I drew a Shortpacked! strip nine years ago about the arms race of more accurate Beast Wars Dinobot toys, wherein we're presented a toy, it's not painted so accurately for whatever reason, and then Hasbro and Takara go back and forth on the toy, with each subsequent release being a little more accurate but not ALL the way more accurate, and over the course of a decade or two get you to buy slightly better and better Dinobots. It's a pretty good racket they have going!
COMPLETELY UNRELATED here is LG-EX Rhinox. He's like the Hasbro Generations Rhinox I already had, but now he's brown instead of tan! The tan was more accurate to the original Beast Wars toy, but less accurate to the television animation. TakaraTomy's first attempt at this mold, released under their Legends toyline, had similar colors to this new LG-EX Rhinox, but the line-wide visual gimmick at the time was "make everything metallic." That's probably more okay if your toy's, like, a car, but Rhinox is 80% rhinoceros hide. And so he was this awful-looking metallic brown rhinoceros, despite otherwise being more accurate colors to the animation. I skipped that specific release of that toy, preferring having the rhino hide parts be matte plastic rather than him looking to be made out of aluminum foil.
Well, good, because a toy convention over on that side of the world decided that they were going to give Rhinox (and Waspinator and Rattrap) another go, this time without the mindboggling metallic plastic. So, like, problem solved. Matte brown plastic! Perfecto. This time Rhinox even has his gums painted inside his rhino mouth, which is a nice (and show-accurate) touch. Great work! Thanks toy convention!
Other than the brown, the most obvious change is to the dual Chainguns O' Doom, which feature actual paint, rather than being solid unpainted plastic. Rhinox is no longer trying to stop you with a pair of oatmeal cookies. Also his hip joints are a little tighter, which solves another problem. LG-EX Rhinox is less likely to faceplant.
Anyway, time to get rid of this older, tanner Rhinox before I end up with a Rhinox collection like I do my mountainpile of Dinobots.
(note: my smaller, legends class groove has reprolabels stickers on it, so that's why mine has some extra detailing that yours might not have)
Last year, Hasbro had a "May Madness" where online retailers briefly carried Combiner Wars versions of Wildrider and Slingshot, who had been replaced by other, more interesting guys at retail. Well, it's May Madness again! Have some Deluxe Class Groove, who had been replaced by another, more interesting guy at retail.
I mean, the Deluxe Class-sized Groove that TakaraTomy made for their version of Defensor isn't bad or terrible, by Combiner Wars standards. It feels and operates like all the other Combiner Wars Deluxe Class guys. The same basic transformation steps and everything. But, like, he replaced Rook, who is easily the best Deluxe Class guy in the whole Combiner Wars line. He's got Hulk Hands, yo. Hulk Hands. And it's not like his presence removes Groove from the combined Protectobot form of Defensor, 'cuz there's a Legends Class Groove who becomes the chestpiece thing. Groove can still hang out. So, yeah, I feel like Hasbro made the right move, giving us both Rook *and* Groove.
There are things to like about Deluxe Groove, though. He has translucent plastic! None of the other guys have a sprue set aside for translucent plastic. So that's nice-looking. And he has two handguns with little siren flasher things on them, again using this translucent plastic. Guns with little flashers on them is a neat idea. Maybe not the best idea for a character who's a pacifist, but whatcha gonna do. It's weird that the pacifist is the one Combiner Wars guy who comes with more guns than he can hold. (other than the double targetmaster club subscription guys)
But, like, man, that motorcycle mode of his. Not good! I mean, you have to remember that a bunch of the jets are mostly robot parts with some jet parts stapled on top, but Deluxe Groove's motorcycle mode still feels lacking. His arms just ... sort of go there. And the whole thing isn't terribly motorcycle-shaped, either. It's just a long box with some motorcycle details sketched in. Being able to cover up a small portion of this mode by pegging in his two new guns shouldn't be such a relief. (Also, they're positioned so that if they fired, they'd blast his own hands off.)
Anyway, this toy exists probably to vindicate the smaller Groove that mass retail got. Oh, and to be retooled into Afterburner later on. And sadly, probably never into Sideways.
I very very very very very rarely buy non-Hasbro/Takara transforming robots. As such, I am kind of... entrenched, I think the best might be, in certain expectations. And I don't even know what those expectations are, really, since I so incredibly seldomly travel outside that box. There might be all sorts of things, small things, that I take for granted. Again, what are these things that I take for granted? I don't know! It is a strange world out there outside of my little world of robots from only one property. It's like traveling to Canada. Generally, our civilizations kinda work 99.999% the same, but there's always a surprise at what little stuff is different. Like, their Taco Bells have fries, man. Fries.
Anyway, this is Eagle Robo from Machine Robo, or as most folks here would know him better, Leader-1 from Go-Bots. I may SHOCK you by revealing that Japan didn't get "Challenge of the Gobots." They got Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos instead, a 47-episode anime series with anime peoples and anime robots and whatnot. There's no Guardians, no Renegades, just a buncha humans and robots fighting bad guys. And everyone looks like their toys, because why wouldn't they? "Leader-1" doesn't have a face with a mouth, "Cy-Kill" doesn't have a five-o'clock shadow, and they're actually both good guy robot mech folks. You know how in all the Pre-Transformers stuff, all of the toys were good guys, even "Megatron" and "Soundwave"? Same approach here.
There's now some new toys based on this old anime, and I thought, sure, I wouldn't mind having a modern-technology Leader-1-ish guy, and so now I have an Eagle Robo. Size-wise relative to Transformers, he's essentially a large Deluxe Class toy. He's got some die-cast parts. And how intricate he is varies very wildly, depending on what part of him we're talking about.
He transforms very similarly to how the original Leader-1 did it: Back 2/3 of the jet pulls down for legs, arms pull out from the sides, nosecone folks onto the back. However, Eagle Robo tries to make this a little more complicated, but not all over. The legs? Still giant chunks you easily pull down from 2/3 of the jet, easy-peasy. Nosecone folks back easy, too. But, damn, this torso. Someone spent a long time designing that part of the toy, and they had quite a few clever ideas, but it's all very small panels and flipping and flopping and cramming and it's definitely not very fun. It pegs very nicely into place in either mode, but that middle part of the journey is not particularly rewarding.
The result of your work is a great-looking jet, though. A great-looking jet with Leader-1 chest vents piggy-backing on the middle of the jet's back, but a great-looking jet nonetheless. There's not a lot of undercarriage junk, if any. The bottom is a series of folded robot panels, sure, but they're flat folded robot panels that tuck up into the jet itself. The jet has a narrow profile, as a jet should.
The robot's weapon separates into missiles and... extra wing chunks? Sure. But they have a place to go, which is good.
The robot is less exciting. The arms' jointing is kind of awkward, and the knees are so tight it's hard to bend them without getting lots of leverage. There's less range of movement than one'd like from a product like this.
Frankly, the part that might excite me the most is the modular display stand that Eagle Robo and apparently everyone else in the line comes with. You can assemble the display stand parts in countless ways, and the extendo arm that holds the figure over the ground is strongly ratcheted so you don't have to worry about the arm collapsing under any weight. Which is good, because of the die-cast. The more Machine Robo guys you get, the bigger and more intricate display stand you can build, in theory, since the parts are all modular. But I only have the one right now. Very unfortunately, the pegs are too large to be compatible with the toy-stand pegholes appearing on Transformers these days.
Eagle Robo, to me, exists in some strange Transformer uncanny valley. There are many of the same principles that govern Transformers toys, but there's just enough that's off that I feel a little detached and wary as I go through its motions. Not the toy's fault, obviously, but that feeling is there. The choice of what kind of joints and where to use them, the structure of the toy itself, the general aesthetic... so much is close to familiarity, but just shy of it. And you never know what the tolerance for roughhousing is on a toy that is 100% for collectors and doesn't have to withstand any child playtesting. Am I going to break this if I force it? is a question you have to keep yourself guarded with. Things did come off as I've tried to transform Eagle Robo, usually the head and nosecone, but thankfully not in a way that they couldn't go back on. Phew.
there, see, i tried something different, MOM
While I enjoyed the absurdity of Combiner Wars Cyclonus being a combiner torso for a giant Galvatron robot, there were a few things I disliked about the execution. He was made by heavily resculpting Silverbolt, meaning the toy works from a foundation of a pretty stiff-looking robot. Additionally, his reddish-purple -- nay, magenta -- color turned me off a little. But he was rightfully huge enough to be Cyclonus, particularly for my More Than Meets The Eye shelf, and so I ignored these perceived flaws.
Unite Warriors Cyclonus fixes one of these problems! TakaraTomy's extravagant redeco of that toy tosses out the magenta and returns to a more desaturated yet metallic lavender. Indeed, TakaraTomy does their best to duplicate the colors Cyclonus has in the cartoon, and so their Cyclonus has a buttload of paint. What's not paint is sparkly-fleck metallic plastic, and so he's kind of surprisingly pretty. He's not exactly More Than Meets The Eye colors, but this is closer in many more ways than it departs.
And what was already a great spaceship mode is moreso now, thanks to the hue shift and extra paint detail. You wanna fly him around and make wooosh noises rather than use him to calibrate your CGA monitor.
The deco on the parts of Cyclonus that become the combiner Galvatron super robot guy is interesting to me as well, but I'll save talk of that for a later blogpost.
Today is yesterday was May 15! That's the street date for Victorion, sorta. I mean, a lotta online retailers were allowed by Hasbro to start sell their Victorion stock, like Big Bad Toy Store and Entertainment Earth and TFSource and other places, but I got mine off eBay a few weeks ago from a seller who jumped the gun, and Amazon.com seems to have yet put up theirs properly. I mean, you can still buy it from Amazon.com from various sellers, but there's no proper "actual $99.99 suggested retail price from Hasbro-the-seller" option yet like there was G2 Superion. But, y'know, she's out there.
And she's damn pretty! I mean, she's not AS pretty as she would be if they'd kept the bright teal, but the red and sea-green is still fantastic. As I've said, Combiner Wars has been pretty heavy on the white-with-red, so something that's solid red-and-green is a breath of fresh air. Victorion is like the similarly red-and-teal Perceptor, if Perceptor were a big combiner lady made out of six smaller ladies.
Since Victorion was created to be sold as a boxset, Hasbro's done away with the hand-foot-gun weapons and tooled her some individualized parts. She has new giant feet parts with ratcheted ankles so she can stand with her feet at a splayed angle. She also has new not-so-giant hands which have articulated fingers at the knuckle. (same as the standard Combiner Wars hands, weapons peg through a stigmaga-hole on her wrist) These weapons do stow when not in Victorion mode! The feet are supposed to peg into Pyra Magna's ladder assembly, and the fists are supposed to slot into the feet. There are little grooves on the feet that are super easy to miss, and I had trouble finding them even after being told they were there. But they keep the fists snug in place, so they do their job.
You could also give the fists to somebody else, like Rust Dust the motorcycle girl who I haven't really reviewed individually since she has no retoolings unlike everyone else in the set. But once she is granted Victorion's fists, she becomes... The Tickler!
Also, all the individual components' weapons combine into a giant, very ornate sword. These parts are also new!
And, of course, the head is new. It's very tall, very detailed, and very meticulously painted. I like it.
Since the limbs are interchangeable, there are multiple ways of going about doing it. You can have the helicopters as arms and the cars as legs, or vice versa. You could also make her not symmetrical, I GUESS, but why??? Personally, I prefer using the helicopters as arms and the cars as legs. Since the new hands are so much smaller, they kinda look a little ridiculous attached to the ends of the cars-as-arms. Like she's wearing giant, flowing sleeves. Plus, with cars as legs, it means she can do tough stompin'.
She's pretty amazing. I recommend her.