Transformers Combiner Wars: G2 Aerialbots Box Set by Hasbro, Part 1: Silverbolt and Powerglide

I was expecting to have the third wave of Titans Return Deluxes to start looking at today, but UPS had other plans and they won’t arrive until tomorrow. Not to worry… I’ve been saving the Combiner Wars Generation 2 Aerialbots box set for just this occasion. Hasbro unloaded a bunch of these sets off their website a little while back for the ridiculously low price of $30 shipped. And seeing as how much I loved the G2 Stunticon set, I simply couldn’t resist. My plan is to cover this set just like I did those G2 Stunticons, in four parts, but I’m not going to do it in a straight shot. I’ll just keep coming back to these when I’m hard up for content, so getting through this set is going to take a while. For today, lets kick it off with a look at the packaging, Silverbolt and Powerglide!

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The six figures come in an enclosed box with some beautiful landscape-oriented artwork on the front and lots of pictures of what’s inside. Primus knows, the Combiner Wars packages haven’t been my favorite, but this elevates it to a new level. You get a bitchin’ shot of G2 Superion shooting off his knuckle cannons with Cybertron in the backdrop. This feels like something special and it’s aces! On the other hand, unlike the Takara sets, there’s no opening flap or window, which makes it feel a little less premium. Open up the box and the goods are laid out on a clear plastic tray in their separate vehicle modes with their weapons and combiner parts around them. Considering I went the Takara route for the original CW Aerialbots, I like the idea of owning this set to represent Hasbro’s take on the packaging.

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Flip the box over and you get this portrait-oriented shot of G2 Superion in all his colorful glory as well as smaller shots of each of the four figures in both robot and alt modes. Fantastic!

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And wow, check out Silverbolt! His Concorde alt mode casts off its mostly white G1 body in favor of this blue deco with red accents. The body of the jet has a truly distinctive light metallic blue finish unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s paired with the high gloss, deeper blue wings and tail fins with red showing up on the tail dorsal fin and in a few other spots. I’m not sure if they actually attempted to match the blue plastic with the blue paint and failed, but I really like the subtle two-tone effect here. Besides the impact of the color change, what strikes me most about this toy is how much work Hasbro put into the repaint. I was expecting something quick and dirty, but what we got shows some true care.

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Extra flourishes include the G2 Autobot symbol on the one wing and “5” on the opposite, both framed with a pair of silver triangles. There are also “5’s” printed on the dorsal fin and a white and blue checkered “V” stamped just behind the cockpit area. Finally, you get some high gloss black paint on the engines. It’s a gorgeous repaint of a very solid alt-mode, which brings out the sculpted panel lines in a way that the original white plastic didn’t. Again, the quality of paint here is just superb!

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Transformed into his robot mode, Silverbolt trades a lot of that blue real estate for more red, in this case bare red plastic that still has a bit of a glittery, metallic finish. Also thrown into the mix is more black and a little silver on his abdomen. It’s a pretty well balanced deco and it’s topped off with a G2 Autobot emblem stamped proudly on his chest. Obviously, I identify more with the G1 colors and those will always have a place in my heart, but I cannot deny that this is one damn attractive figure!

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I particularly love what the colors do for this head sculpt. The face is still silver with a very high quality look to the paint. His “helmet” is now blue, and his eyes are painted a gorgeous shade of red.

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You get the same rifle and “shield” combo, which will combine to form Superion’s gun. The rifle is a little too long for Silverbolt and the shield is pretty worthless, but otherwise, I love still love this toy and it looks fantastic in the new G2 colors. Unfortunately, I can’t say I have quite the same enthusiasm for Powerglide, though. I don’t have a lot to say about him, but let’s start with his alt mode.

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The original release of this Legends Class figure will go down as one of my favorites in recent years, so I have a lot of love for this mold, even if the alt mode is difficult to hold together. The G2 version is almost a palate swap of the original only here the light tan plastic is replaced with gray. It’s that gray swirly stuff, that I’m not all that fond of, but it’s not too bad in small amounts like on this little guy. That having been said, the deco here isn’t my favorite. I just feel like the smaller amount of red overpowers the silver. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either.

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The robot mode is more of the same, although I think I prefer the deco in robot mode a little more than in alt mode. You get an extra little bit of paint on his crotch piece and that glorious G2 Autobot emblem stamped on his chest. Unless my Transformers history is off, I don’t recall Powerglide ever getting an official G2 release and I feel like these colors aren’t quite in the spirit of the rest of the G2 Aerialbots. Still, it’s a decent repaint of a cool figure.

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When it comes to this Powerglide, I can take him or leave him, but Silverbolt is a pretty great looking toy for what could have been a quick and dirty repaint. I’m extremely impressed with what I’ve seen so far out of this set and I’m looking forward at checking out the limbs in the future. But as I said earlier, that won’t be until next year, because next Thursday I’ll start on the third wave of Titans Return Deluxes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I get a couple more of the bigger ones for Christmas.

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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!

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 Unite Warriors: Combaticons (UW-07) Box Set by Takara, Part 1: Onslaught

I was going to make such a big deal about having new arrivals for Transformers Thursday, but then I see so many pictures of Titans Return figures in peoples’ hands and suddenly I don’t feel so special. But I do have a holdover from Combiner Wars… or, excuse me… Unite Warriors, in the form of the Japanese Combaticons box set! I can’t tell you how hard it’s been to keep passing up the Hasbro Combaticons on the pegs, knowing that I had this on pre-order. Thank Primus, it’s finally here! I’m going to use the same formula here as I used for the G2 Menasor set. Today I’ll look at the packaging and Onslaught, next week I’ll tackle the limbs two at a time, and we’ll wrap it up the following week with Bruticus.

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The box design is very similar to the one used for the Unite Warriors Aerialbots, so if you’re a stickler about matching sets, you should be very happy to sit them next to each other on a shelf. There’s some absolutely bitchin’ and gritty artwork on the front of the box showing Bruticus stomping through a city and there’s a front flap that lifts open to reveal a window showing the goodies inside. Seeing the toys all laid out in their vehicle modes really takes me back to the glory days of the G1 giftsets. I never owned any of those, but they sure were pretty to look at! The back of the box has a large photo of Bruticus as well as photos of the individual figures in their robot and alt modes. The set is collector friendly, although getting everything back in place can require some patience. An instruction booklet is also included in the box. Let’s start with the alt mode!

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Onslaught is obviously the Voyager Class figure in the set and he’s built off of the Protectobot Hotspot mold. I don’t think that’s as apparent in his alt mode as it is his robot mode and the use of shared bodies here seems like a good choice. The alt mode is pretty true to his G1 roots, at least in the sense that he’s a military truck. The cab is more modernized and he lost a pair of wheels along the way, but I still have little trouble identifying the homage here. He features two large cannons, but don’t look too closely or you’ll see Bruticus’ head peeking back out at you trying to not be noticed. It’s not one of the most outrageous alt modes out there, but all things considered, I think it’s pretty solid even with the combiner head sitting up there like he’s on a parade float.

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Unfortunately, Unite Warriors Onslaught’s alt mode is not as versatile as his G1 namesake. I’m sure I could work out some iffy fan modes, but he’s not really designed for much else besides being a truck. With the pegs on the top of the cannons and the multiple peg holes on the bottom of Blast Off, I was hoping there would be an official way to make Onslaught carry him, but it looks like I’m out of luck unless I want to balance him up there. There’s sort of a flatbed area on the back, but it’s not really big enough to comfortably carry any of his chums. Ah well, sometimes a truck is just a truck… and a robot… and a torso. Never mind.

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The coloring here is quite nice, with the blue and brown doing a fine job of representing the G1 toy’s deco. I’m not going to spend a lot of time comparing the coloring between Hasbro and Takara on the limbs, but I will do it here because Takara’s Onslaught is just such a huge improvement over the Stateside release. The blue is much darker and richer here than on the Hasbro version, I like it better, but that’s really just a matter of taste. The biggest difference in paint, however, is the beautiful work Takara did on the package of torso parts that sits on the vehicle’s back. These parts were left as bland off-white plastic on the US release, whereas here you get some beautiful coloring, along a very striking shade of silver paint. The same goes for the guns. It really looks fantastic here, and as we’ll see in a few weeks, this will make an even bigger impact in the combined mode.

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Transforming Onslaught should be very familiar if you’ve spent any time with Combiner Wars Hotspot. If anything, Onslaught is a little easier because all those extra torso bits just stay where they are and are worn as a backpack. And obviously there’s no ladder to mess with. Yes, it’s always worth pointing out that despite the need for add-on hands and feet, these combiners are otherwise self-contained. The only other thing worth noting are the knees. As with Hotspot, there’s a trick to locking these in, and if your Onslaught’s knees keep buckling, it’s probably because he isn’t transformed properly.

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In robot mode, it isn’t too difficult to pick out the parts shared with Hotspot. The forearms and the legs are most obvious to me, although he does have new feet and the new deco helps fool the eye a bit, particularly around those knees. Regardless of the recycling, however, I think he works quite well as a send up to G1 Onslaught. Some high points for me include the detailed sculpt and paint in the chest panel, the painted coils in his arms, and the crisp Decepticon logo on his chest. The two circles painted on his pelvis area are also nice nods to the Sunbow animation design.

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All looks pretty good from the back too. Yeah, his lower legs are hollow, but I do like how all that combiner stuff packs neatly into a backpack. I also get a chuckle out of the fact that he wears Bruticus’ head on his ass. The guns store nicely on his back and help hammer home the homage of having the twin guns rising up behind Onslaught’s shoulders. Onslaught is a bit back heavy, and while those heel spurs help a bit, he’s still prone to toppling backwards. Now is as good a time as any to mention that Onslaught suffers from the same rather unforgiving ratchet joints in the hips. There isn’t a lot of finesse there, so posing him and getting him to balance in those poses can be an exercise in frustration.

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The head sculpt is pretty straight forward, and he has a painted visor instead of light-piping. I will say that it’s a toss up for me as to whether I prefer the black head on the Hasbro version or this blue one. It’s too close for me to call. Here you can also get a better look at the distinctive paintwork in the chest panel. The colors on this guy really are beautiful!

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Of course, Onslaught can dual wield his twin guns in his hands in order to live up to his name. Since these serve as Bruticus’ weapon too, they can be connected together to form a bigger rifle, and it isn’t too big for Onslaught to use. Ironically, the extra paint apps on the guns make it really apparent that the larger weapon is just two of the same gun stuck together.  For that reason, I think the combined guns worked better for Hotspot, as those are all black.

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Onslaught has a few issues, but overall I like him a lot. In my mind, he’s definitely the best modern version of the character that we’ve seen from either Hasbro or Takara, but then I suppose that isn’t saying much. Nevertheless, it’s easy for me to overlook some of the flaws while admiring the fact that he’s a partially shared mold and a pretty clever one at that. To me that’s even more impressive when you see him in his torso mode. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Next week, we’ll bust into the Deluxe Class figures and check them out, starting with Blast Off and Vortex!

Transformers Combiner Wars: Skywarp (Leader Class) by Hasbro

I honestly didn’t plan this, but it’s almost exactly a year to the day since I Featured Combiner Wars Leader Class Thundercracker here on FFZ. Crazy, how time flies! I followed it up last October with a look at Starscream, and here I am finally completing this Trinity of Seekers with Skywarp! Today’s Feature will be easy-peasy-quick-and-breezy, as this is of course just a repaint of the toy I’ve already looked at twice. And that’s a good thing, because it was a long day at work and I am drinking heavily.

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The box is more or less identical to the other Leader Class Seekers, albeit with updated character art. Skywarp looks more pissed than I’ve ever seen him on the front of the box. I must have found this toy dozens of times languishing on the shelves without picking him up. It’s not that I didn’t want him. Skywarp is easily my favorite Seeker deco and I am fond of this as a Seeker mold, but truth be told, shelling out $45 for a repaint of the same toy twice isn’t something I relish these days and so I was waiting for a sale. It’s hard to believe that I’m the same guy who used to hit Walmarts at 2am looking for Armada repaints. Anyway, I got nothing else to say about the package, so let’s take a look at his alt mode…

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Yup, this is still a mighty attractive jet mode, and it still boggles my little change-a-bot loving mind that this is remolded from Jetfire. I really dig the sleek contours and all the sculpted panel lines. And as good as this jet looked the last couple of times I showcased it, it looks all the better for wearing Skywarp’s glorious black and purple. The base black plastic isn’t as glossy as I would have liked, but you can get a nice sheen off of it when viewed in the right light and at the right angle. Both the purple paint and plastic are nicely matched and really add that extra pop, along with that sumptuous silver paint that Hasbro seemed to discover solely for the Combiner Wars line.

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Skywarp features three sets of folding landing gear, and lest you forgot… the canopy opens revealing a fully detailed cockpit with two seats.

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He’s also loaded with guns. There are six guns in total that can find a home on his jet mode, and there’s even a couple of places you can stick his missile launcher, but as a champion of symmetry, I prefer to leave it off of his alt mode. With three sets of cannon one each wing, I’d say he’s armed well enough. As far as jets go, Skywarp is one sexy beast, so how’s that robot mode?

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I still dig it! The transformation here is ridiculously easy, so if you’re someone who equates value with complexity in your converto-robos, this mold may feel like a cheat. As far as I’m concerned, it gets the job done and the relatively quick conversion does make him fun to play with. As I’m sure I’ve already pointed out a couple of times with his brothers, the robot mode here isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of ugly under-wing showing. Damn, this would have been an amazing looking figure if they could have added a swivel to allow those wings to turn around. Eh, but then they’d be pointing down. Either way, it’s not a deal-breaker for me and there’s still a lot to love here only now it’s fortified with 100% pure Skywarp Deco Goodness.

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Of course, he’s still wearing a collapsed jet on his back, which isn’t a big deal to me. Yeah, it showcases that the “cockpit” in his chest is a fakeout, but c’mon, that’s pretty obvious anyway.

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The head sculpt is also the same one we’ve seen all along. I’ll concede that at the Leader Class level, maybe Hasbro should have ponied up for some new head sculpts. Nothing drastic, but maybe just different expressions. Selling the same toy to idiots like me without a stitch of new sculpting seems like dirty pool. But, whatever!

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All those guns that Skywarp wore in his alt mode can find a home on his robot mode, or you can just pull them all off. Granted, only a couple can actually be wielded as weapons, unless he’s shooting in some real weird angles. The leg guns do a nice job of bulking out his lower legs, without getting in the way too badly. The smaller guns can stay pegged to his wings. I’m not a big fan of them there in robot mode, but I accept it as a place to store them. His arm cannons are the ones that mean business. He can aim them well, although they’re rather bulky and can get in the way of posing his arms.

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Skywarp also comes with the same missile launcher gun that the other two Seekers have. It’s a damn good gun, but handguns and Seekers don’t really fit together in my head, so this will probably join the others in a pile at the back of the shelf or be inherited by some other lucky robot.

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One year after being introduced to it, I still love this mold… possibly more than it deserves. It looks great, it’s fun to play with and when you get all three Seekers together with Generations Megatron and MP Soundwave, it’s an impressive sight. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I picked these up as my Masterpiece Seekers. It may sound like sacrilege, but MP Seeker mold just doesn’t cut it for me, not at the asking price. Granted, there’s a lot of compromise here, but for the money, I’ll happily have these guys stand in for now.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Groove (Deluxe Class) by Hasbro

LAST TIME ON THE TRANSFORMERS… “The Protectobots are dispatched from Cybertron and arrive on Earth to aid the Autobots in their never-ending war against the eeeeevil Decepticons!”

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Prime: “Welcome, comrades. It’s good to see you all aga… Wait…”

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Prime: “Who the hell are you?”

Groove: “It’s me, Prime! I’m Groove!”

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Prime: “The hell you are!” 

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*CRUNCH!*

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Prime: “Ahhhh, There’s Groove! Help me get him out of his stasis pod!

Blades: “Holy Primus! It’s like the Alpha Bravo incident all over again!”

Prime: “What was that?”

Blades: “Nothing! I didn’t say anything!”

Yup, better late than never! The Deluxe Class Groove that made his debut in Japan has finally come Stateside, so we can all finally throw away our Legends Class Grooves or awkwardly keep him as part of the team as Mini-Groove. Although, Deluxe Groove is still pretty tough to find at a reasonable price. He turns up on Amazon every now and again for retail and quickly sells out. Me? I paid $25 for him. A lot of dough for a Deluxe, but it was an amount I was comfortable paying in order to get him and be done with it. Besides, it’s only a couple of bucks more than if I bought him at one of those swanky rich folks Toys R Us stores where they jack up the prices 20% based on the surrounding demographics. The packaging is typical Combiner Wars fare, although for some reason they showcase him combining with Sky Lynx rather than Hot Spot and the rest of the team. I’ve been waiting a while for this guy, so let’s get him open and check him out!

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Motorcycle Transformers… don’t get me started! The modern Transformers aesthetics have allowed a finer balance between alt mode and robot when it comes to these two-wheeled convertobots, but if you’re shooting for a robot mode that’s a little more boxy to match the glory days of the Transformers, you’ve got to sacrifice a little in the alt mode to get the job done. Groove’s motorcycle mode does that and I think it’s just enough to get the job done. I can point out all sorts of nitpicks about this mode. The hands are obvious, the windshield is so undersized that it would be useless, and the overall body is pretty big and boxy. But you know what? I don’t care about any of those things. This is an overall solid motorcycle that does what it needs to do in order to get me Groove as a limb for Defensor.

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The deco is pretty simple with a whole lot of white, some black, and a little bit of gold and silver. The white plastic they used on this guy looks outstanding. It’s very bright and crisp and has a nice quality feel to it. You get a bright blue translucent windshield with an Autobot emblem stamped on it and some sharp looking translucent red lights on the front. “POLICE” is printed on both sides near the back of the seat. I really dig the way the guns attach to the lower back of the bike to form exhaust pipes. They also have translucent red lights as well. The alt mode is rounded out by a little kickstand that folds down to hold the bike upright. Transforming Groove is fairly straight forward and makes use of some common Combiner Wars engineering, like the way the legs extend out and retract back into themselves.

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The result is a super solid robot mode that uses a lot of the design tropes we’ve seen in the Combiner Wars Deluxes, but also introduces enough new stuff to make this figure feel almost fresh. Yup, you still get the hinged combiner port exposed in the chest. That’s something that bothered me a lot when this line debuted, but I’ve mellowed on it a lot and now I don’t really mind it at all. The overall design is a beautiful blend of boxy G1 with modern streamlining. The rear wheel splits in half to preserve symmetry on his legs and the silver engine parts look great as his arms. The mostly white and black deco adds a lot more gold to the mix.

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From the back, Groove wears the front assembly of the bike as a backpack. It’s bulky, but it’s also fine by me. Much the way the Aerialbots wear most of a jet on their backs, this is something that I just find endearing.

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Groove’s head sculpt is packed with personality. Although, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t remember a lot about the personalities of the G1 Protectobots. There wasn’t a lot of it in the cartoon to really imprint on me at a young age. I’m getting a major Beast Wars Dinobot vibe off this guy, but flipping back through some of my Marvel comics shows a pretty good likeness to the comic art.  He does looks like a cop that you do not want to be pulled over by. Still, I’m maybe just a little disappointed that Hasbro didn’t opt to give him a motorcycle cop porn ‘stache. Oh yeah… he’s also got some epic light piping.

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Articulation is what you would expect out of the Combiner Wars limbs and that means a nice assortment of ball joints and hinges. These may be very simple Deluxe figures when it comes to the transformation engineering, but I think that makes them a lot more fun to play with in robot mode. Groove is solid, sturdy and fun to pose.

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Of course, we already got a peek at his weapons on his alt mode. They are twin guns, which make him the second best armed Protectobot next to Hotspot. OK, maybe if you count Blades’ arm rockets he could be in the running too. These are great looking weapons and the translucent red lights on the tops make them look all the more distinctive.

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You know,  I started getting some major Combiner Wars fatigue when Hasbro started putting out the limbs based on the G1 Autobot cars. That and my decision to wait for Takara’s Combaticons meant that I’ve been sitting out this line for the last few waves. But that shouldn’t come as any kind of  indictment against Combiner Wars as a whole. I’ve really enjoyed this line a lot and Groove here has reminded me of that. He’s a great figure and well worth the extra ten bucks or so that I had to kick in to get him. Also, I was just kidding about tossing away Legends Groove earlier on. He’s still a fine little figure for my Legends collection. I just don’t have a place for him in my Defensor. Wait? What’s that? Did I forget something?

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Awww, yeah. As with all the Combiner Wars figures, Groove is capable of forming a leg or an arm, but screw that. He’ll always be a right leg in my Protectobot gestalt. And a damn fine leg he is. While I appreciate the whole “Scramble City” flexibility, I’m set in my ways and I like to stick with my favorite configurations. In this case, it’s Groove and Streetwise as the legs and Blades and First Aid as the arms. Don’t get me wrong, Rook is a fantastic figure and he made for a serviceable limb, but it just ain’t the same without Groove in there. Getting him into the mix really elevates Defensor even further in my esteem and he comes close to rivaling the Superion as my current favorite Combiner Wars gestalt.

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Indeed, even in their individual bot modes, these guys are absolute aces in my book. Now bring on Unite Warriors Bruticus!!!

Transformers Combiner Wars: G2 Stunticons Box Set by Hasbro, Part 4: Menasor!

 

Here we are at the final installment of my look at Hasbro’s Generation 2 Stunticons. I’ve already checked out Motormaster and the four Deluxe figures, but before we get to Menasor, let’s take a quick look at the runt of the litter: Blackjack!

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I was curious to see what they would do with the tiny Stunticon sports car, since Blackjack is the one figure that Hasbro didn’t have a G2 original to reference. They went for a purple and blue deco that matches Motormaster fairly closely and I think it looks fine. He sports a blue G2 Decepticon emblem on his hood and the windows are painted black. You can still plug his axe onto the back of the car to form a spoiler and what I like to think is a roof cannon, because… why not?

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The transformation here is still as simple and clever as always. The robot mode balances out the color scheme by exposing more of the blue. I still like the way the wheels are angled back on his shoulders and the bulk of the car’s top becomes his backpack. He’s a great looking little Legends figure.

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Plenty of ball joints makes for solid articulation and he can hold his axe in either hand. The only thing missing is a Decepticon emblem somewhere on his front. I like my Transformers to wear their faction symbols proudly. Based on the transformation, it’s easy to see why he doesn’t have one, and it was an issue common to the previous Blackjack.

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For a mold that’s been around the block three times already, I think this guy still holds up well. I’d put this one tied with the original Blackjack release as my two favorites and Hot Rodimus bringing up a distant third. But enough about Blackjack… let’s form G2 Menasor!

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So, some of you may recall that I wasn’t all that keen on Menasor’s combined mode the first time around and I’m sorry to say that this G2 version doesn’t do a lot to improve on that. Of course, my issues with Menasor had nothing to do with his paint job, so I wasn’t expecting a repaint to solve anything. With that having been said, this version feels slightly more stable to me. Just getting the previous release to stand beside him was a chore. Unfortunately, he still suffers from a host of problems, like the shoulders coming un-pegged every time I move his arms, and the fact that Blackjack will not peg into the chest on his own. I used heaping helpings of blue tack to get him to stick for the photos and even then he popped out a few times. This guy is just no fun at all to play with because he keeps falling down or falling apart.

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As for the coloring… it’s brilliant! The fact that they matched the coloring between Blackjack and Motormaster makes for a good looking chest piece, at least while he stays in place. My preferred combination here is the same as the other Menasor with Dead End and Wildrider making the legs. It works for this deco pretty well as it gives the upper half a more uniform color and makes the legs really pop. It’s a striking deco to be sure.

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In the end, I always knew this series of Features was going to be anti-climactic because Menasor remains my least favorite of the three Combiner Wars teams that I own (the others being Defensor and Superion). But just like the first time around, I bought these guys mainly for the individual modes and as a team, these figures did not disappoint at all. They look incredible on the shelf and owning them has convinced me to grab the G2 Superion set as well because I just really want a Generation 2 shelf in my modern Transformers display. With an MSRP of $99, the value here feels about right, figuring on four Deluxes at $16 a piece, a Voyager at $25, and a Legends at $10. I was able to grab these guys for $85 and that made the deal all the sweeter.

Next week, Transformers Thursday is going to go back into a short hiatus, so that I can work a three-parter into the middle of the week. It should return the following Thursday, but it’ll likely remain spotty throughout the Summer as I wait for Takara’s Unite Warriors teams to be released. 

Transformers Combiner Wars: G2 Stunticons Box Set by Hasbro, Part 3: Dragstrip and Breakdown

Transformers Thursday continues to chug along thanks to this multi-part feature on Hasbro’s Generation 2 Stunticons Boxed Set. Today I’m checking out the last two limbs in the box, Dragstrip and Breakdown. As I mentioned last time, these are straight repaints of the Combiner Wars Stunticons that I looked at when they came out, so we’re going to be focused mostly on the new coloring. We already looked at the packaging a couple of features back, so let’s dive right in and start with Breakdown and his alt mode!

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Awwww, yeah! This is the type of thing I think of when I think G2. Breakdown’s previous off-white and blue deco has been replaced with a glorious teal, accompanied by a black hood, purple trim, and gold painted windows. You also still get some nice silver paint hits for the headlights, front bumper, and wheels. The hood features a G2 Decepticon emblem and the windshield is engraved with “94 Racing” as opposed to the “15 Racing” of regular Breakdown. This is one rad looking ride that looks like it was plucked right off the streets of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto.

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All of those colors translate well to his robot mode. The teal is more balanced out with purple and that lovely silver. To be honest, this mold hasn’t really held its appeal to me all that well, but I will say the crazy color palate here is at least a lot more interesting than the mostly off-white of his former incarnation. My only complaint here is that the tiny teal G2 Decpticon emblem on his chest is rather awkwardly placed and tough to make out. Breakdown comes with the same sword-gun combo, only this time painted maroon and silver. Moving on to Dragstrip…

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Hooooly shit is this some kind of awesome! To say that I was never a fan of the first Dragstrip’s coloring would be a Unicron-sized understatement. But this? The black and blue coloring on this car shouldn’t work, but it’s really tickling my retinas in every good way imaginable. Toss in the yellow interior of the cockpit and the touches of silver on the wheels and suspension and I am in love. Granted, the Mirage repaint of this car swayed me on the mold already, but this one does it again with a much stronger intensity.

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And that goes for the robot mode too! A figure that was mostly “blah” for me has been elevated to greatness with this new deco. The black and blue just looks so good together and the extra pop of that yellow from the cockpit is carried over in the form of his combiner port. Even the head sculpt, which I didn’t care for at all is now a thing of beauty. Dragstrip comes with the same gun/sword combo as his previous version. It’s not as cool as Breakdown’s but it’s not bad.

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So, I’ve looked at five figures in this set and each and every one has justified the purchase. These two, in particular, were my least favorite of the CW Stunticon molds, but a fresh coat of 90’s paint works wonders for them. I absolutely love the way these vehicles and bots turned out. Now, if you remember my look at the first releases, I loved these guys as individual bots, and not so much for the combined Menasor mode. Can these new paint jobs win me over on the big guy as well? Well, we’ll find out next week when I look at the last figure in the set, tiny Blackjack, and then put them all together and see what we get!

Transformers Combiner Wars: G2 Stunticons Box Set by Hasbro, Part 2: Dead End and Brake-Neck

It’s Transformers Thursday again and here we are at the second part of my look at Hasbro’s Generation 2 style Stunticons. Last time we checked out Motormaster and today I’m going to take a look at Menasor’s legs: Dead End and Brake-Neck, or Wild Rider, if you prefer. We already saw the packaging last week, so let’s jump right in with the alt modes! These are, of course, straight repaints of the original figures, so we’re mostly going to be talking colors here…

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So, straightaway I love the Sideswipe and Sunstreaker vibe that I get off of this pair. In the world of 90’s toy repaints that usually land somewhere between Swatch Watches and a Trapper Keeper, these guys are really not that outlandish. They are, however, blindingly bright. Dead End adopts a sumptuous candy-apple red and Brake-Neck a brilliant yellow. But just in case their colors aren’t crazy enough, they advertise their Generation 2 pedigree with the giant G2 Decepticon emblems on their hoods. Both emblems are in each car’s base color against a black backdrop and I really enjoy that they match each other.

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Dead End’s deco does mingle with the outrageous by having a bright blue front bumper. It looks like he needed to replace it and went to Wheeljack’s U-Pull-It and could only find a blue bumper from his make and model and will eventually get around to painting it later, but right now he doesn’t have the money for it. He also sports some totally bitchin flame streaks down the side and teeny tiny G2 Decepticon emblems on what looks like it could be his gas caps, but that doesn’t make sense because there are two of them and he’s not a Jaguar. Still neat, though. The coloring is rounded out by some relatively sedate silver painted windows.

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Brake-Neck’s deco is mostly just more yellow. He does have a little gradient orange trim behind the front wheel wells. He also has this crazy pattern on the roof that sort of reminds me of the cover of Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. The rear window is black, but the side windows and windshield are painted with a very vibrant blue. Alright, let’s transform these guys and check them out, starting with Dead End…

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Again, he’s fairly subdued for a G2 coloring. You get more of that lovely bright red with a good mix of gray and black. The bright blue chest really makes the sculpted detail there stand out and the yellow, red, and blue paint on the head is just fantastic. I don’t recall being too smitten with this head sculpt when I looked at the original figure, but here I’m really digging it a lot.

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Brake-Neck is a little more surprising in that he sports some of that bright blue from his windows on his upper legs and fists. You also get some beautiful silver and his chest is black. The real treat here is the Wildrider head with the purple face. Man, do I dig that! I’ll also point out here that while Hasbro has been notorious for using some really shitty yellow plastic in the past, this stuff is actually really nice looking.

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Both Stunticons come with the same exhaust pipe truncheon, which can be held in their hands or pegged onto their vehicle modes. I’m slightly disappointed that they didn’t paint them different colors, but I suppose they were the same colors on the original releases too, so maybe I was expecting too much there.

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For two straight repaints, I’m surprised at how excited I am by this pair. The coloring just looks outstanding on every level and a lot of that is owed to the beautiful quality of the plastic and the way it holds the vibrant yellow and red. They really are a couple of beautiful figures and as bright as they are, I’d say the coloring on these could probably even win over those crazy people out there who are adverse to the whole G2 thang. Next time, I’ll wrap up the limbs with a look at Dragstrip and Breakdown!