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Armada (toyline)

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Armada »
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Armada Smokescreen toy

Smokescreen and his Mini-Con partner Liftor -- a Deluxe Supercon Autobot from the early waves of Armada (and its most enduring shelfwarmers).

Armada marked a fresh start for the Transformers brand, a reinvention that introduced a whole new universe and backstory for the robots in disguise. The franchise also introduced a new faction, the Mini-Cons, whose tiny toys carried the notion of "micro play" -- a concept absent from Transformers for more than ten years. The Mini-Cons are the line's most distinctive element, as every larger toy included one or more Mini-Con partners. The line was a hit with kids; the Mini-Cons in particular proved popular with fans and children alike, and have continued on into many subsequent toylines.

The toyline marked a sharp change of design direction from the intricate, sometimes frustrating complexity found in Beast Wars, Beast Machines, and Robots in Disguise. The early offerings in particular were blocky, easy to transform, sturdy and colorful. Articulation tended to be reduced, sacrificed to keep price down in light of the need to add a Mini-Con partner to every mold. Ball joints largely disappeared. The aesthetics of larger robots hearkened back more to the blocky concepts of Generation 1, while the Mini-Cons tended to be more experimental, with odd facial designs and non-standard limbs.

Each larger toy featured a gimmick which could only be activated by attaching a Mini-Con to the appropriate hard point. Though most transformation schemes were simple, many of the Mini-Con activated gimmicks were quite complex and innovative, such as Hot Shot's "axelzooka", Scavenger's stompy-stompy action, and Optimus Prime's auto-transforming trailer. With Armada, electronics also became standard on nearly all toys larger than Deluxe/Supercon. Frequently, overall articulation suffered to accommodate these features.

Armada introduced the first role-play toys seen in Transformers since the days of G1. One, the Star Saber, was a "life sized" representation of one of the show's main McGuffins; the other, Laserbeak, was the first "life sized" Transformer toy since the likes of G1's Soundwave and Perceptor. The latter concept did not seem to catch on, however, and would not return in force until 2007's Real Gear Robots subline.

Armada also disposed of the Basic/Deluxe/Mega/Ultra size classes, in favor of a somewhat less intuitive Mini-Con/Supercon/Maxcon/Gigacon system. This was presumably done to integrate the Mini-Con name into the system. Price change came with the name change; the $20 Maxcon size replaced the $15 Mega class, while the $25 Gigacons replaced the $20 Ultras. It should be noted, however, that the two Armada size classes tended to be somewhat more bulky and massive than their predecessors.

Unicrontoyarmada

Unicron, the line's largest toy.

Toward the end, the line veered in an unexpected direction, with the introduction of the massive Unicron -- a huge toy based on the character from The Transformers: The Movie, and by far the greatest wish-fulfillment ever offered to fans from Hasbro. To promote this massive toy, the ongoing storylines of both cartoon and comic changed direction to feature the character as their central plot element.

Apart from Unicron, a few other G1 homages found their way into the line. Most notable is Starscream and his redecos as Thundercracker and the retooled Skywarp, as well as the Construction-colored Scavenger and the occasional Mini-Con redeco.

With sales exceeding expectations, the tail end of the line was padded out with several recolored Transmetal molds from Beast Wars.


Autobots

Supercon (Deluxe)

Maxcon (Mega)

Gigacon (Ultra)

Super

Roleplay

Decepticons

Supercon (Deluxe)

Maxcon (Mega)

Gigacon (Ultra)

Roleplay

Mini-Cons

The Mini-Cons were sold in carded three-packs at the Basic/Scout price point. Each team was defined by a particular gimmick or theme. Though only slightly larger than their closest precedent, the Micromasters, they featured greatly improved articulation, posability, complexity, and originality of design compared to the G1 line.

Adventure Mini-Con Team

Each features geared moving parts activated by rolling the vehicle or by attaching the figure to Cyclonus.


Aerial Extermination Mini-Con Team

Combine to form the Vorpal Saber. Redeco of the Star Saber Mini-Con Team.


Air Defense Mini-Con Team

Combine to form the Star Saber.


Air Military Mini-Con Team

Each features a weapon mode in addition to robot and vehicle.


Destruction Mini-Con Team

Each features geared moving parts activated by rolling the vehicle or by attaching the figure to Cyclonus.


Emergency Mini-Con Team

Each features a weapon mode in addition to robot and vehicle.


Land Military Mini-Con Team

Each features launching missiles.


Night Attack Mini-Con Team

Redeco of the Land Military Team. Each features launching missiles.


Race Mini-Con Team

Combine to form the Skyboom Shield.


Road Assault Mini-Con Team

Redeco of the Race Mini-Con Team. Combine to form the Skyboom Shield.


Road Wrecker Mini-Con Team

Redeco of the Destruction Team. Each features geared moving parts activated by rolling the vehicle or by attaching the figure to Cyclonus.


Sea Mini-Con Team

Each features launching missiles.


Space Mini-Con Team

Combine to form the Requiem Blaster.


Street Action Mini-Con Team

Combine to form the robot Perceptor.


Street Speed Mini-Con Team

Each features enhanced posability in robot mode.

Miscellaneous

Supercon (Deluxe)

Supreme


Notes

According to Aaron Archer during his stint as ORSON, the Armada Autobots and Decepticons had intentionally different design aesthetics. The Autobots were designed to be symmetrical with clean lines and detailing, while the Decepticons had asymmetrical sculpts and details to invoke a more foreboding and battle-worn feel. A good example of this would be Hot Shot versus Cyclonus.

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