Toy Review - Takara's Transformers Unite Warriors Giftset: Computron
There’s always been little differences between Takara/Tomy’s Transformers releases and Hasbro’s. Collectors have come to expect it…usually showing itself in differing paint jobs but occasionally surfacing as something more. As we’ve seen already in our RID Optimus Prime review, yes, there are instances where Takara does have some exclusive molds that never seem to make their way across the Pacific, but typically these are few and far between.
Then Combiner Wars happened.
Now, the way I collect is usually if there’s a domestic version of a toy/mold/character, I usually side with that. I’ll only spring the extra cash for unique molds and occasionally unique characters (because for reasons I can’t explain, I’m still trying to hunt down the Slipstream repaint of the Windblade mold). Thusly, the Unite Warriors gift sets…Takara’s version of Combiner Wars…have been kind of a pain in the ass. Usually I’ve been able to talk myself out of them: their Superion and Menasor teams had the original line up, but thankfully Hasbro made Slingshot/Quickslinger and Wildrider/Brake-neck available stateside…so that was easy. The same thing happened with Defensor, the American version had Rook, an armored vehicle while the Japanese version had a deluxe class Groove. It took a while, but Hasbro eventually brought over Groove. Then came Bruticus…and Takara’s unique mold for Blast-Off…while Hasbro gave us yet another repaint of the Firefly/Quickslinger mold. I have to admit…I’m still on the fence about this one.
Then came Computron.
Now, under my usual rules…Hasbro announced that they were going to release a version of the character, so I should be happy with that…right? No. Not when you look at the differences between the two. We’ll look at these differences more when we compare the two sets (I’m still planning on getting the American release simply because I like the orange Afterburner more than I do Takara’s red one), but having the earlier release of Scattershot, as well as seeing the pictures for what was planned for Hasbro’s release, wherein Computron’s combined mode will retain Superion’s head…that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me…so to speak…and I plunked down the extra money to have an actual Computron…not a Superion in Computron’s clothing.
Since we’re already talking about Scattershot, let’s start there. Yes, once again we’re dealing with another Silverbolt repaint. Like with the Scattershot that was a case-mate to Onslaught, there is some remolding that helps to shift it away from a Concorde-esque jet and more of a futuristic…um…let’s say ‘gunship’…because, you know, the entire nose section really is just the barrel to a very large gun. Fortunately, the UW version sports a new gun…well…guns…while the CW versions keep the same gun as Silverbolt which, in addition to the Superion head, further ruins any G1 Computron aesthetic that the CW version might attempt to achieve. UW Scattershot also has a slightly different breastplate which folds up in its entirety in the transition into Computron’s torso…as opposed to the standard Silverbolt transformation that only has the center portion fold up to form the lower abdomen. Again, it’s minor differences like these that help to make Scattershot and Computron stand out on their own as opposed to looking like…well…Superion.
Afterburner is a slight remold of Groove from the Protectobots…and that was pretty much expected. It works well for the most part. The UW version has weapons that call back to the vehicle mode weapons sported by the G1 figure while the CW version looks to simply have a reuse of Groove’s guns. I don’t particularly have anything against the CW reuse…but again, it’s that extra little bit that Takara has added to their set that makes Computron feel unique…even this late in the toyline. My only beef with the UW version is that I feel that the red color of Afterburner provides an almost too unified color scheme to the combined bot. The CW version retains the G1 toy’s bright orange color. Sure, we had issue with Sentinel Prime’s ORANGE…but both G1 Afterburner and CW Afterbreaker (ugh) break it up with other colors (whites, grays and so forth), it’s not just balls-to-the-wall ORANGE. This component right here is the entire reason I’m buying the CW version.
Next we have Lightspeed…and with the remaining components, here’s where we run into the differences between the UW and CW versions…mold selection. With Lightspeed, Takara chose to repaint and slightly remold the Wheeljack deluxe mold, itself a slight remold of the Breakdown mold. Hasbro opted for the horribly tried and trite Dead-End/Streetwise mold…which I expressed my fatigue of in my Victorion review. [Not quite Bat-fatigue levels…but close. – Ed.] Granted, the Breakdown mold is getting rather ripe itself…but I felt that this particular mold seemed to fit better. Of course, this is completely subjective with no real reasoning other than personal taste. And the fact that I’ve had it with the Dead-End mold. Seriously.
Moving over to the other leg, Nosecone, here again we’ve got a split in choice…but once we look at the options, while the argument could be made that Lightspeed is a matter of taste, Nosecone is probably the biggest WTF of the set. [You mean, aside from giving Computron Superion’s head. – Ed.] Nosecone in the UW set is a remold of the Rook mold, again from the Protectobots…and given what Takara opted to do with that mold, switch out the tires for treads and the big honkin’ drill on the front…damn, it’s about as Nosecone as you can get. The CW version opted to go with the Brawl mold. Look, I don’t have the beef that most of Transformers fandom had with that mold, and certainly I’m up for reusing some of the more unique molds as opposed to grinding more familiar ones into the ground [Guess who we’re looking at here. – Ed.] but the execution on Hasbro’s Nosecone, from looking at the pictures, is just, well, laughable. Yes, we’ve had a fair share of Rook remolds with Swindle and Hound, but the work done on Takara’s version of Nosecone makes it feel fresh while Hasbro’s seems to feel more shoe-horned. “Hey, we haven’t reused this one yet, find a way to make it work.”
Now…we come to Strafe. This is kind of the big one. It does have to be said that sure, this one, like Lightspeed, is going to be a matter of taste. The CW version is a remold of the Air Raid mold that has yet to be reused and, unlike Nosecone, the reuse of a unique mold here doesn’t seem forced. It works. However, the thing that drew me to the UW version is that their Strafe was a remold of Takara’s exclusive Blast-Off mold. So, in essence, a new mold to me…and that made me bite on hard. For as long in the tooth as Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors is, to have a unique mold (again, to me) this late in the game just adds such a breath of fresh air. That being said, sure, there are some shortcomings with the mold. Certain things have to be done in a particular sequence otherwise bits are going to come off. They can be reattached, as with most modern Transformers, but it can still be a bit frustrating if you’re constantly popping the head off. And while it is a relatively unique mold, it seems to have the same problem as many of the other Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors molds…what to do with the arms when the figure is in arm-mode for the combined bot. I’m willing to confess, maybe it’s the whole new-mold thing…but yeah, I definitely dig this Strafe.
As for the combined bot, while it’s not anything that’s going to surprise you at this stage of the line, all the minor differences we’ve talked about in this review really add up to make Computron feel like his own bot and unique among the other combiners. Some have lauded the fact that the CW version comes with designated hands and feet ala Victorion…but I have to admit that I disagree. Look, the G1 scramble-type combiners that the Combiner Wars line were modelled after had hands and feet that had some unique qualities, depending on the bot, but generally followed that same pattern as all the others. It worked for G1 Computron and I feel it works for UW Computron. While, yes, we’re dealing with a fair amount of reuse with Computron, as components and as a whole, the combined form does cut a unique silhouette and the changes to the Silverbolt/CW Scattershot mold really shine here. I’m sure that you can tell from the way I’ve worded this review, if there’s a way you can afford to import the Takara version, I’d HIGHLY recommend doing so…although, yeah, it’s gonna run you anywhere from $40-$70 more than the US version will. Ultimately though, you do have to ask yourself, do you want Computron? Or do you want Superio-tron? Takara’s version feels like a true interpretation and update to Computron…and that’s where my vote goes!