"Armada" Air Assault Team / Dark Saber Toy Review

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Armada, Mini-Con, Mini-Con, Mini-Con


General Information
Price Point: Mini-con
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: February 2003
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)

In one of the early waves of Mini-Cons during 2003, two first wave Mini-Con teams underwent deco changes. One was the Land Military Team and the other was the Air Defense Team. While the Land Military Team became a whole new team, the Air Defense Team has simply taken on a new personality in the Air Assault Team. All the group member names are still the same, so it seems these are the same characters taking on a reversal in personality. This review will cover the changes made to this group of Mini-Cons. For a more detailed review of the toys themselves, please read the Air Defense Team review.

General Changes:
Despite what the package photography shows, there is no translucent plastic being used at all in the team this time around. This is fine since the "light up" gimmick only works part way through the saber anyhow. Also, the "fix" that some people used to keep the Star Saber held together well (by attaching the back of Jetstorm's legs to Sonar's Powerlinx points) does not work too well here. At least on mine, Jetstorm's right leg will plug into Sonar's Powerlinx point fine, but not the left. This is most likely due to slight differences in the final production pieces after reusing the Air Defense Team mold.

Jetstorm is now mostly grey with purple trim. The nosecone has gold and black bands around the tip and black cockpit windows. The "engines" under his wings are now black. In robot form, the face is gold while his legs are all black (no paint on the vents, unfortunately). The upper arms are black while the lower arms are the same gray as the jet wings/body. Purple and black are of course, the traditional Decepticon colors, so making Jetstorm (and the rest of the team for that matter) these colors really helps bring out a more "evil" looking robot than the previous scheme.

In jet mode, Runway is mostly the same light gray as Jetstorm. The engines under his wings are black. Black is used on the tailfins, forward fins and cockpit area to provide detail. Gold is used to detail the edges of his wings, the casings around his boosters and the front of the engines under his wings. In robot form, most of Runway is black now from his lower arms to his waist and legs. His face has gold painted into the eyes only, giving him a fierce, scowling look perfectly suited for a darker version of the character.

The darkest member of the team, Sonar is mostly black in space shuttle mode. His wings and nosecone have purple on them while gold is used for the cockpit and the mechanical looking portion at the center of the back. In robot mode his arms, waist and head are black. The robot face and chest are gold while the lower legs are purple. The feet are half black and half purple. Of all the team members, Sonar is probably the one that screams "Decepticon" more than the others. The colors are dark, but visually pleasing, making Sonar a nice redeco of his former self.

Dark Saber:
The Dark Saber looks very uniform as its primary color is gray while the hilt is black and purple. It truly looks like the sword of a Decepticon warrior. As mentioned above, the "Sonar/Jetstorm" fix for stability only half works in this toy. The color scheme works best when placed with Galvatron, the Megatron redeco, but it looks nice being held by Megatron as well. In terms of stability, you can't really swing the sword around as you would the original (after applying the unofficial fix) but it's tough to falt a toy for not being able to do something the instructions never mention.

Buy this toy if you are a Mini-Con fanatic, love redecos or feel your Decepticons need a Saber of their own. However, if it is just the mold you are after, you may be better off with the original Air Defense Team.