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Nitro Zeus

Transformers POTE
by yo go re

Hey, look at that! Last time, we complained that the Planet of the Earth toys were such slow sellers that we might never see any new characters, and right after, a new character appeared!

Merciless Decepticon angered by the death of Shockwave, he blames Autobots and humanity alike. Red eye doubles as a scope for shoulder mounted high-powered machine gun turret. Carries a vast array of weaponry too numerous to catalogue.

Nitro Zeus is perhaps the purest distillation of a Michael Bay character: he has no personality beyond fratboy braggadocio, his design is cobbled together from existing sources, and his name is literally cribbed from a military program. Oh, and he makes stuff blow up real good, can't forget that one.

Note that when we said Nitro Zeus had a re-used design, that wasn't just perjorative "all the Bayformers look alike" snark, it's true: his body is the same as one of the generic human-made Transformers from Age of Extinction (though it's not like they were easy to identify visually or even ever given a name). The design was done by Josh Nizzi in 2009, and though it's been simplified a bit for this toy, it's a really cool design. The chest is broad and curved, with pointed "ribs" on his stomach, angular pads rising up off his shoulders, and smooth, rounded armor on the front of his legs. Considering that Autobots are generally the smooth ones and Decepticons are evil and pointy, this design really could have gone either way.

The head, meanwhile, is all Decepticon. To set Nitro Zeus apart from the Age of Extinction drones, they gave the computer model a copy of Shockwave's head from Dark of the Moon - that's why he's mentioned in that bio thing we found up at the top. The toy doesn't copy Shockwave directly, but it's very similar, with its one big eye and its various antennae. The box art, meanwhile, still shows the AoE head. For some reason (namely, because it's what Hasbro's into right now), the head is removable like a Titan Master. It doesn't change into a little robot or anything, it's just a detatchable head.

Now, let's catalogue his weapons! There's a giant cannon on his left arm, what could be a shield or energy crosssbow or something on his right, and bundles of missiles on the booster pods on his back. Nizzi's original concept design had a series of electrified whips coming out of the left arm, but that hasn't been carried over to either film incarnation. He does have Gatling guns molded on his shoulders though, so that's cool. Nitro Zeus, in the movie, wears a big golden chain around his neck, but that's not present here; nor are the wires around his right forearm or all the grafitti on his shoulders and engines.

The toy is a simple light gray, with black "innards" and a few gold accents. He has Decepticon logos on his chest and engines, a 1 on his right thigh and a 13 on his left shoulder. He stands about 7" tall, plus some extra height for the junk on his back. He has useful joints in the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and neck. The jets on his back can be swiveled up to point over his shoulders, or to lay flat against his back. The only kibble that looks blatantly out of place is the tailfins hanging down past his robo-butt.

Nitro Zeus's instructions are rather unclear on how you're supposed to convert him to his altmode, which is a shame because it's a clever and unusual process. Remove the rocket clusters from his back and lower the thrusters; retract the weapons on his arms; fold out the shoulder armor; rotate the sides of his shiled under the center; rotate the head 180° and tip his neck plate forward; point his feet down, pull his legs apart, and rotate them to the side; raise the right leg up out of the way so you can swing the right arm down through the torso and into place, then lower the leg back down; raise the left arm up through where the head used to be; raise the center of the neckplate 90°, tucking the face into the hollow of his arm; swing both legs up, connect tabs on the arm to holes in bottom of the feet; unroll the jet pods to become wings and plug the missiles underneath; and fold the tail down into place. It's complex, but inventive and fun.

(Full confession time: for some reason, I cannot get the cockit to slip into place properly. Every single other bit of the toy works and makes sense, but I can't figure out how to get rid of this ⅛" gap between the arm/cockpit and the body of the plane. There must be some way to do it, because no one else seems to have had this problem, but everything else appears to be properly aligned. I'm tempted to return this toy to the store and get another, just to see if something was minorly misassembled on mine?)

(Edit: yes, it was. The right shoulder was put on upside down, which is just enough to irrevocably &$%@ everything up. The more you know!)

The altmode is, like so many Decepticons, a fighter jet. It's not directly based on any real-world model, just an amalgamation of several plane-like details, but it sells the idea. The cockpit canopy opens, and a Titan Master figure can sit inside. There's a ton of robot kibble beneath the plane, of course, but nothing that looks terribly bad. The front landing gear folds down for stability, while the rear wheels are permanently out.

Nitro Zeus wasn't a very interesting character in the movie, because no one was a very interesting character in the movie. But the toy looks really good in both modes, and converting him is a lot of fun once you figure everything out. It's been a long time since we've had a Transformer this all-around good. Now hurry up and get some more of the new toys into stores, Hasbro!

-- 09/26/17

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