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Robots in Disguise
by yo go re

When the Transformers' initial popularity waned, they quietly departed American airwaves and toy shelves. However, Hasbro decided they could get some more money out of the existing molds, so they created "Generation 2." Comprising redeco'd Generation 1 bots mixed with new, technologically-advanced toys, G2 gave fans who stuck around a few real gems; the rest of us only had nostalgia to see us through a decade-long gap before Autobots and Decepticons would once again transform and roll out.

Scourge is a no nonsense field commander. Formed during the creation of the Decepticons when Megatron scanned both a tanker truck and Optimus Prime. Because of this mix up, Scourge resents the Autobots and especially their leader. He's cunning, dangerous and cruel - if there is any Autobot goodness within his circuits, he covers it up in acts of destruction. His battle station is a fully loaded weapon and high tech equipment arsenal. Furiously wields his signature sword in battle.

Scourge (a TRU exclusive from the Robots in Disguise line) is the North American release of his Japanese counterpart, "Black Convoy," who was actually a repaint of the G2 Laser Optimus Prime. For a figure whose design is at least 10 years old, Scourge really looks good. His engineering must have been a marvel back in the day; he moves just as well as the newer RiD figures, without the clunky appearance or awkward transformation.

In his vehicle mode, Scourge looks just like a tanker truck. There are no immediate giveaways that he's a giant robot, which makes sense if these characters really are trying to take over the world. He's black with metallic blue highlights, a much better choice than the hot pink that Laser Optimus had. The cab section of the truck is 8¼" long, and the tank is about 9". Hooked together, you have a vehicle that is 15" long. But really, no one is buying Scourge because they want to play with trucks; you're here for the big, badass robot.

Scourge's transformation is classically easy: pull down the legs, pull the arms out to the sides, and flip up his head. You're done! It's exceedingly easy, right on par with the original Optimus Prime.

It sounds like he should be a fairly immobile lump with such a simplistic transformation, but he's more articulated than you'd imagine; shoulders, biceps, elbows, neck, waist, hips and knees all move freely and give you plenty of playability, while his big flat feet will help you keep him upright. The figure stands 7¾" tall, to the top of his shoulder block pylons.

As I've said (and said and said), this figure started as Optimus Prime, and his design reflects that. It used to be that the cab's windshield became Prime's chest, and the grill became abs. Scourge has a differently designed cab, so his actual windshield and grill are on his back and shoulders; his torso, however, still looks like Prime's. That's an attention to detail that I really appreciate - Scourge's ancestry is obvious, no matter which side he's on.

Just like the original Prime, Scourge's trailer turns into a battle platform. The cool thing is it almost does this all on its own: flip down the front of the tanker, press a well-concealed button, and spring-loaded tabs pop the trailer up and out.

The base has three projectile launchers - missiles, rockets, and discs - and enough ammunition for each. The missile launcher can hold five of the 10(!) included missiles, and launch any of them individually. The disc launcher shoots its five pieces more than a foot away, and the pneumatic missile launcher (it's powered by a tiny bellows) fires nearly a yard. Lest you hurt yourself (or, you know, whoever is dumb enough to stand in front of a firing missile), the missile tip is made from incredibly soft rubber. There are storage areas for the extra ammo molded into the base, and they keep everything in place in truck mode as well.

The gun on the top of the tower can be removed, and the peg is sized to fit in Scourge's hand. He also has a bright red sword, which stores underneath the truck in vehicle mode. The gun and sword are both made from translucent plastic, a holdover from Laser Prime's battery-operated light-up feature (Scourge still has the button, but the electronics have been removed and the battery compartment is glued shut).

Actually, this isn't the first Scourge toy released here in the Western hemisphere - there was a tiny version in a two-pack released months before his bigger brother. He transforms the same, just at ⅓ the size. Okay, fairly cool, but still doesn't hold a candle to the big boy.

The somewhat mediocre Robots in Disguise has slipped from airwaves, replaced with the even more mediocre Armada. Sadly, it won't be long before the toys go the same route. I'm really happy that I got Scourge when I had the chance. With an outstanding combination of design and functionality, this could be the best Transformer released to date.

-- 09/27/02

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