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Transformers Kre-O
by yo go re

Ah, there's nothing like hunting a terrified group of teensy Kreons through the jungle. Yes indeed, nothing gets my Energon flowing like plucking off a victim's legs, putting them on the wrong way, and watching the poor fool run backward into trees. You might call it mean, but I just call it funny.

Hobbies: Hunting. Messing with tiny Kreons.
Favorite food: Steak. Rare.
Rival: Trailcutter. Like I care about nature.

The Kre-O characters all have cute, friendly versions of their existing personalities, but Divebomb's really doesn't need to be that different. His original tech specs already described him as a kid in a candy store - granted, that was in regards to having lots of Autobots to murder, but it's still true. Kre-O Divebomb is probably super into customizing his little nests or whatever. Like, he's the kind of 'bot who would still have a MySpace page, and put all kinds of sparkling graphics on it.

Kre-O Divebomb's face doesn't look anything like G1 Divebomb's face. Rather than a gold face on an orange head with green eyes, he's got a purple face and an orange visor. Things get better below the neck: his chest is black, with golden vents painted on the front (and no vest to hide them); his waist is reddish-purple; his limbs are orange, and his hands are yellow. He does get a black helmet to cover his head, but since it's not a new mold, it doesn't really look anything like a bird's mouth - which really becomes an issue in beast mode.

You don't convert Kreons so much as you rebuild them, and Divebomb's altmode is not terrific. As we said, the head doesn't look anything like a bird, so that's one strike against him. His talons are just single black spikes sticking out of the bottom of his feet. His tail looks more like a claw than the feet do. Just as in robot mode, his black wings clip onto the arms with gray pieces, but the fit is so loose that you can't pose them. They just flop down - whichever direction is "down" at the time. His gun plugs into his back.

The packaging identifies this guy as "Torox," but that's obviously a misprint (for reasons we'll get to two figures down the page, so be patient). This is actually Headlock, the Kre-O version of G1 Headstrong. Why did they change his name? It's not unavailable, as the Platinum Edition release proves - and anyway, he's part of a set, so they could have called him any damn thing they felt like. Well, within reason; calling him "Superman" or "Captain America" might have gotten them in some trouble.

Headlock is a lot more orange than Headstrong - which sort of makes sense, since the orange is all replacing yellow and red. His face is painted with a red visor, which matches the original toy, and the tampographed details on his chest are meant to evoke the kibble from G1 - those big grey rectangles are where the beast's feet would have pulled out. He has red arms with black hands, black legs, and a red waist. He's armed with a black sword, and a double-barreled weapon that's so big it makes him fall over when he holds it.

The weapon ends up on his back in beast mode (which basically involves bending the robot over at the waist), approximating the big cannon that the old toy carried around up there. Headlockstrong is a rhinoceros, and he remains mostly orange in this mode, rather than red and yellow. The head is generically "animal," made a rhino solely by virtue of the black horn plugged into the nose. If only there were some way to use the sword and gun-handle in the beast mode, he'd be all-in-one!

Razorclaw gets to keep his name. If he also gets to keep his personality, then he's lazy. Or in super-deformed terms, maybe he's super thrifty, saving all his pay (do Decepticons get paid? They do now), never willing to spend it on anything and moching off all his friends. What's he saving it for? Nobody knows! A big party, maybe. We're just making this up on the spot - you can probably come up with something better.

Razorclaw is wearing one of those vests, so that will have to be trimmed before you can really appreciate the lion head painted on his chest. He also gets one of the "animal" heads, this time in yellow, and has a softgoods mane that gets plugged up against his back. His chest is red, rather than black, and his face matches (when it should be yellow). His orange waist should be black, and his black legs should be yellow. The arms are the only thing on him that matches the old toy that was his inspiration. He's armed with a black cannon and a gray katana.

Razorclaw's lion mode is okay, mainly because of the big mane, which gets placed between the head and body. Clearly there's no way to make the colors on this toy change as drastically as they did on the real one, so the lion does not end up with a black body and red legs, but he does get a massive cannon on his back. Since the mane is just felt or whatever, it gets pushed around and bunched up whenever you move any of the pieces even slightly.

And now, here's the reason we know the rhino was Headlock: because the name the box originally assigned to him was Torox. Yes, the same name given to the update of Tantrum. Tantrum the bull. Torox was his Italian name, and it obviously comes from "taurus," the word for "bull." So there's no question that the layout artist just got the wrong names next to the pictures, and that this guy is the once and future Tantrum. His personality was already prefect for Kre-Os, too: like a child, he hates being told what to do.

Torox looks decent in robot mode. His orange and yellow should be switched, but the tampo on his torso is really good - it has both the grill in the center of his chest and the silver sections that flank it. There are also apps on his legs that don't really seem to match up with anything, but who cares? It's close enough. He has a visor, like the G1 toy, and it's painted red. His face is a deep frown, suiting his personality. He's armed with a black sword, and a double-barreled gun that's a fully different style from the one Headlock was carrying.

Naturally, Torox is a bull. Naturally, his beast mode just involves putting the robot on all fours. Naturally, he has the same "animal" head as all his friends, just with two black horns sticking out the side. It's entirely possible I don't know what the word "naturally" means. He's mostly red in this mode, which does my Chicago heart proud. The original did have a red head and legs, but again, the body should be orange, not yellow.

So that's it for the individual Predacons in this set. Yes, there were originally five of them, and there are only four here - the fifth, Rampage, can be found in the blind-bagged assortment, if you want to complete your team. Of course, he's not necessary to build Predaking; and yes, that's really "build," not "combine." You take the Kreons completely apart, and then you use the pieces to instead assemble the big guy to his full 4⅜" tall.

Putting Predaking together is rather strange, in part because of the changes made to the individual components. For instance, remember how Headlock's torso was orange and Torox's was yellow, when they should have been the other way around? Well they are, kind of: the rhino's chest takes the bull's place as the right leg, and gets two horns on the knee; the bull's chest is on the left, and gets a single rhino horn. So why not just make the torsos the right colors in the first place? The arms are also on the wrong sides, with Divebomb's not-a-bird-head on the right shoulder, and Torox's now-hornless head standing in for Rampage's head on the left. He does get the cannon-feet, spikes on his knuckles, and a lion head on his chest, so that's something.

If you don't like the way he's built, though, the Lego-style construction means you can put him together however you want. Following the instructions in the booklet only leaves you with a few extra pieces: a pair of arms, two vests, two swords, and a single gray clip. That's not much! There's also an extra combiner limb, in case you lose one. Plus, if you get Rampage, you can probably find a way to build him into the set, too.

When this set was first revealed at SDCC, the combiner was called Predicus instead of Predaking - that's a pretty cool name, really. The colors may not quite line up right, but overall he looks right, a big mix of red and orange and yellow and black. And though he doesn't tower over the other Micro-Changer Combiners or have black antennae on his head, this is an unmistakable take on Predaking. Still, he's not as good as Devastator or Bruticus were.

-- 04/01/14

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