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Rook is a nice change of pace in the Combiner Wars line for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, he’s an entirely new figure, rather than a modification or reshelling of an existing figure, and secondly he’s a totally new character, so I don’t have to try and relate any past nostalgic attachment to his Generation 1 iteration. Many fans lament the fact that Rook apparently has replaced Groove (at least at the deluxe scale, considering a Legends Groove does exist, and works with Defensor in his own way) but my lack of attachment to past versions of these characters has allowed me to not care a whole lot about that.
With that in mind, though, the fact that Takara is producing a Deluxe scale Groove to work with Defensor makes me whimsical that we might see him stateside at some point, which I love just for the sake of getting a new toy, and not necessarily as a replacement for Rook. Honestly, Rook is cool enough that I don’t feel like he really needs replacing.
Where most of the Protectobots vehicles are very clearly rescue based, Rook is completely about defense and offense. As an armored SWAT vehicle, this new Protectobot certainly seems like the brick house of the bunch, a strong and powerful warrior as opposed to someone focused on rescue. His alt mode is pretty fantastic, with six wheels, a tough looking armored hide, and excellent transformation. There is no real visible kibble, and panels all fit together extremely well, leaving a solid tank-looking armored vehicle ready to stand strong against a Decepticon onslaught.
His transformation works well and contains a lot of similar mechanisms to other Combiner Wars figures, from the extending, flip down legs, to the pull apart arms. Everything flows nicely, and even though he is essentially a completely different toy than any others before him, I found the process as straight forward as others, which is appreciated to a Transformers fan with limited capacity for mechanical engineering.
In robot mode, Rook still exudes a sense of strength and stability, with exceptionally broad chest and shoulders. I love the fact that his tires are embedded in his chest, and the armored hide of the SWAT vehicle makes for some really huge looking shoulder pads. His arms are really short and stubby, with nice elbow movement. I do have some issues with the arms, though. The flaps hanging off his forearms that make up side panels on the vehicle look somewhat out of place in robot mode, though they could make for some great protective shields. Also, while part of me absolutely loves the built-in cannons in his fists, another part of me wishes he had some normal hand holes for weapons. His legs are surprisingly sleek and very well articulated, with great ball joint hips and very bendable knees, He stands well and looks very imposing, even at a somewhat squat Deluxe scale. Rook looks really great in either mode.
From a color perspective, Rook takes some nice blue elements from Hot Spot and Streetwise, with a healthy dose of black in his torso and white trim throughout. His complete lack of red does separate him somewhat from the other Protectobots, but even with that, I find him to be a great part of the team look and feel.
If I have any complaints, I’m not especially sure what to do with this weapon. He’s got some sort of forked prong that doesn’t seem to support his position as a thick and strong bad ass. I would have loved for him to come with some nasty looking chain gun or other weapon that might better support his place among the team.
Really, that’s a minor complaint, and along with Streetwise, Rook is my favorite Deluxe team member, and perhaps my favorite Protectobot overall.