Friday, 17 August 2012

Arms Micron Balo

Phil's Arms Micron Balo Review

The first thing that occurred to me when I saw Balo's Character mode, like all the Decepticons an animal, was "It's a four legged spider!" It was only later that I saw the little tinsy tiny head with horns on and discovered that he's meant to be a bull/buffalo. Arms Micron has taken a different approach to Animal Minicons that Classics did: Classics went for realistic animal modes whereas Arms Micron has used the mechanical style more familiar to fans of Generation 1 Transformers. Meaningful articulation is minimal: the head & tail both raise. While all 4 legs are jointed twice at the hips none of them are useful in posing the toy as an animal. On the right side of his body is a clear brown hexagonal crystal under which his Decepticon symbol would go. He comes as an unassembled sheet of parts: 12 of which are grey (4 legs, 4 hips, tail, body, head and horns) plus the clear crystal. Be careful when assembling him: both his head and tail need to go on a specific way round. I got the head the wrong way up and had to pull it off to assemble it properly and as a result the neck clip on mine is stressed.

Transformation (official weapons mode): fold the tail forward onto the body. Fold the horns forward. Fold legs and hip up so the stretch straight out to the sides.

Balo's official weapons mode is sort of a Shuriken and sort of a shield. As well as a 5mm handle on the back there's a traditional 5mm Minicon peg with a bore down the middle of it so you can attach other Minicons onto the front of it. And really it does absolutely nothing for me. Sorry. Fortunately Balo has a second weapons mode.

Transformation (unofficial weapons mode): From official weapons mode fold the legs inwards so they come together covering up the Minicon peg.

Yup it's not in the instructions but the moulding on the outside of the legs makes it pretty clear that Balo aught to be used as a drill. He's a similar size and shape to Throttler, Power Core Combiners Sledge's Minicon. Where Throttler has a minicon socket on his rear, Balo has a 5mm plug in the middle for him to be held by, and if that doesn't suit the robot you want to use him with then you can always fold the tail out as a handle under the weapon.

Balo's a good Micron to be using as the end point in a combined weapon and it's almost like he and Megatron's Minicon Gora and combining them together is a match made in heaven. Another decent match is Balo, opened up in shield mode with Throttler mounted on him and Balo's legs closed round him.

Balo was originally Sold with Arms Micron toy AM-06 Skywarp and bears the M-06 marking on his frame.

Shadow Micron Balo

The first repaint version of Balo was moulded in clear dark plastic. This toy was a give-away at ToysRUs Japan if you spent 3000yen on Transformers Prime toys. There were 3 other translucent Shadow Arms Micron repaints that day: C.L., R.A. & Gora.

You know what Balo's creature mode looks like moulded in these colours? It's the Transformers version of The Shadows from Babylon 5!

AMW-05 Balo

In July 2012 Balo was released individually in the Arms Mciron series recoloured in a sandy brown.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Arms Micron CL

Phil's Arms Micron CL Review

Arms Micron CL

CL is the Micron supplied with the Japanese Takara/Tomy version of Cliffjumper. Like all the Autobot Microns his character mode is a robot with joints at the knees, hips & shoulders. He's got 9 pieces on his red frame: the body & backpack with two arms, two upper legs and two lower legs plus the hexagonal clear orange panel that goes on his back hidden under his backpack. The limited number of pieces means this is probably a good Arms Micron to build first.... The frame is labelled M-03 which matches Cliffjumper's numbering as AM-03. He comes with a sticker sheet which I've not bothered to apply because my stickering ability is very poor now.

The chest of CL has a 5mm peg sticking out of it with a bore hole down the middle meaning it can be used as a traditional Minicon peg: most of the 5mm pegs on these toys are solid posts. He's got 5mm holes on each shin and, worryingly, a 5mm bore right the way through his crotch. Maybe I should be calling it "she" instead of "he".... Yes I have just posed it in an incredibly rude position with a Minicon with a 5mm post for a head. No, I'm not telling you which one.

Transformation: Fold the backpack up over his head. Straighten the arms and legs. Fold the hips back one click from straight. Fold the lower legs back over the top of the upper legs and hands.

CL now forms a tri barrelled launcher in weapons mode, similar to the wrist mounted Tri Cannons on Cliffjumper's box art but in hand held Targetmaster like form. The three barrels are the same size & length and it's almost a shame that the panel on them doesn't turn. Each barrel ends in a 5mm peg hole giving you the opportunity to combine extra Minicons with him. One tiny criticism here: I'd have space the barrels just slightly wider and less sloped so the space between them formed a fourth 5mm mounting point at the centre.... It's not my OCD, honest, I just think Balo would look better mounted between the tubes in drill mode. There's a further two 5mm ports on top of the back of the toy and another underneath, just behind the handle.

I love the weapons mode which works great as a hand held or shoulder mounted cannon. Robot is decent enough for the size. It's only real problem is it comes with Cliffjumper and that means it costs a fair bit to import.

Shadow Micron Ciel

The first repaint version of CL was moulded in clear dark plastic. This toy was a give-away at ToysRUs Japan if you spent 3000yen on Transformers Prime toys. There were 3 other translucent Shadow Arms Micron repaints that day: R.A., Gora & Balo.

AMW04 Ciel 2

Fortunately four months after his initial release with Cliffjumper, Ciel (the spelling of the kit's name varies depending where you look) got an individual re-release as part of the Arms Micron Weapons series. The frame for the toy was released in a little plastic bag by itself bringing home the resemblance to the old Zoids Customise Parts series. Ciel is here recoloured in dark green and even though his box shows him now pared with Bulkhead I think that the choice of colour together with the shape of the weapon make me think that this a homage to the weapon that Rhinox used during Beast Wars.

Possible Repaints

I'd like to have all the gun and weapons Microns re-released in grey/black, more neutral colours that could be used with a wider range of toys. I'd love to have two of these in a suitable colour to use as shoulder cannons for Powermaster Optimus Prime.