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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

The ranks of the Decepticons are full of craven cowards, treacherous backstabbers, and maniacal power-hungry weirdos; it's much rarer to find one who's introspective and honorable. What we're saying is, don't be too surprised the day Dreadwing has a heel-face turn.

For too long, Dreadwing has lived in the shadow of Starscream, but with the Seeker commander out of favor, he is more than happy to step into his rightful place at the right hand of Megatron. His power and intelligence have always been dangerous, but with the Decepticon legion at his command, the very survival of the Autobots is in question.

Dreadwing is the twin brother of Skyquake, who appeared on the show first but isn't getting a toy until later. He's the team's brute, its big, heavy-hitting muscle - so it's nice that the figure stands a solid 6½" tall. The character is voiced by Tony Todd, so he sounds just as intimidating as he looks.

Though it's immediately apparent that Dreadwing will turn into a jet plane, very little of his kibble has an obvious spot on that eventual plane. He has wings on his back and the cockpit on his chest, but other than that? Lots of pointy little bits that could go anywhere. He does have quite the fearsome robot mode, with thick limbs and a broad torso - and of course, lots of little pointy bits that look like they'd hurt if you got hit with them.

Dreadwing moves at the knees, thighs, hips, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders and waist. His feet were on the wrong legs, but switching them was easy: just a matter of removing two screws in each leg. The shoulder armor is on a balljoint, so it won't be in the way of the arm articulation, but that always has the same problem: when you move the arm up, the armor moves up, but when you move the arm back down, the armor stays up. There's really no way to work around it.

As Hasbro's website proudly states, "Figure comes with accessory!" Actually, two accessories: a sword and a light-up gun. The battery powered accessories the Prime toys are coming with are just pure crap. They unfold, like the Mech Tech weapons did, but there's no way to lock them into the "open" position. The "magnetar pulse blaster" looks very much like the one on the cartoon, but he can't hold it the proper way.

Dreadwing is only listed as a "2" on whatever indeterminate scale Hasbro uses to determine the complexity of their toys, but that's nuts. Converting him is definitely more confusing than a 2. There are lots of small little tabs and pegs that are supposed to fit together to make a solid altmode, but the instructions don't actually mention them, so you're left to discover that on your own.

The plane is STBLDF the Lockheed Martin F-35, but that's a generic enough jet that it could really be anything advanced. The plane measures 7⅜" long, 5½" wide and 2¼" tall. The front landing gear can retract, but that's the only feature to be found in this mode. There are a lot of pieces molded from soft PVC - some for safety reasons, some just so they don't break. The jet is dark blue with gold and silver/gray trim.

The true stupidity of Dreadwing's weapons come into play in this mode. You can store the sword under the wing, which isn't too bad, but the giant folding gun is meant to be plugged into the roof. The roof? Look at that dumb thing sitting up there! The plane would just drop out of the sky if it was carrying that thing, Energon-powered or not!

There are some collectors who misunderstand the point of Transformers so badly that they buy two of every figure: one to display as a robot, and one to display in the altmode. Those people, at least, will find a lot to like here. Dreadwing is a cool robot and a solid plane, but the actual conversion process isn't very much fun. At least, not yet. Maybe it gets better once you're "off book."

-- 10/16/12

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