I like Hot Spot a lot. I mean, not just this specific toy, but in general. And, yeah, I know, it doesn't really have anything to do with Hot Spot himself. I'm not sure I could tell you without looking what his Tech Spec bio is about. I mean, sure, it probably says he's big into rescuing and being helpful and being a leader and whatnot. But honestly I like him because he and the other Protectobots were among my first Transformers. And he's a big blue fire truck, which is kind of memorable. Red fire trucks are a dime a dozen, but this guy? He sticks out.
Hot Spot forms the middle of Defensor, which is an aspect of Hot Spot that's been left on the table in the last few iterations of him. Though Hasbro goes to the Combiner well not unfrequently, the Protectobots are rarely at the top of that list. People remember the Jet Combiner Guys and the Car Combiner Guys and the Combiner Guys They Actually Remake All The Time Because They're All Different Military Vehicles Instead Of All The Same Thing, while the Emergency Vehicle Guys are in definite fourth place. Which is too bad, because they're my favorite. Again, solely because they're the ones I owned as a kid, but whatcha gonna do.
That said, Hot Spot is the best Combiner Wars torso thus far. Optimus/Motormaster is kind of chunky and simple (which isn't entirely bad), and Silverbolt/Cyclonus is a little more involved and inventive, but Hot Spot soundly kicks both their asses. His weakest aspect is his fire truck mode, and only because it's basically him stretching out and folding into a board. He still has that sweet water cannon in this mode, which you can swing around and aim at stuff. That's more vehicle mode playability than the other guys have.
His robot mode is his best-looking mode. Optimus/Motormaster is chunky enough to be a little in his own way, and Silverbolt/Cyclonus is more lithe but still a little awkward, but Hot Spot is dynamic. He's just fun to look at. He looks fuckin' Ready. His only weak spot are his knees, which are a little loose on mine, but he's got that giant water cannon behind him anyway to use as a tripod. This really only increases his awesomeness, since you can put him in all sorts of battle poses with a built-in way to keep him standing.
The conversion to torso mode is what really engages me, though. That water cannon of his, like, literally wraps around him to form the chest armor and head. The black parts which form his chest are on the opposite end of cannon structure from the parts that form his head, yet the whole thing folds down towards his crotch, across his taint, and up his back to connect. I love it, and I love doing it.
Attaching Groove is a little fiddly. It's not because of how secure the attachment is from himself to the chest, like with Blackjack and Menasor, but mostly because Groove himself likes to come undone out of his chest armor mode. If Groove's arms tabbed into his legs more securely, it'd be perfect.
I like how wide Defensor is. Skinny Hot Spot forms a chunky torso, and with the limbs and Groove attached, he just seems like this brick of a dude. He just feels very satisfying. Those other Combiner Wars guys are great, but for me, Defensor is where it's at.
Each of the combiner teams so far includes a new dude who replaces one of the traditional dudes. Alpha Bravo replaces Slingshot, Offroad replaces Wildrider, and Rook replaces Groove. Slingshot, Wildrider, and Groove are all still available somehow, so it doesn't bother me so much, plus it gives us these new guys. I like new guys! And the new guys so far have been more interesting than the folks they replace. Rook is the best example of this so far. He's probably the best toy of the Deluxe Combiner Wars guys so far.
What makes him stand out is that, unlike Alpha Bravo and Offroad, who are really Vortex and Ruckus, Rook is an entirely new design. He gets to be his own dude, rather than a "pretool" of somebody else. I mean, he's probably going to end up being a pretool for somebody else eventually, given how often these toolings are reused in some manner, but he's seemingly entirely himself.
And since he's new we get an interesting idea or two from him, since he starts out as a blank slate. He's wide and bulky, unlike his peers. His head is designed to look like a rook piece from, y'know, chess, which may make him the first Transformer guy named Rook whose name makes some sort of sense. He transforms differently from everyone else, incorporating a rear backpack of sorts that satisfyingly snaps into place in each mode. He's got ankle joints, which is a luxury in this line.
But most importantly to me, he's got Hulk hands. Instead of the usual 5mm peghole inside his hands, this hole is instead sculpted in front of them, so that you can take a combiner fist and plug one in, giving him pounding power. You can double up on them, or even quadruple up on them if you plug another two into his shoulders. Not only is this super cool, but it also frees up weapons from other characters who look kind of mismatched holding large-ass pieces of artillery, like First Aid.
Over in Japan, they're making a Deluxe-sized Groove exclusive to their country and ditching Rook. I feel a little bad for them. We still get Groove as a Legends Class chestpiece over here, and Rook is great.
You know, to disambiguate him from adorable friendly Blades from Rescue Bots.
The Protectobots are mostly a friendly group, at least when they're not hired by Grimlock to hunt down Blaster and Goldbug to bring them back to him for trial and execution. One of them's a pacifist, even, though which one depends on continuity. (Groove most places but in the cartoon it was First Aid.)
But Blades was always the jackhole of the group. As I've been reblogging photos of the new Combiner Wars Protectobots these past few months, a common response has been "dude, that rescue helicopter is covered in missiles, wtf." Well, that's Blades! He's kinda missiley! He just wants to kill, kill, kill. You know how it is.
Combiner Wars Blades ain't got a whole lot to talk about. He's Alpha Bravo with a new head. Unlike Streetwise and First Aid, the 90% of the rest of him isn't reshelled with new sculpting. The new head's all there is. I like Alpha Bravo, though, so Blades isn't unwelcome or anything. There's just less new to talk about versus the other Protectobots.
His blue face makes me happy.
Streetwise, yo! Otherwise known as "the Autobot police car guy who isn't Prowl." For serious, they even both originally transformed into the same Nissan Z police car altmode. They just transform differently and one of them also becomes a leg. So, yeah, they don't make a lot of Streetwise toys, because Prowl already exists.
Funny thing about this new Combiner Wars Streetwise is... he's also friggin' Prowl. From the neck down, if you pay attention to the sculpting, he's just Prowl. Sure, he transforms differently, making him look passably Streetwise because "police car who transforms differently from Prowl" just kinda says Streetwise in the brain, but check him out. His chest is sculpted to look like a car hood. His toes have Prowl's tootsie taillights sculpted in. And, well, Prowl's name has shown up in solicitations, so a Prowl is coming. He's probably this toy with a new head and somehow a color scheme that doesn't look like this but still looks like Prowl.
That aside, Streetwise is a "reshell" of Dead End, meaning nearly everything on him is new except some innards and he transforms the same. He's this offwhite color rather than the original Streetwise's gray, but not as cream as Breakdown is. This and his slightly desaturated red give him a kind of grizzled look I like. Instead of Dead End's pipe weapon, Streetwise now has a shotgun. His new head is also crisp and sharp and interesting.
I like him a lot. I'll probably also like him when he's got a new head and he's Prowl.
Nova Prime is an artifact of Cybertron's past. He merged the ancient thirteen tribes into a united society, bringing about a new golden age... or, well, at least a new golden age for the folks Nova Prime liked best. If you were a sweet battleready humanoid-type person like him, you didn't fare so bad. But if you were, like, a beast dude or whatever, then you were probably not gonna like Nova Prime's new caste system. History regarded Nova Prime as pretty awesome because of all the stuff he did, because folks who were happy with Nova Prime got to write history. And so it came as a surprise to a few people when Nova Prime returned in the modern day and was amazingly evil, with a dark Matrix and everything and also he was calling himself Nemesis Prime. You know how it is. It'd be like if Andrew Jackson, that friendly dude from the twenty dollar bill, suddenly showed up, tried to destroy the universe, and changed his name to Jerkwad Jackson. Some folks would be all "dude what the hell" but the rest would be all "yeah that makes sense."
Shortly, Nemesis Prime is a supremacist. Some would say, looking at him, that he could be accurately described as a white supremacist.
So this is super racist white supremacist Transformers Collectors' Club Nova Prime. He's the Orion Pax toy from Generations a few years back, but in white and black and with a new head. This toy was announced around while Dark Cybertron was going on last year, literally the day after I was looking at my display of Deluxe Shockwave and Deluxe Galvatron and an open spot waiting for Deluxe Jhiaxus, and wishing that there'd be some kinda Deluxe Nova Prime to fit in that spot. I make things happen just by wanting them to happen hard enough, apparently.
Now, as of two days ago, I don't draw Recordicons nor do I do anything else for the back page of the TCC magazine anymore. I totes quit. So I'm gonna really tell you what I think about this toy, for reals. No holding back, no hemming or hawing. I am free to be completely honest with you, no strings attached.
I really like it. It's a pretty toy and the concept was executed well. Some of the joints are a little loose, but I dunno if that's just mine or if it's everybody's. The white with black and gold and a dash of translucent blue is engaging, plus it's a toy of a character who's never gotten a toy before.
There are rumblings that this Nova Prime toy is actually a stealth Shattered Glass figure. Conjecture is floating around that at the end of this year's magazine comic, SG Optimus Prime will have been rebuilt into "Nova Prime" by SG Unicron, mirroring how Megatron became Galvatron in the animated film. I will be a little pissy if that happens. I'm an ornery nerd and I want my toys to actually be the characters I thought they were when I bought them, because I guess that matters to my nerd brain. I mean, we'd have to move this toy off the Nova Prime TFwiki page, and that'd be super ornerifying.
Though a switch to being SG Optimus Prime would downgrade this Nova Prime toy from representing Super Racist Genocidal Monster to something a little more cartoonishly benign, like Accidentally Thumb-Mash-Favoriting Racist Tweets Somehow. I guess in some respects that's better, but it still leaves a bitter taste.