Combiner Wars Liokaiser is now available exclusively at Entertainment Earth. There's a coupon code, SINGLES, which gets you $20 off, free shipping, plus a free diorama.
I have a lot of Combiner Wars Ratchets! Three and a half, to be imprecise. I told you about my first BotCon Customization Class Ratchet way back in the summer, but there were five more potential decoes for that customization class toy. I made four of them total: Marvel Ratchet (already linked), G2 Ratchet, SG Ratchet, and... Medix. (Medix is the .5 of my 3.5 Ratchets, as he's not really a Ratchet but shares a body.)
So I had these three Ratchets. One more Ratchet and a torso, and I could have an entire Ratchet combiner! But that would never happen, ha ha ha ha ha!
Ha ha ha ha.
TakaraTomy revealed that they were getting their own Ratchet release, swapping him in for the Smokescreen we got over here, for their version of Sky Reign, the Sky Lynx combiner. Obviously they were gonna cartoon-colors him up, and they did. Cartoon Ratchet was the only customization class option I didn't make. But this Ratchet would make four Ratchets. I'd have enough limbs for a Ratchet combiner.
IF ONLY THERE WERE A VOYAGER RATCHET TORSO
hey guess what i sent Cheetimus a Pyra Magna and told him to paint her into a lady Ratchet
Here's the thing about Lady Ratchet: the original preproduction intent for G1 Ratchet was that the character be a she instead of a he. Bob Budiansky got saddled with this "write up 30 bios for these robots over Thanksgiving weekend" deal and came back to Marvel the next week with a character named Ratchet, named after Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, who was a party girl and a snarky-ass snarkster who maybe got a little drunk from time to time. She was pretty awesome. But Hasbro was all "um no, this is a boy's toyline and so they all have to be boys we mean genderless but really boys, okay??" and Budiansky was like "well okay whatever" and changed the gender and that was that.
And so my intent is that this Voyager Class-sized Ratchet custom represent Lady Ratchet, as originally intended. No, not "Ratchette" or anything like that. She's Ratchet. If anybody's gotta signify their gender through their name, it's the Dude Ratchets. Lady Ratchet came first, okay?
Anyway, Cheetimus painted this thing for me, expertly as he always does, and I got her in the mail just as my TakaraTomy Ratchet, the fourth limb, also arrived in the mail. I had some small influence in Lady Ratchet's deco, such as demanding she keep the Marvel Red Helmet and such, but mostly I was like, "hey, Cheetimus, make this thing into Ratchet colors" and he delivered. Yay!
I put a Reprolabels Autobot logo sticker on her chest (an unused one from the Thrilling 30 Jetfire set), gave her BotCon 2009 Leozack's sword weapon, and that was that. Ratchet and her four smaller Ratchets combine to form Physicion. Get it? It's "physician" but with an O, because robots, I guess. Look, I dunno.
I'm not sure exactly why five different Ratchets are co-existing and forming a giant robot, but whatever the reason, it makes me happy.
We got three Scattershots! One stand-alone Voyager, and one in each of the Hasbro and TakaraTomy box sets. The stand-alone is kinda forgettable. It's got two nigh-identical reds and for some reason the combiner head is still in Superion's colors. Its sole saving grace is its blue face. Faces that aren't just white or silver are interesting!
Hasbro's box set Scattershot is better. It has more contrast in its colors, a Computron face that's not just in Superion colors, and some delicious pinkish magenta.
TakaraTomy's box set Scattershot is best, though. It's sadly lacking in that pinkish magenta, but it has the highest color contrast and a buttload of additional retooling. There's a new Computron head that's not just an unaltered Superion's, and there's new chest sculpts for both Scattershot and the combined Computron form. Oh, and two new weapons.
Afterburner! ...Hasbro one wins. You may have noticed an ongoing "Takara's has better sculpt/mold but Hasbro has better colors" thing going on with most of these guys, and for once we've got a Technobot that's got an identical sculpt across sets. And so cartoon accuracy be damned, Hasbro's orange and charcoal and green Afterburner is a billion times better than TakaraTomy's monochrome red-and-white Afterburner. I guess TakaraTomy's has new guns, but you can throw them on the Hasbro version no problem, while also forgetting most of the time that he has new guns anyway. They're not important. The orange is.
So, yeah. Let's assemble my Computron as I please, mixing and matching. Hasbro Afterburner and Scrounge (attached with a LEGO piece) and TakaraTomy everyone else, but with the new fists and feet the Hasbro set got. Huzzah!
Nosecone is the only Technobot I owned as a kid. In fact, I owned him twice! Sometimes that happens when a guy is a low pricepoint and your parents and your grandparents are shopping for you at the same time. Two Nosecones!
So I've decided that owning both the Combiner Wars and Unite Warriors Nosecones is merely a brilliant homage to my childhood.
Of the two, I do have a clear favorite. I mean, let's be clear: Brawl is easily my least favorite Combiner Wars Deluxe. His shoulders are really awkward, he's kind of slight for a big bruiser such as Brawl, his forearms are dinky, and oh jeez that waist. Meanwhile, Rook (before UW Strafe happened) was my favorite Combiner Wars Deluxe. And so, y'know, I'm prooooooobably going to prefer the Nosecone built from my (second-)favorite Deluxe versus the one built from my least favorite Deluxe.
Adding to the TakaraTomy version's favor is the amount of retooling. He's got a new Nosecone head, and about half of his drill-tank mode is new. He has treads where he had wheels before, and the whole front roof of Rook's vehicle is replaced with.... well, an arm for the drill with a tiny pair of windows sculpted into it. It's not the greatest bit of retooling, but you can kind of bury it with all the extra weapons they gave him.
(Yeah, he gets three new guns.)
The sizeable drill can turn, but it's pretty stiff at the base, and it seems to lock in place every 180-degree turn. The tip is spring-loaded, though.
The one thing the Combiner Wars toy gets right over the Unite Warriors toy is the color scheme. Chocolate brown with orange and yellow feels more Nosecone to me than the washed out brown and yellow. TakaraTomy were trying to go for the animation colors, which were based on an earlier, redder prototype of Nosecone's toy. But their toy isn't very red, it's light brown, so I think maybe they were trying to find a compromise point between the animation and the toy.
If you put the CW colors on the UW toy, you'd have the perfectest thing.
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.
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.
It's Grabuge! Yep, that's his name. That's his name because Grabuge's American name, "Ruckus," wasn't an available trademark, so Fun Publications went for his ... French-Canadian name? Sure. Why not. Grabuuuuuuuuuuuge.
Out of most of this series of Subscription Service guys, Gra-- RUCKUS is the one I am most grateful for. You see, he was the original intent for the toy. When Hasbro was figuring out Menasor and realizing that Wildrider was a trademark they weren't likely to get back soon, there was apparently a time window when they sculpted the guy to look like Ruckus, the 1988 Triggercon. Which is, frankly, amazing. Too amazing, apparently, since they either realized "oh shit this guy's name ain't available either" or "oh shit Menasor can't have a beige leg" and decoed the toy to look sorta like Wildrider and gave him the name "Offroad" and decided he was a new guy.
BUT WHO WILL GIVE US THIS TOY AS RUCKUS???
Fun Publications will!
(note: there were some people who were upset that if FP were gonna make a Ruckus, that they'd use this mold instead of, like, Swindle, and no amount of "BUT THIS SCULPT IS RUCKUS THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT" would deter them from their folly)
Like a lot of this series of Subscription figures so far, Ruckus is...............80% paint? For seriously, you see that beige crotchpiece and the beige torso midsection/combiner peg and the beige elbow/shoulder jointage? Everything else is purple plastic! The rest of his torso, painted. The doors on his shoulders, painted. The inside of the truck hood on his back behind his head, painted. Yes, that's painted. It's purple plastic under there. Boggles the mind. The entire roof of the car and bed of the truck, painted. All the teal, painted. There is a friggin' lot of paint here.
It makes me wonder what Hasbro's version of the deco would have looked like. It would have used a tenth of the paint, that's for sure, and wouldn't have been such a slavish replication of the original toy's deco. It would have had to adhere more to the plastic breakdowns of the toy, deco-wise, and probably very loosely interpret the original's color arrangements. Sometimes I lie awake at night and ponder these things.
Because I have insomnia.
(note: my smaller, legends class groove has reprolabels stickers on it, so that's why mine has some extra detailing that yours might not have)
Last year, Hasbro had a "May Madness" where online retailers briefly carried Combiner Wars versions of Wildrider and Slingshot, who had been replaced by other, more interesting guys at retail. Well, it's May Madness again! Have some Deluxe Class Groove, who had been replaced by another, more interesting guy at retail.
I mean, the Deluxe Class-sized Groove that TakaraTomy made for their version of Defensor isn't bad or terrible, by Combiner Wars standards. It feels and operates like all the other Combiner Wars Deluxe Class guys. The same basic transformation steps and everything. But, like, he replaced Rook, who is easily the best Deluxe Class guy in the whole Combiner Wars line. He's got Hulk Hands, yo. Hulk Hands. And it's not like his presence removes Groove from the combined Protectobot form of Defensor, 'cuz there's a Legends Class Groove who becomes the chestpiece thing. Groove can still hang out. So, yeah, I feel like Hasbro made the right move, giving us both Rook *and* Groove.
There are things to like about Deluxe Groove, though. He has translucent plastic! None of the other guys have a sprue set aside for translucent plastic. So that's nice-looking. And he has two handguns with little siren flasher things on them, again using this translucent plastic. Guns with little flashers on them is a neat idea. Maybe not the best idea for a character who's a pacifist, but whatcha gonna do. It's weird that the pacifist is the one Combiner Wars guy who comes with more guns than he can hold. (other than the double targetmaster club subscription guys)
But, like, man, that motorcycle mode of his. Not good! I mean, you have to remember that a bunch of the jets are mostly robot parts with some jet parts stapled on top, but Deluxe Groove's motorcycle mode still feels lacking. His arms just ... sort of go there. And the whole thing isn't terribly motorcycle-shaped, either. It's just a long box with some motorcycle details sketched in. Being able to cover up a small portion of this mode by pegging in his two new guns shouldn't be such a relief. (Also, they're positioned so that if they fired, they'd blast his own hands off.)
Anyway, this toy exists probably to vindicate the smaller Groove that mass retail got. Oh, and to be retooled into Afterburner later on. And sadly, probably never into Sideways.