Nightbird shouldn’t be a thing. Well, I guess that came off a little more rude than I was expecting. Rather, she was always a thing but somehow became much more because… well, sometimes the fandom can be weird and other times the fandom can be just downright creepy.
Despite not being sentient, we know she is a she because her creator, Dr. Fujiyama “the Famous Scientist”, tells us so — more on Dr. “Bad Life Choices” later. When Megatron shows a certain level of affection for the ninja robot, it was taken by some as a strange romantic/sexual connection rather than the very obvious thing that it was.
“Oh look, I could replace Starscream with a far more battle-capable robot ninja who is silent and won’t question my orders.”
She proves herself to be quite adept, laying Autobots out left and right and even sneaking into their base to steal the plot device of the week, the World Energy Chip, which “itemizes the world’s energy supplies”. Right.
Out of apparent jealousy (or perhaps just a general fear of unemployment) Starscream waits until Nightbird is rather successfully battling off the Autobots and shoots her in the back. He then flies off gloating while, on Megatron’s command, all of the Decepticons take off after him, leaving Nightbird collapsed in Optimus Prime’s arms.
“Decepticons, after him! I want that traitor’s steel hide!”
Speaking of assets, early on Dr. “I’ve built a female ninja robot to assist mankind” Fujiyama takes great pains to explain that, yes, she is a ninja, but she is not built for “battle or assassination”. Among her mankind-benefiting toolset are:
- Sawblades formed from her hands
- Shurikens (so many shurikens)
- Beam saber (complete with Star Wars lightsaber sound effects)
- Ninjitsu and martial arts fighting skills
The other scientists at his presentation are clearly not buying it in the least, but further discussion is cut short by the appearance of the Deceptions.
After all is said and done, and Megatron has gone off to pout and abuse Starscream to make himself feel better, Nightbird is returned to the good Dr. Fujiyama. Optimus declares her to be, “deprogrammed and neutralized”, however, as her creepy metal coffin slides closed her eyes glow and she scowls menacingly.
Gah! So, wait, did Bombshell’s meddling render her sentient somehow? The next time we see Nightbird is… never. She never comes back. They never make good on that final scene. We’ll never know if, much like his first response to the Dinobots, Optimus Prime has consigned yet another thinking, feeling creature to be buried alive.
Nightbird would inspire a number of appearances after that. She would appear in 3H’s Wreckers comic as a legion of hell-bent drones with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed colour schemes that leads to the facepalm-inducing remarkably fan-wanky death of Daniel Witwicky and Wheelie.
It would be a decade later that she would show up again; this time as a 2014 event in the Android and Apple card-based battle game Transformer Legends. Once again sporting a familiar title, the event pretty much follows the plot of the G1 episode.
Then around the middle of the year, we heard about a trio of girl-bots being released in TakaraTomy’s coincidentally also named Transformers Legends toyline. LG15 “Nightbird Shadow” would become the first Nightbird toy released. As a retool of the Generations Arcee mold, she is nothing less than amazing.
Even with the enlarged backpack that facilitates her newly acquired ability to transform, she still perfectly evokes her G1 appearance with great attention to detail. Her headsculpt matches the cartoon but looking closely you can see that it’s not the dead, emotionless eyes of Nightbird at the beginning of the episode. It is the scowling, angry eyes at the end of the episode.
The one flaw in the figure is that it is based on the running change of the mold that has open hands and a protrusion at the base of the hand. The protrusion increases stability but means that most of her weapons can’t be properly fit in her hands.
I’m not even going to pretend to understand the TakaraTomy Transformers Legends universe detailed in the mini-comics packed in with toy releases. After reading the TFWiki articles about the universe in general and Nightbird Shadow’s part in it specifically, I can’t really explain what’s happened/happening just that it’s all a dream… or maybe not?
All that aside, I can not recommend this toy enough. While it would be phenomenal, the chances of her or her fellow Decepticon girl-bot Slipstream — who I also picked up and who will certainly be appearing in a post of her own very soon — showing up at retail in North Amerca is pretty slim. It is really rare that I will shell out full import prices, but this time I did so gladly and am delighted.