Meet the Destrons! While virtually unknown to all but the G1 faithful who were very aware that the original Transformers line continued in Japan - with cartoons - long after the US line faded, Liokaiser is really something. We're selling these as an exclusive where I work (buy some won't you?) and I remember being floored when I was told a) an exclusive combiner was coming and b) it was Liokaiser. It's not identical to the Japanese one - budgets and modern toy standards and all - but I was more or less stunned to see how well Sky Lynx [FOTD #1,375] worked as a stand-in for Leozack and Jallguar... but obviously, only in combined mode. More on that in a bit.
Given the nature of the original design, you may be interested in some of the alternate transformations available to the combined robot to enhance height and give him a different silhouette. But, again, more on that in a bit.
The mold that is most likely new to you is Ion Scythe, the first only release of this mold outside the Japanese Arms Micron line, which is what sold over there during Prime. The mold was originally sold as Starscream's partner, named Gul, and dang if he doesn't look almost the same here with paint rather than stickers. It's a simple toy with deco to die for. Cast in a rich, metallic blue plastic the toy is delivered to you in more or less its bird mode. Just swing out the wings, and you've got a bird. His wings fold out, there are little legs that fold down, and if that weren't enough there's a tail that can be moved.
The weapon mode is, well, it's a claw thing? I don't know what it is. I'm reading that it's a bladed plasma cannon, which I suppose is reasonable. It fits in Liokaiser's hand nicely, and presumably every other 5mm fist I've got - including Computicon, or whatever else is handy. It looks good, but it is a little small for such a big robot.
As a thing unto itself? It's gorgeous. The blue plastic is good. The purple crystal - with a purple Decepticon symbol - it's good too. Where the figure whips out a glove and challenges the Japanese version to a duel are the silver and red stripes, which were originally somewhat awkward foil stickers. Hasbro said "No! We will not make you apply stickers!" Instead they provided a thick, clean, and bright silver stripe on the blades with bright red techish marks to brin it to life. The figure has a big red eye, too. It's not as impressive as, say, wipes or intricate patterns, but seeing Hasbro slather this much silver paint on a toy and have it come out looking perfect - especially on plastic this dark - is impressive. I hope to see more of these guys hit the USA with paint, as I hate dealing with foil labels.
Next up is the Sky Lynx redeco that is Dezarus. Or Deathsaurus, Deathasaurus, or whatever other manglings may be correct or trademarkable this week. I was expecting a straight-up repaint (save for the combined head), but they added some dino bird feathers to the retooled head of the (and I use the term loosely) robot mode. The head has been altered a bit so that the look has two eyes and not just a bunch of windows - it's more believable as a dinobird than as a shuttle part masquerading as a dinobird. Heck, I bet this would make a great Sky Lynx if painted accordingly. He has the same articulation as his older cousin, and comes with many wonderful color choices. You'll note some silver on the small wings, plus big triangle tampos on the wings with coloring that draws on Jarugar and Leozack, the two missing team members. This helps the combined mode looking more or less like the original counterpart, meaning Dezarus is really different enough from Deathsaurus that I would think - and hope - Hasbro has plenty of a reason to do him as a stand-alone all-new toy down the road.
The shuttle mode is just as good as Sky Lynx with the aforementioned more fantastical color. You've got gold, teal, an off-white, some red, and a bit of black. The original toy was more blue, so this shuttle is - if you'll forgive the pun - its own beast. If you look in the front there's a little opening for imaginary smaller 'bots to hitch a ride inside, but no currently available toy is tiny enough to fit inside. You'd need to catch ants or something. On his wings, you can mount two swords which can also become tail feathers if you're so inclined.
It would be wrong of me to slight this figure for what it isn't rather than what it is - but to see Hasbro merge four character designs into a single toy that can serve as a decent combiner torso? I'm impressed. I'd still buy separate Leozack and Jarugar toys if/when the opportunity comes up, but I don't need them. I'm buying this set to keep displayed, primarily, as a combiner anyway.
Next up are the jets! Both share tooling - Guyhawk makes the most out of the Air Raid [FOTD #1,159] tooling and gives him a new head. Also, crazy pink deco. The head is new and so far unique to this figure, carrying an animal motif that makes it look like a bird. The coloring is closer to the Japanese Victory cartoon, with the pink head and nice big yellow bird beak on the helmet. You'll notice a few bird-like elements, like little teeny eyes. The skull has been sculpted so that the head can tilt all the way back, too, plus the paint job has given him yellow knees and black details very much like the cartoon. Articulation is the same as the other uses of the mold, so you're probably going to like it.
The jet mode is, well, it's a jet mode. But it's pink! Also the wings are dipped in silver, with awesome yellow and black tampos to look like the vintage G1 labels you mercifully no longer must apply. You are welcome. Fortune has smiled upon you. I don't know if any of you were itching for a pink combiner jet, but I was pushing for a pink Alpha Bravo, which is another sotry I may some day share. His weapons fit just as well as the other releases, so you're in for a treat here.
Fellbat is a blue Skydive [FOTD #1,095] with new deco and a new head. He's an update of the Japanese toy Hellbat, so renamed because Hasbro rarely uses the word on its toy packaging. I might go as far as to say "never," but you might prove me wrong. The original mold is wonderful as were the 900 other times it was used, so you know what to expect here. He has articulated ear wings which are grey - the animation model had a blue head, and the original toy has a grey head. This combines the two. The face with the red eyes and grey face plate are pure cartoon, and you'll even see the extra set of bat eyes sculpted on his helmet. Sadly they're not painted, but at least they're present. He's a nice, sturdy robot with 16 points of articulation, and like the bulk of this set is likely a toy character you do not own.
As a jet, he's a jet. You've got like four jets with this exact alt mode, all in differing colors with unique features. Fellbat carries over the stickers of the original Hellbat toy as big yellow triangles, and they look great on his grey wings. The orange cockpit looks sharp as well, so I'd say you get your money's worth here. Moreso if you didn't buy it before, but it's not like my collection is overstuffed with Japan-only characters as of yet.
Ironbison - nee Killbision - got renamed because "Death," "Kill," and "Hell" are not favored terms. This one takes Brawl [FOTD #1,325] - which I can say remains my least favorite of the limb molds - and gives him new deco and a new head. He suffers from the same waist problem as the other uses of this mold - namely, it's wonky and doesn't lock in to place - but it has an exquisite new head with fold-out horns. The horns are grey, but they're gold on the package. Go figure. The helmet is painted gold, which is a close - but not exact - match to the rest of the tank. Articulation is what it is - it makes for a great limb, an OK tank, but not the most stable plaything. I like how it looks as much as if not more than the other robots based on this mold (yes including this set), so I'd say it's probably the most fun and weird single robot to inhabit this shell. Having said that, be patient around the waist area. It's not perfect.
His tank mode is a gold tank with a heavily painted silver turret. The gun snaps in place, but it's grey. Like previous releases, it does not turn - but you can slap a handfootgun or a hand gun on top which can spin. It sports rolling wheels and has limited - but good - deco, like swell stripes on the sides and a red dot on the front. They didn't skimp, like the others it's a loyal update.
Rounding out the set is Drillhorn, who has a drill and also a horn. As such, his name should be easy to remember. The robot mode has an articulated horn and a wonderful face sculpt, decorated blue and stern in appearance. This one matches the original toy much more closely than the others which draw from the animation, and I think the reason for this is that the TFWiki does not have photos of the animation model of Drillhorn. It's no secret that the wiki is a reference tool for anyone who works on the brand, or fans, so going with what was visible makes sense. The helmet's horn looks a little bit like a rhinoceros in context, with the figure getting a totally different feel based on how the treads were painted, and how the various other little flourishes were applied. Shiny tan treads are certainly an interesting choice, and mine had a couple of dings out of the box. Ah well. He's still a sharp looking late-1980s Decepticon, but as with Ironbison it's the mold that is weak. Hasbro did a wonderful job making Brawl look gorgeous with the blue and red and grey, but it's still Brawl. I like it, and it's perfect as a limb, but be careful with that waist.
I love the tank mode, especially with the drill tank attachment. You've seen it before on other toys - Nosecone, Ramhorn - but it fits here nicely. A lot of paint has been applied to it including blue around the faux cockpit and a silver tip on the drill. The tank rolls nicely and it's a decent update of the original toy, at least as color goes. Replicating the giant drill of the drill tank wasn't done here, so I am sure third parties or customizers are working on that as I write this. It's best as a limb, and I love the robot mode, and I adore the colors.
The combined robot Liokaiser is why you bought this. Let's not kid around. The box shows him with nunchucks, and he does not include said chucks. He sports the Ion Scythe weapon, numerous guns, and of course the tail sword if you're so inclined - he's got a lot of options for a giant robot. This applies to his build, too - the default is fine, but you can also rotate the tank legs to look more like the original toy with the turrets on the outside. You can leave the feet down, to give him an extra inch (almost) of height, too. I like options.
As a cohesive whole, team Destrons looks just about as wacky as many of the other original combiner teams. The colors don't match, the alt modes mingle adequately, and it's a big goofy robot with a kitty cat helmet. I love it. The original was nearly all teal, while this one adds more black and white to the mix. It's a decent update of the original toy, if a little less - if you'll forgive the slang - neon Playskool. This feels like Hasbro gave the new Liokaiser just enough tweaks to look more like something for respectable collectors, which is all well and good but I really loved the original toy's colors. You can't get too bright or gaudy for me.
This is an Entertainment Earth exclusive here in the USA, which means I work for the company who sells it and may have been involved in our carrying it. (OK, yes.) So I'm biased. Do I want a Liokaiser? Yes. And I thought you would too, so hopefully you will agree and buy one. It's not a 100% update, it's not all new molds, but the push and pull of what you can do in the modern toy world on existing budgets leads to interesting releases. I think it turned out really well, and as I would assume we'll never see another American Liokaiser toy I'm quite happy with it.
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 Ion Scythe - 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 Liokaiser 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 a few more Unite Warriors/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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