There were a lot of enjoyable levels in Fall of Cybertron, but surprisingly, Vortex’s were among my favorites. The big open area and the ability to strafe Autobots, transform into robot, beat the hell out of them, and then transform back into helicopter and fly off was really damn cool. I replayed his parts more than any others and all the time I had a big smile on my face while thinking, “Damn, it’s good to be a Decepticon!” It’s pretty sad and ironic that such a fun character in the game wound up with the worst of all the Combaticon figures. There’s no way to sugar coat this, so let me take a couple of belts of Jameson and then we’ll dive right in.
There’s the Generations packaging. Amazingly, it still looks good while holding such a shitty figure. Vortex is probably the best use of the BUILD GIANT ROBOT sticker, because when I saw him hanging on the peg, I wanted to leave him there, but then I realized that if I didn’t buy him, I couldn’t BUILD GIANT ROBOT! I’ve come this far, what’s another fifteen bucks to see what Bruticus is all about, right? Combiners are the C&Cs and BAFs of the Transformers Universe. It makes you buy figures you don’t really want. I don’t have a lot more to say about the package, other than it looks like Hasbro tried to tone down his awful colors for the character art, but that’s like toning down an exploding sun and it doesn’t help when the actual figure can be seen right below it. Let’s start with his helicopter mode.
Vortex is a helicopter in the most abstract of senses. He’s a big angular mess with rotor blades on top and some landing skids. He kind of looks like a crude polygon model of a helicopter from an early PlayStation game. If helicopters had mothers, this helicopter’s mom would have drowned it in the tub. It’s possible that the concept of a Cybertronian helicopter just doesn’t work that well, but it doesn’t change how awful this mode is in execution. And then there are the colors. What the hell were you thinking here, Hasbro? Vortex looks like he’s made to represent the worst, most obnoxious deco that Generation 2 had to offer. Which is crazy, because there is an actual Generation 2 version of this figure and it looks subdued and rational by comparison. The horrible combination of that purple and red coupled with the piercing yellow on his swords makes my eyes bleed hot tears of burning agony. Maybe Vortex’s robot mode can save this figure…
Ah, nope. While not nearly the atrocity that his alt mode is, Vortex’s robot mode is decidedly average. The proportions are ok but his arm articulation is awkward and I don’t like the way his head just hovers a bit above his chest. He also feels unbelievable cheap and hollow and nothing like a $15 toy should feel. Seriously, there’s just something about his complete lack of heft that sets him apart from the other Combaticons and makes him feel like a knock off. It probably doesn’t help that he’s missing his Decepticon emblem on his chest. There’s a space in the mold where it was supposed to go and it’s pictured on photos of the toy on the cardback, but either my Vortex missed out or Hasbro decided it wasn’t cost effective to stamp a tiny emblem on a $15 toy that feels cheap and small to begin with. Sheesh! The colors in robot mode are a tiny bit more palatable, but only because he shows more purple and a little less of that terrible and obnoxious red.
Vortex comes with a pair of swords that are every bit as obnoxiously colored as he is. Someone at Hasbro clearly said, “the colors… not obnoxious enough… make the swords blinding, neon yellow!” The swords can clip onto Vortex’s skids in his helicopter mode or he can wield them in his hands.
It seriously pains me to hate on any Transformer, but I can’t help it here. Vortex is poop. Just about every aspect of this figure offers me something to dislike. If you’re a fan of the trippy neon colors of the G2 era, than maybe you’ll find the deco to your liking, but even if that’s the case the rest of the figure is still garbage. And as much as I dislike the engineering and the deco, it’s the fact that this figure feels so cheap that I’d expect to find it hanging in a Family Dollar store on a generic card that said SUPER CHANGING ROBOT HELICOPTER or some other nonsense. The Fall of Cybertron toys have been fairly solid thus far, but when Hasbro releases crap like this figure and charges $15 for it, they are further sullying their reputation. At this point, Hasbro, you’re driving collectors into the arms of the Fansprojects, Perfect Effects, and TFC’s out there. I’d much rather spend $60 on a better looking, better quality, better engineered, deluxe sized figure from one of them, than $15 a piece of crap like this.