The only thing better than giving us pre-beast toys of the rest of the original Beast Wars Predacon crew is giving us those pre-beast toys in Combiner Wars form. Terrorsaur mostly delivers on this! For some reason he doesn't come with his hand/foot/gun, so you have to borrow somebody else's. Or you can end up with a combiner with a limp, I dunno.
But, yeah, Terrorsaur satisfies me. We got pre-beast Megatron, Waspinator, and Dinobot way back in 2006, and then pre-beast Tarantulas nine years later in 2015. With Terrorsaur here, we're just one original Predacon down, and Scorponok is promised from the Figure Subscription Service before the end of the year! Huzzah.
Combiner Wars Terrorsaur is in his cartoon deco, rather than the original toy deco which replaced the silver and other silver with black and purple. As such, Terry's a little less vibrant than some may remember him, but the silver and charcoal, with the edges here and there of orange, do manage to keep him visually interesting.
He's got a new headsculpt which is... well, it's goofy-looking, but in a way that Terrorsaur kind of looked all the time. Those first few Beast Wars CGI models were kind of rudimentary. This toy gives him a kind of awkward toothy grin, like he's stifling a chuckle after a fart, but honestly that's not too far off-character.
Combiner Wars Terrorsaur is also essentially perfectly scaled to his fellow pre-beast Predacon pals, as best as he can be, anyway. Tarantulas is an abberation, being so tall, but otherwise CW Terrorsaur clocks in at just shorter than Dinobot and quite a bit taller than Waspinator and waaaaaaay shorter than Megatron. These are all correct Nerd Measurements. If pre-beast Tarantulas weren't done so perfectly I'd be more resentful of his size screwing up the otherwise perfect scale.
When I was a little boy of about ten years old, there came into existence the crazy idea that maybe Hasbro should make new versions of old popular Transformers characters, because maybe kids had grown attached to Transformers as people and not entirely just as a gimmick. And so we got Optimus Prime as a Powermaster and Jazz and Bumblebee and Starscream and Grimlock as Pretenders. And I realized... wait, we can get OLD guys as NEW guys??? I can have chances to buy all the guys I didn't manage to get in 1984?
Strange new possibilities awoke in me, and I designed a combiner (because old guys come back as special features like Powermasters or Pretenders) that was made up of a bunch of 1984 guys I wanted to have toys of. Ratchet, Ironhide, Wheeljack, and Prowl combined with Optimus Prime (because of course the torso would be Optimus Prime, duh doy) to form a bigger robot. Ratchet and Ironhide would finally have toys that had heads like they did in the comics, and Wheeljack and Prowl were just other guys I wanted because they were important in the early Marvel stuff I had. (Essentially, I was recreating the Autobot cast of "DIS-Integrated Circuits!" minus the Jazz I already had a Pretender of, plus Ironhide who I thought needed a toy with a head.)
WELL HEY GREAT NEWS! Combiner Wars gave us all those guys, true to my ten-year-old self's designs. Well, minus Ratchet. We knew there was a possible Ratchet head for the Combiner Wars First Aid toy hidden somewhere in the tooling, but would Hasbro put out a SECOND nigh-identical white-with-red ambulance guy? Sometimes Hasbro just puts alternate heads into tooling for a rainy day and then never actually uses them. Would my childhood fanfic combiner never fully come to be?
Screw y'all, 'cuz it has! ...by the skin of its teeth! Hasbro told BotCon, HEY, you guys use our Ratchet tooling for your customization class toy, all right? And BotCon was all, yes daddy. And, lo, the childhood was saved.
But, jeez, is my Ratchet cup runneth over. Shawn Tessmann, who runs the customization class, came up with FIVE seperate ways to paint up your Ratchet, and four of them are awesome. There's the red-headed Marvel Ratchet that I was always going to make no matter what, there was the cartoon-style version (no thank you!), there was an amazing-looking neonish G2 Ratchet, there was a Shattered Glass Ratchet, and there was a fifth option where you use the First Aid head that remained on the sprue to make Medix, the Rescue Bots-inspired additional member of the Protectobots.
I had preordered two Ratchets, one to paint and one to keep around just in case because RATCHET, but now I kind of have a deficit of Ratchets to make into the other possibilities. In time, I tell myself, in time. For now, I have this lone Marvel-style Ratchet. He makes me supremely happy! Frankly, red-headed Ratchet makes me happy in general, as if it's a load-bearing Jenga piece of my soul. And thanks to some very good friends and also eBay, I have everything needed to complete him -- stickers, Enigma of Combination, and all.
(okay, there's also Amazon.com)
Like last year's Covenant of Primus, the Enigma of Combination is a sort-of-not-really-Hasbro-blessed fan-made accessory to go with the customization class toy. Ratchet can hold it and also it can plug into Optimus Prime's combiner mode chest. ...way better than Blackjack or Rodimus, I can tell you.
So, at long last, my childhood combiner is complete. I will likely keep Ratchet as an arm, because he's special to me and I can see him better that way on a shelf, rather than hiding as a leg behind something else on display. His translucent combiner fist is supposed to be all Healy Powers anyway, and I imagine it's probably rough to try to kick someone into health.
I keep wanting to say, "one of the best BotCon toys this year," but honestly, they're all pretty damn great, so unless they all get to tie for second and first place, I dunno. But this Airazor? It's a pretty good toy of Airazor! If you don't mind that she's not a bird!
Combiner Wars Airazor (she doesn't combine) is a redeco of Slipstream who herself was a heavy retool of Windblade. There's no changes to Slipstream's sculpt, just a different deco, and yet it works pretty damn well as Airazor. The head is painted up to kind of resemble Airazor's beaky bird hat, the fake sculpted cockpit on her chest is a reasonable vehicleish facsimile of a falcon's head, and the whole brownish-black/tan/yellow/extrayellow thing going on with her, with the dash of translucent green, is pretty fancy. It's not a group of colors you see together a lot in Transformers, if ever, especially since the retail line has been kinda overwhelmingly White And Red for the past year as Combiner Wars has retreaded 1986. Whoever designed the deco on this toy, good job.
I don't reeeeally want to get into the convention comic in which Airazor featured right here, right now, because, again, as I said, there would be swearing.
So let's instead say this is superfab Airazor bein' all jetty in the years following her enigmatic disappearance following the events of Primeval Dawn! Let's unfridge her. Yup, she's returned from the distant past to the less-distant future, maybe to participate in some Universe wars or something. It could be fun! Think of all the adventures she could have, y'know not being a super important Autobot from the end of the Great War or anything like that.
That'd be ridiculous.
Anyway, she technically replaces the other Airazor-as-a-jet-instead-of-a-bird exclusive toy we got a decade ago, which is a replacement that is FINE BY ME. Timelines Airazor is, like, one of the worst things ever, and I own her because I am dumb. First of all, she's the Energon Slugslinger toy, and Energon Slugslinger is terrible. Like, it's one of those infamous Toys That Hate You. There is no love for humanity in its engineering. It was designed to snuff out your life force. Now, imagine that toy with an Airazor head and at exclusive limited-run prices and representing a fundamental misunderstanding of the character herself.
But there's a better one now. You can bury the other in the back yard or maybe set it on fire.
Every year at BotCon, invariably there's an exclusive toy that really feels like somebody was saying, "hey, what's some cracked-out shit that Walky kid would like?" Well, this is this year's. This is Under-3.
Under-3 was a McDonald's Happy Meal toy way back in the early Beast Wars days. He wasn't part of the regular assortment, but a very simplified toy with minimal moving parts that was intended for children under the age of three. Hence the name. "Under-3" was printed on his baggy in the same space that the names for the other guys went. He was a lion head that flipped open like a clam to reveal a robot sculpted inside that looked kinda like Optimus Prime/Primal. That's it.
Bogglingly, a toy based on him is part of this year's BotCon offerings. He's a strait redeco of Combiner Wars Streetwise, meaning instead of transforming into just a head, now he can transform into just an arm or just a leg. And a yellow police car, but whatever. His name is "Unit-3" on his profile card because I don't know. The point is, that's just a callsign he uses, so his real name could easily be "Under-3." That's what really matters. Renaming Under-3 something else puts you on my shit list.
He's a very striking-looking toy, making him easily one of the best exclusive toys available this year -- and that's in the company of TM3 Megatron. He loses a little of the charm of the original toy (well, a lot of the original charm) by not transforming into a disembodied lion head, but I think being a new toy of that crazy-ass Happy Meal dude is its own separate charm. He's Under-3. For adults.
don't talk to me about the comic he appeared in just yet, there would only be swears
Gonna quickly scrawl this Masterpiece Shockwave review before I head out later today to the airport on my way to Seattle! It's Emerald City Comicon weekend! You can find me at booth 112 with Cyanide & Happiness. It's also BotCon weekend, but I made my choice between the two. I'm still gettin' the toys (through my buddy who's going), so I'll have them to talk about shortly after I get back... which explains why I gotta get this Shockwave post done first! It won't happen if I have a bunch of new Beast Wars combiner guys!
Anyway, Shockwave. At first you might think, man, what does a Masterpiece Shockwave bring new to the table? Because, really, his show model isn't all that different from his original toy, and honestly his Masterpiece is about the same size as his original toy, and that original toy wasn't a complete loss when it came to articulation, and so you're left with a pretty close copy of a toy you might already have had for like 30 years.
AND YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WOULD BE RIGHT, BUT WHO CARES, MASTERPIECE SHOCKWAVE IS PRETTY DAMN GREAT
I love this guy. And admittedly a huge part of that is "I love Shockwave," but I swear the toy is objectively cool besides that. He still transforms into a purple space gun, and he's still a one-eyed one-handed dude (unless you give him his alternate extra hand), and he's still electronic. It's only lights this time instead of lights and sounds, but I'm pretty cool with just the lights. I have twin boys. I'll have enough toys that make noise soon enough. The lights are real strong, too. He really glows (and has separate batteries for his gun-mode light and his wrist-gun light).
Masterpiece Shockwave transforms a little differently this time around. I mean, it's 80% the same. He puts his arms over his head and bends over. You can't really change that if you want a Shockwave that looks like the original Shockwave in both modes. But now the designers decided his barrel wouldn't be a separate piece you kept aside in robot mode. Now there's a long die-cast arm that folds up and places the barrel on his back. Meanwhile, the part of the gun that USED to be the part that USED to fold up on Shockwave's back folds down and bolsters up the bulk of Shockwave's legs so they aren't so half-a-gun-handle thin. Oh, and there's a weird garage door of abs that slides down and covers up his trigger penis. Other than these changes, it's the same transformation.
If you're upset that Shockwave's backpack is no longer purple and looks like his old gun barrel, there's a separate piece you can slip over the new backpack to make it look like the old backpack. Pretty silly, admittedly! But it also doubles as a stand for Shockwave in gun mode, so at least it has a secondary purpose. Speaking of silly, Shockwave also comes with a small handheld version of himself in gun mode, because there was once an episode of the cartoon where Shockwave fired a small handheld version of himself. As you do.
And finally, Shockwave comes with a large assortment of various hands. He's a got solid lavender hand and gun-hand. He's got a solid lavender replacement hand for that gun-hand in case you want to revisit that one time he was drawn in the cartoon with both hands. He's got a saluting right hand so he can salute. And he has ALL OF THESE THINGS AGAIN also in translucent plastic to match the original toy and also facilitate the electronic lights. There are choices, is what I'm saying. Like how you can choose between stickers of the proper Decepticon logo and the dorky misdrawn one from the cartoon.
Much ado has been made about Shockwave's purple coloring. In some photos it's looked kinda pinkish, while some folks pine for the dark purple of the original toy. I can tell you that in person, his color... well, it's hard to explain. It's a very deep purple, but not a dark purple. It's essentially Shockwave's color of purple from his old Action Master toy, but milkier. I don't mean "milkier" in that it's whiter, but that it absorbs and reflects light in a certain way. It... really absorbs light. How the purple looks is drastically altered by the lighting ambience. It's difficult to photograph. Sometimes it looks really different just from photo to photo in the same lighting. Hell, if you want him darker purple, just stand him in front of something black. But regardless it's a real attractive color in person. Like I said, it's deep. It's like he's carved out of purple milk chocolate.
My one annoyance with the toy is the head. You need to pull up on it (and the neck/collarbone section) to lock it into place in robot mode, but there's a real good chance you'll take the head off the neck balljoint instead. And then you spend time trying to get a head to pop back onto a balljoint that's affixed to a swinging hinged piece from which you can't hold in place. You know how it is. I recommend grabbing the head from all corners and pulling directly up, keeping the head looking forward, when you try to lock it in place. That generally keeps the head from popping off first.
Anyway, he's excellently articulated, and a waist swivel and an ab crunch is something I never really expected a G1 Shockwave toy to have. And given how G1 Shockwave tends to appear in his original toy body in basically any G1 story more than any other guy (up until the RID ongoing title in IDW, for example), this toy feels like, more than many other Masterpieces, to be basically any G1 Shockwave. He can be cartoon, he can be Marvel, he can be Dreamwave, he can be IDW.
And it makes you wonder if Senator Shockwave also transformed into a flying laser gun.