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Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

The first movie gave us Skorponok; the second movie introduced Ravage; now the third has brought Laserbeak.

Laserbeak grows more independent each day spent away from Cybertron. The loyal servant of Soundwave and the Decepticons has become more self-aware since arriving in the Milky Way. Laserbeak continuously monitors Autobot troop movement from afar, plotting the perfect moment to unleash his laser attack.

Is that why Laserbeak is so much less animalistic than the beastly 'bots from the first two movies? Because he's been away from home for longer? He was wonderfully creepy in Transformers 3, acting as the Decepticons' main agent out in the world while they were hiding and working their plots. Of course, it helps that he can talk.

Previous Laserbeaks have all just been shaped like "bird" - they were all far too blocky to resemble any real creatures. The movie designs are more organic, though, so this time Laserbeak looks like a buzzard. He has a round head with a short, sharp beak, and large bulbous eyes that are closed into thin slits.

Like Ravage, Laserbeak has a ridge of spikes running down his spine. He also has a spiked tail, another shared trait. His "feathers" are vibrant red, matching the large turbines in the middle of his wings. His feet look like mechanical claws, and so that he can perch on other characters, there are 5mm holes in the soles of his feet and 5mm pegs on his heels, maximizing compatibility. All the technological details in the sculpt make him look like a living robot in the shape of a bird, rather than something trying to disguise itself as a creature of the air, as he should be. So good work, then!

Laserbeak is highly articulated. If you've seen the film, then you know how oddly he moves in live-action, and the toy is just trying to duplicate that. He has two swivels and three balljoints in his tail alone, and four balljoints in his neck. His mouth is hinged, so you can make him talk. There are swivels and hinges where the wings attach to the body, balljointed hips, hinged knees and balljointed ankles. And though technically the joints may just be meant to facilitate conversion, you can fold his wings into a "resting" position.

If you don't fold the wings at all, Laserbeak has a 9½" wingspan. There are 5mm holes in the center of his turbines, allowing you to plug in the two massive Mech Tech guns, much like G1 Laserbeak had twin cannons on his own back. The guns look almost identical, but if you plug the end of one into the other, the the barrel of the Gatling gun spins around and around and around, revealing a more alien blaster. It's pretty cool, actually. And unlike other Deluxe Class Mech Tech weapons, it can actually stay in its "expanded" form.

In the film, Laserbeak had no real set "altmode" - he turned into anything and everything. Of course, there's no way a toy can do that, so they had to pick a single mode for him. And out of all the forms he took in the movie, Hasbro chose... a new one they made up themselves. Yeah, okay.

The altmode is some sort of VTOL jet - based quite heavily on the GI Joe Dragonhawk. You know, the one James Cameron ripped off for James Cameron presents James Cameron's Avatar. It even has the same kind of "beak" design on the cockpit canopy!

It's impressive how different the two modes look. Considering the body is the same shape, the turbines are in the same place and the jet seems to be landing on bird feet, I mean. The long neck and tail? Completely gone. Those big red wings? Tucked away and invisible. Yes, it's obvious that the bird and the plane are the same toy, but there really are quite a few differences, and that deserves credit. At least it's not a Cybertronian cruiser, right? The VTOL is 5¾" wide, 2" tall and 4¼" long.

Laserbeak was really cool in the film, so naturally you might want a toy of him. While this one has a pretty nice robot mode, the altmode is only so-so. And with the way prices keep creeping up, it's pretty hard to justify buying "so-so." Don't ignore this one, but don't pay full price, either. Watch for a sale, then snap him up.

-- 09/13/11

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