Thursday, 24 December 2015

Combiner Wars Swindle


Rook redone as Swindle? Would NEVER have guessed that in a million years!

Here's how I suspected Bruticus would go down. Alpha Bravo would be Vortex, Blast Off would be an Aerialbot Jet or a new space shuttle, Rook would be extensively remoulded as Brawn replacing the wheels with tank treads with the HFG becoming the tank turret with a 5mm peg hole in the front that lets you peg his hand gun in to form the tank's gun barrel. Off Road would then be Swindle and that would explain where that peg hole on the original Off Road's flatbed came into play. Combiner Wars Combaticons were found in computer listings in April 2015 but we were somewhat surprised at Botcon 2015 when Swindle was revealed to be an extensive remould of Rook with Brawl getting the new mould but at least I got the hand gun becoming his tank barrel bit right!

As ever with these massively remoulded toys it's interesting to try to spot what's the same. All of Rook's blue parts are still there unaltered: the connecting bars inside the lower legs, the upper legs, the elbows and the plate that forms the neck. These are all now cast in black. Rook's grey parts are all unchanged too: the rear of the feet, combiner connector and shoulder joints. They're now cast in the same sandy colour as the rest of Swindle's body. The waist is the same, which was black and now is grey. The only other grey part on the toy is a panel on the back of the head which makes me think they were thinking of lightpiping him at some point: it'll be interesting to see the Unite Warriors version. Four of Rook's two wheels are inherited. The rest is new.

Articulation is identical to Rook's.

The toy looks very Swindle in his robot mode: Square head like the original, enlarged and modified to take in details from the animated version. The chest retains the purple from the original which actually hides some really nice moulding: the chest is actually the front of a jeep, albeit with a combiner connector through the middle. This will get useful when they get round to repainting Swindle as we'll see. He's got a new triple barrelled hand gun to hold as well as a dual barrelled cannon modified from Rook's HandFootGun. Indeed I think this is the first remould to feature a remoulded HFG. The extra hole underneath is still there but it's overall appearance looks different. You can hold it in his hand, peg it into his shoulders which retain Rook's 5mm peg holes or, similar to the combining feature on the original Swindle's weapons, plug it into the hand gun.

Transformation to vehicle mode is all but identical with the large roof piece on Rook's back being replaced by the roll cage on Swindle's jeep. The only slightly tricky bit is, as per Rook, lining the arms up right on the tabs and getting a pair of tiny pegs on the front of the roll cage into the front of the vehicle. It's a struggle but when they go in they're in.

Where Scramble City/Special team Swindle was an open top jeep Combiner Wars Swindle is more like a bulked up version of GI Joe's VAMP, not too dissimilar to Desert Striker. The only real problem here is that the top rear of the vehicle is made from the arms and the hands are VERY visible through the roll cage. However the jeep's got a 5mm peg on the middle of the top and a pair of 5mm peg holes near the back allowing you, with the assistance of the connections between them, to position the weapons in a number of different ways.

Arm mode: All but identical to Rook in transformation and function. The only difference is the roll cage front has two slots which match tabs on the top of the arms.

Leg mode: Fold the front of the vehicle, the robot's feet, under the jeep and back into their robot mode position. Plug the HFG into the holes on the front of the vehicle and fold out the combiner tab. Solid as a rock, a decent leg.

I liked Rook, I liked Swindle. Really nice toy. Which is good because he's back in the next wave ......


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 nice, looking forward to it.

Generations 2 Swindle

Take Combiner Wars Swindle, repaint him in orange and slap some purple camouflage on him. Job done, G2 Swindle is reborn.

Oddly it's this version is the one I can see the jeep front in the most!

Swindle comes in the G2 Bruticus Combiner Wars giftset.

Unite Warriors Roller

Roller is the latest Rook repaint to be announced but in all likelihood will be released first on April 30, 2016 according to the TakaraTomyMall page for Unite Galvatronus which he's a part of.

Google Translate describes the toy thus:


And separated from one's fellow during the battle, the original Autobot warrior who was wandering Between dimension.

The deformation to Roku-rin armored vehicles. I continued to wait for the relief of alone fellow he was torn absolute lonely soul. He was considered to be abandoned to the trust to have the fellow is dominated by despair and guilt, leading to soon have a strong grudge energy. It has been summoned to this world sensed the energy to Unicron. It had lost some of the stored by long wandering, we are holding a particularly strong hatred against the convoy commander is a symbol of Cybertron.

This sounds very similar to the version of Roller seen in IDW's More Than Meets The Eye.

Roller takes Rooks white and swaps it for silver, his blue for grey and his grey for red. The resulting toy looks very nice and I can't wait to own it.

TFSS 5.0 Impactor

There's been ONE toy version of the Wrecker's leader Impactor %28G1%29 and that was in the Fall of Cybertron line where Impactor %28Prime%29 was a repaint of Fall of Cybertron Onslaught and, in all honesty, had his colours swapped in proportion to what they usually are.

The TFSS version does much better: white is swapped for purple and blue becomes white. He gets a new head and gains some extra weapons: recolours of Generations Arcee.

I've never bought a Transformers Subscription Service toy before. This year I'm having all of them.

Botcon 2016 Tarantulas

As repaints go I've had difficulty seeing the point of using Rook as a new version of Tarantulas. The colours are inspired by the Transmetal version and I've just seen the light! Tarantulas transforms into a motorcycle, like Groove so using Unite Groove would have been sensible. But Groove only exists in Combiner wars as a Legend: his replacement as a limb is Rook!

Tarantulas swaps blue & grey for black and white for a bluey green matching the Transmetal version quite well.

Future Repaints

A fairly easy straight repaint would be as Cybertron Defence Hotshot . Movie toys Wreckage & his repaint Bludgeon are good candidates except that Bludgeon is being done by the TFSS as a repaint of Combiner Wars Onslaught.

Swindle has a good few repaint options: Operation Combination Leland who is cherry red with a grey chest, Car Robots Grejebar/Robots in Disguise Rollbar green with orange chest, Wal*Mart Rollbar, grey with a white & black urban camo and Universe Rollbar, a sandy colour with a desert camo. This last option is very close to Hound's only repaint E-Hobby Detritus. Beyond that most Transformers jeeps are a variation on the green theme.

I had thought that a remould of the front of Rook, together with a plug in drill would make a decent Nosecone but it looks like Nosecone will be a remould of Brawl.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Combiner Wars Brawl


I had suspected that the next time we saw Rook he'd have been be extensively remoulded as Brawn: replace the wheels with tank treads. The vehicle weapon becomes the tank turret with a 5mm peg hole in the front that lets you peg his hand gun in to form the tank's gun barrel. Therefore I was surprised to discover at The Botcon 12015 Combaticon reveal that Brawl was a new mould: but I got the hand gun becoming his tank barrel bit right!

Brawl was my first Special Team/Scramble City limb. So I was very much looking forward to him. But shortly after he came out word emerged that there was something very, very wrong with this toy....

Brawl's robot mode looks very like the original: the chest is less sloped than it used to be with a set of 3 barrels moulded into either side which puts me in mind of Universe 2 Brawl and his Energon predecessors. The turret is mounted on the back where it should be and the barrel is removable to form his hand gun. His articulation is excellent with his ankles folding out to the sides and forward & back, bending knees, a thigh swivel, ball jointed hips, turning waist & head, shoulders that fold out to the sides & turn and bending & ball jointed elbows. He's got 5mm peg hole hands, a 5mm peg hole on each wrist and a 5mm peg hole on his back so lots of options for his weapon and Hand/Foot/Gun.

So what's wrong with him then? It's how his chest and waist are connected. I'll attempt to describe it to you:

The lower back of the body is linked to the middle of the waist by a plate that is hinged at each end. Intuition says that the plate should fold flat between the waist and the body. It doesn't. Moulded detail on the underside of the body holds it at a diagonal angle going 45 degrees down and forward. Another piece of detailing on the under side of the body is designed to recess into the top of the plate holding it in place with a clip on the back of the waist stopping the plate from folding flat. Neither does a sufficient job at holding the waist in place meaning Brawl just flops around in the middle, chronically unstable in robot mode.

To make matters worse it's hard to get sufficient purchase on the waist piece to get it's hinge to turn as the waist hinge is far stuffer than the hips' ball joints which inevitably turn first.

A complete disaster. A U shaped piece going up both sides of the body and having the waist attached underneath would have done the job far, far better.

Transformation: this caused me some difficulty but I think I'm sorted now! Rotate the waist through 180 degrees so the hole on the back of the waist faces forward. Fold Brawl's head down and fold the turret up over it. Fold the waist behind the robots back. Pull the lower arm back at the elbow and then fold it forwards so the tank treads meet. Fold the arm back, so the front of the treads faces out of the chest/front of the tank, then fold each tread up and out to the sides. Pop each knee out of the inside of the top of the lower leg: note how just bellow the knee is a slot that fits over a tab on the front and back of the knee to stabilise the robot legs. Fold the knee down, there's a bar connecting it to the side of the leg, so it sits above the ankles and tab the legs together. Fold the tank treads down into place locking into their rear formed by the legs. Fold the turret back onto the middle of the tank. Slot the gun into place as the tank's gun barrel.

This looks a pretty decent and solid deluxe tank so lets proceed straight to Phil's Tank Test:

Does the gun barrel raise?: YES! A pair of very shallow pegs hold it in place allowing to to raise and be removed. So it can do something the original Brawl can't.


Does the turret turn?: Regretfully not. And it could on the original so this is a major minus point. Could they have made it turn? Yes, easily. The Turret is attached by two struts, hinged at either end, which allow the turret to move forward and back. Putting a turntable at the top end would have been easy. Another let down.

There's peg holes on each side of the vehicle for his HFG but, like Rook, it also has a 5mm socket underneath that allows for it to be mounted further back on the turret on a fold up 5mm peg. The back of the vehicle is slightly unstable due to the articulation in the feet it's made out of and the thinness and lack of height of the one tab that holds them together.

So a better vehicle mode, but one that could have been a lot, lot better.

Arm Mode: Start from robot mode and fold Brawl's head back then the tank turret up over it. Fold the arms in to form the side of the tank body. Swing the legs down behind the tank body, with the peg hole in the bottom of the waist facing out the bottom of the tank. Peg the legs together and insert his HFG into the hole at the bottom of the legs.

There are better Combiner Wars arms: the robot waist is limited in movement depriving you of the bicep swivel so the only way for the lower arm to move is in towards the body. The shoulder and wrist joints still work fine though.

Leg Mode: Take the tank mode, fold the combiner connector out the front of the vehicle then fold the rear of the vehicle/robot feet underneath to expose the socket for the HFG. Don't get confused and plug the HFG straight into the back of the vehicle that'll result in a leg that's too long to be used with anyone, except perhaps Dragstrip who also has an extension on the back of his vehicle mode that needs folding away.

Much better leg, rock solid. It's fortunate that Brawl is nearly always used as a leg on Bruticus!

A grave disappointment. Could have been so much better. It'll be remaining in Bruticus leg mode from now on.

Generation 2 Brawl

The first Brawl repaint that will be available comes in the G2 Bruticus boxsert and swaps Brawl's greeny brown for bright green, adding the traditional G2 purple camouflage and his dark grey for purple.

It remains to be seen if the waist will be fixed. Judging by the mistransformed waist in the official pictures I'd suggest not!

Botcon 2016 Ramhorn

Brawl's next planned outing is as a new version of Tripedicus' Ramhorn. Um, yes. There's some oddities in this Botcon set alright. A grey and red repaint of Brawl, with a bespoke head, the gun is retooled into a drill which looks like it's lost the ability to mount on the front of the turret and now features a 5mm peg hole to go onto the folded down peg at the rear of the turret. Um .... I'd have kept it mounted at the front of the turret and folded that forwards. Now it just looks a mess!

Future Repaints

Settle in: Brawl has previously been repainted as Operration Combination Destron Sandstorm in white, Car Robots Danger in a sand colour with brown camouflage, Robots in Disguise Armorhide in pale blue with black camouflage, Robots in Disguise Wal*Mart Armorhide in a grey, black & white urban/artic camouflage and Universe Armorhide in a sand colour with a different brown camouflage!

Numerous other Transformers Tanks exist: There's a reasonable chance the fanclub might use him as a Quake to complete their Decepticon dual Targetmasters combiner set.

The existence of Ramhorn has prompted speculation that Brawl might be used to make Nosecone to go with Combiner Wars Scattorshot as part of a Combiner Wars version of Computron.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Unite Warriors Groove

Unite Warriors Groove

All four of the Combiner Wars interpretations of the 1986 combiners initially featured some form of compromise: Superion had Alpha Bravo instead of Slingshot and Menasor had Offroad instead of Wildrider. Both of these were remedied in the Unite Warrior versions of the toys by recolouring an existing limb robot and these recolours were in turn released as western exclusives. For Bruticus and Defensor something different happened: Bruticus uses a green Firefly as Blastoff instead of creating a new toy for the shuttle mode. Defensor replaces Groove as a limb with Rook relegating the motorcycle to a Legends class piece of add chest armour. We don't yet know for sure what Takara will do with Bruticus but TFYuki has been tweeting Blast Off Space shuttle hints. With the Unite Defensor set we have got our long awaited Combiner Wars limb Groove.

Groove retains his white police motorcycle design but is somewhat sleeker than he has been before. His windshield is a clear blue with clear red lights to either side. Neither windshield, handlebars or front forks turn. The arms form the engines under the saddle, with one forearm possessing a fold down stand for the motorbike. The saddle itself has a 5mm peg hole on it and looks to be the mounting point for his HandFootGun in vehicle mode and his HFG looks to be inherited from Blades, Alpha Bravo and Vortex. In addition to the HFG he has two silver grey paint over clear plastic handguns pegging into the rear of the vehicle to form his Twin Vaporators.

Transformation: start from motorcycle mode. Rotate the front of the motorbike through 90 degrees so that the wheel points up and then fold onto the saddle. Unfold the arms so they're along the side of the motorbike, with the top of the fist hole pointing down. Fold the rear of the saddle & bike back and fold the upper legs out, just like Alpha Bravo, closing the rear of the bike up to form the lower legs. Separate the legs and fold the wheel halves out to each side. Rotate 180 degrees at the waist and finish by putting his guns into his fists

It's Groove, updated. Just looking at it there's nothing to complain about. In fact he's got something no other Combiner Wars toy has: Lightpiped eyes!The entire back of his head is a massive clear plastic panel feeding through to his eyes which are tinted yellow. In fact all the different colours of clear plastic on the toy, and there are several, appear to be tints over clear plastic. Articulation is superb: bending knees & elbows, rotating thighs & biceps, ball jointed shoulders & hips, rotating waist and ball jointed head. Top stuff. My one complaint is there's no obvious place for the HFG in this mode but since his Twin Vaporators each have a 5mm peg hole you con do some weapons combination

Leg Mode: Start from motorcycle mode and begin with the first steps of the robot mode Transformation. Rotate the front of the motorbike through 90 degrees so that the wheel points up and then fold onto the saddle. Unfold the arms so they're along the side of the motorbike, with the top of the fist hole pointing down, and fold down tabbing onto the rear of the bike. Put the HFG into foot mode and peg into the rear of the bike. Stand on the foot and attach.

Very solid leg mode, no chance of this coming to bits like Dead End and his derivatives. Provides the usual articulation for the combined robot it's part of: thigh swivel, bending knee and rotating ankle.

Arm Mode: Start from robot mode, fold the arms down into the sides and then rotate each arm 180s degrees out to the side and back so they point out the back of the robot alongside the front of the bike. Fold the head back into the bike's saddle bringing the combiner connector out the chest. Tab the legs together and insert the HFG in hand mode into the back of the bike/underside of the feet.

Usual arm mode articulation here too: The connector provides the rotating shoulder and raising out to the side while the robot's waist is now a bicep swivel and the hips/knees are a double bending elbow with the hand peg providing the wrist swivel. Again, No complaints.

Groove's a decent update of the original and his lightpiping puts him a cut above the other Combiner Wars limbs. If you've bought another Combiner Wars limb you'll know what to expect in robot mode and his motorcycle mode is better than some I've seen over the years.

All in all it's a pretty good package. The problem is the only way to get him is to buy Unite Defensor and that's proving too big a pill to swallow for some fans who've already bought the Combiner Wars version. If it helps sway you I think my Unite Hotspot holds together in torso mode far better than Combiner Wars Hotspot does.

As yet no western release and no repaint/remould of Groove has been announced.

Somewhat amusingly the Unite Defensor packaging comes with an exclusive coin ..... whose container is shaped like the chest armour formed from Combiner Wars Legends Groove!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Adventure Override & Runabout

What's in the box?

It's Override & Runabout!

Override cannot ride Groove that well :-(

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

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 subtle remoulding.

His app sticker comes off easy, no indent underneath, but I needed to clean some adhesive off afterwards

I almost feel he could have do with a bright red spoiler instead of grey! But the grey is better than the blue he was originally shown with and also darker than in the publicity photos.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Combiner Wars Ironhide


In early 2015 a rumour emerged that both Prowl & Ironhide would feature in Combiner Wars. When Off Road was released his comic featured a version with Ironhide's head. Meanwhile First Aid's comic showed a version of his toy with a Prowl like head which ties in with his appearance in a recent issue of the comic formerly known as RID.

In early May 2015 this version of the Optimus Maximus image escaped resolving the dilemma by revealing that Ironhide would be a red version of Off Road. While the original Ironhide was a van but he's been a pickup truck quite frequently since his G2 Gobot version and most younger fans would probably think of Ironhide as a truck due his Movie toys which, although usually black, have occasionally been red. The problem here is that Ironhide's classics toy, Universe Ironhide, is generally held to be one of the worst in the entire classics range and sorely in need of a second go to get it right. Many will see this as a wasted opportunity to achieve this but I'm not sure using the First Aid version of the toy would have quite hit the spot either, lacking the smoother lines inherited from his Diaclone Onebox Cherry Vanette ancestor. Diaclone itself does have it's own red pickup, a version of the Hilux wrecker that became Hoist. I'd also be failing in my duty if I didn't point out that it was a red Hilux pickup that Top Gear tried to destroy but failed and has been adorning their studio ever since!

If you've got Off Road, and of all the Combiner Wars toys I'm most familiar with him since he's stood on my desk since his divorce from the Stunticons, this is that toy in red with a new head. The new head concerns me: I've accidentally popped it off it's ball joint twice now transforming it something I don't remember doing with Offroad or First Aid. Apart from that there's no remoulding but the panels on the sides of the chest have been sympathetically repainted to evoke the chest covering window the original had. He comes with the same axe and hand weapon which turns into combined mode foot/gun as his predecessors: he could really have done with a gun but you'll probably have a redundant Alpha Bravo in your collection by now so steal one from him.

If you can get over this not being a van and not having a windscreen across the chest this is a pretty good Ironhide, a better toy than the Universe version by a long long way.


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 pickup or something approximating his camper element. Botcon 2015 solved this one by revealing Trailbreaker is the Offroad mould with a new head and a retooled right arm that looses the fist for and end of arm connector like the original Trailbreaker had to attach his fists and missiles.

Now Trailbreaker is a personal favourite and having waited for ages we've now had two decent deluxe versions in 3 and a bit years!

Future repaints

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!

If you do Trailbreaker from this mould then Hoist is an obvious choice but would need something put onto Off Road's flatbed to approximate his towing gear. However I've seen it suggested that the combined mode foot can be used as towing gear.

Longer term I could see Offroad serving as Kup or possibly Hoist & Hubcap in a Machine Wars themed set. Another tow truck possibility is Towline in a Robots in Disguise set with the First Aid version of the toy repainted as X-Brawn.

First Aid MIGHT lend itself to being used as Ratchet if Combiner Wars goes for broke and tries to do all 16 Diaclone car Autobots. However the same comments I made in relation to Ironhide with the design not fitting with smoother lines of the Diaclone design apply here too. And, bar a new head, I'm not sure how to repaint First Aid to make it different enough but still Ratchet.

Combiner Wars Mirage


Many years ago Classics Mirage was repainted as Universe Dragstrip: now the favour is returned with this blue and white repaint of the Dragstrip mould! At the start of March 2015 The Entertainer used a promotional banner on their website, a larger version of UK toyfair promo art seen in January, which showed the Autobot combiner with what appears to be the a Mirage coloured Dragstrip limb as the left arm. Interestingly the repaints of Dragstrip and Breakdown appear to have effectively swapped their colour schemes to become Mirage & Sunstreaker!

This isn't without it's problems though. To date every version of Mirage has had it's car nose on it's chest: here the nose is on the robot's back. Given that Mirage was the obvious repaint for Dragstrip I'd have thought this feature might have built into the original design? Or, given that Mirage appears to be Dragstrip's only repaint in the main Combiner Wars line, he might have got some retooling budget to make it possible? They've done their best to disguise it by making the combiner connector down the centre of his chest blue but that in turn means his the only member of the team not to have a grey combining peg which looks odd too in the combined form!

A really good go at a Mirage repaint given the toy mould. However could have been so much better with the right remoulding or different initial deign choices.

G2 Dragstrip

Original Dragstrip has a cancelled Generation 2 repaint which would I thought would make a nice convention exclusive down the line. Turns out he's going in a G2 Menasor set which is an internet shared exclusive.

Future Repaints

Not a repaint as such, more a missing repaint. Two Stunticons are reused in Victorion, with Breakdown becoming Jumpstream and the overused Dead-End, in his eight appearance, being turned into Dust Up. Surely another outing for the underused Dragstrip would be in order instead?

There's been a few Generation 2 version planned in Combiner Wars but I'd be surprised to see a G2 Mirage on the shelves! The only other real, non Mirage, Autobot race car I can think of is RID Skid-Z though I suppose pulling double duty as Mirage & Prowl in a Machine Wars themed combiner set might also be possible!

Combiner Wars Sunstreaker


The first mention of a Combiner Wars Sunstreaker was in December 2015 when his name popped up on a set of store computer listing. At the start of March 2015 The Entertainer used a promotional banner on their website, a larger version of UK toyfair promo art seen in January, which showed the Autobot combiner with what appears to be the Dragstrip from Mirage limb as the left arm. Interestingly the repaints of Dragstrip and Breakdown appear to have effectively swapped their colour schemes to become Mirage & Sunstreaker!

It's been a while since I last had Breakdown in robot mode: inevitably combineritus has struck and he's been Menasor's left leg ever since Menasor was assembled. I'd forgotten quite how much I disliked the robot hips until I opened Sunstreaker up! He comes in robot mode and as you'd expect his colours are mainly yellow and black with the traditional dab of red paint on each shoulder. The only new piece here is the head, which isn't a bad Sunstreaker. I feel he could have done with a new chest as the one he's inherited from Breakdown isn't screaming Sunstreaker roof at me. If anything the chest details look more like lightbars suggesting Sunstreaker's Police Car repaint. On the reverse of the bonnet, now Sunstreaker's back, is a 5mm peg hole which allows you to mount the combined mode hand//foot there to act as Sunstreaker's jet pack. He comes with a silver version of Breakdown's sword: an odd choice to start with and still an odd choice here. Sunstreaker benefits from not having a defined G1 handgun here so you could use it with him without feeling it's substituting for something else but equally he's never felt like a Swordsman. My only other real complaint is that he doesn't feel quite tall enough and could benefit from longer legs.

Sunstreaker's car mode is the expected yellow not quite a Lamborghini. However they've gone a bit mad with the red paint here going right round the rear wheel arches with it. I'm convinced the red stickers on the original Sunstreaker are a mistake, and should have been yellow so this annoys me hugely here. The spoiler is also grey, a moulding necessity as it appears to have been cast on the same frame as his upper legs. A pity it wasn't on the body frame and thus could have been yellow. The combined mode weapon mounts on the back of the car, via a tab in the thumb meshing into a slot on the rear of the spoiler to form his Supercharger which is a nice effort but looks somewhat oversized here.

Sunstreakers are always welcome as there's been plenty of occasions when he's missed out when his brother Sideswipe has got a toy. This isn't the worst try I've seen either.

Generation 2 Breakdown

Having got a Breakdown, I thought it an inevitability that the Transformers Collectors Club will repaint it as G2 Breakdown like they did with the universe version. However it appears an entireG2 Menasor set will be released in 2016 as a shared internet exclusive!


The Breakdown mould also returns as Victorion member Jumpstream where it receives a new head, chest plate and weapon.

Future Repaints

Most of the time a remould on a toy is to change it's appearance. However a remould to how this toy transforms would make the world of difference. I'd have the bonnet hinged at it's base, connected to the neck plate which is then connected to a hinge at the top, slightly covered by the windscreen. Result: a bonnet that will still fold back, for combined mode, but one that will also fold forward onto the chest to make Sideswipe. If you're doing Sunstreaker, you HAVE to do Sideswipe. That would then give us Red Alert as an EASY repaint and also things like G2 Sideswipe, Deep Cover and Clamp Down. Part of me thinks that Tigertrack wouldn't be worth doing but the thought of having TWO almost identical yellow Lambo that turn into different robots is quite tempting! See also red Diaclone Countach LP500S Super Tuning and Police Car Diaclone Countach LP500S Super Tuning.

Combiner Wars Prowl


It's probably fair to say that by this stage of the game you know what you're going to get with a version of the Dead End mould. The problem with Prowl is that he and Streetwise are both Police Cars. Usually a Police Car repaint is easy: paint it white and slap some lightbars on it: How do you repaint a police car as a police car? It turns out the solution is to think clearly about how you're painting the first version. Streetwise was an off white colour, with red and blue detailing. By doing a pure white police car this time, with black detailing, you're automatically off to a good start. Then there's the head: they've got Prowl spot on. This was a head worth doing right because it's VERY important to the original character and, if Hasbro play their cards right, there's a few more reuses of it to come. The head being right also helps draw your attention away from the chest: normally a Prowl chest if the front of the car, sticking outwards. Here it's a flat panel, admittedly moulded to look like the front of the car, flat against the body and covering the combiner connector. It does the job but I'd have quite liked to see a further set of mods that allowed the car bonnet to fold forward over the head and become his chest.

Prowl functions just the same as previous versions of this toy as a limb. However his release does mean the the Dead End mould is the first Combiner Wars limb to FOUR versions meaning you can make a combiner with just Dead End limbs!

The Dead End mould will also be the first to TWO combiners with the same limbs when Smokescreen, Victorion Dustup, G2 Dead End & G2 Brakeneckare released!

000_0316 000_0314

The release of Prowl with Battle Core Optimus Prime means we're also in a position to produce an all white combined robot!

I'd thought Prowl's gun would both me but it doesn't..... yet. I have researched 3P versions of the original Prowl gun with a 5mm peg though! I'm liking what we've got a lot. Probably the best of the Autobot wave.

Future Repaints

There's a massive FOUR versions of this toy coming we already know about: Victorion Dustup, G2 Dead End, G2 Brakeneck and Smokescreen!

Beyond that.... There's always Prowl & Smokescreen's Fairlady Z brother Bluestreak and I wouldn't put it past Hasbro doing all silver, Anime and blue versions of him at some point. Design wise the Dead end mould is probably the closest thing we have for making a Combiner Wars version of Jazz and is also a contender for making the potentially difficult Skids. Then, given we know G2 Superion & Menasor are coming, it's pretty likely we might see a G2 Defensor with Groove. So by the time we're done we could be well on our way to a third all Dead End limb combiner!

Combiner Wars Battle Core Optimus Prime & Optimus Maximus

Battle Core Optimus Prime & Optimus Maximus

I had said I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the Combiner Wars limb bots being repainted as 1984/5 Autobots to accompany Optimus, with Dragstrip as Mirage is an obvious one, and sure enough in December 2012 Wal*Mart's computer leaked the names of four toys that looked like they fitted this bill: Mirage, Sunstreaker, Ironhide & Prowl. At that point they were assumed to go with the existing Optimus Prime toy but in mid January this piece of toyfair promo art emerged seemingly showing a white Optimus Prime redeco. At that point rumours had been circulating for a while of a new Ultra Magnus toy for 2015 and everyone knows that a white Optimus Prime is Ultra Magnus. However at the start of March a new name appeared: Optimus Maximus and shortly after a larger version of the promo art showed up on the Entertainer's website showing the white Prime combined with the Autobot repaints.

The name Optimus Maximus isn't new: it was used before on a Transformers Prime battle mech for Optimus Prime. The Maximus suffix does have combining connotations though. During Energon three combiners bore it: Superion Maximus, Bruticus Maximus and Constructicon Maximus and it was also later used on the poorly named club exclusive Nexus Maximus.

However at Botcon 2015 it was revealed that the Voyager itself was called Battle Core Optimus Prime while the combined form was Optimus Maximus.

So why a different name for a white Prime instead of Ultra Magnus? The main reason would appear to be that there is another Ultra Magnus toy due out at the same time. Personally I think this is a big missed opportunity to do a white Prime cab that when transformed forms the core of a Combiner with Ultra Magnus' super mode head. Throw in a new shield for the Voyager robot to use that then became a new red chest plate for Magnus and you're on to a winner. 3P companies take note: I have money for you for these items to convert my Optimus Maximus into Ultra Magnus.

The Botcon pictures also revealed the toy had a new head: a traditional Optimus sculpt with a crest on it, not unlike Star Convoy, but put the crest together with the colours and I'm reminded of Brave Police J-Decker. And since I'm now thinking Police Trucks Energon Checkpoint, another robot with a crest, also pops into mind.

Pictures don't tell the whole story as I found out when I got the toy. I had a suspicion that the new head might be fix the problems moving the head on the original version of the toy. It wasn't something I had noticed at the review stage but yes it the original Optimus head is very stuck and I'm told likely to break if you turn it. The new head turns freely though. Functionally he seems identical to the earlier Voyager robot with only the guns, which now have painted handles over white plastic, catching my eye.

The combined mode is where the changes in the toy become noticeable and they're all functional ones. Firstly the ratchets in his hips have been retooled to give a better range of movement. Where before the lower legs pointed inward in their neutral position they now point nearly straight down. This makes posing the combined robot, even in neutral positions, an awful lot easier. See This thread on the 2005 boards for pictures including comparison with the original.

000_0309 000_0310

As can be seen by the combined mode images Optimus Maximus has his own version of Blackjack, Legends Rodimus. In an earlier version of this review I said

I await to see if the connection between the two has been improved but don't hold out much hope.
Well colour me surprised but the connection is a LOT better here, to the point where I've been able to attach the Legend figure, tip the toy so the chest points down, shake it and the Legend has remained attached.

I've found myself liking Battle Core Optimus a lot more than I suspected I would, but that's mainly down to him having a load of fixes to problems the previous moulds have had. Take that away and he's a white repaint who really should have had some extra work to become Ultra Magnus.

000_0312 000_0314

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus

Generations Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus

New versions of Ultra Magnus tend to fall into three camps: All white, like Battle in a Box or Classics were the most common for a while. Recently all new truck forms have been prevalent like Animated or Prime. But to me Ultra Magnus is a car transporter that turns into a large robot that isn't an Optimus Prime repaint. Yes the White Prime was part of the original toy but in the comics and cartoon that never featured. Car Transporter Magnus are rare: there's the Car Robots/Robots in Disguise version and the Titanium but really that was it till last year when Masterpiece Ultra Magnus was released. However at that point rumours were already in circulation hat there was a Generations Leader toy due in 2015 and there was much rejoicing when he was revealed at toyfair 2015.

Ultra Magnus comes almost in robot mode: out the box you need to rock his feet forward or they'll be difficulty standing him. His arms have been positioned so they'll fit into the box, both need a push up into the shoulders or you'll be left with an odd sideways joint on the upper arm that doesn't make sense. In the box with him are a missile pod that 5mm peg into shoulder and two guns which in theory he should be able to hold.

The other extra component in the box is Minimus Ambus, a tiny version of the robot that's inside the Ultra Magnus armour in the More Than Meets The Eye comic. This element has caused some controversy mainly because he's in this toy but a more traditional Magnus element isn't. He comes in car mode: to transform him into robot fold the front of the car forward to form the lower legs and expose the upper legs. Unpeg the sides of the car to form the arms. Fold the rear of the car forward and stand. As small Transformers go Minimus is tinsy tiny, waaay smaller than an old style legend. He's a comparable size to the Minicon companions that were appearing with the Generations Legends. I'd say his articulation was good for his size, with ball jointed shoulders & hips and hinged knees but that would be failing to take into account that most of the ball joints on mine appear to be made of plasticine and fall apart as soon as I look at them funny! Comparatively the hinges on his back plate are far, far too stiff.

Back to the larger toy: to transform to robot mode start by removing all the weapons. Lower the chest plate and then splitting the vehicle cab in two revealing where Minimus Ambus sits in Magnus' robot mode. Unfortunately the space is needed in truck mode for other things so he can't drive it and will need removing. Fold Magnus' head down into this space, close the cab halves and fold the roof panel down. Put the robot into a sitting position, it's not needed now but will make things a lot easier later. Fold the body back at the waist. Fold the cab up 90 degrees so it's sitting where the head was with the cab's front pair of wheels facing you. Rotate the Cab 180 degrees so the top of the cab faces you and he wheels face away, now on the same side as the rear pairs of cab wheels. Open the doors on the back of the leg and fold down behind the ankles. Pull the sides of the lower leg out slightly and rotate down 90 degrees, inserting the tab just bellow the knee into the side pane. Bring the legs together and fold the chest panel down into the rear of the trailer. Tab the red leg door panels into place as the sides of the toy. Pull both arms right the way through the shoulders, just like you would on the original Magnus toy. Fold the forearm armour forwards so it covers the hands. Hmm, can't really see why this doesn't just slide. Swing the shoulders up so the arms are above the toy and tab them together to form the top deck of the car transporter. Fold the arms back and tab them into the sides of the leg. Pull the cab forwards. Attach the missile launchers to the peg holes at the front of the transporter and

While not a complex transformation it's annoying as there's lots of issues with clearance that make certain points, notably folding the chest panel into place on the car deck, rather difficult.

Magnus' vehicle mode is a reinvention of his classic car transporter design in broadly the same colours as the original toy. The trailer is hauled by a 6 wheeled white cab but unlike nearly every other Transformers Truck I can think of the cab is actually attached to the trailer at the hitch point. The cab pivots at the hitch just over 90 degrees to each side. It's a flat fronted cab - hurrah, I really don't like Prime and Magnus with long nosed cabs - but the top is more rounded than the traditional design. The front and lower deck sides of the trailer are red with a white platform in between. The top of the front and all of the rear is clue with the upper deck being made of the white plastic of the arms. The upper deck is tabbed in at the rear but you can tease the tabs out allowing the upper deck to be lowered halfway, at the elbows, or all the way, from what was the shoulder joints. The ramp at the rear of the trailer folds down, again it's tabbed in so will need teasing out, but the rear doesn't quite touch the floor due to moulded detail on the underside so you can't easily roll cars up it onto the trailer. In fact loading cars onto the trailer is where the trouble really sets in for this mode....

Ultra Magnus is a car transporter, so you expect him to be able to transport cars. In the years since the original Ultra Magnus was released Autobot cars have somewhat grown in size. Ultra Magnus hasn't, in fact his trailer is a little bit shorter than the original. As a consequence you can only fit one deluxe car on each deck. You can fit two Generations Legends onto the deck but they don't look wide enough. You feel the toy does need to be larger to accommodate thedeluxe cars.

To transform back to robot mode start by removing the missile pods and weapons. Pop the top deck out of the rear of the toy and fold forward. Fold the sides of the toy back, and pull the robot chest up from the back of the toy. Fold the sides of the back of the transporter forward and down to become the legs sides and tab into place. Fold the trailer doors up to form the front of the legs and tab into place. Fold the feet out from under the truck/back of the legs and pull forward. Fold the sides of the truck up to become the rear of the legs and tab into place. Swing the legs down under the waist. Separate the top deck in two down the middle to form the amrs and fold the shoulderss out to the sides. Push the cab back so all the flatbed is under the front of the trailer. Rotate the cab on it's axis so the wheels at the front point up away from the wheels on the back. Fold the cab down onto the front of the trailer and then fold the cab and front of the trailer so they sit on the robot's waist. Open the front halves of the cab and fold the head out. Seat Minimus Ambus in the cab, close the cab halves and fold up the robot chest. Push the arms up into the shoulders. Fold the forearm armour back exposing the hands. Peg the missile launchers into the shoulders and put the guns into his hands.

In robot mode Ultra Magnus looks pretty much as you'd expect: all the distinguishing features from the original are there. There are some noticeable differences though: the chest, while similar to the original, has his More Than Meets The Eye stylised design which seems to involve a face on the chest. A similar motif is present on several of the Autobot Pretenders, perhaps serving here as a hint that Magnus contained another robot inside. His missile launchers on his shoulders, which were previously functional firing a single missile, are now just for decoration with two missiles moulded in place. Finally the upper legs are whit where previously they were the red of the body. This has caused some comment by fans online as his More Than Meets The Eye appearances, on which this toy is based, generally colours them red while most fictional appearances have depicted them as white.

What this Ultra Magnus has really got going for it over the original is articulation. Like the original the arms rotate at the shoulders, have a bicep swivel and bend at the elbow. In addition the fingers open on the hands and the arms fold to the side at shoulders, which is facilitated by the shoulder side panels also being able to swing up. The head turns to the side, which was a real surprise to me given how the transformation works by having it attached to a strut thatcomes out the back of the head. There's no waist joint, which i would have liked, but from the waist downwards this new version really wins over the original: universal hip joints, thigh swivels, knees and bending ankles. He will take a kneeling pose just fine :-)

Apart from the waist the most obvious missing point of articulation is the wrist. The fingers are a major problem here: the guns/hands don't work well together. Hands of the articulated fingers variety never work well for me, I much prefer 5mm peg holes in fists. Unlike some other toys with articulated hands, Cybertron Optimus Prime or Generations Titan Metroplex for example, there's no way to steady the weapon by pegging it into the palm. Even worse the handle is a bad fit into the hand. It might sit better in the hand if the trigger was a little shorter. However there does appear to be a sweet spot where they sit in the hands just fine: the lip on the underside of the handle is just tucked under the fingers. The lower end of the rear of the handle is resting against the palm. The bottom of the trigger is resting on the index finger. The grip is secure enough that I can pick Magnus up, shake him from side to side and the guns stay in place.

However I *can* see why the hands have fingers and no wrist swivels and that all ties in with the weapons' alternate mode. The back of the larger gun is a 5mm peg which plugs into the barrel of the other gun. The missile launchers the peg into the sides of the other gun to form a hammer, similar to those seen on Magnus toys since the Animated Version. The hand then needs to open to hold the hammer's shaft. The hand itself can't grasp the shaft so the hammer is supported by a pair of rings fitting either side of a odd slot cut in the underside of Magnus' forearm armour. This reliance on the slot/rings for a support make it clear that the hammer wouldn't really work with a wrist swivel. Maybe a swivel bellow the elbow would have been useful?

Speaking of the forearm armour.... Why the silly joint in the transformation using a piece of plastic pivoted at both ends? Wrap the armour right the way round the arm and have it slide! The only reason I can see for doing it like it easy is to be different from the original.

So it would appear that the reason for the hands that can't hold the guns and the lack of wrist swivel is the hammer. Is it's existence a worth exchange for their loss? I'm not sure. Maybe the hammer could have been constructed differently with 5mm pegs going into holes on either side of the hand. But then the hammer wouldn't have existed as a separate entity without the hand....

A few miscellaneous weapons observations: If you don't want Magnus to hold his weapons then there's peg holes at the top and bottom of his lower leg to store them in. If you're still having problems with Magnus holding the gun then put the gun that forms the top of the hammer in his hand as you would in Hammer mode and peg the other gun into one of the holes meant for the missile launchers.And if you're missing the missile launchers in hammer mode then the 5mm sockets in his shoulders will also accommodate the launchers from the original Magnus launchers.

This toy has a lot of faults, most of them minor but they do stack up. Then there's a whole load of things about it which are very VERY annoying! The robot it fab ... but could have been better if it could hold it's weapons easier. The car transporter works by itself, but a car transporter is meant to work with other toys and this one doesn't really. The cab doesn't detach and form a robot.

But it is such a nice toy. It's fun to play with a transform.

I love it.

But it could be better....

Ultra Magnus was released May 2015 and was solid packed at 2 per case. At the time of writing he has not been seen on sale in the UK

Transformers Legends Ultra Magnus with Alpha Trion

Photos that have surfaced of Transformers Legends Ultra Magnus show it differs from the western version in a number of ways:
* The Upper legs are red, not white, like the original toy.

* The guns are white, not black, like the original toy.

* the front of the flatbed is blue, not red.

* the hubcaps are painted silver.

* Minimus Ambus has been repainted purple to become cartoon character Alpha Trion.

This is one of those Japanese toys where it's not clear which version is better, it's just different!

LG14 Ultra Magnus is due for release in September 2015.

Future Repaints

There are two obvious repaints for this toy. The first is as Diaclone Powered Convoy, Magnus' Diaclone Predecessor, whose colour scheme was reused as Movie Preview Ultra Magnus. The Diaclone toy has an additional accessory in the form of the Super Buggy which make an ideal red repaint for Minimus Ambus.

Interestingly while Superbuggy is red, and that's how people picture it, it wouldn't be red on a normal Transformers Ultra Magnus, it's be blue! On the Diaclone version it's the same colour as Magnus' forearms, shoulders, chest armour and head. when you look at the Diaclone toy it also becomes obvious that the Diaclone version has FOUR colours of plastic as opposed to Magnus' three! Two of them are the same on the Transformers version:

Parts Diaclone Transformers
Trailer Base/Robot Body Silver Red
Trailer Upper Deck & Doors, Robot Waist Black White
Trailer Supports/Robot Feet & Chest Plate Dark Blue Pale Blue
Forearms, Head & Shoulders Red Pale Blue

The other colour scheme which has been used on an Ultra Magnus repaint is Matrix Glow Ultra Magnus which would involve casting the toy in yellow.

For a substantial remoulding two other toys suggest themselves: The first is Power Master Optimus Prime who has never had a proper update. Generations Magnus' cab ends up in the right place but the whole trailer would need retooling. I'm not sure how this toy would go down wit a non transforming cab though. The other option is a perennial truck repaint request, 1992's Euro exclusive Thunderclash, which has recently appeared in More Than Meets The Eye and received a homage in Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Combiner Wars Quickslinger (Slingshot)

See the Firefly review for more on the previous version of this toy.


Even when Slingshot was left out of the original configuration of Combiner Wars Superion in favour of the the helicopter Alpha Bravo not all hope was lost: looking carefully at Firefly's jet mode it strongly resembles the missing original Aerialbot both looking like Harrier Jump Jets.

On 9th January 2015 Takara teased their Superion with 5 jets. On the 22nd January Unite Warriors Superion was revealed containing a white repaint of Firefly as Slingshot. I promptly pre ordered a set with HLJ, despite already having the other four toys, but later the same day a TRU computer listing for Slingshot & Wildrider was found. On the 23rd of March a Diamond website listing for Quickslinger & Brake-Neck, assumed to be the same toys under a different name, was located. The next day Hasbro teased them on their Facebook page before officially revealing them the day after. At midday EST on the 30th April an embargo was listed and many websites revealed galleries and availability information for Quickslinger and Brake-Neck. By then however certain online retailers who source their stock in the far east had already received their stock and dispatched them. My set from Kapow toys arrived May 2nd!

If you've got Firefly you know exactly what you're getting: this is the original toy with all the red, bar the chest, and all the grey turned white. The legs, shoulder joints, and combiner connector are now black. The head is a new mould much close to the original Slingshot.

Save for some black paint covering the panels on the outside of the fist this is pretty much dead on what you want and completes my Superion.

Future Repaints

The obvious repaint for most Aerialbots is as their G2 counterparts. G2 Fireflight however looks very much like his original version, with the exception of some detail on the wings and a silver robot chest which is already hinted at here.

Quickslinger could be redone as the gold G2 Slingshot, though hopefully in a more resilient non GPS prone version!

Both are strong candidates for a Decepticon repaint, possibly as part of a larger sized Combiner Wars version of Sixwing. I find it incredible that 30 years after the first combiner was released we still haven't had a full sized Decepticon Air vehicle combiner, forms more aligned to the original forms of the 1984 Decepticons.

Combiner Wars Brake-Neck (Wildrider)

See the Dead End review for more on the previous versions of this toy.


Lots of fans were upset when Combiner Wars Superion was released with Alpha Bravo replacing Slingshot. This was tempered slightly when Unite Warriors Superion, including Slingshot repainted from Fireflight was announced. I already had Silverbolt and the three limbs released in the west and I still pre ordered one.

We already knew Menasor was shipping with Offroad replacing Wildrider so speculation turned to which Stunticon mould would provide the new version of Wildrider in the Japanese Menasor: Dead End or Breakdown? I could see the argument for Breakdown being used: Wildrider is more angular than Dead End but Breakdown's vehicle mode is easily identifiable as a Lamborghini so thought Dead End was probably going to be the one repainted.

On the 22nd of January 2015 a Toys R Us listing for Slingshot & Wildrider was found, leading to speculation that there would be a western release of the limb recolours as an exclusive. The long suspected Japanese version of Wildrider using Dead End was revealed in a magazine on the 20th March. On 23rd March a Diamond listing for theses toys was found with Hasbro teasing them on Facebook the next day under the names Quickslinger and Break-Neck. The full versions were revealed the day after on 25th March by which time pre orders were opening up everywhere.

Although I get that for various reasons the name Wildrider and his persona might be wanted to be avoided the name Brake Neck seems a little odd given there's already a similarly named Breakdown on the Stunticon team.

Dead End becomes the first Combiner Wars mould to be used three times with Brake-Neck. Generally the car mode for Brake-Neck looks pretty good swapping Dead End's burgundy for grey/silver but the mid arm panels, coloured red, form part of the side of the vehicle and break up the grey body work. A little bit of paint to make the line of the top of the door the same colour wouldn't have gone amiss.

Transforming to robot mode reveals more colours. The Burgundy of Dead End's chest and chest panel are the only parts of that colour not to become silver/grey, they're more of a pale grey. The pale grey of the knees, waist and combiner wars connector become black. The darker grey of the upper legs, hands, mid arm pieces, neck and combiner connector become red. A new head, featuring Wildrider's signature spikes sticking out the side is cast in a similar colour to the car body with a painted red face.

Given that an exact car match for Wildrider was unavailable this is a pretty good attempt. The red breaking up the top of the door and not quite matching the rest of the red stripe does annoy me though!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Classics Legends Wave 3 Review: Cliffjumper, Skywarp & Ultra Magnus

On the first day of Philmas the postman brought to me six small robots from Hong Kong

Don't know how these got here to the UK so quickly when I only ordered them on Monday from Robot Kingdom in Hong Kong. And they dodged Customs!

Cliffjumper is the legend that's existed the longest abroad without making a western appearance: Henkei Cliff was released in 2009 in C-18 Minibot Attack Team with Beachcomber & Gong (Brawn)

Straight off the bat even before we get him out the packet we can see Cliffjumper has a larger Autobot symbol than his Henkei predecessor.

Once out another change is clearly revealed: all of Cliff's grey, including the tires, is now black. Sadly Cliffjumper has lost the red cuff paint app that Cliff had.

Vehicle mode shows the windows are more silver on Cliffjumper.

Like this, much prefer the black to the grey :-)

Mold group shot:

Universe BB, RTS Gold BB, EZ Collection BB
TRU DOTM Scanning pack, Dollar store variation, AoE/Classic Legion
TF GO EZ Collection, Henkei Cliff Classic Legion Cliffjumper

Like Cliffjumper, Skywarp has been available in Japan before as part of the Chronicle EZ Collection Wave 2 in 2011. Those who were clever bought in advance on the strength of a black and white picture, guessing and seeing how high Thundercracker went. Case sold out as soon as the colour picture surfaced and that was that as Skywarp copied his brother and then some. Demand for a western version increased when Thundercracker had a version with c-clip hands released as part of GDO Generations and then Starscream recieved the same upgrade as a dollar store variation.

In the packet Skywarp's paint apps appear to be a more blue purple than his EZ Collection counterpart.

That's confirmed out of the packet where we can see he's also lost the blue pueple paint app at the front of the legs. Although he has the modified hands and wing holes from GDO Thundercracker sadly, as AOE/Classic Legion Starscream led us to expect, lost his null rays. So if a 3p company/Shapeways designer could oblige us in grey, black and silver I'd be most pleased.

Jet mode looks FAB, the bluer stripe along the wing really works together with the full colour Decepticon symbols as opposed to the silver ones his EZ Collection version had. The Null Rays are really missed here. His engines have the same inexplicable hole through them as all the c-clip/3mm peg versions of this toy do.

Very nice, and great to finally have a western old fashioned Legend Thundercracker but NEEDS NULL RAYS!

Mold Group Shot:

RTS Starscream, EZ Collection 3 Starscream, EZ Collection 2 Thundercracker, EZ Collection 3 Skywarp
Gum/Metallic EZ Collection Starscream, TF GO EZ Collection Starscream, AOE/Classic Legion Starscream
Generation Dollar Store variant Starscream, Generations GDO Legend Thundercracker, AOE/Classic Legion Skywarp

RTS Legend Optimus was released in late 2010/early 2011. How has it taken FOUR YEARS to get it repainted in white in Ultra Magnus?

The artwork asks a different question: why has there never been an all white G1 Ultra Magnus super robot? Hasbro/Takara, I have money for you!

Robot mode shows that like the Target exclusive Classics Magnus Hasbro have been unwilling to completely go down the all white route. The colour used on the legs is grey. Love the blue faceplate, crest and windows. He has GDO Motormouth's c-clip hands but alas not his sword.

Vehicle mode: oh to swap the white of the wheels and the grey of the flatbed round! The middle tire is evidentally painted too which look too great. Almost tempted to get a spare Optimus and do a wheel swap.

Very grateful to finally get one of these but you can't help feeling he could have been better!

Mold Group Shot:

RTS Optimus, EZ Collection 1 Convoy, EZ Collection 2 G2 Convoy
Dollar Store Legend variant Optimus, TF GO EZ Collection Convoy, Gum/Metallic G2 Convoy, AOE/Classic Legion Optimus
GDO Motorbreath, Japanese AOE Promo clear Convoy, AOE Classic Legion Ultra Magnus

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Combiner Wars Motormaster & Menasor

See the Combiner Wars Optimus Prime Review for more on the first version of this toy.


I'll get the big bugbear out the way first: an evil Optimus Prime is not Motormaster. An Evil Optimus is Scourge or Nemesis Prime, which I prefer. The Evil Optimus is Motormaster thing started in 2007 with Classics Legend Menasor and continued with Generations Legend Motorbreath, both names used when Motormaster was unavailable but we know what they mean. The Classics Legend is a repaint of Legends of Cybertron Optimus: If they'd have done it using the full size Cybertron Optimus Prime I could have just about managed with the smaller robot being Motormaster and the larger powered up one Menasor.

My main objection for using Optimus for Motormaster is that the originals are different toys. Optimus' robot is formed from the cab, Motormaster from the cab and trailer. Motormaster's cab is black but the bulk of his body is silver grey, from the trailer, with the black cab forming the feet. The look of the two robots is totally different.

However in this world of extensive mould reuse I could see why they'd want to do it. The problem is I look at the toy and just see Optimus. The Truck cab is a dark silver grey and generally is the same shape as Optimus. There's some newly moulded panels on top and the shape of the radiator and side panels has slightly changed but side by side it's obvious they are the same toy.

Transformation between both of Motormaster's modes is the same as Optimus Prime's.

Robot mode is a little better but the head used for Motormaster is terrible, a block with a face on it! It might be his cartoon appearance but it looks rubbish. The major concession to the original Motormaster design is a new chest swapping Prime's fake windows for some sculpted detail panels. The problem is the general shape of the toy is exactly the same even down to some of the Prime details like the distinctive vented panels on his legs. He's got a new gun and a new sword in this mode which look distinctly odd with an odd latticework sculptured quality. They tab together and can be placed on the truck mode.

Your mileage may vary but in my opinion this is just a bad Optimus repaint. I'd prefer a white Prime as Ultra Magnus' inner robot or a black Nemesis Prime any day.


Motoromaster's Transformation to Menasor's chest is identical to Optimus Prime becoming Ultra Optimus. The sword and gun peg together to form a new larger sword which Menasor can hold using what was the gun's barrel.In chest mode we get a new black head, with poseable grey horns, a new opening chest and a new waist plate. Unfortunately the problems Prime had with his thigh plates not holding the legs stable in combined mode are much worse here and to compound the matter Motormaster's shoulders are very reluctant to stay locked together in Torso mode: the connection is very weak and they easily pop out when you move an arm. No attempt has been made at correcting the ratchet settings so the legs can point straight down in combined mode: you're again holding them under tension to keep them parted at the correct angle.

Menasor introduces a new element to the combined body transformation in the form of the Legends car Blackjack, an updated version of Motormaster's drone car which takes the name of a Micromaster Sports Car Patrol team member. Unfortunately what looked like a nice idea in the pictures turns into a nightmare when you have the toy in hand! Blackjack doesn't fit properly onto the the pages sticking out the combined robot's inner chest: the pegs taper at the end and Blackjack's holes to accommodate the pegs aren't that deep so as a result there's very little contact between peg and hole and he easily falls off.

Very disappointed.

This toy needed to be good for me to like it but it amplifies the flaws in the earlier versions and introduces some new ones as well. You'll buy it because you need the core for Menasor but it isn't as good as the original Optimus version.

Optimus Maximus

I had said I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the Combiner Wars limb bots being repainted as 1984/5 Autobots to accompany Optimus, with Dragstrip as Mirage is an obvious one, and sure enough in December 2012 Wal*Mart's computer has leaked the names of four toys that look like they fit this bill: Mirage, Sunstreaker, Ironhide & Prowl. At that point they were assumed to go with the existing Optimus Prime toy but in mid January this piece of toyfair promo art emerged seemingly showing a white Optimus Prime redeco. At that point rumours had been circulating for a while of a new Ultra Magnus toy for 2015 and everyone knows that a white Optimus Prime is Ultra Magnus. However at the start of March a new name appeared: Optimus Maximus and shortly after a larger version of the promo art showed up on the Entertainer's website showing the white Prime combined with the Autobot repaints.

The name Optimus Maximus isn't new: it was used before on a Transformers Prime battle mech for Optimus Prime. The Maximus suffix does have combining connotations though. During Energon three combiners bore it: Superion Maximus, Bruticus Maximus and Constructicon Maximus and it was also later used on the poorly named club exclusive Nexus Maximus.

So why a different name for a white Prime instead of Ultra Magnus? The main reason would appear to be that there is another Ultra Magnus toy due out at the same time. Personally I think this is a big missed opportunity to do a white Prime cab that when transformed forms the core of a Combiner with Ultra Magnus' super mode head. Throw in a new shield for the Voyager robot to use that then became a new red chest plate for Magnus and you're on to a winner. 3P companies take note: I have money for you for these items to convert my Optimus Maximus into Ultra Magnus.

As can be seen by the combined mode images Optimus Maximus has his own version of Blackjack, Legends Rodimus. I await to see if the connection between the two has been improved but don't hold out much hope.

Grand Scourge

This may take some explaining.....

Energon Optimus Prime, the most combiner orientated Optimus before the Combiner Wars Voyager, was released in Japan as Superlink Grand Convoy. Superlink Grand Convoy had a model kit version and that in turn was recoloured into Grand Scourge, which you can see a gallery of here. It's this version of Scourge that provides the inspiration for this toy.

Now I'll be honest: I was expecting this mould to get Scoured/Nemesis Primed but the version I thought they'd do first was the more familiar Car Robots/Robots in Disguise version. I didn't expect this slice of Japanese repaint madness!

As this gallery on Autobase Aichi shows, Prime's red and blue both become black while the grey becomes gold. The gun is now cast in lavender while he comes with an extra red sword, previously available in grey with Beast Hunter Ultimate Optimus Prime, which appears to be a nod to the sword wielding Car Robots/RiD Scourge. To complete the cacophony of colour the truck has metallic teal stripes!

Due to be available from E-Hobby in September 2015 this toy is a bit too busy colourwise for my liking but it's a Japanese exclusive recolour and was easy to pre-order from HLJ even if it wasn't cheap!

Future Repaints and Add Ons

Although a repaint of this toy as Ultra Magnus is probably ruled out by the existence of Optimus Maximus, I can see no reason why this toy shouldn't return again as the more familiar Car Robots/RID Scourge, swapping Grand Scourge's gold for grey and doing the guns in black. Some way to hold both guns side by side in one hand would be nice to mimic Scourge/Laser Prime's dual cannon.

The Motormaster remould could be redone as his unreleased Generation 2 variant, recently glimpsed at auction.

I'd pay money for a version of Menasor's Blackjack being repainted in blue as Roller to accompany the original version of this toy.

Energon Optimus Prime offers some intriguing possibilities for limbs to accompany Optimus Prime: We've already got a Helicopter limb in Alpha Bravo, how about making Fire Engine, Sub & Drill Tank limbs to homage Energon Optimus? The Drill Tank could almost certainly be reused as Nosecone and Drillhorn as well as effectively being an upgrade for Rescue Force Mole. A new version of Energon Wing Sabre would go nicely with this toy too.

Cybertron could give us Leobreaker which would be a useful mould if Hasbro went down the Predaking route with this combiner system and I see no reason why they shouldn't.

There's plenty of scope for doing things with this Optimus for some while yet. If Hasbro don't I can see third party companies eagerly stepping in.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Combiner Wars Air-Raid

See the Skydive review for more details on the first version of this toy.

Air Raid

Air Raid & Sky Dive would appear to be the first examples of Combiner Wars' policy of remoulding where possible to produce a new toy. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense: within the teams there are similar vehicle modes and similar vehicles crop up across some of the more mixed teams.

In robot mode air Raid and Sky dive don't look too similar until you look closely: it appears that the legs and the gun are the same shape and that's it. Everything upwards of the waist is new. Whereas Sky Dive was a mixture of grey lower limbs, black upper limbs, combiner connector & head and a had a red body Air Raid is all white, bar his body. Compared to the original 1986 Air Raid this looks a decent upgrade to the original. Articulation wise he's identical to Combiner Wars Sky Dive.

Transformation to jet mode starts off the same: open the legs and fold the upper legs in. From here on it gets different. Straighten the arms to the sides of the toy and fold the shoulders down, tabbing the arms into the sides of the plane. Fold the side tail fins and wings out. Fold the wings back.

The original 1986 Air Raid is an F-15 Eagle, the same as the original Decepticon jets and indeed the jet mode bears the same colour, black, as one of those Decepticons, Skywarp. This new version is a quite similar looking F-14 Tomcat. Despite looking completely different in this mode from Skydive incredibly they do share some jet mode parts: the nose cones and upright tail fins are identical. There's hints to a common origin elsewhere in the design, the way the tail fins fold down and a 5mm peg hole on the vehicle's back for their large weapon, a feature absent on Firefly. Like the other two Combiner Wars Aerialbot jets he has a 5mm peg hole under each wing to mount weapons in.

His weapons set is identically moulded to Skydives: the vehicle mode cannon/hand/foot even looks the same, bar a small joint in the thumb which is now white where it was black as is the dual barrelled hand gun. It does mean, with some swapping, that you can now give both jets paired weapons. Here's a summary of the shared parts

Skydive Air Raid
Leg Front Grey White
Upper Legs Black White
Waist Black White
Connector Black White
Dual Gun Black White
Thumb Joint Black White
Tailfins Black Black
Nosecone Black Black
Vehicle Gun Black Black

Transformation instructions to limb mode is identical between the two figures. It's almost tempting to use them both as the same limb so there can be a dual cannon mounted on each shoulder, like Powermaster Optimus, or each leg, similar to Fortress Maximus.

TOP remould, love him. I've got the first three waves of Combiner Wars toys now. They may have come first but to me the Aerialbots are still the strongest toys in the set and feel like they're punching considerably above their weight.

Air Raid is numbered 1 in the Aerialbot set and sold in the second wave of combiner toys. He is the lone Aerialbot in this wave and comes packed with the three Stunticons who do not feature in wave 1: Breakdown, Deadend and Offroad. This wave is was released in early February 2015.

Future Repaints

The obvious candidates for recolouring these two toys are G2 Skydive, in silver, and G2 Air Raid, in blue, coincidentally the colours of another early Decepticon jet, Thundercracker.

It therefore makes sense to me that Starscream, Sunstorm and Acid Storm would make good repaints for Air Raid. Thundercracker and Skywarp might be a harder sell given their similarity to the G1 and Combiner Wars versions but could be done if the body parts were changed too. Alternately another wing mould to precisely mimic the F15 would be good.

The swing wing F-14 design also automatically lends itself to doing Jetfire or his downsized Cyberjet version Hooligan.