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Shadow Striker

Transformers Legacy Evolution
by yo go re

Okay, this is a weird one.

Shadow Striker was built for combat, outfitted with an array of weapons and targeting systems that make her a dangerous enemy.

You'll remember "Shadow Striker" as Bumblebee's arch nemesis from Trans2mers, but that character inherited her name from a 2003 BotCon figure. (Technically "The Official Transformers Collectors Convention," not "BotCon," but you know what we mean.) But the name has also been used for the Cyberverse cartoon, which is what this Legacy: Evolution figure is theoretically updating. The packaging itself declares this as "Cyberverse Universe Shadow Striker," which is a clunky name, but tells how we're supposed to think of her. But that's not the full story.

I haven't gotten to see a Transformers cartoon since Prime, but apparently Cyberverse keeps her movie counterpart's rivalry with Bumblebee, but makes it more personal: she blames him for blowing her up, effectively killing her. Shockwave rebuilt her, and now she hates her ruined second life. Damn, that's dark!

Sadly, this figure does not have a body made from cobbled-together Seeker parts. While her personality is lifted from the movie toys, the robot design is taken from the convention exclusive. That toy was a repaint of Robots in Disguise Side Burn - yes, from 2001. As nice as it was to get back to car robots after years of beasts, the RiD figures really weren't that good, with weird, lopsided designs, so using that aesthetic as the basis for this toy is... a choice. It's a nice way to homage the character's conceptual history, and maybe we'll see a Side Burn repaint out of the molds to finally toss a bone to RiD fans. Well, another bone.

The proportions really do capture that 2001 feeling very well: scrawny legs, giant pointy foot-flaps, and badly designed kibble hanging off the body randomly. Oh yeah, let's rush to copy that design! There's a shield mounted on a hinge that plugs into the right arm, a smaller shield that plugs into the left arm, and a weapon that can either be held horizontally as a blaster or vertically as a blade. The old Side Burn mold that was used to create the first Shadow Striker had a missile launcher formed from its rear bumper, and you can homage that by plugging the small shield (also made from the rear bumper) into the end of the gun. The figure moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and head. You can also tuck the blaster under one of her butt-flaps when she's not wielding it.

To convert Shadow Striker, raise the arms to the sides, lift her butt-flaps (which are really more like the tails on a coat than anything else), hinge the robot's back straight up into the air above her head, turn the flaps to the sides, unfold the chest (and don't forget the tiny panel inside, like I always do), point the toes up, fold the legs into the body, close the car's doors, and attach the loose pieces. A lot of the parts really need to be forced into place, which isn't great design, and there's a big, visible gap between the rear window and the trunk of the car.

Because the Robots in Disguise cars were made in Japan, where licensing laws were different from US laws, Side Burn was quite recognizably a Dodge Viper. So recognizably, in fact, that Hasbro eventually had to pay for the rights. This car is a thick, blocky sports car of no real model, but there's a red symbol on the hood that references the way all the uses of the old mold had the Viper logo badge on them. Neat little Easter egg, there! The car is purple with translucent red windows and silver for the exposed engine block. All four wheels roll, and the gun can only be stored on top of the roof, which is less than ideal.

As a combination of three different Shadow Strikers, this is an odd little character. BotCon Shadow Striker had a sister, Roulette, who also used the same molds, so we might get to see her in this line at some point, or possibly some version of RiD Side Burn. The toy is fine, but the design it's chosen to homage wasn't terrific when it was new, and definitely feels dated now.

-- 11/14/23

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