Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Perfect Effect Perfect Combiner PC-01 Combiner Upgrade Set Black Version

When Perfect Effect first introduced their Combiner Wars upgrade sets, they came in only two colours - black and purple, the latter being tailored toward Hasbro's Menasor. Black would seem to be aimed at Defensor but, at the time, the only CW gestalts available were Superion and Menasor (the latter never completed in Europe), and it was only later that Perfect Effect released the white version, specifically coloured for Superion. I ordered both versions of the set at the same time, so now I can reveal how awesome it looks on Defensor...

Aside from the colour, this is basically exactly the same as the Superion set, so look there for a more detailed breakdown of the individual components. It's also worth noting that neither PC-01 nor PC-02 featured any paintwork (so the barrels of the Gatling guns for the Stunticons were a curious shade of purple), while PC-05 had gunmetal paint applied to the Gatlings and on the tops of the feet. This makes these additional weapons both immensely inappropriate to a team called the 'Protectobots' and incredibly plain... it's almost as if the paintwork on PC-05 only came about due to customer feedback on the lack of paint on the first two sets.

It's a shame that the molds are identical, as it would have been nice to have a more fitting loadout for the team (though the hand/guns make a decent substitute for Streetwise's shotgun and cover for First Aid's lack of any gun) - and it's worth noting that the sets being made available for the various Optimus Prime combiners and for Bruticus are at least partially remolded as well as being painted. I understand that a Third Party company like Perfect Effect probably can't afford to do unique hands and toes for each set, let alone remolding everything but the connection pegs every time, but I'd have thought it would have occurred to them to add a little paint here and there.

Upgraded Gestalt:
Again, this is what Defensor really needs to look like. The feet perfectly suit the stocky, burly look of the gestalt, and the hands... well, they look especially tiny on Defensor's wrists. The look OK on the Blades arm but, on any of the other 'bots as an arm, particularly Streetwise with his very hollow wrist, the hands end up looking a bit silly.

The improved footprint makes him vastly more stable so, as long as his hips behave themselves, Defensor becomes a brilliantly poseable action figure in his own right - as a contemporary gestalt, by rights, should be. The individually poseable fingers can be very expressive, and the range of ankle movement is excellent, despite the blocky nature of First Aid and Rook.

Now, bearing in mind that all the photos below were taken on an uneven surface - my sofa, because the kitchen worktop was cluttered with dishes and the coffee table was buried under all kinds of junk - I found that Defensor was completely unable to stand on one foot. The legs are far too heavy for Hot Spot's comparatively weak hips, and with the right leg tending to drop out of its gestalt configuration as soon as it's moved, he's more difficult to pose well than Superion... but it's certainly not impossible to get awesome stances out of him. With a bit of time spent on balancing him, he can achieve some quite dramatic poses.

If I haven't already gushed enough about these upgrade sets, let me reiterate that, like PC-05, these parts are well worth tracking down, and they make all the difference to any of the Combiner Wars completed gestalts. The lack of paintwork on this is disappointing, making it look unfinished in comparison to the white version. I'd also quibble the relative size of the hands - Perfect Effect could easily have got away with shrinking the feet by about 10% and enlarging the hands by at least the same degree - but they're decent enough as they are.

With Combiner Wars, Hasbro took a 30-year old concept and brought it bang up to date, improving the play value of both the components and the completed gestalts immeasurably. Perfect Effect have provided the icing on the cake, with increased stability and poseability - for both the hands and the feet - without ending up with chunks of plastic that serve no purpose for anything but the completed gestalts. The weapon modes may not be as neat as the CW stock versions (in particular, the Gatlings are too large for anything but a Voyager), but they're a neat touch in a cleverly-pitched product.

I have preordered the PC-09, for Bruticus, even though I'm not yet sure if I'm going to be able to import the Unite Warriors set or if I'll have to settle for Hasbro's version, but the feet are an entirely new design, and the new weapons look fantastic.

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