Sunday 25 April 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Scourge

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Release Date: December 2020
RRP: $29.99/£32.99

With Cyclonus already released as part of the Kingdom line and Galvatron soon to follow later in the year, the Studio Series 86 range is going to run out of key characters from Transformers the Movie to release if Hasbro aren't careful. Especially when it comes to the Decepticon side of things, since there were far fewer new Decepticons in the film than there were Autobots. The villains are also looking seriously outnumbered in the first wave of figures from the 35th anniversary celebratory line, with Studio Series 86 Scourge being the only Decepticon amongst a sea of Autobots. A herald of Unicron, "Scourge the tracker" commands the Sweeps - an army of huntsmen built in his image.

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Studio Series 86 voyager class Scourge comes in the line's standard packaging, featuring both the Transformers: The Movie logo and a nice big “86” on the front and spine to let you know that this is a special offshoot of the line. Scourge is also designated as the fifth release in the Studio Series 86 range. The sports some great new artwork of Scourge, showing off his titanic proportions and those perfectly manicured pink nails in all of their glory. On the back you’ll find the usual Hasbro renders of the figure in both modes, as well as some text marking the release as "Heralds of Unicron" - meaning that it represents the scene where Scourge is born. The one sentence bio also confirms that Thundercracker was the one reformatted into Scourge, just incase there was any debate still around that (Cyclonus' identity is a much bigger mystery). Inside the box you’ll find Scourge and accessories neatly stored on a plastic tray, held in place with multiple elastic ties. Just behind the inner tray you’ll also find the instruction leaflet.

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Each Studio Series figure comes with a diorama backing card replicating a key scene from the movie, and in Scourge's case it's arguably one of the best. The scene in question is the reformatting of the fallen Decepticons into the heralds of Unicron, and Thundercracker's evolution into Scourge. The background is the green and black "reformatting" grid, with Kickback and Shrapnel mid-reformatting into Sweeps on either side. The display base is a standard block red plinth with the Transformers: The Movie logo on a black background. It's simple but looks great, so much so that I wish that there was a much bigger version coming out that would fit Scourge, Cyclonus and Galvatron in front of it. If only Galvatron was being released in Studio Series 86 rather than Kingdom then that might be a possibility, but alas it is clearly not meant to be.

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Scourge hasn't had a huge number of figures in the last 35 years but he's still had a couple in the last decade or so. The 2010 Generations figure tried to give him a modern update by changing the alt mode to an experimental aircraft, but the 2016 Titans Return figure brought it firmly back into G1 territory with a Cybertronian hovercraft alt mode. As you'd expect from a line named Studio Series 86 though this undoubtedly the most cartoon-accurate Scourge ever released - keeping things as close to his cartoon model as humanely possible. It's a little less cartoon accurate than some of the other Studio Series 86/War for Cybertron figures since so much has to go into the backpack to make the transformation work (the cartoon design just gave him wings and called it a day), but everything is pretty spot on. Finally Hasbro and TakaraTomy have delivered a Scourge with his pink fingertips! The colours of this release really are spot on as well - with Galvatron and Cyclonus is seems there's always a little bit of leeway on just what shade of purple they are, but the blues they've used for Scourge here are perfect. The crown jewel of the release though is that fantastic head sculpt in all its bearded glory. Interestingly, Scourge does not feature to identical weapon-holding hands - while the right one is moulded in that familiar peg hole shape, the left has been done in an outstretched almost-pointing pose. It's not uncommon to see Hasbro do this in other lines (Star Wars immediately springs to mind), but it's much less common to see with Transformers.

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Articulation is unfortunately a bit of a weaker area for Scourge but he's still a fairly impressive figure, altogether boasting;
- Ball jointed head
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips
- Single hinge elbows, knees and ankles
- Bicep and waist swivels
On top of that, the cannon on top of Scourge's head can rotate full 360 degrees and the front and back sections of his feet are hinged. These pieces (like everything going on with the wings) are more to do with the transformation though rather than the robot mode's poseability. Overall it's not a bad array of movement even if it pales in comparison to a lot of other recent Transformers releases, but the bigger problem stems from the fact it's not enough to fully compensate for just how back-heavy this figure is. The sad thing is most of this could have just been fixed by adding a couple of thigh swivels that would let the legs twist better and in turn give the feet more stability when balancing. You can get some twist out of the hips, but it's nowhere near enough and you've got to be careful of the pelvis sculpting scraping off the leg paint as well. The ankles have a little bit of tilt to make balancing easier, but it's nowhere near enough - in fact on my figure every time I bend the right foot it just snaps back into neutral position. Thankfully though Scourge does have a compatible display stand port conveniently located on the bottom of his pelvis, so if you're having any trouble with standing poses just plug a stand him and give him a flight pose instead. He'll probably look ten times more badass anyway.

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Scourge comes packaged with his signature disintegrator ray, which is coloured in dark blue plastic and has plenty of additional moulded detailing. It's a great likeness of both its cartoon form and the original G1 toy, albeit with a little more detail to bring it up to modern toy standards. The disintegrator ray can fit comfortably into his right fist, but as the left hand has been given the open gesture the same can't be said for that. The left hand can however sort of hold on to the grip closer to the barrel, giving you the option of some pretty nifty two-handed firing poses as well. But it's not just Scourge's size justifying that voyager class price tag - he also comes with a blast effect for his gun! Hasbro have been bolstering a lot their collector line figures with effect parts these days and Transformers are no exception. Scourge's effect is a twisting ray of fire moulded in translucent purple plastic, which plugs onto the tip of the disintegrator ray. It's not a very big piece but definitely makes firing poses that little bit cooler.

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Scourge has a 19-step transformation that doesn't have any difficult parts, but then isn't really an especially intuitive transformation to begin with. It goes just about as you expect it would looking at the robot mode, with the wings at the back effectively wrapping around the body to create the alt mode silhouette. There are a few little cool steps thought, like the shoulders unpegging to swing down and connect the arms to legs, as well various hinged panels that made up the head/neck/back assembly. Everything locks together nicely, and it's the kind of transformation you'd be able to memorise quickly and not rely on the instructions for. Scourge's disintegrator ray is able to peg onto the side of the vehicle, and then the blast effect can peg onto the small cannon on top.

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Whereas a lot of 1986 crew got excellent sci-fi alt modes, poor old Scourge got the short end of the stick and ended up with his weird Cybertronian hovercraft mode. It isn't bad by any means - there's just not a whole lot to it and the "bar of soap" comparisons that have been made over the years are pretty apt. Hasbro have added some nice moulded detailing along the top and sides of the vehicle to make it more aesthetically appealing, but unlike some other figures they haven't gone too overboard so he still has that nice smooth look to him. As far as display options go the stand port on the robot mode crotch is still completely accessible, making flight displays simple and effective to achieve. While Scourge's hovercraft doesn't have the same elegance or shelf presence as Cyclonus' spaceship mode, but nevertheless they look damn good together and it'll be even better when Galvatron finally joins them.

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As an added feature the front piece at the top of the alt mode can be lowered, revealing Scourge's head as he would sometimes appear in the cartoon. In this mode the head has very limited movability so can slightly tilt side to side, and the effect piece can still be clipped on as if Scourge were firing a blast from his head. It's not exactly a major gimmick but it's great that Hasbro have given collectors both display options, especially since some people out there have surely bought multiples for additional Sweeps (although it is rumoured we are getting a separate Studio Series 86 Sweep). If you were to display them all in alt mode, you could flip the head down on one to signify it's the leader of the pack. 

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Visually Transformers Studio Series 86 Scourge is the Scourge figure we've all been waiting for. Two modes that are extremely accurate to his cartoon model, and at long last the voyager class scaling he's so desperately needed for years. The significant backpack and balancing issues brought about by said backpack means he falls just short of perfect though, especially as these are things Hasbro could have possibly fixed with a few more joint implementations. It's hard to live up to the near-Masterpiece quality of Kingdom Cyclonus, but even with his flaws Scourge is the perfect companion piece and definitely another winner for the Studio Series 86 line. It's that good that I probably would buy it again if all these rumours of a Studio Series 86 Sweep are true, even though I have absolutely no idea how Hasbro are going to make it any different from this.

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