BESIDES THAT Combiner Wars G2 Superion is a pretty great recreation of the original Generation 2 Superion. It doesn't copy its color scheme off a fan work based off another fan work or anything! As far as we can tell, Hasbro actually did this deco themselves, based on the original toys. Amazing, I know. So if you remember G2 Superion, who wasn't canceled like 4/5ths of G2 Menasor was, then you basically know what you're getting here, Air Raid's Spider-Man wing deco and all.
Superion also comes with a redeco of Powerglide in "what-if" Generation 2 colors, since Powerglide wasn't otherwise in Generation 2. They inverted his colors, basically, just like G2 Sideswipe's were, and there you have it.
Like Menasor who came with Wildrider instead of Offroad, Superion comes with Slingshot instead of that helicopter guy Alpha Bravo. So Superion is all jets once again. I'm of two minds on this. My first mind's all "oh man but Alpha Bravo is kinda cool and he's a new guy and it's nice that they're not ALL jets, for, like, variety." My second mind's all "hooray, a new G2 Slingshot that won't crumble to dust!"
You see, G2 Slingshot was made of that notorious "gold plastic" which disintegrates under a light breeze. Eventually. It will happen. It's inevitable. The chemical composition of the plastic, with its swirly glittery whateverness is what does the deed, I believe. But this new Slingshot is not made out of that kind of gold plastic. There's no swirls, it's just kinda a flat gold color. It should be safe. Hasbro promised us Slingshot would be safe.
Note they promised absolutely nothing about Silverbolt.
Quickly: So, like, in the Nineties there was almost a Generation 2 Menasor, but he was canceled and BotCon got to have one-fifth of him as an exclusive, the rest being limited to a small handful of samples, causing him to be amazingly valuable.
But now there's a Combiner Wars giftset that does Menasor in his G2 colors (sort of), so everyone can have one now! Hooray! And mine was an early birthday gift! Yay, thanks, Scott!
Combiner Wars G2 Menasor is one slick package. I mean, obviously, you get all these guys at once, rather than having to get them piecemeal in stores or online, and so that's good. You open up the box and you see everything all arranged there in a plastic tray, and life is good. Also inside the box is a large paper envelope, which contains your instructions, a collectors card, and a cardstock-quality poster of Menasor. ....well, G1 Menasor, not G2 Menasor. But it's still friggin' cardstock paper inside an envelope, so. None of that floppy thin paper nonsense, this is the fancy stuff.
Also, if you're expecting Blackjack to be at all snug when connected to Menasor's chest, don't.
That said, this set is a pretty good deal, especially if you don't have any of these guys yet. You get six brightly-colored toys for $100 (or less, as Amazon inevitably drops it a few bucks like they did Superion) that combine into a robot and visually emulate a toy 99.999999999999999% of Transformers collectors can't ever own. Plus, y'know, the poster. I have no idea why I love that poster so much, but I do. You may love the poster less.
I wasn't super-interested in Masterpiece Sideswipe when he was first announced, and I was kind of disappointed when I fiddled with my friend's, so that lack of interest felt vindicated.
I gladly threw down dollars when it was announced that Masterpiece Sideswipe was coming out in his Generation 2 color scheme with a new snarly face and two new giant Derek Yaniger guns and two spikey wheels for his shoulders and a new sword. The only thing that's missing is his bandolier. I really want that bandolier. (Okay, fine there's also a third gun we saw on his back that's missing, but eh, mostly I'm about the bandolier.)
The toy is about what I remember when I tried to transform my friend's. Masterpiece Prowl was involved but pretty intuitive and easily do-able, but Sideswipe gets in his own way too much. Sideswipe feels more fragile when you move stuff around. He definitely seems more complicated than he has to be. I mean, the original toy's legs just pulled out and you flopped the feet down. I'm not entirely sure why this toy can't do that rather than having each shin blow up into shards which you reassemble to get basically the same look.
The toy comes bare, but there's a sticker sheet included if you want to push the look of the G2 toy. The comic book's Sideswipe left off the toy's green, so if you wanna strictly comic-accurate Sideswipe you should leave those off. But while I'm in love with that first G2 comic book issue, I'd rather my toy be prettier and acknowledge the original toy more, so I applied those stickers first-thing.
All the extra parts combine into a megaweapon which attaches to the roof of the car just like in the comic. Yeah, that can also include the wheels and the sword. It's pretty awesome.
I'm not likely to transform Sideswipe much since he's kinda a chore, so I'm glad he makes a pretty great action figure in robot mode. Visually, he's everything I've ever wanted from a Sideswipe, for seriouslies. Sideswipe is just kinda boring unless you G2 him up.
G1-style Breakdown was the toy I was least excited about in this year's Transformers Figure Subscription Service. I mean, I've already got a BotCon toy of that guy, and in way better colors! I know at the time, when we were getting this teal-and-magenta G2 Breakdown toy, some folks were clamoring for a white-and-blue G1 version to be one of the at-show surprises, but I do not understand those people. I do not understand them at all. Did they not realize that G2 Breakdown has, like, nonsensical splattered blood on his roof? How is that not the best possible already? Where is the room for improvement?
But those people yet exist, and so I guess this G1-style Breakdown is for them. That's okay. He's the sort of thing these Subscription Service toys should have -- y'know, stuff not everyone wants, so wouldn't have been done otherwise except under cover of a larger spread of toys. Some folks can get their G1 Breakdown if I can get my Circuit. That's how these things work.
Anyway, huge yawn.
UNTIL YOU READ THE FRIGGIN' BIO. Sure, he's the most pointless toy in the world in my eyes, but he's apparently from the best universe. This Breakdown hails from the third issue of Blackthorne's 3D Transformers comics. You know, the "Part one of three" story which never got its second and third parts because Blackthorne quit, in which the Autobots and Decepticons discover an enigmatic third faction called the Detructons, led by Lord Imperious Delirious.
(Well, best universe spin-off, to be precise. The story clearly takes place in original cartoon continuity post-The Rebirth.)
Anyway, that's super awesome. And now I begrudgingly appreciate this lump of otherwise boring plastic. Good show.
Here's all of the non-Beast Machinesy Autobots. From left to right we got Mirage, Hoist, Sandstorm, and Electro.
Hoist and especially Sandstorm are victims of some of the absolute worst timing. We're getting "Classics" versions of both of them this summer/fall, and I think that kind of puts these two iterations of their characters out of the limelight. Hell, it was just week or so ago when I got the Prettiest Fucking Sandstorm Toy Ever for $25, and about three days later I was paying twice that for this olive green and caramel thing. Admittedly, Pretty Sandstorm is a retool of a toy I already had and BotCon Sandstorm is a redeco of a movie toy that I'd never owned, so at least the latter was a new experience to me, but pretty goes a long, long way, man. (Also, Sandstorm is the only toy from the original Machine Wars I never bought.)
And while Hoist is getting a G1y version of himself sold in stores for $15, I don't think that's the worst news about the BotCon version. Both he and Electro, who share Kup's Generations body and a new head, suffer at least one if not two misassembly errors, depending on your specimen. The first, an interior misassembly that keeps you from transforming the torso all the way, is fairly easy to fix, and I have. The second, a bicep misassembly which keeps their arms from being able to fold all the way down, is not easy to fix, if not impossible. So many pins. My Hoist suffers from this, but not my Electro. I don't think I care that much. Hoist is probably going back in the box soon anyway. (Also, I didn't notice this until I got home because I only took out Hoist out of the box long enough to look at his shoulders, but man is the black stripe down the middle of his torso so not actually in the middle. Oof.)
Electro I appreciate if only for his cyan and magenta paint apps. He is super 90s. I never owned an original Electro, and I recommend that none of you try to own an original Electro, as that guy will crumble to dust. He suffers from Gold Plastic Syndrome, you see. He's the GPS poster boy. And so I'm happy to have this newer version that hopefully will not suffer the same fate. He's gold plastic, but it's not the swirly glittery kind that chemically falls apart after a few years. He's the only guy in today's group of folks who I don't have any sort of toy of, so it's nice to have a guy I hadn't owned previously.
On the flipside, that Mirage tho. I can't believe how much I dig this Mirage. I've got a lot of Mirages, including the original Machine Wars Mirage, and BotCon MW Mirage is so so so so so damn pretty. He's not the dark teal of the original, instead being more of a sea foam, and goddamn do I love him. He may replace my Classics Mirage on my shelf, because aw hell yeah, this guy. He was worth buying Thundercracker for. I just want to put him in my mouth.
Because God loves me, he gave the world a version of Fall of Cybertron Bruticus in Generation 2 colors with Generation 2 symbols in Generation 2 packaging, so that I may buy the hell out of it. Honestly, I am not super-familiar with Bruticus's Generation 2 colors -- like, before this fall, I probably couldn't have told you Blast-Off was white or Vortex was blue off-hand -- but despite this, this version of these guys is really setting off my happybrains. And, really, there is a huge deficit in yellow/purple Transformers, so thank you, G2 Onslaught.
Since this guy is G2 colors with G2 symbols in a G2 box, that makes him a new iteration of the original Combaticon characters from the Eighties, rather than an iteration of the new Fall of Cybertron/Aligned characters the first releases of the toy represented. (Continuity families are a tricky business.) This means that as a special bonus, even though this is just another set of Combaticons all with the same names and personalities, they still count as separate, different characters in my brain. These guys'll go on my G1/G2 shelf, with the San Diego Comic-Con version hanging out with my Aligned/WFC/FOC/Prime guys.
Earthy beigeness be damned, this guy's way prettier than the original. Yes, I'm talking about an entity that includes a space shuttle that has purple camo. Realism doesn't really enter into my appreciation of this guy. It's all tingling nerve endings. A perfectly visual stimulus, absent from reason.
I could make excuses for buying Wheelie. He had a new head and weapon! He was orange! ... that's about it!
But this G2-style Jazz version of the same toy, I dunno. I mean, I like myself some G2, but I'm not generally in for same-character redecoes of the same toy unless it's Hot Shot or Dinobot. But I had this tiny desire to have All The RTS Jazz Mold Uses, and so I got him.
I have no idea what I'm gonna do with him, but he's nice.
I am so bummed out right now that my old Generation 2Ramjet is up in the attic. I could do awesome comparison pictures! Also, because G2 Ramjet is greatness. He's the first version of the Seeker mold I've ever owned. Some time in the middle of Beast Machines, I found him and G2 Sideswipe (and a buttload of other G2) at a True-Value hardware store back in my Indiana hometown. Clearly some toy cases were discovered long past their shelf date. So, y'know, I splurged. It was the right decision.
Also like G2 Sideswipe, I've never sought to replace my G2 Ramjet with an original G1 version as they became reissued or more available to me through BotCons and eBay. Again, same as Sideswipe, what's the point? The G2 colors are awesome. Ramjet's Generation 1 colors... eh, they're all right. They're not offensive or anything. They're just kind of dull. They're not black and purple and turquoise with spots of orangey red.
So when Classics Ramjet came out, I liked him, but he wasn't really my Ramjet. My Ramjet is gorgeous. This new Club Exclusive G2 Ramjet... this is my Ramjet. And while in principle I kind of like to see my Classics molds with updated decoes that are simply evocative of the original rather than slavish recreations... I admit seeing all of Ramjet's stickers recreated millimeter by millimeter does kind of pull at me in the right places. It is an improvement that nearly all of his stickers are recreated with paint. The bits on his shoulder-intakes and the tops of his feet are still stickers, but only 'cuz you can't tampograph stuff inside those crevices very easily (as I understand).
And in the past, when Fun Publications has tried to recreate sticker detail that had words, their font recreation has never been very good. But not here. The "RAMJET" on the side looks accurate to me. A big improvement in that regard. It is kind of weird that they painted black between the legs on the top of Ramjet's jet mode, as if they're trying to recreate the gap that existed there on the original toy. Not sure how I feel about that.
And thank God his eyes are gold.
There are some downsides, though! For example, wow, is this mold showing its age. It's the twentieth use of the mold, if I recall, so no big surprise, even if Hasbro/Tomy has been trying to upkeep its viability bit by bit over the years. Some folks have reported scary-looking seams in their Ramjet feet. This does not appear to be a problem with mine. However, it is kind of a pain to get his torso transformed. The cockpit part of his chest no longer wants to fit smoothly inside the rest of the torso. It requires some excessive force to squeeze it into place.
Oh, and the art on Ramjet's box is kind of yikes, like someone hit a drunken Pat Lee over the head. Here's a hint: the middle finger should not be the shortest finger. Another hint: This Shortpacked! strip was not a serious how-to, dude.
When I was in high school, Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime was the fucking bomb. It was seriously the best Transformers toy ever, hands down. I wasn't alone in this assessment: in the Nineties the annual online Transformers fandom awards gave Laser Prime the #1 spot on the "Best Toy Friggin' Ever" poll for years and years after his release. The only thing that knocked it from its lofty perch was the arrival of Masterpiece Optimus Prime.
What granted the toy immortal status was the context of its birth. Laser Prime came out late in Generation 2, just as Hasbro decided, hey, maybe we should, y'know, give these guys some, like, knees and elbows or something. Laser Prime was the highest-priced item that year, so what he gave us was a very sizeable, very poseable, very electronic Optimus Prime who not only came with one of the best missile-launching and disc-shooting trailer bases ever, but he also rocked the fucking sword. (Which, in theory, would light up along with the rest of his electronics if plugged into his fist.) Laser Optimus Prime was fucking badass, and he was the most fucking badass Generation 1/2 Optimus Prime toy for a friggin' decade.
Some people prefer the mold in his "Black Convoy"/Scourge colors from Robots in Disguise. (Who inspired a tiny Spy Changer version of the toy that later got redecoed as Optimus Prime in a "Circle of Life" sort of way.) Me, I go for e-Hobby's Laser Ultra Magnus, who you see accompanying this blog's subject in the photos here. And I still love that toy. So It was hard to imagine what a newer version could bring to the table. Wasn't the original Laser Prime mold good enough? Was it that dated? Could it be improved on 15 years later?
So here's Reveal the ShieldOptimus Prime, who's an homage to ol' Laser Prime. He's just a Deluxe Class toy, compared to the, uh, whatever large undefined size class original Laser Prime was. So, yeah, RtS Prime is pretty tiny. He's even pretty tiny by modern Deluxe Class toy standards. He's shoulder-height with Generations Thunderwing andClassics Bumblebee, which makes him one of the shortest Deluxes ever. It makes me wonder what about his construction made it too costly to make him bigger. Bumblebee came with that sizable transforming jetski/trailer accessory, so that's a conservation of mass. Thunderwing is mostly wing, and so he's about as big as he can get and still fit into the bubble packaging. With RtS Prime, though, I'm not so sure. He feels like he has a lot less mass than, say, Drift or Straxus, both of whom tower over him and come with more accessories.
Might it be his complexity? I'm not talking really about his transformation, which is indeed much more complex than the original Laser Prime's. I'm thinking more of the extravagant series of lightpiping that runs through the top half of his body. His shoulders, torso, and head are all full of translucent orange plastic, and so when you put him up against a light, he glows through all these sculpted cracklines. It's pretty neat. (And was probably intended as a replacement for the original version's electronic lights.)
But let's get back to his transformation. One thing that this toy definitely improves on versus the original is the vehicle mode. While Laser Prime's back end was unmistakably a pair of robot legs pegged together, RtS Prime's vehicle mode tries to make that back end look like an actual truck back end. This means some liberties have to be taken with Optimus Prime's legs, and those liberties were definitely taken, with some very compelling results. There's a series of flip-over panels that move out of the way from truck to robot mode so that you can compress the wheels into the insides of the thighs and shins. This is necessary because, like a real semi, he's got those double-wheels, and double-wheels are wide!
I also appreciate how the windows of the vehicle become the chest of the robot. Original Laser Prime had vestigial chest windows, which looked nice but were a real cheat, but RtS Prime says fuck that shit and goes the extra mile of moving the chest windows down into the robot mode. And they even paint them silver so that they call back to Laser Prime's chest color. (That is super appreciated. If they'd done his chest up in traditional red, it wouldn't feel much like Laser Prime at all.)
When you fold the side windows in so that his shoulder jointings have a place to go, they press up against the insides of his chest window. Why? 'Cuz there's a Matrix sculpted on the facing side of those window panels. Oh fuck yeah. And in an undocumented feature, when you compress the remaining vehicle kibble into his backpack, there's a large slot there for his sword to stow. His sword which transforms into the trailer hitch. (Not nearly enough Optimus Primes have actual trailer hitches, instead of the usual humdrum peg and peg-hole.)
I'm not sure where I stand on RtS Prime's poseability versus the original's. In theory, he has the original's joints and more. In theory, he adds very-helpful ankle articulation to the pile. His head is perched high on a ball joint. And his additional wrist articulation allows him to, at long last, hold his sword double-fisted style. But a lot of the rest of his articulation is hindered by the sculpt. His waist could turn more than a few degrees to each side if his backpack didn't get in the way. His elbows don't quite bend 90 degrees. And the admittedly nifty collapsible leg wheels keep his knees from bending much.
So RtS Prime is something of a mixed bag. Whether he skews awesome or meh depends on how you prioritize his shortcomings and improvements. Plus he has some pretty big shoes to fill... literally. What with being tiny. And, hey, let's be real, here. Laser Prime was the most awesome toy of his decade. If he came out today, he wouldn't be so legendary. ...which is just about where RtS Prime stands.