Begun, the Combiner Wars have

In late December 2014, Hasbro released the Combiner Wars figures to stores in the UK. To say this was a little unexpected would be an understatement but that didn't stop me from grabbing the two voyagers, Optimus Prime and Silverbolt, as well as the four deluxes, Firefly, Alpha Bravo, Sky Dive and Drag Strip, that were on the shelves.

So, just how good are the figures from this new line?


Have Hasbro dropped the ball once again or managed to redeem themselves somewhat?


Let's find out...



The Aerialbots

The main component of this first wave of Combiner Wars figures is the Aerialbots. These are updates of the G1 Aerialbots and, boy, do they really nail the homage.
Alpha Bravo, Skydive and Firefly by Pete Slater
The first wave consists of Silverbolt, Firefly, Skydive and Alpha Bravo. Let's have a look at them individually.


Silverbolt

The leader of the Aerialbots who forms the torso of the gestalt, Superion. There have been various attempts to recreate this character in the time between the original figure being released and now. Some of these have been more successful than others but, outside of third party attempts at least, this has to be the best Silverbolt that Hasbro have released to date.
Silverbolt by Pete Slater
Everything about it is just brilliant, from the head sculpt which nails the character completely for me, to the plane kibble on the back which no Aerialbot should be without ;)

Silverbolt is a very well engineered figure, with ratchet joints in all the right places to support the weight of four additional limbs in gestalt mode. Articulation is amazing with enough joints in the arms and legs to pull off almost any pose you can imagine. The back kibble does get in the way from time to time but it's not catastrophic. Sadly the wrists do not swivel and the hands are molded into fists. This is a bit of a let down but given what the figure is trying to achieve and the price point for doing so, it makes sense.

Firefly

This figure was Fireflight back in the G1 days but even though the name has changed, the character is still the same. The face sculpt on this figure is amazing and the cuboid head really evokes the feeling of the original toy. Everything about this figure is a perfect homage to the original, from the red and white paint scheme, the black knee pads and the square silver and white face. It doesn't have the red chest and pants of the old figure but there is some red from the underside of the alt mode visible in bot mode which kinda makes up for it.
Combiner Wares Firefly
Firefly by Pete Slater
Firefly is a decently posable figure. Shoulder and elbow joints are present and correct, there is a bicep swivel which is a good enough compromise for not having wrist swivels. The legs bend at the knees and have thigh swivels. No ankle tilts sadly. Basically a well engineered deluxe size figure when you take into account it's a quad changer.

Skydive

Skydive is another great homage to the G1 character of the same name. This time the head has been changed from the cuboid version of the G1 figure to a more stylised and somewhat scary looking head. It carries over the black and red colouring of the original but presents it in a more rounded head.
Skydive by Pete Slater
In general the paintwork accurately reflects the G1 figure, red torso with black combiner connector, black arms, black things and grey legs. It would be very difficult to confuse this figure with any of the other Aerialbots.

Alpha Bravo

Ah controversy, how I love it.

Alpha Bravo is taking the space in the Aerialbots, and by extension Superion, that was previously occupied by Slingshot. Some people find the change annoying, personally I don't mind it. Change is good, especially if the change means we get a fantastic new figure like Alpha Bravo.
Alpha Bravo by Pete Slater
It's kind of obvious that this figure will be remolded and repainted into one of the other combiners in the future. I think Blast Off and Blades must be serious contenders for reusing this mold.
Slingshot and Alpha Bravo by Pete Slater
You can certainly see the similarities between G1 Slingshot and Combiner Wars Alpha Bravo in the photo above. They share a similar colour scheme, with a white head and orange face. Some of the Alpha Bravo chest is also coloured in the same way G1 Slingshot. But overall I think it is best to consider this a new character that gives a subtle nod to the past rather than tries to copy it.

Superion

Superion by Pete Slater
The combined form of the Aerialbots is called Superion. Due to the first wave of Combiner Wars figures being released without Air Raid, we have to make due with the Stunticon Dragstrip instead. That fact doesn't stop Superion from being one of the best gestalts made by Hasbro since the original G1 days.

When combined, you really do start to understand some of the design decisions that have been made on the individual figures which, although may have seemed odd, help to create a solid and well balanced gestalt.

The combiner ports are somewhat similar to the G1 ports in that they are square shaped but have been updated to make them bigger and add ratcheted joints to allow for a greater degree of pose-ability when combined. Just like the original G1 combiners, each limb can act as either a leg or an arm for some cool 'Scramble City' fun.

Special mention needs to be made of the amazing transformation from Silverbolt to the torso of Superion. I haven't seen anything like it before and I am amazed that it hasn't been done before. To change Silverbolt to Superions torso, you have to spin the figure upside down, making Silverbolt's arms become Superion's legs and Silverbolt's knees become the connecting joint for Superion's arms.


I also need to point out that, unlike the G1 version where Superion's head was a separate piece, Silverbolt stores Superion's head in his chest. Another brilliant idea which reminds me of the way Mastermind Creation's Leo Dux stored Feral Rex's head in it's chest.


The Stunticons

To date, we only have one of the Stunticons, Dragstrip. That being said, we do have an idea of how Motormaster will turn out due to the mold being used as Optimus Prime and being released in this first wave. But first of all let's have a look at the only Stunticon released so far.

Dragstrip

The lone Stunticon in this wave is a decent version of the Dragstrip character, with the right paint applications in the right places. They do seem to have added more burgundy than the original figure had but that's fine with me as the original has the same colour attachments.
Dragstrip and Dragstrip by Pete Slater
As you can see from the photos above and below, Combiner Wars Dragstrip is roughly the same size as Classics Dragstrip. They have a similar amount of articulation but I think I am leaning more toward the Combiner Wars version as my favourite of the two.
Dragstrip and Dragstrip by Pete Slater

Optimus Prime

Every line needs a Prime and this one has Optimus Prime. As usual with Optimus Prime we get a red and blue coloured flat nosed truck cab. It looks nice and chunky though does suffer from a spare set of windows on the back of the cab along with some combiner mode kibble which is not great but I can live with it.
Optimus Prime by Pete Slater
The alt mode has a nice Autobot logo on the roof which is not a sticker but looks to have been tampographed on. This is also where Prime's head is concealed through a rotating roof gimmick.
Optimus Prime by Pete Slater
The bot mode is not bad at all. Some will complain about the gorilla arms, which is valid given the size and length of the arms, but I don't find this to be offensive in any way. It makes the figure look a bit more rugged in my mind. You can also see the stickers on this shoulders in the photo below. Not as good as tampos but decent enough. The head does look a little small on such a large body but this can be remedied by bringing out the gestalt head ;)
Optimus Prime by Pete Slater
The gestalt head gives the figure a bit of the Powermaster Prime look and evens out the proportions a little but. It also makes it look like a rabbit which may or may not be something you want to do.
Optimus Prime by Pete Slater
Overall, Prime is a solid rendition of the character. I can't wait to see what Motormaster looks like.
Optimus Prime by Pete Slater

Summary

At the start of this article I asked if Hasbro had dropped the ball once again with their latest release of new figures or whether they had redeemed themselves after a few years of mixed quality releases.

My conclusion, at least from this first wave of Combiner Wars figures, it that Hasbro have managed to, if not completely redeem themselves, begin the journey toward redemption.


Some of the engineering in these figures is outstanding and of a quality I would not have expected given the price point they are aiming for. Creating figures that are composed of several other figures is not an easy thing to do well and I think, in the case of Superion, Hasbro have pulled it off.


The combined form of the Stunticons may or may not be of an equal quality but going by the torso mode of Prime, I am expecting Menasor to be less impressive than Superion.


So, have they dropped the ball?

No.

And, have they redeemed themselves?

They have made a good start.