Saturday, 10 December 2016

Titans Return Titanmaster Sawback

Titans Return Sawback

One of the main inspirations behind the Titanmasters is the Autobot Master Warriors released exclusively in Japan at the same time as the Headmasters in 1987. Sold separately they are one new Headmaster head which can be used as a substitute or replacement for an existing Headmaster. Kirk, Rodney & Loafer are fairly similar to the original Headmasters in that they transform into robots but Toraizer, Shuffler & Lione are different, they turn into animal robots: a tiger, elephant and lion respectively. It's not altogether a surprise to see them being done in Titans Return as Titanmaster though I have to admit that I thought they were on the lower end of possibility on people's wish lists. Shuffler was shown at New York Comic Con 2016 while Lione was revealed earlier in the year at San Diego Comic Con and was renamed Sawback, matching the recently released RiD Lion Minicon.

The Titanmaster itself deviates from the original Lione by giving Sawback a humanoid robot form but, in a nod to the original, gives him a lion's head which means he'll line up nicely alongside Twinferno's Titanmaster Daburu. The colours are in line with the original too, mainly orange with a yellow chest and yellow upper legs. The head mode is pretty close to the original, moulded in orange but they've painted the face yellow to differentiate it from the rest of the head. It's a bit different but it works better and it matches the head of his accessory's beast mode. The detailing on the head is good down to having what would of been the original toy's lion head embedded in the forehead. As an orange head you instinctively want to use him with Sentinel Prime but annoyingly the shades of orange are just slightly different, Sawback's being a tad paler. However the yellow on the face helps tie in with Sentinel's yellow highlights so it just about works.

Onto the accessory: I haven't seen a Transformer packaged in such an odd way for such a long time! You might think it's Sawback's shield mode but it's not! Both lion legs point down, with the tail at the bottom, handle at the top and lion face the wrong way up! Not exactly helping to sell the toy....

So start by turning the toy the other side up, so the face is looking at you the right way up. Then swing the set of legs which are now at the bottom back and down 180°. The legs are connected to each other and the shield's handle so they'll move as one piece. You'll run into trouble half way through as the handle makes contact with the Lion head's beard but help them pass each other and you'll be ok. That contact is however quite annoying and I don't see a way round it. Fold the rear legs down behind the toy. Fold the silver wings down and bring them together under the Lion head.

In hand the shield is much better than it looked in the pictures and is surprisingly solid. It's not without an issue though! Most Transformer weapons have the 5mm peg inserted into the top of the hole. Sawback is different for the lion head to be the right way up on the shield facing you the handle needs to be inserted from the bottom of the hand which means he can only be used with figures with a hole right the way through their fist. Sawback's handle also needs decent contact with the hand hole to hold him in place. I tried him with Blaster and he slipped out the fist! He was fine with Sentinel Prime though. Yes you could hold him the other way up but then the face on the shield would look wrong. The handle also isn't that far out from the back of the shield so larger hands, like on Combiner Wars figures, can't hold him and figures without a 5mm peg won't be able to either.... but there again I don't think any toy in the Generations line should be without 5mm peg hole hands.

From shield mode fold the legs down under the toy and stand it. Separate the silver wings and fold them so they point backwards over the rear legs. Fold the Lion head forward. Fold the Titanmaster into head mode and slide it into the rear of the Lion's head so it faces down: there's a square hole for the Titanmaster's head and pegs on the top of it's mane for it's feet holes.

The way the Titanmaster's arms and legs integrate with the lion head to form a complete and textured mane is really rather good. It's just about passable as a lion without the Titanmaster and really works with it in place. The only real issue then is a big gap in the rear of the lion's body but that just provides a space for a second Titanmaster to ride in. The silver wings, which are mounted on ball joints, can be folded forward to provide guns at the side of the head just like Beast Wars II Lioconvoy. Articulation otherwise is a little limited: the rear legs move independently of each other but the front legs are connected to each other and the shield handle. The shield handle is now resting against the Titanmaster so it can't move forward, and thus the legs can't move back. You could move the front legs forward but that would then hit anything riding behind the head. Best treat it as a static item.

Sawback also has a vehicle mode. Start by removing the Titanmaster. Press down on the tail to raise up the rim of the rear of the body and fold the Lion head back into it before closing the rim back round the head. Fold all four legs back. Turn it over onto the lion's back. Fold the wings, which are orange on their underside, out to the side. Sit the Titanmaster in the front of the vehicle with his feet on the yellow pegs visible through the hole.

This is very much a "stretch your imagination" mode but it appears they were aiming for some sort of Cybertronian aircraft with the shield handle forming the gun poking out the front. A bit odd and a nice bit of fun.

The main purpose of the toy was to provide new version of Lione. I think they've managed that. OK the head doesn't turn into a Lion any more which is a shame but the lion theme is still there in the head's design and the accessory. Shields are rare in Transformers so the accessory makes a nice add on and the Lion mode looks nice. From there the plane is a bit of extra fun. Sawback hadn't done much for me from his pictures but in hand he's a lot of fun.

Sawback is a Wave 3 Titans Return Titanmaster sold with Fangry, Overkill & Ptero (Swoop).

Future Repaints

Several repaints suggest themselves: Blue as the aforementioned RiD Sawback, White & Gold as Lionconvoy, Black & Yellow as Predacon Leader Razorclaw, brown & yellow as Beats Wars Prowl and all white in a homage to the exclusive version of the original Lione. I can see an all white set of him, Shuffler and whichever other Autobot Master Warriors are done being lined up for a 2017/18 convention exclusive somewhere!

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