I never really understood the appeal of Mini-Cons. The series where they first appeared (Transformers: Armada) aired during the time when I was unaware that the franchise had even continued beyond the second season of Generation One. Afterwards, when I’d gotten back into collecting, the idea of “human-sized race of power-enhancing transforming robots” (source) was kind of goofy. I mean there were the Micromasters, but those were kind of their own thing.
Micromasters were in scale with each other, had their own playsets and were pretty much made to stand alone. Headmasters and Targetmasters were made to interact with larger Transformers, as were the recent Power Core Combiner accessories, but they became heads or weapons, so having them be human-sized was ok. Mini-Cons on the other hand became jets and helicopters and cars. Human-sized jets and helicopters and cars. It’s… weird.
Times being what they are, however, I’ve had to bow to the economic downturn and drop my toy spending considerably. So when I came upon the Transformers: Generations Mini-Con wave at Toy Kingdom for only Php 100.00 each, their appeal suddenly rocketed up several levels. I decided to give one of them a try.
I decided on Swashplate because he just looked so much like those old Go-Bot toys I used to have as a kid.
Go-Bots had a charm all their own. They were never as detailed as Transformers were, and sometimes their conversion from robot to vehicle was as simple as standing them up on their tail and pulling out their arms. There were times when they didn’t even bother with faces, just painted them on the bottom of the vehicle. Big fun when you were a kid.
I remember Micromasters being somewhat similar, with a fairly standard transformation sequence; flip the legs down, swing out arms, flip down the hood/nosecone and you’re done. As it turns out, Mini-Cons are more complicated than that, though they don’t always look as good. Many of them have deformed limbs, huge pieces of kibble, or non-anthropomorphic bodies. In the case of Swashplate, his head is basically just a dome.
He comes packaged as in vehicle mode which is an imaginary helicopter that has a glass dome as its cockpit. Though he’s correctly transformed in the package, the back of the card has him hilariously mis-transformed with his legs hanging off the back and his head/cockpit upside down.
I can't believe someone didn't catch that before they went to print.
The Transformation is pretty easy, what with the figure being only 2" tall. I don't think it warrants the "Level 2" that's indicated on the card (unless you're the poor bastard who mis-transformed him for the solicitation photos). For something this size, I really like the simplicity and I appreciate how they didn't go with the flip the legs down, swing out arms, flip down the hood/nosecone and you’re done scheme.
He also gets extra articulation thanks to the knee, ankle, shoulder and neck joints that are all part of his transformation. How's that for engineering?
I love his robot mode. It looks like something out of an early science fiction film. An aquanaut ready to do Captain Nemo's bidding! A mini robotic Jacques Cousteau ready to brave the challenges of sea. "A lot of people attack the sea. I make love to it!"
Dare you to say that in the Seaspray gurgle. There's your Transformers pick-up line.
Though I still don't like the idea of him "Powerlinxing" with a bigger robot, the Mini-Con port does come in handy. You can mount weapons to him pretty easily, though nothing I have is anywhere near properly scaled. It's too bad that he only has the one port on his left arm. It would have been fun to have him dual wield blasters that are bigger than he is.
I'm very glad I picked this up, and considering how much harder it is to find funds for my addiction, Php 100 per figure does sound good. The fun potential of these Mini-Cons when put together with the recent Cyberverse figure line really gets me going. Unlike Marvel Universe, whose scaling down I was against, I love the fact that I can build an Autobot city. Giving up my Micromasters sets and the Countdown base was one of the bigger regrets in my toy collecting life, and these would have fit perfectly on that thing.
I'm hoping to back track and collect a few more Mini-Cons. I'm looking at the triple-changers that convert to weapons, but the biggest want for me is the rest of the re-colors of this particular figure. I hear there are about 4 more out there, including the exclusively rare Solar Flare, which I can't even find PICTURES of.
Solicitation Photos for Swashplate, Jolt, Shadow Recon Jolt, Guardian Sky, and Bit figures
Crossing my fingers...