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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

Am I a sucker who will buy any Transformer that's a coded G1 reference? Apparently yes.

Skylynx is a powerful and chaotic force who lives to serve the Predacon cause.

After a (mostly) good run of Transformers: Prime toys, Hasbro (mostly) stopped getting my money with their new releases. Why? A simple reason: I don't care about beast modes. Season 3 of Prime was subtitled Beast Hunters, and despite the fact that the cartoon only introduced a single new beast-mode Transformer (aka a "Predacon"), the toyline exploded with scads of the things, all designed to look like dragons. So rather than be one of those ass-hat fans who buys things they hate and then complains about them, I opted to just skip the dragonbots and focus on the Transformers (and not-Transformers) I did want.

[And proving that yo is a total hypocrite, the last two actual TFs he reviewed were both beast modes. --ed.]

My problem with beastformers is that, in general, either the robot mode or the altmode will suffer: either you've got an animal that looks partially mechanical (like it came from Disney's Jungle Cruise ride and is waiting for repairs) or a robot that looks too organic. Skylynx is packaged in robot mode - although he's slightly mis-transformed to fit into the already-oversized blister - and you can already tell he's falling into that second trap. While there are definitely parts that are only robotic, like the hands, torso and chest, the limbs are all smooth and rounded. Even the detailing on his chest suggests rib bones!

By virtue of having to fit inside an animal's mouth, the head is very small. It has a very sinister look, however, what with its squinty red eyes and the two mandible spikes coming off the front of the metallic blue mouthplate. Otherwise the robot's colors are white, navy blue, and maroon, which make for a rather striking look thanks to the contrast of light and dark.

Skylynx moves at the head, neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips, thighs, stifles, hocks, and fetlocks (aka knees, ankles and toes, if he didn't have horse-legs). He's got giant wings that can make him back-heavy, but that's why little struts fold out of the back of his feet, to help keep him standing. As an action feature/​weapon, you can swing the wings forward to point over his shoulders, and they'll each launch a large golden disc (not that one) via the manual use of a friction trigger. Though the instructions don't mention it, the tip of his tail can be removed and attached to either of his hands. Why? Good question.

Converting Skylynx is easy. Of course it is, he's got a beastmode: don't, like, 90% of those just involve putting the robot on all fours and covering its head? This is only slightly more complex: open his chest; close the dragon's jaw; raise the neck, close the chest; tip the torso backwards; split the pelvis and pull it out to the sides; lower the tail; fold away the heels; rotate the robot hands up and the dragon hands down; rotate the wings so the notch in the circular joint lines up with the arm; pull the wings back and slide the arms forward; then just position the legs however you want to have him standing in dragon mode.

Some of the Beast Hunters "dragons" have really stretched the definition of the word (we're looking at you, Laserback [you fat, four-legged parrot, you]), but Skylynx is a more traditional sort. He's got massive wings, a long, spiny tail, and a pointy head with horns coming off the back. As predicted, the robot's arms and legs become the dragon's arms and legs, but it's not like we didn't know that going into the purchase. He remains quite poseable, with movement in the legs, neck and wings. The wings can still sweep forward to launch their projectiles, in case being a mighty, horned dragon isn't enough.

Skylynx is, of course, an homage to the Generation 1 character Sky Lynx, but it's mainly the colors: that was a white space shuttle and a blue and red crawler transport that turned into a white dinobird and a blue and red cat (or combined into a four-legged, red, white and blue birdcat). The colors on this Target-exclusive gamely do their part to make the homage work, but they can only achieve so much.

The Beast Hunters dragons do have one advantage over the Beast Wars figures: they're not meant to be masquerading as Earth animals, but rather re-creations of wild animals that had gone extinct on Cybertron before the humanoid robots we're familiar with evolved there. So it looks like a mechanical creature? That's fine! Skylynx doesn't make me want to buy any more of the recent Transformers, but he's really not bad. A better toy than expected.

-- 09/03/13

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