Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Deluxe
Item No.: Asst. B0974 No. B1177 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Trading Card, sword, hand/foot/weapon Action Feature:Transforms from Robot to race car to Hand to Foot Retail:$15.99 Availability: December 2014 Other: First Stunticon
Parsed as Drag Strip in the olden days, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in the development meetings for Decepticon Dragstrip I'd like to imagine it going something like this. "Hey, the original toy has a pinhead that's too square. What can we do to mix things up a bit?" "Let's give him eyes with markings circa 'Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper.'" "Perfect!" Other than that, it looks like a modified take on the old Marvel and Sunbow model for the head but rounder.
This isn't the first "modernized" version of this classic character, as there was an Asian and Austrialian release sold in the USA on HasbroToyShop.com which was a redecorated Classics Mirage. It's a perfectly nice toy - not too fancy, came in a nice box, but it's not like it can combine like this shiny new one can. The robot mode is, as are all of these guys, basically the same size with a very similar transformation and proportions. I feel like I say "if you see one of these you've seen them all," it might be viewed as derogatory. The toy is really fantastic, but the 5 1/3-inch robot is similar in his functionality to the other released (so far) wave 1 Combiner Wars limbs. By and large, I fear this range will spoil us for whatever 2016 or 2017 brings us... this feels like a genuine high point.
His robot mode is pretty fantastic but as you go through these, you'll notice a number of patterns. Articulation is basically the same on all of them, in basically the same locations. 16 joints including a waist (which is basically required to make the combination gimmick work) are present as are fists that can move laterally for the purposes of transformation. The sculpt is pretty good and reminds me a lot of the original toys, in that the legs are giant chunks of car without fold-out feet or any indication that they're trying to conceal what this toy is. Since it's a robot made out of car bits, I really do like seeing bits that are obviously a car so seeing tires and a spoiler on the feet add charm to this one. The arms are a little bland compared to the other dudes, but you can't win them all - it's still a nifty looking robot that isn't slavish to his progenitor.
A bright metallic Decepticon sigil on his chest really pops nicely, and I have to say I am consistently delighted to see these with the tiny outline that makes each one pop. We've had years and years of this symbol as a sticker, or painted on like a blob in Armada in 2002 to the point where merely leaving the eyes and mouth unpainted was a world-changing thing in late 2003. They've doing sigils in this style in Generations here and there, and boy howdy does it improve things. I should also note Dragstrip has a ton of paint on him, with the back of his legs being heavily shellacked in yellow and a generous helping of purple paint being plastered to the thighs. The purple thighs make sense - it would look weird to break up the color of the upper legs - but the back of the robot's lower legs are generally out of sight in most modes. It would be noticeable more as a leg, especially if you did it with the "stomach" facing outward like the original 1986 toy. Kudos to Hasbro for not taking shortcuts here - I don't know if I would have been able to justify the cost.
Also worth nitpicking, the robot head. It looks similar to the original one, but with enough changes where it's almost jarring. The blocky original noggin has been replaced by a rounder face with a blue forehead crest and what could best be deemed evil clown red eye makeup. It doesn't look like any existing Dragstrip and it helps the figure stand out from the parade of similar face types we've had over the years. The red "sunglasses" look from the original cartoon is also kept, rather than the unpainted eyes or the blue eyes often seen in art and the comics. It's worth bringing up that Hasbro dropped the light-up eye port, and for this I am grateful.
His weaponry includes a purple fist/gun/foot as well as a sword/gun. The bladed weapon looks gun-ish if you hold it by the secondary handle, and this is something of a peculiar choice given the original toy carried a gun. I assume they just wanted to mix it up or maybe nod to the animated Drag Strip based on Arcee, either way it's certainly different and nicely sculpted. Maybe the sculptor was just a big fan of the Final Fantasy VIII gunblades?
It's a car! Transformation to racer mode is simpler than the jets, as you don't have to split his legs up this time. Just slide them up after folding in the hands and folding down the arms. Twist the head around, fold up the car's nose, and you're pretty much finished here.
The vehicle mode has received a lot of good feedback, and rightly so. Painted wheels are something we don't see quite as often as we used to, and yet here they are - as well as a large smattering of purple and silver paint. The seating area even has the illusion of being designed for a driver, but nobody is going to fit in there. A 5mm peg on top provides a potential place to store the foot piece, plus there are multiple 5mm holes for potential storage of the sword. In theory. The angled handle makes it a bit awkward no matter where you decide to put it, and there's a 5mm hold directly under the car's front region - there isn't enough clearance to actually store anything here though. The important thing is you get a 6-inch long yellow race vehicle with decent paint and the ability to make an arm and a leg, if you're so inclined.
Decepticon Dragstrip is probably the best limb from the first batch - although Skydive is close. Even if you don't plan on building the combiners these are neat toys which I find to be worth the asking price in light of what $10-$20 can get you at the toy stores these days. Sure it isn't $10, but I have to ask myself if it's as good as two to three Saga LegendsStar Wars figures or on par with a couple of Batman figures. I'd say it is - Hasbro made a sturdy toy without any easily pop-offable pieces so you, the collector, should be able to enjoy the same high-quality combination gimmick as a kid. The one-size-fits-most approach to toy development is helpful in getting things like this made for the mass market, and I hope it's a big success so we can see more items like this down the road. After all, we're told to expect at least 4 sets of combiner limbs this year alone - plus goodness knows what other extras.
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