Lest anyone forgot, I’m currently in the middle of collecting two third-party combiner teams. MMC’s Feral Rex (Not-Predacons) seems to have stalled after the third release with Talon trickling in to almost every e-tailer but the one I pre-ordered him from. Dammit! Fortunately, on the other side of the fence, Warbotron’s homage to the Combaticons has been going full guns (pun intended!) and the third entry in that team, Sly Strike, just showed up on my doorstep. Sly is the figure in this series that I was most excited for, as he is an homage to one of my favorite Decepticons, Swindle. In fact, it wouldn’t be totally off base to say that this figure is the reason I decided to collect this team in the first place. Let’s see how he turned out…
Once again, Warbotron’s presentation is absolutely superb. The figure comes in a satisfyingly large box with a snazzy silver sleeve that’s decked out with some nice line art and the name “Warbotron.”
Lift off the sleeve and you’re treated to a colorful window box with a G1-inspired grid pattern and some truly gorgeous character art of Sly. The half window lets you see the figure, packaged in robot mode, and conceals his guns, which are off to his left. In addition to the figure and the two weapons, you also get a colorful profile card and a folded instruction sheet. Yes, it seems as if Warbotron has abandoned the comic book and instruction combination that they included with the first two figures. I’m generally not a fan of companies mixing things up in mid- stream, it musses with my OCD, but I can’t say that we’re losing much with them dropping the comic. It was mainly unintentionally entertaining because of the poor translation. Alright, y’all know the drill by now. I’m going to start off with Sly Strike’s alt mode.
Of the three figures released in this team so far, Sly Strike’s alt mode represents the biggest departure from the original Transformer toy. Like Blast Off, Air Burst was a space shuttle and like Brawl, Heavy Noisy was a tank. No longer an army Jeep, Sly Strike has been upgraded and modernized to an desert-style armored Humvee. I can’t say I was entirely in favor of the change at first, but I’ll concede that this design gave them a lot more to work with in order to deliver a better looking robot. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First let’s take a further look at this alt mode…
Warbotron has been delivering some pretty nice, realistic styled alt modes and Sly keeps that trend going. In fact, I’d say in terms of sculpted detail Sly Strike comes out tops so far. There’s not much area on this vehicle where there isn’t some kind of added detail. Whether it be the vents on the hood, the armored plates on the doors, the grab rails on the back, or even the suspension in the wheel wells. Some of the finer points, for example the lights on the roof, are little more than painted nubs, but they still get the job done. As many know, I’m not generally a fan of painted windows, especially on realistic alt modes, but in this case I don’t think Warbotron had much of a choice due to the engineering at play and I’m prepared to cut them some slack.
Aside from the windows, Warbotron uses paint hits sparingly and mostly lets the colored plastic carry the day. I’m a big fan of this practice, especially for military style vehicles where decos tend to be drab by nature. The tan plastic looks great and you do get some silver and red apps here and there along with a little blue and black. All the paintwork is applied with precision.
There are a number of visible seams and hinges on the Humvee, but because of the rather utilitarian nature of the vehicle’s design, I don’t think they mar the aesthetics of the toy at all. And while we’re on the subject, I really appreciate the way this alt mode locks together. The doors alone, for example, have three hinges in them, but the entire assembly either pegs or tabs comfortably in three different places. Just about every shifting part ultimately secures itself in one way or another.
Sly Strike features two ports on top to peg in his weapons. The only real customization here is which one you want on the right or left, or whether you want to leave them off entirely.The guns certainly detract from the realism here, but I can’t say as I don’t like the look of them.
Transforming Sly Strike for the first time was pretty challenging. I was able to convert Air Burst and Heavy Noisy without even looking at the instructions, but that wasn’t the case here. Sly is easily the most complex of the three figures so far and the engineering does some interesting things. I’ll note here that once again the plastic has a high quality feel to it. The parts move quite well with the only exeption being the hinge in the torso, which requires a bit of force to unpeg. The only piece that feels somewhat fragile is the ramming bar and it’s thankfully designed to unpeg from the front rather than break. It’s also worth noting that Sly Strike is the first in this line to not have vehicle parts removed during transformation. Only his guns come off. When all is said and done we get a robot mode that nicely straddles the line between originality and G1 homage. But before I get too deep into his robot mode, check this out…
One of the coolest elements of the design allows you to actually choose two different looks for his robot mode. You can leave the front of the vehicle as his chest, in a very traditional Autobot manner, or you can go the official route and fold it back behind him. I’ll likely display him with the official look, but I really like the other option quite a bit as well. It reminds me a bit of Alternator Swindle!
Clearly, Warbotron modeled most of Sly Strike’s robot mode after the G1 Swindle toy and not the animated version. The biggest giveaway is the purple chest rather than the windshield. While I certainly have a soft spot for the Sunbow version of Swindle, I can’t argue with the results here. He’s a fantastic looking robot with a few of Warbotron’s own flourishes, like the wheels on the shoulders, thrown in for good measure. The legs fill out nicely thanks to the addition of some hinged plates, and the ball jointed ankles let you get all sorts of wide stances without compromising Sly’s stability.
I’ve been pretty happy with the head sculpts in this line so far. Air Burst and Heavy Noisy weren’t exactly brimming over with personality, but they certainly looked the part. That having been said, Sly Strike’s is easily my favorite portrait in the series. Just look at that face. He’s a smarmy asshole through and through and it’s perfect. And that light piping? Magnifcent!
Naturally, Sly’s roof mounted weapons become his guns, which he can hold in both hands. The pictures on the package show the pistol worn on his shoulder, but it’s rather misleading. There is indeed a screw hole on each of his shoulders and the peg on the pistol does fit it, but it doesn’t feel like it was meant to and it’ll fall right out without much provocation. I’ll also mention here that I think it was a HUGE missed opportunity to not have a way to mount his rifle as an arm cannon. I know they’re doing their own thing with the design. And I know they’re modeling more from the toy than the cartoon, but animated G1 Swindle’s arm cannon is rather iconic to me and it would have been really easy to pop a tab or something on there to make it work. Ah well!
I had very high expectations for this release and in the end, I’m extremely pleased with how Sly Strike turned out. The Humvee mode totally wins me over and while I still would have liked a figure based more on the Sunbow design than the original toy, I can’t argue with the results. This toy feels solid, has great engineering, and is lots of fun to play with. What’s more he looks fantastic when displayed beside his two Not-Combaticon comrades and he scales quite well with the Masterpiece Transformers too!
At about $90 each these chunky Voyager sized figures continue to feel like decent values, at least in the Third-Party Transformer market. I’ve yet to have any regrets about investing in this set and with only two more releases to go, Warbotron would have to stumble pretty badly to blow it now. Releases have been a bit erratic, but Warbotron’s Not-Vortex (I don’t think we’ve seen his official name yet) should be hitting sometime in the next month!