Sunday, 16 August 2015

Transformers Combiner Wars Devastator Review

transformers combiner wars devastator review
Combiner Wars Devastator - vintage giftset style

Combiner Wars Devastator then - it is actually a real thing. In my hands.

Originally I intended to split this review into two parts, but thought I'd walk on the wild side and just do it all in one go.
So many words and pictures, this will be the longest article I ever write - but it was so much fun playing with these figures.

Hit the button below to see the full Toybox Soapbox Combiner Wars Devastator review

combiner wars scavenger alt mode
Combiner Wars Scavenger...err...scavenging
I will kick off with Scavenger as his the Constructicon who seems to slip most under the radar.

Combiner Wars Scavenger rocks an Earth excavator alt mode that is significantly bulked up from his G1 toy which was a much smaller affair. This version has far more in common with TFC's Hercules with its look, feel and general bulkiness that makes me think Hasbro's designers must have been looking at that for at least some inspiration.

The shovel itself can move forwards and backwards, and there there is a swivel, and another hinge to give it a bit of articulation. Sadly, despite the rather fancy looking silver piston - the bucket is fixed in place so cannot move.
Hasbro you big teases, you know now a third party is going to take that as a sign that it needs to "fix" that right?
Least it has rolling wheels, no third party add ons necessary.

transformers combiner wars scavenger

The similarities with Hercules Exgraver extend to the transformation with it feeling very familiar in the way it pulls apart and reforms as a gas mask wearing, purple leggings sporting robot.
Or not a robot, the Transformers are not robots as they are sentient beings remember kids.

Anyway aside from the Exgraver feeling, Hasbro have shown they know how to improve upon third party toys by having an extension in the legs (which actually really adds something to the design) and Scavengers G1 chest which appears out of nowhere.

You can feel Hasui's sticky, masterpiece molding fingers all of this figure as even though it is quite simple there are a couple of little tricks thrown in to make sure he looks like the G1 animation model.

Also his shovel folds up onto his back very simply and stays out of the way which is not something you can say about any of the third party Devastators so far.

Hasbro 1 - TFC 0

combiner wars devastator scavenger

Scavenger really comes into his own once you accept him as a toy, because he is all sorts of fun to pose and play with. Him and Bonecrusher benefit from better articulation to the rest and it gives them personality in spades, or shovels...just insert anything constructiony.

He has ball jointed shoulders, elbows and hips, then really good ankle tilts. So you can do a lot, and the sad part is knowing Hasui designed it - what would he have put in if it were a Masterpiece?

Beyond wrist swivels I am not sure what other articulation he needs?

Scavenger is an excellent toy, and looks great as an interpretation of his G1 animation model. In fact, of all of them he is easily one of the most accurate yet still feels like a kids toy.

Titan Devastator Combiner wars bonecrusher

To say his robot mode articulation is so similar to Scavengers, Combiner Wars Bonecrusher has a completely different alt mode, and it is an alt mode that looks the blandest of the bunch.

It is mostly Green with only a dash of Silver to break it up. There is some Decepticon Purple for the cab and gorgeous Decepticon badge, but with the treads being Green it sort of all congeals into...a thing.

Whilst his toy does look bland, strangely it is one of my favourites. The simplicity ties in so well to the general aesthetic of G1 they are going for and this certainly looks very much like G1 Bonecrusher.

His shovel can lift stuff, if you give him stuff to live but that is the only thing going on here, but then like Bonecrusher he also has rolling wheels.
So you swoosh around a flat surface. FUN.

combiner wars bonecrusher

Transforming Bonecrusher is great and a bit more complex than any of the other Constructicons. Most of that comes courtesy of the Black assembly that kinda folds up and pushes the back of the cab into the front grill of the Bulldozer.

The front shovel folds up to reveal his classic chest design and holds tightly despite not locking. It is quite incredible when you consider how badly TFC's Neckbreaker struggled to hold together in any mode that Hasbro have achieved this so simply.

Except there is one huge, irritating problem - Bonecrushers crotch likes to open more easily than Katie Prices (sorry, crude humour).

They are held together by two clips, and then the Black pieces that connect the legs then slot into each other. But you have to get all three together at the same time and even if you are that lucky, then you may still struggle to get him to hold it together. On mine, despite getting everything flush many, (oh so many) times and locked together- one both sides don't seem to be able to fit in place fully. So I may have to shave it down a bit.

Doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the figure any, he is still wonderfully annoyed looking.

combiner wars long haul devastator

Forming the middle of Devastator, and so fittingly the middle of this article, is Long Haul.

Coming out of the box your first impression will be reserved for how big he is, and the second will be "Tonka!!!".

Combiner Wars Long Hauls alt mode is massive, the size dwarfs the other Constructicons and he could probably fit two of them in his truck bed.

Now the size may be huge, but the weight isn't and he feels a bit like a Fisher Price toy (or generic young kids toy) in terms of plastic and general feel.
That is not a criticism because he is great, and a lot of fun to wheel around your room as a Peter Pan style 32 year old.

A flaw with mine is one of the back clip on wheels (I will talk more about them later) is looser than....ah no I am not doing another crude joke. I'm better than that.
As an alt mode it is pretty good with no real obvious robot parts bar his hands just knocking around on the side there.

combiner wars long haul

Long Haul is not tough to transform, but he is incredibly satisfying. There are so many lovely clunks and loud ratchets that it is just a joy to move him around. Moving his legs at the hips is insanely tight (foreshadowing his role as Devastators backside)  but when it clicks it sounds like you are cocking a shotgun.
He is around the size of a Leader class figure, whilst the rest are Voyagerish so definitely massive,

Controversy enveloped Long Hauls reveal like Harry Potters invisibility cloak....only everyone could see him. They were unhappy.

All of the photos make Long Haul look super dumpy, with his short fat legs and tiny T-Rex arms. His gorgeous noggin can only mask so much.

In hand it is not quite so bad, his proportions do look a bit better he still looks like he should have a McDonald's logo applied to him instead of a Decepticon badge (which is again, beautiful by the way)

You are not going to get much in the way of dynamic posing out of Long Haul, he doesn't even have proper elbows, but that does not mean he is not still fun in his own charming way. You just stick him at the back of all of your group shots and you are good to go.

combiner wars constructicons

See? He can't look fat if he is obscured by 5 other toys.

The fan rage was over the top as Long Haul does actually work as a very fun toy and looks nowhere near as bad in your hands.

He does suffer from effectively having to hold Devastator together, but he still does a job of being his own miserable bot.
Who just likes food. Lots of food *sticks hand into giant bag of Doritos"

combiner wars mixmaster mixer barrel

There is another bot, who caused an even bigger storm of controversy - step forward Mixmaster.
Oh this is the one, this is the toy where you could swear Hasbro are just trolling the fan base.

Combiner Wars Mixmaster transforms into a front facing cement mixer truck. Yeah, I don't know why either.
Allegedly Hasbro decided they wanted to go a more realistic route and apparently in America they don't really get the classic cement trucks we all know and love.
As an Englishman, I have only ever seen the classic Mixmaster style truck and saw one the other parked next to me in another flipping traffic jam on the A453.

It strikes me as odd that Hasbro went to such pains to make all of the Constructicons as G1 accurate as possible but then got to Mixmaster and felt a need to flip that on its head.

Not sure, but I feel as Hasui probably designed it originally the correct way, then someone at Hasbro decided it needed updating.
Why? If you are going to update the vehicles - then go the whole hog and do them all. Not get so close to giving a fandom everything they wanted (except elbows) but then slap everyone in the nuts.

combiner wars mixmaster cab

There is nothing wrong with Mixmasters new duds as, as such, but it is quite dull looking. Whilst the others cover their faults with nostalgia, Mixmasters new alt mode does not get that luxury so the flatness of the design stands out much more.

On the back is a faux cab, designed to give Devastator a more traditional G1 style foot in combined mode and thankfully third parties are queueing up to  offer alternatives such as simple covers, to whole new figures. Sadly, the barrel does not spin and if you take a close look at it, you can see it is not even a full barrel as part of it is cut out to fit over the cab.

So overall, it is a thing that exists. Yay.
combiner wars mixmaster

Converting Mixmaster to his much more familiar robot form is very easy. His alt mode is almost as if he is a child lying on a carpet watching the tele.You pull his lower legs forward, pull his arms out and flip his face forward and you are done.

Doesn't he look cool? Yes, he does and he captures G1 Mixmaster much better. Problems arise though, as his arms are hollow shells, and his elbow articulation amounts to a hinge. That is it.
On the flipside, he does have another viciously awesome head sculpt.

transformers combiner wars devastator mixmaster barrel

Sir Mixmaster likes big butts. The barrel does not fold up, or move anywhere for neat storage, it just hangs off of his backside doing its best Waspinator impression.It is really ugly, and adds to the cheap feeling highlighted by the terrible elbows and hollow upper arms which really are unsightly.
As you can tell, Mixmaster is a figure who can cause a lot of moaning, but once again it is still pretty fun if you wrap your head round the idea that it is a toy produced for children.

titan devastator combiner wars scrapper

Traditionally Scrapper is thought of as the defacto leader of the Constructicons - even if IDW did kill him off in that awful ongoing series before the comics got really good.

Thank god for the TFwiki, because without it I would have no idea what half of the vehicle modes, of Transformers I get, are. It tells me that Scrapper is a payloader and was in G1 so yes - he is that.

He comes with a large Scoop that has multiple hinges which allow it to move into various positions.

combiner wars scrapper side

Quite a lot of detail has been worked into the sculpt, including a small ladder for human drivers, if this was a real life vehicle. But look how little that ladder is, and how small the person climbing it would have to be. Just how big are construction vehicles in America??!!?

Combiner Wars Scrapper does have those awful clip on wheels and they look as terrible as ever (don't worry, definitely still coming to it) but it is a really good Scrapper alt mode- lovely and chunky. He just looks like he wants to ram into stuff and then tidy it all away.

combiner wars scrapper devastator
                   "The Constructicons form Devastator, the most powerful robot - we should rule!"

Scoop folds back, head pulls out, arms move on a hinge ever so slightly further back than they started but the legs, there's some impressive shenanigans going on with Scrappers transformation.

The backs and the fronts of the legs just flip up and over and connect to form Scrappers lower legs, complete with ankle tilt. Pretty ingenious way to do it, but it saves so much space from the alt mode, whilst creating enough mass for the legs that I wonder if we will see a similar approach on other bots in future.

Hasbro loves recycling

transformers combiner wars scrapper

Scrappers got the looks, as he is bang on to his animation model. Hasui has really captured that so well, and we have yet another incredible head sculpt. There's quite a bit of paint on the chest which looks rather lovely, but then the rest is devoid of it. Course, that is animation accurate so if that is your bag - here have another.

I like it and he is almost well articulated. Almost, because this is the one figure that Hasbro decided didn't need elbows. Cheers guys.That one decision stops any thoughts of dramatic posing dead in their tracks because his arms can only ever be posed stiffly straight.

Hasbro gave the reason that it was down to wanting to maintain Devastators stability and having combined him, yeah I can see that. But then why could Takara produce elbows for him that apparently keep him upright?

This is one of those figures that is close to being spot on but then one design decision crushes it.

Still a good toy mind, but not being able to bend his elbows is slightly maddening- I have become conditioned to toys having elbows, so moan, moan,moan.

combiner wars hook crane

Hook is exactly the same vehicle as his G1 toy, and I mean exactly. This toy is really accurate to both the toy and cartoon which is great, but then why is Mixmaster some giganta-wierdo truck?

All six wheels can roll, but I find on mine that the undercarriage pushes up the front a bit no matter how I force it into place. He does have his crane which can lift up, but it does not extend nor does the rear rotate.So you get sort of half a feature, or the very base level you would expect. I am not too fussed that the crane arm does not get longer because..I...just...I don't care.

All of the robot parts are nicely hidden, but there is a big Purple mystery box across his middle which contains the head of Devastator.
It is all getting a bit Seven (for the kids reading , it was a popular movie in the 90's, back when we had video shops).

combiner wars hook robot

Combiner Wars Hook's transformation amalgamates some of the features of the other bots. The way the arms pop out feels like Mixmaster for example, and the way the legs fold is a tiny bit reminiscent of Scrapper - but I am reaching somewhat with that, as there is more Masterpiece Sideswipe in there than Scrapper.

Decent articulation is included though there are some gripes so I will get them out of the way now.

1. Elbows. Same as Mixmasters, still just as rubbish.
2. Crane arm touches floor, which is annoying and gets in the way. On the other hand, it is like he as his own figure stand.
3. Gaping holes in lower legs - needs an MP Sideswipe, Hasui special flap.
4. Shoulders. Not content with being hollow and rubbing your face in it, the articulation is implemented in such a fashion that it is often blocked.

Right? So...
transformers combiner wars hook

Look how bloody awesome he looks. Honestly, bask in the glory of Combiner Wars Hook!

This guy looks incredible. Sure, the hollow bits are an eyesore, but they have nailed the animation model so well, but and there is a feel of Masterpiece design (if not quality) that shines through in how characterful he is.

His proportions all work to suggest all of the Hooks personality characteristics and I don't know how they have done it.

combiner wars hook head transformers the movie
                          "Nobody would follow an uncharismatic bore like you" - Thanks Hook.

Every part of his body plays into that incredible head sculpt. He looks tall and slim, then the face adds the cherry and the chocolate chips to the top of the cake- he just looks so smarmy. He oozes arrogance in a way no other bot can.

That really sums up the Combiner Wars Constructicon team. The bots all have bags of character and personality despite being quite simpler and often cheap feeling.

We can talk about Hasbros cost cutting which stops the Constructicons from being some of the greatest toys ever produced, but that would be missing much of the point of what these toys have been designed to accomplish and that is a melding of the collector market and kid markets with a product that can work effectively for both.

Those heads are the true star of the show though, absolutely beautiful and some of the best I have ever seen on any Transformers figures.

A lovely mesh of generations shines through the Constructicons, with it being designed to look like the G1 characters, and stand in an Masterpiece collection for adult collectors, but be fun, simple and full of play value for kids. Hasbro have walked that tight line pretty well.

Oh, I almost forgot...there is still one more figure to talk about...

combiner wars titan devastator vs transformers powerglide and the minibots


Combiner Wars Titan Devastator is glorious, normally I would talk now about putting the thing together but I am too excited just gazing at him.
Okay, okay, take a step back and breathe. Better? Good.

Okay, Hasbro have eschewed the traditional combiner ports and plugs we have seen in many forms over the years, Hook locks into Long Haul with many pegs, slots and gravity. Scavenger and Bonecrusher fold into vehicle mode and plug in to pegs, so vaguely similar.

Whilst Devastators arms are separate pieces, they attach to the bodies of each arm bot, which fold out from underneath them. It is cool but to keep them secure Hasbro have engineered several extra points where the treads lock in, including Long Hauls folded up arm and the chest shield. The forearms simply peg on and you flip the hands out, but it is the legs where things get really interesting.

combiner wars devastator head

Parts fold out from Scrapper and Mixmaster that lock them into place as legs, and there is also a peg for Long Haul to slide onto on each. That provides a really strong connection and ensures you are not going to get any suicide diving limbs.
Scrappers cab also spins round to lock Scrapper into position and stop him folding at his own hips. I didn't catch that the first time, and thought I had gotten a duff figure. Fortunately, my clumsy hands moved it by accident and was greeted by a "ah!" from my mouth.

What is great is how simple the transformation process is -you are not going to need to spend hours checking Youtube or the instructions, as it is such an intuitive process with fewer steps than you would think.

combiner wars devastator gun

Mixmaster has a heel spur which flips out from his torso, but Scrapper....well all the weight is on those arms, and the scoop on his front locks into one position but that limits posing.
Slowly, I can start to see why Hasbro had such a fear of elbows.

Each foot also has an ankle tilt, which is built into the torso of each bot and each piece of movement is met with a loud click as they ratchet into position.

His upper legs have flaps which lock Long Hauls knees in position and are supposed to stop them from moving, but they do often end up moving if you are applying a lot of force. But the idea is nice.

With the treads locking into place, it is up to the vehicle mode bodies to provide articulation and they do a good job, you can get a very good range but because his treads don't move it makes his arms look really thin is not positioned straight down.

combiner was devastator kibble

If you peek around the figure he is pretty clean from the side, but the back looks a bit...half arsed.

Obviously the massive gaping holes from Long Hauls back are ugly, but then you can Mixmaster and Scrapper doing hand stands. But that is hilarious so I can get on with it.

Devastator does look brilliant and when you combine him for the first time you will notice your breath being taken away. The figure is so large as result of being comprised of such massive figures and it makes the other Combiner Wars figures look like Legends class figures in comparison.

transformers combiner wars devastator wallpaper
You can use this Combiner Wars Devastator picture as wallpaper if you like - ah go on
From the stock photos, both his head and Mixmaster foot both appeared to be minuscule but in hand they are much better and look pretty spot on.
The problem with Mixmasters foot though is that it is the right size but it is not the proper cab and it is hard to get past that.
I am not just being a g1 fanboy, but the new foot has two fake Purple windows that suggest it is trying to gain that look and fool your brain - so you cannot help but think about it. Plus the new foot is a bit bland with just two small Purple windows and no other details.

transformers combiner wars devastator weapon storage

If you were wondering where all the combiner bits and bobs go when not attached to Devastator, fear not - both are stored on Scrapper and Long Haul. Scrapper gains his ridiculous G1 wings, whilst Long Haul gets to moan about only carrying stuff again. The forearms for the combiner peg onto his truck bed, and there are slots for the two parts of the gun.

It does a job, and hey those wings on Scrapper are G1 accurate so there.

transformers combiner wars constructicons vehicles

I can't believe I am finally at the end, I am exhausted and need a shower. Dinner too.

There are lots of little flaws in the set, which may add up to enough to prevent you buying it and send you in the direction of a third party. That is understandable, but as someone who owned and loved Hercules I feel like I have made a serious upgrade by buying this because conversely there are so many wondeful things about the Constructicons.

The only thing I really dislike are the elbows on most of the individual bots, Scrappers especially, and the clip on wheels. Ah, told you we would get there eventually. Right those wheels, I don't mind them on the deluxe sized bots because frankly who cares - but on bigger figures in a set like this, which costs a fair chunk it is an almost unforgivable cost cutting measure.
They feel so cheap, and don't look nice either because there are no paint apps - which they really needed.

Phew, okay done. Combiner Wars Devastator is a brilliant behemoth of a figure, and definitely worthy of the Titan class name (though it is not Metroplex sized).

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