could do it again, I'd review it sooner so you could all jump on a set for yourself on the cheap. It's good - if you can get it in your toy budget, do so.
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