The Combiner Wars theme, I’m happy to say, has had far more “hits” than misses, and I feel comfortable saying that Bruticus is another solid home run. Using the same connection template as the previous combiners, the limbs all say firmly secure, yet offer very nice poseability, as the other combiners do.
Perhaps what puts Bruticus over the edge is that he is a combiner team I actually owned part of when I was younger (as a G.I. Joe fan back then, I naturally gravitated towards the military theme) along with the Stunticons and Aerialbots. Unlike the Stunticons and Aerialbots, however, I don’t believe I ever owned the entire set of Combaticons, so this is like a new world for me, and it’s one that I like.
Britucus’ very distinctive head sculpt is translated perfectly with this combined figure, and I love the broad, triangular chest plate. He looks imposing and powerful, and unlike Menasor, he doesn’t feel like he exists just to topple over. The wide stance of his legs (like Defensor) holds him in poses really nicely, and even though the individual Combaticons have some pretty different, distinctive colors, he still makes for an awesome combined character.
Bruticus is great, all things considered. I think I may still like Superion the most (well, unless you count Devastator), but Bruticus is a close second, followed by Defensor. Menasor needs to rethink his outlook on life.
It’s amazing what some minor changes can do to change one character into another, and those minor changes work wonders for Onslaught.
Obviously based on the Hot Spot tooling, Onslaught has just the right changes to completely redefine the figure into a different, more effective character. The elaborate hook and ladder system on his back in vehicle mode is now a triangular mount for his two cannons, and not only does it look more potent and deadly in vehicle mode, but the it converts nicely into an effective chestplate for Bruticus.
The vehicle itself is narrow and sloped, like the fire truck, but still makes for an excellent military type vehicle, although not especially vintage accurate. Like Hot Spot, transformation is relatively intuitive and easily accomplished, and as cool as the vehicle is, the robot mode is even better. Articulation is spectacular, with great movement at all necessary joints. I love how imposing the armored shoulder pads look, and the intricate lined sculpting in robot mode is seriously impressive.
Sculpting in the new head is nearly flawless, and it’s amazing to me how a featureless robot can express such emotion with the different positions of his head and body.
The twin cannons can stay attached to the back like you might expect, but are also removable and can be held as robotic guns, too.
Like the rest of the Combaticons, Onslaught’s colors are based more strongly on the classic toy than the animation, but work well in that regard, and as a lifelong G.I. Joe fan, I’m extremely attached to the military angle of all these Combaticon toys. Onslaught is a great vintage update and makes for a fantastic centerpiece to the Bruticus combiner.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always understood Swindle to be probably the most famous of the Combaticons, and one of the characters that has somewhat transcended his role as merely one part of the larger whole. That might be just because of my fascination with Transformers: Animated and the fact that he had such a distinct role there, but that’s the impression that I get.
Hasbro does a good job of taking the classic elements of Swindle and integrating them a bit more into an effective “combat” vehicle, using a healthy helping of Rook, but adding some very nice tweaks with some rollbars and more identifiable “Jeep” parts. The result is a bulky, armored combat jeep that manages to maintain all the hallmarks of the vintage original, yet plenty of more modern power while they’re at it.
One of the best parts of the figure is the new head sculpt, which is chock full of that Swindle arms dealer character. With his trademark purple “sunglasses” and grimace, the head and face definitely resemble the Swindle that we know and love. He’s got a very unique head that is translated quite nicely to plastic form here, and I love it.
With a nice mixture of orangish/brown, Hasbro takes some queues from the vintage version and both the vehicle and robot look the part. It certainly helps that Rook is one of my favorite base figures, too, and I’m really glad they’re leveraging him for both Swindle and Hound. It makes for a great base, and with just the right tooling tweaks, they look separate enough to work nicely.
Swindle is pretty great. I daresay he’s the highlight of this wave of Deluxes for me, easily pushing aside Brawl, who I just assumed would be my odds on favorite.
Out of all the deluxe Combaticons, Brawl was probably the one I looked forward to most, simply due to his alt mode. As a G.I. Joe fan, I really dig seeing Transformers geared up as true military machines, even though I break out in hives thinking of the twisted up scale of some of these vehicles.
Brawl is the one completely new figure amongst this crew of repaints, and in vehicle mode, I love it. The tank looks cool and distinct, standing out among the crowd, impressing with its armor and cannon when intermingled with repainted pick up trucks, scrawny fighter jets and sports cars. Brawl means business.
Unfortunately, once you get Brawl into robot mode, it starts to feel like maybe Brawl is going out of business. At first glance, he looks great. Broad shouldered, stocky, and very aggressive looking. Pretty much how you’d expect a tank that turns into a robot to look. But once you start posing him, you run into some annoying problems. His shoulders are connected at a very restrictive shoulder joint, connecting stubby arms directly to his torso, and limited his arm movements by a considerable margin. The result is a figure that can do little more than flap his arms or rotate them very close to his body. At the waist, there’s no real connecting joint either, so the top half of the figure just kind of floats there and doesn’t hold together, so he’s constantly pulling apart and is tough to move into a really nice pose. It’s disappointing, because these are two pretty key issues that, from a design standpoint, Hasbro has overcome, at least until now.
Throughout the bulk of the Combiner Wars line, they’ve (almost magically) been able to mesh design with articulation, and give us two very effective modes without sacrificing play factor. In the case of Brawl, they don’t quite succeed, which is all the more frustrating since this is the only newly tooled figure of the wave. The hope would be that this one newly tooled figure would be great enough to rise above all the repaints, when in fact, it ends up drawing the rest of the wave down a bit.
I love the colors, I love the concept, I desperately want to enjoy Brawl, but the fact remains that he’s the wave’s greatest disappointment, which is extremely unfortunate.
While I anxiously await the arrival of my first shipment of FSS 4.0, I figured I’d wander back over to Transformers world to post a few reviews of the recently released Combiner Wars Combaticons. After all, they’re military vehicles, right? That kind of counts.
Sometimes, when you’re an avid, nostalgia-fueled fan, certain decisions by modern toymakers can drive you up the wall. Even if you know the reasons (more often than not financial) these choices can be infuriating.
At times like this, sometimes I’m glad I was mostly a fringe Transformers fan in the 80s, so when Blast Off is represented as a fighter jet instead of a space shuttle in the Combiner Wars line, I can kinda shrug it off and say “makes sense to me”. I mean, after all, what kind of “combat” vehicle is a friggen space shuttle?!
Granted, the Takara version of Blast Off does look pretty friggen sweet.
As mentioned, this rendition of the Combaticon air support member is a jet instead of a shuttle, a repaint of several previous releases within the Combiner Wars line, including Quickslinger. In fact, this figure is a direct repaint of Quickslinger, included the head sculpt, which has caused some understandable consternation among Transformers fans. Even if you’re not going to give folks the full blown space shuttle experience, it feels like a new head would have at least been a good bone to throw to the fans out there.
Because Blast Off is such a straight repaint, it’s tough to find a whole lot more to talk about with the figure itself. I still really love the base figure here, and it was one of these fighter jets that got me interested in Combiner Wars in the first place, way back when. The transformation is really straight forward, easy to pull off in both directions, and the figure is very nicely articulated, something that’s especially important to a long time G.I. Joe fan like myself.
Blast Off is colored in much the same way as the vintage version, with a metallic gray and purple mixture, both complimenting each other remarkably well. The small hints of yellow add some nice color, without being too intrusive.
No, Blast Off is not a space shuttle, but in my opinion, he fits much better with his peers in this form. I can certainly understand the complaints of the long time fans who want a G1 update to go along with these others, but from a practical standpoint, I’m cool with the version we got.
In a way, when Hasbro first released Alpha Bravo back with their first wave of Combiner Wars figures, fans everywhere immediately knew that Vortex was just a matter of time. Not only was Vortex the same distinct kind of helicopter that Alpha Bravo was, but even the head sculpt was pretty unique to that Combaticon. With Quickslinger’s release, Alpha Bravo became the odd man out of the Aerialbots, so at this point, even though Vortex is a straight repaint of that figure, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, because the original version of the helicopter combiner has been rendered more or less extraneous.
I’ll admit Alpha Bravo was never my favorite of the first run of Combiner Wars, and that opinion is maintained with Vortex. The transformation feels a little clunkier and the robot isn’t quite so fluidly articulated as some of the others. That being said, looking at the Vortex source material, Hasbro did a pretty spectacular job of updating that character to a modern version, while maintaining much of the spirit and uniqueness of the original.
Most of Vortex is gray, like the original, with just the right hints of that nice shade of green. Even the yellow painted missiles are a nice mimic of the yellow stickers adhered to the side of the original G1 Vortex.
Even with the transformation being not as intuitive as other releases, it is still relatively easy and accomplished quickly, allowing for much more enjoyable “play time” for those of us who are Transformers novices.
I love the colors, really like the character now that I know him better, and consider this a pretty great update to the G1 original.
All the way back in the mid 80s, during Season 3 of the Transformers animated series, the Sunbow writers made their clear link between the G.I. Joe and Transformers universes by introducing both Marissa Faireborn (daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye) and even more directly bringing forth the character of “Old Snake” a mysterious former terrorist who looked and sounded remarkably like COBRA Commander. Leveraging the whole idea of Synthoids only went to further that story.
Seems like forever that fans of both properties have been clamoring for some kind of official toyline joining the G.I. Joe and Transformers lines together. Certainly there have been some heavy homages over the years (including the Combiner Wars Viper figure just released last year) but this joint exclusive between the G.I. Joe Transformers Club and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club was the first time the joint effort was made somewhat official. Yes, there were ComicCon boxed sets (that were pretty awesome), but is the first real in Sunbow continuity attempt to make both universes gel.
Both this installment as well as the Marissa Faireborn/Afterbreaker pack use Season 3 of the animated series as a heavy influence.
Long before 80s nostalgia fans dreamed of ways for G.I. Joe and Transformers to co-exist, Sunbow tied the two universes together during Season 3 of the Transformers cartoon featuring the mysterious “Old Snake” an obvious connection to COBRA Commander. It only seems right that if the Collectors Club were to revisit a joint G.I. Joe/Transformers series that they start by building off of that old school connection.
Old Snake appeared back in the 80s as a man in a reflective mask with a hat and trenchcoat, with some easily identifiable COBRA Commander trademarks and just enough additional disguise to not be too obvious. The Collectors Club uses these trademarks in developing this figure.
COBRA Commander’s head with Rise of COBRA Storm Shadow torso/coat and arms give the figure the familiar face and trenchcoat. Underneath the coat they use Resolute Snake Eyes legs to represent a baggy pair of blue pants underneath. While the Rise of COBRA Storm Shadow jacket does restrict movement quite a bit, due to the nature of its design, the elbow joints and knee joints are nicely poseable and utilize some relatively modern parts.
The color scheme is gray throughout the coat and hat, with the pants a familiar blue, looking a lot like COBRA Commander’s original uniform from the 80s and from the Sunbow series.
There aren’t a ton of accessories here, with the RoC themed laser pistol (which fits in the holster) the backpack that originally came with Retaliation Lady Jaye, as well as a pair of Energon cubes. I will warn folks to be careful with the backpack. The straps are very thin, and one of mine snapped when trying to put it on Old Snake’s back.
The end result of the Old Snake figure is a pretty effective looking version of the classic future-COBRA Commander character that looks and moves the part.
I’ve always had a weird relationship with Transformers. I’ve never been especially attached to the familiar G1 aesthetic, mostly because I collected them as a kid and their restrictive movements always left me frustrated when attempting to “play” with them as a youngster. As a result, while I was captivated by Transformers for a short period of time, it was a hobby that went out of vogue around the same time as Transformers: The Movie killed off all my favorite classic characters. Hasbro’s marketing scheme backfired in that case, and instead of being inspired to buy a whole new cast of characters on store shelves, I merely retired my Transformers collection and moved on to other things.
However, in the 90s my Transformers love was reignited by Beast Wars and in the years since I’ve collected most Transformers that jived with their animated appearances. I didn’t do the Energon trilogy stuff, but I did collect Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime. Because of my interest in Transformers: Prime, I was already familiar with the figure that the Stealth B.A.T. is based off of, Transformers: Prime Soundwave. As a Transformer that uses a Predator type drone as an alt mode, it makes a lot of sense in the G.I. Joe aesthetic. The Soundwave figure doesn’t necessarily look a lot like classic fans view Soundwave, so there’s no conflict there with the classic G1 universe.
The size of the figures works well, too, because they are a little larger than your standard G.I. Joe figure, but not so large that they fall out of scale (or out of the price range) of the collectors who want to buy them. As with most of the recent Transformers offerings, articulation is pretty great here, too, with nice knee, hip, and elbow joints. Clearly the Club is using deco to translate this figure to a B.A.T. type android, using the familiar black and yellow paint scheme with a semi-translucent red face mask, as we often saw in the Sunbow animated series.
The transformation is relatively straight forward for an inexperienced rookie Transformers fan like me, and both modes work pretty well. The Predator-style drone looks like it would fit within the aesthetics of the modern G.I. Joe universe, and would be an effective COBRA weapon even in vehicle mode. I could see the Stealth B.A.T.s being used in vehicle mode as surveillance, then transforming and attacking in a devastating new way in robot mode.
The small detachable mini drone is a cool touch, too. With the original Soundwave figure it was basically a Transformers: Prime version of Laserbeak. Here it’s a separate spy drone component that adds a neat new element to the figure and is also a cool (if perhaps unintentional) throwback to the old school Night Raven.
At the end of the day, the two Stealth B.A.T. figures look like somewhat oversized attack robots that you might find in the G.I. Joe universe, and the paint scheme works as a B.A.T. type offensive weapon, too. It’s a nice combination of base figure and paint scheme and adds some interesting twists to the Old Snake pack.
These Stealth B.A.T.s manage to be a nice combination between Transformers design and G.I. Joe aesthetics and is a really nice marriage between the two in both robot mode and alt mode. It’s a fun and flexible toy that works as a bridge between two universes, but also is just a flat out fun G.I. Joe themed action figure as well.
All in all, there are some great vintage homages here as well as some great new elements. Something that appeals to many different crowds. This set is expensive, to be sure, but I’m finding it surprisingly enjoyable and a neat new take on the typical G.I. Joe stuff.
Do you like your peanut butter in your chocolate? Some do, some don’t, but whatever your preference, the G.I. Joe and Transformers Collectors Clubs have taken steps to offer exclusives linking together the universes of G.I. Joe and Transformers, and their first entry into that world is Marissa Faireborn w/ Afterbreaker.
Actually released earlier last year, I only got the opportunity to pick this figure up a month or so ago, and am now getting around to the review. You can check out the review on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club review page, or the direct link below.