Transformers Generations Titans Return Titan Masters
Item No.: Asst. B4697 No. C0280 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Tiny head robot, small lion Action Feature:Transforms from head to robot, lion to vehicle to shield Retail:$4.99 Availability: November 2016 Other: Formerly Lione in Japan
Previously known as a super-rare lion that turns into a small head named Lione, Hasbro reformats Sawback for his first-ever US release - and he'll soon be joined by Shuffler, and I'm beyond excited. Sawback takes a few liberties with the original toy in color and form, but this is OK - after all, it's not like your average American toy shopper has a clue this is a tribute to one of the many rare gems in the Japanese Transformers canon.
This 1.5-inch robot is new, or new to me. Instead of a typical Takara/Tomy-style robot head, you get a robot lion head - it's more Beast Wars Ravage than classic G1 robo. With a yellow torso and orange limbs, this figure has no paint to speak of but does sport a decent sculpt and design. The robot body doesn't immediately call to mind an existing toy, but it sports the jointed neck, shoulders, hips, and knees you've come to expect from this line. There are holes in his feet to connect to the larger lion part of this toy and other, larger toys too.
The Sawback head mode looks like an inverse Lione. Hasbro's Sawback has an orange helmet with a yellow face. Takara's 1987 Lione had a mostly dark orange face surrounded by a mostly light orange helmet - but both have a long nose, blue eyes, and a distinctive chin. It looks good, and since the character is about as obscure as they come to American audiences I'm sure nobody will know about the changes short of the seven hardcore fans who catalog such differences. It's a nice head.
The lion mode is cute, sort of a cross between the original toy and it may remind you a little bit of Blaster's cassette lion pal Steeljaw. The orange mane surrounds a yellow robot lion face that's just pure joy, and I like it more than the original toy's face. he has nice blue eyes - a change from the red G1 peepers - plus big silver plating on his side that reminds me of the aforementioned Steeljaw's tab-on weaponry. There's not much articulation to speak of here, and the mini robot connects to the lion mode to complete the lion mode's mane.
It's a cute little toy for $5.
The vehicle mode is... it's ugly, let's say that. It looks like a lion got mangled by a jet and some sort of mystical forced fused their undead remains into a single vehicle. It's awkward, and you wouldn't miss it if it was left undocumented. Robot Sawback can ride in it well, and he fits right in. Lion legs point skyward while the wings act to stable the vehicle on a table. With five modes on each Titan Masters toy they can't all be winners. This one is not a winner.
Lastly, there's a shield mode. It's not quite as wonky as the vehicle mode, but it's not fabulous. A lion looks like it got hit by a car and reassembled by a taxidermist with a casual disregard for the proper placement of body parts. The lion's face takes the brunt of the impacts, while the silver panels drop down to frame the lower body. The tail points skyward, and the legs frame the precariously formed defense article. After the combined Mini-Con triple weapon and shield modes of Transformers Armada I can say that this one feels more elegant and stable, but that doesn't mean you're going to want to use this as your primary play or display mode. I appreciate it - and the vehicle mode - as added features, but in and of themselves they're not as good as the remaining three configurations.
Misgivings about Sawback's lion's shield and vehicle modes aside, this is a great $5 toy. You get a lion, a robot head, and a tiny robot with a lion head all for under five bones. I'd have been begging for this toy as a child, even though I'd undoubtedly have been disappointed by his alternate modes. The sum of the parts is still pretty good, and it does enough to justify its pretty low cost. Hasbro's Transformers Legends-class $5 toys over the past decade have mostly been pretty good, but not nearly as ambitious as these little guys. This is all the more impressive given inflation. I'm predicting fans will be very upset that they skipped these down the road, so get them now when they're cheap. It's not a big jump from $5 to $10-$20 on the secondary market, so get while the getting is good.
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