Friday, August 10, 2012

Transformers Universe: King Atlas

During the early 2000's Hasbro introduced a new series of Transformers simply called Universe.  The entire line started with redecos existing molds from several previous series'.  I always looked at the line and thought it was a filler line.  Basically something new for retailers to order and fill up their shelves.

Like with most Transformers during this time I bought up just about every release I could find.  Even if I thought it was ugly I bought it because, well, it was a Transformer.  Thankfully I've come to my senses since then, but not before I ended up with a lot of Transformers that don't fit into my collecting scope now.

I wasn't crazy about a lot of the early Universe releases, but King Atlas was one of the exceptions.  If you aren't familiar with the mold it was first used in Europe as Predator Skyquake.  Kenner/Hasbro later used the mold in the KB Toys exclusive Machine Wars series as Starscream.  In a sense this was the first time this mold had a wide release.  I think eHobby even offered this toy to eastern audiences as one of their USA Exclusives.

Hasbro was using a lot of Beast Wars molds at the beginning of the line so who thought in 2004 when King Atlas was released that they (Hasbro) would go back and use a mold from 7 years earlier?  I sure didn't.  I can remember hitting several different local Target and Walmart stores hunting for this toy.  I had to have it.  At the time my only exposure to this mold was Machine Wars Starscream.  Even though the toy had been altered from it's initial European release it was a fun the new Autobot deco was too good to pass up.

There is no doubt that this mold is a G1/G2 mold.  It's a big 'ol brick.  No real articulation.  Loud ratcheting joints.  I love it.  I guess one of the reasons that really fueled my desire to buy this toy was the fact that it was an older mold.  When I did my first big collection purge last year I decided to keep King Atlas based solely on the fact that his mold was from the "original" era.  I'm still trying to find the best place to display this monsterous toy.  I should've taken a side view picture as the large scope just hangs off his back.  This makes it hard to display on a crowded shelf.

I didn't break out the measuring tape, but in robot mode this figure is quite large.  The new Autobot color scheme is very good, although some of the added detail can't be seen as well in robot mode.  Former Hasbro designer, Aaron Archer, said the deco was purposefully done to resemble the G1 Japanese exclusive character Dai Atlas.  Nice.  A nod to us collectors!

King Atlas' only accessories are 6 yellow bombs / missiles.  The spring loaded hand held gun that Skyquake originally came with was not included in this release - just like Machine Wars Starscream.  From what I know it was omitted for safety reasons due to the incredibly strong spring inside the gun.  The missiles can be attached to the underside of the jet or placed inside the wings in the bomb compartments.

Where this toy really shines in in jet mode.  I've read the mold was based loosely on the SR-71 Blackbird, but I can't really see the influence.  I've already mentioned the awesome deco, but what you couldn't see in robot mode you can see while in jet form.  I typically don't like white toys.  They look bland and I worry about the white plastic yellowing with age.  You have to protect white Transformes from sunlight like they are a Mogwai.  Thankfully Hasbro decided to give the toy brushes of gray paint all over the jet to give it a weathered and worn look.  I'm also glad they omitted the goofy shark face sticker on the nose of the jet.

The only down side to this toy is the fact that the main play feature Skyquake had (Megavisor) was left off.  Not surprising since MW Starscream didn't have it either.  The translucent plastic in the mid section of the jet and the viewfinder piece are now an opaque black plastic.  He does still retain is "carpet bombing" gimmick allowing you to drop bombs on unaware Decepticons below.

In terms of fiction, King Atlas was used by 3H Productions as part of their OTFCC Transformers Universe comic fiction.

In my opinion a lot of the Universe toy releases were really uninspired and boring and didn't warrant a purchase...then or now.  King Atlas however breaks that mold and delivers a pretty satisfying, albeit brick of a toy.  I recently pulled this toy off the shelf to sell, but after fiddling around with him and writing this post I've decided that I'm still too attached to say bye.  So off he goes back up on the shelves with a few of my other Transformers misfits.

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