Toy Review - Transformers Combiner Wars Protectobots
With the tangled web of intrigue, exclusives and shuffled teams of waves 1 and 2 out of the way, Hasbro found solid footing for their third wave of Combiner Wars figures. All wave 3 deluxes were Protectobots and the wave 3 Voyagers were the Protectobot leader Hot Spot and a Cyclonus that was a repaint/slight remold of Silverbolt. I could go on about this Cyclonus and how much sense he doesn’t make…but that’s a rant for another time. Let’s take a deeper look at the Protectobots and their combined form, Defensor.
Starting off with the Deluxe class entries, well…we start to see what’s going to become more and more prevalent in Combiner Wars, mold re-use. Blades is a slight remold of wave 1’s Alpha Bravo (and is the only rescue helicopter I’ve ever seen with missiles on the side), Streetwise is a slight remold of wave 2’s Dead End and First-Aid is slightly more extensive remold of wave 2’s Offroad. The only new mold we have this time around is a completely new character, Rook, who turns into a SWAT APC sort of thing. So, where’s Groove? Well, according to Deee-Lite, Groove is in the heart…and actually, really awful pun aside, they’re not too far from wrong. Well, he’s also in Japan…grumble…but let’s get back to that horrible pun. Groove is still a member of the team, but has been demoted to a Legends class figure…as Hasbro has opted to listen to the fans bitching about scale at the absolute wrong-est time. And as a Legends class, Groove follows the path blazed by Blackjack, becoming the chestpiece of Defensor. While he stays in place much better than his predecessor, ultimately Groove doesn’t really look all that great as said chestpiece. There’s a way to attach him to Rook in order to attempt to re-create the classic Defensor silhouette…but that looks even worse. Since I like to keep each of the teams together in combined mode as best I can, the lesser of the two evils wins here and Groove remains a chestpiece.
Except in Japan. Yet again, Takara causes fanboys including myself to turn a seething glance of envy over to the island nation…where Groove is a full sized deluxe and, yes indeed, becomes the full-fledged limb to Defensor he was always meant to be. Ideally, I’d heed your unspoken “Then quit yer bitchin’ and just order the damn thing online, you whiny man-child”, [Took the words right out of my mouth. – Ed.] but Groove does not come singly packaged. If I want him, I have to buy ALL of the Protectobots, and as you can tell from this review, I already have them. There is a glimmer of hope though. Quickslinger/Slingshot was included in the Takara Superion set…and we got him. Brake-Neck/Wildrider was included in the Takara Menasor set…and we got him too. So, is there some Groove in our future? Only Hasbro can say. The best argument I can make, with a Silverbolt-remold Scattershot on the way (reported to be seen at retail but I don’t have him yet) well, a motorcycle combiner limb could be easily retooled to make a Technobot Afterburner…and as we’re learning…Hasbro is ALL about the mold reuse.
Okay, instead of pining for what we don’t have, let’s take a look at what we do. Hrm. Actually, thanks to the mold reuse and the previous reviews for Superion and Menasor, a lot of that work is already done for me! So let’s take a look at the new guy, Rook. He certainly lives up to his name [What, he only moves forward and backward and side to side? – Ed.] in that he’s a stocky, hefty bot. Overall, he’s a solid entry into the group with only a minor quibble. His hands. His hands are molded into fists with a port kinda above his knuckles to plug his gun into…it’s…meh. I’d rather have the hands. The fact that they did indeed remold these fists into actual hands for the Combaticon Swindle, a remold of Rook, well, either it’s a good idea that came too late or maybe a bit of laziness on the design team’s part. Legends class Groove isn’t a bad bot and makes for a good basic TF…but so long as the shadow of a potential Deluxe Groove exists, well, the little guy just can’t live up to that. Hot Spot, as the core of the team, is both ingenious and infuriating. The way he turns into the chest and head of Defensor is amazing, with the ladder dropping down between the legs and up the back. This does eliminate any prospect of waist articulation but I’ll forgive a lot for a neat transformation. There are a couple of things that bother me about him though. First off, he also suffers from what I’m starting to call “hollow-bot syndrome”…mainly in the robot mode torso. Also, it’s not so much a problem for me, but I’ve seen a fair number of YouTube reviews get the leg transformation in robot mode wrong, affecting the stability of how well Hot Spot can stand. It took me a few times to get it just right…and the instructions, as always are…shall we be polite and say ‘less than helpful’? What you need to do, there are two joints in there, making you think he might have a double jointed knee. If you do that, he’ll be unstable as all heck. Instead, at the lower joint, make sure that’s bent 90 degrees toward the back. At the higher joint, bring the leg up…so you kinda want it to look like this:
Yeah, I know, I could’ve taken a picture…but I only thought of it now while typing the review…so hopefully the shoddy diagram helps.
In his combined mode, Defensor is probably the shortest of the combiners thus far, but still looks good. He has the same articulation as we’ve seen from combiners up to this point (with Menasor being the only one thus far to have waist articulation). What makes this part of the review difficult is that with this being the third combiner and there not being any real changes from what we’ve seen up to this point, well, what you see is what you get…and if you like what you see, you’ll like what you get and if you don’t, you won’t. Having liked Combiner Wars so far, it stands to reason that yes, I like Defensor too. I’d like him better with a deluxe class Groove…but that’s not a judgement on Rook, just as my using Quickslinger/Slingshot as Superion’s arm isn’t a knock on Alpha Bravo.
However, Defensor does start to hint at something that might become a problem the longer the Combiner Wars go on: the shortage of new molds. With Wave 4, we get Autobot repaints of the wave 2 Stunticons with another Optimus repaint. Wave 5, the Combaticons, has one new mold, Brawl, with Vortex being Alpha Bravo, Blast Off being Firefly (WHY????), Onslaught being Hot Spot (though a rather interesting reuse, I’ll give ‘em that) and the aforementioned Swindle being taken from Rook. Wave 6? Another round of Autobot cars, but at least this time with a new core, Sky Lynx. And I nearly forgot yet another Silverbolt remold/repaint for Scattershot. This might start to get a bit tiresome. Add to that the comment reported online that Hasbro isn’t currently looking into animal molds for their combiners and you end up ruling out the Terrorcons and Abominus, the wildly popular Predacons and Predaking, the Seacons and Piranhacon and the after-the-fact Pretender Monsters and Monstructor. While missing out on Monstructor doesn’t faze me one way or the other…the remaining subgroups? Not getting those would suck…ESPECIALLY Predaking, particularly since thanks to Transformers Prime’s third and final season, the Predacon and Predaking trademarks are already in place.
Still…all of that is a rant for another place. [Even though you just did it here. – Ed.] This is a review for Defensor…and I liked him.