Toy Review - Transformers Combiner Wars Aerialbots
Wave 1 of Transformers: Combiner Wars was…well…they tried. The Voyager class figures were Optimus Prime and Silverbolt and the Deluxe class figures were Skydive, Firefly, Alpha Bravo and…Dragstrip. One of these things is not like the others… The missing Aerialbot, Air Raid, was pushed back to wave 2 because…reasons. This gets worse. For wave 2, consisting of the remaining 3 Stunticons as well as the sole remaining Aerialbot…well, that was only one case option. The other case option was just all 4 Stunticons. Now, add to that the case distribution for option 1 was one and only one Air Raid per case and…well, I’m sure there’s no shortages of tales of woe involving this lonely Aerialbot. Then there’s Amazon-exclusive Quickslinger…a Firefly remold to give hardcore GeeWunners their much bemoaned Slingshot.
The point of all that? We’ve got us some Aerialbots: Silverbolt, Skydive, Firefly, Alpha Bravo, Quickslinger/Slingshot, Air Raid and Powerglide. Wait…Powerglide? “And awaaaaaaaay we go!” mini-spy Powerglide? Yup, he’s the gun…ish. We’ll get to that.
Now, none of the above should reflect on the quality of the figures themselves. The Aerialbots themselves have a full range of articulation: head, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips and knees…typical of this modern age of Transformers toys. For the limb-bots, sure, one could levy the criticism that they all pretty much transform exactly the same…minor variations on Skydive and Alpha Bravo excepted…but that was the way of them back when the Scramble City combiners first hit the market in ’85…if you play the strict nerd-nostalgia card…well, there’s no real reason to gripe, is there? For Silverbolt…well, he maintains his usual standard…and that’s both good and bad. He’s the same supersonic jet on top/robot cargo on the bottom that pretty much every Silverbolt toy ever was (Beast Wars excluded because…well…duh). But the way the combined mode chest and head are integrated into the figure are…well…pretty impressive. Lastly, there’s the Legends class Powerglide…so he keeps his mini-spy status. And I have to admit, given just how few Autobots could fly in those initial seasons of the cartoon, it always made me wonder why Powerglide wasn’t a member of the Aerialbots. [Hooray, 7 year old you is sated…the world may now celebrate. – Ed.] To have him transform into Superion’s gun is a good idea…but the execution almost didn’t work. If you do it as the instructions guide you, well, it’s not terribly impressive. What saved it for me was noticing that Powerglide’s landing gear, the handle by which Superion would hold this gun mode, also fits into a hole on top of Silverbolt’s really long gun. Merging the two…much much better! And while Powerglide isn’t a vital part of Superion the way that Blackjack is part of Menasor…well…given the problems with Blackjack actually staying in place, Powerglide actually proves to be the better integration.
So what about the combined mode? This is a great mass-market Superion displaying all of the advancements Hasbro/Takara and third-party manufacturers have made in engineering combiners. Superion has knees and elbows now as well as shoulders that rotate AND hinge outward. The modern combiners have a pretty good amount of articulation and, with a Voyager class as the core, much more stability and better proportions than the Fall of Cybertron Bruticus that was released a few years back. Sadly, there’s no waist articulation this time around, but it’s not a deal breaker. Just like his Scramble City forebear, each of the limb-bots can become either arms or legs but unlike the earlier one, and I think I mentioned this in the Menasor review, fists and feet are interchangeable...they just depend on how you transform said chunk of plastic. I guess at this point, I should comment on the whole Alpha Bravo vs Quickslinger/Slingshot thing. When these new Aerialbots were revealed, the entire internet, in unison, asked “who the hell is this Alpha Bravo guy and where’s Slingshot?” Personally, I didn’t mind swapping out yet another jet for a helicopter…I kinda liked that. But naming him Alpha Bravo…man, that just kinda seemed lazy. Other than that, I didn’t miss Slingshot all that much. Then, Hasbro released him as an exclusive and in many people’s eyes, the team was complete. And I have to admit, when I form Superion, as much as I like the variety that Alpha Bravo brings…yeah, it’s always Slingshot. I think I know why I do that though. You see, in comparing Menasor and Superion, Menasor feels like a monsterous amalgamation…something more just slammed together. Superion, being mostly symmetrical, has a bit of finesse, polish…like this is a finished technology…that feels much more Autobot. Alpha Bravo doesn’t completely take that away, as the feeling is more generated from how the cores of each respective combiner conveys said bot’s personality, but again, Slingshot simply exemplifies a better symmetry.
All in all, Superion would’ve been a great way for Hasbro to start the Combiner Wars. It’s just a shame they kinda bungled it a bit with the whole Air Raid thing. If you can get your mitts on the whole team though…and with the G2 redeco box set coming, that should be pretty easy…this new Aerialbot team makes a loud statement that Combiners are back…and damn are they good!