Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Combiner Wars Blackjack & Rodimus and Adventures Runabout


Like Combiner Wars Powerglide Blackjack is designed to fulfil a function in one of the combiner teams. But unlike Powerglide, Blackjack's inspiration does come from the original Menasor.

This toy's name, along with the shades of black & purple used, point to Micromaster Blackjack although as we shall see that may not have been the original intention. For a start a visored and faceplated face doesn't match the Micromaster at all! The robot looks nice with a turning head, ball jointed shoulders that flex in and out, a low bicep joint just above a bending elbow, and ball jointed hips & knees. By Legends standards he's very flexible. Most of the toy is black, ish, with the upper legs, body and accessory being purple along with some purple and gold paint highlights. He comes with an odd axe hand weapon that at this stage in proceedings makes little to no sense whatsoever and indeed doesn't fully till his first repaint.

Transformation: fold the head & chest back into the backpack. Straighten the legs, tab together and then fold the entire chest, head & backpack assembly forward to tab into the lower legs. Straighten the arms to the side and fold in at the shoulders. The axe becomes a spoiler that tabs into the rear of the car with the handle pointing forward as a gun barrel but honestly I wouldn't bother here and put it away somewhere safe as it spoils (haha) the look of the car!

It's a car. Not a lot more I can say, it's the sort of solid ground vehicle that Legends spent 2014 producing.

It's at this point we discover one of the other origins for this toy because Blackjack's other purprose is to form chest armour for Combiner Wars Menasor just like Motormaster's little car did for 1986 Menasor. Simply mount the weapon sideways on the car roof, open Menasor's chest and place Blackjack on the pegs sticking out.

..... Or at least that was the plan!

In practice Blackjack will hold in place at best tentatively on Menasor due to the pegs tapering slightly far, far too early. At worst he'll just fall off straight away. As usualy your mileage may vary depending on how the Quality Control Roulette Wheel has spun for your Motormaster and Blackjack but anecdotal evidence suggest he stickcs better on the second edition Motormaster released in Wave 4.

Even if he did stick proper;y he woul;dn't quite be up to the job: his black isn't quite black enough, looking almost a metallic flaked black or almost brown in some lights and unlike the original Motormaster car he isn't solid black, his colours are broken up by gold windows and the purple spoiler axe accessory.

Top robot and great car, albeit with an odd accessory. His use as as a combiner add one is spoilt by problems though.

Blackjack was released at 3 per case in Combiner Wars Legends wave 2, returning at 2 per case in a Combiner Wars Legends Wave 4 revision assortment. This case was not released in the UK and Blackjack himself was not released in Japan.... although some of his repaints are exclusives there!


Our first hint at Rodimus' existance came from this piece of Toyfair 2016 promotional art showing a white version of Optimus Prime with a red car, with flames on the bonnet and a yellow spoiler, on it's chest. Suddenly the purpose of the odd accessory becomes clear!

Rodimus is a slightly odd choice as a Blackjack repaint as in several ways he doesn't quite fit the toy. Basically it's a red for black and yellow for purple colour swap which is ok, and the new head isn't bad but even with the spoiler on the car it just doesn't look the right shape to be Rodimus. He's even worse in robot mode: the flame design from the bonnet is now on his back while his chest is a rear window he doesn't normally have. Then there's the spoiler....

It's obvious once you see it that a Rodimus repaint was intended all along because that explains the spoiler on the car. Given that the spoiler is included you'd think they'd make sure it could be mounted correctly on his back in robot mode wouldn't you? NO, they didn't and that's a major black mark against the toy.

Fortunately help is at hand and it comes from one of those clear elastic bands you find in many Transformer toy packages. Loop it round the bottom of the hinge connecting his backpack to the body. Draw it up over the top of the backpack with each strand of the band sitting in the v shaped gutters to the side. Pull the band down th back of the back pack and loop it back under the bottom of the pack so it runs under the bottom of where the windscreen is. Next slip each spoiler wing under the elastic band strands and draw them together so they run down the gulleys either side of the central shaft. The spoiler will now stay in place in what is approximately the right position with the method of attachment being ll but invisible.

The actual repainting on the toy is very, very good but the character and toy mould are not a good match.

Transformers Adventures Runabout

What's in the box?

It's Override & Runabout!

Interest was provoked in Transformers Adventure TAV-25 was announced as Runabout with an image that was considerably different to Blackjackand considerably closer to the 1986 Battlecharger of the same name. By the time of it's release the deco had been further tweaked and all preorders sold out in a matter of hours. As you can see I was one of the fortunate ones with HLJ!

The deco used here is nearly spot on for Runabout. I said at the time that I almost felt he could have do with a bright red spoiler instead of the grey used and since then, having seen a further repaint, have started to feel all the grey should be red. But the grey is better than the blue he was originally shown with and is darker in hand than in the publicity photos.

It's become clear now that the original intention was to make Blackjack Runabout as that suits Menasor better and indeed the head sculpt is a dead on match. But for whatever reason they didn't quite go through with that and co-opted another Decepticon car character.

Runabout works well in car mode and armour mode: he attached to my original wave 2 Motormaster and passed the "hold the robot chest down and shake" test so there's something going on there with some subtle remoulding.

His TF: Adventures Decepticon symbol app sticker comes off easy, no indent underneath, but I needed to clean some adhesive off afterwards

Top, TOP recolour. Fab toy, such a shame it couldn't be more easily available to more people. Now where's his mate Runamuck?

G2 Blackjack

A recoloured Blackjack appears in the Generation 2 Menasor set. He takes his cues from the unreleased original G2 Stunticons by swapping his black for purple like Menasor's car did and by using the pale blue which is common across all five members of the team.

Decent solid repaint, works well but still has issues staying in place.

Future Repaints

I would very much like to see both Runamuck and Runabout redone with the upper legs, body and spoiler taking the secondary colours from the original toys, red and orange respectively.

It feels odd asking for this one but I think this toy would work as a Bumblebee, in a similar way to the Classics/Legends of Cybertron version. We've not had a Bumblebee in Combiner Wars and it would go nicely with Optimus Prime in a similar way to how Minicon Sparkplug (Micron Bumblebee in Japan) does with Armada Optimus Prime.

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