Review of Botcon 2009 Banzai-Tron

Discussion in 'Transformers Feedback & Reviews' started by Philister, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Philister

    Philister Teutonicons Rising!

    Jul 12, 2005
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    My good buddy Desastron gave me permission to post his pictures and review of this Botcon figure here.

    For more pictures, click on the image above

    Prelude: The long success story of the Transformers consists of many series and toylines, which gathered a large fan following for the plastic figures. So it’s not that farfetched, that fan conventions would pop up, some of them pretty huge events, made by fans for fans, where one can chat with the like-minded about our favorite hobby. Die best-known and largest of these conventions is the Botcon, which takes place annually in the United States.

    Not only do the fans get to see the newest figures, films and comic books here, there are also workshops, galleries and many other highlights, which elevate this event above most others. One of the most prominent features of Botcon, though, are the annual sets of exclusive figures, available only at the convention.

    One might remember the 2007 “Games of Deception” set, which finally brought us a full set of Classics Seekers. The following year “Shattered Glass” showed us a dark mirror image of the long-established Transformers universe, where our favorite hero Optimus Prime was the bad guy and our favorite villain Megatron gave a very convincing hero. This role switch worked pretty well for both these characters.

    This year we get “Wings of Honor”, which isn’t exactly a new theme. Because the background for this story is actually a tale told by Kup, a rather prominent character from G1, for the Dinobots during a Decepticon attack.

    The main bad guy of this year’s story is a rather unknown character, who made his first appearance in the twilight days of Generation 1 as an Actionmaster. We’re talking about Banzai-Tron, of course, who is said to be a master of a lost martial art called Cristalocution. As an Actionmaster Banzai-Tron was, of course, just one figure among many. These figures couldn’t transform, which meant that no one knew what Banzai-Tron was supposed to transform into. After his initial appearance the character disappeared for many years. I only saw him again when he made a cameo appearance in the IDW comic series.

    All the more surprising to see him as the main bad guy of this year’s Botcon figure set. In the Timeline continuity Banzai-Tron is a mercenary, who leads the experimental Decepticon air group called the Skyraiders. In Kup’s tale his mission is the recovery of a certain object and it includes killing everyone who gets in his way. In the end Banzai-Tron failed, though, and was taken prisoner. But let’s get to the actual review part of this review.

    Robot Mode: Banzai-Tron is a repaint of Energon Mirage (just like Energon Dreadwing). Possibly the most interesting feature of this figure is the cape-like parts on his back, which make him look a little bit like a sorcerer from a fantasy novel. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind you. Quite the opposite. The unusual look of the figure is what makes it interesting.

    The look is only enhanced by the color scheme. The dominant color is a dark violet, paired with a dark gray. Highlights include green, orange, and red, which somewhat lightens up the otherwise very dark look. The most prominent feature here, though, is the wording, which goes along the side of the “cape” in robot mode. Cybertronian words, which give the motto of the character.

    Another interesting detail is Banzai-Tron’s head. Instead of using a new head mold, which is often done for Botcon figures, especially those of the main set, the original mold’s head was retained. In fact the original head bears a strong resemblance to that of the Actionmaster figure, almost as if it was planned from the beginning to utilize it for a Banzai-Tron repaint. Especially nice, the crown-like design of his head once again enhances Banzai-Tron’s magician look. But that’s just one detail among many. Overall Banzai-Tron is sculpted very nicely and the coloring really brings out the details.

    Let’s take a look at posability. Not much room for complaint here, either. Head, arms, legs, and even the hip are fully posable, enabling Banzai-Tron to bend pretty much every which way. One might think that his “cape” would limit him somewhat and that might well have been, but the cape-parts are fully posable as well. So Banzai-Tron gets a perfect score here as well.

    All of this reads pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, it is. But does this figure have any negative aspects? Well, there is one little thing, which I found a bit strange. It doesn’t drag the robot mode down any, but I think it’s worth mentioning. It concerns Banzai-Tron’s weapons.

    The figure has two missile launchers on his arms, which fire small projectiles. The launchers are fastened to two extending elements, which serve as Banzai-Tron’s “sleeves”. If you try to bring the launchers into a good firing position, such as the upper side of his forearms, the sleeve turns right along and now stands up vertically. That does look a bit strange. But I guess there was no way to avoid this particular problem.

    Another thing worth mentioning is Banzai-Trons attack mode. This consists of folding the two additional missile launchers on his back forward. So now Banzai-Tron has no less than four missile launchers, all of which can fire forward. You can also fold out the sleeves, but that’s more for the vehicle mode and doesn’t really serve a purpose here.

    So what do we have in the end? In my opinion a very good-looking, highly articulate robot mode, with almost no room for complaints.

    Alternate Mode: Banzai-Tron transforms into a heavily armed speedboat. The boat is rather long and slim, giving it a very fast look. This look is enhanced by the little wings on the side of the boat.

    The boat also carries quite a few weapons. Scattered across the hull are all four missile launchers that we’ve already seen in robot mode. Not bad for a vehicle of this size.

    The color scheme is pretty much identical to that of the robot mode. The cybertronian writing is now on the side of the boat.

    The boat also features an attack mode. The two segments near the stern of the boat can unfold to form rather unstable wings. Whether this transforms the boat into a flying boat or something like that isn’t really clear. If you go by the Energon cartoon series, where the Mirage mold first appeared, the boat is capable of flight, with or without unfolding the wings.

    That isn’t saying much, of course, seeing as pretty much everyone and everything could fly in Energon. There was a snow mobile, a garbage truck and many others, all flying. So the attack mode is but an additional goodie in my book, which you might as well leave aside. Doesn’t drag Banzai-Tron down any, though.

    What else can I wrote about this alternate mode? Not much. Banzai-Tron is a boat and boats don’t usually feature all that many moving parts. The four missile launchers make it interesting enough, I believe. It looks great, is a rather unusual choice for an alternate mode, and executed very well. What more do you need?

    Conclusion: One thing first: Banzai-Tron features one of the most complicated transformations I have ever seen. Even with the instruction booklet it’s not easy to transform him. Which isn’t a bad thing, though, as it only makes him more interesting to me.

    The robot mode is done well, has a very unusual look and a pleasing color scheme, which could have been messed up very easily because of the rather harsh highlights. So two thumbs up for that. Only the somewhat strange fastenings of the weapons take some getting used to, but those don’t really influence my final rating any.

    The alternate mode is also done quite well. Choosing a boat as an alternate mode is unusual and somewhat courageous, seeing as boats don’t really offer all that much room for play value. But a lot of extras were added here, interesting design elements that continue the unusual look of the robot mode. So no complaints on that end, either.

    Finally I include an additional bonus for the choice of character. Banzai-Tron never had a transforming toy before, even though the character has potential because of his mysterious air. I find it somewhat strange that he was never used again after his appearance in G1, so congratulations to the Botcon people. In the end I award Banzai-Tron with a...

    Rating: A-

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