REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS SCOURGE
I believe that most longtime Transformers fans will cite the Transformers of "Generation One" as their favorites, and certainly that would include myself. At the same time, I have to say that many of the original toys tended to fall a little short of what one might have hoped for, given the fact that in their robotic modes, they weren't generally all that well articulated.
In fairness, the purpose of the original Transformers was to create a line of robot toys that could change between a humanoid robot, and some secondary form, generally a vehicle of some sort. Articulation in the robotic form was not as great a priority. Still, it was a little disappointing to see these amazing characters acting out their adventures in both the comic books and animated series, and all the toy could do was just sort of stand there.
Fortunately, ever since the time of Beast Wars, the articulation level of Transformers has been enhanced considerably, so that modern Transformers are now fully poseable. Even more fortunately, the original characters of Generation One have been brought back in new-yet-familiar forms, initially as part of a line called Transformers Classics, and more recently as a line called Transformers Generations.
One of the most recent additions to the line is a Decepticon by the name of SCOURGE. He is among a group of Decepticons that were first introduced in the animated Transformers movie in 1986. Let's look into the character of Scourge a little more closely, with some online research assistance.
Scourge is characterized as a merciless hunter who was created from the wreckage of Decepticons. He leads the Sweeps, a group of Decepticon hunter-trackers. His only real weakness is his arrogance.
Scourge's appearances in the US Marvel Comics featuring the Transformers were fairly minimal. This is due as much to anything as the fact that the movie continuity has tended to be given somewhat greater credence among Transformers fans, and Scourge and a number of other Decepticons represented a future time that had not yet been shown in the comic book, which didn't make the same time-jump that the animation did.
In their first appearance in the comics, Scourge and his contemporary Cyclonus appeared in the Headmasters mini-series, and were presented as being ordinary, present-day Decepticons under Scorponok's command, who then joined the Targetmasters division of Decepticons on the planet Nebulos.
Later, however, and closer to the movie continuity, Scourge appeared again in an alternate future world of 2009. Here he was a creation of Unicron, where Cybertron had been destroyed, and he and Galvatron ruled the Earth.
However, in the UK Transformers comics, which were often much more extensive than the American ones, due in large part to the presence of writer Simon Furman, these stories often featured characters from the future timeline, often intersecting them with the present day through the use of time travel. In the first of such stories, Galvatron, Scourge, and Cyclonus traveled back in time to 1986, from a point in the middle of the events of the Transformers movie, as part of plan to free themselves from Unicron's control by constructing a massive cannon that would destroy Unicron in their home time of 2006, the time period of the animated movie. Scourge was shot down and captured by Megatron, who had made a deal with the Autobots to ally against the threat. Traded back to Galvatron for Jazz, Scourge and the others were finally defeated when Galvatron was duped into believing he was trapped in a temporal paradox, and returned to his own time to live out the remaining events of the movie.
Scourge, usually in the company of Cyclonus, continued to appear in other adventures in the UK comic, including one attempt to reconcile with their American comic appearance in Headmasters. Pushed through a time portal much further back then previously, they came under the command of Scorponok, and went on to travel to Nebulous to become Targetmasters, then traveling to present-day Earth., Once there, they sought out Galvatron, no longer willing to serve him, instead demanding that he hand over his time travel device so that they could return to the future and their position as Decepticon leaders.
This effort failed, and the two eventually decided to team up with Shockwave's present-day Earth-based Decepticons. At this point, the comic book personalities of both characters had been well-determined, and quite different from the animated series. Here, Scourge was the intelligent schemer of the duo, where Cyclonus was dull-witted, to the point where he accidentally let slip that they would kill Shockwave in the future. Wanting to ensure his continued existence, Shockwave unleashed an attack on the duo, and while Scourge fled for his life, Cyclonus was killed.
Cyclonus' death was apparently the last straw in an already unbalanced space-time continuum, and caused a rift in the fabric of reality to appear, threatening to consume both Earth and Cybertron. Ultimately, Scourge returned to his own time, with the remains of Cyclonus.
The animated series presents a rather different take on Scourge, as well as Cyclonus. In the aftermath of the Decepticons' attack on Autobot City in 2005, several injured and dying Decepticons were cast into space in order to lighten the load for the return trip to Cybertron, and were soon drawn in by Unicron. After making a deal with Unicron, the deposed Decepticon leader, Megatron, was reborn as Galvatron. Unicron then used the bodies of other injured Decepticons to create new troops who would serve Galvatron. Scourge was created from the battered form of Thundercracker, and was then made leader of a group of robots, identical in appearance to Scourge himself, known as the Sweeps.
Scourge did not immediately display any overt personality traits after his creation, beyond his unswerving loyalty to Unicron and Galvatron. Scourge began to come into his own after the apparent destruction of both. Less willing to take orders from Cyclonus, who was far more intelligent in the animated series than he was portrayed in the UK comics, Scourge did so all the same, using his scanners to locate Galvatron's body, seeing across the galaxy to the Hydran system, where Galvatron lay in a pool of plasma lava on the planet Thrull. Upon arrival on the planet, Scourge was the one to pull Galvatron from the plasma, but he and the Sweeps were then attacked by the deranged Galvatron, who only stopped his assault when Scourge professed his loyalty.
Scourge became one of Galvatron's most prominent minions, despite his lack of any real hierarchical weight, and would regularly lead the Sweeps on missions, often with Cyclonus.
Scourge continued to have some prominent adventures. He was later possessed by Starscream's ghost, and ultimately had to swallow his pride to contact the Autobots and warn them of the scheme to reactivate Unicron. He also opposed Cyclonus' plan to institutionalize the increasingly deranged Galvatron on the planet Torkulon, a plan which backfired rather resoundingly anyway.
Scourge has since appeared in a number of stories from various comics publishers, not necessarily created by Unicron or from the remnants of Thundercracker. This has led to a certain amount of uncertainty regarding his specific modern origin in the current continuities, even including the information detailed on the package card of the new toy.
So, how's the figure? Very cool, and quite interesting. Scourge comes packaged in his vehicle form, as do most of the Generations Transformers, and Scourge's vehicle form is a rather interesting one.
A fair number of Transformers, in their initial releases, from the same time period as Scourge, were given rather fanciful and futuristic "alt modes", unlike earlier Transformers, most of whom were given vehicle or other "alt modes" that were recognizable Earth vehicles, cars, planes, or other objects. Characters such as Scourge, Kup (who's also available now - see separate review), and a number of others around this time, had more -- let's say imaginative vehicular modes.
Scourge's original alt mode has been described as a "Cybertronian Hovercraft/Spaceship", which I suppose is as good a description as any for something that tended to fly through space but still managed to look something like a boat.
The Transformers Generations line has stuck a little closer to home for the most part, and as such, Scourge has been given an entirely new vehicular mode. It's an aircraft, described on the package as a "Recon Jet", and in certain other information as a "Stealth Bomber". Despite what the package says, I'm more inclined to go with the latter explanation. It's definitely a high-tech delta-wing-type aircraft, with two huge jets. It appears to be mostly white with some blue trim, and has a but of a bulge near the cockpit. The wingtips, interestingly, are turned downwards.
The landing gear was interesting to me as well, with two banks of three wheels each on the sides, and one wheel in the back, a tail wheel. In airplane mode, Scourge is about 4-1/2" in length, and has a wingspan of close to 8". A very neatly printed Decepticon emblem in purple and silver is imprinted near one of the rear engines.
I did wonder how closely he might have resembled an actual plane. I am not an expert on military aircraft, however. Fortunately, I have a neighbor, a retired pilot, who does know planes. So I showed him Scourge. He affirmed that Scourge is not specifically based on any known aircraft. He comes moderately close in basic terms to a B-1 or a B-2, but the downward-turned wing tips and especially the landing gear with the tail wheel are strictly the product of imagination. He said that airplanes haven't had tail wheels in decades.
And so, Scourge comes a little closer to an Earth-type aircraft than his original Cybertronian Hovercraft/Spaceship mode, but he's still got a fair amount of pure imagination in him.
Let's consider Scourge's transformation. He's hardly a traditional looking automotive Transformer, or even a typical plane. His package gives him a transformation ranking of "3", or "Intermediate", pretty well coming right in the middle.
The first thing you need to do is stretch the wings out a bit and then, from the underside of the plane, flip the wings and the connecting blue center section out and over. This is NOT as easy as it sounds. The blue section is quite secured to the underside of the plane, and it doesn't want to come free, and it's darn near impossible to get a decent grip on it. It will eventually come loose, although I had to VERY gently use a screwdriver to pry it open. I recommend this only as a last resort.
Next, flip this section around, and snap the two tabs into the two slots on what is gradually becoming Scourge's back. You can also pop Scourge's head up at this point.
Now, stretch out the jets on Scourge's torso just a bit. They will eventually become his arms. Rotate them 180 degrees. What you should have now is something that looks like it's half-robot with the front triangular section of the delta-wing plane as its lower torso.
Next, split the plane section open, and push the blue section of the upper torso up a little further until it lines up with the rest of the upper torso (This is one of those times where the illustrated, non-verbal instruction actually show you better what needs to be done than the written word. Trust me, it makes sense if you see the robot in progress).
Then, extend the legs somewhat, and bend the elbows of the arms, and move what will become the tops of the arms outwards at 90 degrees. You know, I'm starting to think that with Scourge, it's not so much what needs to be done, it's the order in which we're expected to do it. This is a little peculiar.
Now, extend the feet and the hands. The hand emerge by little slider switches in the lower arms. The feet extend from the very front of the former cockpit section.
Next, rotate him 180 degrees at the waist. That's right, up until now, his backside has been on his front.
Now, extend the upper arms outward from their sockets. This was a rather strange move, and I wasn't initially sure what was expected, or if it would even work. It does. But it's still a little weird.
After this, rotate the arms downward from the extension point, and snap them back into place. The circular section, formerly part of the jet, should snap back into place into the shoulders' very nicely.
Finally, the instructions recommend folding the wings into the back of the figure along a double-hinge mechanism, and Scourge is completely transformed into his robot form.
So, how's the robot? Very cool, but I'll let you in on a little secret. By folding the wings back, they end up protruding from the back of Scourge just far enough to throw off his balance. They're fairly heavy appendages relative to the rest of the robot. Scourge really doesn't look all that bad with his wings extended, it's not too far removed from the intended result in the instructions, and he stands up better if you don't fold them back.
Scourge also comes with a pair of small blasters that combine to become a battle rifle, and this accessory can also be split into its component sections, and stored in the hollows of Scourge's wings. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is one more reason to keep the wings spread. Tuck his weapon in there and he'll really be overbalanced.
Scourge stands about 5-1/4" in height, a little on the short side, but not too severely. Overall, he's a good size for this particular line of Transformers.
He is an excellent incarnation of his character, and it impresses me that the designers were able to take an established character, create for him an entirely new vehicle mode, and still get the robot mode as close as they did to the original.
Not surprisingly, Scourge's head looks especially like the original. Scourge has a mostly blue head with a white face. He has a scope-like device on the top of his head with a little red lens at the front. He appears to have a mustache and beard. I asked this same question when I reviewed Wreck-Gar -- how the heck does a robot get a mustache and beard? But, Scourge has one.
The back of his head has been molded in transparent blue, which is a technique used to make it look as though the figure's eyes are glowing when light hits the head from behind. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Scourge's doesn't work all that well. This is a technique that is dependent to a fair degree on the shape of the head involved, and Scourge's apparently just doesn't lend itself to it all that well. Granted I have yet to see one come even close to Cyclonus, ironically enough.
In robot mode, Scourge appears to be mostly blue, with white arms and legs, with blue trim. The hands are interesting. For reasons unknown, the original Scourge had pink fingertips, something that was carried over in the cartoon. This lent itself to a number of bad jokes over the years about Scourge possible wearing nail polish, but it also, oddly enough, became something of a trademark of the character. Fortunately for Scourge's dignity, the color has been altered somewhat, and the tips of his claw-like fingers now appear to be a pale reddish-copper, a color that also appears on his kneecaps.
Scourge has, in my opinion, an above-average amount of painted details on him, but they have been done consistently neatly. The Decepticon emblem, formerly near the rear of the airplane, is now on one side of his upper chest.
Of course, Scourge is superbly articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, and ankles, with some swivels in the arms, as well. This is one of the reasons I like these Transformers so much. Classic, iconic Transformers characters with modern levels of articulation? How can you not love that?
The description for Scourge on the back of his package reads as follows: Little is known about the origin of the immensely powerful hunter known as Scourge. He rarely speaks, and never reveals his secrets. Few who encounter him survive to tell the tale. Most often, he descends on his target from the sky, lays waste to all who oppose him, and disappears back into the darkness of space.
I think they sort of had to leave that rather vague, given the variance in origins he's had over the years. Dreamwave Productions appears to have had some considerable plans for Scourge, which didn't include him being reconstituted from Thundercracker, but unfortunately, the company folded before they could be expanded upon. It was discovered that Scourge was a more advanced type of Transformer than had been encountered on Earth before.
Scourge's various power rankings give him a 10 in Strength, Endurance, and Courage, a 9 in Intelligence, Speed, and Fireblast, and 8 in Skill and Rank. In short, no really low rankings, which seem to be in keeping with his advanced nature. Also somebody you don't want to mess with.
So, what's my final word here? I'm pleased to see Scourge. We've already seen both Cyclonus and Galvatron enter the Classics line, and now Scourge joins them. He's an impressive toy that has a cool vehicular mode, and more than capably resembles his original version in his robotic mode. Any longtime Transformers fan will want to add Scourge to their collection.
The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS figure of SCOURGE definitely has my highest recommendation!