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Booster X10

Transformers: Real Gear Robots
by yo go re

No matter how cool a Transformer is, there's one constant flaw in their design. Whether they turn into a car, a truck, a plane, a gorilla or a planet, there's no escaping that what they turn into is a toy. A car the size of your hand? A planet smaller than a basketball? They all require a suspension of disbelief - all of them except the Real Gear Robots, that is.

Booster X10 is a mean-spirited trickster with a talent for toying with people. Sophisticated hypersonics allow him to distort any audio signal, Booster X10 even simple speech. His favorite trick is to wait in his victim's pocket and alter incoming sounds to cause accidents and arguments. He loves seeing how much trouble he can cause just by changing the sound of a word here, or making a racing ambulance sound like a barking dog.

Let's not beat around the bush, here. There's no use pretending. Hasbro may have called this little guy "Booster X10," but any fan who even glanced at this instantly recognized the truth - this is old G1 favorite Laserbeak. Yes, the bird who turned into a cassette tape and lived in Soundwave's chest. They can call it whatever they want - we know the real score.

Laserbeak was an audio storage device back in the day, and Booster X10 follows suit. yes, but will it play movies? Of course, the march of technology has made that old storage medium obsolete, so Booster is now an iPod. Or "an unbranded MP3 player" if you're one of those people with a hair up their butt about band-aids, Post-It notes, rollerblades or dumpsters. Lowercase velcro in the house, bitches! The player is sleek and slim... one might almost describe it as "nano" sized, if one were feeling cheeky. The body is an orange-red, with a black strip around the front edge. The device is 3" tall, 1¼" wide and ½" thick.

The player features a translucent orange "screen," which can present something of a problem - more on that later. There's also the familiar five-button click wheel interface, though the buttons aren't functional like they were on Spy Shot 6: pressing on them doesn't do squat. The buttons are black, with a silver frame around them. There's a little bit of robot kibble visible on the back of the player, but it's minimal.

normal headphone Because the MP3 player is so small, it wouldn't make for much of a toy. To help fill out the card, you also get a black, silver and orange earphone. A lot of folks are calling this a Bluetooth headset, but that's just because they want to seem hip. It's just a regular earphone, only lacking the cord because there's no place for it on the Transformer, not because it wouldn't have one. The headphone has a flexible rubber piece that slips over your ear to hold it in place. It fits comfortably, and barely has any weight at all.

Transformation is good: easy enough to master in one go, but fun enough to be worth doing. Open the hatch in the back, spread the case and fold out the legs. Finished! Zam! You've got yourself a little birdie! An exceedingly small peg history folds out of the bottom of the headset so it can plug onto the bird's back as a gun.

Boosterbeak is fairly well articulated, for a bestial TF. There are three joints for each wing and each leg, including true balljoints for the hips. The tail can be moved up and down, slightly, and the neck swivels like a real bird's. Ever seen a robin cock its head to the side to look for a worm in the dirt? Same thing, except this bird is eying larger prey. All that articulation means it's hard to get a perfect measure of the toy, but it stands about 2" tall and has a 7" wingspan.

The wings has translucent orange "feathers" clear which complement the panels of the screen. The solid orange bits make for a cohesive whole, and the black of the case is matched by spokes on the wings and the black neck and legs. His little beak is the sole spot of yellow, and his eyes are metallic. The gun barrel is silver, which fits with the spots on his neck and the rim around the body. This really is a smart looking Transformer.

One of the few drawbacks is that the bird's head is visible see the difference? through the MP3 player's screen. One of our readers, though, came up with a nice fix for that, though: since the neck swivels, just turn the head upsidedown before closing the case; the orange blends in, and you no longer have a big obvious black stripe throwing off the design. It's a small change, but it makes a difference. It also would have been nice if, instead of one large headphone, Booster X10 came with two small earbuds - the kind that fit inside your ear. The original Laserbeak had two guns mounted on his back, while this descendant only has one; a pair of earbuds could have become a pair of weapons, which would have been neat. Probably a choking hazard, though.

Laserbeak was easily one of the most popular G1 characters, highly recognizable because he was always hanging around, spying on the Autobots or perched on a Decepticon's shoulder. It seemed he would be forever lost to the past, but the Real Gear Robots have found a way to bring him back. This is an absolutely fun TF, one you can carry around without anyone looking at you weird. You know you want to. Get this palm-sized bird before he flies away again.


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