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with Black Roritchi

Series: G1 Japan Masterforce
Allegiance: Destron
Categories: City
Year: 1988

Prelude: Many thanks to fellow TF-fan BlackZarak, who loaned me BlackZarak for this review. Sadly BlackZarak (the toy) is missing the original helmet, which BlackZarak (the guy) replaced with a painted replica of Scorponok’s helmet. Also, some of the gold plastic parts have been spray-painted to counteract the onset of Gold Plastic Syndrome.

Robot Mode: BlackZarak is one of the biggest robots of the original Transformers toyline, a tall, broad robot with big claws for hands. He exchanges Scorponok’s original green and purple colors for a mostly black paintjob with gold and red highlights. Like most G1 figures his articulation is rather limited, though pretty good when compared to many of his contemporaries. His arms can move pretty nicely, the only things he really lacks are knees. BlackZarak’s scorpion tail is pretty much fixed to his back, but he can unfold his tail stinger above his head.

There are two major differences to Scorponok apart from the colors. One, he has gotten an additional weapon. Scorponok carried a big rifle and his clawed arm shield. BlackZarak adds a long red spear, which was also his main weapon in the cartoon. The other new item is the head. Scorponok had an open helmet where you could fit the Headmaster figure in (see below). BlackZarak originally had a complete head that fit completely over the Headmaster figure (to the point where you could just leave it aside) with a sculpted face. As mentioned above, the helmet is missing here, but I included a small picture of it in the close-up picture of BlackZarak.

What else to say? The Scorponok mold makes for one of the most imposing bad guys of G1 and looks even more menacing in black, I think. So bottom line: a very cool robot mode, definitely among the better ones of its time period.

Alternate Modes: Just like Scorponok BlackZarak is a triple changer. His first alternate mode is a giant mechanical scorpion. The robot basically lies down on its back, folds in the legs and stretches the claw-arms above his head. The tiny scorpion legs on the sides are mostly there for the visuals, as the scorpion actually rolls on little wheels. Rolling it over the floor makes the scorpion legs move. The claw-arms remain fully poseable in this mode as well, of course. Overall the best of BlackZarak’s alternate modes, very nicely done.

His second alternate mode is a ‘city’, actually a futuristic base. BlackZarak’s scorpion tail becomes the central ramp, the legs stretch out sideways, and the claw arms and clawed arm shield become the towers. There is a launch pad in the center where you can launch Roritchi’s vehicle mode from. There are several plug-in antennas and such, as well as two repair bays with plug-in repair arms. The base doesn’t look bad, far from it, but to me it’s still the worst of the four citybots’ city modes, mostly because there is very little room for smaller TFs to interact here.

In the cartoon series BlackZarak had a fourth mode called ‘Hydra Mode’. Basically it’s the scorpion mode set upright with the helmet and scorpion legs removed and the two claw hands serving as double heads. It’s technically possible to bring the toy into this mode as well, but I refrained from doing so for fear of breaking it. Suffice to say the toy version of the Hydra Mode would look far, far less streamlined than it did in the cartoon.

Partners / Add-Ons: BlackZarak comes with a gold version of Scorponok’s support robot Fasttrack called Black Roritchi. Roritchi is not black at all, though. He is, in fact, made ENTIRELY of gold plastic, making him potentially fragile to the extreme. Which is why this version here was spray-painted gold to preserve some of his integrity. Roritchi folds in half to become a sort-of assault vehicle and carries two purple guns. As a support robot he’s fully okay, but nothing more.

Naturally BlackZarak also has a Headmaster figure along, a repaint of Lord Zarak. Though he was not depicted as a Headmaster in the cartoon and his original helmet completely obscures the fact that his head detaches (you can just as well leave it off), the larger robot still retains the full Headmaster functionality.

Remarks: In the rather complicated Japanese G1 continuity Mega Zarak (the Japanese name of Scorponok) was the main bad guy in the Headmasters series, which followed the third season of the original cartoon. In the follow-up series Masterforce we saw BlackZarak, the secret weapon of top bad guy Devil Z. You had to read the accompanying Manga, though, to find out that BlackZarak and Mega Zarak were in fact the same guy, who fell afoul of Devil Z and was enslaved by him. In the finale of Masterforce Devil Z took over BlackZarak’s body and was eventually destroyed by God Ginrai.

BlackZarak is one of the rarest Transformers from that time, mostly because of his many gold plastic parts, meaning he is very hard to find in intact condition. When I was sent this rare figure, I sweated buckets as I put him through his transformations, hoping against hope that nothing would break. You’ll be glad to hear: nothing did. So I can tell you that this is a great figure. Better than Scorponok? Depends on whether you like black or green more, I guess. Still, a great, rare figure from the glory days of Japanese G1. Recommended if you have the luck to find an intact one and can afford him.

Rating: B+
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