Toy Review - Transformers Combiner Wars Giftset: Liokaiser
I shouldn’t like this set as much as I do.
Like with most of the tail-end offerings of the Combiner Wars line, the lack of original molds can prove a bit boring, the fatigue on the molds and the sheer number of loose joints and parts can make it feel cheap (even on molds that haven’t really been used to death like a certain car mold I could mention…) and it violates the same cardinal rule that Victorion did…you just don’t have two of the exact same mold in a combiner. And yet…
I LOVE this set! And the more I mess around with it, the more I love it. But that’s just it right there…this is the first combiner in a while where I feel like there are options. Now, I’ll have to admit, part of that is due to not really having much attachment to Liokaiser to begin with. After all, he was a combiner introduced in the Japan-only Victory series in the waning days of G1. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the character, the fact that he was a 6-bot combiner and that the torso role now played by Dezarus (who was the leader of the Destrons/Decepticons in Victory) was originally filled by Leozack (head and main torso) and Jallguar (hips and thighs). But I didn’t know that back in my formative years…whereas I have very set conceptions of most of the other combiners we’ve received: Superion, Menasor, Bruticus and Computron. So in some ways, it was fun to learn a new combiner. On top of that, using the Sky Lynx mold as the torso allowed for some variation from the classic Combiner Wars combiner aesthetic and so, by playing around with it a little bit, you’re able to achieve a look that’s more reminiscent of the original Liokaiser toy. Yes, it does end up with short thighs and long sections below the knees…but this isn’t an uncommon thing in Transformers toys, the recent Japan-only RiD leader class Optimus Prime suffers from this as does one of my favorites from the original 2001 RiD line: Ultra Magnus. Honestly, though, I feel it’s worth it in order to break up a formula that was starting to feel stagnant.
Not surprisingly, there aren’t a whole lot of surprises with the molds selected here. As already mentioned above, Dezarus is a Sky Lynx repaint and slight remold. But…and this is going to depend immensely on the quality of your copy’s joints…even here there is the chance to squeeze in a variation by paying homage to the original Dezarus’ alt-mode and have him stand upright. Now, the first thing you’ll notice is that you’re going to have to turn the combined mode head around so that it doesn’t look like this monster has sentient junk. [Though we suspect that it’s totally okay and rather popular in Japan. – Ed.] I made the earlier comment about joints because, even though this is the first repaint of Sky Lynx, well, there are some loose joints here and there. For my copy, the ‘ankle’ joints can be a bit temperamental and the rear hips, which go on to form the combined form’s shoulders, are looser than I’d like as well. The strange thing is…that’s the exact opposite of Sky Lynx/Sky Reign’s biggest flaw. Go figure.
Guyhawk and Fellbat (from here on out referred to by his Japanese name, Hellbat) provide a victory lap [Ugh…I see what you did there and I hate you for it. – Ed.] for the two lesser used Aerialbot molds, Air Raid and Skydive respectively. Unfortunately, since the pair share molding from the waist down…well, perhaps this might help explain the mold fatigue as the legs on both have a hard time snapping together as they should, especially for vehicle mode. But if these molds have only been used once before, why would they be showing fatigue? Well, it’s not like in the mysterious instance of Sky Lynx/Dezarus…where the mold has only truly been used once before. Both the Air Raid and Skydive molds have been reused…just not widely. There’s the obvious G2 repaints for the Superion giftset, over in Japan there are the Ghost Starscream and Curse Armada Thrust reuses, Windsweeper for the TFCC Subscription Service Mayhem Attack Squad and Cicadacon for the Botcon exclusive Predacus. Windsweeper and Cicadacon were only Skydive molds though…but still we’re looking at 6 additional uses for those leg molds, so, yeah, the question of fatigue is certainly a valid one. Still, in my collection (so far), this is only the second time I’ve seen these molds and as such, they’re a welcome site…as opposed to say a certain Firefly mold that’s been overly used…or that damn Dead End mold. [You forgot to mention that the American version of Computron uses the Air Raid mold for the basis of its Strafe. – Ed.]
Drillhorn and Ironbison (or Killbison) both share the Brawl mold…and again, since we only saw this mold used for Brawl…we shouldn’t have the level of loose joints and degradation that appears to be present on mine. [Not so. The American version of Nosecone and Botcon’s General Ramhorn also share this mold. – Ed.] Not so much for Drillhorn, but there are parts of my Ironbison that will fall off if a fly sneezes too close to the toy’s general proximity…the right arm especially. Ironbison is essentially a repeat of Brawl while Drillhorn gets a fancy drill attachment (duh), putting him more in line with the American version of Nosecone…which, if we look at it just as the practicality of such a tiny drill…well, let us simply say that if Drillhorn were human he’d be driving an incredibly oversized pick-up truck if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Still, this minor difference as well as their drastically different colors puts them well above Victorion’s twin helicopters Stormclash and Skyburst in my eyes. If only they held together a bit better.
All molds come with new robot mode heads which, while not a drastic thing, really does prove to be enough to separate these reused molds from their prior uses. After all, looking at the line, there have been a fair number of head reuses: Prowl and Smokescreen, Streetwise and Lightsteed, Groove and Afterburner/Afterbreaker, Alpha Bravo and Vortex, American Blast Off and Quickslinger (Slingshot), Brawl and American Nosecone…and I’m sure there are more. So for each member of this group to get new heads…and ones that have parts that fold out…help to add character to what could very well be a drab set this late in the line.
Ion Scythe, a Japanese Arms Micron repurposed for this set, is listed as a 6th bot for the group, but honestly I feel like that’s overselling him. His bird-mode proves to be too simple in my eyes for him to be an actual part of the group. That being said, to keep with the theme of variety, there are a number of ways he can be used as a weapon in the combined mode, especially in combination with the weapons that come with the individual team members…and there’s no shortage of those!
All in all, given its weaknesses…the mold reuse and fatigue…I shouldn’t like this set as much as I do. And yet, with all the variety this set has to offer, it ends up exuding a charm that is simply undeniable. It almost feels like this is what Sky Reign SHOULD have been. This set truly encapsulates what is so damn fun about the prospect of combiners and what is at the heart of the Combiner Wars line. No, it’s not a perfect representation of the original Japanese character and yeah, it’d be awesome to see something a bit more like that down the line…but for what it is and what it has to work with, the Liokaiser giftset is fantastic and highly recommended.