Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Deluxe
Item No.: No. B8826 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Card, 2 guns, hand/foot/weapon Action Feature:Transforms from Robot to Off-Road Vehicle to Hand to Foot Retail:$16.99 Availability: May 2016 Other: Retooled to Afterburner
Few toys will inspire the cry of "What's going on here?" like Protectobot Groove. Takara-Tomy released a nearly identical version of this toy in a $160 boxed set with the rest of Defensor last year, but Hasbro left this mold out of its assortments. They brought it out this year as part of May Mayhem, one of Hasbro's many marketing campaigns but one of few that really seems to have traction with fans. Amazon sold theirs early, international sellers had theirs up early, but the plan for the USA was to have participating sellers go live on May 24. Things don't always work out. The mold is, for US fans, totally new and it also means you can double down on Groove in your Combiner Wars collection because there's also a tiny Legends-class one. In 2015, Hasbro deployed the May Mayhem promotion to bring you Quickslinger and Break-Neck, which were other Japan-only toys at the time. So this is a good promotion.
While we wait for Shuttle Blast Off, let's nitpick Groove. He's not like the other Combiner Wars toys, which is immediately obvious in his head. It's a nice sculpt with a yellow face, gold eyes, and a black helmet - but the big departure is in the back of his head. It's clear plastic, so he has light-up eyes. This is a feature that seemed to have been phased out of Generations with none of the new Combiner Wars Legends, Deluxe, or Voyager molds incorporating this feature. It doesn't look like it will be part of Titans Return either, and while the eyes are bright and chipper here I was glad to be rid of it. Eyes are generally better painted than light-up eye ports, mostly because you can't count on good clear plastic or good lighting. Groove has a grim face for a pacifist named after a term associated with the laid-back among us, but hey, at least he has personality.
Since the toy originated with Takara-Tomy, it should not surprise you that the design owes more to the cartoon than the original toys. The chest is broad and gold, with white limbs and some silver markings. Wheels hang off his calf muscles, if he had any, with the front of the bike acting as sort of a backpack. He stands nicely, and in many ways feels like an alternate universe ancestor to the rest of this line. He still has the legs which open up to engulf the thighs for transformation, the multi-jointed shoulders, and the chest piece that flips out to combine, but he still feels just enough off to irritate. You're still going to want it though. You just can't help yourself.
Transformation is a pain. Getting the robot's arms, backpack, and head all tucked in is a snap. Massaging the legs together along with the split-apart wheel will make you hate yourself. There is a way to make it fit together correctly, but I've seen a few pictures with the tire split awkwardly - rest assured it does fit together. Also, the tabs in the legs that seem like they should slide together also do snap in place, and it does feel like you're going to break it. It's unpleasant. I don't like it. If you decide to buy one of these, buy two, because if you're nervous like me you assume one of them will break. He's not as much fun as Rook, and he exists purely to scratch the itch of the kind of people who can't get behind the idea of new incarnations of old things.
Bike mode is big and nice - other, smaller robots can ride him and he can stand upright without use of the included kickstand. The guns connect to the sides like horrible saddle bags of death, and you can slap the handfootgun on top of the bike in vehicle mode. It's a nice bike. The guns do an adequate job of hiding the robot arms, but it's a little silly - which is appropriate for a giant robot made of five smaller robots with scale issues.
As a limb, he's fine. The transformation to an arm or a leg poses the same nuisances as the bike change, but it does a fine job of keeping your big robot looking complete, or standing upright. It's functional and looks more or less right, and for that reason you just have to get this guy. After all, Hasbro made far more Combiner Torsos than sets of limbs to keep them upright. I don't love Groove, but I'd buy more repaints of him just to build more giant robots.
I should also note, the handfootgun accessory appears to be identical to that of Alpha Bravo. Also, mine is currently connected to my Grand Scourge as an arm, which works out pretty nicely.
Should you buy it? Consider your costs, and yes. For $20 or less? Sure. $30? Maybe. More than that, and you should probably be looking up a Unite Warriors Defensor boxed set. (It's not like you can't use the spare limbs.) I assume by the time you read this it will be long sold out, and people hesitant to pay $160 for Japan's identical version in the Defensor boxed set will pay more than they should for the single version. If your toy collection requires completism and slavish loyalty to the original team, you obviously must own one. If not, it's still a fine limb for a team. And if you just want a decent, large robot for your shelf? He's nice enough. But he's a nuisance to transform thanks to that tab on his inner shin, so be careful.
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