There was a poll about a year ago - which is, honestly, a fast turnaround - that yielded Victorion. Other names could have been Quakebreak or Slammoth, plus fans were able to select which toy(s) from which she'd be retooled - which at the time was kind of a big deal, because there were parts from the not-yet-released Defensor team as well as Superion and Menasor. This helped to speed up development, and there are plenty of new parts here. Each of the five big pieces has at the very least a new head and hands, with most getting new chests and new weapons too. For a retool, a lot of work went in to creating the first all-woman robot combiner team in this line and the only Combiner Wars toy to be made of completely brand-new characters.
Just because you want to know, let me tell you up front that the big robot is very nice. Since the set has mostly new faces - quite literally - it really is worth starting off by eating your vegetables with the least-changed but still fairly interesting small toy.
And that vegetable is Rust Dust, the (at least) third colorway of the Groove mold from last year (four if you count Wreck-Gar with his new head). No obvious changes have been made to the mold, but the head really does work nicely in this new coloring - I had to double-check my other toys to verify it was, in fact, the exact same head. The green/silver/blue/red motif carries through all of the new heads too, plus she also has some generally rarely-seen deco elements. Not only does she have what appears to be ancient Cybertronian scribbled on her, but there's also a simulated cracked windshield visible in both modes. How lovely!
I'm not crazy about the Groove mold, and as a chest ornament for Victorion I don't think Rust Dust has a lot to offer. The illustrations show her in an impossible configuration, so including Rust Dust means there's an upside-down Autobot symbol on your big giant expensive robot team. The bike mode is also just as good as the previous instances of the mold, which is to say, it's OK. It's not bad, it's not great, and I would argue this is one of the less fun new molds to come out of the Combiner Wars line-up. If this were a stand-alone figure I'd say it was worthwhile just because of the extra paint markings and the heavily en-reddened forearms, plus there's the novelty of a new character coming to life. If you compare it to the rest of the set, though, it's weak and its absence would not have been missed. The rest of the set more than makes up for it.
The biggest figure in the set - also the only one whose name you're likely to keep straight - is Pyra Magna. This figure is a retooled Hot Spot [FOTD #1,337] with new deco, a new head, a new chest plate, new forearms, and a new combiner head. A lot of work was done to make this figure look new, but they also seem to have tightened up the joints a bit. I had some problems with the Onslaught release of the mold, and one of them seems to be back. In torso mode, the arms don't perfectly fit into position - so while one tabs in place, the other is a little less restrained.
The robot mode itself is pretty stellar, mostly because they keep making me forget that I already own this toy twice over - soon to be more, if Hasbro keeps the G2 and other variants coming. The new head sculpt is really spectacular, mostly because it looks like someone took several times the effort on this one than they did for Hot Spot, Onslaught, and the rest. There's so much paint here with the red crest and eye markings, blue eyes, a silver face, red on the ears, plus silver markings on the tips of the front of the helmet and over the cheeks on the sides. Also, there's a silver sculpted crest plus a ton of detail on the back of the helmet. Nobody tell Hasbro that nobody's looking - because this is really, really impressive.
Our new red fire truck is quite nice, and the only bad thing I can say about it is that it probably means the Super Fire Convoy/Optimus Prime idea we all had will never happen. It's a wonderful bright red with a silver ladder and some black and silver markings. The wheels are still all black, but everything else is sufficiently different from Hot Spot. The only real drag is the combiner head for Victorion doesn't fold apart and hide as well as Defensor's, so you'll probably notice a giant green head in the cherry-picker area. I don't doubt that the changes made to this figure (and set as a whole) will be as impressive if not more so than the various Platinum sets coming throughout the year. It's just so gosh darned good.
If that weren't enough, Hasbro also saw it fit to include a two-piece pick axe accessory that's sized just about perfectly for her. I love it. I hope we see more things like this, mostly because knives and guns can only do so much.
Next up are the helicopter twins, Skyburst (with eyes) and Stormclash (has a visor.) Both are retoolings of Alpha Bravo [FOTD #1,266]. Each has a unique, mirror-flipped torso, a unique head, and new shared forearms. You'll notice little wings out of each one, plus opened hands rather than the shut ones we also saw on Blades [FOTD #1,233] and Vortex [FOTD #1,441]. What I'm saying is Hasbro's really fond of this design.
In helicopter mode, the toy looks largely the same - the red and green colors are the most obvious change, as well as the aforementioned wings on the sides. Aside from that, there's not much new here - you get spinning rotor blades and the vehicles are basically mirror-flipped in terms of color. One has a red side, the other has a green side, and together they team up to fight crime in the city. A silver windshield and some matching paint on the blade in the back is a nice touch, plus you get more ancient Cybertronian on the sides. What does it mean? I have no idea. My guess is Hasbro was trying to work in the trend in people getting inked with words these days, so perhaps it's a verse from a book or the phone number for their favorite pizza joints. I couldn't tell you.
Most of the differences are visual - each has a new chest that looks very similar to the previous Alpha Bravo model, but with new panels and one nub rather than two. Each one has her own big sword with bright white paint and a blue fade, basically similar in quality to the Combiner Hunters [FOTD #1,220] weapons. These, of course, are much smaller. Each one is also boxed adjacent to a giant foot which has a rocker peg joint at the ankle and articulated toes for reasons I don't understand. These don't fold up like normal Combiner Wars hands, so really all it does is give you a way to do tippy-toes for action poses or some crazy high-heel action. They're about 50% bigger than normal feet, and if you like you can mount these or the sword under the helicopter modes. You can't do both, and you can't mount on the sides as it would get in the way of the rotation of the blades.
Each robot preserves the same good level of mobility you love, with 12 meaningful points of articulation - 13 if you could the Combiner plug rotation as a second neck joint. They seem to have really good joints compared to other releases, and have no problems balancing on one foot on to look like they're flying. I like 'em. Each head sculpt is unique with slightly different sculpted details on the helmets and minor tweaks to the deco as a result. The faces are also excellent, with the silver paint bringing all of the detail to life. It's not metal, but it looks good enough that you probably won't care. A friend commented that it would have been nice to do a Tomax/Xamot style name as it would be easier to remember, and I wholeheartedly agree.
As part of this boxed set, this is a fantastic duo. If two nearly identical mirror copies were sold to you at retail for $17 a whack, though, you'd probably be disappointed.
Using the same mold for Dead End and Brake-Neck is Dust Up. This one has a head that looks a lot like Nightbird, plus a new chest and hew hands. Spoiler alert - this figure also has a weapon that fits on her car mode sort of like a spoiler. At first glance it looks a lot like Nightbird Shadow [FOTD #1,323], but a side-by-side comparison quickly reveals Dusty to be shorter and wider, with a head featuring similar design features like the two lines across her face mask and a vaguely hood-like helmet. I don't doubt someone, somewhere, would do a fine job making this one into Nightbird or some sort of ninja team with minimal effort.
A QC note - the retooled chest piece doesn't fit terribly well. When you fold it down into the body, you'll quickly find the new chest piece's tabs are just barely too big to fit in the slots - if you pop off Dead End's chest piece, it fits perfectly. Little problems like this are something of an issue when toys require precise fits, so it's unfortunate when this happens. At least her new hands fit OK, and are sort of a bit of a bear to get out of her forearms. They're open like the rest, with fingers that look more separate and less like a fingerey mug. They did a nice job, is what I'm saying. THere's no problem holding her or other weapons, and the coloring is what you'd expect at this point.
The car is a car... you've seen this car in other colors, and now you can add a spoiler to it. I think this is a huge improvement as accessory compatibility goes, mostly because it looks cooler on the roof than a pipe or a hand gun might. This leaves the new combiner hand accessory with articulated fingers which, while cool, offer little outside the super robot mode. At least it's nice! I'd say this is a worthwhile figure unto itself, but I anticipate getting cranky and filing down the tabs a bit to see if I can make the piece fit better. And then I'll break something. And then comes the regret.
Rounding out the set is Jumpstream, based on the Lamborghini car mold with a new chest, new hands, and a heat that for some reason reminds me of a robot Betty White. I don't know what that says about me. The transformation is the same as Sunstreaker [FOTD #1,304] and Breakdown, complete with the less-than-great hip section. Her new weapon is a shield molded in clear blue and largely painted silver, and it comes complete with three different places to grip it. It's handy, and if you can get her a sword or a spear in her other hand she really does look ready for combat. I'm not the world's biggest fan of shields, but she does a good job making it work.
The hand and shield can connect to the car, but there's really no good way to have a big fist popping out of a moving vehicle. Like the feet, it's awkward to use other than as a chunk of the giant robot. The new parts look great and her head - just like the others - has an extraordinary amount of detail and feels like there is more going on than your average retail toy's head. This is definitely one of the nicer efforts in this line, and were it sold individually I'd encourage you to pick one up.
The combined robot Victorion actually has a lot to bring to the table - new feet, new hands, a new head, and a partial new chest are easily seen in a sea of green and red. Now, you might be expecting me to say this is the best thing ever, but you know and I know it's pretty much the same as the other combiners with a few tweaks. It's great because it looks different and it's the first toy in this line which, when combined, actually looks like a unified group. There's also a little quibble in the combined form - the two helicopters bump in to each other thanks to the new wings on the individual robot arms. In its default configuration as shown on the box, you will need to position the legs apart a bit to get her to stand. In the comics she can change up from "copter pants" to "copter jacket" so you may want to keep that in mind when displaying her and not mucking around with gravity.
Amazingly, the figure seems taller than Defensor and the like thanks to the bigger feet and the taller head. When you put her side by side with other Combiners, she's visibly taller - possibly the tallest of the lot. The articulation of the big robot is consistent with most of her siblings, with a couple of notable exceptions. First of all, the hands are now smaller and have articulated fingers which add no real value to the ability to grip a few oddly sized things. A 5mm hole in each fist is where the pegs go, providing a painful if effective way to engage in combat. I think I prefer the older hands, as these are a little smaller and the holes are more visible on the grey plastic.
...now if you want my opinion - and you're reading this, so you do - go with how the character first appeared in the Combiner Hunters comic one-shot. With the cars as her legs, she stands evenly and looks just as awesome - and we see both appearances in print depending on what the artist feels like drawing. Heck, not only are the limbs configured differently, but she also has a red face mask in one appearance. There's no wrong way to draw a woman.
Once more,a small brown cardboard envelope is in in the box. In it, you'll find a thick cardboard card with Victorion art. You'll find a thick-ish small poster featuring the same, uncropped Victorion art. You'll also find a dual-sided instruction sheet that shows carshirtcopterpants Victorion and how to put together the crafty puzzle that is her sword. Each weapon fits or tabs in another weapon at least twice - it's really quite clever and sturdy, in many respects proving to be a better and more durable design than some of the Mini-Con combiners we had a few years ago. I have no real need for the poster mostly because its unusual shape is a "now where am I supposed to put this?" kind of a thing, but the trading cards fit nicely into sheets you can get at most stores. If only the poster were smaller, I could probably fit it in a document binder sheet of some sort. But its not. So I won't. (I hope Hasbro, when given the option, will always select trading card over poster.)
As a shared online exclusive with six new characters with mostly enough new heads and parts to strongly justify buying them for the 5 most-new ones, you should buy this set. Six new characters are all pretty good, the combined robot is pretty good, although the characters have yet to really gel as individuals... of course, that's true of most combiner teams. Much with the configuration until you're happy with the results, and don't be afraid to leave off Rust Dust - the comic debut did, and also painted the chest red in the middle rather than black. I'm sure that's how the Unite Warriors release in Japan would look were such a thing to be announced, so let's all sit tight and make bets on that. Until then, this is the only best Victorion money can buy and it's not like there are many other new toys from Transformers expected until the Titans return at some point between June and August, depending on who you want to believe. (My money is on July.) We've got two more confirmed Combiner Wars boxed sets coming and a third set which seems pretty likely, not to mention whatever surprises Japan has in store for us after Grand Galvatron, Bruticus, and Computicon. Until then, buy this one - you don't have these characters yet.
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