To be honest, a lot of my feelings about Combiner Wars Lightspeed are because of expectations. For almost as long as Combiner Wars was a thing, there was a will-they-won't-they about making Computron, and so long as we speculators were in the will-they camp, we were wondering where Lightspeed would come from. Original Lightspeed's a very futuristic car who transforms in a specific way that's kinda unique to combining car limb guys, and so the two available options of Breakdown and Dead End seemed to both fall short in every category except "broadly a four-wheeled vehicle."
But then the retool of Breakdown into Wheeljack happened, and, oh, hey, that's where Lightspeed was gonna come from, obviously. Like, super obviously. Wheeljack shaved off a buncha what was non-Lightspeed about Breakdown, adding some similar shapes to the car mode (if not going full-futuristic) and also retooling the robot mode to look like Wheeljack's. See, Lightspeed transformed like Wheeljack, with a hood for feet and a roof for a chest. And so, like, duh, that's Future Lightspeed. Total duh-doy.
And then Combiner Wars Computron was finally announced and revealed and it was just a friggin' redecoed Streetwise, the Dead End mold. It was like COME ON, GUYS. JEEZ. And so there was this drop from expectation to this seemingly boggling reality. There's a toy that looks like Lightspeed RIGHT THERE! Why wasn't it used?
The colors on Hasbro's Computron are mostly pretty good! Five out of six guys are really nice-looking. Everyone has all these interesting highlight colors that make the decoes pop. But then there's Lightspeed, just plain ol' red and gray, no pizzazz. He just really sticks out, I dunno.
Anyway, Takara announced/revealed their Computron and they used the Wheeljack body with a new Lightspeed head. And that was basically when and why I decided to get the Takara version in addition to the Hasbro one. I had The-Lightspeed-I-Was-Expecting blueballs. Sure, since then I've come to appreciate some of the other components more than Lightspeed, but he was the catalyst.
I will say that Takara's Lightspeed head is a little weird. Lightspeed's original/cartoon head was essentially Trailbreaker's. It was a box with a goggled face inside. But this new sculpt they made is... well, it's interesting-looking. It's not a box, it's a loose interpretation that gives it all these new angles and visual interest. Which is weird because Takara kinda usually just copies the animation faithfully.
But it's the Lightspeed body I wanted, so score.
(Note, Hasbro's Lightspeed is actually named "Lightsteed" because of trademark reasons, which is hilarous.)
Both Hasbro and Takara tackled Computron separately, and with suprisingly different results. Like, despite both versions of Computron technically being attempts at the same Computron character, 3 out of the 5 toys are different base molds from their counterparts (and Hasbro adds a sixth). Strafe is one of the biggest differences.
Hasbro took Air Raid and extensively retooled him to replace all of his Earth fighter jet parts with new Strafe spacejet parts, and also gave him a new head. It's not a bad job. In a vaccum, it goes above and beyond what you might expect for a set of toys that seems to have been a late decision in the lineup. Strafe easily coulda been an unmodified Earth jet. And so he's neat on the face of him.
(Like, literally, since Hasbro's Strafe head is awesome. Its original-toy-accurate sculpt is the best part of his design.)
But damn, it's hard to resist the siren call of TakaraTomy's Strafe. It, too, is an extensive retool, but of Blast Off, the completely new Combaticon shuttle they engineered. Blast Off was a toy I already liked a whole bunch, except for how his head pops off when you swing his neck assembly out of the way in arm or leg mode. The Protectobot Rook I think I've praised for being the best deluxe in the line, and Blast Off has a lot of similaritied with Rook. They both can do the Hulk Hand thing, for example; plug combiner hands into the ports in front of his fists, and it's clobbering time. Also like Rook, Blastoff has sideways ankle tilts. Improving on Rook, Blast Off has additional 5mm peg ports inside his fists (so he can hold a gun normally) and also two more on the underside of each forearm.
TakaraTomy's Strafe improves on many of these things. First of all, the head doesn't pop off anymore when you transform him into arm or leg mode. It stays in place, which by itself just makes him a billion times better. His torso also transforms backwards from Blast Off, leaving the vehicle nose kibble on his back instead of giving him a massive barrel gut. He no longer partsforms, requiring you to move his shuttle tailfin from its proper placement in vehicle mode to his back in robot mode -- Strafe still has removeable (and separately hinged) tailfins, but they don't have to move during transformation. Strafe's two main orange cannons are removeable, and as they're 5mm compatible, they can go into his various ports.
TakaraTomy's Strafe, I've decided, is my favorite Combiner Wars-style limb. It's everything Previous First Placer Rook can do, but more, and as a spaceship. Seriously, he's the best guy.
....once I stole Hasbro's Strafe head and put it on him instead and painted it white to match, anyway.
Jeez, third Toyless Guy Created For Fiction Who Now Gets A Toy in a row! Alpha Trion has kinda gotten toys before, whether they be PVC figurines or BotCon exclusives or what have you, but this is his first mass market North American transforming toy. That I have to use so many qualifiers should lampshade how many different little Alpha Trion items we've gotten.
Bizarrely enough, in lieu of replicating Alpha Trion's usual look that was introduced way back in the original cartoon, with the Floro Dery-esque geometry and the cape, TItans Return Alpha Trion instead homages two BotCon Alpha Trion toys -- one we didn't get and one we actually did. The one we didn't get was a redeco of Beast Machines Snarl -- a lion -- back in 2001, chosen because he was a robot mode with a beard. (Similar to how we got Arcee out of Blackarachnia because that was a Transformer toy that was a lady.) The one we did get was a Cybertron Vector Prime retool -- a spaceship -- with a new head in 2007. And so this Alpha Trion transforms into both a lion and a spaceship. It's like somebody from Hasbro wanted to find out what Alpha Trion turned into (he didn't in the original cartoon, as he was older than the invention of transformation) and saw on TFWiki that his two "real" toys turned into a lion and a spaceship respectively and that was that.
Titans Return Alpha Trion is a very clunky-looking toy, and it doesn't look particularly elegant. This seems to have turned a lot of folks off him at the outset, but in-hand, he's... well, he's still clunky-looking and inelegant, but he's fun to transform. He's just a doofy bearded robot that transforms into a blocky unikitty and a wedge that dubiously claims to be a spaceship. Like the other Titans Return toys, he has a little dude that transforms into his head, and there's a translucent compartment for him to ride in either mode, or he can sit in Alpha Trion's gun.
He's weird-lookin' but I like him.
This is Impactor, Marvel UK's leader of the Wreckers. Decades ago, I would have had to explain who he is to essentially everybody, as well as what the "Wreckers" are, but after both entities were ported over into the IDW comics (and after the Wreckers were a staple of BotCon fiction before that), they're not quite the unknowns they were in the United States that they once were.
In the original Marvel UK Transformers stuff, Impactor was the upright and outstanding leader of the Wreckers, an Autobot special missions task force that was made up of all the left-over toys that couldn't fit anywhere else. He died heroically, Springer (a real toy!) took over, and Springer spent the rest of his days lamenting that he would never be as good a leader as Impactor was. With a quick interruption, of course, when Impactor was
In the current IDW comics, Impactor was still the former Wreckers leader, but because he was killed, but because he was disgraced. You see, maybe leading a team of "we do the dirty work so you get to keep your hands clean" red-shirt commandos is probably mentally taxing? Probably? Anyway, modern Impactor is a little more anti-hero than the original. He was jailed for war crimes, but now he's out and about and trying/failing to live up to Springer's more-heroic example. It's the ol' switcheroo!
And now he has a toy! Well, sort of his second toy. Depends on how your brain categorizes these things. Fall of Cybertron gave us an Impactor toy, but that Impactor technically belonged to the Aligned (Transformers Prime) universe, not Generation 1. But like that toy, this Impactor is a head-retool of a combining figure. And as a plus, he's actually in Impactor's colors, rather than having them inverted and changing his yellow to orange. Also, this time he's a GOOD TOY? Like, Rook is easily the best Deluxe of the Combiner Wars line. He can do everything everyone else can do plus he has the ability to have Hulk Hands and he has articulated feet. Thus I welcome our new Impactor overlord.
In addition to the new head, Combiner Wars Impactor comes with Generations Arcee's arsenal of weaponry. You might think at first that this is pretty weird, since all these weapons really only work with Arcee, who doesn't have 5mm peghole hands. Well, turns out they work fine with Impactor, too! The tabs are 5mm across, so they can fit into his wrist-gun pegholes fine enough, plus there's like a field of slots on his backpack that just so happen to accomodate the onslaught of tabs that Arcee's weapons possess. So there you go.
Really, the only negative this toy has is that it's a little short to be a perfect Impactor toy. Impactor should, in a perfect world, be the next size class up. But otherwise, this is a great Impactor made from a great toy. In that respect, he's very satisfying.
Scrounge was -- at least in my Marvel UK-less childhood -- one of the first Transformers non-toy characters, sharing an issue with a bunch of others. He didn't have a toy. He was just created to be in a story only to die. Blaster, the anti-hero badass, needed his little pal to get offed so as to give him some manpain. You know how it is.
Other non-toy guys from that issue have already gotten toys over the years -- Ferak, Straxus. Ferak was a jet. Straxus was a (flying) tank. But Scrounge never got a toy, and for good reason. He transformed into a wheel.
There aren't a lot of Transformers wheels.
I remember when that Star Wars Transformers toy of General Grievous came out. It transformed from Grievous into Greivous's little death wheel vehicle thing. Hey! They should add a Scrounge head to that and make a Scrounge, some said! We were desperate. There were no other wheels. Wheels are probably a hard sell to a kid in the toy aisle. There's jets, tanks, animals, cars.... and, what, a wheel? What kid's gonna choose the wheel???
(A similar problem exists these days with Rung. Dude transforms into a STICK.)
But 30 years later, we have a Scrounge. There was a new Cosmos toy -- you know, the UFO flying saucer guy -- and, hey, if you turn that on its side, that's kind of wheel-like, right? Right???? Look, it's goddamn close enough. Hasbro gave it a new Scrounge head, decoed him (and the toy's partner) in yellow, and wham-bam it's Scrounge. At least, as close to Scrounge as one could realistically expect. Some would say way closer. Dude's a wheel, man.
And I'm happy. It makes me happy. It's kind of healing, you know? The poor guy died heroically, and also died horrifically. Like, got his arm ripped off (his special arm, there is none other like it) and then chucked into a smelting pool, where he was melted alive. But! Not before he could chuck a cassette at Blaster, offering priceless proof that Optimus Prime and his warriors were indeed alive somewhere. Nobody liked the little guy, only to realize at his death who they had lost. Finally having a toy of him means he wasn't forgotten, that what he did mattered. And sometimes that realization is helpful here in the real world, too.
Scrounge's little shuttle partner is named Cybaxx, which is another nonsense sci-fi name like "Straxus" or "Xaaron" are. He's a new guy. Since his gun mode has two bulbous barrels, it makes me think of Scrounge's Special Arm, the one that had extendo audio and video fingers, the one that Straxus ripped off right before his death. And so Cybaxx, to me, is just Scrounge's arm. Maybe his arm was always a guy? I dunno.
Also new to Scrounge is that he is now a Technobot, and part of the combiner robot Computron. He should definitely stay attached to that combiner robot guy. You probably don't end up in the smelting pool that way.
He's why I bought this box set.
He's worth it.