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!

Transformers Combiner Wars: G2 Stunticons Box Set by Hasbro, Part 1: Motormaster

Well, looks like I was able to get Transformers Thursdays kick-started a little early thanks to this big box of garishly colored plastic that arrived on my stoop earlier in the week. Lest you think Hasbro isn’t willing to take risks these days, I present to you the Combiner Wars Stunticons in those glorious Generation 2 colors that never actually saw official release here in the US. That is, until someone recently dropped an obscene amount of money on an un-circulated set via Ebay. It’s worth noting that this is actually the second G2-inspired Combiner Wars set Hasbro has sent to retail, the first being the Aerialbots, which I will probably get to eventually. Now, I was already out of buying Transformers and in college by the time G2 hit the shelves around 1991, but it’s impossible for me not to fall in love with the vivid coloring that the line used. Today I’m going to start with a look at the packaging and Motormaster…

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The box is somewhat reminiscent to the packaging Takara uses for their Unite Warriors giftsets, although this one is a completely enclosed box with no window or front flap. Still, it’s impressively large and features very nice artwork on the front and the back shows the combined Menasor mode. It doesn’t actually make the connection to the G2 homage anywhere on the box, so anyone buying this set sight unseen and expecting to get the regular Stunticons will be in for a delightful or horrific surprise, depending on their personal tastes.

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Inside the box, the six figures come packaged in their vehicle modes, just like the old G1 giftsets and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weapons and combiner parts are laid out beside each figure. The box also contains an instruction sheet and a collectible character card for Menasor. Just look at these lovelies! They look like they would be right at home cruising the streets in GTA: Vice City. This is so damn cool!

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A far cry from his drab black and gray G1-style deco, Motormaster’s cab now sports snazzy purple and two-tone blue coloring with stylish red stripes running down the sides. You also still get some of that great silver paint on the front grill and the smokestacks and the wheels are still black. I’ll also point out that they did a fairly good job matching the purple plastic on the corners with the purple paint on the rest of the cab. Although, I still wish they could have painted in the rest of the windows to match, even if it meant bumping up the price of the set a little bit. I don’t have anything new to say about the cab mode itself. It holds together pretty well and I’m surprised the Third Parties haven’t come out with trailers for Motormaster yet. Right now, they could get two versions out of whatever mold they cooked up. Four, if you count the two Optimus Primes. GET ON IT, DUDE’S!!!

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Wow… he’s breathtaking! I mean, holy hell does he just pop! In robot mode, the new deco carries over from the cab with few surprises. You do get more blue showing than purple and the extra red paint hits really makes for a striking touch. It’s fascinating to see the profound differences that a drastic new color scheme makes, especially over a figure that was essentially just monochrome black and gray with a little purple. And the fact that there’s still a fair amount of purple and black means that this deco still works quite well for me as a Decepticon. Also, it feels like this figure was built off the updated mold with the more forgiving hip ratchets.

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The vibrant silver paint used on the face is as eye catching as ever and there’s that epic G2 Decepticon emblem stamped right in the middle of his chest. I’ve got to admit, I never thought I’d see it on a modern toy that wasn’t some kind of Con Exclusive. It’s so damn cool to see that this is a regular retail release.

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Motormaster includes the same two weapons that came with his original Combiner Wars release: His gun and sword. There’s really nothing new to be said about these. They feature the same brilliant silver paintwork and can combine with each other to form the larger Menasor sword.

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What can I say, other than I am smitten with this guy. Granted, this mold has had its ups and downs with me. I didn’t care for it as Optimus Prime, mostly because of the big arms and the unpainted corners of the cab. But when it was released as Motormaster, I was totally on board and it still holds up for me just fine with this new release. The larger arms suit Motormaster’s brutish nature and both of the color schemes work perfectly for me. Sure, the first release will still be representing on my Combiner Wars shelves, but I’m already planning a second shelf for these G2 re-releases. This is simply a gorgeous figure and a wonderful homage to that quirky span of Transformers that held the franchise together until something new came along. I really can’t thank Hasbro enough for bringing this out, and you know what’s great? I still have five more figures to look at! Next Thursday, I’ll be back to check out a pair of limbs!

Transformers Combiner Wars: Blackjack by Hasbro

After taking a couple of weeks off, Transformers Thursday is back in action and today I’m looking at the last and tiniest of the Stunticons, Blackjack. Yeah, I know, at first Off-Road was the last and then Brake-Neck was the last, well now it’s this little guy. Scale has never mattered much to me when it comes to Transformers, but even I have to balk a bit at the silliness of this one tiny car cruising around with the others. Nonetheless, I had to pick him up because I love Decepticon cars, I love the Legends line, and while this Legends Class car isn’t a necessity for rounding out Menasor, I was curious to see what it would bring to the table.

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This isn’t my first time looking at a Combiner Wars Legends figure, so I won’t dwell on the package much. It’s a simple card and bubble affair with the now familiar CW deco, which I will admit is now growing on me. Despite being new, the bubble on mine is clearly attached to the card with cellotape, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Blackjack comes with a weapon, a character card, a folded instruction sheet, and he’s packaged in his robot mode. Of course, we’re going to start with his alt mode.

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BJ’s auto mode is a sexy little black sports car with a little purple trim, gold painted windows and a crisp little Decepticon logo stamped on the hood. The sculpt is simple, but it still manages to offer some nice contours. Alas, it doesn’t roll very well. Either I can’t get it all locked up right or the undercarriage is dragging.

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What does work well is the way the weapon attaches to the top to give him a roof mounted cannon. Hmm… that looks familiar. Could it be they’re repainting this guy into Rodimus? Oh, wait… they already did.

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Being a Legends Class, there isn’t a whole lot to the transformation, but I’ve got to say I’m quite happy with the robot mode. BJ wears his rear window on his chest, while the rest of the top of the card falls down his back. The way his front wheels wind up pointing backwards on his biceps is both unexpected and pretty cool. You get a little more gold visible in his robot mode, but overall he keeps his black and purple deco, which are always welcome colors for a ‘Con. The head sculpt isn’t terribly detailed, but with a simple visor and mouth plate, it gets the job done.

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One of the things I appreciate most about these Legends figures is the use of ball joints for most of the articulation. In this case, BJ’s got them in his shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees and that makes for a remarkably fun figure for someone so tiny. His head will also rotate.

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The weapon that makes a roof cannon for his auto mode can be wielded as an axe in his robot mode. Pretty simple, but not bad. If I were to stop right there, I’d say Blackjack is a worthy enough pick up if you’re as into tiny Transformers as I am. Something about these little fellas reminds me of being a kid and throwing Bumblebee or Windcharger into my pocket before getting dragged off to go shopping or something by my parents. Boredom just isn’t an issue when you’re a kid, you have an imagination, and you’ve got a tiny transforming robot in your pocket. But, of course, Blackjack has one more trick up his sleeve, and that’s forming a piece of chest armor to fill that awkard hole in Menasor’s chest. How’s this work?

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Sadly, it doesn’t. The idea is that in car mode, Blackjack pegs into those two posts in Menasor’s chest, with the weapon attached to the roof. In theory it looks great and does indeed fill up that chest cavity quite nicely. In practice, he doesn’t fit because the pegs are too thick to peg him on all the way and he just keeps falling off. I had to use a couple of wads of bluetack just to get it to stay on long enough to shoot some pictures. How you can design something to work like this and not even check to see if it will fit is beyond me. It’s also worth mentioning that with Menasor being such a god damned frustrating mess to handle in the first place, the last thing it needed was a chest piece that keeps falling off. By the time I was done shooting just a couple of pictures I wanted to crumple this thing up and throw it against a wall.

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And so, Blackjack is a neat little figure on his own and maybe one day I’ll shave those posts down on Menasor to get him to fig properly because that’s the main reason why I bought him. For a figure that was going for scalper prices on a lot of online retailers, the best thing I can say is I waited until I found him at retail and only paid about $11 for him. I can live with that, but as an additional piece for Menasor all he really does is salt the wound.

 

Transformers Combiner Wars: Brake-Neck by Hasbro

Yeah, yeah… I was one of those people complaining about Offroad and Hasbro trying to slip an imposter into my Stunticons. Nothing personal, Offroad, you’re a decent figure. I’ll find a place for you in my Decepticon ranks, but there’s no room for you on this team, so um… hit the road. Make way for Brake-Neck, aka Wildrider. The genuine article has arrived!

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And here’s the packaging and I’ve got nothing new to say about it other then Brake-Neck comes packaged in his robot mode and you get a delicious reprint comic book bundled in. Also, while I’m disappointed that he couldn’t be called Wildrider, I approve of the punny spelling of his name. Anywho… we now know that it was all part of Hasbro’s grand scheme to slip a couple of molds into the Stunticons and Aerialbots that can be re-purposed for other combiner teams and then get us the “real” team members after we had already bought the impostors. Well, you only got me by half, Hasbro. I may have bought Offroad but not Alpha Bravo. Nope, I’m going to Takara for my Superion, thank you very much.

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It takes only one look at Brake-Neck to see that he’s a straight repaint of Dead End. That’s fine by me, because Dead End was easily my favorite of these new Stunticons. It’s the same sleek and beautifully contoured car sculpt with a less flashy paint job that bears a passing resemblence to the coloring of G1 Wildrider. The two-tone grey paint looks nice, but the red door panels look rather unfinished to me. I do, however, like the way they omitted the paint from the rear window to drive the homage a bit further. On the other hand, I wish they had centered the Decepticon insignia on his hood. All in all, a really love this auto mode.

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Brake-Neck comes with the same exhaust pipe that can be plugged into either side of the car. You can even peg it on top if you’re feeling wild. I wish to Primus they had bundled him with one of the other Stunticon’s weapons. cwbrak7

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In robot mode we can see that Brake-Neck does have one new piece of sculpting and that’s his noggin. And yes, with his red face and ear spikes, he does indeed resemble the Wildrider that I knew and loved. The new deco does it’s best to make him stand apart from Dead End, especially if you stand one on each end of the shelf. I really dig the purple paint on his chest and the darker plastic used for that odd combiner port on his leg makes it not stand out so much on this release. Everything else, including articulation is identical to Dead End.

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The only question that remains is does Brake-Neck magically transform Menasor into a great combiner figure? Nope. I will, however, say that he helps to improve it. I was not a big fan of Offroad’s chunky hood just below the knee. Of course, you also still have the option to flip them around old-school style, so that the bottoms of the cars are facing front. I still think that looks a lot better even if it does inhibit Menasor’s knee articulation. I’m almost ashamed to admit at how much I’m warming up to Menasor as a combiner.

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And so, I finally have my Combiner Wars Wildrider and all is right with the world. He’s a fine figure and I’m happy to have him on the team. I’m even more ecstatic that he was easiy to get online and only cost me a couple of bucks over what these figures tend to go for when hanging on the pegs. It’s a toss up on which CW figures you’ll be seeing next here. I still have to pick up Blackjack and my pre-order for Takara’s Superion is due to hit any time now. I’m still debating whether or not to go for the Takara version of Defensor so I can get that Deluxe Groove, but if I spot any of the Protectobots in the stores all bets may be off. In the meantime, next Transformers Thursday I’ll be bending the rules and checking out a little Third-Party action.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Menasor by Hasbro

Over the course of the last month or so I’ve been checking out the Combiner Wars Stunticons and that has inevitably started me on the path to today’s Feature wherein I take five really good figures and combine them together a questionable gestalt. But before we get to that I want to point out how much I appreciate what Hasbro is trying with these. I’ll also point out that Superion is by most collectors’ opinions infinitely better and the only reason I haven’t looked at him yet is because I’m waiting for the Takara release later this Summer. And so with all that having been said…

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“Stunticons…

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Transform…

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And Merge…

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Into…

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Menasor!!!”

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And here he is in all his, um… glory. In true Scramble City fashion, there is a great deal of customization available here. Not only can you arrange the limbs in any manner you want, but you can throw other combiner limbs on there too. I’m going for the standard G1 configuration that puts Dragstrip and Dead End as the arms and Breakdown and Wildrider Offroad as the legs. I’ll also point out that I don’t have Blackjack yet to fill out his chest, I’ll revisit that option in a few weeks when I get around to looking at that figure. Yes, without him the chest is an unsightly empty cavity, but I’m not going to pick on that just because I’m missing that figure. It can be closed up, but I’m not sure it’s much an improvement. Also, keep in mind, I’m not overly concerned with which foot/hand part goes with which figure at this point, so pardon me if I’ve mixed them up.

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Proportionally speaking, Menasor is a mess. He’s got such a tiny torso and he’s all legs and arms, which is an issue of Hasbro repeating the same design mistake from Fall of Cybertron Bruticus. On the plus side, the bulkier arms and legs help out a lot and the more I look at him the more I’m willing to admit that he’s a big improvement over that horrid Bruticus figure. Sure, that’s a loaded compliment, but Menasor should take what he can get.

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The head sculpt has grown on me quite a bit and I couldn’t tell you why. I’m still not a fan of the huge horns, but the face itself is pretty solid. I actually find his expression to be appropriate because he looks like he’s in agony and probably wants to be put down. Either that or he suddenly realized that he just pooped himself.

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While I said I don’t want to get into a lot of the customization options, I will say that I prefer to build his legs in the old G1 fashion with the undercarriages of the cars showing to the front. This does, admittedly hamper the normal knee articulation by not allowing the lower legs to bend backwards, but I think it looks better if I’m just going to have him stand there. And that leads me to my next point.

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While Menasor isn’t the prettiest thing around, it’s actually not his aesthetics that I find most irksome, but rather his stability and playability. Just looking at him, I would guess that Hasbro made a lot of sacrifices in order to build a solid toy and in fairness he does have a satisfying chunky look to him. Unfortunately, playing around with him, or just trying to pose him is an exercise in utter frustration, which all starts in the hip design. Ugh, those hips! Just getting the legs even is a pain in the ass, but unless I have the legs on mine straight up and down, the hips are going to give way and he’s going to do the splits. There’s also not a lot of subtelty to those ratchet joints, so tweaking his stance is all but futile and more often than not when he’s standing I find that his torso is lopsided.

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The shoulders are another problem. Moving the arms forward and backward usually cause the shoulder assembly in the torso to give way and come apart. I find that the only way to pose the arms is to hold the figure by this area to keep it together. Again, playing with toys and posing them should be fun, but everything about handling this guy is a chore.

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Menasor has one weapon in his arsenal (unless you count collapsing and falling on top of an Autobot) and that’s his sword. The sword is formed from Motormaster’s gun and sword and overall looks pretty good. Unfortunately, he can’t really hold it. Instead it pegs into a socket that’s closer to the wrist and looks rather awkward.

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I feel bad picking on this figure. I like what Hasbro tried to do here and I really like the Stunticons as a team of individual figures. I will even go so far as to say that Menasor probably doesn’t look as bad in person as I thought he would based on the terrible “official” pics from Hasbro. But the apologists will tell you that this is a toy and if it doesn’t look as good as your $350 Fansproject Menasor that’s because it’s for kids and it’s meant to be played with. Well, I can’t imagine that playing with this guy could be any fun. Fortunately, it looks like Menasor will likely be the black sheep of the Combiner Wars gestalts, because I’m really anxious to get my hands on Unite Warriors Superion and Defensor is looking mighty damn nice too!

Transformers Combiner Wars: Dead End by Hasbro

Howdy, folks, and welcome to Transformers Thursday! Yeah, last week I ran into some complications with content because my studio was ripped apart, so I’m trying to play a little catch up this week. Today I’m opening up the very last Stunticon, or at least the last one until Wildrider (or whatever they’re calling him) comes along. I saved Dead End for last because next to Motormaster, he was my favorite Stunticon as a kid. What abritrary reason made me choose him over four other relatively personality-less cartoon robot cars? I couldn’t tell you, but I’m sure it was well-reasoned. This being the case, I’m coming into this figure with some high expectations, so you better not disappoint me Hasbro!!! Hang on, while I take a fortifying sip of Jameson. Ahhhh. Good stuff. Let’s look at the package…

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Yes, it’s the same packaging we’ve been seeing all along and it’s growing on me, especially since there’s a free comic book in there. I haven’t mentioned it before, but I really dig the way they do a data sheet on the character on the back cover of the comic. I’ve really got nothing else to add at this point. Dead End is packaged in his robot mode, but we’re going to start with his alt mode, because that’s just how I roll.

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So, straightaway I’ll say that Dead End takes the top spot as my favorite of all these Stunticon alt modes. Yeah, Breakdown was the closest to his original G1 alt mode, but this here is on snazzy looking car. He’s a little more rounded out than his original G1 namesake, but the maroon body, black painted windows, and the off center racing stripe all conspire to warm my GeeWun-loving heart. Sure, he wears his Decepticon emblem on his hood instead of the door, but I’m Ok with that and the grey on the side panels give him a little modern zing. I do, however, wish the hood emblem was straight. It looks like they tampo’d it on an angle to line up with the contours of the hood, but the result is really aggrevating my OCD. Ah, but even that can’t mar what is an otherwise beautiful little evil sports car.

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Dead End features three weapon ports, one on top and one on each side just behind the front wheels. You can use these to weaponize him up by pegging in his… ah, exhaust pipe. Yeah, other than the combiner part, this grey pipe is all you get. I suppose it looks kind of OK pegged into the side, but, no… not really. We’ll circle back to that pipe when we get to the robot mode.

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Transforming Dead End is as simple as these Deluxes tend to get and the engineering doesn’t really hold any surprises. In fact, he actually has a lot in common with Breakdown, particularly in the way he has a chest flap that closes down to partially cover the combiner port. The way the windshield and front of the car folds onto his back is also similar, but Dead End got the better end of this deal. Instead of the ugly inside crater of the car shell showing, Dead End’s backpack shows off the hood of the car. As far as car kibble backpacks go, this is about as stylish as you can get. I also really dig the head sculpt on this guy. It’s a great looking portrait for a ‘Con and I’m glad to see he got the Sunbow style mouthplate.

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The deco in robot mode features a lot of the same maroon and gold, although you do get a good amount of dark gray plastic thrown into the mix. While Dead End is far from traditional Decepticon colors, I think the dark deco works really well for him and I love the tiny little Decepticon emblem on his chest. It looks like it belongs there, whereas the other Stunticon faction emblems look like they were stock on as an afterthought.

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As much as I find this bot mode to be pure love, I still have a few little quibbles. The elbows use that annoying style of hinge that attaches at the end of the two halves of the limb. I call it “hollow elbow” and while there is probably absolutely no reason why a robot couldn’t function like this, I just think it looks weird. You also get a grey socket thing sticking on the inside of his right leg that looks rather conspicuously out of place. It’s there to attach the foot or hand in combiner mode and it does just come off if you don’t want it there. I did think the short lower legs would bother me on this figure, but they really don’t at all.

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Dead End’s choice of weapon is an odd one indeed, because it’s basically just an exhaust pipe. Normally I prefer my Transformers to have guns, swords and axes will do in a pinch, but just giving him a big pipe? I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I suppose going into battle with nothing but a giant pipe is kind of bad ass and represents a certain degree of thuggery befitting of a ‘Con. On the other hand, it seems like a really stupid thing to do when 95% of the other robots out there are going to have guns and the other 5% probably have swords. Anyway, Dead End can wield it like a club, or there’s a peg on the side so he can wield it like a PR-24 police baton.

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Even with some minor gripes, Dead End is easily my favorite of the Deluxe Stunticons. That’s not to say the others are bad. I’ve actually enjoyed these guys quite a bit. Yeah, I was a little iffy on Dragstrip at first, but he’s grown on me a lot. I expected to hate Breakdown, but he’s actually pretty cool. Really, that just leaves Offroad as the odd bot out, and that’s not because he’s a bad figure, but mainly just because I see him as an imposter. Next Transformers Thursday I will revisit the Stunticons for one last time to take a look at their combined form, Menasor. At the risk of spoilers, I’ll just say this… writing that piece is going to require a lot of Jameson. Meaning I’ll need some booze to get through it. Because Menasor sucks.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Offroad by Hasbro

It’s Thursday again, and that means I get to open up a new Transformer and yup, it’s another Stunticon! I’ve been pretty happy with these guy so far and now I’ve only got two left to open before I can cobble them all together into Menasor. Which Stunticon is it going to be today? Why, Offroad of course! Ah, Offroad. As a kid he was my very favorite of all the… HEY! Wait a minute… who the hell is Offroad? Yes, friends, just like the Aerialbots had their very own imposter in the form of a helicopter named Alpha Bravo, the Stunticons that I know and love have their own ringer and he’s a Pick Up Truck named Offroad. Where the Primus is Wildrider? He’s supposedly still coming. In the meantime, Offroad arrives on the scene with a mold that can be better refashioned into members of other combiner teams. This displeased me up until I found out that we’d still be getting Wildrider, so let me take in a breath of tolerance and see what this guy’s all about.

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Offroad comes packaged in his robot mode with his weapon and combiner part beside him, all plastered in front of a lovely free comic book. At least the back of the package has a blurb about Offroad that admits he’s the newest member of the team, not like some Poochie that they tried to retcon in without thinking we would know about it. But hey, he’s a Decepticon car and by my very nature I love Decepticon cars. That philosophy hasn’t failed me since Hasbro decided to repaint Armada Sideswipe into Oil Slick. *shudder* Anyway, this is case where my outlook is still fairly optimistic. Let’s start with his alt mode.

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This is certainly not a bad looking little truck. The detail in the front grill, headlights, and bumper is pretty good and I really like the wheels. It’s also worth mentioning that with his charcoal colored body and red painted windows, Hasbro did their best to give him G1 Wildrider’s colors. Hell, he even sports the same off center Decepticon logo on his hood. Still, Offroad manages to bust out on his own a bit with those red color splashes on his doors. The alt mode holds together quite tightly and rolls along great.

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Offroad features no less than four ports to peg in his weapon, two on the sides and two on the truck bed, but considering he comes with an axe, none of them do all that much in terms of weaponizing him. I guess the axe shaft kind of looks like an exhaust pipe, but given the positions of the peg holes, that doesn’t help much. There’s also a tab so you can attach the combiner part, which doesn’t look as great as it did with Breakdown, but I can still get behind it.

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Transforming Offroad is about as simple as it gets for a Deluxe Class toy. The only real clever thing here is the way his legs extend outward. Otherwise, the arms pulling out from the sides and the bed of the truck becoming the legs is pretty standard stuff. He is a little mis-transformed in the package as his backpack does drop down a little bit to put the wheels right on the back of his shoulders. Looking at him from behind doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

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While Hasbro tried to pay respects to Wildrider with Offroad’s coloring in car mode, the robot mode abandons any further homages. Still, this is a pretty solid robot mode. The exposed combiner port on his chest doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it does on Dragstrip and he’s got some neat things going for him. The car door armor on his shoulders is well placed and I really dig the sculpted and painted springs on his lower legs. The backpack also feels more natural than Breakdowns does, despite it being clearly visible from the front. It gives me a little bit of a Huffer or Pipes vibe the way it forms a hood.

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And then there’s the head sculpt, which on its own merits is quite good, but it still feels out of place to me on one of these figures. It doesn’t shout Stunticon to me and I’m not a big fan of the green painted face, despite the fact that the sculpt of that face is quite good. Every time I look at this noggin I feel like I’m looking at a Cybertron figure. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but again, it just seems strange on a Combiner Wars figure in 2015. Of course, this could all just be the booze talking. I’m on my third Maker’s Mark since I started writing.

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Articulation on these figures has been pretty good and Offroad is no exception. You get ball joints in the shoulders and some oddly strong ratcheting hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and feature hinges in the knees and swivels in the thighs. The neck is ball jointed and you do get a swivel in the hip. Offroad is not super-articulated by any means, but he is just limber enough to make him fun to play around with.

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Offroad comes with an axe, which I find to be rather disappointing because I tend to like at least one gun with my Convertobots. I suppose I could have him hold the combiner part as some kind of quad-barreled gun, but that just doesn’t do it for me.

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Call me a foolish old GeeWunner, but I think I would have liked Offroad more if he weren’t masquerading as one of my beloved Stunticons. There is nothing inherently bad about this figure and I have a feeling I’ll warm up to him a little more once I get a proper Combiner Wars Wildrider to replace him. That having been said, this team is shaping up pretty nicely and I have only one more to open before I can get my combining thang on. I’ll  also note here that I totally approve of what I’ve seen of the way Hasbro has resculpted and repainted this figure to be First Aid, so there’s another reason that Offroad does not deserve my scorn. He’s not my favorite of the Stunticons so far, but he ain’t bad either!