Toy Review - Transformers Combiner Wars Combaticons
At this point, we’ve gotten pretty deep in the Combiner Wars line and it’s starting to show. Wave 1 gave us the Aerialbots, wave 2 the Stunticons, wave 3 the Protectobots, wave 4 Autobot-repaints of the Stunticons…now, here we are at wave 5, the Combaticons. Are there any suprises left in a line that has generally been mold reuses after the first two waves? Well, yes and no. Let’s take a look.
Breaking down the individual bots, we’ll start with Vortex, whom we knew was the only reason Aerialbot Alpha Bravo existed. Next up is Blast-Off, who, most unfortunately is a straight repaint of Aerialbot Quickslinger (aka Slingshot)…who himself was the oh-so-slightest retool of Firefly. Initially, I had no feeling one way or the other toward this. That is, until I saw what Takara is doing for Blast-Off. Yeah, a whole new mold…and it’s a space shuttle, not a damn fighter jet, with a robot mode very reminiscent of his G1 appearance. If your monitor is currently dripping, that would be a little known phenomenon known as saliva transference. Sorry about that. [Um…ew. – Ed.] Anyway, we’ll talk more about Blast-Off later. Next up we have Swindle, a remold of Rook from the Protectobots, kinda making for a Mad Max-like off-road Jeep-ish thing, that, honestly, mostly works. Brawl proves to be the new mold for the team in what is starting to look like a tradition: wave 1, Alpha Bravo, wave 2, Offroad, wave 3, Rook and now Brawl. The internet is seemingly ablaze with hatred for poor Brawl, given the transformation of his hips/waist. While it is certainly a weak point for the mold, honestly I didn’t find it to be any kind of deal breaker and, if you search the ‘net, you’ll find plenty of work-arounds…thus boiling down to the age old proverb of “Internet gonna bitch”. Lastly, we have Onslaught, who is a remold of Hot Spot. Now, given that Protectobots and Combaticons are usually seen as arch-enemies, there’s a special kind of irony to that. What makes this even cooler though is how the mold was reused. Turns out that the front end for Onslaught is actually the rear of Hot Spot and vice versa. Given this reversal, just as the head for Defensor went between the legs of Hot Spot and up the back to rest atop the gestalt, here, it’s reversed where the gun-deck unfolds up the front to yield the well-known chest armor of Bruticus, the head on top and then the dual guns on the back. The robot modes for both team commanders does give away their shared body, but for a vehicle mode and chest mode to play out so seemingly differently, it really is a neat experience. Well done, Hasbro, well done. [That being said, check out our Protectobots review in case you have trouble transforming Onslaught’s legs…they’re just like Hot Spots. – Ed.]
The combined mode, Bruticus, plays out as you’d expect by now. It’s very much like Defensor, not surprising given the shared torso, but aside from the difference I’ve already mentioned, there is a neat little thing Bruticus does differently…the wings of his chest armor serve to lock the joints between the arms and the chest into place. Thus, neither arm will be popping out of socket unless you specifically remove it. Having had that happen a few times on other combiners of the line, I have to admit the feature is most welcome. Like Superion, the Legends-class sixth member of the team, Shockwave, becomes the combiner’s weapon. Sadly, at the time of this writing, I’ve yet to see one in the wild and am not willing to pay the online prices for him…which sadly aren’t going any lower than $20. Fucking scalpers. Thus, we have “Sir-Not-Appearing-in-this-Review”.
So…Blast-Off. This isn’t the first time Takara has done this. With the Aerialbots, they did Slingshot and with the Stunticons, they did Wildrider. Thankfully, last May as part of something they called May Mayhem, Hasbro did indeed import these two as shared exclusives (I got mine on Amazon…couldn’t tell you where else they were available. I’d wager Big Bad Toy Store was likely another source though). Then…Takara did it again. [And now I have Brittany Spears stuck in my head…thanks. – Ed.] While we got Rook here in the States, Japan got a proper Groove…not just a Legends class figure that clings to the chest armor for…reasons. And now it’s States Blast-Off vs. Japan Blast-Off. The fact that neither of these two was announced at NYC Toy Fair has me slightly unnerved. Even more unnerving is that leaked images of Computron show that Afterburner, who’s alt mode is influenced by the light-cycles in Tron, is clearly a Groove remold…so Hasbro has him. The question is, will we see either of these molds Stateside? Nobody knows. Sadly, the only way to get the Japanese versions is to buy the giftsets…and…no. Import prices for a bunch of guys I have already just for one that I don’t? Sure, if I was single…yeah, I probably would. But…the girlfriend is expensive and, in all honesty, can sense when I do things like that and then usually asks for a cash donation of equal or greater value. [Shhhhh! If she hears you, then we know what’ll happen. You’ll take it from our funds then claim it as a travel expense. Let me tell you pal, a guilt-trip doesn’t qualify you for the office travel stipend. – Ed.] So, yes, I’ve turned this review into an excuse to get on a soapbox to beg and plead for Hasbro to continue what they started with “Quickslinger” and “Brake-Neck”. I don’t care what you have to name them, but come on, bring us Groove and a proper Blast-Off.
All in all, while Combiner Wars has little in the way of surprises left for us as a whole, the Combaticons do manage a trick or two…mainly due to the crafty reuse of the combiner’s core. Most of the limbs we’ve seen before, and while there is a significant weakness to the one new limb, Brawl, the fact that it is indeed a new limb…well, I found having something new outweighed any design flaws. Obviously, if you just want to complete your classic G1 combiner upgrade collection and don’t want to spend third party prices, it’s well worth it to track Bruticus down. But even on his own merits, I found that the two or three surprises here are enough to keep me sinking money into the last phase of these Combiner Wars figures.
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