Friday, May 16, 2008

Weekly Transformers Feature: Robots in Disguise Scourge

I've mentioned repaints before. Put most simply, a repaint is a toy that uses the same mold as another toy, but has been given different colors. Since the physical toy itself is essentially the same, a lot of fans don't think very highly of repaints, but if the right colors and/or characterization is applied to a repaint, it can actually be quite successful.

Case in point: Scourge from the "Robots in Disguise" line. Scourge is a repaint of one of the more popular Optimus Prime figures from the Generation Two era. Scourge's similarity to the "Robots in Disguise" version of Optimus Prime (who used a different mold) was explained in the corresponding cartoon by the simultaneous scanning of RiD Optimus Prime and a nearby tanker as Scourge was bring brought online. I'm not sure why they decided to name the character "Scourge," which had previously been used for a rather different character, but who am I to judge? Although Scourge was a major character in the cartoon, Hasbro had some considerable difficulty finding a way to bring this toy to American shelves. Basically, the toy was too large for them to be comfortable selling as a mass release, and they weren't confident that it would sell well enough to be profitable. Eventually, a deal was struck with Toys R Us to release the toy as an exclusive.

As I've already suggested in mentioning Scourge's cartoon origin, the toy transforms into a long-nose truck with a tanker. As is true with most (but by no means all) truck-type Prime toys, the truck is the part that transforms into the robot, and the trailer is a separate piece. This is definitely a toy that I wish I had a proper plexiglass case with which to display the toy in. The chrome is really nice, but the black collects dust like a magnet. I do have some cases that I get from Big Lots with some regularity for about $6 (you can see some of them in the picture in this post), but they're too small for this toy, and such cases as I've found that are large enough to do this toy justice are prohibitively expensive.

But I digress. As I said, the tanker is a separate piece from the robot/truck. The tanker opens up to form a base, following the pattern of Prime-type robots since the original. This base features a missile in the center that can be launched by pressing down on a bellows hooked up just behind with a hose. There is also a battery of small missiles on the right that can be launched with a series of buttons (I find these things are very sensitive, and in fact am unable to store this unit with the missiles in place without at least two of them firing all on their own!), and another battery on the left that can shoot a series of disks by turning a knob. The Autobots have their work cut out for them if they want to attack this unit!

Eagle-eyed readers may have already noticed that Scourge is the same robot as was seen in this post in the very last picture. That toy is the small version, created specifically as Scourge by Hasbro when they still weren't sure if they were going to find way to sell this larger toy.

Although a repaint, Scourge was a popular enough concept to start something of a trend. Ever since the release of this toy, it has become increasingly common to repaint Optimus Prime toys into some "evil" version. At first, the name "Scourge" was reused, but the more common name for a "evil Prime repaint" in recent years has been "Nemesis Prime," a name which certainly does parody "Optimus Prime" much more closely.

I do have a confession to make, though. I've called Scourge a repaint, using the toy as an example of what can be done simply by changing the colors on an existing mold, assuming no other changes. Although it's true that the Japanese version of this toy (which had been released about a year before the line even started in the US) was indeed a true repaint, this US version did make one small mold change. The disks I mentioned at the end of the last paragraph had originally been molded with the Generation Two Autobot logo on them. In the Japanese cartoon, the prominent use of this faction symbol on those disks was explained by making "Scourge's" faction (he wasn't called "Scourge" there) use an upside-down version of that logo as their own. If you just hold the disk upside down, who'll know the difference? When Hasbro brought the line to America in 2001, they decided to make all of the vehicle-type bad guys "Decepticons," reviving the enemy faction from Generation One, which at that point hadn't been used for a number of years. Since they used the classic Decepticon logo, the Generation Two Autobot logos would have been out of place, so the American version of Scourge removed the logos altogether, making the disks simple circles. Still, that's a very minor change that makes little difference to the enjoyment of this toy. Next week, I'll demonstrate how a remold can significantly change a toy and make it distinctly special when compared to the original version!

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