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Cyclonus w/ Nightstick

Transformers Classics
by yo go re

After the disappointment that was the Universe Classics Galvatron, geting another character from the animated movie seemed a dicey proposition. Sure, Cyclonus looked nice in the promo shots, but would that translate to the final figure? Let's find out together!

Constructed from the cast-off chassis of deactivated Decepticon warriors, Cyclonus was programmed by Unicron to be loyal only to Galvatron. Powered by nuclear engines, and a small fragment of his creator's supernatural power, Cyclonus wields enough might to sterilize the surface of an inhabited world by himself. He never unleashes this power without his commander's leave, however, and he focuses all of his energy on ensuring that Galvatron is obeyed without question by those under his command.

Well, we're starting off with a nice piece of work right in the bio. There's always been a fight amongst fans over which defeated Decepticon was reformatted into Cyclonus: either Bombshell or Skywarp. Both were shown being changed into Cyclonus-like bodies, but were referred to as "Cyclonus and his armada." The one-ship armada never appeared again after that scene, and so fans argued over which one was the "real" Cyclonus. This figure side-steps that entirely, by implying that Cyclonus was built from the dead bodies of both guys. Clever!

Cyclonus's altmode is a swept-wing Cybertronian fighter jet, 6½" long with a 5¾" wingspan. The jet has retractable landing gear (three wheels, though they're just molded and don't actually roll) and guns mounted on the front. The glass in the cockpit is translucent red.

The jet looks quite good, when viewed from the angles at which you'll normally look at it. Did that make any sense? How about this: there are big gaps in the rear of the plane, between the wings, but they're really only noticeable when you look at it from directly overhead (or underneath). When the jet is sitting on your desk or your shelf, and you're seeing it from a slight angle, the construction of the plane hides the breaks.

There are a few nice surprises hiding in the conversion process. First of all, rather than just hanging off the robot's back as it did in G1, the nose of the jet collapses and folds up into the body. The legs, which function like telescoping pieces, instead comprise two halves that separate vertically, unfold to their new position, and then click together. It's a really elegant solution that will ensure Cyclonus' legs aren't drooping in a few years. In robot mode, Cyclonus just breaks the 6" mark thanks to his big pointy "rabbit ears" - though the wings on his back actually come up just a bit higher.

Though the G1 toy was based on the movie's animation model, the two still didn't look very much alike: the animation went through further revisions after the toy was made. This new version shares the design of the cartoon, but the strong purple and gray colors of the toy - the best of both worlds! If you prefer the cartoon's pastel lavenders, the Japanese Henkei! Henkei! version will meet your needs. Like most of the Classics, Cyclonus has traded hs G1 namesake's brickishness for a whole slew of useful joints.

G1 Cyclonus was released in 1986, and was re-released the next year in the US as a Targetmaster, with a small Nebulan partner named Nightstick. Fellow Unicron-reformatee Scourge was also turned into a Targetmaster at the same time, partnered with Fracas. However, the two Nebulans' model sheets were mixed up, so for every appearance in both the comic and cartoon, Cyclonus had Fracas and Scourge had Nightstick - but the names and colors remained the same.

Now, neither Cycnolus nor Scourge were sold as Targetmasters in Japan, but their weapons were: they were packaged with the Japanese-exclusive characters Stepper and Artfire. Further confusing the name issue, Artfire's partner (the Fracas mold) was named "Nightstick," and Stepper's partner (the actual Nightstick mold) was called... Nebulon. Because Fracas' name never appeared in Scourge's bio. When "Stepper" was released in the US as part of the Commemorative Series, he was renamed Ricochet (the name of a different Targetmaster) and his gun became Nightstick. Same name as the Decepticon version, same mold, so there are two identical TFs on opposite sides of the war in G1. Maybe Nightstick had a change of heart? No, probably not.

Anyway, as we've so far failed to mention, this release of Cyclonus includes his little buddy Nightstick. Who manages to not look like either G1 Nightstick or Fracas, so yay him! The gun mode can be mounted on the jet, held in the robot's hand or, in a rather obscure reference, plugged into his wrist when the hand is folded back. That's how Targetmaster guns worked in the Japanese The Headmasters cartoon, even though Cyc wasn't a Targetmaster on that show. Weird. The gun will only plug into his right wrist, much like only his right hand is molded to hold the gun's peg.

The G1 Nebulans all had a very simple conversion, which usually amounted to "unfold me." And since they were so small, any articulation in the robot was limited to what it took to transform them. Nightstick, for instance, had a waist. Sort of. He could bow nicely. This version, by comparison is superarticulated: swivel hips, swivel shoulders and hinged elbows, plus all the stuff that will change him into a gun.

Cyclonus (and Nightstick!) is a well-designed Transformer that honors the G1 character, but also makes several huge improvements. Cyclonus (and Nightstick!) is no Galvatron, and for that we can all be thankful. He's easily the best of this newest batch, so snap him up as soon as you see him.

-- 01/27/09


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