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.
They don't make a lot of First Aids. If Hasbro wants a white and red ambulance guy, Ratchet tends to have that covered, and if you're looking to make a First Aid out of some pre-existing ambulance guy toy, it's a hard sell to make a white and red ambulance guy into another white and red ambulance guy. You already have that toy as a white and red ambulance guy.
That's why, out of all the Protectobots, First Aid is among the least to be revisited. There are occasional Hot Spots because he's a blue fire truck and so that's a less redundant deco to go to on a red firetruck toy. There are new Blades redecoed out of helicopter toys constantly. Even Streetwise got a new toy at BotCon a few years ago, a Prowl in black and red to echo Streetwise's Generation 2 toy. Only Groove feels as left out as First Aid, and it's not a conflict of toys problem with him, it's just that nobody friggin' cares about Groove.
So bam, it's 2015, and here's your First Aid toy. He's sort of a retool of Offroad, the new Stunticon pickup truck, but in his case the word "retool" is pretty insufficient to describe what's going on. A fan term for toys like him is "reshell," since First Aid really only shares his connector peg, his thighs, and some internal jointing with Offroad. Most of the actual robot parts and the entirety of the vehicle is a new sculpt. He transforms entirely the same as Offroad -- they share engineering, that is -- but the sculpt is almost completely different. So that's actually pretty cool. It also results in some kinda uncanny deja vu as you transform him.
Despite this seemingly being First Aid's first victory over Ratchet in the toy aisle since like 1986, he's, uh, still gonna be retooled as Ratchet, apparently. His comic book has an "oops" where it shows the toy with a Ratchet head. It's probably why his chest looks like a van window bisected by his connector peg, rather than First Aid's segregated dual vent pecs. (And, likewise, Ironhide is gonna be the head retool from Offroad.) A Ratchet hasn't been solicited yet, so this is just a potential release and might just be a head that never gets used, but even when First Aid gets his day, his day is still partially Ratchet's. Poor First Aid.