Transformers Cybertron: Red Alert and Cannonball by Hasbro

As threatened promised, Transformers Thursdays are going to be all about the Unicron Trilogy this February and today I’m going to stick with the Cybertron line. In fact, like last Thursday, I’m going to revisit the years 2005 and 2006 with an original mold and the subsequent repaint. Let’s check out Red Alert and Cannonball.

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Red Alert was introduced into the Unicron Trilogy as a Super-Con (think Voyager sized toy with electronics) Emergency Rescue Vehicle in the Armada line. In Cybertron, he’s been reduced to a smaller, Deluxe Class version of his Armada alt mode. Was that before or after he became a huge missile carrier? I honestly can’t remember. For now, he’s basically a white SUV with blue striping, tinted red windows, and some lights on the roof. It’s a nice looking auto mode, but I always found it odd that he didn’t have any markings to denote him as a Rescue Vehicle.

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He also has the unfortunate characteristic of having the top of his head exposed in vehicle mode. We’re not talking Energon level of bad here. I’m looking at you Energon Irohinde and Inferno! No, it could pass as part of the light bar if you don’t look too closely, but it’s still a noticeable piece of lazy design.

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As a Cybertron figure, Red Alert features a CyberKey gimmick and this one is pretty cool. Insert the CyberKey into the back and the side panels pop open and a pair of guns flip out. When these gimmicks were good, they were really good. But what about the robot mode?

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OK, so Red Alert’s transformation features some really interesting and original engineering. The front and back of the vehicle actually connect together to form the front and back halves of his legs. It’s inspired and unexpected. Unfortunately it results in a robot mode with some majorly overdeveloped lower legs. Indeed, Red Alert is just an overall stocky guy, so much so that it works against a lot of his articulation. Particularly with those big knee shields and shoulder armor plates, it’s just hard for this guy to function in regular poses. Otherwise, he actually retains some design elements from his larger Armada robot mode, which is kind of a neat throwback, right down to the gun in place of his left hand. I also like the slot in his chest. Yeah, it’s to tab something in during transformation, but it’s also evocative of the disc shooter that Armada Red Alert had in his chest.

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The CyberKey gimmick is still available in the robot mode. You stick the key into his backpack and the guns deploy right above his shoulders. It’s neat, but the guns ride so low on his shoulders, they’re not very noticeable. It also pushes out the sides of the backpack, which gives the shoulder armor even less room to maneuver.

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The head sculpt is pretty reminiscent of the Armada toy too. I always thought this guy looked a bit like Robocop… with light up ears. So, yeah Red Alert is kind of goofy, mostly due to his proportions, but I can’t help but have a soft spot for him. He looks like something that might have been released in the waning days of G1. Or to be more specific, I can practically see what the G1 package art of this robot mode would have looked like it and would have fit perfectly. Was he good enough to warrant buying a repaint? Nope. Did I do it anyway? You betcha. Let’s look at Cannonball…

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Released the following year, Cannonball is a Decepticon pirate that transforms into a black SUV. Yes, I will allow that to sink in for a moment. Ready? OK, because according to his bio, he leads a crew of pirates who pray on starships and return to Cybertron to spend their loot on “Black Market Energon Stars and Pleasure Programs.” That’s the kid-friendly way of saying hookers and blow. I’m starting to remember why I bought him.

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The vehicle mode here is a straight repaint, but oh what an interesting repaint it is. He’s black with silver trim. Oh, and he also has neon green skulls and skeletons painted on his roof and doors WHICH IS TOTALLY METAL! It looks like he once visited the Day of the Dead festival and really liked it so he got all tatted up. The lights and windshields are tinted purple and the top of his head is now as obvious as ever because it’s gold. And of course, the CyberKey gimmick is the same on this figure’s vehicle mode only Cannonball’s guns are gold… because pirates love their bling!

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Likewise, the robot mode is a straight repaint. The silver paint picks out the detail a little nicer than Red Alert, although I’m not a fan of this gold plastic. I do, however, enjoy the fact that those bitchin’ skeletons now reside prominently on his shoulder armor. And, nope, you don’t even get a new head. Although I will say the new deco really makes it stand out from Red Alert’s noggin.

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I kind of like this pair and I’m not sure exactly why. Sure, it’s partly the clever engineering in the legs, but in the end I think it just comes down to personality. These robots have it in spades. They’re chunky nature makes them not all that fun to play with, but they display nice. When I begin the final culling of the Cybertron tote, it’s possible these guys might survive the purge.

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4 comments on “Transformers Cybertron: Red Alert and Cannonball by Hasbro

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