Transformers “Power of the Primes” Abominus Combined!

Well, it took me a month, but I finally got through my look at Hasbro’s modern updates to the Terrorcons. These four Deluxe and their Voyager Class leader were all great figures on their own, but the real treat of getting them all together is combining them into Abominus and that’s what I’m going to do today! Hasbro’s modern Combiners have been pretty hit-or-miss with me. I loved Superion, Defensor, and Bruticus, and I thought Computron was solid, but I wasn’t a big fan of Menasor. Here’s hoping that Abominus turns out to be another win!

Of course, the Combiner Wars and Power of the Primes combiners are inspired by the old Scramble City design, which means that the limbs can be combined any way you like. Arm? Leg? Doesn’t matter. When it comes to the combiners that I’m familiar with (like Superion, Menasor, or Computron), I’m a real stickler on which figure becomes what based on the Sunbow cartoon series. But as I’ve noted a few times during my Terrorcon reviews that I never owned the original Terrorcon toys, nor are the characters all that meaningful to me. I was a teenager and getting out of Transformers by the time these guys were released, so I’m just doing my own thing here. And after some experimenting, I’ve found a combination that I dig the most and I’m going with that one. So I’ll apologize in advance if this isn’t the configuration most people are looking for.

Whatever configuration you choose, I have to say he’s quite spectacular. Not only do I think he’s pretty well proportioned (apart from those tiny feet!), but he holds together beautifully and can stand without toppling over like Menasor loved to do. I went with Blot and Sinnertwin as the legs because they strike me as the bulkiest and I think their leg modes compliment each other pretty well.  Meanwhile, I like the way Cutthroat’s wings look coming off the shoulder as well as Rippersnapper’s guns angled up off the other. I also used their respective Prime Armor as the hands, just to match the deco of the arms.

Hun-Gurrr makes for a fantastic torso. His pinkish slab of chest has some great detail on it, including the circular vents in the abdomen and the paint paint hits, which include silver, red, blue, and yellow all look great. I especially love the little twin Decepticon insignia that appear on the outsides of the chest, as well as the larger one on his right hip and the rub sign on his left. The contoured shoulders are quite distinctive and the foil stickers are a great touch. For a combiner made of up five really solid figures with really solid alt modes, I’m surprised Abominus turned out so well. It feels like very little (if anything) was sacrificed here to make it all work.

The head is a nice homage to the original toy, especially the helmet, which features the long side vents and extended antenna. The face is rather organic looking with a very pronounced chin and a yellow visor in place of eyes. The antenna are made of rubbery plastic and mine are a tad warped, but nothing too bad.

Alas, the stability of this guy really takes a hit when I started to pose him, which is why I really couldn’t do a lot with him for the pictures. The ratchets in his hips aren’t very subtle or strong, so the moment I put him in a wider stance, they give out and he either does a split or topples over. As a result, he’s not the most interesting toy to pose and photograph, but I’m still not too bummed out about it. He stands fine in neutral poses and that will work for when I choose to display him in combined mode. Another real plus is ho well he stays together. Even after playing around with him for quite a while, I never had any of his limbs detach or his shoulders come apart. That’s a lot more than I can say for most of the Combiner Wars Gestalts, and that goes a long way to make for a fun toy!

Abominus was a wonderful surprise, as I thought Hasbro would have been more or less done with combiners at the end of the Combiner Wars. Of all Hasrbo’s modern Combiners, I’d rank Abominus pretty high. Superion still holds the top spot for me, but I’d probably put this Terrorcon Gestalt on par with Bruticus as a close second. He looks fantastic and he holds together well enough that he’s actually fun to play around with. Sure, I’d love more stability in action poses, but when everything else is so good, I’m willing to accept compromise. I rarely display any of my combiner teams in their Gestalt modes, but here’s one where I’d be tempted to do it. And with that said, I’m going to be taking a little break from Transformers for the rest of the month as I try to get through some other things. I still have some unfinished business with Power of the Primes. Reviews of Leader Class Optimus Prime and Rodimus, as well as Predaking are all coming, but probably not until November.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Rippersnapper by Hasbro

Holy shit, it’s a new Transformers review! Before jumping in, I want to make mention of how frustrating the Power of the Primes line has been for me. Distribution is never great in my area, but I was still able to pick up maybe half of my Titans Return figures in either the local Walmarts or Targets. And what I couldn’t find local, I was able to get off of Amazon at, or at least pretty close to, MSRP.

PotP has changed all that. The big box stores here either have empty pegs or the pegs are busting with Robots in Disguise figures where PotP should be. Even those newer Bayformer Studio figures are moving in on PotP’s turf. When the Walmart finally restocked, they restocked with two cases of the first wave. Amazon has been no help either because the Deluxe Class figures have been running in the $25-35 range. So, while it’s true I have not been as impressed with PotP as I was with Titans Return, I haven’t been intentionally snubbing this line. Indeed, I was actually thrilled to finally find a couple Deluxes at regular retail, because I still love getting new Transformers. OK, enough of my bitchin’… on with the review of the Terrorcon Rippersnapper!

Just look at that bitchin’ character art! By the time the G1 Terrorcons hit in 1987, I was 15 years old and more obsessed with Star Trek than I was Transformers. I was aware they existed because I was still watching the cartoon, but I never owned any of the Terrorcon figures. As a result, I was super excited to see them coming out as part of the Power of the Primes and allowing me to finally own these characters in brand new versions. Rippersnapper is the first of these to cross my path, so let’s get rip him open and snap some pictures! I’m going to start with his robot mode…

The original Rippersnapper was one of the smaller, basic sized combiner limbs, so getting him up-scaled to a Deluxe is pretty damn cool. The robot design takes some cues from the original toy, but is obviously much better proportioned and with serviceable articulation! I don’t know that I would recognize who he’s supposed to be from the front, but being in the know, I think it’s a great update. Some of my favorite things include, the chest plate that covers his combiner port, the guns that rise up over his shoulders and the way the claws on his forearms work with the articulation in his wrists. In fact, my only quibble about this robot mode is that his right beast leg doesn’t secure the way it should. There’s a peg there to hold it in place, and it works fine on the left leg, but this one just keeps popping out.

From the back, Rippersnapper still sports a pretty clean profile. The beast mode’s head forms a curved backpack and hood of sorts, while the tail fins function as heel spurs. The robot mode’s deco is predominantly a mix of cream and dark blue plastics with some lighter blue accents, as well as some red, silver, and yellow paint apps, giving him a much more diverse color palate than some of the Titans Return figures. All in all, I have to say that I love this robot mode. It looks great, the colors are beautiful, and really fits the G1 cartoon aesthetic that I treasure so dearly.

I don’t have any special attachment to Rippersnapper’s portrait from the good old days, but the head they went with here looks pretty similar to what I remember from the cartoon. He has a rather complex and squared-off “helmet” that frames his yellow face and large red peepers. It’s been so long since I had a new Transformer that my initial instinct was to pop the head off and then I remembered that was the last line’s gimmick. What was this line’s gimmick again?

Ooooh yeah. These stupid Prime Armor pieces.  I don’t like these at all, but I suppose Rippersnapper still looks passable with it on, even if it does bulk him out like crazy. As always, the piece on the front of the armor can be removed and you can stick one of the Prime Masters in there to give him imaginary powers. Yeah, I still don’t like this gimmick, but I do love the Pretender homage that’s included with the tiny Prime Masters, so I’ll definitely be picking up more of those when I find them.

Rippersnapper’s guns can be removed from behind his shoulders and held in his hands. These are a cool matching set of blasters, and I like them a lot better than the ones that came in the last line and had seats for the Titan Masters. Between these and his claws, Rippersnapper definitely has all the bases covered for combat. So let’s see how he looks in his Terrorcon beast mode…

The transformation here is pretty simple and it feels familiar, particularly in the way the legs expand and retract and that’s basically 90% of the transformation. The result is a… what? Some kind of land shark demon thing? Oddly enough, Rippersnapper’s alt mode has always stuck with me, despite never owning the original toy, and I think this is a pretty slick update, even if there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to it. His little legs are strong enough to support his body, but he can also rest it on his tail fin when he wants to. Also, his forearms are a lot more menacing than I remember from the original toy. He has some decent reach with those claws.

From the sides, Rippersnapper sort of looks like an adorable baby Trypticon. I think that’s mostly because of the dual cannons protruding over his shoulders and the snapping jaws. But no doubt, he’s more shark than dinosaur. The deco is more or less the same as the robot mode, and still very pleasing on the eyes. Oh yeah, and I love the faked out rub sign on the back of his shark head.

Speaking of the shark head, it features a lot of personality, especially in those beady little triangular red eyes and silver teeth. I really dig the vents sculpted into the sides of his head as well. The fact that there’s nothing to hide his robot chest being the same as his alt mode. At least all that great detail doesn’t go to waste.

Man, it feels great to open up a new Transformer again and I think Rippersnapper was a fine figure to come back to. There’s nothing exciting about the transformation engineering, but he is a super fun figure in both robot and alt mode. This kind of creativity that went into the later G1 designs is something that I missed out on back then, and it’s great to be experiencing it now with these modern updates. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find the rest of the Terrorcons before too long, because I’m anxious to get this team together. In the meantime, next week I’ll be back with a look at another figure from this assortment… and it’s a femmebot!

Warbotron Combined!

Few things have riled my OCD like Warbotron naming their initial combiner Warbotron. In the name of sanity I couldn’t call today’s Feature “Warbotron by Warbotron.” And it gets even more annoying now that the company is on to other combiners. I’m starting off with a petty rant like this because I have precious little else to rant about when looking at this amazing Third-Party homage to Bruticus. Yes, there were a few initial bumps along the way, but once I got over the hump I beheld this amazing behemoth on my desk and I did gaze upon it in awe…

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Hell yeah, that’s Bruticus all right and man, do I love this thing! Much about the combined mode speaks for itself. At about 18-inches tall, he’s a heavy beast of a figure and he’s really nicely proportioned. I know there was some question about the colors being too bright on the individual bots, but I think the deco looks great as the gestalt. Even from the back he looks pretty clean.

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So, let’s talk a bit about putting him together. The only real hurdle I had was in getting Fierce Attack into the torso mode and that’s just because I couldn’t get the left shoulder assembly to lock in straight. I played around with it for like ten minutes before it suddenly just seemed to right itself. Maybe coincidently (or maybe not) that happens to be the shoulder on the robot mode that’s really tight, but hey alls well that ends well. I like that there are little arms in the back that swing out and lock the shoulder assemblies into place. Boy, Hasbro’s Combiner Wars Menasor could have used that very thing. Sure, you could argue that using Fierce Attack’s trailer to make the upper legs and pelvis is parts forming blasphemy, but I don’t care. I’m fine with some degree of it in combiners and at least it serves a purpose as part of the truck. Apart from getting the shoulder right, getting to the torso was easy-peasy as is most of the rest of the combiner modes.

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Sly Strike and Heavy Noisy are definitely the easiest, especially if you’re going from their alt modes. You’re basically just parting the backs to get the feet pegged in and then folding down the fronts to get the combiner sockets up and ready. Plugging them combiner pegs in below the knees is a bit tricky. They have tabs that lock them into place, and I had to push them with a screwdriver to get them inserted and locked. The same method (and a fair amount of force) was needed to get them out. Fortunately, these are sturdy toys and I wasn’t too worried about breaking anything. The feet form a stable foundation for this beast to stand on and the ankle joints are strong and allow for lateral rockers as well as swivels. Sly holds his perfectly, but every now and then Heavy Noisy tried to drop his. The heavy ratchet joints in the ankles are just stronger than the connection where the ankle post pegs into the legs, so it’s a good idea to hold the figure by the ankle when adjusting the feet. I’ve had Heavy Noisey’s cupola drop off once while posing him and Sly’s side panels sometimes pop out (as evidenced in the above photo), but even these are uncommon occurrences and easily fixed with some adjustments after posing.

warbrute3Air Burst and Whirlwind’s arm modes, on the other hand, are a little less sure of themselves. They’re basically made up from a half-transformed stage between robot and alt mode. In reality these are very similar to the configuration used on Hasbro’s current crop of combiner arms, complete with the twin bars joining bicep to forearm. The robots arms on either figure don’t really peg in anywhere and that’s a little annoying, but that didn’t seem to be a problem when I was playing with him at all. The hands hold in place very well and the combiner ports on the arms are not as difficult to work with as the legs. The only other quibble I have is that I didn’t have anywhere to go with Air Burst’s thruster packs in the arm mode. I should also point out that I have not yet done the torso swap for Air Burst, which means that the hips (or in this case Warbotron’s right elbow) doesn’t ratchet like Whirlwind does. That’s why in the pictures where he’s holding the gun, my Warbotron is a lefty. Otherwise posing the arms feels great and those locking bars behind the shoulders keep everything tight and together.

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The head sculpt is awesome. It’s very G1 Bruticus and it’s made by flipping a helmet and mask right over Fierce Attack’s head. You still get a full range of ball joint movement in the neck. The horn can also be positioned either straight up or angled forward. I also love the fact that they provided a familiar shaped plate on the chest just in case you wanted to put some kind of… oh, I don’t know… maybe a faction sticker there?

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I’ve already hit on some of the particular points of articulation in the arms and legs, but the overall poseability here is great. The crotch plate is hinged to allow for unimpeded forward movement at the hips. With heavy ratchets in the hips, ankles, and knees, Warby’s legs can take his substantial weight in a variety of action poses without too much fear of toppling over and never sliding into the splits in wide stances. In fact, the only time I had issues getting him to stand up was because Heavy Noisy dropped his ankle connection a couple of times. Once I started posing the ankles with a firm grip on the bottom of the leg that wasn’t an issue anymore.

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Naturally, Warbotron can wield that massive gun that came with Fierce Attack and he holds it beautifully. There are pegs on the inside of his hand to secure it and each of his multi-hinged digits can wrap around the grip tightly. Again, if you want him to hold it aloft in his right hand, you’ll have to invest the time in the torso swap for Air Burst. From what I’ve seen it’s not a big deal, but I didn’t want to hold up this Feature until I had time to do it, and fair is fair, I like to give my impressions of a figure as he ships and not after tinkering on the buyer’s end. Nonetheless, even as big and heavy as the gun is, the ratcheting elbows allow him to hold it directly out in a firing position. Not too shabby.

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For me a combiner team is as much about the team of individual robots as it is the combiner, particularly since I display most of these teams as their individual robots. That having been said, Warbotron lives up to the all the hype and excitement that got me to start down this expensive path slightly over a year ago. He’s well thought out (Air Burst’s torso not withstanding!), wonderfully proportioned, and generally fun to play with. He scales very well with the Generations Deluxes and if you want to cheat on scale a little, it’s fun to have him interact with the Legends. Of course, that leads us to the inevitable question: With MMC’s Feral Rex reigning supreme as my favorite Third-Party combiner, does Warbotron get to knock him off his throne? Gosh, that’s a tough one. It’s really, really close. I have more nostalgia for Bruticus than I do Predaking but both are such impressive looking figures I don’t know that I could definitively pick one over the other. I guess if I had to make a decision I would give the nod to Predaking, but that would be mostly because the Feral Cons were such a well-rounded package whereas Warbotron had a few hiccups along the way. In the end, let’s just say it’s really, really close and that both are likely to remain the best versions of these gestalts available (official or otherwise) for a long while.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Bruticus by Hasbro

It’s Saturday and I actually have the weekend off! I’ve got a lot of doing nothing ahead of me and I want to get started, so today’s entry will be a quickie. With all five Combaticons in my possession, I’m finally able to merge them into Bruticus. I should forewarn that based on Hasbro’s own photos of the gestalt mode, I was in no hurry to complete him. I bought the Combaticons strictly for their individual modes and to beef up my Decepticon forces. In short, I wasn’t expecting much at all. The end result was a bit of a pleasant surprise for my low expectations.

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I’ll start out by saying that Bruticus is a solid figure that holds together fairly well. He runs into some issues if you try to pose him a lot, but his limbs form a strong lock and his torso is able to carry the weight and stand tall doing it. A gestalt that crumbles when you look at it funny is no fun at all, and Bruticus definitely avoids that issue. Another big plus is that he’s one of the most self-contained combiners that Hasbro has ever produced. If you disregard his gun, he doesn’t require any extra parts to make him work. Each robot transforms into his own component and they lock together. And his gun is rubbish anyway, and I just use that piece to fill out his hollow back. It may seem like a minor thing, but I really respect the engineering required to make him work without a pile of add-on parts. Sure, the Power Core Combiners did it, but their limbs didn’t turn into robots, so they don’t really count.

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The shame of Bruticus is that he’s a three out of five. Onslaught, Brawl, and Swindle all hold up their end of the bargain and look great doing it. Onslaught is beautifully proportioned as the torso and the legs are satisfyingly chunky and solid. The problem is with Blast Off and Vortex. Blast Off is more of a solid arm, but he’s too long and too hollow in the forearm. Vortex, on the other hand (har har), well he’s just a mess. And the two of them are terribly mismatched. Blast Off’s arm mode is longer than Vortex and the hands look like they belong on two different robots.

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The color scheme isn’t as terrible as I envisioned it. Yes, I would have liked it if Brawl was more military green than neon green, but I can live with it. I think Swindle would have been better if he were more mustard colored rather than bright yellow. The theme here, Hasbro, is just tune down the colors because it isn’t 1993 anymore. Onslaught and Blast Off’s colors are just fine. It’s Vortex that wrecks it for me. Vortex wrecks everything… except for the game… he kicked ass in that. The mix of that red and purple are just as bad in his limb mode as they are in his other modes. Screw you, Vortex! You suck!!!

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Let’s face it, Hasbro has not been batting a thousand with their combiners. The Energon line’s attempts were well intentioned but ultimately a mess, saved only by Fanproject’s expensive additional figures and add-on parts. The Power Core Combiners were an interesting experiment, but their use of drones for limbs was a little beyond what we TF fans look for in a true combiner, and most of them were not all that good anyway. With all that being said, Bruticus is definitely one of their better attempts. I’d go so far as to say the torso and legs are quite good, and that ultimately the figure is marred by its unfortunately awkward and mismatched arms. With a little better engineering in Vortex and Blast Off, I think this figure could have been excellent. As it stands, I think it’s just a decent attempt and possibly an instance of lessons learned and a springboard for a better attempt later on down the road.

And that will finish me for the week. I have a lot more Transformers to look at, but in the interest of preventing the tragic condition known as Transformer Fatigue, I’m going to place a one week moratorium on TF features and just to make sure I stick to it, I’m going to make next week a theme and an unconventional one at that. I’ve already promised Monday to another Farscape feature, but after that it’ll be Jabba’s Palace week. That’s right, only Star Wars figures, and only ones connected to Jabba’s Palace. Not only will it keep me off the Transformers features for a week, but it’ll force me to finally open some of the figures I’ve been assembling for my new Jabba display. Catch ya all on Monday.