It’s Transformers Thursday again and I am continuing on with my look at Takara’s Unite Warriors Combaticons box set. Last time we looked at the packaging and Onslaught, today I’m starting in on the limbs, or more specifically, the Deluxe Class bots that will make up Bruticus’ arms. Let’s kick it off with the alt modes, and I’ll start with Vortex…
Originally released as Alpha Bravo for the Aerialbots and then Blades for the Protectobots, it should come as no surprise that this mold is being recycled yet again for Vortex. That’s not a bad thing, as I like this mold a lot and all of my original hostility toward it was fueled by the fact that he was a helicopter standing in for a jet on my Aerialbot team. I’ll even go so far as to say Vortex is probably the best use for this mold to date, seeing as how it comes armed to the teeth with a pair of rocket clusters. Structurally, the only real difference between Vortex and Blades is the new four-bladed rotor, which looks great in the chopper mode, but I’ll have some unkind things to say about it when we look at his robot mode.
The new color scheme is pretty nice. The primarily dark gray and black deco certainly gives him a sinister Decepticon look and I really dig the faction symbols near the doors to the cockpit. The lighter blue striping on the nose and rockets is an interesting choice. I wasn’t so sure about it at first, but it’s growing on me.
Vortex is one of the few instances in the Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors line where I find value in attaching one of the combiner parts to an alt mode. In this case, plugging the hand/foot with the twin chain guns into the bottom not only gives him a platform to rest on, but adds some major firepower without looking too stupid. Moving on to Blast Off…
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Hasbro likes to substitute impostors into our Combiner Teams and release the real ones later, or just leave it up to Takara. With the Aerialbots, Protectobots, and Stunticons, they did this by introducing an all new character. With the Combaticons, they just made Blast Off a repainted jet from the Aerialbots. And while a combat jet makes more sense in the team than a space shuttle, it was still unacceptable to me because I’m an unforgiving middle aged fan who does not want my childhood re-written. Sometimes, folks, you should be careful what you wish for…
Enter Takara’s Blast Off, a brand new mold and a proper space shuttle, yes, but not an alt mode that’s going to win any awards. This thing is actually pretty ugly with obvious arms running down the sides, a tail fin that doesn’t always stay pegged together, and a patchwork deco that isn’t helping the mold any. Am I being too hard on him? Probably. Truth be told, I’m happier having this toy, with all its flaws, in my Combaticons, than I would be having a repainted Aerialbot. I actually think a more reasonable deco could have helped this shuttle mode out a lot. In the end, I’m going to give it a pass, but just barely. Let’s move on to the robot modes, and we’ll jump back to Vortex…
As with his vehicle mode, Vortex’s bot mode is just a repaint of Blades with a new head, at least from the front. The coloring doesn’t change much from the chopper mode, although you do get a little more blue exposed in the upper legs and chest. And while the coloring overall looks pretty good here the paint on my figure has a few flubs on the right arm. The paint just doesn’t look as premium as I’m used to seeing in a Takara release. That having been said, this is still a huge improvement over the crazy coloring on Hasbro’s version. Besides the coloring, I still dig this mold a lot. You have the option of pivoting the tail boom left or right behind his head, but I prefer leaving it straight to preserve symmetry. The new head is absolutely fantastic. A solid tribute to the G1 version of the character.
From behind, things get a little shaky, thanks to the new set of rotors. With blades, you could fold up the two blades and tuck them neatly between the stabilizers on the tail boom and for the most part they stayed out of the way. Here you have two additional blades to deal with. The official transformation just leaves the bottom two blades flopping off to the sides. I’ve found that if I squeeze them in a little further, I can get the bottom blades to stay in position roughly in line with the top two blades. It’s possible, however, that this is causing some stress to the plastic, as they aren’t meant to be placed in that position, but it helps solve what is otherwise a detriment to the figure.
Vortex comes with a repaint of the same rifle as Blades, and it remains among my favorite weapons in this line. Of course, he also has a full bank of rockets mounted on each arm. When it comes to attack power, Vortex has got it covered. In the end, Vortex still feels like a relatively fresh figure to me, but a lot of that probably has to do with me skipping Alpha Bravo. The color scheme works well, the new head sculpt is perfect, and so long as I can get the rotors situated on his back just right, he’s aces in my book. So how about Blast Off’s bot mode?
Well, I’m surprised to say that despite the iffy shuttle mode, Blast Off’s bot mode is pretty damn great. I really dig the way the nosecone of the shuttle packs up so neatly into his chest. Yeah, it juts out a bit, but it still works for me. Likewise, the wings all pack up nicely on his lower legs and the thrusters as feet are a nice nod back to the Sunbow version. As far as the coloring goes, it’s easy to see they sacrificed any sense of coherence in the alt mode for a pretty spiffy deco in robot mode. I guess I’m OK with that. And like Vortex, Blast Off’s head sculpt is simply superb.
It’s interesting to check out Blast Off from the back and see how his backside looks pretty similar to the fronts of a lot of the CW/UW Deluxe limbs. Indeed, if for some reason you don’t like the chest, you can just spin the lower half around, re-position the arms and legs and have a more familiar looking bot that wears the nose cone assembly as a backpack. Me? I’m fine with the official mode.
Blast Off comes with a little black pistol, which isn’t as impressive as Vortex’s rifle, but it suits him just fine. And since he has thrusters in his fists, I like to think that those would serve him well as additional weapons. As much as I dig Vortex, Blast Off takes the prize as my favorite of this pair, at least in robot mode.
And there you have it, a couple of solid Deluxe Class figures who I am very content to call modern updates to their G1 Combaticon namesakes. If the snazzy paint job on Onslaught hadn’t already convinced me that Takara was the way to go here, this pair has even more so. Getting a proper shuttle mode for Blast Off is a treat, even if the shuttle mode ain’t all that great, because his robot mode more than makes up for it. I think he’s one of the more interesting Deluxes to come out of this line. And as for Vortex, even if the paint here doesn’t feel as premium as I would have expected out of Takara, the alternative deco on the Hasbro version is an absolute tragedy. So far I’m digging this set a lot. Next Thursday, I’ll be back to talk about Swindle and Brawl!
I got my set yesterday! With the Perfect Effect upgrade cannons. They are massive. Just huge. But he can still stand fine!
Bang on about each of these figures. You said everything I would have said. I’m going to be curious when we get to Brawl next week.
I’m curious about what I’m going to say about Brawl too. LOL. Haven’t made my mind up about him yet.