Sometime around the middle of last year, Warbotron appeared on the scene and turned some heads with pictures of their set of Not-Transformers combiners that were certainly Not-Combaticons and most definitely did not form a giant robot called Bruticus. With rapid fire bursts, they peppered the Summer of 2014 with Not-Blast Off, Not-Brawl, and Not-Swindle. But by the end of the summer we were Not-Seeing-Any-More-Releases. I can’t say I was terribly worried. These guys had delivered three great figures so far and with so many things out there to spend monies on, delays are sometimes a welcome treat. Well, here we are seven months later and finally the fourth release in the series is on my shelf. He’s Whirlwind and some might say he bears a slight resemblance to a G1 Transformer called Vortex. Then again, others might say differently, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.
I truly love Warbotron’s package design. The box comes with a wrap-around cardboard sleeve with some slick monochrome artwork and lettering. Slip it off and you get a more traditional (and more colorful!) window box showing off the figure in his robot mode and some absolutely bitchin’ wrap-around character artwork. The package is the same size as the boxes used for the other releases and they sure do look great lined up on the shelf. We’ve seen the boxes for the previous three figures, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here. Let’s kick things off with his alt mode. GET TO DA CHOPPA!
Obviously, Whirlwind is a very different model helicopter than G1 Vortex and I’m perfectly fine with that. I mean, Sly Strike was a Humvee instead of a jeep and he turned out just fine. The alt mode here is solid enough, but I feel it is certainly the weakest in the line so far. Helicopters are like motorcycles… they make for challenging Transformers. I think it’s pretty clear that Warbotron sacrificed a little on the alt mode in order to make the robot work and I support that decision. We basically get a chunky attack chopper with deploy-able weapon pods on the wings (they can fold down into firing position) and a huge ass cannon on the chin. The placement of the tail fins feels a little awkward, like maybe they aren’t far back enough on the tail boom, but otherwise Whirlwind is OK albeit not spectacular.
The coloring consists of mostly gray plastic, which works well for both a military chopper and the G1 toy homage. There’s also a little blue and silver thrown in and some nice brushwork on the barrel of the cannon to make it look used. The yellow canopy was an interesting choice, in that it invokes G1 Whirl quite a bit. I don’t hate it, but I might have preferred a different color canopy. Maybe a more traditional Decepticon color like purple. There’s not much else to say here other than the rotors will spin and there are three hinged landing gear on the bottom for Whirlwind to rest on.
Whirlwind probably has the simplest transformation of the pack so far. There are no scary tolerances, weak hinges, or leaps of faith. In terms of quality and engineering Warbotron started on a pretty solid foundation with Air Burst and the figures have gotten slightly better with each subsequent release. In other words the engineering is smooth and simple and the plastic feels great. On the other hand, there’s nothing mind-blowingly clever about the engineering here either. Indeed, with the way the arms fold up to form the wings and the legs the rest of the body, we’ve seen this thing many times before. But hey, it works well enough. Some collectors may have issues with the parts removal, basically the entire nose of the helicopter detaches to become a gun. It’s been a design element in all of Warbotron’s figures so far, so I imagine that anyone truly bothered by it would have jumped ship on this line by now.
I totally dig Whirlwind’s robot mode, but collectors looking for a solid G1 Vortex homage will be disappointed. This guy wears his cockpit on his chest, which I think looks great, but it also makes him one of the larger departures from the traditional Combaticon design. Otherwise, Whirlwind is a little slimmer than his brothers, but he still has enough bulk to carry the team’s overall aesthetic. It’s cool how they made that work out because many of Hasbro’s helicopters have had pretty lanky robot modes. Whirlwind wears his rotors on his back, although they can all be detached as weapons, and his helicopter wing guns land on his shoulders, although there’s room for customization there as well.
The head sculpt is extremely simple as Whirlwind sports the visor and mouthplate combo that leaves him rather expressionless. The light-piping in the visor is great and it’s featured on the two vertical panels on his “helmet” as well.
The coloring on this guy really shines through in his robot mode. It’s largely the same gray and blue plastic as seen in his chopper form, but with some additional purple and silver trim and that beautiful transparent canopy making up his chest. He’s a surprisingly bright and colorful figure under the proper lighting. I like it a lot!
The nose cannon from the chopper requires just a couple of folds to become Whirlwind’s big weapon. It can mount on either of his forearms or he can just hold it like a gun. I tend to prefer mounting it. It’s certainly bulky, but all in all I think it works just fine. It would have been nice to be able to attach it to his back or something (like Heavy Noisy’s cannon), but I guess Whirlwind already has a lot going on back there with his rotors.
Speaking of the rotors, all four can be removed and used as blade weapons. They can be held in his hands as swords or you can peg them into his forearms as arm blades. I really dig this option a lot. The shoulder guns are also capable of being held as pistols or plugged into his forearms. There’s certainly a great deal of customization available here and that always makes for a fun figure.
Whirlwind is the figure I expected to like the least out of this team and I was quite surprised that it wasn’t the case. In fact, he may very well be my second favorite next to Sly Strike. I do tend to like the alt modes of Air Burst and Heavy Noisy better, but Whirlwind’s robot mode is great looking and lots of fun. As with the previous three figures in this set, Whirlwind set me back under $90 and that’s not a bad price for a 3P figure of this size (Voyager Class) and quality. In fact, I’m actually pretty surprised that the previous three releases are still readily available at most e-tailers at the original price. These are great figures on their own merits, and I think they’re going to be all the more spectacular when the final team member arrives and I can finally check out their combined mode.