I'm actually not the biggest booster for Robots in Disguise but I kinda had to have this Mini-Con Battle Pack Strongarm and Sawtooth set. I got the other ones on a lark, and the first four are all pretty great. (White Sideswipe's armor is garbage. Orange garbage.) Strongarm is about as good as the other Strongarms I've picked up so far, but I think the transformation works surprisingly well with good articulation and nice detail. Sawtooth is cool, and the clear armor bits seem to work better and more sensibly than on other figures in this line. The paint? OK, the paint could be better. But if you can get beyond that, this is a solid set.
Let's get small with Sawtooth, a wonderful little toy that people would be talking about for decades to come if people who were alive for the 1984 line shut up long enough about how nothing else will ever be as great as die-cast metal construction. If this were a toy from another brand, or from your own childhood, you'd be delighted by this... uh... what is this? It's not quite a Sharkticon, but it's close. It has wings, little articulated hands, a tail, and little feet. Also a big horn. With silver teeth and blue eyes, its basic form reminds me of a mutant Gnaw of some sort. It's clearly some sort of monster, and it's pretty great.
Transformation is a snap - rotate down his tail, and everything comes into place. If he's wearing clear blue armor, it will not get in the way of the conversion. This is a smooth, well-engineered toy with grips designed to fit more than one sized hole - it even fits in Strongarm's roof rack. The one-step transformation yields a mighty trident with a bulb in the middle.
As a weapon, it's a weapon - it's big, it's bulky, and it might even be a little too much for the roughly Legends-sized Strongarm. She looks awesome carrying it, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it fits better with larger versions of her toy. It's creative and it's fun, I would go as far as to say it's the best of the Weaponizers I've played with so far. If you like him, a red redeco will be sold individually very soon.
Sawtooth can be wielded by the fun Strongarm, who now exists in a roughly 4-inch tall size just a head above the popular Legends price point. She has 11 points of articulation, most of which are necessary for transformation, plus a smattering of clip-on armor plus a clear blue sword. What amazes me the most is that the armor all actually fits without a hassle - her case mate, the white Sideswipe redeco, does not enjoy keeping all of his armor in place. It's infuriating. Strongarm's is a joy, even though it's gooft to see her with fins and fangs hanging off her arm. The chest armor and helmet give her a quasi-knight or samurai appearance, but the clear blue plastic does a bang-up job of preventing you from seeing the face mask or helmet crest. It's just not conducive to showing off how much work went into these toys.
The robot itself is a little underdecorated, with a blue chest sporting a white sticker and little else. There is surprisingly little paint or metal used in this figure, so most of the deco comes from a clever color layout and stingy application of pigment. The head looks great, and the rest of her looks perfectly nice. Fans of the show (or Japanese toys) will notice that she could look better, but considering how great she is and how nifty Sawtooth is I think you can live without the paint. (Having said that, I'd probably swap the armor for better paint. Sorry, armor.) She has little problem holding her sword or monster buddy, plus she has no problems standing. This is a good figure, and I approve of it completely.
Transformation isn't too tricky - there's so much kibble that you can easily puzzle her together. It's a simple transformation that doesn't have parts flying off or some of the tough form fits that other toys unwittingly provide.
The vehicle mode... well, it's ugly. The patchwork plastic really shows here, as the front half of the car is white and the back is blue. It is by no means terrible, but it shows what a difference paint can make. If Japan's release is better, I have no doubt you'll prefer it. With her unpainted side and rear windows, it does start to cross over into "Happy Meal toy" territory, but it does include a decorated light bar and, otherwise, looks pretty good. If you're handy with paint you'll no doubt be able to improve this one, but it would have been nice to have side windows on this one were it possible. It looks pretty much like the police vehicle otherwise, and there's no way to mount the armor on her in this mode. Well, unless you slap it on Sawtooth and mount it on the roof, which you may as well. It's fun. (It really is fun.)
I never really saw these at big box stores. I ordered this with Sideswipe online from a toy retailer where I work, and I am currently contemplating throwing Sideswipe in a box somewhere. Strongarm is so good it's not funny, even better than the first two waves. Aside from a crushing lack of deco, this is a good toy. It's nicely constructed, it has a good form fit, and it's durable. Six figures in I'm beginning to doubt that Battle Packs will give us a Decepticon to armor up, but who knows? If you already have a Strongarm, this is potentially worth your while - especially if you want Sawtooth. Don't overpay for one, but at regular retail prices this is going to make you happy.
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