TRANSFORMERS CHESS SET
Once again, I hope no one is looking at this review in the hopes of getting the rules of chess explained. I'm not getting into that. What I am getting into is this Transformers Movie edition of Chess, which is looking pretty damn awesome. Both the pieces and the board itself pull off the polished-metal look of the Movie characters (and without actually being metal, just so you know). Of course the various chess pieces represent Movie characters, but to avoid confusion, every piece has its chess designation displayed on its base.
For the Autobots, Optimus Prime is king (big surprise!) and Ironhide the queen. Bumblebee serves as Knight, Jazz as Bishop and Ratchet as Tower. Personally I'd have seen Ironhide in the Tower role, but then who'd be Queen? None of the Movie Autobots really lends itself to that role, so I guess Ironhide does a decent job. On the Decepticon side we have Megatron as king (another big surprise), Starscream as Queen, Barricade as Bishop, Blackout as Knight, and Bonecrusher as Tower. Here, too, I'd have cast someone else as the tower, Blackout in this case, but Bonecrusher looks decent there, too. And Starscream as Queen is pretty hilarious for some reason.
The pawns on both sides are represented by their respective faction symbols. The Movie toy line would have offered enough additional characters to account for all sixteen pawns, but that would probably have led to a lot of confusion, both because there'd be so many different characters on the board and because many people won't exactly be familiar with the no-show Movie characters. So I can live with the pawns as they are, no problem.
The various pieces are very nicely sculpted and closely resemble the Movie characters (more than the toys, actually), while at the same time managing to look competent in their respective chess roles. Both Kings and Queens are bigger than the other figures, Bishops and Knights are smaller than the Towers, and so on. All in all a very nice job by the designers.
The chess board is pretty generic, basically a normal chess board with some fancy metal imagery and some Transformers symbols. There is clear indication on which side you have to put up which pieces, so the normal confusion of which way aroudn is right for which colour is avoided here.
To bottom line this thing: Very nicely done. This chess set avoids any form of cartoony look, easily capturing the metallic majesty of the movie characters and putting together a very nice set up. I played a lot of chess in school (yes, I actually was in the chess club, but not the president) and though I haven't touched a board in many years, I think this here will help me get playing again. So if you're a Transformers fan and into chess, this one's for you.