There's three base toolings for Combiner Wars Voyager Class toys so far (with a fourth, Sky Lynx, on the way), and Hot Spot was by far the best of them. So I'm similarly happy with Onslaught, who is a reworking of Hot Spot. Hot Spot was lithe and dynamic and sturdy in all the ways that matter, and Onslaught takes all these fundamentals inherent in the tooling and nudges them in a different direction.
Onslaught keeps a lot of the same parts, like the basic torso framework and most of his arms and legs, but now he transforms backwards from the way Hot Spot did -- his legs now become the back of the vehicle and his arms become the front. The extended armature with Defensor's combiner robot chest-and-head parts is replaced with something a little more simple. There's just rotating and unfolding involved in Bruticus's combiner kibble, rather than also wrapping around, but that's fine. It accomplishes what you want it to. It looks like Bruticus's chest and head in combiner mode, stashes away behind Onslaught in robot mode, and (in its weakest iteration) becomes the weapon placement in armored truck mode. If the two cannons aren't enough for you, there're also pegholes to attach Combiner Wars Shockwave, who also becomes Bruticus's handheld weapon.
It's a pretty perfect Onslaught and pushes all of the Onslaught buttons I can imagine, which is fairly impressive for a toy that's mostly Hot Spot. After a few new parts and a reversed transformation (and a slightly altered combiner torso formation) and you've got everything you'd want. He can even peg his cannons into the kibble on his back to complete his original silhouette.
He's just very satisfying.
Way back at BotCon earlier this year, Hasbro said that Onslaught was going to have a running change -- first his combiner parts were going to be tan plastic (to make a better Onslaught) and later they'd be silver (to make a better Bruticus). It kind of seems like they've skipped the tan plastic version entirely, and maybe it's because everyone in the world said they'd be waiting for the running change with the silver. Honestly, Onslaught doesn't need the tan parts to look like Onslaught. Who cares if he has a bunch of silver stuff in the middle of his armored truck mode instead of tan? It's a worthy compromise to get the better-looking combiner mode.
This is Nightracer! Way back in 1995, while BotCon spent a few years rotating through different showrunners, we got our first real-ish Transformers convention exclusive. At the first BotCon in 1994, the exclusive was just an unreleased figure provided by Hasbro, Generation 2 Breakdown, but in the following year, we got a new toy sort-of designed by the convention itself. I say sort-of, because Raksha, 1995's person-in-charge, wanted a G2 Go-Bot Bumblebee in black and blue, but Hasbro gave her a G2 Go-BotBumblebee in black and neon yellow/green. (...which, I recall, is just what you get when you don't give G2 Go-Bot Bumblebee his gold paintjob -- he's just black under there)
Anyway, I didn't go to that BotCon. I was still a teenager and I don't think my parents were letting me out of the subdivision on my bike yet, much less Dayton, Ohio. And so I don't have original Nightracer.
I do have this one, though, now! She was the secret final figure of this year's Transformers Figure Subscription Service, and she's a redeco of Tailgate, finally in the intended black-and-blue instead of the black-and-neon. She comes with Shakar, a little Micromaster person of undetermined gender (though since the name is an anagram of "Raksha" who is female I like to imagine the little 'Con is also). Raksha also wrote the filecard bio, which is a nice touch (but didn't name Shakar).
I am pleased! Nightracer is one of those super-expensive early BotCon toys I don't have, due to her limited numbers, and now I have a toy of the character, plus a little friend. And more Decepticon women are always welcome. There's a shortage!
Big Bad Toy Store got in the Combaticon wave of Combiner Wars Deluxes, so let's talk about one of them, why not. I'm glad the Combaticons are in the second half of the line, because we just kind of got them a few years ago, combining and all, in the Fall of Cybertron toyline. There's a little deja vu involved. When Hasbro dips into the Combiners well, the Combaticons tend to be what gets pulled up first, because they're one of those rare early teams that were an interesting variety of vehicles, rather than "all jets" or "all sportscars," and so it's kind of nice that they got to sit out the first few rounds this time.
This is Swindle! I like him. He's a drastic retool of the Protectobot Rook. Like, super drastic, to the point that he's really just a guy who transforms in the same pattern but becomes a differently-sculpted robot and vehicle. He shares, like, a crotch and thighs probably and maybe some other structural stuff, but the rest is all new. But, as mentioned, he transforms the same. "Roof" of the car goes on his back, legs form the lower half of the front, the arms fold up into the back. Rook was a good toy, and so is he.
And it's just nice that Swindle gets his own danged head, you know? Of all the "guys who transform into limbs for larger guys" from the original Transformers, he's arguably the one dude who stood on his own, character wise. And so he's important in a way a lot of the other Combiner Wars dudes are not. And yet Hasbro, half the time, tends to get his head wrong. Swindle has these adorably large eyes, right? He's a con man who's adorable. That's kind of his thing. But the Alternators toy was really just Trailbreaker in tan, and then his Fall of Cybertron toy... I guess copied that head instead? It didn't really look like Swindle at all. But here's the wide-eyed combining Swindle toy you wanted. Finally.
You can plug his cannon into his arm like he had it in the original cartoon, if you want. That's also cool.
Last year, we got three female Autobot toys in rapid succession: Windblade, Arcee, and Chromia. And it was great! But it'd be even cooler if we got female Decepticons, too. As short supply as female Autobots are, female Decepticons are in even more dire straits!
And suddenly, TakaraTomy over in Japan, they saw this deficit, did some retooling, and BAM, gauntlet cast. And one of these three new bad guy ladies is Blackarachnia. She's technically a Predacon, not a Decepticon, but she was a Decepticon once, and she's often a bad guy, and so I'm fine including her in that group. She's also different in that she wasn't retooled from Arcee or Windblade or any other recent mold, naw, Takara went back and grabbed Animated Blackarachnia from 2007 and used her as a retooling base. I mean, Blackarachnia's a spider, and there aren't really a lot of spider toys to make stuff outta, so.
Animated Blackarachnia is a pretty great toy to start off from! It's actually a fairly inventive transformation, especially with how the arms and legs from from the spider limbs and how the torso is created. The spider head folds down to form the chest and the pedipalps (which are balljointed) rotate and form the contours of the waist. Seriously, it's pretty great.
so what takara did was remove the pedipalps and replace them with new pedipalps that instead fold up and become boobs
I mean, I sort of get it. If you're going to make a Beast Wars style Blackarachnia, her, um, chesty parts are an important part of the visual package. Kind of, you know, in the same way you'd want your Jazz toy to have a chest made out of a car hood. That's just what Jazz looks like! And Beast Wars Blackarachnia puts the "rack" in "arachnid." And, so, yeah, on that level, I understand.
But, damn, this does not leave her with much of a torso. In fact, it merely leaves her with the original toy's spine. She's got these two globes, a skinny stick to connect those to... well, the middle part of her pelvis that wasn't previously created out of pedipalps, and then legs. She looks like something from the cover of Youngblood.
That aside, she does make a pretty good Beast Wars Blackarachnia. The new headsculpt is absolutely perfect, if set a little high on the neck, the paintjob is a good attempt at hiding the fact that she has hands and not claws (and you're supposed to leave her forearms half-transformed to achieve the look), and she's just generally painted meticulously all over. You don't notice she no longer has a torso if your room's lighting ain't so great.
But it's just, like, what.