If there is anything I like less than stickers, I think it might just have to be model kits, especially when you consider that a lot of model kits include some stickers as well. I learned this as a child when I continually received model airplanes as gifts. These would inevitably get put together by my father due to my lack of interest — in models, not a lack of interest in airplanes, those I was obsessed with. Only now do I realize that my dad most likely quite enjoyed putting together models and was using “oh, it’s for the kids” as an excuse to do so.
I received a renewed dislike of models when the Gundam craze hit the U.S. for a little while. Before the action figure-style toys showed up, I was so desperate for merchandise that I gave a number of the smaller model kits a try. While they were missing all the parts of model kits I really dislike, like having to apply paint and the use of model glue, I still didn’t find myself enjoying the process and quickly dropped them for the pre-built “MSIA” line of true Gundam action figures that followed.
Given this, I’m not sure what made me decide to give Kotobukiya’s “D-Style” Transformers a try. Ok, that’s a lie, Skywarp was what made me give it a try. The pictures of the assembled kits were amazing and hilarious. That and the assertion that these model kits were much closer to the Gundam kits than the old-school, labor-intensive model kits. I grabbed a pre-order though Nippon-Yasan.com (my current go-to for getting TakaraTomy stuff for waaaaay cheaper than the other online stores) and did the wait. When I received a text from my wife, “Got a box from Japan for you.” I was simultaneously super-happy and nervous. What if I was mis-interpreting all the stuff online and the level of effort/skill it takes to make these things look good?
Well, too late now, nothing to do now but dive in.
Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into? Initially I was really doubting my choice, but then had to stop and remind myself that pieces for both Skywarp and Thundercracker were in the box. Once I removed Skywarp’s pieces and laid them out, it didn’t look quite as daunting. The first thing to assemble was the head, starting with the three face choices.
The tolerances on all of the pieces are remarkable. They fit so well and so tightly that putting this thing to together was a breeze. The translucent red piece fits perfectly into the back of each face.
Along with the hard plastic pieces, there are softer, but still rather rigid, rubber stoppers used for joints. Round connectors for rotating attachments, like the head, and connectors that are rounded on one end and flat on the other for hinged attachments, like legs and arms.
There were also those double ball connectors you can see in the photo, but they weren’t used in this build at all. Regarding the detailing on the model, most of the colour differences were handled through the plastics themselves, but there are paint applications on the wings to give him his iconic purple stripes.
The assembling proceeded well, using an Exact-O knife to pare flash that broke off from the sprue and– *ouch!*
Ok. Yeah. That was just going to happen. I’m only surprised it was only the once and took a while to happen. I have bled for you, Skywarp! I bandaged and commenced. Shortly thereafter, I finished.
This thing is perfect. Just adorable and perfect. No glue needed at all, everything just fits together perfectly. His three faces are going to make this very difficult to decide which to display him with. Beyond the straight face, there’s one that can be interpreted as anger or fear depending on the context.
When this face showed up as part of an official promotional shot — with a distinctly more “fear” vibe — it quickly became my facebook cover photo and is actually one of the things that made me put that pre-order down.
The last face is more of the jovial jokester, which is probably more fitting for the cruel prankster. He also comes with an alternate, open-palmed right hand
Really the only let-down for me is something I would have known if I had done a little more research. I don’t buy non-transforming Transformers except on very, very rare and special circumstances. A case could easily be made for “It’s Skywarp!!!” under the category of special circumstances, but I never reached that point. When those official promotional photos mentioned earlier hit they included this shot of Skywarp and Thundercracker’s alt modes.
Had I really stopped and examined that picture, no gaps or lines in the back half for the legs, no hinges, and where did the giant head go? Obviously there is no possible conversion that would end in those alt modes from the robot modes we saw elsewhere in the promo material, but I wasn’t paying close enough attention. So, where do those pictures come from?
Eagle-eyed readers may have already spotted this little thing attached to the sprues in the second picture up there. For some reason, this model kit includes a very small and — despite what the promos shots would have you believe — completely unpainted version of Skywarp’s alt mode. In fact, the promotional shots include quite a few paint applications that are most certainly not on the model kit straight out of the box, such as the paint on his open mouth and various chest detailing.
The included alt mode is very, very small. I’m not quite sure what the point of this part of the kit is. Maybe the point is so he can have a toy of himself to have play battles with,
Oh well, certainly not a deal-breaker. Despite your lack of transformation, I can’t stay angry at you, Skywarp. You’re just too damned cute and so very well-balanced and articulated.