Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Solitaire

Out of all the Rock Lords (excluding rare foreign variants), Solitaire is easily the most desirable. This is for several reasons: she's one of the main characters in the Rock Lord movie, she's a female character, she was released in the harder-to-find Jewel Lords series, and... well, just look at her!
As a female character from the 80s, Solitaire isn't particularly subtle. She's got lipstick for a start! It's still a great design though - her form is lithe and well-defined, and at the same time very angular to befit her diamond nature. The head-spikes  and big collar with shoulder pads are an especially nice touch. Tonka didn't go for the whole 'girly-girl' look - yes she's clearly female but looks tough at the same time. There's no high heels or bum (as you'd see on Hasbro female Transformers) and while there is a clear chest it isn't unnaturally large (again as you'd see on Hasbro female Transformers). And she's not pink! Blue can be a girls colour too!

With all Jewel Lords, the main selling point was the transparent plastic. Solitaire has two shades - white and a teal-blue, both of which look fabulous when held up to the light. I'm slightly less sure about the blue paint-app on her stomach. Yes, it adds some more colour, but it isn't transparent so feels a bit out of place.  Tonka even went to the trouble of painting the internal screws that you can see through her back! The die-cast which holds her legs and arms together internally isn't painted, but these are high-friction pieces so you can forgive that.
Solitaire can turn her head and has full shoulder and elbow joints, though her legs can only move from side to side. She does have ankle tilts, but the opportunity to do anything useful with them is limited. She comes with a golden sword which also has a big part in the movie, but sadly I'm still missing that!
Her transformation is simple, though has a few points of interest. The head twists around, the arms fold upwards into grooves on the shoulders, and the legs pull up and inwards. It's impressive how sections of her sculpt fit together (the hands in the shoulders, the ankle spurs in the top of the legs) to give a transformation and yet also a clearly female form, but at the same time, it's not a particularly convincing result.
She turns into a diamond that does look a lot like a huddled up character, but at least there are no gaps in it. A more uniform colour scheme would have made it look more cohesive (which the Japanese version does have) but it still works well enough for me. All the screws are on the back of the diamonds apart from the arm ones, which are on the front due to how the arms rotate in transformation which is a bit of a shame, but it's a small issue!

Solitaire is easily one of my favourite figures. You can see why she's so desired. All of the Jewel Lords look fabulous, and Solitaire has the bonus of being a well-designed female with an clever if not entirely successful transformation. The Tonka Gobots line was always far far better than Transformers at female representation, and Solitaire feels like a continuation of this.

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