Sunday, 19 June 2016

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Grabuge (aka Ruckus)

Because, in between publicising their Subscription Service 4.0 and actually shipping the toys, the Club lost not only its Timelines banner, but access to the name Ruckus as well... so he's called Grabuge now... which was the French Canadian name for Ruckus back in G1 days. Amusingly, 'grabuge' can also mean 'mayhem', which is pretty appropriate for a member of the Mayhem Attack Squad, who will combine to form Thunder Mayhem.

But we're still quite a way from that particular level of mayhem, with Grabuge Ruckus here being only the second of the five members to arrive... So how does he shape up?

Vehicle Mode:
While this is the first post about this mold to go live, I've had Unite Warriors Grand Galvatron on my shelves for a few weeks already, and Combiner Wars First Aid for about six months or so, so I'm basically familiar with the mold. As far as the character and the colourscheme go, I'm not so well-versed, but my initial impression was that the Club was insane to mold everything in purple plastic, then cover it so extensively with tan paint. It has been applied incredibly thickly to ensure no show-through, but this has left some highly visible seams - particularly on the truck bed - where the paint hasn't gone right to the edge of a piece. Just to be contrary there are also areas where the paint has spilled over into areas it shouldn't be - most noticeably the window frames and around the front left wheelwell.

The front of the truck is rather curious. The grille and headlights have been painted silver, then there's a rim of tan around the grille. I can only think this is intended to reference the fact that the robot's knees were visible through the gaping hole at the front of the G1 vehicle, and it strikes me that the bumper really could have done with being painted silver - G1 accuracy be damned: the rear bumper - surprisingly - is painted, why not the front? The bonnet features two tampographed designs which reference the stickers on the bonnet of the original toy. Both are simplistic and, while the original kind of got away with it because they were stickers which also acted as detail on his robot mode, these are only present for the sake of the reference and, frankly, look a bit crap. All the windows - other than the rear windscreen - are painted silver, as are the hubcaps and the 5mm sockets on above both rear wheels. He also features a flash of teal and silver running along the sides of the truck bed, then down to the step below the doors on each side. With all the excess of tan paint, the tail lights are made conspicuous only by the absence of paint. Much like the First Aid retooling, a pair of large robot feet jut out below the bumper proving that, after all, no amount of paint back there would be enough to distract the eye from their protrusion.

While Ruckus' bio makes reference the him using his axe to slash his opponents' tyres, he surely wouldn't be able to do it in vehicle mode because the side-mounted 5mm peg doesn't attach it in any useful position, and the angled tip of the handle prevents that being used to peg it into the side ports. Perhaps more alarmingly, his 'long range missile launcher' points directly into the cab when properly mounted, making it more than a little useless as a weapon in vehicle mode. At least its molded details make it look like some kind of supercharged engine... though the lack of paintwork leaves it looking a little cheap.

Robot Mode:
My first impression of Ruckus in robot mode is that he's pretty garish. The tan paint extends right the way around his torso and even into the underside of bonnet sticking out of his back and, while the combination of tan and purple isn't exactly offensive to my eyes, it really doesn't look good. His combiner peg and certain components of his joints are molded in a tan plastic that matches the paint fairly well but, again, I wonder why so much was cast in purple when it should have been tan.

What's fun about this mold is that the former sticker detail on the bonnet is nicely replicated in sculpted detail on this shins. I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to represent (some sort of shock absorber?) but it makes a lot more sense when seen like this, versus the rubbish and incongruous tampographed detail on the bonnet. They've continued the references to the G1 toy by painting the feet - and the squarish details just above - in silver, as a reference to the windscreen feet of the original.

The weapons are the same as with both First Aid and Offroad, and neither feature any paintwork. In the case of the axe, this is particularly disappointing, as it's molded in plain blue plastic, and it's meant to be 'chaos crystal-tipped'... Almost makes me wish they'd been cast in translucent plastic. The four-barrelled hand/foot gun is supposed to be a missile launcher and, granted, it's basically meant to take the place of the G1 Triggercon's flip-out, shoulder-mounted launchers, but the look of it doesn't say "missile launcher" to me. As with other iterations of this mold, the hand/foot gun can be jammed in underneath the vehicle's bonnet, between the wheels, to give the impression of it being shoulder-mounted, but the fit is very tight even on models that don't have a thick coating of paint in there, and it prevents the bonnet clipping into place on the windscreen's frame.

I quite like the head sculpt on this particular figure, despite a fairly basic paint job. The crest running across the forehead almost looks like it could drop down to become a visor, and the face looks like it was modelled on the look of the robots in IDW's early TransFormers comics, making it (unless I'm very much mistaken) roughly in the style of E.J. Su. The yellow paint on the face is different enough to the tan that it doesn't simply blend in, but it's also not as opaque, leading to some show-through to the plastic beneath on the right side of mine. Curiously, while it's not as apparent on other iterations of this mold, the sculpted detail of his face lends Ruckus the look of a rictus grin.

Of all the Combiner Wars molds out there, this isn't among my favourites and, given that G1 Ruckus was a kind of dune buggy, it really doesn't feel like the most appropriate choice for the character. As it happens, though, this mold was originally conceived as an update of Ruckus, hence the similarity in the details of the head sculpt and , of course, the molded representation of the G1 figure's sticker detail on the shins. The extensive tan paintwork really looks like a waste, and I'm sure it would have been simpler to have cast him in tan and painted the purple parts... and that's assuming there was no way to use two different colours of plastic in this mold. In fact, the only reason I can see for using purple plastic throughout is that, this way, the soles of his feet didn't need painting to keep the lower legs entirely purple.

I'm not sure how widespread an issue this is, but mine has some difficulty fitting together securely. When I first got it out of the box, there was plastic flashing on the end of the left arm, which prevented the rear of the truck from connecting up properly, and both bicep swivel/elbow joints had been fitted enough excess plastic remaining to stop them turning more than about 90°. It was easy enough to cut it all off, but its presence really harms the sense of this being a premium exclusive. What's more, the shin parts really don't like staying in place in truck mode... which means they may present a weakness when Ruckus forms Thunder Mayhem's leg.

The bio is one of those affairs where they're making lots of utterly unsubtle references to things in an attempt to be clever (the words "ruckus" and "mayhem" are very deliberately chosen) exhibiting a poor grasp of both grammar ("to him, all of this external damage represents badges and trophies"?) and punctuation (the axe which "he famously uses to slash his opponents' tyres"?), as well as making primary school-level spelling mistakes ("sporting a different arsenal than during his stadium career"?), but at least it offers some explanation of his weapons and delves a little into his character, albeit somewhat altered from his G1 self: the original looked like a wreck simply because he didn't care about the damage he received, while this version considers it a badge of honour. It also makes reference to Ruckus' 'younger brother', Ground Hog, making me wonder if that will be the mystery seventh figure this year... Probably not, though, as the Club has always delighted in confounding expectations.

Overall, probably the coolest thing about this figure is that the mold has finally been used as the character it was created to represent... Trouble is, I'm not too fussed about the character, having pretty much lost interest in the toyline by the time he surfaced. It's not bad but, frankly, I prefer it as Zombie War Breakdown in the Grand Galvatron set, or retooled into First Aid of the Protectobots. For me, the heavy tan paintwork really lets it down, and started showing wear and tear after the first transformation.
According to the default configuration, Ruckus
becomes Thunder Mayhem's left leg
Excitement Factor for Thunder Mayhem: 3/10


  1. Initially I was disappointed that Hasbro didn't make offroad Ruckus, but looking at the colours, it was probably a good choice. I think TFCC should have made a few stylistic colour changes to make this guy less crap looking. They just look all over the place.

    1. Completely agree there! The club has a habit of being quite slavish in its colour layout homages, and this one in particular took it way too far. It's a very different vehicle from the original, and has a completely different transformation, so they could have achieved a similar-looking robot mode without the excessive, underdesigned paintwork.