Friday, 19 February 2016

Combiner Wars Sky Lynx

Generation Combiner Wars Sky Lynx

I think most people were expecting the sixth wave of Combiner wars to be a series of repaints to form the Technobots to accompany Scattershot or perhaps a Decepticon Plane combiner team, still something that's sorely lacking in toys larger than a Micromaster. A second wave of Autobot cars wasn't unexpected, though a Hotspot repaint as Inferno or remould as Grapple were the discussed possibilities as a body.

I think it's safe to say that the reveal of Sky Lynx at Botcon 2015 came somewhat from left field!

Sky Lynx's original toy came out in 1986 and was a Dinobird that turned into a space shuttle paired with a Lynx that turned into a Space Shuttle ground transporter. The two items combine to form the transported Space Shuttle or a 4 legged flying Dinosaur monster. As a bonus it was motorised so the shuttle transporter rolls along and the Lynx & Monster could walk. This is one of the many toys of that period not released in the UK. Since then it's a character that's rather languished in oblivion, despite being an ideal candidate for a Beast Wars toy, receiving a name reuse in Cybertron and Beast Hunters and an encore reissue in 2008. The Combiner Wars version is the first attempt at a new version of the original character.

Sky Lynx comes in combined beast mode and the only assembly required is to take each of the swords and tab them together and into the tail. The beast isn't a bad replica of the original. looking fairly similar in shape and colour placement. It's VERY well articulated: Each leg turns at the shoulder/hip, rotates just bellow it and bends at the knee with a hinged ankle. In addition the front legs fold out to the sides at shoulder. The tail bends at base and a little way along. The first neck joint allows the neck to sit right at the front of the beast or recess back an inch. There's then a bending joint and then a rotational one: this piece of the neck feels very like a normal robot's arm, followed by another bending joint halfway along and the ability fold the head forward and open the jaw. The outer portion of the wings, in blue plastic, folds forward & back and the wings raise & fold back at the base. There's 5mm peg holes on top of each wing and on the rear things should you wish to tool him up and, thanks to the swords construction, a 5mm peg hole sticking out of each side of the tail.

It's a good beast mode.

The problems come when you compare it to the original. It can't walk and it can't separate into two different beasts. Your mileage may vary on how much this matters.

Let's transform him into shuttle mode. Close the jaw, straighten the neck and fold the first two neck joints back into the body. Unpeg the swords from the tail and fold what's left of the tail up to form the tail fin. Fold the rear legs back so the straight edge down the back of the thigh lines up with the join between shuttle and transporter/launcher. Fold the feet onto the front of the rear lower leg and swing each in 90 degrees so the soles of the feet are touching each other under the tail. Fold the lower leg on the front leg forward at the knee as far as they will go. Swing each out to the side 90 degrees. Fold the feet so they point back. Open up the panel covering the chest cavity. Swing each front leg in 180 degrees at the thigh swivel so the lower leg and feet occupy the chest cavity and close panel covering it. Straighten each wing so they're flat with the blue wing tips extended. Fold the wings back so they're either side of the tail & engines to form the shuttle wings. Fold the blue wing tips back into the tail locking the shuttle wings in place. Peg a sword in either under each wing or in each side of the transporter/launcher.

Again a very decent modern interpretation of the combined vehicle, but once again no electronic motion and non ability to separate. As before your appreciation of the toy will depend on how much your mileage varies on this detail. There's one slight problem I have with this mode: the shuttle has two additional tail fins mounted at a 45 degree angle between the upright tail fin and the wings. I could live with additional detail if they weren't swept forward rather than back.

If this had been released as a Toy during Generations Thrilling 30 I'd have bought it and liked it for being a lot of fun but possibly would have been a little more miffed at the loss of the ability separate the vehicles/beast. However since this is a Combiner Wars toy it does do a little bit more ....

Generation Combiner Wars Sky Reign

From Sky Lynx's shuttle mode unpeg the weapons from where they're stored. Slot the handle of one into the blade of the other, doesn't matter which way round, works either way, to form the combined mode sword and set aside for later. Open the chest plate, fold the beast front legs out to the side, close the chest plate and swing the legs down at the hips. Straighten each leg out at the knee. Rotate the thigh so the feet are on the rear of the leg then fold the feet, and the connecting grey ankle piece, under the leg up onto the front of it. Fold each rear leg out to the side using the knee joint and fold the feet down so they're round and hanging down from the beast's rear hips. Unsecure the wings by folding the blue beast wing tips out then fold the rear of the engines and tail fins back and down to form the torso's chest armour. Turn the head round. Don't be tempted to form the torso with the head facing back: that way lies madness and we'll come to that later. Fold the wings back. Attach limbs and place the combined sword into the robot's hand

I could not believe the madness of Sky Reign's combined mode when I first saw it! Here's a combined robot with a gold Lynx head, like one of Sky Lynx's original separate beast modes. The reason for the reversed side tail fins becomes clear here as the fold out to the sides and point up on the chest armour The torso is stable, unlike earlier versions of Optimus Prime & Motormaster, but lacks the absolute solidity of Silverbolt's torso mode for Superion and it's Galvatronus and Computron derivatives. You might see this as a bad this but if you're the sort that poses their combine robot this will give you a lot more movement you don't get with the other toys including the ability to swing the shoulders back. I like it, a lot, although I'm not 100% sure about using Smokescreen as one of the limbs: his colour mix of red, white and blue EXACTLY matches the torso making the others look a bit out of place. You almost want to swap him for something else.... or use four Smokescreens.

We can go no further. We must look at the deep dark secret of Sky Reigns SECOND Torso mode. Effectively the Space Shuttle is mounted on Sky Reign's back. Turn the head round and the shuttle becomes the chest, albeit with a rather protruding shuttle nose at exactly the wrong level! This alone would be enough to book him into most X-Rated Transformers threads but things get worse though. Much Much Worse! Do not even think about extending the shuttle head into dinobird mode. DO NOT DO IT! As odd as it may seem the shuttle chest mode may even have a use as there are rumours that a Sky Lynx recolour will form the torso of a new Liokaiser.

Sky Reign is marked to include Combiner Wars Wreck Gar as a member of his team but to date there's no indication of how he should be used in combined mode even if he can be used in combined mode. Defensor's chest armour is right out due to a lack of connection points.

I've had fun with this toy, I like it. Yes it would be nice to split into the separate components like the original did BUT the combined mode more than makes up for it I feel.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Combiner Wars/Titans Return Buzzsaw

Combiner Wars Buzzsaw

We first saw Combiner Wars Buzzsaw at Botcon 2015 where he was revealed to be a triple changing update to the original gold eagle/tape toy. He arrived in December 2015 in the Combiner Wars Legends wave 5 assortment packed in bird mode.

He's quite a chunky blocky bird with very thick slab like yellow wings which include a thinner grey piece which stretches back from them, hidden in early pictures. Also hidden were the grey legs and feet that help support him in this mode. The tail looks very blocky, really no idea what's going on there, and the pieces of plastic sticking forward from the sides of the tail restrict access to the 5mm holes on each of them. Given that and the direction they face the only weapons that really spring to mind to fit there are the Legends Optimus Prime guns. Fortunately I have a ready supply of these now and one inserted in each hole improves the look of the toy no end by approximating Buzzsaw's original cannons. But to be honest the tail sides look like they should be pointing the other way with the thin pointed strips of plastic stretch behind the toy.

Articulation is .... odd. The wings flap in and out at the shoulder and can turn via a joint just on the wing side of the shoulder. There's two neck joints but the one at the base is very loose, I mean VERY loose while the one bellow the head is quite stiff which results in the base one flopping about every time you move the head. The joint the tail assembly is on can flop about a bit. Each side of the tail moves up and down independently. The look like they should fold down to the sides but can't in this configuration.

Transformation: remove any weapons. Fold the head under and into the body. Recess the grey rear to the wings into the main bulk of the wing. Fold the legs up to each side. Fold the whole tail assemble back 90 degrees then swing the outer parts forward 90 degrees, before folding them out to the sides 90 degrees: there's a small cut on each side of the black central tail block which allows this manoeuvrer when the silver square on it faces up and the points on the yellow outer pieces face forward. Fold the wings in so the tips recess between the thin strips of plastic pointing out of the yellow tail blocks.

Replacing the traditional tape mode is what looks to be a hand held device like a flat screen phone or iPad. The bird feet sticking through the wings form volume rockers on each side while the base actually has a 3.5 mm hole masquerading as a headphone socket. It's a bit something of nothing, a rectangular block, but when you see something like this with Buzzsaw you think tape and sure enough this mode can be loaded into either of Titans Return Blaster or Soundwave. I can't see too many of these surviving in pristine condition: the tablet screen is made up of several stickers, some of which catch on transformation and all of which look like they're peeling!

We'll form Buzzsaw's third mode from the Tablet mode we have him in. Fold the wings out to the sides. Fold the bird feet down. Rotate each wing tip down and in so the stickered surface fold in towards the toy. Fold the black panel on the outer side of the wing out and down. Fold each of the yellow tail blocks in & up, then rotate back 90 degrees. Fold the wings back in.

Common consent is that this vehicle is probably meant to be a forklift with the prongs sticking out the front. Common opinion has it that it's a bit rubbish. It rolls along on 4 wheels and that's it. TFW 2005's gallery suggest raising the forklifts, and using them as gun mounts, again with Legends Prime rifles, with the vehicle facing the other way which sort of works.

However, at time of writing, I don't think we're fully appreciating what this toy can do. although it's been released with Combiner Wars on the packet it is effectively a Titans Return toy designed to work with the Titanmasters and the Leader/Maximus base modes. In the middle of the vehicle mode, usually concealed in the other modes, is a very small shallow peg about 1mm in diameter and height which is designed to be used as a foot stand for a Titanmaster head figure.

Not the best Legends figure I've owned, it feels weak in all modes. I can see my opinion of it improving when the toys it's meant to be compatible with come out but by itself it isn't really good enough.

Titans Return Laserbeak

Where there's Buzzsaw there's usually Laserbeak and vice verse. Laserbeak was revealed at Toyfair 2016, but wasn't one of the toys even rumoured in advance though it was obvious there would be one! At first I thought he was just in the official images because he's not easy to spot in the display shots but you can find him in tape and eagle mode perched on Soundwave.

It's an odd colour scheme for Laserbeak, mainly black with not enough red. The only red really is the tails to each wings. Most odd. Have they coloured him this way to differentiate him from Rumble? It won't work, with a mainly black tablet mode he'll look the same as any Ravage they do!

Future Repaints

Blue as Garboil or Orange as Sundor would be good bets!