Not long ago, I took a look at the Combaticons Power Core Combiner set, now its time to check out the Autobot competition: The Aerialbots, led by Skyburst. In case you missed out on the Combaticon post, here’s a quick breakdown on how these Power Core Combiner 5-packs work. You get one Commander figure (roughly Scout Class size) in this case that’s Skyburst, who transforms into a robot. He comes with four smaller drones that don’t transform into robots, but do automatically convert into limbs when plugged into the Commander figure’s combiner pegs to create a larger combined robot. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Aerialbots.
The packaging is the same as the one used on the Combaticon set. Its colorful, exciting, and pretty pleasing on the eye. The front panel of the box has a large window to show off the toys inside. Skyburst is mounted in the center in his robot form and flanked by his four nameless drones in their vehicle forms. There are two helicopters and two jets. The back panel shows the combined figure and there’s a description on the side panel about how the whole Power Core Combiner system works. All in all, its a serviceable package and its fairly collector friendly if you wanted to return your Transformers to the box. I do, however, disagree with the conversion level at Intermediate. There’s nothing even remotely challenging about transforming Skyburst.
On my last trip to Toys R Us, I specifically left this set on the shelf and bought the Combaticons instead, just because I thought this one was the lesser of the two sets. That assessment, of course, was based just on quick initial impressions, but boy was I right. While the Combaticon set pretty much sold me on this whole iffy drone combiner idea, this Aerialbot set makes me start questioning it again. There’s just very little to like about it.
Skyburst is a pretty average figure. His jet mode looks like it was inspired by G1 Silverbolt. Its not a bad looking jet, although I’m not thrilled about the drab gray and gold colors. There’s some decent sculpting of the panel lines, the landing gear works, and unless you turn it upside down, you won’t see too much robot kibble. The minicon peg on the back of the jet is unsightly, but I guess its part of the line’s gimmick. One nice thing is that he doesn’t have any of his combiner pegs hanging off of him like Bombshock’s truck mode does.
His transformation is pretty simple even for a Scout Class, which have been getting remarkably sophisticated these days. But even compared to the Combaticon Commander, Skyburst comes up severely lacking in robot mode. He wears most of his jet mode as an enormous backpack, which apart from giving him the illusion of height, just looks ugly. Apart from that at least his articulation is fairly good, with ball joints in the shoulders, elbows and hips, and hinges in the knees. Even still, Skyburst’s robot mode just doesn’t hold up all that well to today’s standards. I’ve certainly seen worse, but its just average and uninspiring.
I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Combaticon drones, but they were ok for what they were. The Aerialbot drones don’t fare quite so well. The blue helicopter gunship is just a mess. The yellow (rescue?) chopper is ok, but it almost looks like its supposed to be superdeformed. The black and grey jet would be passable if it weren’t for the huge and unnecessary minicon peg towering up from behind the cockpit and the massive hole between the wings. At least the white electronic survaillance jet is a pretty cool little Autobot jet. I really don’t have anything bad to say about that one.
At least the combined robot form is solid right? Eh, no. While I expect combiner robots to have a hodgepodge element to their aesthetics, Skyburst’s combined form really goes too far. The white jet makes for a pretty good arm, but look at the yellow helicopter’s limb. What the hell is going on with that thing? Its just awful. And both of the legs are wobbly and unstable and I had to do quite a bit of fiddling to get him to stand up right on these legs, even though they are supposed to auto-transform. The chopper leg doesn’t offer a lot of support and I’m still not sure what the jet leg is really supposed to do to be correct. I also had a real tough time getting the grey jet pegged into his combiner port without transforming it manually first. Skyburst’s torso form is actually not too bad. Its a clever transformation and pegs together well. I do, however, hate the head as it seems to be inspired by the Bayformer heads, whereas Bombshock’s was clearly a G1 homage.
In the end this Aerialbot set is an epic fail for me. I could forgive certain things about Skyburst and his drones, if they added up to a really cool combined form, but they don’t. This set just doesn’t really succeed at anything. If you were on the fence over whether or not to embrace these Power Core Combiner sets, this one will likely make up your mind against the idea. Bombshock’s set made for a pretty cool and solid combiner, whereas this one is just not very well executed and not a lot of fun. I’m glad TRU was having a sale on it, because at least I saved $2. My recommendation is to invest your money in some of the other awesome Transformers figures showing up right now, and leave this set on the shelf.