Monday, March 31, 2014

REVIEW: Imaginext Cosmic Chaos Ion Crab

Produced by Imaginext | Released 2013

Cosmic Chaos
The Cosmic Chaos line is Imaginext's space-themed range of toys and vehicles. We've already taken a look at the super-retro, MASK/Masters of the Universe-channeling Alpha Blade but today we're taking a close-up look at one of the line's alien-themed sets, the Ion Crab.

The Ion Crab Playset
The Ion Crab vehicle set features - as the Alpha Blade before it - an action-gimmick vehicle, plus a pilot and an assortment of weapons/accessories. We'll begin by taking a look at the pilot.

The Pilot
It's pretty clear that whoever came up with the design for the Ion Crab's Pilot was going for a pretty far-out look. It's surprising - and refreshing - to see an alien design that is genuinely quite alien. And yes, it still sports the standard two arms, two legs, vaguely humanoid shape (at least when not wearing his harness) but there are still some very unusual - and impressive - features to its look.

Sculpt & Design
The Pilot is inspired by some kind of arachnid/crab hybrid, sporting a very unusual, very alien design.
His claws are clearly crab-inspired but there's a kind of ''hairy'' look to the figure that echoes the look of tarantulas and large spiders, coupled with an assortment of barbs and hooks on his limbs and a pair of giant mandibles that truly capture the ''creepy spider'' look.
And as you can see, his legs feature a bizarre ''double-shin'' design, which is just so creepy and weird and just adds to the whole ''alien'' vibe of the figure. And yes, that fuzzy hair across his ''head'' is as irresistibly touchy-feely as you'd imagine it to be. It's definitely a very alien design that works well against the standard humanoid form of the Alpha Blade Pilot and shows a level of imagination and design one wouldn't expect from a line of toys intended for younger children.

It's creepy, spider-like and very, very alien. 

Like the other Imaginext toys, the Ion Crab Pilot features a fairly functional but somewhat limited range of articulation. Unlike most other figures from the line, this pilot doesn't have a separate head, meaning there's no neck joint. He does however sport ball joints at the shoulders, twist-joint wrists and single-joint hips - with both legs connected to the same motion (so in other words, both legs move as one.) It's a shame they're not individually mounted, as it would be cool to be able to make the figure appear to be running, but as he's primarily a pilot, being able to sit is pretty much all you'd really expect of the figure.

As you may have noticed, the Ion Crab Pilot has a pretty unusual color scheme. The strange mix of yellow and blue and purple is odd enough, but throw in the red and the actual shades of color used and it becomes a very alien look indeed!
The actual application is OK, with most of the areas being reasonably clean although there are a few very minor blemishes on some of the edges. It's no worse than some stuff I've seen on figures larger than the Imaginext line and it's by no means awful. Just be sure to pick-out the best application if you find yourself with the opportunity to do so.

The Ion Crab
Let's now turn our attention to the Pilot's super-weird vehicle, the Ion Crab.
Sculpt & Design
Like the Alpha Blade, the Ion Crab sports a very retro look that will remind older collectors of a variety of toys. Most obvious is the Masters of the Universe's Monstroid and Spydor toys but I'm also reminded strongly of the Micronauts Alien toy aesthetic, especially such vehicles as the Terraphant.
I really like this retro-look, as I'm a big fan of older toys, so it's cool to see these elements being incorporated in such a way. But even without such nods, it's still a great-looking vehicle, with plenty of up-close detail (such as the segmented limbs and padded seat) that reveals more to you the closer you look.
The ''cockpit'' is a neat fit for the figure, featuring a couple of control levers which fit snugly into the Pilot's hand and hold him there fairly securely, although I did find when I was pushing the vehicle my hand tended to fall to the figure rather than the vehicle, meaning I would sometimes dislodge him. But this is a very minor point.

The Ion Crab's two fore-limbs are actually pose-able claw-like appendages, which can be moved and positioned during play or display.
The clawed arms connect to the chassis via a single rotating joint, allowing limited horizontal motion, with an ''elbow'' joint coming in at around halfway along the limb's length. Again, movement here is fairly limited but it's neat to see and having the option to position the arms is good.

Play Features
Like the Alpha Blade, the vehicle includes a ''push-powered'' play feature, in this case, the four ''leg'' limbs have a ''crawl'' motion that's activated when the wheels on the bottom of the chassis move as the vehicle is rolled forward, making it appear to be propelled forward by these limbs. It's a very cool, very creepy effect that works well (unless you're pushing it over a particularly smooth surface) and looks great.

Extras & Accessories
As well as including the vehicle and its pilot, the set includes a couple of additional accessories for the pilot in the form of a six-limbed harness and a blaster-cum-sword weapon.

The harness is a reasonable fit, although it can get in the way when moving the shoulder joints. And the weapon fits pretty well into the hand. However, neither of the pieces are really that exciting and whilst I'm happy to see their inclusion they're not the pieces you'll be buying the set specifically for.

Final Thoughts
Like the Alpha Blade - and indeed, the rest of the Imaginext toys - the Ion Crab is a superbly fun bit of retro goodness. With shades of Masters of the Universe, Micronauts and a host of other vintage toys and figures casting their shadow over this toy though, it would be easy to dismiss it as simply trading on nostalgia value. That, however, is not the case, as beyond the vintage design the toy is really fun in its own right.

The pilot is a wonderfully creepy bit of alien design. From his weird, no-head head and double-shin legs to his furry back and day-glo coloring he's every bit the alien and it's great to see a design that's so strange and unusual. As with all the Imaginext figures, the lack of double-hip joints is a disappointment but given that the figures have shoulders with a wider range of movement than many figures of twice their price, it's not that big an issue.

Indeed, the pricing is certainly something collectors will find attractive. At less than you'd pay for a stand-alone figure, you get both the alien and his vehicle, both of which are produced to a standard as high - if not higher - than some other, more expensive toys. But that's not to say it's simply a case of ''it's cheap, so it's good.'' The quality of the design, the paint app and the overall build of the Ion Crab are all of a high standard and, if you're a fan of retro-style, fun space toys then you should certainly be paying attention to the Cosmic Chaos line. And if you're looking for an entry point, then this is certainly it.

A fun, retro-style, rugged and most definitely alien toy fans of vintage lines or weird alien toys will be sure to enjoy.

Image Gallery


  1. I like the figures colors and the Crab ship has the MOTU vibe so this is a big winner for me.

    1. I think a lot of older fans would really enjoy the Imaginext stuff if they paid it a little more attention (it's easy to dismiss it as too childish), as they're really very cool retro-style toys.

  2. I want the previously done crab. I do not remember the name for it though.


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