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.

Warbotron: Fierce Attack (WB-01E) by Warbotron

So, let’s call this Not-Transformers Thursday because I’m fresh out of new Hasbro TFs to look at so I’m taking this opportunity to check out one particular unofficial release that has been on my shelf for a few weeks now. It’s hard to believe it’s been a little over a year and a month since I featured Air Burst, the very first release in Warbotron’s series of Not-Combaticons and now I’m finally getting to sit down and take a look at the last one. I present to you, Fierce Attack aka Not-Onslaught.

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The figure comes in a box with the same deco that we’ve been seeing all along only this time it’s very long and not so tall. You get a silver outer sleeve with some nice monochrome graphics. Lift off the sleeve and you see a colorful window box displaying the toy in its vehicle mode. The box features some kick ass artwork, a grid pattern very evocative of the old Hasbro G1 boxes, and it’s even purple like the old G1 Decepticon boxes. So pretty!

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Much like Fansproject’s Not-Stunticons, Warbotron delivered all the limbs of this combiner in their robot modes, but packaged the torso in his alt mode. I’m fine with that. It actually makes plenty of sense when you see all the extra bits this dude comes with. With the exception of a few oddities in the spelling, I’ve really enjoyed the presentation of this series and this final release is no exception.

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One thing’s for sure you definitely get your money’s worth in plastic and extras with this set. The tray comes loaded with big, chunky parts, including the truck and trailer, a set of combiner hands, a set of combiner feet, a combiner chest piece, a massive gun, and two smaller and yet still massive guns. You also get a baggie of transparent yellow thingies, two baggies of rocket packs to attach to truck mode, and a bagged replacement torso for Air Burst. As for the ephemera, you get a thick B&W comic book, a folded instruction sheet, and a color character card. Phew, that’s a lot of stuff! Well, since Fierce Attack comes in his alt mode, we might as well start there.

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Fierce Attack is a military style truck with an extra flatbed trailer, which is not part of his standard robot mode. In fact, you get a lot of stuff here that isn’t part of the robot mode and in some cases not even part of the truck mode. This line has featured a little bit of parts forming from the beginning, and that hasn’t bothered me at all and it doesn’t bother me here either. Extra combiner parts were a fact of life from the beginning and while I’m all for incorporating everything into each robot, I’m fine with going this route too.

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With all that having been said, I really dig this truck mode a lot. The panel lines and sculpted rivets give it a great armored look, the front grill looks a tad weathered, and the sculpted windshield wipers and flip out side mirrors are nice extra touches. It’s ugly as sin, but then it’s a military truck so that’s pretty appropriate. The flatbed trailer plugs securely into the back of Fierce Attack’s cab hitch making for a really long vehicle. The cannon backpack can peg in securely right above the trailer hitch. When combined with the missile packs on the side, Fierce Attack is certainly an imposing presence on the road and a great homage to G1 Onslaught.

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The instructions are silent as to what you can do with the combiner parts when you aren’t using them, but if you dig through some of the original promo images, you can probably come up with some neat stuff. The combiner feet work well enough on their own as attack drones and Fierce Attack can comfortably carry one of them on his trailer. If you really want to make a statement, though, you can combine the two feet, the hands, and the combiner gun together for a giant piece of artillery that Fierce Attack can tote around. I love the look of this piece, but I’m still trying to see how they built the launch pad for Air Burst.

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Transforming this guy is fairly simple, which has more or less been the case throughout this series. When you’re done you get a damn fine looking robot mode. In keeping with this line’s aesthetic, Fierce Attack has a number of departures from Onslaught and yet I would have no problems recognizing him as an homage to the character. Generally speaking, I tend to enjoy the Third-Party stuff that engages in a little artistic license rather than just straight copyright theft. The windshield chest, for example, is new, but I like it a lot. I’m also very fond of the giant twin cannon barrels coming up off his back and the way they look like they could double as a jetpack. The overall coloring of the figure also looks right on the money. Even the head sculpt is wonderfully appropriate and features some bitchin’ purple light piping. This guy looks like a powerhouse, just the kind of robot to lead this band of destructive force.

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That’s not to say I don’t have a few quibbles with this guy and most of them land squarely on his shoulders… literally! The shoulder construction is a bit odd in that you have to move the shoulder wheels independently in order to get the lateral movement out of the arms. Also, exposed screw heads on the front of a Transformer is something I’ve taken issue with Hasbro about more times than I can count and if I don’t find it acceptable on a $20 figure, you can imagine what I think of it on a $120 figure. Lastly, the shoulders on my figure are excessively tight. Rotating the arms makes a scary creaky noise. From what I can tell that’s the case on most of these figures and not unique to my own. There are some other things that could have been done better, like the flaps on the lower legs that just sit there and look rather unfinished. If you could have swiveled those around and pegged them in it would have taken care of them a lot better. I like to peg in the rocket clusters from the truck mode on these to give them a more polished look.

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Fierce Attack’s backpack can be removed and split apart into two huge guns. He can wield these in both hands allowing him to really live up to his name. Admittedly, having him hold both looks like overkill and borderlines on silly, but having him brandish one as a rifle looks good. On the other hand, I prefer him with his iconic backpack and that’s where these will likely stay. I may just wind up giving him Sly Strike’s pistol. On a side note, there’s something about these guns that look like they might work as some kind of booster rockets and added guns for Air Burst. They even have little fold out wings. I’ll have to do some experimenting and get back to you on that.

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There’s no doubt that Fierce Attack has more issues than any of the other figures in this series. I suppose a case could be made for him having more issues than all the others combined. None of the problems here are crippling, however, and apart from some tight shoulders, the QC on this figure is without fault. He feels like he could have spent a little more time in the cooker, but even as is he makes for a fine leader for my Warbotron Combaticons. I have this set displayed prominently in their individual modes, right above my MMC Predacons, and man do they all look great. But as the old saying goes, “the proof is in the combining” and next Thursday I’ll be back to cobble these guys togehter and see what we got.

Warbotron: Whirlwind (WB01-D) by Warbotron

Sometime around the middle of last year, Warbotron appeared on the scene and turned some heads with pictures of their set of Not-Transformers combiners that were certainly Not-Combaticons and most definitely did not form a giant robot called Bruticus. With rapid fire bursts, they peppered the Summer of 2014 with Not-Blast Off, Not-Brawl, and Not-Swindle. But by the end of the summer we were Not-Seeing-Any-More-Releases. I can’t say I was terribly worried. These guys had delivered three great figures so far and with so many things out there to spend monies on, delays are sometimes a welcome treat. Well, here we are seven months later and finally the fourth release in the series is on my shelf. He’s Whirlwind and some might say he bears a slight resemblance to a G1 Transformer called Vortex. Then again, others might say differently, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

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I truly love Warbotron’s package design. The box comes with a wrap-around cardboard sleeve with some slick monochrome artwork and lettering. Slip it off and you get a more traditional (and more colorful!) window box showing off the figure in his robot mode and some absolutely bitchin’ wrap-around character artwork. The package is the same size as the boxes used for the other releases and they sure do look great lined up on the shelf. We’ve seen the boxes for the previous three figures, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here. Let’s kick things off with his alt mode. GET TO DA CHOPPA!

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Obviously, Whirlwind is a very different model helicopter than G1 Vortex and I’m perfectly fine with that. I mean, Sly Strike was a Humvee instead of a jeep and he turned out just fine. The alt mode here is solid enough, but I feel it is certainly the weakest in the line so far. Helicopters are like motorcycles… they make for challenging Transformers. I think it’s pretty clear that Warbotron sacrificed a little on the alt mode in order to make the robot work and I support that decision. We basically get a chunky attack chopper with deploy-able weapon pods on the wings (they can fold down into firing position) and a huge ass cannon on the chin. The placement of the tail fins feels a little awkward, like maybe they aren’t far back enough on the tail boom, but otherwise Whirlwind is OK albeit not spectacular.

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The coloring consists of mostly gray plastic, which works well for both a military chopper and the G1 toy homage. There’s also a little blue and silver thrown in and some nice brushwork on the barrel of the cannon to make it look used. The yellow canopy was an interesting choice, in that it invokes G1 Whirl quite a bit. I don’t hate it, but I might have preferred a different color canopy. Maybe a more traditional Decepticon color like purple. There’s not much else to say here other than the rotors will spin and there are three hinged landing gear on the bottom for Whirlwind to rest on.

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Whirlwind probably has the simplest transformation of the pack so far. There are no scary tolerances, weak hinges, or leaps of faith. In terms of quality and engineering Warbotron started on a pretty solid foundation with Air Burst and the figures have gotten slightly better with each subsequent release. In other words the engineering is smooth and simple and the plastic feels great. On the other hand, there’s nothing mind-blowingly clever about the engineering here either. Indeed, with the way the arms fold up to form the wings and the legs the rest of the body, we’ve seen this thing many times before. But hey, it works well enough. Some collectors may have issues with the parts removal, basically the entire nose of the helicopter detaches to become a gun. It’s been a design element in all of Warbotron’s figures so far, so I imagine that anyone truly bothered by it would have jumped ship on this line by now.

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I totally dig Whirlwind’s robot mode, but collectors looking for a solid G1 Vortex homage will be disappointed. This guy wears his cockpit on his chest, which I think looks great, but it also makes him one of the larger departures from the traditional Combaticon design. Otherwise, Whirlwind is a little slimmer than his brothers, but he still has enough bulk to carry the team’s overall aesthetic. It’s cool how they made that work out because many of Hasbro’s helicopters have had pretty lanky robot modes. Whirlwind wears his rotors on his back, although they can all be detached as weapons, and his helicopter wing guns land on his shoulders, although there’s room for customization there as well.

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The head sculpt is extremely simple as Whirlwind sports the visor and mouthplate combo that leaves him rather expressionless. The light-piping in the visor is great and it’s featured on the two vertical panels on his “helmet” as well.

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The coloring on this guy really shines through in his robot mode. It’s largely the same gray and blue plastic as seen in his chopper form, but with some additional purple and silver trim and that beautiful transparent canopy making up his chest. He’s a surprisingly bright and colorful figure under the proper lighting. I like it a lot!

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The nose cannon from the chopper requires just a couple of folds to become Whirlwind’s big weapon. It can mount on either of his forearms or he can just hold it like a gun. I tend to prefer mounting it. It’s certainly bulky, but all in all I think it works just fine. It would have been nice to be able to attach it to his back or something (like Heavy Noisy’s cannon), but I guess Whirlwind already has a lot going on back there with his rotors.

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Speaking of the rotors, all four can be removed and used as blade weapons. They can be held in his hands as swords or you can peg them into his forearms as arm blades. I really dig this option a lot. The shoulder guns are also capable of being held as pistols or plugged into his forearms. There’s certainly a great deal of customization available here and that always makes for a fun figure.

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Whirlwind is the figure I expected to like the least out of this team and I was quite surprised that it wasn’t the case. In fact, he may very well be my second favorite next to Sly Strike. I do tend to like the alt modes of Air Burst and Heavy Noisy better, but Whirlwind’s robot mode is great looking and lots of fun. As with the previous three figures in this set, Whirlwind set me back under $90 and that’s not a bad price for a 3P figure of this size (Voyager Class) and quality. In fact, I’m actually pretty surprised that the previous three releases are still readily available at most e-tailers at the original price. These are great figures on their own merits, and I think they’re going to be all the more spectacular when the final team member arrives and I can finally check out their combined mode.

Warbotron: Sly Strike (WB01-C) by Warbotron

Lest anyone forgot, I’m currently in the middle of collecting two third-party combiner teams. MMC’s Feral Rex (Not-Predacons) seems to have stalled after the third release with Talon trickling in to almost every e-tailer but the one I pre-ordered him from. Dammit! Fortunately, on the other side of the fence, Warbotron’s homage to the Combaticons has been going full guns (pun intended!) and the third entry in that team, Sly Strike, just showed up on my doorstep. Sly is the figure in this series that I was most excited for, as he is an homage to one of my favorite Decepticons, Swindle. In fact, it wouldn’t be totally off base to say that this figure is the reason I decided to collect this team in the first place. Let’s see how he turned out…

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Once again, Warbotron’s presentation is absolutely superb. The figure comes in a satisfyingly large box with a snazzy silver sleeve that’s decked out with some nice line art and the name “Warbotron.”

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Lift off the sleeve and you’re treated to a colorful window box with a G1-inspired grid pattern and some truly gorgeous character art of Sly. The half window lets you see the figure, packaged in robot mode, and conceals his guns, which are off to his left. In addition to the figure and the two weapons, you also get a colorful profile card and a folded instruction sheet. Yes, it seems as if Warbotron has abandoned the comic book and instruction combination that they included with the first two figures. I’m generally not a fan of companies mixing things up in mid- stream, it musses with my OCD, but I can’t say that we’re losing much with them dropping the comic. It was mainly unintentionally entertaining because of the poor translation. Alright, y’all know the drill by now. I’m going to start off with Sly Strike’s alt mode.

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Of the three figures released in this team so far, Sly Strike’s alt mode represents the biggest departure from the original Transformer toy. Like Blast Off, Air Burst was a space shuttle and like Brawl, Heavy Noisy was a tank. No longer an army Jeep, Sly Strike has been upgraded and modernized to an desert-style armored Humvee. I can’t say I was entirely in favor of the change at first, but I’ll concede that this design gave them a lot more to work with in order to deliver a better looking robot. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First let’s take a further look at this alt mode…

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Warbotron has been delivering some pretty nice, realistic styled alt modes and Sly keeps that trend going. In fact, I’d say in terms of sculpted detail Sly Strike comes out tops so far. There’s not much area on this vehicle where there isn’t some kind of added detail. Whether it be the vents on the hood, the armored plates on the doors, the grab rails on the back, or even the suspension in the wheel wells. Some of the finer points, for example the lights on the roof, are little more than painted nubs, but they still get the job done. As many know, I’m not generally a fan of painted windows, especially on realistic alt modes, but in this case I don’t think Warbotron had much of a choice due to the engineering at play and I’m prepared to cut them some slack.

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Aside from the windows, Warbotron uses paint hits sparingly and mostly lets the colored plastic carry the day. I’m a big fan of this practice, especially for military style vehicles where decos tend to be drab by nature. The tan plastic looks great and you do get some silver and red apps here and there along with a little blue and black. All the paintwork is applied with precision.

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There are a number of visible seams and hinges on the Humvee, but because of the rather utilitarian nature of the vehicle’s design, I don’t think they mar the aesthetics of the toy at all. And while we’re on the subject, I really appreciate the way this alt mode locks together. The doors alone, for example, have three hinges in them, but the entire assembly either pegs or tabs comfortably in three different places. Just about every shifting part ultimately secures itself in one way or another.

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Sly Strike features two ports on top to peg in his weapons. The only real customization here is which one you want on the right or left, or whether you want to leave them off entirely.The guns certainly detract from the realism here, but I can’t say as I don’t like the look of them.

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Transforming Sly Strike for the first time was pretty challenging. I was able to convert Air Burst and Heavy Noisy without even looking at the instructions, but that wasn’t the case here. Sly is easily the most complex of the three figures so far and the engineering does some interesting things. I’ll note here that once again the plastic has a high quality feel to it. The parts move quite well with the only exeption being the hinge in the torso, which requires a bit of force to unpeg. The only piece that feels somewhat fragile is the ramming bar and it’s thankfully designed to unpeg from the front rather than break. It’s also worth noting that Sly Strike is the first in this line to not have vehicle parts removed during transformation. Only his guns come off. When all is said and done we get a robot mode that nicely straddles the line between originality and G1 homage. But before I get too deep into his robot mode, check this out…

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One of the coolest elements of the design allows you to actually choose two different looks for his robot mode. You can leave the front of the vehicle as his chest, in a very traditional Autobot manner, or you can go the official route and fold it back behind him. I’ll likely display him with the official look, but I really like the other option quite a bit as well. It reminds me a bit of Alternator Swindle!

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Clearly, Warbotron modeled most of Sly Strike’s robot mode after the G1 Swindle toy and not the animated version. The biggest giveaway is the purple chest rather than the windshield. While I certainly have a soft spot for the Sunbow version of Swindle, I can’t argue with the results here. He’s a fantastic looking robot with a few of Warbotron’s own flourishes, like the wheels on the shoulders, thrown in for good measure. The legs fill out nicely thanks to the addition of some hinged plates, and the ball jointed ankles let you get all sorts of wide stances without compromising Sly’s stability.

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I’ve been pretty happy with the head sculpts in this line so far. Air Burst and Heavy Noisy weren’t exactly brimming over with personality, but they certainly looked the part. That having been said, Sly Strike’s is easily my favorite portrait in the series. Just look at that face. He’s a smarmy asshole through and through and it’s perfect. And that light piping? Magnifcent!

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Naturally, Sly’s roof mounted weapons become his guns, which he can hold in both hands. The pictures on the package show the pistol worn on his shoulder, but it’s rather misleading. There is indeed a screw hole on each of his shoulders and the peg on the pistol does fit it, but it doesn’t feel like it was meant to and it’ll fall right out without much provocation. I’ll also mention here that I think it was a HUGE missed opportunity to not have a way to mount his rifle as an arm cannon. I know they’re doing their own thing with the design. And I know they’re modeling more from the toy than the cartoon, but animated G1 Swindle’s arm cannon is rather iconic to me and it would have been really easy to pop a tab or something on there to make it work. Ah well!

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I had very high expectations for this release and in the end, I’m extremely pleased with how Sly Strike turned out. The Humvee mode totally wins me over and while I still would have liked a figure based more on the Sunbow design than the original toy, I can’t argue with the results. This toy feels solid, has great engineering, and is lots of fun to play with. What’s more he looks fantastic when displayed beside his two Not-Combaticon comrades and he scales quite well with the Masterpiece Transformers too!

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At about $90 each these chunky Voyager sized figures continue to feel like decent values, at least in the Third-Party Transformer market. I’ve yet to have any regrets about investing in this set and with only two more releases to go, Warbotron would have to stumble pretty badly to blow it now. Releases have been a bit erratic, but Warbotron’s Not-Vortex (I don’t think we’ve seen his official name yet) should be hitting sometime in the next month!

Warbotron: Heavy Noisy (WB01-B) by Warbotron

It seems like quite a while since I looked Air Burst, the first release in Warbotron’s Not-Combaticons series. Well, now it’s time for the second entry in the line. His name is Heavy Noisy and he is most certainly not Brawl. I’ve got a lot to cover with this guy, so let’s dive right in…

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Warbotron’s presentation with this line is pure money. Sure, there’s some pretty bad spelling here and there, but let’s just call that a little colorful charm in an otherwise kick-ass package. There’s a beautifully illustrated monochrome sleeve that lifts off to reveal a colorful window box with a grid pattern that vaguely reminds me of the packaging used on some other brand of change-bots. Some bitchin character art and a nice look at the figure in his robot mode and you’ve got a box that is definitely a keeper. Inside the box, you get the figure and his accessories, a colorful profile card, and a comic book-slash-instruction manual combo. Did I mention how much I love his name? Heavy Noisy! It’s just fun to say. Let’s start off with his alt mode…

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As expected, Heavy Noisy’s alt mode is a tank and I think it works great as an update to the Basic G1 Brawl’s mode. I don’t think it’s patterned after any specific real world tank, but it certainly looks credible enough. The main body features static, sculpted faux treads and everything is packed together into one tight, solid brick. There are four indented shapes on the front of the tank which require you to insert some plugs to fill them in. They’re not screw holes, so I’m not sure why they did this, but it’s similar to the plugs included on a couple of TFC’s Uranos figures. Warbotron didn’t go overboard with the detail on the chassis, but there’s certainly enough here to make it look good.

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The turret is a separate piece that plugs into the chassis, as detaching it is part of the transformation. When completely pegged in it does turn a little bit to the left and right and if you pull it up slightly you can get a better range of motion out of it. The gun, however does not raise or lower. Again, there’s some nice detail sculpted into the turret, but nothing outrageously complex. There’s a translucent yellow flip up sight, but I think that’s designed more for use as Heavy Noisy’s gun. We’ll get to that in a bit. Speaking of guns, there are two guns to peg into the top of the turret and four peg holes to choose from, allowing for just a little bit of customization. I’ll also point out here that the plastic feels great and is right in line with the stuff used for Air Burst. I also didn’t run into any QC issues at all.

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Heavy Noisy’s tank mode gets by with very minimal paint apps. It’s molded in green and black plastic, which works great for its military deco. There are a couple purple paint hits on the back of the turret and some silver on the tips of the guns and the main cannon. There’s a little more paint on the front of the tank and the grates on the back. In this case, I think less is more as the toy has a very clean and utilitarian look appropriate for a tank.

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Transforming Heavy Noisy is surprisingly simple, although it does require you to remove the turret, which can be repurposed as the robot’s guns and shield, or you can re-attach the gun to his back. I realize that parts-forming pisses some people off, I’m not generally fond of it, but I think in this case calling it parts-forming is a bit of a stretch. It’s fairly similar to Air Burst’s rocket packs coming off and it seems like it might be a running design element in this team. I’m perfectly fine with it. I also should note here that collapsing and extending Heavy Noisy’s arms are the only thing that gave me trouble and I need to give a shout out to Youtube Reviewer Rob A for recommending in his excellent video review that a little twist of the screws is all that’s needed to make this step easy-peasy.

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Heavy Noisy’s robot mode borrows a bit from the original Hasbro toy and a bit from the Sunbow design and tosses in some elements of his own. I think the result is pretty spectacular. This is precisely the kind of boxy and angular Transformers design that I love the most. I particularly dig the way the front of the tank forms his chest in a way that mimics the traditional Autobot car style. When wearing part of the turret on his back, the cannon folds down but still peaks up behind his head just like on the G1 character. He’s just every bit a love letter to the old classic design elements and that’s exactly what I’m looking for in my G1 character updates.

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The treads look great as his extended shoulders and the headsculpt is simple and yet oh so good. It really suits the character homage perfectly and sports some gorgeous yellow light piping. In robot mode, Heavy Noisy still retains most of his tank deco from the green and black plastic, although he does show off a lot more black to mix things up a bit. You also get some more grey and silver paint apps showing. He’s not as flashy as the purple and brown combo of Air Burst, but his color scheme definitely works perfectly for the intended character homage.

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I’m not going to run down all of Heavy Noisy’s articulation. He’s got most of the same points as Air Burst, which means he’s got lots of poseability. On the downside, Heavy Noisy really stumbles in the shoulder articulation. The problem here is that there’s no clearance between his torso and his upper arms. They rotate just fine, but he just doesn’t have the dynamic lateral movement in the arms that Air Burst has. You can get them to point out and at an angle, but it’s rather awkward. Had Warbotron designed him so you could pull his arms out just a little bit, the problem would have been fixed, but as he is, he can’t do all the stuff I’d like him to do. Quite frankly if he didn’t look so damn awesome standing on the shelf, this would have been a much bigger problem for me.

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As already mentioned, Heavy Noisy’s turret gets cannibalized for weapons. The figure is capable of holding or wearing everything all at once or you can mix and match for a number of display options. The two guns can be used as dual handguns and he looks great holding them. In fact, this is probably the way I’m going to display him on the shelf because it allows you to keep the cannon peeking up from behind his back. You can also use the top shell of his turret as a shield, by clipping it onto his arm and both guns will attach to the shield as well.

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And that brings us to Heavy’s rifle. It requires just a wee bit of tinkering to put it into rifle mode and it is indeed a formidable looking piece of weaponry. Unfortunately due to a combination of the rifle’s design and Heavy’s arm articulation, there’s very little you can do with it except have him hold it in a relaxed position. The back of the rifle interferes with the treads on his biceps and because there’s so little lateral movement in the arms, I can’t get any kind of action poses with the rifle that I’m happy with. It feels like Warbotron needed to put a more thought into this idea, as I’m sure a little extra time on the drawing board could have made it work better. It’s not a big deal for me, since I prefer the rifle on his back and the pistols in his hands.

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Still, with that having been said, there’s an undeniable appeal to posing him with rifle and shield. It gives him a certain armored-up Gundam quality that I can’t help but admire.

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In the end Heavy Noisy is a solid figure with a couple of design issues. Everyone has their own pet peeves, so some of these issues are likely to be minor to some and glaring to others. For me, I’m so fond of his robot mode that I’m prepared to overlook the nagging issues. The cumbersome rifle doesn’t bother me, since I doubt I’d ever display him with it anyhow, but the shoulders remain a sore spot whenever I pick him up and play around with him. On the other hand, seeing him standing on the shelf next to Air Burst and knowing that Sly Strike (Not-Swindle) is coming next makes me very happy I’ve invested in this team.

Warbotron: Air Burst (WB01-A) by Warbotron

I made a little promise to myself this year that I would cool it on the Third-Party combiners. After all, I’m still in the middle of completing MMC’s Not-Predaking. But I’ve been cautiously eyeing Warbotron’s Not-Combaticons ever since they showed off the first unpainted prototype. When the first figure in the series hit the retailers, I discovered what I probably already knew: When it comes to Transformers, I have the backbone of an eclair. In other words, my resolve crumbled and I bought in. There is an awful lot of controversy surrounding Warbotron and a certain temporary exclusivity deal signed with one retailer in particular. I’m not going to get into the politics and pitfalls of that quagmire. I’m just here to look at toys. And with that having been said, let’s take a look at Air Burst, who is of course, Not-Blast Off.

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Air Burst’s package features some beautiful design and presentation. You get a silver sleeve with a very nice piece of artwork showing Air Burst in front of a ghostly image of the gestalt, Warbotron. The box is pretty big, but then Air Burst is a figure big enough to hang with MMC’s Feralcons. On the other hand, first impressions of the box might lead one to believe that there’s a bunch of extra stuff in there, like combiner parts, when there isn’t. All you get is the figure and his weapons. The combiner parts will come later.

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Lift off the sleeve and you’re treated to a very colorful window box, which again features some bitchin artwork. The box shows off the figure in his robot mode and the weapons are concealed to the right. In addition to the figure you also get a profile card and a comic book with instructions. I love the artwork, but the comic translation is laughably bad. Granted, the comics and cards are never a big deal to me with these figures, but it seems like with all the work that the company put into the toy and the presentation, they could have had an editor look over the translator. I’m sure there someone out there would have done it for a free figure. Psst… Warbotron… Call me! Ok, enough about the packaging, let’s move take a look at Air Burst’s space shuttle mode.

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I always thought that a space shuttle was an odd choice for a team of combat vehicles, but Air Burst’s beefy and armored looking shuttle mode really sells it. The overall silhouette matches that of the iconic NASA shuttles, but this one looks like it’s been uglied up to take a beating… and I mean that in every bit a good way. It’s a rugged looking ship with two giant laser cannons mounted on the sides, or you can reposition them under the wings if you prefer. I like to angle the wings down when the guns are on the wings. There is admittedly a lot of seams and hinges visible on the alt mode, but I think it just adds to the vehicles utilitarian and militaristic charm. The mostly brown coloring follows through on Air Burst’s military nature and the touch of Decepticon purple ties it all together. The shuttle mode doesn’t rely heavily on paint operations, but little touches like the painted yellow lights are welcome.

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When properly transformed, everything on Air Burst’s shuttle mode locks together beautifully, but that often involves some fine tuning to get everything just right. I do have just a couple of minor gripes to toss out there. One, the hinges on the wings can be a little floppy. They hold fine until you bump them and then they tend to droop. The second issue involves the front landing gear. They were a real bitch to fold out and when they did finally come out, the tiny wheels dropped out of the clips. The clips don’t have enough tension to hold them in place, so I’ve decided I’m better off not bothering with the gear at all. It’s not worth messing with them and risking losing one of the wheels because they are visible on his chest in robot mode. Neither of these issues are crippling, nor do they really impact on my enjoyment of the toy.

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In robot mode, Air Burst is a damn fine looking robot. There are definitely some liberties with the G1 design, most notably the addition of the shoulder armor, but I really dig him. Overall, the transformation is pretty straight forward. I’ve had him back and forth a bunch of times and there’s no evidence of any stress marks. The pivot where the feet rotate on was super tight at first and when I rotated the feet the first time, they shaved some plastic off the inside of the joint, which solved that problem all on its own. Now the feet rotate fine. The hands can be tough to fold out from the arms, and you have to have them positioned just right to fold back in. The plastic is very good quality and there aren’t any movements involved in the transformation that are anxiety inducing. Some people have reported having trouble repositioning the shoulders with the head getting in the way, but I didn’t have any such issues.

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It is worth mentioning that a significant bulk of Air Burst’s shuttle mode is removed for transformation into robot. Some people may have a problem with that, but in Air Burst’s defense, they are used on the robot mode. The two back engines come off and can be used as arm mounted rocket pods if you want, but if you don’t want them on the arms, you can also keep them attached to what become his back legs. I kind of like this look because it bulks his legs out and adds the back fins as heel stabilizers, although it is admittedly a bit kibbly. Still, it’s a nice option for storing them if you want to give him a cleaner look on his arms.

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In addition to the optional rocket packs for the arms, Air Burst can use his shuttle cannons as handguns. The guns are designed to telescope out and collapse, but I prefer them with the longer barrels in both robot and shuttle modes. And whether you prefer guns or rocket pods, or both, Air Burst is an amazingly fun figure to pose. He’s brimming with useful articulation and the joints are solid and hold really well. I paritcularly love the tight ball joints in the ankles that give him the ability to maintain a flat foundation in all sorts of action poses. The thruster cones act well as stabilizing heels and it’s in the action poses where you probably want to not have the extra bulk of the shuttle on the backs of his legs.

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The portrait here is pretty amazing too. Some have commented that he has an Optimus Prime vibe going on, and there are certainly those similiarities. Nonetheless, the faceplate and helmet are certainly reminiscent of the G1 Blast-Off. Of course, the best thing about this guy’s mug is the incredibly effective light piping in the visor. It’s one of the best executions of the gimmick I’ve seen. And while we’re on the subject of translucent purple plastic, I really dig the use of it on Air Burst’s chest plate. It’s there to serve as a hatch for his combiner port and it really dresses up the figure beautifully. I just wish there were a bigger spot on it to place a Decepticon emblem. I haven’t decided yet where I’m going to go with that.

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At just under $90, Air Burst is a pretty great value, especially when you figure in how sizeable he is. He stands right between MMC’s Feralcons and TFC’s Uranos Jets, which puts him right in line with a decent Voyager Class figure, so he should look right at home in a lot of different Transformers displays. I love his chunky design and the engineering is simple but effective. I’m not attempting the arm mode until I have a full set, but some fans are pointing out that the final arm mode is not nearly as clean as the one proffered in the prototype. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me, because I buy these teams primarily for their individual bot modes. I’ll just have to judge the Warbotron gestalt mode when I get the whole set. The next one, Not-Swindle is due out sometime this month, and i’ am super excited for him. Swindle’s one of my favorite Decepticons and if he turns out as good as Air Burst, he’s going to be downright amazing.