Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Combiner Wars Groove, Wreck-Gar & Rust-Dust and Transformers Adventures Override


At the point the Combiner Wars Protectobots were revealed at Toyfair 2015 there was a lot of talk that Hasbro were worrying about scale in the Transformers toyline and that a new limb version of Groove would be too big. So Groove is relegated to Legends size and forms a chest plate for Defensor while his place as a limb was taken by Rook and we counted ourselves lucky because Menasor was missing Wildrider, replaced by Offroad, and Superion was missing Slingshot, replaced by Alpha Bravo.

But between Groove's reveal and his release it all went wrong for him. First Takara Tomy teased in silhouette and then revealed a four jet Superion, then a 4 car Menasor and finally Hasbro Hasbro announced that the two new Japanese limbs would be a western Internet exclusive. These exclusives, renamed Brake-neck & Quickslinger, were released in May 2015, right at the same time Groove came out so even then there was talk of "Takara's going to do a proper limb Groove aren't they?". Indeed that very month Takara Tomy teased Defensor with a deluxe Groove and revealed him about a week later with the toy reaching Japanese retail in early December 2015 and getting a US exclusive internet release in May 2016.

So by the time people had the chance to get Legends Groove in hand he was already superfluous for forming Defensor and I day say a fair few people held off buying the Hasbro Combiner Wars Protectobots in favour of the Japanese Unite Warriors version. I however had already laid down my cash in a pre order before it was announced and indeed had it in hand at the end of April.

Hasbro need some credit here: they've done a really good job of capturing Groove in a completely different aesthetic. His back wheel is still inside his legs, his feet formed from the rear of the bike and the handlebars behind his head with the windshield and front wheel on his back. But this is a taller, thinner Groove than the original. There's three colours of plastic used here: white for the lower legs & bulk of the chest, grey for the upper limbs and black for the windshield chest, wheels, head, chest plate & sides. The forearms are painted silver and later versions of the toy suggest these are on the white plastic sprue as are the black painted feet which have a slight missing paint spot ion mine where they've scraped during transformation. His articulation isn't bad: ball jointed hips, elbows & shoulders plus thigh swivels, necessary for his transformation to combined robot accessory.

Transformation: Straighten the legs and tab together. Fold he feet up onto the front of the legs. Raise the windshield over the head. Fold each shoulder forward till they meet in front of the face, but keep the arms out to the sides. Bend the toy's lower body forward 90° at the mid chest joint and bend the arms, slotting them into the depressions on the side of the toy just above what were the lower legs.

Groove's Motorbike mode feels slightly too long and stretches out but all the basic details are there so we'll let it pass. The perennial issue of balancing a bike is solved by a permanently down kickstand on one side and a very low saddle box on both. You will struggle to tip this over. It's not terribly functional though, neither front wheel fork nor handlebars turn, but I suppose that saves me the trouble of having to moan that they turn independent of each other! An odd feature concerns the sides of the saddle boxes: the right side has a 5mm peg hole, level with where the fist has slotted in while the left side has a 5mm peg, but much lower down. What are they for? They don't seems to serve much purpose. There's no gun to attach, unlike the original Groove. Is there an abandoned weapons mode, like Bombshell? The round ends of the rear of the bike suggest something gun like might be meant to be happening.

As it is Groove's part in Combiner Wars Defensor is a very different one. Start by folding the robot shoulders forward in bike mode, bringing out the arms, which should then be bent at the elbow so they point down. Separate the legs, bend at the knees and then rotate each leg 90° at the thigh. Fold the legs up and out to the sides at the hips bringing them along the outside of the arm and slot the tabs on the sides of the arms into the slots on the legs.

What you have is a piece of chest armour for Defensor, like Blackjack forms for Menasor. The problem is all the official pictures of Defensor show the chest plate the wrong way up. Yes you can attach him that way up but the only thing holding him there will be a small thin peg so he won't be that stable! He'll still be a bit more stable than Blackjack but that's by the by! The seemingly correct way to attach him is to insert the small peg on Defensor's chest into the hole on Groove's bottom (behave) sliding Groove's arms either side of the centre part of Defensor's chest and then pushing the 5mm pegs on the inside of Groove's arms into matching holes on the sides of the centre of the chest.

The connection is relatively solid, the small peg is a very good fit and holds it all together with the arms just providing stability, but the arms are prone to coming away from the chest and the legs from the arms leaving a spread out mess on Defensor's chest.

But the main problem here is Defensor doesn't need it. It's there to give a Groove toy a role and, although different, Combiner Wars hasn't done a bad job at reinterpreting Defensor's chest plates and integrating them into Hotspot. They could have done a better job on the look and got them to hold Defensor together better but that's a matter covered in the Hotspot and Defensor review.

I have played with worse Transformers Motorbikes. I have played with worse Grooves, as one of my friends said "the first not rubbish Groove toy" (except he didn't say rubbish). But essentially this toy serves little or no purpose. We knew it would be superseded by the time it came out and it detracts from the look of the combined robot when added. I'd say avoid, and grab one of it's repaints, but neither of them have exactly proved easy to find.

Groove was first sold in Combiner Wars Legends Wave 3, where he was 3 per case with 3 Warpaths and two Vipers. He and Warpath were carried over to the Wave 4 case at 2 per case and Groove survives at 2 per case in the Wave 4 revision case. He is probably one of the easiest Combiner Wars Legends toys to find.

As we have said Takara Tomy released a deluxe Groove in Japan so the Legends toy didn't get released there, but rather amusingly when the Hasbro Asia version of Unite Defensor, containing deluxe Groove, was distributed it came with a special coin, housed in packaging shaped like Legends Groove's chest armour mode!

Transformers Adventures Override

What's in the box?

It's Transformers Adventures Override & Runabout!

Override is one of the few Generation 1 motorcycles so it makes him quite an obvious Groove repaint. The other, which was announced beforehand, will follow in a bit. Essentially he's a simple repaint of Groove: swap white for blue and paint a few parts red.

However as soon as I get two of the same Transformers Motorbike now I immediately think of Reveal The Shield Wreck Gar and his repaints Scrapheap & Junkheap who can ride on each other. Sadly Override cannot ride Groove that well at all :-(

My Override also seems a little bit loose: both legs popped off at the hip, and one at the knee, plus the windscreen came off!

Nevertheless a nice fun toy, and I'm glad I got him preordered at HLJ in the few hours he was available there. He lasted longer than Runabout did though!

Override is Transformers Adventures toy TAV-26 and was released in Japan in August 2015. Good luck finding one!

Combiner Wars Wreck-Gar

When Wreck Gar's his official images were released everyone was excited because it looked really, really good. The some new stock images were released and our hearts sank.

It pains me to say it but Wreck-Gar's nowhere near as bad as I thought he would be.

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Yes the majority of him, including everything white on Groove, is bright orange. How bright? Brighter than last year's Huffer!

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New head is quite nice, can't do it justice with my limited camera skills! (apologies for all other photos: working with limited space, fading light, no flash, wobbly CMT affected hands and a lot of tiredness!)

Upper limbs are a dull palish yellow. For the large part black pieces on Groove remain black with heavy paint to the chest sides and windshield. Feet are now orange as are the arms, unpainted for the first time.

No combined mode on the instructions: Robot to bike one side, bike to robot the other.

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It's OK. Personally I think it's better than Groove. But this isn't a hunt it down toy, be happy if you find one, don't go out of your way. As it is I had to pay for a half case from Kapow to get him!

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Habsro: If you do this again and make it look just like this then I'll buy it!

Torchbearer Rust Dust

Of the six Rust Renegades/Torchbearers, Rust Dust is the only one with no new parts. She's a simple institution green for white and black for grey colour swap on Groove with a little red paint on her arms and a nice cracked deco on her windscreen.

Her main problem of course is that she is that nasty institution green and looks hideous! But unlike Groove this toy actually stands a chance of being used as the chest plate for Victorion, who I note still has the chest plate on the wrong way up!

Future Repaints

As I said above I'd love another go at Wreck Gar with the colours looking exactly like they do in his official images. With the right paint job there might be other Junkions or even Arcee in it but I don't think there's a lot more that can be done with it now.

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