UW-EX Lynxmaster boxset that also appeared in Combiner Wars, Hound is very similar to his Combiner Wars version. However he's the only one which is definitely a clear win over the Combiner Wars version! This Tweet from Alfes shows the two together but unfortunately hides one of the cleverest changes to the toy: the hinge on the Combiner Wars connector is now grey giving Hound a better defined radiator chest in robot mode. I like it. In addition there's a few new paint applications, including some yellow on his arms. For some reason he's pictured with an Off Road axe, presumably the one moulded with Unite Warriors Ratchet. Since the axe is positioned next to Hound in the tray I assume it is actually meant to be with him. He's still got a his original gun and Hand Foot Gun too which makes him fairly heavily armed.
Subtle update, but better than the Combiner Wars version.
UW-EX Lynxmaster boxset was unveiled there was much rejoicing that many of Wheeljack's robot mode problems were fixed. His chest windows were now painted pale blue, matching a change made to the vehicle mode which is consistent across all three cars in this set, and his forearms & hands were painted black. What wasn't picked up on until very close to release was how plain the car mode was, as this tweet comparing the Unite & Combiner Wars versions shows. The spoiler is now white, which is better, but the paint applications have been significantly simplified & reduced.
Torn between the two. Robot mode is significantly better, car is significantly worse! As it is he'll be spending most of his time in arm mode which hides the majority of the deco changes so, in the end, I don't suppose it really matters. But a version combining the Hasbro vehicle mode and TakaraTomy robot mode would have been perfect!
The initial Lynxmaster tweet showing the traditional silhouette seemed to show both versions of the Off Road mould being used. Would Trailbreaker in Japan be closer to his original shape using the First Aid variant, with the pickup used for Hoist or would Trailbreaker be a pickup again, like in the west, and the First Aid be Ratchet, recently done as a Botcon exclusive? Turned out it was the later option.
Trailbreaker's vehicle mode is fairly similar to the Combiner Wars version, as you can see in this tweet comparing the two. He's lost the stripes on his door and the window colouring on the rear side windows. The rest of the windows have had their blue tweaked to match the pale blue used on the windows elesewhere. An additional silver paint application covers the whole front grill. Not a lot in it between the two.
The robot mode is different however. Red plastic used onthe upper limbs becomes grey, seriously altering the look of the toy. To replace the missing red plastic the knees and fronts of the doors are now painted red. A paint application to the sides of the chest simulated his front window but it's all over the sides of the chest, not confined within the window moulding, and there's none on the base of the combiner connector between them.
The Unite Warriors version might be more acurate, which you can debate, but I think the Combiner Wars version captures Trailbreaker better.
a fully painted version to be revealed as part of the UW-EX Lynxmaster boxset just a month or two later!
In Ambulance mode Ratchet looks very very similar to Unite Warriors First Aid: both are white Ambulances, with pale blue windows and red lightbars. The markings are subtly different with Ratchet having a red cross with an Autobot symbol on the door. I own a Unite First Aid, but failed to review it at the time. The release of Ratchet all but ensures the "not so acurate to the original version" Combiner Wars toy will probably be my default First Aid.
Transforming to robot mode exposes that several sprues are coloured differently compared to the Botcon Ratchet as you can see in this tweet comparing the two. White is again the predominant colour. The shoulder & elbows joints plus the Combiner Wars Connector, all previously black, are now grey. The upper legs & knees, previously grey, are now white. The waist & knee/lower leg connectors, previously black, are now red. Red paint is added to the hands & lower torso, and also picks out 3/4 of a Red Cross on the shoulder. Blue paint covers the chest windows and, unlike Unite Trailbreaker, they've stuck within the moulding lines here and painted moulded the hinge part of the Combiner Wars connector in light blue giving the effect of a complete chest window. Silver paint provides highlights on the chest and on his face while the head is completed with an animation coloured black crest. The HandFootGun & Axe, clear blue on the Botcon version, are now black to match the rest of the set but the axe is now placed in the box with Unite Warriors Hound and is shown with him on the packaging and publicity photos. In it's place Ratchet received the jaws of life weapon previously packaged with Rook.
Fabulous figure, with an amazing deco. The selling point of the set for many people. Very pleased to have a Ratchet with a decent paint job: I can't paint anywhere near this good so my Botcon version remained untouched and will become Medix in limb mode now. I'd have happily paid for this as a carded toy though and indeed would if Hasbro ever released it, which I doubt after the Botcon version.
this tweet shows All that's happened to the plastic is the grey parts sprue has turned red producing a more coherent Dinobird & Shuttle mode but will produce a problem in combined mode.
The paintwork is nearly the same between both versions of the toys but opening the mouth in Space Dragon mode now reveals it's red inside where previously it was gold.
United EX, the Japanese line of Power Core Combiners repaints, entitled all their combiners SOMETHING master.
Lynxmaster isn't a direct port of Sky Reign into the Unite Warriors line. Combiner Wars Smokescreen is gone making a team line up of Sky Lynx, Hound, Wheeljack, Trailbreaker and new team member Ratchet. Whereas with Sky Reign I used Smokescreen as an arm and Hound as a leg I've gone for the official configuration with Lynxmaster where Ratchet & Trailbreaker, two different versions of the Off Road mould, form the legs leaving Wheeljack & Hound as the arms. I'd used Rook as an arm in my early days of owning Combiner Wars Defensor but never the jeep remould and, with the side of the legs facing forward he looks quite good.
A few minor tweaks to Sky Lynx only become visible here: the square at the centre of his forehead, which was blue, is now red while the teeth and throat box, which were gold like the face, are now silver. A less welcome change is the sword that Lynxmaster uses made form elements of his tail. Like all the other grey parts on Combiner Wars Sky Lynx they've become red on the Unite Warriors version and I'm afraid a red plastic sword doesn't really work.
Most people have reported an improvement on the hips for Lynxmaster, not a problem my Sky Reign has ever exhibited. My Lynxmaster however does seem to have a slight fault: his left hip, on our right, which is the leg nominally collected to Trailbreaker, is pulling out to the side ever so slightly.
So comparing the Lynxmaster teams to the Sky Reign components. Sky Lynx is a slightly more coherent set of colours in all modes and a slightly better head deco in Combined mode but has a sword for the combined form which is now the wrong colour. Wheeljack is better in robot mode, worse in vehicle mode while Trailbreaker is neutral in vehicle mode and not so good in robot mode. Neither are significantly impacted in combined mode. Of the common limbs between the two sets Hound is the only outright winner but his improvements are subtle, it isn't a night and day situation. A combiner wars completist is going to have to buy Lynxmaster anyway to get Ratchet and he's a better fit with the rest of the limbs who are all 1984 Autobots where 1985 Smokescreen was the odd man out. I can't genuinely make a call between them and say one is better than the other but buying UW-EX Lynxmaster for the characters within and then getting a spare Combiner Wars Smokescreen is probably the best buying strategy.