Sunday, 15 May 2016

CW Hound, Smokescreen, Trailbreaker & Wheeljack

A quick look at the sidebar reveals I forgot to post my Wave 6 Autobots reviews here and missed them againin the recent batch of updates!


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 very nice, good repaint.


Someone at Hasbro likes the G1 Smokescreen colour scheme. There's Armada Minicon Prowl's repaint, an Unreleased Battle In A Box version, Cybertron, Movie Fast Action Battler, ROTF Legend and Predacon Rising Legion. And that's before we get onto proper homages like the Masterpiece and Universe versions.

To my mind the Universe 2 Smokescreen is an epic misfire. It was the third airing for that mould as a Datsun brother and needed to be a spot on deco. It wasn't. The white stripe separating the blue, which was far too dark, and the red, too orangey, was far too wide, the number boxes were squared and not rounded and neither the red or the blue quite worked for me. In robot mode there was too much red on the chest and the lower arms and the the legs, which should have mainly been red, were a multicoloured explosion. By contrast the Henkei version is a lot closer to what it ought to be.

Which is something of a long winded introduction to this toy. I have a history of low tolerances to bad Smokescreen homages. Like Prowl, Smokescreen uses the Streetwise version of the Dead End mould. This in itself brings problems in the form of the moulded lightbar, which suggests that maybe Dead End himself with the Prowl head may have been a more sensible choice for Smokescreen and Bluestreak. However now I'm looking at the car itself I don't think it looks too bad, blending in moulded in red like the rest of the roof of the vehicle. The white stripe, which troubled me so much on the Universe version is far smaller here and neatly follows a wavey line along the side of the car while the race car number are the right sort of size and font and on an unbordered rounded white rectangle like the original. I'd like the door ones bigger and further back but that would plonk them right on parts that transform. Sadly the annoying vertical stripe down the door seen on Dead End and Brakeneck is back but understandably so due to the transformation. And, truth be told, I'm not missing the lack of a spoiler here which for some is a feature that distinguishes Smokescreen from his brothers.

Smokescreen's robot mode is blue. The head is spot on for the original toy, a blue Prowl head with a yellow crest. A wide red stripe forming the middle chest plate does a decent impression of the bumper. Like the Universe version he's got red forearms but somehow, possibly due to the more cherry shade of red, they look far better here. The same colour is used for the top of the shoulders. From the waist down it's all blue which looks a bit samey. It's a shame because if you spin the waist round the rear of the legs introduces much more red and does a decent impersonation of the shape and layout of the original Smokescreen legs. Not for the first time I find myself wanting an alternate transformation for these toys which would allow the top rear of the car to become the front of the legs and the knees to bend the right way and there's a bit of me that hopes this mould shows up in the Botcon custom class and someone experiments with it.

The triple barrelled shotgun has been painted silver here which adds to the effect of making you think it's Smokescreen.

This isn't a perfect Generations Smokescreen: for that buy the Henkei version and get a third party gun. I don't even quite think it's the best Combiner Wars Smokescreen there could have been. But I like it. It's got something that somehow that dreadful Universe 2 version didn't have and feels much more Smokescreen than the Universe 2 version did.


I had thought that the most obvious repaint for Off Road would be Swindle and that would explain where that peg hole on the original Off Road's flatbed came into play. A Combiner Wars Swindle was found in compute listings in April 2015 but we were somewhat surprised at Botcon 2015 when Swindle was revealed to be an extensive remould of Rook. 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!

The same story that revealed Swindle also listed a Trailbreaker which could be have been made from this mould. Which version depended on if you want a pick-up or something approximating his camper version. Botcon 2015 solved this one by revealing Trailbreaker is the Offroad mould.

I've had a softspot for Trailbreaker for years ever since I saw the original Tranmsformers cartoon and couldn't find the toy. It's quite ironic that Ironhide and Trailbreaker now share a pick-up mould as Universe Gobot Ironhide is generally accepted to be Trailbreaker in all but name.

Naturally Trailbreaker gets a new head and they've got this one all but spot on for his cartoon appearance, complete with pale blue eyes. Like most of the toy it's moulded in black plastic but the upper limbs are a lovely bright red. His left forearm remains the same but the right one has had a retool, loosing the fist and now ending in a painted silver pipe with a 5mm peg hole in the end. This type of arm worked great on Rook in 2015 and is just as good here too. Sadly you can't plug his axe handle into it because the sloped axe end doesn't provide enough contact on one side but anything with a proper 5mm peg will fit just fine, simulating the swappable missile weapons the original had.

Very pleased with this toy, it works and is probably the best version of the mould yet. As I've already admitted Trailbreaker is a personal favourite and having waited for ages for one we've now had two decent deluxe versions in 3 and a bit years!


Now I can see why you might want to do Wheeljack as a remould of Sunstreaker. The original toys both have the car nose for feet, car roof as a chest with the windscreen pointing down and a vaguely similar transformation. However Combiner Wars Sunstreaker lacks both of those features in robot mode so a vague similarity in vehicle mode seems to main reason for remoulding between them.

Wheeljack is cast in a creamy off white plastic. Now you may remember that the original of this toy mould Breakdown is also cast in a very similar colour. I've had these two side by side and Wheeljack is definitely the whiter of the two. The car mode really is a very good effort looking very similar to the original with slightly straighter lines than the Generations version. The rounded windscreen is captured better here too. The only parts that are obviously shared with his predecessors are the wheels and the turbo charger which looks very odd mounted on a non Lamborghini. Sadly the sword gun is also still included here, I'm getting slightly fed up of the Stunticons melee weapons and wish they'd been replaced with guns especially when the toys got to the remould stage.

Transformation remains the same as before with the neck plate still being locked in place by the shoulders. There's a new head which is a pretty good representation of Wheeljack's cartoon appearance, and a new chest plate shaped to resemble the top of the passenger compartment but shrunk down. The red and green stripes are present in the right places and can also be seen on the front of the legs to simulate the bonnet. However the rounded bottom of the chest, what would be the car windscreen, could use some black paint to differentiate from the rest of the chest and bring it in-line with the car mode. A little more black paint on his forearms and hands would bring the robot more in line with it's traditional appearance and break up what is effectively solid white arms. It wasn't always like that however: the first official images show Wheeljack with black elbows and shoulders. Between then and now the parts frame which contains these, the waist and the lower portion of the knee joint has changed colour from black to white and I don't think it helps the toy at all.

One small build quality problem on mine: the windscreen piece has a habit of falling out something I didn't encounter on earlier versions of the toy.

The car mode here is a very, very good effort. The robot needs a plastic swap to bring it closer to the original images and just a touch of black paint in a couple of crucial spots. I will be interested to see the Japanese version of this.

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