Mysterious Stranger stepping in again with a review of the new Commando Red Banshee.  I'll admit that when the first pics were shown I wasn't enthused at all about this figure.  I told myself I'd wait and see it in stores first before deciding to buy it and well I got part of that right.  I saw it in stores and in an impulsive move bought it (along with the other 3 new figures in this wave).  Am I happy with this purchase? Honestly?  Meh.

I'll start with the packaging since its the thing you'll notice first upon seeing these in stores.  The new Commando line is using the same basic Commando packaging but the details have been changed a bit.  First the plastic outer sleeve is now squared off in the corners.  And the weapons crate endcaps are new.  A bright red color, the new crates have a more streamlined design to them and the single clasp is decorated with the new Kung-Fu Grip logo embossed in it.  Very nice though the ones I've assembled so far seem to be a little bit off in lining up the top and bottom halves.  And the clasp closure can be a bit tighter than we're used to but once you get it lined up and closed it stays closed nice and tight.

Now about the Red Banshee figure... let's just say its what we expected - a Sigma 6 style Transformer.  Banshee has two modes, robot and cycle and honestly niether one is perfect.  Let's start with robot mode since that's how he comes in the box.

Red Banshee's robot mode is very insectile in nature and reminds me a lot of the Sigma 6 2.5"  Mantis Mech.  I can see these being produced by Destro's company for Cobra, using the same basic tech they used for the Mantis Mech.  The robot head is pretty vicious looking with large sharp teeth and those three evil vacant eyes.  In robot mode his arms fold out and long bladeclaws form the hands.  These look okay but a little more articulation would be welcome.  In fact additional articulation all around would be very welcome.  The Banshee robot mode has standard swivel shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles.  And that's it.  No cut joints for wrists, no waist, no balljoint in the ankle.  Honestly the articulation (other than the waist) wouldn't affect the transformation or the cycle mode at all so adding a few more points would work well.  As is, you can get some decent poses but mostly he's just good for standing there looking menacing.

And Red Banshee has Kung-Fu Grip in its right claw/hand.  Why?  I have no idea as it really serves no purpose other than just to be there.  The thumbclaw isn't large enough to make holding anything possible and the spring doesn't feel as tight as the other KFG figures.  To me this is just a waist of materials and effort.  Adding in a wrist joint would have been much more welcome than the KFG.  Also the limbs can be popped off and have attachments that are identical to the ones on the Mantis Mech.  I'm sure you could swap out limbs but I don't have a Mantis Mech handy to try it out on.  And the removable limbs just make the joints that much more loose.

In cycle mode, Red Banshee sits a bit awkwardly.  The joints aren't very tight considering the transformation process.  A little more tightness in the ratcheting joints would make the cycle mode a LOT better.  With the loose joints you end up with parts that don't sit right or line up perfectly making the cycle mode look a little bit off.  I will say that the cycle mode reminds me a LOT of the new "Bat-Cycle" for the new Batman film "The Dark Knight".  If you've seen those pictures you know what I'm talking about.  The rider sits on the seat and the handlebars are close to the seat making the rider almost sit on the controls.  It can work and using the "super-articulated" Storm Shadow works well.  But the loose joints just make the cycle that much harder to play with.

As for accessories, well Red Banshee doesn't have any other than the new weapons crate which seems kinda pointless since he doesn't have anything to store.  Instead Banshee's big gimmick is the transformation and it works but is still a bit hit and miss.

The directions that come with the figure for transforming it are good and work but I think either they left off a couple steps or they intended the robot mode to look wierd.  The directions take you up to what I consider the next to last step.  The last step that I used is folding the "rear/lower" wheels up against the back.  That makes the robot mode look a LOT more like a robot.

And the transformation process is very very simple, which is good for a kids toy.  Anything more difficult would have been a bit offputting for kids so the simple design and transformation process is nice.  Basically it all involves folding and moving the various parts to a new position (arms move up or down, the lower legs fold in and out, the head flips up and down and the wheels move)  With the added step I listed above you get a much more robot like robot mode.

Color-wise, Red Banshee is molded in orange and black with some silver and metallic blue hightlights.  The orange, again, ties it to the Mantis Mech and the use of black is limited and works.  The wheel struts are modled in offwhite and the black tires contrast off this nicely.  There are a few paint applications and stamped logos that add just the right amount of detail.

I have to be honest here.  I'm disappointed in this figure.  The articulation could have been upped without losing anything in the transformation and made the robot mode much more fun.  And tighter ratcheting joints would help the cylce mode a LOT.  Adding Kung-Fu Grip to this figure is just a waste and honestly I'm still not understanding that decision.  Can I recommend this figure?  Only for the completists and folks that like Transformers.  If you're looking for a cycle for your Sigma 6 figures, the slightly oversized Ninja Cycles work much better and you can probably find them for less than this Commando figure.  For what its supposed to do, the Red Banshee works.  Its a decent robot and a somewhat decent cycle.  But its perfect in neither mode.  I'll keep mine just for the novelty but I wouldn't buy any more or armybuild this at all.  Sad that such an intersting concept is so flawed in its execution.














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