Transformers Unite Warriors: Combaticons (UW-07) Box Set by Takara, Part 4: Bruticus Combined

Well, I’ve looked at all the individual Combaticon figures and their alt modes, so there’s only one thing left to do…

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Combaticons…

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Transform…

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And Merge…

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Into…

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BRUTICUS!!!

Despite using a heavily remolded Defensor torso, Bruticus is definitely his own combiner, and that comes from the new chest pieces and having three out of four new molds for the limbs. The only clear connection I can make out to Defensor are the shared upper legs and helicopter arm.  And while the slightly over-sized arms continue to be a defining feature of the CW/UW combiners, I think Bruticus looks pretty damn good, not only as a combined robot in general, but as an update to G1 Bruticus.

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The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic and really invokes that G1 feel and Onslaught’s guns mount on the back to help drive home that iconic look. But the real draw of the Takara version over the Hasbro in this combined form comes in all that glorious new paint on the chest and pelvic pieces. The Hasbro version is just off-white plastic and makes him look bland and unfinished, although in fairness it does make him look a lot more like the vintage toy. Here you get some gorgeous brown, purple, and silver paint that makes the figure come alive!

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The stability here is overall pretty solid, but he does have some issues. Onslaught’s arms don’t stay pegged into the top of the shoulder pieces, but thankfully this doesn’t effect the integrity of the actual shoulders. I can move Bruticus’ arms without the shoulder assembly coming apart all the time like it does with Defensor and Menasor. The chest piece does a fantastic job of keeping the shoulders tabbed into place. Vortex and Blast Off don’t always want to stay together, especially in the forearm areas, but I find if I articulate the arms while holding those together he makes out OK. Brawl and Swindle as the legs are perfect, but the ratcheting joints in the hips are as unforgiving as usual. They support the figure fine, but there’s no finesse in movement there. He frequently feels like he either wants to topple forward, or like he’s leaning too far back.

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In the end, I have to give Hasbro/Takara very high marks for this one. I’d rank Bruticus as my second favorite CW/UW combiner, right below Superion. It’s crazy how far they’ve come since the combiners from Energon, Power Core Combiners, and that Fall of Cybertron Bruticus. The design is beautifully executed and while he can still be a little frustrating to play with sometimes, the good far outweighs the bad here. As for my decision to go Takara on this one, I think the advantages are hard to deny. My only other Takara combiner so far is Superion, and I’d argue that going Hasbro or Takara on that release was more of a toss up. Especially once the option to replace Alpha Bravo presented itself Stateside. Here, it seems highly unlikely that Blast Off in his space shuttle mode is going to get a US release. And even if that wasn’t the case, the additional paint on this guy’s combiner parts makes him the clear winner of the two for me.

On the next Transformers Thursday, I’ll finally get into some Titans Return figures, although I’ll eventually be swinging back to Unite Warriors for Computron!

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Transformers Unite Warriors: Combaticons (UW-07) Box Set by Takara, Part 3: Swindle and Brawl

Folks, it’s been a loooong and thankless week at work. I’m exhausted, and I almost didn’t have it in me today, but the show must go on, and so here we are with another Transformers Thursday Feature. I also just spent a shit ton of money on new sneakers for my car and no small sum at the bar around the corner while I was waiting for the work to be done. I am quite tired, fed up, and most definitely inebriated. I picked up the car and literally screamed at the new tires, “I HATE YOU, YOU’RE MONEY I COULD HAVE SPENT ON TOYS!” Anywho…. today, I’m continuing my leisurely (now going on three weeks!) stroll through Takara’s big imported box of Combaticon goodness. So far, I’ve checked out Onslaught, Blast Off, and Vortex. Today I’m finishing up the individual bots with a look at the Deluxe figures that will form my Bruticus’ legs: Swindle and Brawl. What’s that? You can make them into arms too? UNACCEPTABLE!!! Once again, I’m looking at the alt modes first, so let’s jump right in and start with one of my favorite Decepticons of all time… Swindle!

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Oh, Swindle, what have they done to you? G1 Swindle was originally a yellow and purple military jeep and now he’s ahhhhh… well, I guess a modern yellow and purple military sort of jeep looking thingy? With no place to sit? Yeah, there’s a little half sculpted blob in there that’s supposed to be a steering wheel, but I have to be honest here, this alt mode is a goddamn ugly mess. Some of you may remember me looking at Warbotron’s version of Swindle a while back and being content with them making him into a Humvee. Granted, that was an $80 Third-Party Voyager scaled figure, but I still think a Humvee might have worked better here. How could it have been worse?

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In fairness, there’s a decent amount of sculpted detail here. You get shock absorbers inside the wheel well, pouches along the sides, and some vents and panel lines. Swindle gets by with minimal paint apps in this mode. His roll bars are painted silver, as are the wheels, and the conspicuous robot hands inside what would be the cabin. You also get some rather striking purple paint showing on the hood and the tailgate.

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Swindle comes with a gun that can be mounted on his rear section, either left or right. You can also mount his combiner hand/foot on his roof to make a formidable double barreled cannon. Normally, I’m not a fan of using these pieces with the alt modes, but it worked alright for Vortex, and I think it works fine here. I mean, Swindle’s alt mode is already f’ugly enough, might as well stick a big foot cannon on top of it, right? Look, it sounds like I hate this thing, I don’t. It’s a passable Deluxe alt mode. It does what it needs to do. But as a devotee to my main man, Swindle, this alt mode could have and should have been better. Let’s see if Brawl’s alt mode fares any better…

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Yes it does! It’s Brawl. He’s a brown tank. It doesn’t take rocket science to make this alt mode work. You get sculpted treads, some decent detailing, which includes hatches, vents, and, bolts, panel lining. Other than some black, a little silver, and Decepticon insignia on the sides, there’s nothing in the way of paint apps. The turret does not turn, but the gun can be raised a bit. It’s frightfully simple, but it works for me. It is clearly Brawl.

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Brawl doesn’t come with a gun, but you can stick his foot/hand part on top of him for added firepower. I can’t say as I’m a big fan, but it’s not terrible. Also, so long as we’re looking at him from the front, his combiner port sort of looks like a third middle tread. Just saying. If this were a contest between the two alt modes, Brawl is the clear winner for me. He looks a lot more like what he’s supposed to be than Swindle does. He’s a tank, not some modern abstract realization of a tank. Maybe Swindle’s Jeep mode has a little more play value, but that’s about it. So, how about them robot modes? Well, let’s turn our attention back to Swindle…

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Now we’re talking! The only think keeping this from being the Swindle I know and love is the lack of arm cannon, and you can always plug one of Onslaught’s guns into his shoulder to try to make it work. Otherwise, this figure hits all the right points. He’s got a pretty clean robot mode with loads of sculpted detail showing in his legs and arms. The upper chest is made up of his actual alt mode front, while a faked out Jeep front is situated in his pelvic region to drive home that G1 homage. And speaking of G1 homages, just look at that head sculpt! It’s love. G1 love. I love it.

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From the back, we can see the hood and roll bars of the alt mode peg in firmly to his back. The whole assembly sticks out a bit behind his head, but it’s not terrible as far as kibble goes. If it really bothers you, you can drop it down to form a butt flap, but I’d rather not. I also really like the wheel placement on this figure. Two wind up in his armpits, without being cumbersome to the articulation, while the other two wind up on his ankles. The deco here is perfect. You get all that lovely yellow-tan Swindle-y plastic with a little more purple and silver paint showing. Was it worth getting a ho-hum alt mode for this kind of robot delight? Yessir, it is. But I’d still argue they could have done this with a cleaner and more accurate Humvee alt mode.

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Swindle comes with a very sweet gun with three barrels. This is the first time I’ve seen this gun in the CW/UW line and I absolutely love it. Let’s move on to Brawl…

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OK, so I sense a flipping pattern going on here. Swindle had an iffy alt mode and a rock solid robot mode. Brawl had a decent alt mode, and this as his robot mode. I’ve been playing with it off and on for an hour now and I still can’t make up my mind. Like Swindle, he’s a pretty solid representation of the G1 alt mode. You’ve got the treads facing front on his upper arms, you’ve got the turret on his back with the cannon sticking straight up. You even have those circular hatches sculpted into his lower legs like the Sunbow model showed.

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On the other hand, those puny little forearms! Oh, how I wish they could have fixed those. If only they could have cut the arm hinge a little higher. And then there’s that mid section. It’s sort of just a big hinge above his pelvis. It doesn’t really ever lock in securely enough for my satisfaction, especially when I pick him up from the chest and his lower half flops down a bit. It’s not something that really bothers me until I start playing around with him and then it just doesn’t feel right. But… all these quibbles, and I’m still nowhere near to saying I dislike this figure.

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The deco here is mostly what you get from his tank mode. There’s a lot of brown and black with a little more silver exposed. The deco is drab and dreary and looks perfectly suited for Brawl… until I get to the head. A fantastic head sculpt, but that neon orange paint is a bit much. I wish they could have toned that down a bit. Here’s an instance where I prefer the Hasbro paint to this one. With all that having been said, when I stand Brawl on the shelf beside Swindle, he looks just fine.

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Brawl doesn’t have a gun, although you can angle that turret cannon over his head into a firing position. You can also attach his hand/foot part to either arm to give him a weapon. It looks about as good as one might expect it to look.

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Both of these figures get a passing grade from me. Where Swindle stumbles in his alt mode, he soars in his robot mode and becomes my official Generations-Classics-Whatever version of the character. And Brawl sports as solid an alt mode as I would expect, but experiences some design hiccups in his robot mode. It feels like these could have used another trip across the designing board, one for alt mode and one for robot mode, but then if you count the limb modes, these are essentially Deluxe Class Triple Changers, so sacrifices are going to be made. In the end, these compliment the rest of the team nicely and I’m rather excited to get them cobbled together into Bruticus. And I’ll do just that next week in Part Four!

Transformers Unite Warriors: Combaticons (UW-07) Box Set by Takara, Part 2: Vortex and Blast Off

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…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Blast Off by Hasbro

Yesterday’s Lego set was a brand new purchase, so it didn’t help me weed out the receivings pile that has been growing ever larger over the last couple of weeks. In an effort to start chipping away at that, we’re going to delve into some Transformers. Later in the week I’m going to check out an older one from the Cybertron line, but today’s feature is one that should be showing up on the pegs by now. It’s another Combaticon from the Fall of Cyberton game. A game, I might add, which I still haven’t finished because my Xbox is still lying in pieces on a desk in my spare room.


Ah, the new Generations packaging. I never tire of admiring its beauty. But we’ve looked at it more than a few times now, so I’ll try not to dwell on it. Blast Off comes carded in his robot form and the package points out in various ways that he is but one component in your quest to… BUILD GIANT ROBOT!!! Delightful! You get a pretty cool little bio on the back along with the welcome return of Tech Specs. As usual, I’m going to start with Blast Off’s alt mode.

Awww, yeah. Now that’s a cool alt mode! Blast Off pays homage to his G1 roots with a purple space shuttle as his vehicle mode. Of course, he’s a Cybertronian shuttle. But, “FigureFan, that makes no sense. Blast Off was created on Earth by Starscream so he shouldn’t even have a Cybertronian mode.” Well, my friend… Firstly, Blast Off was given a new body on Earth, but his Spark (or whatever they called it in G1) was stolen from Cybertron to give him that new body. Obviously he had another body before his Spark was imprisoned on Cybertron, so maybe this is his original body. Secondly, Blast Off’s new body was a derelict WWII fighter that miraculously turned into a space shuttle, so this is all bullshit anyway. May I proceed?

I absolutely love this shuttle design. It has the vague profile of an Earth-type Space Shuttle, but it’s beefier and obviously built for combat. The detailing in the silver engines is really striking for a Deluxe Class figure and makes this thing looks like it’s ridiculously overpowered. I’d like to imagine it leaves a trail of thick, black exhaust fumes wherever it goes. Everything about Blast Off’s hull looks jagged, like he was made to inflict pain and destruction.

The coloring is almost perfect. The traditional Decepticon purple looks great with the black accents and the silver-grey of the exposed engine. I’m not terribly keen on the fluorescent yellow. It’s bright and gaudy and while I think it would have worked ok for just the window area, I don’t like it at all on the weapons. If Hasbro had just toned down the yellow a bit, I would have had zero complaints.

Blast Off has a pair of detachable weapons that are very reminiscent to the weapons of the G1 toy. You can clip them onto his wings in two different configurations. One way gives him extra tail fins on his wings, the other way extends his wing tips just a bit. Either way you clip them on, they provide him with some serious wing-mounted cannons.


Transforming Blast Off is fairly simple and when you’re done you one very cool looking Decepticon warrior. He has good proportions and, like his shuttle mode, he’s brimming with sculpted detail. He doesn’t really have any feet, and while he stands just fine, I think some actual feet would have complemented his aesthetics quite a bit. I do love the way his giant engines form his shoulder armor, they give him a powerful, linebacker kind of look. Or maybe he’s cosplaying World of Warcraft. The head sculpt includes two beady yellow eyes and a mouth plate. I can’t say as I remember his G1 headsculpt all that well, so I won’t comment on the homage. You have a few options on what to do with his wing cannons. He can hold them like guns, or you could clip them onto his arms two different ways.


So where’s the problem? The problem is with articulation and the design of Blast Off’s arms and shoulders. While the shoulders do peg in during transformation, they still float around on a ball joint. When you articulate the arms at the shoulder, the entire shoulder plate has to move with it and I can’t help think how much better Blast Off would have been if the shoulders remained static while the arm moved. It also inhibits the arm’s articulation a lot and will pop out if you try to over articulate it in the slightest. The legs feature ball joints at the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the ankles, which is all very good in theory, and yet the legs still feel kind of stiff. I think it’s because there are no feet.


Blast Off and Onslaught really have a lot in common. Both are amazing looking figures, but have some serious design flaws in their arms. And like Onslaught, I’m going to give Blast Off a pass despite his design shortcomings. His shuttle mode is one of my favorite Transformers alt modes in a long while and his robot mode is no slouch either. The toy is packed with great coloring and superbly sculpted detail, making him feel like Hasbro actually put about fifteen bucks worth of love into this figure. Alas, the design of the shoulders and the overall articulation make him not all that much fun to play with in robot mode. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with having that third alt mode (i.e. Bruticus’ right arm), but it definitely detracts from him as a stand-alone figure. Still, I have no regrets having picked him up.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Onslaught by Hasbro

I think I’m finally cracking under the weight of the Holidays. So, I figured I’d have a couple of Jamesons and check out another one of the Fall of Cybertron Combaticons. If booze and Transformers can’t cheer me up, nothing can. Swindle turned out to be pretty good, so I’m anxious to look at the Combaticon leader, Onslaught.

Yup, love that Generations packaging. Onslaught comes packaged in his robot form on this beautiful card, which points out that he is number one of five Combaticons needed to build Bruticus. He’s not only the first, but also the leader of the pack and according to his little bio on the back of the card, he’s a master strategist and a damn good fighter too. Of course, original Onslaught was a lot bigger than the other Combaticons, whereas the Fall of Cybertron version he’s a Deluxe just like his brothers in arms. That doesn’t bother me; I like a little uniformity in my Transformers sizes these days. Let’s start with Onslaught’s alt mode…

 


Ok, I’ve mellowed on this alt mode a lot since I first transformed him. But let me give you a little taste of my initial impressions… What the hell is this? I know it’s supposed to be an alien war machine and all, but it just doesn’t look like anything. Hasbro calls it a missile carrier, I call it bullshit. I’m trying to be a little forgiving here since as the torso of Bruticus, Onslaught requires the most engineering for his third form, but this jumbled mess on wheels is really pushing it. I don’t even see any goddamn missiles. Even an alien missile carrier should have missiles. I just see two big guns. Now, like I said, I’ve mellowed on him a bit since. He’s still an odd conglomeration, but looking at the way his back is designed, he actually looks like he’s designed to be a cab for a larger military vehicle. And that’s kind of cool. Hey, there’s your cue, Fansproject… build him a trailer! Also, on the plus side, the coloring isn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. I do wish Hasbro had toned down the neon green a bit, at least to match the more subtle green of his dual cannon.

Moving on to Onslaught’s robot mode… here’s the deal, folks. Onslaught looks really good standing on the shelf. He’s nicely proportioned, he has a slew of cool panel lines in the sculpt, and his head is a beautiful homage to the G1 toy and animated character. I’m not crazy about how the huge cannon looks in his hand, but you can clip it onto his arm and I think it works pretty well that way. I do wish Hasbro had designed the cannon so you could peg it onto his back with the two barrels coming up like the G1 design. Either way, he’s one bad ass looking robot and therein lies the problem…

The problem with Onslaught is I want to pick him up and play around with him, and that’s when I realize how screwy his arm designs are. His upper arms consist of his entire front wheels and when you rotate them at the shoulder, it’s just awkward. His forearms connect to his shoulders with hinges that don’t lock into place, and the swivel and ratchet joints in his elbows don’t help much either. Worst of all, his shoulders have no lateral movement. His legs feature decent hinges in the knees and swivels in the thighs, but his hip joints are ratcheted so tight it feels like I’m breaking him when I try to move his legs. Sadly, he’s definitely a toy that is best enjoyed when admired on the shelf.

In the end, I’m going to have to give Onslaught a pass. Call me a Transformers whore. Call me a Hasbro sycophant. Call me whatever. Maybe it’s the Jameson talking. Sure, Onslaught’s alt mode is pretty questionable, sure his arm designs are terrible, but truth is he still looks damn fine standing there among my Decepticons. And besides, I’m really not in all that forgiving a mood today, so if I can still find some good him, that’s worth something.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Swindle by Hasbro

Why yes, my Xbox is still out of commission! Thanks for asking! As a result, I still haven’t made it through Fall of Cybertron. I have a replacement drive for it and I keep telling myself I’m going to fix it and I never do. But then, I also told myself I wasn’t going to buy the trade editions of the Combaticons, because I didn’t like the colors, and today we can see how that turned out. It seems like I enjoy lying to myself… a lot. Yesterday, I found three of the five Combaticons hanging on the pegs, and here’s how that went: “Well, I’ve got to buy Swindle. Swindle is the man,” says I. “But, hey, Blast Off looks really cool too!” And then I just said “Screw it!” and tossed Onslaught into the cart as well. But I’ll get to the others in good time. Today is about Swindle, and yes, Swindle is indeed the man.

Oh, God, what glorious packaging! When I saw this on the peg, I never had a chance. I’ve already pontificated on my love for the new Generations cards, so I’ll try to keep it quick here. The old G1-style grid pattern is awesome. And check out Swindle’s character art. I love the smarmy look on his face and the way he’s pointing to his weapon. I can’t tell whether he’s going to shoot me with it or try to sell it to me. Swindle was always one of my favorites from the old Sunbow cartoon and I think this artwork does him justice. Well played, Hasbro. Swindle is carded in his robot form, which seems to be par for the course with the Fall of Cybertron figures.

The only real differences in the packaging here over the other Fall of Cybertron figures I’ve looked at is the fact that Swindle is a combiner and the package goes out of its way to tell you that. First off, there’s a big sticker on the bubble that says “BUILD GIANT ROBOT!” That’s the kind of glorious Japanenglish that I expect to see on Hong Kong bootlegs, not on a genuine Hasbro release. The top corner of the card also proclaims that Swindle is “Part 4 out of 5” for Decepticon Bruticus. The back of the card has an excellent little bio of Swindle and a diagram showing where he falls into the Bruticus build.


Let’s start with Swindle’s alt mode, which is a Cybertronian transport. It’s nothing terribly special, but aesthetically, it fits in pretty well with the other Cybertron vehicles we’ve seen in the Generations series. I like the fact that it has no windows (because Cybertron alt forms shouldn’t!) and the way the gun plugs into the top. There’s a lot less panel line detail to the sculpt than we last saw in Jazz or Shockwave. I’m guessing Hasbro had to cut back on the sculpting a bit since Swindle is sort of a triple changer. Then again, he forms Bruticus’ leg by standing upright in vehicle mode, so there isn’t really any added engineering for that function. Overall, I’m ok with the coloring. For me, Swindle had to be yellow, which is why I can’t commit to the exclusive G2 version of Bruticus. The purple is a traditional Decepticon color too, so I can’t complain about that and he’s rounded out with a little black and grey. I just wish the yellow wasn’t so bright, because it clashes with the purple to give off a blinding neon vibe. Still, I can deal with it.

Transforming Swindle is as easy as it gets. The fact that he’s designated as a Level 2 Intermediate makes me wonder what Hasbro would consider a Level 1. Still, I don’t need my Transformers over engineered just for the sake of it. Swindle’s transformation has a clean and simple G1 feel to it and the figure works well with everything pegging in to make a solid vehicle and a solid robot.


In robot mode, Swindle looks damn good… from the front. From the back he looks rather hollow and unfinished, reminding me a lot of the Energon Rodimus figure. Nevertheless, he has nice, clean proportions and a lot of good detail on his legs and arms, and the way his shoulder armor can pivot front and back is nice. I really like his head sculpt, although a grey paint app on the face would have been welcome to really bring the figure together. I should also point out that Swindle is a nice sized Deluxe. I’ve taken great umbrage with the shrinking size of the Deluxe Class figures as of late, but Swindle is on par with the War for Cybertron versions of Megatron and Soundwave, and considerably bigger than poor little Shockwave.

 


Like I said, once I saw Swindle on the peg, I never had a chance. I love the character and that Generations packaging practically hypnotizes me into forking over my money. But while I’m happy with how he turned out, $15 is still way too much for this figure, Hasbro, and I didn’t truly realize how absurd it is until I picked up three Deluxes at once for $45. Holy shit… $45!!!  But price notwithstanding, Swindle is a cool addition to the Generations line of Cybertron figures, and while I’m not exactly jonesing to build Bruticus, that’s ok because he works great as a stand-alone figure.

Transformers Power Core Combiners: Bombshock by Hasbro

Hooray… in the Transformers aisles, The Revenge of the Fallen figures are finally subsiding in favor of some new, more original material. I’ll be the first to admit that I bought a lot more ROTF figures than I had planned to, so I’m not hating on them, but the movie has come and gone so long ago, its about time we get some more original stuff before Transformers 3 rolls out and we have to start this all over again. So what does Hasbro have in store for us between movies? They’re called Generations and Power Core Combiners. Truth be told, I was hoping to find some of the Generations figures, but I had no such luck, so today, we’re going to look at one of the later.

When I first heard about the Power Core Combiners gimmick, I was pretty skeptical. The idea of having one true Transformer combining with either minicons or non-transforming drones gave me fevered flashbacks to the days of Energon Optimus Prime. But then I saw some pictures of the figures, and I was willing to give them a chance. The transforming figures are called Commanders, and they come in two types of sets: One type pairs a Commander with a minicon, and another bundles a Commander figure with four drones. Today, we’re going to take a look at the first of the Decepticon sets, which consists of five military vehicles and are called… what else? The Combaticons!

The packaging is similar to the type Hasbro used for those exclusive repackage sets of the Energon Aerialbots and Combaticons a little while back, only smaller. The Commander figure, Bombshock, comes in his robot mode and is flanked by his four, nameless drones: An armored car, an APC, a rocket truck and a tank. The back panel shows the toys combining into their gestalt form. All in all, its ok packaging, only a little more derivative of the Revenge of the Fallen design then I would have liked. Its fairly collector friendly too.

The first thing I noticed about Bombshock is that he’s smaller than I thought he would be. I was expecting the Commander figures to be Deluxe sized and the drones to be closer to Scouts. As it turns out the Commanders are definitely Scout classes and the drones are even smaller. Bombshock actually fits in really well with the Energon Combaticons, check him out standing beside Energon Blackout.


Size aside, there’s definitely an homage going on here, as Bombshock has a few similarities to the G1 Combaticon leader Onslaught, particularly with the way his two cannons sick up behind the back of his head. The colors are a solid military mix of green and gray with some yellow thrown in to brighten things up.

Bombshock is a little stocky, particularly in the legs, but he does have decent articulation, with ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, hips and hinged knees. You can also position his back cannons forward to give them a more functional position for his robot mode. As far as robots go, he’s nothing amazing, but he is a solid figure. He reminds me a lot of an Energon-era figure, which is not a bad thing and I’m happy to see the more boxy G1 style coming back over the bionicle-styled Bayformers.

Bombshock’s vehicle mode is a sort of artillery truck, much like his predecessor Onslaught. It rolls along on six wheels and has a rotating turret with guns that elevate. I think his robot form took priority over this form, because some aspects of it are a little sloppy, like the way the combiner pegs hang off the back bumper. Still, for a Scout sized vehicle, it isn’t bad.




I don’t have a lot to say about the four drones. They look decidedly less detailed and more toyish than Bombshock’s vehicle mode. They do have some decent paint apps, and each one has a Decepticon logo. As expected, they also don’t do a whole lot, except roll along and some of their weapons turn. They’re certainly more interesting than the drones that came with Energon Optimus Prime, and I can imagine that kids could have some fun with these.

Surprisingly enough, the combination feature works extremely well with this set. Getting Bombshock into his torso mode is pretty easy and once that’s done, all you have to do is peg on each of the drones to their appropriate spot. The rocket truck and tank form the arms and the armored truck and APC form the legs. You can switch them off left or right, but you can’t make a leg into an arm or vice versa like you could with the old Scramble City style combiners. The drones all have spring loaded mechanisms that transform them automatcally as you peg them in. It works well, so long as you aren’t holding any of the parts that need to transform.

The Combaticon’s gestalt mode (Bruticus? Ruination??) is pretty good. Yeah, his limbs look somewhat like cobbled together junk, but he’s much, much better than the Energon combiners and he doesn’t look any worse than most of the G1 combiners either. His head is definitely inspired by G1 Bruticus. What’s most impressive is that the gestalt mode doesn’t require any additional pieces, which is pretty much a first for Transformers combiners, and the result is a very solid figure. You can play around with the combined form without having to worry about bits falling off or limbs coming loose. Its very cool.

This set retails at $19.99. Considering that Scouts are going for around $7.99 at some retailers, I don’t think this is a bad deal. Sure, four of the pieces in the set don’t transform into robots, but I think the set is pretty well designed and comes across as one of the better combiner toys we’ve seen out of Hasbro in a while. I was iffy about it when I made the purchase, but I have no regrets after playing around with it for a while and I’m looking forward to picking up the future releases.