Friday, 30 January 2015

Who’s the smartest shark in town?

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Skybyte! That’s who!!

I really like Skybyte, he was an ace character in the Robots in Disguise TV show, being the second in command of the Decepticons (well, for a while anyway) and while I thought the Collector’s Club recolour of Skybyte was a nice effort, I really wanted to see more of the guy.  Luckily for me, someone at TakaraTomy felt the same way and now I have the Transformers Legends Gelshark (as this is the Japanese version!). Yaay!


As the first Transformer I actually bought from a physical shop in YEARS, (along with Roadbuster and Brainstorm), I was quite excited for this guy.  From internet pictures, he looks pretty nice and the shark mode just looks fantastic!  I see that TT have packaged these guys all in their alt modes, whereas I think Brainstorm and Roadbuster f rom Hasbro came in robot modes, as does Skybyte.  Thankyou google.  I decided from early on to await Gelshark over Skybyte, as I preferred the darker colours a tad more.

The box is tall and slim with blurb on it.  Really nice artwork and some basic pictures making him look pretty shmick.  Interesting to see that the box has both his Japanese name (Gelshark <==  Thats a hard 'G' as in 'Good.'  ) as well as his RID name of Sky Byte

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The back of the box has a little introduction for Skybyte for those who might just be browsing and don't know the character.  Since My Japanese reading skills are getting rusty, here is a (probably badly) translated section of the back of the box and his bio which is on the instruction manual.




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Gelshark from Car robots has joined the battle! The uniquely charactered bad guy! While being a bad guy, he was a likeable fellow in Car Robots, or as it was called overseas in RID (Robots In Disguise) where he was name SkyByte. In the comics this popular, unique character received a new design which was made into this toy. Finally he can make his triumphant return to Japan



Gelshark from Car robots has joined the battle!  The uniquely charactered bad guy!  While being a bad guy, he was a likeable fellow in Car Robots, or as it was called overseas in  RID (Robots In Disguise) where he was name SkyByte. In the comics this popular, unique character received a new design which was made into this toy.  Finally he can make his triumphant return to Japan.




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Function; Fanged Admiral

In this world, stories of brave warriors heroics deeds a number exist. If Gelshark told you his own stories, his book of deeds would be about as large as space and far outnumber those before him.

When Justice is destroyed, his pleasure will be expressed in an amusing poem!

[The final paragraph is a Haiku]

The sorrowful battle cries belong to only to the shark.

さめざめと
勝って泣くのは
鮫だけよ

The Haiku is very clever.
さめざめ- Samezame (sorrowful)    と to (and) [Samezame is a clever pun, as 'same' is Japanese for shark.]
勝って泣く - Kattenaku (war Cry) のは nowa (is given[ish])
鮫だけよ - samedakyo (Just the shark!)

That is a frikking great touch!  I approve Highly!!!!!

So, let’s have a look at the guy.  Just after ripping him out of the box, I must admit that I like the shark mode quite a lot.  This character was a reuse of a Beast Wars figure, cleverly name Cyber Shark and as you would expect with a name like tat, he is all sharky and robotty at the same time! Thumbs up! 

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Gelshark in the show was a busy little fellow and  took on a few cute dolphin like traits, such as jumping out of the water.  Now, a long long time ago, I learnt off the internet that sharks can’t physically bend in the way that he is posed.  But that’s ok, because Gelshark is a CYBERshark.

I really dig it, it’s faithful to his character, dynamic and adds a little bit of difference to him as an animal character.  The only downer is,  if you want to display him in shark mode, a stand MUST be used.  The good news is though, he has a hole fro Tamaishi nation/figma stands to fit.  I used a figma stand, and it’s a tad loose in the hole, but was OK.

Now we have a look at the shark skin sculpting, its full of delicious details and I love it.   There isn’t much articulation in this mode.  His pectoral fins can jiggle a little bit, but are kept in place by the panels on the side of his body.  There is a joint in the tail, which allows more bend, but I think that is a slight addition from his robot mode elbow joint only. I will say it does look ok and was probably designed with both modes in mind.  I really dig that they kept the Dorsal fin on the top of his robot head!
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One aspect I find rather interesting is that his robot hand is visible in the shark mode.  I first thought it was a bit lazy, but the fact of the matter is, I like it now.  It fits into the robotic parts theme of the character as his fingers stick out the shell (First Pic below).

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He has some nice not painted tech details on his skin, which is fine, as it looks like they are under the skin there and since he has a massive load of silver on the flanks, stuff over his head would just look too busy.  I dig the beady eyeball in the shark head along with the stripes, as it is reminiscent of his robot mode eyes.  Cool!

The mouth opens and closes too!  There is a big hole in his mouth, so you can actually have him munch on stuff!!  Looking at it now, I wonder if they originally intended to have his missile launchers in there at one time, as there’s nothing there now.  As and added bonus, you can flip over the nose to expose his Predacon symbol.  Or have him fire his “Tsunami Blaster”.  Add to that, he has double teeth, just like a  real shark has rows of ever growing teeth!  AWMAHGAWD!

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The tail has that annoying missile lodged in it, for many of my photos.  Luckily when you take it out it looks much better.  The tails has a spinning gimmick which works fairly well and a nice homage to the original toy’s  gimmick.  Genrally I leave the missile out somewhere as it only ever fits on that one spot…  And it just looks stupid.  What's it supposed to be??

  It could be a homage to his tsunami blaster?  It’s a missile with a swirly thing around it…

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Generally, I love the CRAP out of the Shark mode, it’s PERFECT!  Well, almost.  The underside is a bit bleaurgh.  I dislike the gill pieces on the underbelly.  They  don’t match up and aren’t designed to by the looks of things.  More annoyingly they don’t even add anything awesome to robot mode.  I’ll get to that later.

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In shark mode he is quite long and manages to fill out his ‘voyager’ sized status satisfactorily.  Slap him next to other Voyagers and he doesn’t disappoint.
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OKAY!  Shark mode is ACE!  Let’s see how his robot mode is!

変身!!

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Transformation was not terribly fun.  Lots of panel unplugging and I don’t know if I’m just doing it wrong, but the wings really get in the way when trying to position his arms.  That includes going back to shark mode as well.  The configuration above is the one the instructions stop at, however the “wing” panels have a few joints in them to allow for various options.  I folded them in half and had them as wings for most of this photo shoot and only discovered right at the end a way that I preferred them.   Which is down below, as well an extra that kind of gets them out of the way.

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From the front this thing looks awesome!  It looks how I’d like an updated Skybyte to look, it's bulky, sharky and menacing.  Sadly this all falls down when looking at him from the back just like FOC Voyager Grimlock, he a little bit lacking.  By far and away the most horrible part is his calves!  He doesn’t have any!!!  The way the  lower legs are formed are a shamble!  It’s unbelievable!

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Any advantages gained from the not-bad articulation and big feet is lost as his knees just come apart EVERY TIME you  touch them.  What’s worse is the knee from the front if you peer close enough.   It looks like it should plug in to the thigh, but it doesn’t, and just ends up hanging there, coming apart when you move.  However, if you are clever, you can cheat and get a really deep knee bend from it.  The thing that really annoys me though is it looks like the shins should join together for the shark mode, or transform somehow to improve ONE of the modes,  but they don’t.   They’re just kind of crap for both modes, not really working very well for either…..  The only thing they add is colour in the right spot!

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The arms aren’t too bad either, although he does suffer from a hollow and flimsy arm on the right that is stuck with a bicep curl grip I also find it interesting that he has a thumb that can be independently moved from the rest of the hand.  The forearm is made from panels, much like Prime Cliffjumper, thereby making it a bit crappy and weak, but as long as the joints stay strong, it should be ok.  The claw arm comes of a bit better and can be wiggled around to point wherever you like it to.  I also like that the fins are articulated a bit giving him a kind of grip action.

The superfluous shoulder points, which hide away in the shoulders for shark mode are a nice addition, adding to his fin/fish theme.

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Have a look at the crappy arm and elbow setup.  It make me a bit sad, especially considering how eccentric Skybyte’s personality is.  Think of the cool poses he could doe with a wrist swivel in there!  The wrist gun is kinda cool.  Something new, but I don’t mind at all!

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One other little irritation is the top of the shark mouth leaves a large gap in his chest if you look from it from below, I keep thinking I’ve mis-transformed him when I look at it. Again making me think there would have been a launcher in the original plans.

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Quality wise I have no complaints about him.  There is a bit of plastic colour swirl on the blue of the shark skin, but I’m willing to overlook it as it seems marine-themed enough and the slightly metallic plastic is just sexy as!  There is the occasional sloppy paint app, but it’s so minor it’s not really worth complaining about especially when you take into account the  amount of sculpted detail on this dude!

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Really that’s about the worst bits of this figure.  Ambient sculpting on this guy is great and the colours get me excited in ways I never really thought they could!

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The face sculpt is just fantastic, with all the teethy grimacing one could want!  Its a bit hard to photograph as the shark head is kind of angled up a little, making it look like his head looks down.  Really the head is straight.  sadly it is only hinged, so no up/down looking for this guy!  It’s great to see that even the side details are there on his noggin’ deeelightful!!

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He can even pull off a rather nice bunch of poses as well, which is pretty awesome
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Just like in shark mode, Old Gelshark looks a good size with other Transformers.  As a second in command, I think he should be appropriately imposing, and he is!!

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These guys should be friends I think!

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My final thoughts on this guy are:
Shark mode is fantastic!  Robot mode is pretty good, actually the top half is great, and the legs suck, making the robot mode acceptable.  I’m glad he’s pose-able enough to make up for the seriously crap leg design.  He looks the part in both modes and exudes Skybyte/Gelshark personality perfectly.  It’s a good update of the character, but not a perfect update by any means.

In the end, he is an above average attempt to tickle the feels of those interested in this guy.  Just don’t expect him to blow you away like Springer did or else you’ll be disappointed.  Temper your expectations when you get him and everything will be just fine.

2 comments:

  1. I really wanted to want this figure, since I tend to like all things weird and asymmetrical, but I saw the US version in Forbidden Planet in London recently, and it really doesn't look good. Aside from it being made largely of gaping chasms between panels, the paint job is kinda dull. Takara Tomy's certainly looks better but, wow, that is one gappy guppy...

    Who knows, maybe some enterprising third party company will create the missing torso gun and throw on something to fill the spaces in the left forearm and both calves...

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    1. Yeah, I agree. I have left mine in Shark mode, as those legs, I just can't get over them.... So spindly.

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