Sunday 6 November 2016

Transformers Legends Nightbird (Shadow) & Comic Translation

Nightbird.  This figure really surprised as I never expected her to be made into a toy.  Coming from the G1 cartoon, Nightbird was a one episode (Enter the Nightbird, a reference to the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon?) ninja robot made by a Japanese professor for some reason.

Because she is a macguffin! 

Nightbird also took me by surprise in that they’ve remoulded the Arcee mould to make her. 

Somehow it works.  Crazy I know

Majik, that’s how.
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First off the box.  It’s a smaller box and looks pretty nice.  She is packaged in vehicle mode and is quite striking.  The colours of the toy manage to contrast nicely with the red of the box.

The back of the box says this:
Nightbird (76)Function: Ninja
The man made Ninja servant robot, Nightbird,  from The Transformers cartoon has been summoned in a new form!Discover Nightbird again, complete with a new fresh head sculpt and body.  She's been reborn perfectly with a new vehicle mode, new weapons and new equipment. 

NightbirdBioAs usual with these Legends there is the Comic and instruction manual.  As a new character, the bio is rather long, giving a bit of history, mainly of the cartoon, but no personality.  It makes me wonder if she is just supposed to be A.I in a ninja body or what.  Anyhoo, her bio reads like this:

Nightbird was created by the Japanese scientist Professor Hamada.  Megatron’s plan to steal the Prof Hamada’s data and make his own clone, Nightbirdshadow was successful. But the rest of his plan was foiled by the Autobots and the efforts of their leader, Optimus Prime.However Optimus Prime’s plan came across strong resistance in the form of the perfected chassis of an impervious, skilled ninja, inside which darkness lied.  During battle, it was discovered almost too late that Megatron’s original plan seemed to be, to assassinate Optimus Prime.STR  6INT   4SPD  9END  6RNK  4CRG  9FPR   8SKL   7

The comic isn’t bad at all and  here it is:

Hooollyyyyy , here’s a version with English text.
NightbirdEnglishComiArrowsNightbird English
With directional arrows and without.
Some notes on the comic.
  • It has an English text version of the Terakura company name, meaning I have written it wrong in some of my text descriptions. 
  • While Megatron admits to stealing Nightbird’s plans, his new model (ie, the one that is the toy) is called Nightbirdshadow. 
  • Nightbird uses signs for speaking,  She is a mute character by the looks of things.
  • The assembly line has Nightbird in various states of undress.  Or being slowly equipped with armour!
  • Official Nightbird appliance on a blister card! 
  • Actually she’s classed as a household appliance, though she also be referred to as a household car (but she only has 2 seats).
  • The section with BW Megs and Megs wondering how the rampaging happend is a bit tricky to read.     BW Megs doesn’t know about the spark, Megs is factual about it. Then second panel, Megs is a bit surprised at BW Megs embarrassed face, they then yell a each other.
  • The apology conference is standard procedure for a company (especially big ones) to apologise to the public.  They bow profusely and stuff like that.  There have been a couple of recalls required for cars in the past 5 or so years, so I think that’s a play on them.
  • Translation wise, a hard section was finding the meaning of ドジっ子 (doj ko) and making it into an equivalent English sentence.The definite hardest section was the bottom left bubble of the failure skills.  A literal translation is “Cicada technique.”  My dictionary also has “man of the world, the real world, temporal things.”  Google translate was also of very little help. No surprises there.  Turns out it’s a cultural reference of Ninja skills (where they escape by leaving a dummy/their clothes behind, hence the Nightbird under a banana peel, the log body armoured and one hiding behind the corner.), had to get some help for that one.
  • Last panel is a TV advert.

Now onto the toy.
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Whipping her out of the box and I will say that I love this vehicle mode, despite it being totally Arcee’s car with a new bonnet.  The silver colour is just beeeeyoooootiifuuul and it looks really nice next o the black.  I would love to have a car (coloured like this!).

Nightbird (54)Nightbird (55)

From the top she looks great, that’s due to the fact that the majority of the car is a shell piece. I do like the little seats and moulded dash board, that’s very nice. The sides blend well, well fairly well considering how the robot thighs are exposed here and the robot mode definitely goes for a female frame.

So many damn weapons.
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She comes with  a total of six weapons, two swords, two sai and two guns.  The swords and guns are the same as Arcee and they can ALL be mounted on the vehicle mode.  Wow. 

The guns stash underneath, and kind of keep the vehicle together.  The big one forms a part of the rear bumper and the smaller one plugs into the body to give the hand something to clip on to. However on mine, the gun needs to be wedged in so much, I can barely get it out when I want to transform her. 

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Now I just leave it off.  Her hands are fine without.  The swords and sai can be plugged on the car chassis.  If you like, you can also plug the sai under the front of the car too.  I kinda like this weaponsied car mode. Normally I’m against translucent plastic for weapons, but they work well with the colours of the car this way.

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Underneath is full of robot.  But that’s the way these lady Transformers usually work, so just don’t look underneath it.  I used Arcees’s pink gun to highlight the storage.  It almost manages to form part of the bumper.So car mode is really nice, it has the retro 80s future vehicle mode going on but how is robot mode?

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Transformation is sometimes fairly standard and in some ways rather clever.  It consists of folding the vehicle panels onto the back, lengthening the legs and unfolding the arms, BUT the cool part comes with the placement of the bonnet over her back.  You pull her shoulders and arms down, and then the bonnet of the car disconnects from the side panels and flips over.  Then the whole piece slides down over the torso area, essentially like a shirt.  Or in this case Ninja garb.  Whatever Ninja clothes are called.  If I remember correctly, one of the designers for Arcee designed it to do this as he wanted to invoke the feeling of her putting an apron on over her head.  While the apron isn’t a good fit for Nightbird, it does work if you think of it as armour.  The apron idea IS a good fit for Arcee though, especially if you see her in the Japanese Headmasters show.

Kunoichi MODE.
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The brilliant colours of the vehicle mode just look fantastic in robot mode.  Plus its give a bit of purple at the waist with her yellow ninja stars holding thing (from the cartoon anyway).  The nice thing is, the purple waist manages to match with the placement of the purple seats in vehicle mode.  Erm, I mean, like, they are placed in the middle.  What I find rather interesting is how despite the fact the bonnet is just chilling on her back there, the black manages to deflect attention away from it, making it look more inconspicuous.  Well, from the front anyway.

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Interestingly, they have opted to give her a nice little bottom.  Hrm, with car wheels sticking out the back of her thighs.  Okay. It’s quite interesting to see how this has worked.  In a way, the little cut section in her calves could well be a link to stocking lacing as well.  Hrm….

A few things I really dig.
The fantastic
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OMG, it is so beautiful. Thanks to the huge chunk of plastic in the back of her head.

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The head sculpt may look a bit odd when you move her head, but the idea is that she is wearing a ninja’s hood, and her chin represents the cloth that would go from the lower section and tuck into their shirt, to hide the neck.

Joints rundown.
  • She has some jointsBall neck and shoulders.
  • Hinged elbows, hips, knees and ankles.
  • Swivel above the knee and bicep.
  • Erm, that’s it.

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OK. Nightbird is a bit lacking in the joint selection.  Especially when compared to her Legends friends.  A shame.  However, the good news is when accessory-less(and even with careful accessory placement), she makes very good use of what she has.  The hips though are really limited, you get forward and back motion and a tiiiiny bit of outwards motion.

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Too many bloody weapons!(Words I'd never thought I'd say)

Nightbird (3)Nightbird (1)

Are words I thought I would never say about a Transformer, but that is what Nightbird has. The sai are understandable.  The swords are too, although I don’t really like their design.  The guns are used to make the vehicle more stable so I guess their required…. But still…

The problem is Nightbird has many places to stash weapons (this is good)

  BUT the weapons have bad connection points (this is bad)

She has holes in her forearms, backpack, thighs and stashed by her butt.  While the sai and guns are good for pretty much anywhere, the swords connection tab is on the back of the blade, meaning she has fans or something sticking out from the legs.  It looks bloody silly.

Nightbird (18)

If you canonically connect the sai to her arms, you’ll find they conflict a lot with the backpack.

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The swords conflict with her arms.

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The guns look kind of cool!

Some of these problems are easily solved by just dropping some of the weapons off and not using them.
Putting them in her hands….

Reveals an odd issue.  I guess to give her small hands and keep some strength in them, she has a ledge of sorts so when you  put the weapons in her hands, she is kind of loosely holding them in a rather unconvincing for a ninja way...

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With Arcee, I managed to angle the guns a tad so it looks a bit more convincing. 

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But It’s tricky to do with Nightbird’s swords though.  This also stops her holding the weapons upside down, which although relatively inaccurate, should look cool and the fact she can’t do it makes me sad.

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The sai are moulded a bit differently compensating for the ledges in her hands and allowing her to hold them better than the other weapons.

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Sculpting wise there isn’t a whole lot going on, how back is made up car panels and she does have a new chest piece, but there is only relatively plain sculpting on it.  But that’s fine, since her amazing silver paint manages to make up for all that anyway! 

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It’s also rather interesting in an instance like this to see how much difference the colour makes to make one toy into another.

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As you can see, I rather like her.  Despite her limited articulation, there are ways to make good use of what she has.  The weapons are best left off and I would have much preferred to see her come with a couple of shuriken or kunai (ninja stars or throwing blades) instead of the swords.  The guns are generally needed to complete the vehicle mode, but I think I’ll give the small one to Arcee.  So she’s not perfect by any means and mine suffers from a defect of her neck piece not tabbing into the back well enough.  I’m not sure if it’s just mine or what.  So, while she’s pretty good and I like her, I would exercise caution before recommending to others.

Verdict:Play with someone else’s before buying to see if you like it or not.

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