Monday, 16 May 2016


Torchbearer Skyburst & Torchbearer Stormclash

When round two of the fan built combiner poll resulted in TWO helicopter being chosen I was a little bemused. Alpha Bravo was already out there, Blades was due soon and it was good money that it would be reused as Vortex. So voting for two more near helicopters and then finding they're near identically painted?

Actually there's some clever stuff going on here. Stormclash and Skyburst are actually mirror image twins, in the style of GI Joe's Tomax and Xamot. Gone are the existing gun and Hand Foot Gun. Both have new chest, with a box on the opposite side to the Autobot symbol, new forearms with open hands & wings and a new sword weapon. The colouring of the toys, a quite bizarre mismatch of orangey red and institution green, which isn't anywhere close to the orange and teal offered is also mirror imaged.

So the most obvious question about the two helicopters in the Torchbearers boxset is which is which!


Autobot symbol on our left in robot mode.

Head has eyes.

Larger red patch on right in vehicle mode.

If edge of sword blade points to our left, then the peg is underneath

Autobot symbol on our right in robot mode.

Head has visor.

Larger red patch on left in vehicle mode.

If edge of sword blade points to our left, then the peg is underneath

The observent amongst you will spot that Hasbro couldn't tell the difference and mucked up the labeling for their official photos!

The extra wings cause an interesting problem in leg mode if left in their initial position: they hit each other between the legs! Fortunately each arm can be unpegged, rotated back 90 degrees and re-pegged in to give sufficient clearance.

Bar the colour, the helicopters are OK. I like the mirror image trick to compensate for two of them but with we could have seen the winged forearms earlier: they'd have been great on blades, replacing the missile arrays and making him a more peaceful looking helicopter.

Torchbearer Dustup

As we're keeping track this is the fifth reuse of the Dead End version of the car mode but it's had a few tweaks. Gone are the pipe weapon, which I'm thoroughly fed up with, and the Hand Foot Gun replaced by a bow that can also serve as a rather oddly placed spoiler in car mode. The mould itself has some minor tweaks: there's a new head, chest panel and hands which are now open at the sides.

And then there's the deco..... Oh dear.

But I think Dustup's biggest problem is the mould choice. As we said it's the fifth Dead End, but also Dead End's third boxset appearance and NINTH appearance of any variant of the car mould. Dragstrip has had 3 appearances total and no remoulds: surely it would have made more sense to use him?

Torchbearer Jumpstream

The Breakdown mould returns as Victorion member Jumpstream where it receives a new head, chest plate, remoulded hands with an open inner face and hand held shield. I'm struggling to think of terribly many other Transformers with a shield that's an accessory, rather than part of another mode, and Robotmasters Psycho Orb is the only one that springs to mind.

Essentially Breakdown is just another Breakdown/Sunstreaker, my fifth one this year and sixth overall. The annoying hips get more annoying every time and, like Deadend, it's been used too much. The problem is there are uses of this I'd like to see: 1984 Sideswipe, G2 Sideswipe and Red Alert none of which appear to be coming soon.

Pyra Magna

Pyra Magna is a red & green repaint and remould of Hotspot that forms the heart of the Victorion combiner.

The fire engine mode is, essentially, an orangey red version of Hotspot which makes me want to see Hotspot in bright red with a new head as Inferno or Car Robots/Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime even more! The green actually plays very little role in this mode, acting just as an accent colour on the fire engine. It's most noticeable appearance is on the new combined robot head which sticks out like a sore thumb as the cherry picker on the end of the ladder. The SDCC Breakfast reveal of Victorion shows Pyra Magna being the combined robot feet on the side of her turntable. These in turn have tabs in them that allow you to slot the hands into them for storage.

The robot mode is where more of the green appears and is really off putting compared with the red. Exposed here are a new robot head and chest plus remoulded hands and a pick axe weapon. Unfortunately the robot mode does expose a major flaw with the toy: the bar that connects the bottom of the upper leg to the top of the lower legs has been mounted incorrectly, meaning that a protuberance forward stops the knee assembly locking into the correct position in robot mode.

Flawed. But the vehicle mode is the best looking one in the box by some distance. It hasn't been overused like Silverbolt and his derivatives or the truck and of the three options available, even though fans went for the one they didn't have, they probably made the most sensible choice. It's a shame that moulding, assembly and colouring issues spoilt it.


Victorion is the combined form of the Torchbearers team. The default combination shown on the box has both helicopters, Skyburst & Stormclash, for legs, but don't forget to turn at least their inner wings back so the don't hit each other! Dustup forms her left, our right, arm and Jumpstream her right, our left, arm. Just like Hotspot & Groove, it's impossible to mount Rust Dust on the chest as shown in the box, she needs to be the other way up to attach properly. Unfortunately that results in an upside down Autobot symbol on the chest and also covers up the new chest panels, formed from new sides of Pyra Magna's turntable base. These in turn have the same flaws as the parts they replaced on Hotspot/Defensor: The don't hold the shoulders in place when you turn them and make the panels prone to popping forward if you're not holding them in place. On the other hands they seem to want to stay on better than the ones on my Hasbro Defensor so that's some improvement!

The new head is tall and thin, reminding me a little of a headdress for an Egyptian Queen. It features the only use of clear plastic on any of the toys that form the combined robot, forming a clear blue visor over her eyes.

One of the major selling points of the toy is newly sculpted hands and feet for the combined robot. Let me nail my colours to the mast straight away and say I'm a fan of the hand Foot Guns used on the other Combiner Wars combiners. I don't see the point of articulated fingers on a Transformers toy: toys that have them, Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus, inevitably have some difficulty holding their weapons and frequently need some sort of peg & slot/hole arrangement to improve the weapon's stability. The same is true here, with a 5mm peg hole being provided that's set back from the fingers. To top it off the hands here look a little small for my liking.

Then there's the feet. Complaints that the HFGs didn't allow decent posing don't wash till well with me because, inevitably, your combiner is going to spend a large part of it's life standing straight up if it can manage it, and that in itself has proved to be a problem for the Hotspot/Onslaught mould with it's tendency to lean forward even when the robot arms are straight down to the sides. The new feet have a cogged rocker joint in the ankle which allows for side to side movement, but not front to back, so the only real new pose they're allowing is one where the legs are spread out to the sides. Having tried it it alarmingly destabilises the robot causing it to lean forward more than it had been already. About the best thing you can say about them is they are relatively stable in a standing straight position and they did give the robot some extra height though that is effectively done by having her wear high heels!

The other new part for the combined robot is it's weapon, formed from the weapons of the five main robot components:

Skyburst - a sword

Stormclash - a sword

Dustup - a bow

Jumpstream - a shield

Pyra Magna - a pick axe

The swords slot into either side of the pickaxe handle. The bow clips round the handle with the points pointing the same way as the helicopter swords who's handles have a slot for accommodating a tab from the bow. The shield pegs in over the bow providing the handle.

I like combine weapons and I honestly think this is probably my favourite part of the toy. The very first Combiner Wars review I wrote, for Optimus Prime, said I thought the combined mode could do with a sword and there is one here.

The major problem this toy has, and it's been one that's common to all the components, is the colour. It's DREADFUL! The red orange, now that I can live with but it's the institution green that it's mixed with that's the problem. It's not that neither is quite the orange and teal which was offered, it's more that the green is foul and they just don't work together! An obvious solution swapping the green for black would have worked wonders.

Victorion is a deeply flawed boxset. We knew the colour would be a problem from when we first saw it and there's been plenty of time to say that doesn't work, change it. I don't feel the new hands or feet add anything. All three limb moulds have been overused by now. The central torso component has a major assembly error and it still plagued by problems that affected it's general release version. This could have been so much better. Given a choice between Victorion and the similarly priced recently released Grand Galvatron then Galvatron, even with one Legend less, is a much better buy.

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