Sunday, 22 August 2010

Energon Constructicon Maximus

AKA: Devastator, in just about every other continuity...

I'm going to have to do this one a bit differently because I don't actually have the full complement of limbs for Constructicon Maximus. All the Energon Gestalts used only two unique limb molds, but in different colours, and I only have one pair - Bonecrusher and Wideload - twice. Eventually, if I'm lucky and can be bothered, I might pick up the remaining two, Duststorm and Sledge. I didn't see them at Auto Assembly this year, but did see at least one of the two I've already got.



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It does seem strange that, while the Evergon/Superlink Autobots' gimmick was combining in pairs via their Powerlinx feature, they only got one gestalt team while the Decepticons - who, by and large, had Hypermodes rather than any form of combination - got two gestalts... but, when you consider that those two were as much G1 homages as Superion, and the fact that none of the Energon/Superlink gestalts turned out very well because of the duplication of parts, it's not hard to see why the choices were made.

Wideload (& Duststorm)
No sense separating this lot into Vehicle/Robot mode pics, since I can show both off at once. Wideload and Duststorm seem like strange names, considering they transform into dinky little mobile cranes. The former sounds more like a dump truck/haul truck and the latter sounds more like something that might fly. Even stranger, when this team was recoloured for the Classics re-release (packaged as Devastator, naturally), those two iterations of this mold were named Long Haul and Hightower, the former being the name of the G1 Constructicon dump truck, the latter being an entirely new name. Not once has the G1 Contructicon crane's name been applied to this mold... but then, Hook isn't a name that really needed to be hung on to.

Crane mode is quite effective, but with much of its structural integrity relying on the crane arm being connected to the rest on the front of the vehicle, it can get a little floppy when the arm is moved around. Still, impressively for a model of this size, not only does the arm offer full 360 degree rotation and a decent amount of tilt/lift, but it also extends. Sadly the hook on the end is molded solid, rather than being even slightly mobile - not quite on a par with G1 Hook.

Robot mode can only be described as odd... from the massive feet to the asymmetrical arms and the tiny head. It's very poseable, however, and the addition of the Energon claw to the crane arm does make it look pretty menacing.
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Bonecrusher (& Sledge)
Another mixture of old and new names, Bonecrusher is lifted from the G1 Constructicon bulldozer (as opposed to the loader, which was named Scrapper - a name which was eventually applied to this mold for the Classics repaint), while Sledge is taken from a MicroMaster... wait for it... dump truck. Confused? You will be... Bonecrusher's name was later transferred to the second iteration of this mold in the Classics repaint.

As loaders go, this is actually a very effective model. Obviously its size means it lacks a certain amount of articulation in its scoop, but it can tilt, and the arms lift it quite nicely. Its Energon weapon can attach more effectively than the claw on Wideload and Duststorm, forming something like a ripper mounted on the back.

Robot mode is good and stocky, just as poseable as Wideload and Duststorm, though perhaps a little less stable because if the scoop hanging off his back. It's also difficult to know what to do with his weapon in robot mode... it looks like a dual-bladed sickle, but supposedly can be folded up and used as a gun.
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Steamhammer
Vehicle Mode:
And just to continue the confusion, Steamhammer was an entirely new name, later applied to a Mini-Con, and this mold was more appropriately named Scrapper when repainted for the Classics pack. This is an excavator of sorts, but the scoop seems to be overly large compared to its arm, and attached the wrong way round. Most excavators dig by scooping inward, toward the body of the vehicle. Steamhammer would have to scoop away from his body, which would surely lead to toppling.

Most of the scale issues with this model lie in the body, which is almost entirely made up of the robot mode's legs folded up around the back. This, coupled with the very small treads, make vehicle mode prone to toppling straight away, so any form of work would probably be deadly.The positioning of the legs also gives rise to Visible Robot Crotch Syndrome... Never pretty. All that bulk at the back has no purpose on this type of vehicle, so it doesn't look very authentic.

Perhaps to make amends for the wonky attachment of the scoop, it does open... though I've never been sure if this is intended to facilitate the dumping of its cargo, or so it can behave as a slightly more useful hand in robot mode.
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Robot Mode:
Carrying on the tradition set up by Wideload and Duststorm, Steamhammer is a very asymmetrical robot. One arm looks normal enough from the front, but has the vehicle mode's cab hanging off the back of the shoulder. The other... well... it's a great big scoop that scrapes the ground. It's actually far more effective in robot mode than it could be in vehicle mode - Steamhammer would be able to dig the way a real-world excavator would and, thanks to articulation that is much improved in this mode, could probably play lacrosse very well... that, or the Ring Game from Tron.

While Steamhammer is pretty poseable, his legs seem a little flimsy and hollow, and his head is completely stuck in between the treads sticking out of his back. It looks as though the head should be able to rotate, but I've never been able to get it to move.
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Combined mode certainly looks fearsome, and even managed to be reasonably stable in some fairly extreme poses - amazing, considering what passes for his feet, but the actual footprint area is quite large for both the limb molds.

The more you think about his appearance, though, the more you see the glaring flaw - Steamhammer's scoop on his left shoulder would seriously impair his vision, and it means the left arm can really only ever be the Wideload/Duststorm mold, as the clashing scoop on Bonecrusher/Sledge would completely impede the left arm's movement. Still, in combined mode, it's easy to see why Steamhammer's scoop was attached the wrong way round - attached properly, it would cover Devastator's head! Also, more of a flaw with the mold than with the overall toy concept, the movement of the head is blocked by the front flap of vehicle mode's cab, which rests just below the neck joint.
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Easily one of the better Energon gestalts - not that there are many to choose from - Constructicon Maximus is quite stable, reasonably sturdy given its components, and very poseable. It's even possible to bodge elbows out of the crane and loader molds, at the expense of some stability. On the downside, this set also best illustrates why it's such a shame that Energon only ever had two distinct limb molds per team. Sure, they got repainted, but they're just not different enough. While Superion could get away with it, and it almost makes sense with Bruticus, why would a team of construction vehicles feature only two cranes and two loaders, with nothing like a cement mixer or a dump truck?

Each part is quite colourful in its own right, with Bonecrusher appearing to have the most authentic colour scheme for a construction vehicle, and only Steamhammer taking his colour cues directly from the G1 Constructicons. 

Nonetheless, it's a valiant effort at updating Devastator... and certainly far better than the more recent Power Core Combiner gestalts... but, like the other two Energon gestalts, it's not exactly massive.

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