Friday, June 20, 2014

Transformers Age of Extinction Strafe Evolution 2 Pack Review

As the anticipation of Transformers Age of Extinction draws near, Toys R Us managed to keep some collectors happy by selling the new AoE Dinobots with a smaller G1 companion in one set. These exclusive figure are called the "Evolution 2 Pack." One of the Dinobots included in this exclusive series is Strafe.

Dino Mode

For some reason, Michael Bay, or someone else, thought giving Strafe two Pteranodon heads would be better than one. Agree or disagree, the presentation isn’t completely bad on this toy.

Strafe appears to be made out of shrapnel, but with serrated saw-like teeth, especially around the edges of his wings, which is really cool. The tail is actually rubber to avoid being easily broken. Although the two-headed Pteranodon concept seemed strange initially, posing those heads similar to King Ghidorah, in flight, was really fun to do.

The Dinobot is highly complemented by an amazing combination of blue and black plastic, topped with a perfect blend of silver, blue, and black paint. Strafe’s wings are a perfect example on the amazing paint job Hasbro has done. The back of Strafe’s wings is silver fused with a nice metallic blue gradient near the center, and then continues this blue shade over to the other side. The wings also contain a black Autobot insignia and tiger like striping. However, that’s not all; the same blue to silver blend is carried on Strafe’s tail, while the claws, face, and chest are enhanced with silver paint.

There are some shortcomings in the design that must be accepted, though. For example, the thick dino legs just don’t work in this mode. Immediately, one could tell that Strafe’s legs were made that way for the convenience of an easy transformation to robot mode, but that approach left the Pteranadon mode nearly nothing to work with. Another flaw is the pair of robot arms revealed underneath those wings, and Strafe’s (robot mode) head slightly showing from his chest. Both deficiencies are a little distracting.

Posing this dinosaur has some perks, but is still somewhat lackluster. The best way to pose Strafe is either in midair, or on the ground, crouching. With a hardy Tamashii Stage (Act 4) stand, Strafe is able to look quite natural as he goes airborne. However, Strafe looks much better when glanced at from the top view, whereas the bottom view reveals some robot arms and thick legs.

The two hinged design in Strafe’s wings allow them to flap and rotate to a desired angle. The pair of heads is manipulated by a swiveling and hinged joint that will allow them to look in all sorts of directions, along with the ability to open and close those jaws. The tail(s) is also on a hinge, so they could be raised or lowered as anyone pleases. Strafe’s knees can’t really move, but those legs are on ball joints for a substantial range of movement. Lastly, the feet are on a hinge, so they could flip up or down, mostly because of transformation.

Getting Strafe to crouch on the ground is pretty neat to execute, but can only be appreciated at the right angle. Otherwise, those thick legs will show, and the look will be too goofy.

Robot Mode

Strafe’s robot mode looks solid overall. The nice, but rather slim proportions on this robot propose Strafe to be the stealthiest among the other Dinobots. Once again, most of the body is loaded with spikes and serrated, buzz-saw like edges, an effective and amazing way to distinguish this bot from the others. None of the Dinobots at this point has saw edges. The dominant blue colored armor harmonizes with the black and silver color scheme. The helmet appears as a cross between a knight and Boba Fett with a raised fin, which isn’t a bad thing. Strafe’s helmet is enhanced by the slick light blue paint on his visor.

One minor complaint, however, is the awkward bend around Strafe’s inner thigh region. They are a bit of an eyesore, but at least the poseability wasn’t completely hindered due to this design. There are some visible screws on Strafe’s back, but they are hidden by those wings.

Part of the fun is fiddling with the potential poses this robot can do. Although the official transformation has the wings tucked, there’s always the option to spread them out instead, like Batman.

You may also move the Pteranodon heads around to hide them behind Strafe's shoulders. There are just enough options to express Strafe in whatever vision one pleases. Personally, I like to pose the wings and Pteranodon heads as if they’re still fully functioning even in robot mode.

Most of Strafe’s joints are tight and sturdy, but this robot also possesses gorilla arms, much like AoE Grimlock. One redeeming quality is a unique wrist swivel that angles Strafe’s hands up and down. This approach allows Strafe to hold his sword up 90 degrees from his wrist, or point the weapon forward like fencing (demonstrated in the "Weapons" section).

There’s not that many kibble on this mode, the ones worth noting are those Pteranodon claws on each wing, two tails, and heads that form a portion of Strafe’s chest armor. Thankfully, they aren’t too distracting, but rather enhance the robot mode’s look sometimes, depending on how one prefers to pose them.


Strafe comes with a pair of swords that can be conveniently concealed under the wings, or point them forward like missiles. Both swords are painted with some silver paint to make them pop, far better than keeping them in one color.

Strafe also has a friction activated crossbow. The missile does not fire too well, but thankfully, the bow's black and blue colors do complement each other. Strafe’s crossbow can be stored on his back in both, dino and robot mode.

G1 Swoop Mini-Con

What separates the evolution set from the regular AoE release is the inclusion of G1 Swoop. The colors may look vintage, but they are nowhere close to accurately mimic the G1 cartoon or comic book. There is some range of motion; Swoop’s head will bob up and down, his mouth opens just a tad, the feet are on hinges, and there are ball-jointed wings.

Frankly, the bot mode looks like a man wearing a Pteranodon suit. The bot mode is very hollow, and  there was no attempt to cover the robot’s backside. Surprisingly, the ball joints are quite stiff for something so small. Those, who prefer Swoop to have hands, may rotate the wings around to equip him with Pteranodon claws.


Figure Specs

Size Comparison


Strafe's biggest strengths certainly lies in how his robot mode turned out and the posing options that were included. Posing the wings and Pteranodon heads around, while conveying various body languages in robot mode is a pleasure. The dino mode may be lacking, but the outcome could've been worse. The inclusion of G1 Swoop isn’t really anything special. However, if you do appreciate the extra figure for what it is, then this set may be the perfect fit.

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