Thursday, 2 July 2015

Combiner Wars In-Hand

Now that I've got almost two complete Combiner Wars gestalts, but don't currently have time to photograph them all and write them up fully, I figured I may as well note down a few thoughts I've had on my experience of the line thusfar...

Looking back at G1 combiners, and even the Energon/Superlink combiners, I feel that the size of the limb components is Just Right for a contemporary reimagining of the Generation 1 'Special Teams'... The G1 and Energon/Superlink toys are roughly equivalent to four Scout/Legends class toys and one large Deluxe/small Voyager, while Combiner Wars features decent-sized Deluxe limbs and reasonable Voyager torsos (Hot Spot feels better than Silverbolt for the most part, but largely because Silverbolt is just a chunk of robot stuck to a plane and not a proper 'TransFormer'), and the gestalt forms are an excellent size, in and of themselves: Superion stands at virtually 12", with Defensor coming in around 11", so they scale well enough with FansProjects' Intimidator, even if they're not half as intricate or polished. My FansProject-enhanced Energon Bruticus may end up getting moved around on my shelves, as I'm pretty much convinced I'll be getting Combiner Wars Bruticus when he arrives... next year.

The scaling goes a bit bonkers when Leader class Megatron gets involved, because he's not much smaller than the gestalts (about 8.5" tall) in robot mode, but scales OK with Protectobots Streetwise and First Aid in vehicle mode. Naturally all the Aerialbots and Protectobot Blades are poorly scaled in comparison, and Rook is technically a bit too small... but the scaling is far, far better than it was in G1. That said, Ultra Magnus will muddy the waters even further due to the molding of strange, miniscule door and ladder details which are supposed to be 'human size' so, rather than being a human-sized truck and car-carrier, he's a Cybetronian-sized vehicle... so surely he dwarfs Optimus Prime? Unless everything is that scale, in which case the whole element of 'disguise' goes out the window because everyone is massive.

For the most part, the quality of the figures has been great. A couple have loose hips which are good enough for their individual robot modes, but utterly detrimental to their usefulness as arms on the gestalts. The most common problem I've had is with the 5mm pegs and ports for the weapons - lots of them are pretty loose. All of the gestalt hands/feet are OK, but their use in each limb's vehicle modes can be distinctly variable. Streetwise's cannons, for example, are incredibly loose on his roof, and the socket isn't very deep anyway. Several of the limb bots have trouble grasping their weapons, and Hot Spot's guns don't peg together very securely as Defensor's rifle. Making matters worse on that one in particular, due to the way they're molded, they can only connect one way.

Paintwork is, as usual with Hasbro, rather contentious. Some are excellent, and really don't need any more paintwork than they have... others are quite obviously lacking paint. Streetwise, for example, has the beginnings of a blue bar running down the sides of his vehicle mode... but it stops, suddenly and jarringly, about halfway down his length.

Particularly impressive are the head sculpts and, for the most part, their range of movement. Each one is completely individual (so far!) and they look fantastic. Plenty of repaint potential in some but, for once, that comes across more like clever planning than cheapness on Hasbro's part. None so far have light piping, but it's not a terrible loss given that they're all very well detailed and nicely painted.

I confess I'm somewhat at a loss to imagine where they'll go after those two new gestalts announced at BotCon - Bruticus and Sky Reign - and this year's Fan Built Bot, Victorion. Will they remake the Seacons (they're already doing Legends partners as TargetMasters, and one of Piranacon's six components had to be a gun, so it's a good fit), or perhaps take another stab at Abominus, most recently seen as a weird Legends class combiner in the Beast Hunters toy range? Will there be a new Computron? Aside from Sky Reign and the TFCC's 2016 Subscription Service gestalt, will there be any wholly new and original gestalts created for Combiner Wars?

My guess is 'probably not'... but we can hope.

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