Monday, 28 March 2016

Combiner Wars Generation 2 Superion Giftset Review

The 90's. An explosion of colour and noise wherever you looked. The dayglo physical intensity of the WWF. Happy hardcore. Glow Sticks. HAND SHARK!!! And in 1993 the Robots In Disguise of old met rave culture, got hammered on a great big bag of something frisky and smashed down the doors of your local toyshops, quite possibly looking for their mate Vera. This was a pie eyed comeback decked out in neon and stripes and animal print and while it tanked, it's also looked back upon with a sincere fondness like all your best worst nights out.

It's also well worth mentioning that what was heralded as Generation 2 wasn't all about the crazy even though it might have dressed like it. Through the likes of the Laser Rods, Cyberjets and Rotor Force, Transformers saw in its death throes glimmers of the innovation and articulation that were going to be key to its subsequent resurrection.

But that's not the page I'm on today. Today is about the gaudy and the odd and this 2016 Combiner Wars giftset release sets out to pay homage to that. Today is about a pictorial review that had it come presented to you in the popular video format would require significant patience to sit through its length. Be brave for me.

The Repaint Wars, as some of us might be heard calling the toyline, has finally delivered a redeco people have been asking for since day one in the guise of the Generation 2 Aerialbots and their combined form Superion. Six toys, one package. Each figure is handily numbered for reviewing purposes too so let's get cracking with Aerialbot number 1, Skydive..

..who remains a grey jet just like the original and might be considered a pretty dull looking fellow compared to his teammates. What a comedown from all that buildup. I should've started with Quickslinger. Nah, Skydive almost brings the chill to the team. I say almost, because the big red '1' and G2 Autobot symbol both stand out against the fading blue and white tampographed checkered pattern on his wings and tailfins. On the jet undercarriage, of which there is a lot of but no way to land, you'll see less than subtle hints of his robot deco.

Such character with these guys..

We're looking at a very basic but bold colour scheme here in robot form, a theme that will remain consistent with almost all of the team and one borne out out of the choice of homage. See, the original Aerialbots of 1985 relied heavily on stickers to decorate their robot modes while the 1994 G2 versions gave up all the budget to pimp the planes, hence these guys feeling quite sparse in terms of robot deco. Skydive is basically three colours and an Autobot symbol. That being said, this barrel chested beefcake isn't short on bling and is covered wherever possible in shiny shiny silver paint. The end result is a simple but visually arresting toy.

Air Raid next and we're still in relatively subdued territory with a metallic flaked blue top, white underside and some red diamond tampographing on the fins and wings. I'm totally letting you down here. A bit of Google Fu tells me the original G2 release rocked a Marvel baiting Spiderman flavoured wingjob which would've been the highlight of the toy, but Hasbro clearly couldn't get away with playing that game again and it's a bloody shame as I would've loved a Spiderjet. As the pics show, both he and Skydive suffer a warped tailfin from the way they are packaged. Curses.

.. and while articulation might be basic..

Air Raid's robot form can't help being plain in colour, but what he can do is take what might have been dull of toy and make it shine. He's an extensive retool of Skydive. One that makes you grin where you make out the few shared pieces. There's a considered use of silver paint across this mode to break up all that white. And he's easily the best mold of the four limbs with great character, proportions and presence.

Now we're getting somewhere. Fireflighty is a deeply saturated orangey red peppered with glittery metallic flakes and topped off with decals that live up to the character's name and stand out well against the jet's base colour. Unlike the previous two Aerialbots he has a good stab at some landing gear, with a dedicated piece that folds out of his nose while at the back we have the.. er, the exposed robot feet on the underside of the jet?

Damn. Let's face facts, none of the Combiner Wars jets are ever going to win any awards for real world accuracy, focusing instead on a simple pick up and play pattern that puts being an accessible quad changing toy above any pretenses of realism. And I for one ain't complaining about that. Takara weren't daft either, utilising the clever leg transformations of the Aerialbots as part of Masterpiece Hot Rod's intuitive transformation. doesn't stop a good pose in the slightest..

Looking at him in pics, you'll see that nothing is a whole lot different from the main release of Firefly in robot mode aside from a lot less blue and a lot more silver. He sports a modernised take on the original toy head, as opposed to the modernised take on the cartoon heads of the rest of his team. And unlike the tiny G2 symbols on Skydive and Air Raid, Firefly has tattooed the entirety of his left pec with Optimus Prime's visage and it looks fabulous.

The business end of the Generation 2 paintgun is blasted out all over Quickslinger, today's name for the Aerialbot formerly known as Slingshot. In addition to being a golden jet he's sporting some additional deco that looks a lot like a wrestlers jockstrap. Top work.

..and allows for plenty of fun

Quickslinger even manages to work the garish into his robot mode by way of the blue paint used across the figure. Wherever the two meet, the blue has no intention of working with the tone of the gold plastic in any kind of cohesive way. You just have to force your eyes to accept it. An almost straight repaint of Firefly, Quickslinger might only bring a new head to the table but he's also a gloriously golden bastard with dodgy Y fronts on his wings, stands out like a sore thumb among the team and is one that hopefully won't go the crumbling dusty way of his original G2 inspiration.

Silverbolt has always (and will always it seems) courted controversy by being a supersonic jet resting on top of a yoga loving robot but what about when you start messing around with a classic colour scheme as well?

With a beautifully painted metallic blue midsection complementing the darker blue of the surrounding plastic, the Aerialbot leader naturally adds that powerful red seen on Firefly to throw your eyes off while chucking in a checkered sweatband across the head of the jet just for good measure. It's silly, it's loud and it shouldn't work but in the context of his team it more than does.

Silly and loud could and should sum up Silverbolt's robot deco as well, but the metallic blue and red colour scheme finds itself grounded by the silver used on the torso and face as well as the black that breaks up the arms and legs. It comes together to create one hugely striking take on the Aerialbot leader and the toy itself remains one of the highlights of the Combiner Wars line, kibble and all.


Before leaping into the main event and wrapping up this blazing monolith of defiance, you might well notice a little grey and red jet who has chanced and charmed his way into the giftset. Powerglide became a part of the Aerialbot team because reasons during Combiner Wars, so for reasons again, he's here once more (hey, rules are made to be broken and kicked to the curb. At least it's not a helicopter..).

Decked out in Generation 2 inspired clothing with a colour scheme that fully embraces the loud and the brash, this little hothead was a a highlight of the Commander class of 2015 and his addition here is a treat, providing a nice little bonus figure who shines both on his own merits and as a gatecrasher to the Aerialbot's G2 party.

For the uninitiated, the topsy turvy torso transformation of Superion will be quite the eye opener and remains impressive whenever I come back to it, easily providing the most stable gestalt form in the Combiner Wars line and quite possibly its strongest overall.

Bringing together the disparate colour layouts of the individual Aerialbots in one robot form gives you a noisy looking beast with a massive gold punching arm for smashing you in the face with and the sound of red and blue clashing before your eyes as he does it. It's quite the sight to behold, not nearly as brash as his counterpart Menasor but still something you don't see every day in terms of your average Transformer colour scheme and definitely more akin to something you might find staggering out of a rave.

Because reasons..

Unfortunately the torso doesn't seem to tab together as solidly here as on my original release Superion, which is a bit of a shame. I don't know if it's from mold reuse or a one off with this copy. Superion is a decently articulated robot with some solid ratcheted thighs, knees and shoulders but dynamic posing is let down by the feet, which are small and lacking in any kind of tilt, and at this size it does pull things back. And right over. These are probably my only real problems with Superion's combined form as I find his looks and proportions damn near the money. Don't get me wrong though, I would like this criticism to be a learning curve for Hasbro.

Options are available to you to improve the original release should you desire and hopefully there is scope for a G2 version as well. As it stands, it's not a deal breaker to me and while these Combiner Wars figures might lack the crash bang wallop pizazz of your 3rd Party gestalts, nor do you need to plan your week around painstakingly transforming them either.

The Generation 2 Superion release sets out to pay homage to a frowned upon yet still well loved era of Transformers and does so incredibly well. Where you stand with the big guy will depend on your appreciation of the homage and the side of the fence you're on regarding Hasbro's current output. For me, the sheer pick up and play accessibility of Combiner Wars was a breath of fresh air and while the onslaught of retools and repaints saw the line quickly become the snake that ate itself, this one manages to feel removed from all of that. Revisiting the team that sold me on the line in the first place by way of a daft as balls colour scheme just makes me smile. Revel in the excess and enjoy.

You can buy Superion here