NEO-Shifter Blaze <> Axx
Something that building toys have been doing successfully for years is creating new product lines not simply based on existing properties but creating them from whole cloth. The action figure category sorely lacks much in the way of true creativity, but thankfully we've got other segments of the toy market to fill the void.
NEO Shifter is the latest from Mega Bloks and it joins Pyrates, Plasmaverse and Dragons as home grown lines. Just like their other lines, this one is supported with video at the Mega Bloks website, to help you visualize the world of the NEO Shifters. You can also check out www.neoshifters.com for more information.
If you need to distill everything you see into catchy phrases, think of Neo-Shifters are Junkyard Wars meets Transformers meets Mechwarrior. It is also a line that treads down a similar path to LEGO's Bionicle in effectively letting you build an action figure as well as having a construction toy.
Ages 6 and up
Build time: 20-30 minutes
Cost - $10US
Have a ball!!
Another way to look at it is giant robots controlled by strange alien creatures. They walk, they fight and they conquer, and they're aimed squarely at boys from six on up.
However, don't presume because it can be described in terms of existing lines that it is simply derivative of them. It does combine some known elements but it is still unique and offers up something different that can add to other lines you may enjoy.
From the Mega Bloks site:
Built from satellite remains, Geneochrom and Hydrax fuel, NEO Shifters are duel inter-dependent robots with dynamic features, multiple transformation modes and awesomely powerful weapons. Two colossal armies, Paladins and Templars, are in a huge fight for the ultimate resource. Recruit your army and join the resistance...
So Neo-Shifters is really 'Extreme Makeover - Satellite Edition', except without a perky host but with having the makeover victims fight each other.
The two sides represent the peaceful and the destructive, with the Paladins covering the peaceful end and the Templars as the opposite. I wouldn't say that we have true good and evil, because the Templars seem to be influenced by their excessive consumption of Hydrax, so things are little more grey.
Like almost every conflict in history we have groups competing to get a resource. In this case it is Hydrax, energy that fuels the powers and abilities of the Neo-Shifters. The bad side of Hydrax is just like everything else - too much of a good thing becomes bad.
When they exceed their Hyrax thresholds the Neo-Shifters get grumpy. While it enhances their powers it corrupts them, and so the more they do it the more they shift from being peaceful to destructive.
Blaze<>Axx was formed from an experimental military satellite and since it used infra-red shock beams as a satellite, they carried over to the new model. Blaze is squarely in the Templar camp, so if you meet up be ready to fight because that's his specialty.
The man behind the curtain for the Neo-Shifters are the NEOzomes. They control their NEO Shifter, though the shifters can fight independently of the NEOzome. Just think of them as the drivers and pilots of the shifters.
Yes, there's been a lot of exposition before we finally got to the actual toy. Some of you have no doubt clicked on the photo gallery link by now just to look at the pretty pictures, but it is important to get a taste for the world this toy inhabits.
First up is a look at the box. The design looks like a book more than anything, and it opens on top to let the parts out. It has a light-up feature (the same part as the toy uses) and it has a lenticular badge on it to show how the toy transforms. The back has some more information on the toy and includes a power level listing covering areas of defense, offense speed and power.
The toy itself straddles the fence between construction toys and action figures, and it works well in both regards. You can build it, or use the parts to build something else. Due to the specialized nature of a few of the pieces it can be more of a challenge to find ways to connect them but that's part of the fun of construction.
Both the NEO-Shifter and the NEOzome can change into spheres, one of nature's perfect shapes. You'll have to unfold the NEOzome by hand but the larger shifter gives you a little help when you press a couple of buttons and the sides pop-out to get the transformation going.
When in the sphere shape, the smaller NEOzome fits inside the shifter and he can pop out of the chest via a button on the back. Once you press it the NEOzome launches out and you'll need to unball it to the humanoid shape. The NEOzome is pretty small compared with the shifters, and they can take a little work to balance when holding anything, like the pair of pistols that fit into the missile launcher for storage.
Along with the poseability and transformation you have one of the tried and true action features of toys - the spring-loaded launcher. There's a missile (it looks sort of like an energy harpoon) that fits into the launcher and shoots out a good distance. You'll want to keep it away from very young children and it is effective at annoying the family pets. Well, except for fish.
There is a light-up feature for the 'head' of the NEO-Shifter that represents the Hydrax energy core. Not only does it work to look menacing, it also is able to project on nearby darkened surfaces. It gives you and idea of where the creature's beam (and infra-red shock beam in this case) is pointed. Again, it can be used to entertain family pets, though the fish exception still stands.
Most of the articulation on the figure consists of ball and socket joints that provide a full range of motion along two planes. The other points are hinges or swivels and all together you have a wide range of poses available.
If you find the world of the NEO Shifters piques your interest, there are some supporting materials. The official website is great place to start, and it also has a preview of the video game NEO Shifters Resistance. The game is designed to be a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORG), the same type of games as World of Warcraft and City of Heroes. The game will act as a training ground for NEO Shifters. The game is currently in Beta testing and you can sign up and try it out.
The NEO-Shifter line is a great addition to not only Mega Bloks established lines but also the action-figure/construction toy market segment. There is a lot of play value in the toys, and it mixes plenty of play features with a cool toy. The only problem is going to be how quickly you lose the missile from the spring-loaded launcher due to playing with it!
Click to see more pictures of Blaze <> Axx
|Where to buy NEO-Shifters: The initial assortment contains a total of twelve toys, divided into eight that are versions of this toy and four smaller Speed Shifters. You can get these at all the large retail brick and mortar stores for about $10 for the NEO-Shifters and around $5-6 for the Speed Shifters.|