Alternate Mode: Backhoe
Thanks to Charl of Lexicon for donating Hoist for this review.
Height: 9.5cm Length: 16cm Width: 10cm
A creamy white backhoe with a big dullish orange arm on the right hand side. The bucket is brown, as are the treads. He's got a silver painted cockpit in the middle, as well as some charcoal bits. The combination of colours works very well, four earthy tones and no random fluoro outbreaks make Hoist's colour scheme a good one.
As mentioned, he's a backhoe with a big arm on the right hand side. Basically, he's got an outrigger on each side, the right one carries the arm, the left one I assume is there for balance so the machine doesn't tip over. Of course, they form his arms, so he has to have two anyway, but I can buy it being a counterbalance. The central piece is the cabin, and below the windows is an engine grill, so I guess there’s an engine in there somewhere.
There's pretty good movement here. The top section can rotate 360°, the swivel as actually towards the front. Pushing on the back of the outrigger pushes the arm forward - this springs back into place once you stop pushing forward. The arm can't actually reach down, rather it can drag things backward. This mechanism has six joints in all, but it's connected in such a way that everything moves together. There are white pistons attached to the arm, they function as struts, since they don't actually extend, but create the intended illusion of there being pistons, so I'm calling them that.
There's a little black clip on the rear of this outrigger, which at first glance seems like it's got a spring for no reason. it's designed so that if you pull it forward and lock it into place, the arm can't reach forward until you attach a Minicon into the port at the back of the outrigger, which will cause the clip to spring back and release the mechanism. This is clearly a case of designing the gimmick first and trying to make it Minicon dependant second. It's not something that really gets in the way, and you can ignore it if you like, so I'm not really troubled by it. Hoist has three more ports, all dead, in this mode. One is on the back of the left hand outrigger, the others on the sides of the outriggers. He has three wheels on his underside, which allow him to roll. They're ridged, so they'll roll better on carpet than a tabletop.
While the play value's quite cool, the most impressive thing about Hoist's backhoe mode is the detailing. He's big and blocky, so he looks like he's meant to be a giant piece of earthmoving machinery. The sculpt and painted details really make this work, though. He's got all sorts of industrial bits moulded onto him, such as piping and rivets, as well as great detail on the treads and wheels inside the treads (which are painted a light blue). He's got a brown block on top of his right outrigger with a moulded Autobot symbol painted red - only the raised part is painted, too which is nice. The left outrigger has "SD74" stamped on it, complete with the border like ink spill you often get from stamping. There are warning stripes on the shovel arm, so the paint mask isn't restricted to the white and brown plastic parts.
The colour scheme works well, and Hoist's play value is quite good for a deluxe. But the thing that really impresses me about this mould is the attention to detail in the sculpting and paint job. Someone sat down with this guy and made sure both the sculpt and paint mask were done well, and this has turned what could be a mediocre backhoe mode into good one. It would have been fairly easy for the designer to say "ok, it's a backhoe, I'm done", but the detailing really makes this guy _look_ like a massive machine. I doubt it's a real model of backhoe, but it looks like it could be, thanks to the details.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
The treads basically unfold and swing down to form the legs, using about eight joints a piece to do so. The rear of the backhoe base is actually the feet folded around and interlocked to form a solid platform, which is a nice touch. The outriggers become the arms, the left hand flips out from both the top and bottom of the outrigger - the thumb from the top and the fingers from the bottom. His head flips up onto the top of the cabin, which is the chest, and rotates 180°. The shoulders swing out a bit to give his arms clearance from his legs. The right arm is the shovel arm, you don’t have to manipulate it aside from swinging it down. You'll notice that while the right arm swings down in the transformation, the left one swings up. Most of this transformation is in the legs, the top half is very simple.
Height: 19cm Width: 15cm
Still largely a creamy white, Hoist has a white torso and largely white arms. His left hand has brown digits and a charcoal port in the palm, the right arm ends not in a hand but a giant orange and brown shovel assembly. His groin and feet are orange and his legs brown, with blue and silver paint on the knees and ankles. His head is brown with a blue face and some orange on the forehead.
While on the head, you might notice it looks quite familiar. In the Armada storyline, Hoist is an upgrade of Smokescreen, and there is some similarity in the face. But this is _not_ Smokescreen's head - it's Dinobot's! It _really_ looks like his cartoon incarnation's head, and also a lot like the toys. I'm not so sure this was deliberate, but the resemblance is uncanny, nonetheless. Anyway, he has green eyes which are quite small, a big chin and a rather grouchy mouth.
The attention to detail is still present here. He's got the silver and blue patches on his legs as mentioned, as well as the facial sculpt. The Autobot symbol is now on his right shoulder, showing they paid attention to where they put it - good placement in both modes.
Probably Hoist's biggest problem in robot mode is the shovel arm. While I can live with him having a shovel arm and no hand, it's heavy and he has a tendency to keel over sideways. His feet are quite big and they've thoughtfully moulded him so that his legs are slightly spread, which means this is far less of a problem than it could have been, but you still have to be careful when posing him.
Speaking of posing, his poseability is reasonably good for Armada. The head is on a ball joint, his shoulders both rotate 360° on ratcheting joints, both elbows allow for the forearms to rotate and the left one also bends, and the left hand effectively has a hand that can open and close. There's a thumb of sorts on his right hand (ie opposite the bucket) that can open and close, giving him the means to grip things. The waist, being the connection between treads and upper section in backhoe mode, turns right around. The hips are ball joints and the knees bend (albeit a little unnaturally), but the leg poseability is somewhat limited in practice since you've got to keep him from falling over sideways.
While it's not as good as the backhoe mode, there's still a lot of positives here. The detailing is again excellent, and the poseability is also quite good. I just wish he’d stop falling over whenever I bump him gently - my desk is really quite crowded at the moment, and he keeps sending Convention Sideswipe flying.
Alternate Mode: Mining Vehicle Thing
Height: 2.5cm Length: 7cm Width: 4.5cm
Yes, I called it a thing. It's a weird dragster-like vehicle orange vehicle with huge clamps on the front, big brown tyres at the back with four exhaust pipes on the back. He's got a silver cab right at the front of the vehicle itself, but the clamp arms, which look like antlers, sticking out a fair way in front of this. The clamp arms, along with some mechanical bits on the sides are the same charcoal as on Hoist, the brown is the same as Hoist's, but the orange is brighter than Hoist's, and brighter than it has reason to be. I'm not really sure what the guy designing this vehicle mode was thinking (and possibly smoking), but aside from being a construction vehicle of sorts, it's link to Hoist is pretty tenuous.
Refute has a small rubber wheel on his underside, if you roll him along a hard surface with a little downward pressure the claws move in and out, which is nice. It's the only good point about this mode, but at least it has something good to report, right?
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Extend the rear section to form the legs and rotate them 180° and you're done. BTW he's mistransformed on the card, they didn't spin the waist in the photos on the back.
Height: 9cm, Width: 4.5cm
He's tall for a Minicon, even without the antlers, but with the antlers he's a giant. He's a still dominated by that orange, his arms, antlers, groin and thighs are charcoal. His eyes are silver, but his face is all orange otherwise (and this is a bad thing).
I'm not really sure what the antlers are meant to be, and while they sit on his shoulders, not on his head, they really look like antlers. I can just imagine Refute's head above someone's mantelpiece.
His arms are very clawlike, being the mechanical bits on the side of the vehicle mode. Along with the monochrome face and a square head they make him look like a drone. They bend at the elbows, his hips swing and his waist rotates, so he has some poseability. The rubber wheel is on his chest here, and it's attached to a gear, which was no doubt part of an attachment gimmick for Hoist (or someone else maybe?) that was abandoned. This mechanical bit is in keeping with the rest of this mode, so it doesn't hurt the aesthetic, in fact it helps a little.
Not a great robot mode, but he has some poseability, so it's probably the better of Refute's two modes.
None that I'm aware of, although TFU Ransack is a repaint and Cybertron Longrack is a retool (sans Minicon).
Hoist has some shortcomings, but it's clear someone put time and thought into him. The colour scheme, moulding and paint mask really impress me, and the play value's quite good for an Armada toy this size. Refute is forgettable, you'll notice I don't even mention him in the review of Hoist himself - who doesn't really need a Minicon anyway. I initially passed up Hoist, because I didn't like the fact one arm was a shovel assembly rather that a true arm. But there's a lot of good in this toy, and while his Minicon is poor, Hoist is a toy I'd recommend in spite of Refute - 7/10