Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Transformers UW-08 Unite Warriors Computron review

unite warriors computron review
Unite Warriors Computron review
As a child the one figure I could never convince any unwitting family member to buy me was Scattershot. I had all of the limb bots as they are easier purchases to keep a 6 year old quiet, but Scattershot, nope - that one eluded me. The only time I ever managed to build Computron was because a friend at school (who I also appeared with in a 1980's Boots catalogue) had one and I coveted that toy almost as much as Hardhead.

It's always the toys you don't own.

Combiner Wars may have died but Hasbro and Takara both managed to get two drastically different takes on the Technobots out - both with their own strengths and weaknesses. Now we have Unite Warriors Computron. Takara drew my attention because of the extra lengths they went to with the remoulding and also the paint job that was so delicious it made me buy bags of Skittles to chomp whilst I waited. But is it worth the wait? Or the extra outlay over the much cheaper Hasbro alternative?

Continue after the jump to see  a lot of pictures and the full review of Unite Warriors Computron


combiner wars afterburner afterbreaker unite warriors

Unite Warriors Afterburner is a retool of Combiner Wars deluxe Groove with an added canopy and exclusive to the Takara version - twin laser cannons.

The base mould is the same as Groove with the wind shield removed and replaced with a new more Technobot looking canopy. Strangely, for all Takara's insistence on cartoon accuracy its molded in a clear plastic with a blue tint as opposed to the cream coloured cockpit of the original. Below that still sits a set of handlebars that only someone with go go gadget arms could use.

Hasbro managed to get the shade of  orange right amongst an ugly mix of colours, where Takara chose overly saturated orange and white  to evoke the original in a nice subtle way. Much concern poured onto the interwebs when the original pictures appeared to show Afterburner as very red but in hand it's just a very edible looking orange.

It's not a perfect recreation of G1 Afterburner but it fits with the updated vibe Combiner Wars has excelled at. Personally I'd have liked to have seen the wheels covered to truly capture the original but I can whip something up with some plasticard on a rainy Saturday afternoon if I get that bothered.

unite warriors afterburner guns

Robot mode sees one more change from Groove with the addition of a brand spanking new head based on the animation model. Light-piping glows appropriately whilst the face is painted in silver and has an expression of "Takara gave me all these extra guns to murder some fools with severe disdain",

Hasbro may have stiffed "Afterbreaker" (hiss) with Groove's guns but Takara have provided every member of this set completely new weapons and Unite Warriors Afterburner gets two different guns that homage the cannons that sat on the sides of his vintage toy. Red paint coats detail that criss crosses each gun and winds around it amongst the heavy sculpting. It's not a perfect recreation of his G1 side arms, but it's a strong nod.

With a gorgeous colour scheme that scales back the LSD trip that is Hasbro's attempt, it's a shame that Hasbro Afterburner is so easily dismissed by many fans. He's still an excellent figure and a great, in keeping with the line approach to the character. Anyone else feel really thirsty for some Sunny D?

unite warriors lightspeed 2

If Afterburner is orange Groove, then Unite Warriors Lightspeed is red Wheeljack. At first glance it's easy to just look at this alt mode and only see a repainted Wheeljack but if you look closer and look at the G1 Lightspeed toy and animation model you start to realise many details are shared between the two.

The car hood slopes down like the original and has the front grill lines as well as the large lights just like any good Lightspeed should have. Move further back and the rear end widens just as it did on the original toy and slopes backwards into the spoiler...again just like the original. Perhaps it's not perfect, but it's something my mind can happily fudge and also use as an excuse to keep Generations Wheeljack in his place.

Two new rifles are created specifically for Unite Warriors Lightspeed and they peg onto the sides by making use of a small rectangular slot that was present on the Wheeljack iteration of this figure. Come on, that's quite ingenious work by Takara. They don't appear to be based on his G1 guns but they look great anyway.

unite warriors lightspeed

Having already owned and been disappointed by the original "pre"mould as Breakdown, somehow Unite Warriors Lightspeed manages to be one of my favourite figure from this set. All the same problems from Combiner Wars Breakdown, Sunstreaker and Wheeljack put in an appearance here, with that ridiculous waist assembly and awkward ball jointed forearms but somehow this feels like a much better crafted figure.

The muted dark red offset by a deeper maroon is mostly responsible for that and the silver chest highlights illicit details from the animation model but again Takara have recognised the need to make sure the toy doesn't suffer from trying to be only cartoon accurate so a few more silver paint apps show up on the adds to add some variety. Black paint is added to the shoulders to homage Lightspeed's classic wheels on arms look and helps to make an extremely effective paint job.

It's the complete antithesis of whatever Hasbro were trying to achieve with Combiner Wars"Lightsteed".

unite warriors lightspeed guns

Throughout the duration of Unite Warriors Takara have never used the same head, twice even when reusing a mould. Every single figure has a unique head. Lightspeed's body may just be a pallet swap from Wheeljack but the head is all new. In a move surprising nobody, the head us clearly based on Lightspeed's head from the G1 cartoon and has a future sciency look to it. My favourite touch is the way his visor wraps all the way around his head like awesome sunglasses or space Google Glass.

Or novelty 3D Glasses Cineworld charge you a couple of quid for.

Lightspeed is a massive win for Takara and he even makes a decent limb for Unite Warriors Computron!

unite warriors nosecone combiner wars

Wheels are out treads are in as Rook turns orange, white and brown for his new life cosplaying as Nosecone. Most of the Combiner Wars moulds are designed to be someone else at one time or another so Hasbro and Takara developed a system that makes swapping out a few parts to get a different character incredibly cheap and easy. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Rook whose wheels and roof are simply replaced with tank treads and a cabin without the need for any remoulding to the core figure. These are just swappable parts.

"Clever girl..."

Takara have of course aimed to capture the animation model which turns out to be a bit of a rare disappointment. The toy itself is fun with an awesome drill accessory that you can pretend has burrowed into things owing to it's springy drill tip - it's quite incredible to see Takara still keep playability at the heart of a set designed mainly to appeal to 30 something year old man children. Especially when so many of the paint details have all been added to try and drag the toy as close to the cartoon as possible. It's an approach which works brilliantly on the other figures, elevating each of them, but here feels confused and more than a little "this was the best we could figure out, but it's still better than a repainted Brawl isn't it?". Yes imaginary Takara voice in my head, yes it is.

It's chunky and a fun toy but it's not the toy most of us kids of the 80's lost long ago down the back of a sofa somewhere. Sad face.

unite warriors nosecone head

Robot mode is a different story as Unite Warriors Nosecone looks brilliant. G1 fanboys may be put off by there being tank treads on his shoulders but I am fine with them hanging from his chest like Bruce Lee dangling a set of nun-chucks around his neck. Beautiful, saturated colours drape themselves over Nosecone in a way that blends so perfectly with the figures bulky proportions that feel perfectly on point for a character whose alt mode makes him effectively a miner. But a sciencey one.

Unite Warriors Nosecone wins the award for daftest Autobot symbol of the week with one so tiny you can barely see it. It's like one of those stickers you'd get from the Fire Service for chucking 50p into one of their charity buckets or a Blue Peter badge. Perhaps he finally built Tracey Island?
 Both Hasbro and Takara have avoided using paint on the combiner plug and you can't help but feel that some of the deluxes would have benefited from having the badge in that spot. Could I sold this with a reprolabel, aye probably, but most of the combiner plugs have bumpy bits and I hate creases in my stickers.

Told you I was fussy.

unite warriors nosecone

G1 fiction provided Nosecone with the persona of a slow, pondering bot who was really a perfectionist (thanks again TFwiki!) which was in stark contrast to the other Technobots. Rook's body may give Nosecone a certain bulky profile but the new head sculpt depicts the personality perfectly. It's contemporary in shape and design but that expression just nicely captures Nosecone in thought. A lot of paint and colour is used for a deluxe. Exquisite sounds like a nice, apt posh word for it

Adding to his character is the ability to plug any weapon into his fists in the same as Rook. Where Rook had a litter picker and that was your lot, Nosecone comes with his two yellow G1 baton accessories which can plug in as melee weapons. Can he hold a gun properly though?

Nope.

unite warriors nosecone drill hands

For Blast Off and Strafe, Takara replicated the same fist socket, but also added extra hand holes so they could hold their guns normally. It's a shame to not see it used for Unite Warriors Nosecone as he also comes with a small gun that he can only wield in a way that looks super weird. How would he pull the trigger?

But who cares about a gun when you can have an enormous drill hand? Yes, Nosecone's signature drill can plug into his hands and be a weapon of brutal, glorious violence. Or maybe he uses it just to put Ikea furniture together. With his slower processing speed, probably takes him a day to put up a bookcase.

Unite Warriors Nosecone is the version of Rook I always wanted, but not exactly the Nosecone I've always wanted. Fun, poseable, brimming with crazy ideas and great looking? I should be trying to marry this toy. Without having perfected the alt mode though, it's always going to be a slight disappointment. What can I say - I am super fussy. I also don't eat the crusts on sandwiches or toast.

unite warriors scattershot transformers g1

Scattershot is a toy I lusted after a kid. It was one of the first Transformers along with the movie characters, to not originate from Diaclone, giving it a blockier aesthetic that was so different from anything else in Transformers to me at the time. So it's safe to say I am a Scattershot mark. When the idea of CW interpretation was floated I was ecstatic until it was revealed and then it changed to mild horror. How had Hasbro gotten it so wrong?

A new jet nose had been added to an already tired Silverbolt mould, than was Gundam than G1 Technobot. Yes that meant the hidden penis gimmick was off the table and consigned to the 80's along with Rick Astley. New wings appeared but with gaping holes that mirrored what we'd seen all over the line as Hasbro looked for ways to cut costs, bits of Silverbolt were still plainly there and the paint job was horrific.

First impressions weren't kind.

So why did my mind change? Well Takara's paint job spun me around with the lush saturated colours making it look more coherent and helping to hide the fractured nature of all the panels and parts.

It just looks cool. Really cool.

unite warriors scattershot

Robot mode is broadly the same as Hasbro's with a couple of key changes that make you wonder if Takara are trolling. A new chest panel severs some of the ties to Silverbolt and adds more of Scattershot to the mix but the only other change is the addition of new knee caps. Errr....lol..wut..Yep Takara be trolling.

I have never heard anyone say "man, I hate this Scattershot because of the knee panels", but the amazing thing is this change works. It's such a small trivial thing but anything that moves him away from looking just like a Silverbolt clone is important. One day I will meet the person who came up with this change and buy them a beer - they've earned it.

unite warriors scattershot head

Unite Warriors Scattershot is the figure I always craved. From seeing the character in the show and comics and wanting a toy with articulation that matched the adventures my imagination dreamed up for Scattershot, it's been a long wait. So with that in mind the paint job was critically important and can make or break a toy. Hasbro's original CW Scattershot screwed up with wrong shades of almost every colour used even if the box set version fixed some of that. None of it was what I wanted. Saturated red, whites and browns not only feel more accurate to the show but they just serve the figure better. They make it pop. His face has a bright blue visor with a silver mouth which are small details but grant the head a unique look as the only points in this mode where those colours appear. White spots are even added to the wrists purely to evoke the animation in a move which will have many fans rolling their eyes, but for me it again displays a care, love and obsession...maybe that last one isn't healthy.

It's pretty, so pretty maybe this is the toy I do want to marry.

As with all the Technobots, Scattershot does come with two new weapons meaning we finally see the end of that bloody Silverbolt gun.  A party is probably deserved...or a wake - but noone's missing that thing.

unite warriors strafe takara

My aching arm signals that we are near the end with the final mould of the set and the one that inexplicably became the most controversial. Both companies decided to throw down and engage in a sort of battle rap competition over who could make a better Strafe. Where the big H went with retooling the almost forgotten Air Raid mould, TakTom went back to a toy that polarised folks, and decided to deliver the medicine to that ailment - Blast Off.

Taken at face value you can't tell this figure shares engineering with the Combaticon shuttle such is the level of remolding that has taken place. Front guns (removable), a new nose and roof, new wings (front and back) and tail fins that you can remove. So many new parts that produce a stunningly cartoon like Strafe, especially when covered in that exacting paint job.

As far as remoulds go this one is pretty extensive and will make you question if there really is any hint of Blast Off in there. But there is, honest guvnor. Takara clearly designed the figure with both Strafe and Blast Off in mind so in that sense it's probably unfair to call it a remould as it's more than that...it's a dual purpose mould. Doesn't sound right does it?

unite warriors strafe

After converting from weird futuristic space fighter craft, Unite Warriors Strafe reveals the great mystery of why Blast Off had that bonus chest - it was purely for Strafes benefit. Yep, Strafes chest is Blast Off's back with all the same detailing right down to the peg socket nipples. Doesn't stop him looking any less majestic though.

Strafe is easily the standout bot from the set in terms of looks and may just be the one I regard as the best Unite Warriors/Combiner Wars has to offer. We've seen some belters over the last two years and I've fallen in and out of love with each one more times than Ric Flair's retired (two wrestling jokes in two weeks eh?), but I truly believe this is the full stop.

He's crazy poseable too. Everything is covered in all joint's and swivels whilst the feet pivot front, back and side to side to allow some great dynamic poses to go with those nailed on animation looks. Some bots just have to be posed looking sassy rather than standard straight standing up - Strafe is one of those bots.

unite warriors strafe head

I've raved about the Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors head sculpts to the point where even I'm getting bored of me saying it, but Strafe's is another stand out design. His blue eye lenses pop and this face goes or a minimal detail approach that focuses purely on that stern, ready for battle expression. No stupid pointy chin robo beards, or cheek guards - just straight G1. My kinda bot. It has softer features than most but not i in a way that it looks unfinished or melting, nah, this looks like it came out of a cartoon. Not even the original cartoon, although it's fairly close, it just has an animated look to it that's hard to explain.

So imagine me pointing at the picture above and going that!

3 weapons are included with Unite Warriors Strafe which echoes G1. His signature jet mode cannons sit on his back and can either stand upright, like the G1 toy, or fold backwards to give a more cartoon accurate silhouette. If you think the small pistol he also comes with isn't enough, then the cannons can be detached to give him jumbo hand cannons. As well as featuring Rook style ports on his fists which all these weapons can plug into, he also boasts standard fist holes. YES! So he can wield his guns and not look like an absolute loon.

Unite Warriors Strafe is probably my favourite deluxe from the line as he looks great, is fantastic fun to play with and comes packed full of features. I mean, I didn't even mention that his tail fins can plug in his arms and act like murderous blades. Do I need to say more?

My mum always says I never shut up, so I definitely can.

takara unite warriors computron uw-08

Unite Warriors Computron follows the same pattern as all the Combiner Wars combiners in transformation. The only difference is that the new Scattershot chest flips forward to provide a wider stomach. Whilst various parts may have changed the physical process hasn't.

Standard issue Combiner Wars hands and feet are provided which is a little gutting considering Hasbro made an effort to create bespoke hands and feet, with articulated ankles for their Computron. I can understand Takara wanting to maintain consistency but they made a break with the weapons and the hands/feet have always been a weak point of these combiners.

Interestingly each of the hand/foot/guns included corresponds correctly the mould's used but non of the pictures show them attached to those figures. They are all on different figures which is clearly intended to further differentiate them from the other combiners who have the same parts.

One thing I would recommend is replacing the feet at least with a third party alternative. I used Perfect Effect's simply because they were easily available and do a much better job than the stock feet. Despite what people might tell you - the Perfect Effect Computron chest upgrade DOES fit on the Unite Warriors mould. With a teensy bit of force. It gives Unite Warriors Computron some real chunk too.

unite warriors computron hands feet

Once you've stuck Unite Warriors Computron together the reasons for Takara's mould choices become clear - it's a need to capture all of the details as closely for Computron.

Strafe and Afterburners front ends launch upwards from the shoulders whilst Nosecone's drill flips over to specifically hang down in homage to the original. Hasbro's Nosecone featured a drill which could only point forwards, and if that is the reason Takara went to all this effort, then they are even more bonkers than I gave them credit for - and I applaud it. Doing this may seem like a needlessly obsessive move but it shows that they care about the wants of the target audience - adult collectors.

Takara didn't stop the remoulding on Scattershot with just the chest and all important kneecaps they also added new bits for Unite Warriors Computron. Not only does he gain a brand new, curiously cheery, cartoon styled head sculpt he also earns a whole new chest to differentiate from Silverbolt. They are fantastic additions that do a lot to help relieve the thought that you have just bought recoloured Silverbolt. Sadly Hasbro didn't make this same effort. The saturated colours really work in combined form to give him a wonderful unified look. Computron was always a huge bulky bot, but in this form he is a touch more athletic and more fitting of a science team.

Just to add an extra layer of Takara mentalism, the chest hast silverish paint apps added to echo the scenes in the cartoon where Computron would stand around thinking all day whilst his chest flashed harder than that episode of Pokemon that caused seizures back in the 90's.

unite warriors computron gun

It's amazed me that thus far, in a line based around the entire idea of combination - the concept has never been applied to the weapons. Unite Warriors Computron may lack the new, bespoke hands and feet of the Hasbro alternative, but they do get a cool combining weapon gimmick as compensation which totally fits with their scientific genius characters.

Each of the weapons is covered in pegs and sockets so your creativity is only really limited by your imagination. As if Takara are saying they know the folks who are buying this are not kids, but they want them to experience everything that this line was truly intended to bring beyond just homages to G1 characters. That's fun, mixing and matching and forging your own creation and here they just do it in a smaller way with the weapons.

I did see someone on TFW managed to craft a bowcaster but I am not creative enough to remember how they did it. So yeah, limits of the imagination in action.

unite warriors computron perfect effect

The Combiner Wars might be over, and Unite Warriors in it's death throes but there has still been time for the line to produce one last great testament to everything this line has delivered during it's lifespan. This set has the most creative uses of each mould, more little extra touches to separate them from their predecessors and put's the play pattern back into the heart of what has been a strongly collector sided focus side of the lines.

Truly I can appreciate that as someone who has bought this line as much for that feeling of being a kid than just getting updates of old characters. Connecting you to your childhood through more than imagery is tough thing to achieve but that's what Combiner Wars did for me as it let me rediscover my favourite characters in a way that felt familiar but didn't have me worrying about paint chips. That's essentially what we are all chasing isn't it?

Computron may be the last combiner that many of us buy with only the oddities like team Sky Lynx, Megatronia (a toy which looks like the 80's exploded) and hopefully a decent Liokaiser  still to come but it really does feel like a fitting exclamation point on the end of the story.


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2 comments:

  1. thqe PE set makes it look so much better

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For an upgrade kit, it does a heck of a job!

      Delete