Thursday, 24 December 2015

Combiner Wars Swindle


Rook redone as Swindle? Would NEVER have guessed that in a million years!

Here's how I suspected Bruticus would go down. Alpha Bravo would be Vortex, Blast Off would be an Aerialbot Jet or a new space shuttle, Rook would be extensively remoulded as Brawn replacing the wheels with tank treads with the HFG becoming 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. Off Road would then be Swindle and that would explain where that peg hole on the original Off Road's flatbed came into play. Combiner Wars Combaticons were found in computer listings in April 2015 but we were somewhat surprised at Botcon 2015 when Swindle was revealed to be an extensive remould of Rook with Brawl getting the new mould but at least I got the hand gun becoming his tank barrel bit right!

As ever with these massively remoulded toys it's interesting to try to spot what's the same. All of Rook's blue parts are still there unaltered: the connecting bars inside the lower legs, the upper legs, the elbows and the plate that forms the neck. These are all now cast in black. Rook's grey parts are all unchanged too: the rear of the feet, combiner connector and shoulder joints. They're now cast in the same sandy colour as the rest of Swindle's body. The waist is the same, which was black and now is grey. The only other grey part on the toy is a panel on the back of the head which makes me think they were thinking of lightpiping him at some point: it'll be interesting to see the Unite Warriors version. Four of Rook's two wheels are inherited. The rest is new.

Articulation is identical to Rook's.

The toy looks very Swindle in his robot mode: Square head like the original, enlarged and modified to take in details from the animated version. The chest retains the purple from the original which actually hides some really nice moulding: the chest is actually the front of a jeep, albeit with a combiner connector through the middle. This will get useful when they get round to repainting Swindle as we'll see. He's got a new triple barrelled hand gun to hold as well as a dual barrelled cannon modified from Rook's HandFootGun. Indeed I think this is the first remould to feature a remoulded HFG. The extra hole underneath is still there but it's overall appearance looks different. You can hold it in his hand, peg it into his shoulders which retain Rook's 5mm peg holes or, similar to the combining feature on the original Swindle's weapons, plug it into the hand gun.

Transformation to vehicle mode is all but identical with the large roof piece on Rook's back being replaced by the roll cage on Swindle's jeep. The only slightly tricky bit is, as per Rook, lining the arms up right on the tabs and getting a pair of tiny pegs on the front of the roll cage into the front of the vehicle. It's a struggle but when they go in they're in.

Where Scramble City/Special team Swindle was an open top jeep Combiner Wars Swindle is more like a bulked up version of GI Joe's VAMP, not too dissimilar to Desert Striker. The only real problem here is that the top rear of the vehicle is made from the arms and the hands are VERY visible through the roll cage. However the jeep's got a 5mm peg on the middle of the top and a pair of 5mm peg holes near the back allowing you, with the assistance of the connections between them, to position the weapons in a number of different ways.

Arm mode: All but identical to Rook in transformation and function. The only difference is the roll cage front has two slots which match tabs on the top of the arms.

Leg mode: Fold the front of the vehicle, the robot's feet, under the jeep and back into their robot mode position. Plug the HFG into the holes on the front of the vehicle and fold out the combiner tab. Solid as a rock, a decent leg.

I liked Rook, I liked Swindle. Really nice toy. Which is good because he's back in the next wave ......


I'd also thought that 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. Well I got it right that Swindle became Hound, even if I'd been thinking Swindle, and thus Hound, would be Off Road.

As expected Hound is Swindle in green with the black of Swindle, which was Rook's blue, swapped for grey. He's got a new Hound head and it's here the jeep front chest helps reinforce that this is Hound, though some silver or grey paint on the upper half of the combiner connector as a radiator might have helped.

Looks nice, looking forward to it.

Generations 2 Swindle

Take Combiner Wars Swindle, repaint him in orange and slap some purple camouflage on him. Job done, G2 Swindle is reborn.

Oddly it's this version is the one I can see the jeep front in the most!

Swindle comes in the G2 Bruticus Combiner Wars giftset.

Unite Warriors Roller

Roller is the latest Rook repaint to be announced but in all likelihood will be released first on April 30, 2016 according to the TakaraTomyMall page for Unite Galvatronus which he's a part of.

Google Translate describes the toy thus:


And separated from one's fellow during the battle, the original Autobot warrior who was wandering Between dimension.

The deformation to Roku-rin armored vehicles. I continued to wait for the relief of alone fellow he was torn absolute lonely soul. He was considered to be abandoned to the trust to have the fellow is dominated by despair and guilt, leading to soon have a strong grudge energy. It has been summoned to this world sensed the energy to Unicron. It had lost some of the stored by long wandering, we are holding a particularly strong hatred against the convoy commander is a symbol of Cybertron.

This sounds very similar to the version of Roller seen in IDW's More Than Meets The Eye.

Roller takes Rooks white and swaps it for silver, his blue for grey and his grey for red. The resulting toy looks very nice and I can't wait to own it.

TFSS 5.0 Impactor

There's been ONE toy version of the Wrecker's leader Impactor %28G1%29 and that was in the Fall of Cybertron line where Impactor %28Prime%29 was a repaint of Fall of Cybertron Onslaught and, in all honesty, had his colours swapped in proportion to what they usually are.

The TFSS version does much better: white is swapped for purple and blue becomes white. He gets a new head and gains some extra weapons: recolours of Generations Arcee.

I've never bought a Transformers Subscription Service toy before. This year I'm having all of them.

Botcon 2016 Tarantulas

As repaints go I've had difficulty seeing the point of using Rook as a new version of Tarantulas. The colours are inspired by the Transmetal version and I've just seen the light! Tarantulas transforms into a motorcycle, like Groove so using Unite Groove would have been sensible. But Groove only exists in Combiner wars as a Legend: his replacement as a limb is Rook!

Tarantulas swaps blue & grey for black and white for a bluey green matching the Transmetal version quite well.

Future Repaints

A fairly easy straight repaint would be as Cybertron Defence Hotshot . Movie toys Wreckage & his repaint Bludgeon are good candidates except that Bludgeon is being done by the TFSS as a repaint of Combiner Wars Onslaught.

Swindle has a good few repaint options: Operation Combination Leland who is cherry red with a grey chest, Car Robots Grejebar/Robots in Disguise Rollbar green with orange chest, Wal*Mart Rollbar, grey with a white & black urban camo and Universe Rollbar, a sandy colour with a desert camo. This last option is very close to Hound's only repaint E-Hobby Detritus. Beyond that most Transformers jeeps are a variation on the green theme.

I had thought that a remould of the front of Rook, together with a plug in drill would make a decent Nosecone but it looks like Nosecone will be a remould of Brawl.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Combiner Wars Brawl


I had suspected that the next time we saw Rook he'd have been 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. Therefore I was surprised to discover at The Botcon 12015 Combaticon reveal that Brawl was a new mould: but I got the hand gun becoming his tank barrel bit right!

Brawl was my first Special Team/Scramble City limb. So I was very much looking forward to him. But shortly after he came out word emerged that there was something very, very wrong with this toy....

Brawl's robot mode looks very like the original: the chest is less sloped than it used to be with a set of 3 barrels moulded into either side which puts me in mind of Universe 2 Brawl and his Energon predecessors. The turret is mounted on the back where it should be and the barrel is removable to form his hand gun. His articulation is excellent with his ankles folding out to the sides and forward & back, bending knees, a thigh swivel, ball jointed hips, turning waist & head, shoulders that fold out to the sides & turn and bending & ball jointed elbows. He's got 5mm peg hole hands, a 5mm peg hole on each wrist and a 5mm peg hole on his back so lots of options for his weapon and Hand/Foot/Gun.

So what's wrong with him then? It's how his chest and waist are connected. I'll attempt to describe it to you:

The lower back of the body is linked to the middle of the waist by a plate that is hinged at each end. Intuition says that the plate should fold flat between the waist and the body. It doesn't. Moulded detail on the underside of the body holds it at a diagonal angle going 45 degrees down and forward. Another piece of detailing on the under side of the body is designed to recess into the top of the plate holding it in place with a clip on the back of the waist stopping the plate from folding flat. Neither does a sufficient job at holding the waist in place meaning Brawl just flops around in the middle, chronically unstable in robot mode.

To make matters worse it's hard to get sufficient purchase on the waist piece to get it's hinge to turn as the waist hinge is far stuffer than the hips' ball joints which inevitably turn first.

A complete disaster. A U shaped piece going up both sides of the body and having the waist attached underneath would have done the job far, far better.

Transformation: this caused me some difficulty but I think I'm sorted now! Rotate the waist through 180 degrees so the hole on the back of the waist faces forward. Fold Brawl's head down and fold the turret up over it. Fold the waist behind the robots back. Pull the lower arm back at the elbow and then fold it forwards so the tank treads meet. Fold the arm back, so the front of the treads faces out of the chest/front of the tank, then fold each tread up and out to the sides. Pop each knee out of the inside of the top of the lower leg: note how just bellow the knee is a slot that fits over a tab on the front and back of the knee to stabilise the robot legs. Fold the knee down, there's a bar connecting it to the side of the leg, so it sits above the ankles and tab the legs together. Fold the tank treads down into place locking into their rear formed by the legs. Fold the turret back onto the middle of the tank. Slot the gun into place as the tank's gun barrel.

This looks a pretty decent and solid deluxe tank so lets proceed straight to Phil's Tank Test:

Does the gun barrel raise?: YES! A pair of very shallow pegs hold it in place allowing to to raise and be removed. So it can do something the original Brawl can't.


Does the turret turn?: Regretfully not. And it could on the original so this is a major minus point. Could they have made it turn? Yes, easily. The Turret is attached by two struts, hinged at either end, which allow the turret to move forward and back. Putting a turntable at the top end would have been easy. Another let down.

There's peg holes on each side of the vehicle for his HFG but, like Rook, it also has a 5mm socket underneath that allows for it to be mounted further back on the turret on a fold up 5mm peg. The back of the vehicle is slightly unstable due to the articulation in the feet it's made out of and the thinness and lack of height of the one tab that holds them together.

So a better vehicle mode, but one that could have been a lot, lot better.

Arm Mode: Start from robot mode and fold Brawl's head back then the tank turret up over it. Fold the arms in to form the side of the tank body. Swing the legs down behind the tank body, with the peg hole in the bottom of the waist facing out the bottom of the tank. Peg the legs together and insert his HFG into the hole at the bottom of the legs.

There are better Combiner Wars arms: the robot waist is limited in movement depriving you of the bicep swivel so the only way for the lower arm to move is in towards the body. The shoulder and wrist joints still work fine though.

Leg Mode: Take the tank mode, fold the combiner connector out the front of the vehicle then fold the rear of the vehicle/robot feet underneath to expose the socket for the HFG. Don't get confused and plug the HFG straight into the back of the vehicle that'll result in a leg that's too long to be used with anyone, except perhaps Dragstrip who also has an extension on the back of his vehicle mode that needs folding away.

Much better leg, rock solid. It's fortunate that Brawl is nearly always used as a leg on Bruticus!

A grave disappointment. Could have been so much better. It'll be remaining in Bruticus leg mode from now on.

Generation 2 Brawl

The first Brawl repaint that will be available comes in the G2 Bruticus boxsert and swaps Brawl's greeny brown for bright green, adding the traditional G2 purple camouflage and his dark grey for purple.

It remains to be seen if the waist will be fixed. Judging by the mistransformed waist in the official pictures I'd suggest not!

Botcon 2016 Ramhorn

Brawl's next planned outing is as a new version of Tripedicus' Ramhorn. Um, yes. There's some oddities in this Botcon set alright. A grey and red repaint of Brawl, with a bespoke head, the gun is retooled into a drill which looks like it's lost the ability to mount on the front of the turret and now features a 5mm peg hole to go onto the folded down peg at the rear of the turret. Um .... I'd have kept it mounted at the front of the turret and folded that forwards. Now it just looks a mess!

Future Repaints

Settle in: Brawl has previously been repainted as Operration Combination Destron Sandstorm in white, Car Robots Danger in a sand colour with brown camouflage, Robots in Disguise Armorhide in pale blue with black camouflage, Robots in Disguise Wal*Mart Armorhide in a grey, black & white urban/artic camouflage and Universe Armorhide in a sand colour with a different brown camouflage!

Numerous other Transformers Tanks exist: There's a reasonable chance the fanclub might use him as a Quake to complete their Decepticon dual Targetmasters combiner set.

The existence of Ramhorn has prompted speculation that Brawl might be used to make Nosecone to go with Combiner Wars Scattorshot as part of a Combiner Wars version of Computron.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Unite Warriors Groove

Unite Warriors Groove

All four of the Combiner Wars interpretations of the 1986 combiners initially featured some form of compromise: Superion had Alpha Bravo instead of Slingshot and Menasor had Offroad instead of Wildrider. Both of these were remedied in the Unite Warrior versions of the toys by recolouring an existing limb robot and these recolours were in turn released as western exclusives. For Bruticus and Defensor something different happened: Bruticus uses a green Firefly as Blastoff instead of creating a new toy for the shuttle mode. Defensor replaces Groove as a limb with Rook relegating the motorcycle to a Legends class piece of add chest armour. We don't yet know for sure what Takara will do with Bruticus but TFYuki has been tweeting Blast Off Space shuttle hints. With the Unite Defensor set we have got our long awaited Combiner Wars limb Groove.

Groove retains his white police motorcycle design but is somewhat sleeker than he has been before. His windshield is a clear blue with clear red lights to either side. Neither windshield, handlebars or front forks turn. The arms form the engines under the saddle, with one forearm possessing a fold down stand for the motorbike. The saddle itself has a 5mm peg hole on it and looks to be the mounting point for his HandFootGun in vehicle mode and his HFG looks to be inherited from Blades, Alpha Bravo and Vortex. In addition to the HFG he has two silver grey paint over clear plastic handguns pegging into the rear of the vehicle to form his Twin Vaporators.

Transformation: start from motorcycle mode. Rotate the front of the motorbike through 90 degrees so that the wheel points up and then fold onto the saddle. Unfold the arms so they're along the side of the motorbike, with the top of the fist hole pointing down. Fold the rear of the saddle & bike back and fold the upper legs out, just like Alpha Bravo, closing the rear of the bike up to form the lower legs. Separate the legs and fold the wheel halves out to each side. Rotate 180 degrees at the waist and finish by putting his guns into his fists

It's Groove, updated. Just looking at it there's nothing to complain about. In fact he's got something no other Combiner Wars toy has: Lightpiped eyes!The entire back of his head is a massive clear plastic panel feeding through to his eyes which are tinted yellow. In fact all the different colours of clear plastic on the toy, and there are several, appear to be tints over clear plastic. Articulation is superb: bending knees & elbows, rotating thighs & biceps, ball jointed shoulders & hips, rotating waist and ball jointed head. Top stuff. My one complaint is there's no obvious place for the HFG in this mode but since his Twin Vaporators each have a 5mm peg hole you con do some weapons combination

Leg Mode: Start from motorcycle mode and begin with the first steps of the robot mode Transformation. Rotate the front of the motorbike through 90 degrees so that the wheel points up and then fold onto the saddle. Unfold the arms so they're along the side of the motorbike, with the top of the fist hole pointing down, and fold down tabbing onto the rear of the bike. Put the HFG into foot mode and peg into the rear of the bike. Stand on the foot and attach.

Very solid leg mode, no chance of this coming to bits like Dead End and his derivatives. Provides the usual articulation for the combined robot it's part of: thigh swivel, bending knee and rotating ankle.

Arm Mode: Start from robot mode, fold the arms down into the sides and then rotate each arm 180s degrees out to the side and back so they point out the back of the robot alongside the front of the bike. Fold the head back into the bike's saddle bringing the combiner connector out the chest. Tab the legs together and insert the HFG in hand mode into the back of the bike/underside of the feet.

Usual arm mode articulation here too: The connector provides the rotating shoulder and raising out to the side while the robot's waist is now a bicep swivel and the hips/knees are a double bending elbow with the hand peg providing the wrist swivel. Again, No complaints.

Groove's a decent update of the original and his lightpiping puts him a cut above the other Combiner Wars limbs. If you've bought another Combiner Wars limb you'll know what to expect in robot mode and his motorcycle mode is better than some I've seen over the years.

All in all it's a pretty good package. The problem is the only way to get him is to buy Unite Defensor and that's proving too big a pill to swallow for some fans who've already bought the Combiner Wars version. If it helps sway you I think my Unite Hotspot holds together in torso mode far better than Combiner Wars Hotspot does.

As yet no western release and no repaint/remould of Groove has been announced.

Somewhat amusingly the Unite Defensor packaging comes with an exclusive coin ..... whose container is shaped like the chest armour formed from Combiner Wars Legends Groove!