Saturday, 25 April 2015

Combiner Wars Cyclonus & Galvatronus

See the Silverbolt review for details of the original version of this toy.

Cyclonus

If you'd asked me a few months ago who the most likely remould of Silverbolt was I'd have said Starscream as part of a Decepticon jet combiner. When Cyclonus rumours surfaced I was sure then if he'd be a new mould. Outline images of his combined mode and an image from the game made a remould seemed more likely so we weren't that surprised by his toyfair reveal.

In his robot mode he looks a lot like a purple and silver Silverbolt with a Cyclonus head on it. This is compounded when he holds the weapon which is Silverbolt's gun, but in grey. It looks nice but doesn't really feel Cyclonusy, lacking the rounded shoulders that we're used to. However when you fold the wings out behind him, *THEN* he becomes Cyclonus! Cyclonus has the benefit of two small extra weapons, a blade plugged into each forearm which can be removed and hand held.

The Transformation is a little different: fold the head backwards into the neck and then fold the nose closed over it. From there the legs fold up to become the rear of the jet and arms fold into them as before. Unplug the fin weapons and plug into the exposed hand backs. Fold the wings down over the arms, with the moulded detail inherited from Silverbolt recessing into a hollowed out space in them. Tabs on the wings plug into slots on the arms as before. Fold the fins up from the engines.

while the robot mode may have taken some stretch to be recognisably Cyclonus this is spot on, a large chunky purple version of the original Cyclonus. Just like Silverbolt the gun can peg in under the nose. without it, there's a fold down landing gear. Unfortunately without either you can see Cyclonus' face peering out from under the nose!

So assessing this toy we've got a robot that overall is probably OK, with reservations, as Cyclonus but the jet mode is very good.


Galvatronus

I could see how They got from Silverbolt to Cyclonus, both are 1986 released jets. But Cyclonus to Galvatronus? Hmmmm. Megatron to Galvatron as a combined mode power up I could understand. And Indeed I want.Corrupting the name is obviously meant to distance it from Galvatron but that fact is the name is still screaming Galvatron at us. The transformation from jet to combined mode body is nearly identical, the only extra thing you need to do is re-site the blades to the outer side of each leg.

Galvatronus' combined mode on his box uses two Aerialbots and two Stunticons as his limbs, emphasising the bio's mention of mind control powers used to take over any limb bot and form the combined mode and the toyline's ability to interchange limbs. Oddly none of the toys used are the ones that are about to become spare limbs with the release of Quicksling and Brakeneck. I don't want to take two combiners apart and I'd quite like to compare the combined form to Superion while having Galvatronus fighting Defensor so I've used the Stunticon limbs, where the purple hands and feet are a decent match for Galvatronus' body. I'd like to use Decepticon jets but there aren't any.... yet.

Galvatronus is a little odd: he doesn't really look like the animated Galvatron character model, especially his head. Yes it's got a crest and horns but it looks more like the original Galvatron toy. Apart from the colour, which is purple all over, the most obviously Galvatron feature it the pattern of four red squares on his lower chest. Unfortunately the moulded portion above this looks more like an 84/5 Decepticon cockpit.... which in turn makes you look at the head again and think "this looks a bit like Starscream with his crown on". Was the original intention for this toy a Starscream who's combined mode was an Emperor Starscream? However the purple makes it look nice and Decepticony and the torso maintains the stability of Superion's so he qualifies as a decent combiner torso.


Future Repaints and Add Ons

There's two obvious routes I could see Hasbro going down for repaints here: The first is obvious Generation 2 Superion. I'd not be surprised to see this as this year's SDCC boxset.

The other is as a Decepticon Jet combiner, either using the original jet line up, the Predators or as Destron Sixwing.

Having seen the Galvatronus combined chest and various fan photshops I'd like to see a Starscream version and the remoulding for Cyclonus makes me think a F16 from this mould is possible.

I've seen it suggested that a Stealth Jet Megatron retool might be possible which could put the Megatron Voyager to Galvatron combiner core idea to use.

But I still want a Megatron Voyager tank!

Combiner Wars Hotspot & Defensor


Hot Spot

After two waves of toys using the same bodies, albeit with remoulds, I've been looking forward to Hotspot and his combined form Defensor. The Protectobots were a favourite when I was younger: I thought the team theme fitted the faction they belonged to the best, narrowly followed by th Combaticons.

Hotspot comes in robot mode: as ever I'll start in vehicle mode because that's how Transformers used to be packaged straight out the box and that's how I'm used to doing things. Rotate each leg at the thigh 180 degrees then fold the upper legs into the lower legs and bring them together, tabbing into the bottom of the body Fold the feet down to form the vehicle cab, clipping the hooks on the outer rear of the cab round the tabs on the bottom of the leg. Open the chest, fold the head in and close the chest. Remove the weapons. Fold each arm out to the side at the shoulder and tab into the shoulder armour. Rotate each arm so the front faces up. Unhitch the ladder turntable: It's connected to the main body of the toy by a connecting rod hinged at each end there's a small hook at the rear of the base holding it in place. Fold the turntable base up, but keeping the ladder pointing down. Close the arms above the body around the connecting rod to the turntable. Place the vehicle on it's wheels. Open the wing panels to the side of the turntable and fold the ladder over the turntable. Close the panel wings and swing the ladder round over the body of the vehicle. Attach weapons in a position of your choosing.

Firstly lets get this out the way WHOEVER HEARD OF A BLUE FIRE ENGINE? There are TWO reasons for Hot Spot being blue: The original Hotspot is blue, presumably to distinguish him from Inferno who was still on sale at that point. Even so not all subsequent versions of the toy have been blue and it is a more realistic colour for a fire engine so I'm guessing they're keeping him blue to keep a red version back for a future repaint.

He's not the first Fire Engine Transformer I've received this week: he and Pyro are a similar length and width in vehicle mode but Hotspot is a lot lower with a ladder mounted on top. The front of the vehicle is much more rounded than the original mirroring modern fire engines. He's mounted on eight wheels, four on each side in pairs at the front and back. The ladder turns a full 360 degree and elevates at it's base. There's no extension at the end but at the top there's a small cherry picker compartment for rescue purposes with some fire fighting equipment mounted at the sides.

One of the nicer features of this toy is the shear number of 5mm ports on him: 1 on each side of the rear of the fire engine, one on each side of the turntable and one on each side of the cherry picker. So his guns, which have a 5mm peg handle and a 5mm peg sticking out the inner side can be mounted at various points on the vehicle. The first drawing of Hotspot we saw shows the guns mounted on the side of the vehicle, as if they were fire fighting equipment in storage while official pictures show them mounted at the sides of the turntable base. When they're mounted on the sides of the cherry picker they look like a pair of giant water cannons. It's a little thing but it's a nice touch being able to reposition the weapons in this mode as it adds to the playability of the toy.

To transform back to robot mode start by splitting the rear of the vehicle and folding out to the sides to form the arms. Fold the front of the vehicle forward to form the legs. Rotate each leg at the thigh. Fold the front of the vehicle forward to form the feet. Turn the turntable so the ladder up from the back of his head. Fold the turntable down onto his back. Fold the ladder, and the inside piece of the turntable down towards his feet, then fold the ladder back up onto his back, closing the wing plates round the cherry picker so the pegs lock into it.

Hotspot is a similar height to Combiner Wars Optimus Prime, maybe slightly shorter, but is much thinner and less bulky. They've captured the look of the original robot perfectly with the Optimus like double windowed chest panel and the head, which here is cast in cartoon blue rather than toy black.

Articulation: ball jointed head. The shoulders raise up at the body and turn while the arm raises to the side beneath the shoulder, turns at the bicep and bends at the wrist. Like the other two combiner core moulds he doesn't have rotating wrists and like the Silverbolt/Cyclonus mould he doesn't have a waist. His hips turn at the waist and bend out to the sides, there's a thigh swivel and the knees bend. Unfortunately the knees don't seem to lock into place which means it's difficult to pose the legs without the other joints used for the transformation inside the legs coming into play.

As mentioned earlier he comes with a pair of hand guns, like the original did. These are almost a mirror image of each other with, in addition to the 5mm handle, a 5mm peg on the inner side of the weapon and a 5mm peg hole in the barrel, which allows a variety of other weapons to be attached to them Unfortunately only one has a 5mm peg on the rear spoiling the symmetry some what! There's two pairs of 5mm holes that are useful in this mode, one hole on each of the shoulders, if you feel like simulating Prime's exhaust pipes, and one on each side of the turntable for storage. There's another pair of shallow 5mm holes exposed on the ladder base but these aren't really much use here.

I like the toy, it's a decent update on the original Hotspot. Yes I'd like the ladder to extend but I can see why it doesn't as you'll see from when we transform him into combined robot body mode. Two criticisms: first the plastic doesn't feel quite as good as the earlier Voyagers with the black and white pieces having a distinct rubbery feel to them. Then the wheels, which are clip on ones, pop off far too easily. I've come close to loosing some during transformation.


Defensor

So Defensor: Fold Hot Spots head into his chest as per vehicle mode transformation. Unlatch the turntable and rotate so the ladder and turntable wing tips point up. Straighten the arms to the sides of the body and then bend them 180 degrees at the elbow: a tab on the shoulder blade will mate with a slot on the forearm to lock them together. Fold down the covers for the combiner ports on the sides of the shoulders. Fold the turntable wing plates out to form Defensor's chest out of Hotspot's back. Again tabs on the shoulder will lock into slots on the wings. Unfold the ladder so it points straight up. Fold the black base of the ladder down so it sits between the wings on the chest plate. Fold the first section of ladder under the robot's waist. Yes I realise that this now looks very VERY rude! Fold the final section of ladder up along Hotspot's chest. Fold the cherry picker down onto the top of Hotspot's body, locking tabs into the neck area. Fold the sides of the cherry picker out. Fold the rear of the cherry picker forward to form Defensor's head and rotate to face the same side as the big black chest plate. Rotate each leg 90 degrees to the side so the feet face out. Fold the upper legs into the lower legs: there's a tab just beneath Hotspot's hip that slides into a slot in the top of the lower leg that helps secure the parts. Add combiner limbs.

This is all you really need to form Defensor: I'm a traditionalist and Defensor has two guns but, like other Combiner Wars Voyagers, it's possible to combine the two weapons into one larger one, in this case a gun. You can also add the demoted to Legends size Groove as an add on chest plate: a peg on Defensor's chest, the same size as Bandai's display stand pegs, fits a hole in Groove's bottom and his arms peg into shallow 5mm peg holes on the sides of the chest. But again, I prefer the traditional all black chest shields.

The chest shields though are slightly larger than on the original Defensor, to the point of looking far too big now. The increase size is intended to fulfil a function: they're locking Hotspot's shoulders in place via the tabs and slots at their rear. Unfortunately, much like Prime & Menasor's waist plate, these tabs are prone to popping out! I've seen them pop out by themselves let alone when under pressure when turning the arms. The only credit I can give this fault is that it involves the arms, not the legs, so at least your toy will remain stable while fixing it. If you need to pose the arms I'd turn them with one hand while using the other to keep the chest shield locked in.

Articulation: Hotspot provides Defensor's turning head and hips which turn and bend out to the side. Anything else comes from the attached limbs.

Defensor is relatively stable in a standing position, more so than Optimus or Menasor, and the legs are spaced a little further apart so they're not touching if two car limbs are attached. However, even stood straight, there's a slight lean forward which is compounded if an arms is swung forward. He looks like he's going to topple over if the whole arms are turned forward at right angles to the body but incredibly will hold the pose for a few minutes before keeling forward.

The head looks like a decent representation of Defensor, but I'm not keen on the sides of the cherry picker just sitting there at an angle on top of the shoulders. To my eye he looks better with the panels folded up besides the head.

Defensor then: there's a few bits I would tweak, notably making Hotspot's shoulders more secure in combined mode. They've done a good job updating it and I think I'd be more happier if I'd have got him first. I didn't though: He's better than Motormaster, who's legs go squiffy every time you move him, but nowhere near as good as Superion. I'm not so bothered about the lack of a Groove limb here as I was with the other which is odd because I think he had less chance of being replaced in the Japanese version.


Repaints

Lets' start with the mad repaints of original Hotspot that I know we won't get! He has a Japanese 1992 version named Fire Chief who looks like an attempt to do a red Hot Spot that they didn't quite finish repainting the blue parts on. Then there's his mad unreleased Generation 2 version which again involves a lots of red, this time with teal and orange!

Not one but TWO waves of Combiner Wars Autobot cars have been found in toy store computers which makes fans think that Hasbro might have a serious go at doing all 18 Diaclone Autobot cars in the Combiner Wars line. One of these, Inferno, is an obvious Hotspot repaint and minor remould (I'd change the head and the chest plate) and if you're doing Inferno from Hotspot it's not too large a step to get to his remould Grapple providing bodies for two sets of Diaclone Autobots and handily reducing the remaining ones to 16 which would be four groups of four limbs.

Another repaint choice would be to play on their robot mode design similarity and do an Optimus Prime fire engine. There's already been one in Car Robots/Robots in Disguise (2001) and indeed there's links between the two toys with an abandoned Botcon Hotspot/Defensor repaint of the 2001 toy who's colours were then reused on a Target exclusive repaint of Titanium RID Optimus. so the question is do you just repaint the toy in red as original Optimus or do some chest remoulding for RID Optimus? Either way both Optimus options are close to the Inferno one.

Both Inferno & Grapple have repaints that could be made from modified versions of their moulds: Inferno becomes Targetmaster Artfire and Grapple Hauler. A green version of Grapple as a Constructicon Combiner core is tempting, despite the imminence of Generations Devastator. RID Optimus in turn has a yellow airport repaint

But I suspect the first reuse of this mould will be heavily remoulded as his opposite number Onslaught. Many have commented over the years in the general design similarities between the two original toys. I could almost see Onslaught being a reversed Hotspot with the back end of Hotspot's vehicle serving as Onslaught's cab with the weapons, replacing the ladder, behind it and a remoulded Hotspot cab forming the rear of Onslaught, possibly with a fold down loading ramp. I await the Onslaught reveal with interest....

Friday, 24 April 2015

Combiner Wars Dead End & Streetwise

Dead End

Dead End is one of the Stunticons. Of the original four, 3 are street cars with Dragstrip being more confined to the track. Breakdown's More angular vehicle mode sets him apart from the other three leaving Deadend and Wildrider as the sort of cars you'd be more likely to see on the street. Of these two Wildrider has been eliminated from the initial release of Combiner Wars Stunticons. He comes in robot mode but lets look at the vehicle mode first.

Turn the waist 180 degrees. Straighten the arms & fold the hands into the wrists. Fold diown atthe shoulders to the sides of the body. Fold the front and outer side of each leg out to the sides. Bring the legs together with the combiner connector pointing towards the waist. Fold the lower legs up at the knees so they contain the lower legs then close the sides of the legs to form the rear of the car. Fold the back pack down to form the nose of thecar and fold the windscreen down. Fold the chest plate up to cover the face. Peg the weapon into the side of the car as an exhaust pipe.

Dead End's car mode is a solid chunky car, cast in a lovely burgundywith silver highlights and a yellow stripe running just off center. It's a pretty good reinterpretation of his original vehicle mode. His purple hand/foot forms a weapon that pegs onto the top of the vehicle in a hole that's a tad too shallow for the pegs.

To transform back to robot mode start by folding the chest plate down from under the bonnet to reveal his face. Fold the windscreen back and then fold the bonnet back onto the space occupied by the windscreen. Raise the arms out to the sides, bend down at the shoulders and fold the hands out. Rotate at the waist and seperate the legs, folding diown the combiner connector.

In addition to the Burgundy of the car body two different shades of grey are revealed here: a pale grey forming the combiner connector, knees, waist, link between body and bonnet, combiner connector and weapon. Meanwhile a dark grey is used for the upper legs, hands, the lower half of the upper arms, neck and head. There's plenty of moulded detail here with a head closely resembling the comic version of his original head. He can use his vehicle weapon as his hand gun while his exhaust pipe forms a stave like hand weapon. Either can be hand held or pegged into his shoulders.

Articulation is good: bending knees, ball jointed hips, turning waist, ball jointed head, shoulders that raise at the body and are ball jointed at the arms, bicep swivels and bending elbows.

Dead End can also form the limb of a Combiner Wars robot:

Arm mode: from robot mode peg the legs together. Fold the hands into the wrists, straightenthe arms and bend the arms in at the shoulders so the wrists tuck into the waist. Fold the head back into the car bonnet back pack. Fold out the combiner mode connector.

You've probably got a good idea what to expect from a Combiner Wars arm: it turns at the shoulder and can be raised out to the side. The robot waist becomes a bicep swivel while the legs give it a double elbow and the peg for the hand wrist rotation. The hand has the peg hole between thumb and fingers to enable the arm to hold 5mm weapon. The car arms down't work so well for me as the Aerialbot arms because to have the elbow bending you need the wide underside of the car facing towards you on the lower arms which look a tad too wide.

Leg mode: From car mode fold the windscreen back and fold the bonnet, containing the head, onto the roof od the car. Fold out the combiner mode connector. The connector form the thigh swivel and bending knee for the combined robot while the ankle turns from side to side. It's a good solid leg, like most of the combiner wars legs which is what you want: a component that won't collapse holding the robot up.

I've handled a lot of Generations style cars and Dead End is a pretty good example without having any feature that sets it aside. Well worth owning, high quality.

A Japanese version of Dead End is cominginthe Unite Warriors Menasor set eliminatingthe distinguishing orange stripe which is also missing from the animated model.


Steetwise

Looking at Streetwise in vehicle mode there is little to indicate that he and Dead End are different versions of the same mode. Yes they're a similar shape but the only identical parts are the wheels and vehicle mode weapon. The detailing is completely different, save for the positioning of the 5mm holes in the lower door sides and on the roof. Streetwise's vehicle mode is cast in off white platic with painted blue police detailing on the doors & bonnet.

The transformastion to robot mode is identical between the two versions of the toy!

Streetwise's original robot mode is pretty distinctive with his vehicle mode windscreen looking down from the chest at the rear of the car forming the legs. Black paint on a remoulded chest piece and the front of the legs help to simulate that. The waist, combiner connector and peg hole connector between the legs look like they are the same but almost every other part has been changed with a slightly different shape or detail. The appearance is completed with a fab new head sculpt, looking very like the original, and a triple barreled shotgun for him to hold.

Combiner Wars Off Road & First Aid review

Off Road

Off Road is the Cuckoo in the next for the Combiner Wars Stunticons replacing the original team's Wildrider, a dark grey car with red windows.

Off Road comes in robot mode. To convert him into his pickup truck start by opening the front of the lower legs and recessing the upper legs into them using the CW Aerialbot style leg joint. Close the legs up, bring them together and fit the top of the rear of the legs into a recess in the back of the body. Straighten the arms, tabbing the door on the upper arm into the top of the lower arm and fold down under the shoulders to form the vehicle doors and top of the flatbed's sides. Fold the Bonnet down and slot the tabs into place.

Off Road's vehicle mode is a pick up truck, a new vehicle mode for the Stunticons. When Off Road was revealed he had a similar colour scheme to Wildrider in black and red but the released version turned this into grey and red. I'm not sure which is closer the original, which is somewhere between the two, and the reason for the change is not immediately obvious. He's got flame details on his sides, a 5mm peg hole on his rear, another 5mm socket above each wheel arch and a 5mm socket on each side of the flatbed. The original black version of the toy has another 5mm socket in the middle of the flatbed, hinting at a possible future use, but the release version has replaced this with a tab. The tab fits a slot on the fingers of his hand which are on the underside of his vehicle mode weapon which allows it to be mounted on the back of the flatbed as what could possibly be an engine block. It's precise purpose may become obvious with future repaints as his fellow Stunticon Breakdown also had an engine mounting for his weapon which strongly hints as to what this repaint is. The peg on the weapons mode allows it to be mounted on any of the existing 5mm holes which can also be used to store his hand weapon, an axe.

To return to vehicle mode start by removing the weapons. Fold the bonnet on top of the windscreen: there's slots in the side of the windscreen which the backs of the wheel arches recess into. Pull the doors of the car out and up to form the arms, pulling the door panels up slightly to allow the arms to bend Open the undercarriage at the rear of the card to unfold the legs.

The robot mode is mainly the same grey as the vehicle but he's got turquoise upper limbs. This would be OK but they clash horribly with the purple of the weapons and the neon green used for the face. Throw in some red detailing and there's definitely at least one colour too many going on here! The face colour NEEDS to go! His hand weapon is an Axe with a 5mm shaft that he can hold and a 5mm peg in the side

Articulation: Ball jointed head and shoulders. In theory the shoulders can swing up at the body in practice the joint is very stiff. The arms have a bicep swivel and bend at the elbow. His waist turns, he has ball jointed hips, a thigh swivel and bending knee. The hands are 5mm peg holes, the other end of a through pipe from the holes that were on top of the flat bed, with the holes on the side of the car ending up on the outside of his forearms. The doors are attached to his shoulders and can be posed running down the length of the upper arms, diagonally out to the sides or horizontally out the side of the shoulder albeit with a loss of shoulder articulation.

Off Road also forms a Combiner Wars limb:

Arm Mode: Fold the combiner peg out, and the robot head in. Fold the lower arms back at the elbows till they're pointing out the back of the toy at 90 degrees to the body. Peg them onto his windscreens. Lock the legs together, convert the weapon into a hand and plug into the hole between the feet.

Um, yeah. Top of the arm looks a bit of a mess. To be honest I had to hunt his instructions down for this bit because when I looked on the net almost all the pictures of Menasor had Off Road in leg mode and the few arm picture that were there weren't really sure what was happening with the arms! The robot waist becomes a bicep swivel while the legs give it a double elbow and the peg for the hand wrist rotation. The hand has the peg hole between thumb and fingers to enable the arm to hold 5mm weapon. The car arms don't work so well for me as the Aerialbot arms because to have the elbow bending you need the wide underside of the car facing towards you on the lower arms which look a tad too wide.

Leg Mode: from the vehicle mode fold the bonnet back onto the windscreen. Open the rear undercarriage/leg fronts, fold the combiner peg out, and the robot head in, then close the undercarriage. Place his weapon into the peg hole on the rear of the vehicle as the combine robot foot. The connector form the thigh swivel and bending knee for the combined robot while the ankle turns from side to side. It's a good solid leg, like most of the combiner wars legs which is what you want: a component that won't collapse holding the robot up.

Mould? Pretty solid toy. Deco? For a toy that's mainly grey all the rest of the parts are far too busy with too many colours, especially in robot mode.


First Aid

When a website put up a |somewhat premature pre-order for First Aid many fans were worried to read that First Aid "Includes axe" and "has robot and combat vehicle modes", because that seemed to imply he was merely Off Road redecoed and not looking anything like what First Aid should. Of all the Protectobots First aid probably has the biggest fan following thanks mainly to appearances in the fan favourite More Than Meets The Eye comic. So expectations here were somewhat larger than for the other Protectobots. Fortunately when he was revealed at toyfair 2015 he turned out to be a pretty massive retool of Off Road!

Again he come in robot mode. Transformation to vehicle mode is nearly identical: the top of the leg back now have a tab that fits into the robot back and the arms now fit into a gap in the sides of the vehicle rather than forming the tops of the flatbed.

First Aid's ambulance mode is something of a departure looking more like an armoured vehicle than the simple traditional ambulance shape. He's a little like various vehicle versions of Movie Ratchet in this respect. A vaguely similar shape to Off Road ALL the vehicle shell piece have changed. We've just 3 5mm holes now: the one on the rear stays the same but the 5mm holes on the side have moved down and slightly forward to be in front of the rear wheel rims. My eyes lit up when I saw the bars on the roof rear but sadly they're too small for the 3mm c-clips used a few years ago and this makes me sad. The tab that did sit on off Road's flatbed is now on the roof allowing the vehicle weapon to be mounted there as First Aid's Dual-Barrelled Decrystallizer Cannon.

Transformation to robot is almost exactly the same as Off Road's but the bonnet latches onto the windscreen in a different way.

The robot mode is, like Streetwise is to Dead End, a complete resculpt. The window like panels on his chest and his distinctive cube like head, sculpted very similar to his comic appearance, make you think First Aid straight away. Job done nicely. Articulation is the same as Off Road but the 5mm holes on the side of Off Road's forearms have migrated to the sides of his knees which is a more convenient point for storing weapons when not in use.

First Aid still becomes a Combiner Wars limb:

Leg Mode: identical to Off Road, albeit with a bit more bulk at the bottom.

Arm Mode: similar to Off Road, but a slot in the lower arm now locks onto a tab sticking out the side of the roof.

In both cases articulation is the same.

If you're looking for a First Aid for your Generations Lost light crew then this toy is well up to the job. Decent combiner component too, better arm than Off Road.


Future repaints

The most obvious repaint for Off Road would be Swindle and this might be where that peg hole on the original Off Road's flatbed comes into play. A Combiner Wars Swindle was found in compute listings in April 2015.

In early 2015 a rumour emerged that both Prowl & Ironhide would feature in Combiner Wars. When Off Road was released his comic featured a version with Ironhide's head. Meanwhile First Aid's comic shows a version of his toy with a Prowl like head which ties in with his appearance in a recent issue of the comic formerly known as RID.

The same story that revealed Swindle also listed a Trailbreaker which could be made from this mould. Which version depends on if you want a pickup or something approximating his camper element. If you do Trailbreaker from this mould then Hoist is an obvious choice but would need something put onto Off Road's flatbed to approximate his towing gear.

Finally if you're trying to do the original 18 Diaclone Autobots in Combiner Wars then recolouring the Swindle version of the toy as Hound is a possibility.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Combiner Wars Blades

See the Alpha Bravo review for more details on the original version of this toy. Blades It was obvious from the start that Alpha Bravo was destined for several reuses: Production sketches show a red version with a new head which was assumed to be the new version of Protectobot Blades which Wal*Mart computer listings have revealed.

So it came to be: and blades is just that: Alpha Bravo in new colours with a new head. Same hand gun, same vehicle weapon. While the missiles work with his robot mode they look out of place with his vehicle mode which is missing the Landing Skids the original had. Adding landing skids that were removable and became swords for the robot, playing on his name, would have been a nice touch.

If he'd have been released first I think people would be more happier but as a second version? No. But there again looking back now you'd have ignored Alpha Bravo and bought the then unannounced Quicksling instead!


Future Repaints/Remoulds

As yet no Combaticons have been announced but the helicopter and robot modes are very close to what you'd expect for Combaticon Vortex. Design sketches packed into Blades' comic reveals a remould which seemingly incorporates Vortex's chain gun into his arms.

The long nose of the helicopter is also reminiscent of Combaticon Blast-off so a as that may be on the cards. A yellow repaint as Evac or Sandstorm is a distinct possibility but I think the shape of the Helicopter isn't quite angular enough to do Whirl, Springer, Spinister or Bulkhead/Quickstrike. Finally the Combiner Wars Optimus torso brings Energon Optimus to mind and Alpha Bravo would make a good helicopter drone Op 2.

Combiner Wars Rook

Generations Combiner Wars Rook

Rook is the new member of the Protectobots. So how does he measure up?

Like most modern deluxe Transformers he comes in robot mode. To transform into vehicle mode start by pulling his backpack out so it points away from the robot. Straighten both legs and fold the lower leg up round the upper leg: the knee has a Generations Trailcutter style link with the inside of the ankle. Straighten the arms to the sides and rotate each lower arm out 90 degrees at the bicep so the larger blue panel on the forearm face forward. Fold the arms back onto the robot's back, pegging the slots on the inside of the shoulder onto pegs on the back. Rotate the head 180 degrees and fold back between the shoulders. Fold the feet down under the legs to form the lower front of the vehicle. Fold the backpack down onto the back of the legs to form the upper front of the vehicle. We've got as far as seen in the promo picture but that really isn't the complete vehicle mode: take the hand/foot/vehicle weapon and push the extra peg hole in it's underside onto the black peg to form a turret. Peg the "jaws of life" hand weapon into one of the holes on the rear of the vehicle.

Rook's vehicle mode is a police swat vehicle judging by it markings but looks like a sort of armoured personnel carrier of the sort we've seen before with Movie Wreckage or Anti-Blaze. He's mainly white, with blue highlights on his lower half and six wheel. The turret looks a bit out of place in black but the vehicle really needs it to look right. There's three 5mm holes on the top of the vehicle to place the weapon in, two at the back, one at the front, but the one at the front is partially obscured by the turret. There's an additional hole on the front of the vehicle for an extra weapon.

Remove the weapons to start the transformation back to robot mode. Pull the front of the vehicle up so it points straight up in the middle of the vehicle mode. Pop the shoulders off their posts and fold the rear of the vehicle out to the sides to form the arms. Separate the front of the vehicle in half down the middle and pull out to the sides, forward, and then in to form the legs. Fold the lower front of the vehicle down under the legs to form the feet. Fold the head forward and turn 180 degrees. Fold the front of the vehicle onto the robot's back. Turn each arm in 90 degrees at the bicep.

Rook's robot mode is nice and imposing with a mainly black body and white limbs, with blue elbows and upper legs. His head sculpt I'm told resembles a rook in Chess but I can't really see it. The silver face is covered in an American football style helmet.

Probably one of the most interesting features on this figure is the hands. Instead of having the traditional 5mm peg hole between the fingers the hands are moulded into closed fists. The peg holes are found on the outer side of the fists, at the end of the arms, in effect turning them into gun barrels. I've heard a few people say the don't like them but I think they're great. His own weapon has a 5mm peg at the rear that will fit in there but raid your weapons box for other weapons like sword blades which can be plugged in there. I'd quite like to find a couple of missiles to try there but can't find anything suitable! Suggestions?

Articulation is great: Ball jointed head, shoulders which swing back at the body and have a ball joint connection to the arm. He also has bicep swivels, bending elbows, a rotating Waist, ball jointed hips, Thigh swivels and bending knees. The most interesting piece of articulation involves pivots at the inner side of each leg to allow the feet to remain flat as the legs are spread.

To form the arm mode start from robot mode and fold the backpack out. Bring the legs together and fold the feet back, Fold the arms onto the robot's back as per the vehicle mode. Fold the backpack back onto the arms locking the tabs on it into the tab holes on the lower half of the shoulder. Fold the head back between the arms. Transform the weapon into a hand and peg into the bottom of the arm. Fold the connector out of the chest and use it to slot into the shoulder of Defensor or any other combiner.

You've probably got a good idea what to expect from a Combiner Wars arm: it turns at the shoulder and can be raised out to the side. The robot waist becomes a bicep swivel while the legs give it a double elbow and the peg for the hand wrist rotation. The hand has the peg hole between thumb and fingers to enable the arm to hold 5mm weapons but the 5mm peg hole in the palm, used to mount he weapon in vehicle mode, allows Rook's arm mode to have a weapon plugged into his palm: the jaws of life with him are perfectly suitable.

The legs is best formed by starting from vehicle mode: fold the front top of the vehicle over the rear top. Actually this action alone give you quite an interesting alternate vehicle mode with the hand holes visible under what was the front of the vehicle mode. Anyway, back to the leg. Bend the lower front of the vehicle down and under then pegs the front of the vehicle into the foot. Fold the connector up to form the knee joint.

The leg mode looks odd with a bulging top and less build up lower half. The rear of the leg looks more built up than the front but there's no way to rotate the waist and get both sets of bulk on the same side of the leg: I tried, going as far as transforming the lower leg into the robot legs and turning the waist then before transforming back but the pieces wouldn't fit round the waist that way round. The connector form the thigh swivel and bending knee for the combined robot while the ankle turns from side to side.

I like Rook a lot: I feel he brings something new to the complete combiner with the palm hole, the vehicle is good and solid and the robot, with it's differently positioned fist holes and ankle tilts has something most of the rest of the Combiner Wars deluxes don't. He's the only new mould Protectobot limb so I'm tempted to say if you only get one Protectobot get him but that's be doing down some of the work done to First Aid & Streetwise. But it's a solid top toy, well worth having.


Future Repaints

A fairly easy straight repaint would be as Cybertron Defence Hotshot.

My suspicion is the next time we see Rook he'll be extensively remoulded as Brawn: replace the wheels with tank treads. The vehicle weapon becomes the tank turret with a 5mm peg hole in the front that lets you peg his hand gun in to form the tank's gun barrel.

From there a remould of the front, together with a plug in drill would make a decent Nosecone.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Obliterator Pyro


Obliterator Pyro

1992 was a superb year for Transformers in the UK. Mainly affordable pocket money toys with small Decepticon jets being available for the first time. 1993 was less good with far too much reliance on cars on the Decepticon side, the jets being downsized to a much smaller size and some toys with weapon systems that relied on stands that wouldn't take their weight by themselves. The only toy I really liked the look of was Pyro and I left it too late to try tom get one.

In the late 1990s I was working in Epsom and used to shop in the town at lunch. One day on a second hand toy stall on the market I found a number of Transformers items including a Minibot Swerve, a missile for Stalker with a melted dent in it and a rear half/trailer for Pyro. This set me on a path to try to get Pyro's cab/robot.

By this time however GPS was starting to take effect and the number of Pyros out there was decreasing. You very rarely saw them on eBay and when you did it was never just the cab/robot. Then Last Stand Of The Wreckers happened and prices shot through the roof.

Then last week while reading Facebook I saw a picture of a lot of 92/3 UK toys a friend had acquired and in the middle of it was a Pyro cab/robot. So I contacted him and said did he need a trailer for Pyro or, even better, might the robot be going spare? He said it was, arrangements were made and so last Friday I was finally able to unite my Pyro trailer with a cab and form the complete Fire Engine toy!

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The two halves are joined together by two nubs, on the rear of the cab, which fit into the clasps recessed into the front of the trailer. I say Cab and Trailer but neither is really capable of operation without the other attached. Even when they are fitted together the toy still looks like a game of two halves with the yellow and black striped rear and mainly red front. The windows and lightbar are moulded in a clear pink plastic, which looks the same as that used on the Turbomasters the previous year. Behind the lightbar is a 5mm socket which can hold his gun. In this mode it looks like a water cannon, even complete with a seat at the rear. I don't have one and am very unlikely to find one. It's one of the many parts of this toy to be made of the notoriously fragile gold plastic.

When I think of fire engines, I tend to think of units with Ladders, like Inferno. Pyro doesn't have one and so I'm tempted to say that his alternate mode is an Airport Fire engine, which there isn't a previous Transformers example of. A quick google image search reveals many similarly shaped appliances, complete with cab roof mounted water cannon, but none with the half and half colouring that Pyro has. However of all the Transformers Airport Fire Engines Pyro has probably got the general shape and proportions down the best.

Pyro is in possession of an "attack mode" for his vehicle and that unveils what I believe is an innovation for a Transformer: a Gatling missile cannon. Pull down the rear of the trailer and fold the roof out to one side. Raise the launcher up from the trailer, pushing it's connecting bar mount slightly forward of vertical. Close the roof back up, leaving the front portion open, and lock the trailer closed by replacing the rear.

This give Pyro a MASSIVE 6 barrelled cannon mounted on top of his fire engine mode. Think Generation 2 Dreadwing and you'll be there. Turn the gun like barrels at the rear to fire each of the six blue missiles in turn. Sadly the missiles are another part of the toy that I'm missing but I've seen enough of this sort of launcher to know what to expect. However if you have any loose in your spares boxes I will gladly rehome them for you!

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To transform the toy start be separating the trailer from the cab. From here one the transformation for this toy is essentially in two halves:

Fold the back down to unlock the trailer and fold the roof and side down. Fold the opposing side, connected to the floor of the trailer and the launcher, back and peg into what was the back of the trailer so it's now in an upright position. Sadly the years have not been king to the peg's ability to hold this section upright! Fold the cannon out and up over this turret. Fold down the wheel arch on the exposed side of the truck. Fold the control panel out of what was the roof and then fold the center of the roof and control panel up so they're vertical. Pull this panel up so what was the side and roof ends of the trailer form a 90 degree angle, with both in a diagonal position which raise the control panel into the air by one inch, a vital step for later. There's a clear pink plastic screen that folds out the roof but again the years have not been kind to friction's ability to hold this panel in place on my version.

Return to the cab. Fold the rear halves of the cab out to the sides and forward so tabs bellow the front windows fit into lots top hold them in place. Fold the underside of the cab out to form the legs. Turn the waist, with some care because it's gold plastic, 180 degrees. Fold out the feet, again with the care resolved for gold plastic. Fold the hands out, again carefully: even though they're not gold the bar they're resting on is! Noting that to start with that the front of the wrist is level with the back of the cab and the upper arms are at a diagonal angle, fold the arms down. Open the blue flap at the waist. Turn the lightbar 90 degrees so the outer edges point forward & back, not to the sides. Rotate the center of the windscreen down & forward 180 degrees. Return the lightbar to the horizontal position with the straight edge at the top and close the chest flap. Open the flap on the back of the toy, fold out the head and close the flap.

Pyro's robot mode has lots of design queues taken from Optimus Prime. He's mainly red, with dark blue fists and helmet, which is complete with a face plate and fin like ears, plus two wheels mounted on the outside of each leg. Together with his designation of Leader it's very tempting to think of Pyro as a fire engine version of Optimus Prime, and indeed the resemblance is played on in Last Stand Of The Wreckers. Size wise he's a very similar height to the previous year's Mega toy Stalker, although slightly more bulky. Even though there's more to the toy than the figure you almost feel the robot could be a bit bigger. His fists are 5mm peg holes which he can use to hold his fragile gun or other similarly handled weapons.

Articulation: Pyro comes from an era where articulation was improving but hadn't yet made the giant leap forward that ball joints would bring. Virtually everything he does have is used in his transformation somehow. His shoulders turn allowing the arms to raise but due to the restrictions of the vehicle shell they can't raise above 90 degrees or back beyond the downward vertical position. The head is fixed facing forward. The waist turns, the hips move, but sadly only backwards due to the restriction of the waist panel, and the knees bend. Like Rotorstorm the previous year you could have EASILY get more articulation out of him then by a couple of slight modifications. Firstly the legs could have moved forward at the hip if the flared bottoms of the waist panel were removed. Secondly legs would have had independent movement if the lower legs had been moulded as two pieces not one.

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The base unit is easily the best effort in 1992 but still pales beside many earlier Transformers bases. Because the robot bring Optimus Prime to mind the inevitable comparison is with the base formed from his trailer and inevitable that wins hands down. The weapon is superb, and that helps a lot. There's some space in what was the base of the trailer for a couple of smaller Transformers to stand, and some more space in the base of the turret for the missile launcher. Pyro's intended position is behind the control panel and the intention here should seem to be that he holds the peg handles sticking out the the side. With Pyro's upper arms vertical and his lower arms horizontal he can stand very close to the control panel to hold these handles, almost uniting the toy as one unit again.

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For me Pyro is definitely the best Euro exclusive toy of his year but, as highlighted above, he could be better. GPS has not been kind to him and remaining specimens are now in demand due to the Roche/Roberts effect. However my long quest to obtain a more complete one will ensure I always view him in a good light.

Pyro was exclusive to Europe and released in 1993. In some countries he went under a different name: Spark. He was released in a box bearing the traditional Transformers logo. Thus my mind he, like the 1991 Motivators & Overlord and all the 1992 toys, fall into the category of G1 Transformers. However things are slightly murkier in Pyro's case because his box does feature what would become known as a G2 Autobot symbol and then in 1994 he was re-released in Generation 2 packaging to sit alongside all of the g2 toys released in Europe for the first time that year.

Pyro/Spark had a large resurgence of interest following Last Stand of the Wreckers so in 2010 Botcon repainted Universe Inferno in Pyro's colours as Spark.


Repaints

Pyro has never been repainted: turning the vehicle mode fully into the traditional fire engine red or the airport fire engine yellow would work nicely. A black/green redeco, with more prominence given to the attack mode, would have made a nice assault vehicle.