Thursday, 21 July 2016

Unite Warriors UW-06 Combiner Haunt Leader Grand Galvatron

Combiner Wars and Unite Warriors have both had a very strange approach to some of their characters. One of the earliest releases was a very G1-styled standalone Leader class Megatron, followed by a Voyager class Optimus Prime who could combine with four other Autobots to become 'Ultra Prime'. We later got a standalone Leader class Ultra Magnus and 'Galvatronus', a gestalt whose limbs could be whichever mind-controlled Autobots or Decepticons he cared to subjugate... neatly removing any need for Hasbro to provide Cyclonus with his armada, or even a ramshackle team of his own. Hurrah for Hasbro and their amazing talent for never releasing enough Decepticons!

As a result, while I had high hopes for Takara Tomy's take on Bruticus, I had been all set to get through Combiner Wars with no other Decepticon gestalts aside from this year's Collectors' Club Subscription Service combiner, Thunder Mayhem. Then Takara Tomy announced their Unite Warriors Grand Galvatron set, with a positively opulent repaint of CW Cyclonus as its centrepiece, and a rag-tag team of cross-continuity limb-bots of his very own, which combined to form a version of Galvatron based heavily on the G1 toy and, as is my wont, I put through a preorder almost immediately because my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Packaging:
Whereas Hasbro have chosen to follow a pattern of releasing each gestalt as its five individual component pieces (across two separate waves to begin with, at least one of which was cancelled across Europe last year), with the only boxed sets being the special repaints, like their G2 Aerialbots and Stunticons sets, Takara Tomy have so far released all their teams as very G1-themed boxed sets. While I was happy enough with Hasbro's Aerialbots (including Alpha Bravo, since Quickslinger/Slingshot, when finally released, was just a repaint of Firefly with a new head) and Protectobots (though I may try to acquire Groove), the Decepticons thusfar have been disappointing - or just plain unavailable in UK shop. But even Takara Tomy's presentation packaged version of the Stunticons creates the same faintly disappointing and weirdly proportioned Menasor - not a patch on the smaller scaled (yet overall larger) FansProject Intimidator - and I definitely have no room in my collection for either the Combiner Wars or Unite Warriors Devastator so I've not bothered picking any up before this one.

Having bought this boxed set, though, I do think it's something of a shame that none of the others tickled my particular fancy, as it looks fantastic. The painting on the front hints at the battle scenes that appeared on the backs of G1 boxes - it's dramatic, colourful, and depicts the Grand Galvatron gestalt figure quite accurately. The images on the back of the box and on the inside of the flap show the toys off to excellent effect, and the large window behind the flap offers a clear view of the full set and their accessories. It's a triple-whammy of awesome presentation that not even Hasbro's G2-homage boxed sets achieve.


Wandering Roller
Vehicle Mode:
The Rook mold isn't one I'd have considered for Roller - formerly Optimus Prime's helpful little semi-autonomous drone vehicle - but it actually seems fairly appropriate in person, not least because of the peg poking up out of the roof of the vehicle. It's almost possible to imagine that plugged into Prime's trailer, allowing Roller to move it about while Prime avails himself of some Decepticon faces, or whatever an Autobot Leader needs to do. Obviously, it lacks the open seating of the G1 vehicle, but the use of this particular mold makes it look as though Roller has been upgraded for use in a war zone.

The bulk of the shell has been painted silver so, despite his brick-like appearance, Roller still manages to stand out in the set. He features painted details in metallic blue and green, including the rims of all six hubcaps, as well as the oddly Christmassy combination of bright red and metallic green on the 'lightbar' details toward the rear. Structural pieces of brownish and bright orange plastic are visible at various points, but there's little impact on the overall consistency of his look.

He comes packaged with the same weapons as Rook - both the claw (now molded in bright orange, because why not?) and the hand/foot missile launcher (now a sort of faux-metallic brown) and both attach in the same positions. It rather goes to show that the biggest problem with Rook was that he was molded largely in boring white plastic.


Robot Mode:
The only reason Roller doesn't look plain in vehicle mode is all that silver paint... so it's quite surprising to see so little silver in evidence in robot mode. His robot mode colourscheme is, by all accounts, based on the IDW character Roller, as opposed to Prime's drone vehicle, and this probably best explains the choice of Rook as the base figure, since IDW's Roller was some kind of massive armoured transport. His body is molded in the sort-of metallic brown of the hand/foot weapon, but broken up with a bright orange combiner peg in the centre and matching painted orange details either side, along with touches of metallic green and blue. The ginormous moon boots are coloured similarly, with silver-tipped toes, while the upper legs are pale grey plastic. His forearms have nice metallic green cuffs, with the fists unpainted alongside the 5mm sockets/wrist cannons.

While there are no remolded parts on Roller (he even has the same head as the original, with much the same paint job - the only significant differences, in fact, are the use of brown plastic and the lack of an Autobot insignia on his forehead - instead, there's just a big patch of orange) something appears to have gone slightly adrift with the left arm on mine. Neither the orange claw nor the hand/foot weapon will hold in place (the hand/foot weapon is basically balancing in the socket in my photos) and, looking into the socket, the difference is quite noticeable. It looks very much as though insufficient plastic was injected into that particular part of the relevant sprue. It's not a terrible problem, though, as the hand/foot gun can be mounted securely on either shoulder... and it's not as if Roller really needs a giant chunky hand with missile launchers.


Zombie War Breakdown
Vehicle Mode:
I have to say, it seems really strange to me that TF Prime Breakdown has been pulled into this set. It seems like a fairly random choice, and it's the most recent continuity by eight years. While I wonder if the First Aid reshelling wouldn't have been a better choice, I can't say this version of the mold doesn't suit the Decepticon bruiser. The front end looks almost perfect, and the back end only falls down because it's an open - if typically shallow - pickup truck bed, rather than a bulked-up, closed-off shell of Bulkhead's nemesis.

The plastic colour is a rather greyer, less saturated blue than the Arms Micron toy, but that seems more accurate to the CGI in the TV show than Takara Tomy's toy did. They've elected to keep the paintwork nice and simple, with the front and rear bumpers, headlights, grille, wing mirrors, hubcaps and the step-plate things below the doors all painted nicely with silver, as well as the red stripes over the rear wheelwells that were more a feature of the toy than the character in the TV show. All the windows - including the rear windscreen, for once - are painted black, and the lower parts of the rear indicator lights have been painted red. Not sure why the upper parts didn't receive the same treatment, but they're slightly less prominent anyway. The only other decoration is the Decepticon insignia stamped above both of the front wheel wells.

Another reason this mold is fairly appropriate as Breakdown is that he comes with a mêlée weapon - albeit an axe rather than TF Prime Breakdown's hammer - though there's no really useful mounting point for it on vehicle mode. It almost looks as though it was supposed to resemble engine parts, but it doesn't quite manage that. The hand/foot gun mounts on the vertical protrusion from the truck bed, but its gun barrels point right into the cab rather than over the roof. It could be argued, based on the sculpted detail on the top, that it's more of a souped-up engine than a weapon, but the thumb/heel spur sticking out the back - even when folded fully in - doesn't help with that deception. The mounting point is too far back to allow the thumb to fold flush with the truck bed door, but too far forward to allow the wrist section to fold down in its entirety.


Robot Mode:
While he's certainly not as bulky as the Arms Micron figure, he still manages to be recognisable as an interpretation of TF Prime Breakdown. It's also quite clever that the combiner joint is molded in both blue and grey plastic, to reduce its impact on the chest area, and to help in blend in better at the waist. The paint job is similarly simple and, in most areas, it's left to the bare grey plastic to break up the blue plastic of the vehicle mode parts.

Both weapons fare a little better in this mode - the axe really doesn't have the same effect as a hammer, but it's a reasonable substitute, and I like the fact that the entire blade is painted silver. The hand/foot gun doesn't quite take the place of his shoulder-mounted cannon, though supposedly there is a way of jamming it in under the bonnet on his back, between the front wheels... I can never make it stay and it still wouldn't look right anyway.

The head sculpt, while nothing like TF Prime Breakdown, works well enough with the given paint job, and the crest is at least vaguely similar to elements of Breakdown's helmet design. The red face framed by silver plates and the chin-strap add to the similarity, as does the perpetual frown in his yellow eyes.

What's quite strange about this fellow is that, while he's named Zombie War Breakdown - implying this is the version with Silas in his chest and infected with the dodgy Energon that turned him into a cybernetic vampire - he looks more like Breakdown as he was first introduced. Granted, his CGI didn't look as vastly different as the toy did, but I might have expected a darker, more muted colourscheme, and perhaps hints of battle damage... Unless, in being drawn into the Unite Warriors continuity, he's been given a new - no doubt caveat-ridden - life by Unicron?

The quality control issues which hit Roller are also in evidence in Breakdown - when I got him out of the box, there was a large chunk of plastic flashing on the end of his left arm preventing it from fully clipping in place in vehicle mode, and the lower legs just don't like to stay together in vehicle mode. The former problem was quickly solved with a scalpel, the latter I haven't quite figured out yet... Sometimes, it feels as though there's a 'sweet spot' where they connect securely (certainly, I've found that pegging the lower legs together before closing them up for vehicle mode to be slightly more reliable) and I've yet to have them spontaneously collapse when he forms Grand Galvatron's right leg, but there's always the nagging worry that it might happen.


Curse Armada Thrust
Vehicle Mode:
While I would certainly say we've had more than enough of the Firefly mold (not least due to its re-use as Blast-Off in Hasbro's Bruticus), I must confess to being somewhat baffled that it wasn't reused for Thrust. That's not to say that the Air Raid mold isn't a good choice, just that, on balance, Firefly's not-quite-Harrier form would seem more appropriate to a reimagining of Armada Thrust than this F-14. It's also - by the by - somewhat strange that a toyline that has repainted its Stunticon molds as Autobots several times over has largely failed to repaint its Aerialbots as Decepticons (more on that on the next figure!). It wouldn't take much, surely, to repaint (and provide new heads for) a couple of them as Starscream, Thundercracker,  Skywarp, G1 Thrust, Dirge and Ramjet... and yet - as is often the case - it has been left to Takara Tomy to come up with imaginative reuses of existing molds.

And so we come to Armada Thrust. The original toy was one of many Armada figures that I really couldn't be bothered with - it looked terrible (disproportionate, boxy and with afterburners for 'hands') and was never even released in a two-pack alongside a more interesting figure to give me an excuse, the way the Armada Sideswipe mold was (Universe Ultra Magnus vs. Treadshot, which I only bought for the Armada Deluxe Prime head, because I wanted to use it on a custom). What's rather cool about this reimagining of Thrust is that he's been made with a mold that was never released officially in Europe due to Hasbro cancelling his wave (which also contained three of the Stunticons).

He's molded almost entirely in a mid-grey plastic that seems to look about right compared to the Armada original, and then has metallic green paint on the leading edges of all his wings and fins, as well as on the flaps on the main wings. Silver paint appears on his intakes, around the 5mm peg on his back at between the tail fins, referencing elements of the Armada toy's design, as does the lurid, almost fluorescent green paint on his missiles. The pair of - otherwise incongruous - orange blocks painted on just behind the 5mm peg and the metallic blue cockpit also reference elements of the original toy, but the glaring omission is the strange, camouflage-ish darker grey wash effect... not that it's a terrible loss.

Given that this is the only Aerialbot mold with 5mm sockets on the arms, it's a shame he wasn't given a couple of friction-launch missiles like the original toy, but there are limits even on what Takara Tomy will do. What he has is Air Raid's double-barrelled blaster and dual missile-tipped hand/foot gun. both are molded in a dark, almost brownish metallic-look plastic, rather than green... This probably works out for the best in the gestalt, but I can't help thinking they missed a trick.


Robot Mode:
The surprisingly close homage in paintwork continues in robot mode, with lots of Air Raid's sculpted detail repurposed by way of the choice of plastic and paint colours. Particularly clever is the way the Armada toy's shin-mounted missile launchers are implied by the lurid green paint. Similarly, the combiner joint in his chest references the arm that swings Thrust's head from its position as part of the jet's nose to its position on his shoulders even though his delightfully conical noggin stays exactly where it is on this version. It's almost a shame that more green paint wasn't applied to the righthand chest cavity, since that's where Armada Thrust's active Mini-Con port was located. The best part of this figure, for me, is that it so clearly references the old Armada toy, but the Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors body is massively improved in every way... not least in that it has actual hands.

The fact that his weapons can mount on his forearms goes some way toward replacing the original's afterburner 'hands' by allowing him to wield his dual blaster and dual missile launcher as G1 Seeker-style arm cannons. Obviously he can also hold them in his hands, but where's the fun in that? I still feel it was a huge mistake not to give all the Deluxe Aerialbot molds 5mm pegs on their forearms...

Curse Armada Thrust is one of the two Deluxe figures in this set which were given a new head sculpt, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. It almost looks as if it was designed with the G1 Coneheads in mind, rather than Armada Thrust specifically. He, after all, had a sort of 'Pilot's Oxygen Mask' face, rather than the clearly humanoid-type face he's been given here. The paint job certainly references the Armada toy, but the sculpted detail definitely doesn't - the area painted with the cockpit's metallic blue is clearly not sculpted with the intention of resembling a section of cockpit. This makes me wonder if Takara Tomy had intended (or do intend), at some point, to put together a gestalt made entirely of G1 Seekers and Coneheads, perhaps using a variant of this jet mold to better represent an F-15, with variants to create the custom jets. Certainly, while I'm ambivalent toward the G1 characters released as Combiner Wars toys by Hasbro, the idea of Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker is weirdly tempting...


Ghost Starscream
Vehicle Mode:
I have to confess that, despite having mostly lost interest in the Masterpiece line after Soundwave, I do still somewhat covet the 'Ghost' variant of MP03, but currently lack space to display it to its best advantage, even if I didn't also lack adequate funds (anything from £100 to £200 on eBay) to even consider its purchase. This Unite Warriors version therefore fills a gap and, to an extent, quells my desire for the larger, more complicated version.

Sadly, he's not an F-15, but rather the F-16-ish/F-18-ish Skydive mold. Cast almost entirely in colourless, transparent plastic, then painted over with translucent reds and blues - as well as opaque red and white for the linework on the wings and tail fins - he looks glorious... though, like the Masterpiece version, not exactly ghost-like, as such. Looking at it - particularly against a dark background - is like looking at a blueprint or some other form of schematic... Though it does bring to mind Wonder Woman's 'invisible' jet, for better or worse.

All in all, I don't object to Starcream having a terrestrial alternate mode that isn't an F-15 - and, in fact, this jet is somewhat similar to his appearance in TF Prime, albeit far chunkier - but I do wonder if the F-14 mold used by Thrust wouldn't have been the better choice.

Where it falls down is with the weapons - both are molded in opaque plastic, and so just don't seem to go with a translucent, ghostly jet, and it's the same old double-barrelled blaster and dual missile hand/foot gun as Thrust. One would think that, in a set link this, a bit more effort would have gone in to the weapon selection. I get that they wouldn't want to make the hand/foot gun out of (potentially brittle) translucent plastic, but the blaster really needed to fit in better with the idea of 'Ghost' Starscream. Strangely, the missiles molded on the undersides of the wings are actually painted silver... so they're really not ghostly.


Robot Mode:
I suppose Starscream almost looks ghostly in robot mode... though, with a similar effect used for Mirage in 'cloaking' mode, his translucence could be explained in any number of ways. What makes it strange is that his thighs, groin, biceps, head and combiner joint are molded on opaque plastic: grey for his own limbs, with the combiner joint cleverly doubling as his traditional torso cockpit in bright orange. The broad shoulders if the Skydive mold give Starscream a quite regal look, or something like a very showy dress uniform, very much deserving of a cape like the adjusted, re-released Masterpiece version.

The biggest flaw in the use of the Skydive mold for Starscream, rather than the Air Raid mold, is that he has no weapon ports on his arms. Granted, he also lacks his traditional Null Ray weapons so perhaps, for some, that won't matter... But it does seem weird that he can't at least put his double-barrelled cannon or his dual missile launcher hand/foot gun on his arms when Thrust can. It's also a little odd that they chose a mold which cannot give him his traditional Seeker silhouette, with his wings being not only folded back but pointing upward. At least with the Air Raid mold, something closer to the proper look could have been fudged.

The head is a fairly traditional, boxy Seeker head sculpt, though also seemingly quite closely based on the War for/Fall of Cybertron Seeker toy in its details, though without the defined panel lines on the face. The proportions of the face seem a bit squashed, too, with a large, protruding chin spike taking up about the bottom third of face, leaving the pouty, frowning mouth squashed up against a miniscule nose. It works well enough, despite being opaque, and - along with Armada Thrust's head, above - suggests that Takara Tomy could produce an full set of Deluxe remakes of the G1 Seekers and Coneheads as limbs for another Decepticon gestalt... if only they could choose the right character and mold for the torso.


Tactician Cyclonus
Vehicle Mode:
When I first saw images of Hasbro's reworking of Combiner Wars Silverbolt into Cyclonus, I honestly wasn't impressed. The base model is pretty terrible - a jet with a robot in a yoga position stuck underneath - and sticking a new jet on top of the same chunk of robot didn't seem improve it in any meaningful way. The new, violently violet colourscheme was hideous and, while I know Combiner Wars is a whole new continuity, technically reinventing the 8-year-old Classics line to a degree (let alone the ancient, venerated Generation 1) I still don't see any reason to replace what was - and still is - a surprisingly good reinvention of Cyclonus in that older toyline.

There's an immediately obvious difference between Takara Tomy's Cyclonus and Hasbro's: the violently violet plastic has been substituted with a muted metallic blue, and there's a modest amount of metallic purple, silver and grey paint splashed all over this version's futuristic jet with forward-swept wings. It's amazing how much the top side of this just looks like the animation model from the 1986 animated movie... so it's a huge shame that, underneath it all, it's basically the same massive brick of folded-up robot as Silverbolt.

Impressive as Cyclonus looks, he is remarkably pale compared to his G1 and even his Classics incarnations. Were it not for the metallic look of the plastic and paintwork, he'd basically be pastel-coloured. Still, I can't say it doesn't look good, and it is perhaps closer to the look of the original animation model rather than the toy, albeit with a slightly shifted hue for most of the plastic. There are a couple of odd-panels-out at the back of the jet - just inside either jet engine, the panels concealing his thighs are molded in grey plastic rather than metallic blue, which does stick out from most angles.

Cyclonus comes with the same weapons as Silverbolt, just with the main part molded in translucent orange and the smaller part painted metallic blue. They look reasonable but, in a package like this, it's as disappointing as it is inappropriate. Cyclonus really deserved something approaching his traditional G1 weapon or, considering the upcoming Titans Return line, perhaps a variation on the Classics version's TargetMaster weapon. His only other accessories in this set are the small fins which plug into this fists in this mode, disguising them quite subtly compared to Silverbolt.


Robot Mode:
More variation in colour becomes apparent in robot mode, with small details painted onto his torso, grey plastic on his upper arms, fists and thighs, the dark grey of the kneecaps and toes, not to mention the conspicuously multicoloured panels on the outsides of his lower legs which become Grand Galvatron's chest. There are very few areas without any paintwork, so he looks awesome - better than both Silverbolt and Hasbro's version of Cyclonus.

There's a small amount of partsforming to Cyclonus, in that the stabiliser fins that act as concealment for his fists in vehicle mode have to be manually relocated to his forearms so that he has something approaching a G1-authentic look to his arms. He's far bulkier, overall, most certainly in comparison to his Classics look, but the extra bulk suits him. From some angles, and particularly around the top of the torso, it kind of looks like he's a smaller, thinner robot wearing armour.

Of course he has massive wings and the entire jet nose section hanging off his back, but that's basically unavoidable with this mold, and isn't too far removed from the original G1 toy. It might have been nice to be able to bend the wings back out, part-way, so they add to his silhouette from the front, like the Classics version, but there's no obvious position for such a joint, and it might have caused problems them tabbing in (albeit already rather loosely) to the jet's nose.

As mentioned above, he comes with the same weapon as Silverbolt, except in colour. It's obvious in robot mode that it's designed to facilitate Grand Galvatron's arm-mounted cannon in combined mode, and the long-barrelled handgun just doesn't suit Cyclonus. The 'shield' also strikes me as a little pointless, even moreso than it did on Silverbolt. It's nice that they've been painted to fit in with Cyclonus, but the simple fact is the accessories just aren't appropriate to this character... I can understand that they were reluctant to create whole new weapons, but Cyclonus only needed a small pistol - or a TargetMaster - and Silverbolt's weapon cast in translucent orange isn't exactly ideal for a Galvatron either...

The head sculpt is probably the saving grace of the Hasbro version but here, with a more extensive paint job, it looks fantastic. The metallic blue plastic features details painted in a darker, purplish grey framing the silver face and at the roots of his 'horns'. There's less contrast than on Hasbro's version, but I don't feel that's to the mold's detriment. It's unfortunate that it's only able to rotate, just like Silverbolt's, but it has decent range nonetheless.


Haunt Leader Grand Galvatron
And here we have the main event... Takara Tomy's take on a gestalt Galvatron, with his own team of followers, each with an axe to grind for one reason or another. It's an interesting concept, and far better than the sequestration angle Hasbro used to allow Galvatronus to form from using any four robots - be they Decepticon or Autobot - because they just felt lazy.

Speaking of lazy, I've only taken photos of Grand Galvatron in his default configuration because that's really how he looks his best. With any jumble-gestalt made using two jets and two ground-based vehicles, the jets tend to make good arms, but weird-looking legs, and the wheeled vehicles often look too bulky as anything other than legs. Let us not forget that Superion got away with jets-as-legs because he's pretty much entirely made of jets. Having the bulkier vehicles as Grand Galvatron's legs does call back to the original G1 toy, in a way, since that had disproportionately large knee-length boots.

He cuts a powerful-looking figure, overall, and the muted tones of Cyclonus work pretty well with Grand Galvatron's chest. The paintwork on the chest goes some way to compensating for the fact that the chest really wasn't molded specifically to be Galvatron, but instead to be a half way mark between Galvatron and Computron. Certain details, like the silver 4-pack, work better than others, but the wacky dark gunmetal panels on each side, with their multi-coloured indentations, are quite a clever reference to the chest-side sticker detailing on the G1 toy. One really cute feature is that inside of Cyclonus' chest panel - which flips up to cover the small opening left by transforming Grand Galvatron's head out of Cyclonus' chest - has been painted red and orange, in reference to the G1 toy's 'belt buckle'.

The colourscheme across the gestalt isn't exactly coherent, but all components feature some muted colours, and Wandering Roller's silver doesn't look too out-of-place against Cyclonus'/Grand Galvatron's greys. That orange, though..? Ouch. Then again, looking at my G1 Galvatron, he does have stickers on his ankles that are black, purple, orange and silver stripes... Starscream is the obvious odd-man out, being almost entirely translucent, but it's almost a callback to the Armada Unicron toy's translucent, glowing hand of doom.

Weirdly, the fact that Galvatron's weapon mounts on his Starscream arm feels like a callback to the way, in the G1 cartoon, Megatron would normally allow Starscream to wield him as a weapon on the rare occasion he transformed into gun mode. Sadly, due to the size of the 'shield' portion of the weapon, and its proximity to Starscream's folded up arms, there's not really enough space - or, rather, not enough peg length - for it to attach securely to the underside of Starscream's wing. It doesn't continually fall out, but it certainly doesn't need much provocation to do so. The real problem, though, is that the design of the weapon is wholly inadequate to represent Galvatron's arm-mounted weapon and, again, I really wish Takara Tomy had included a whole new weapon in their version of the toy.

The hands and feet are as good as we've come to expect from the Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors hand/foot guns - no more or less stable than any others - and actually looking quite plain on the gestalt due to the dull colouring. They are very much ripe for replacements from Perfect Effect but, as they haven't (yet!) produced a set specfically for Grand Galvatron, I'm tempted to pick up a second PC-09 set for him... Or perhaps I'll simply trade them if I end up acquiring the Toys Dream Wave Bruticus parts.

As with Cyclonus, he head sculpt looked pretty good on Hasbro's version, but the bold purple colour did it no favours, despite its intended G1 cartoon homage. This version, with it's sober, G1 toy-emulating grey plastic, is far more restrained and classy. In the initial pictures, it almost seemed as though parts of the crown might be translucent - which might have been interesting - but it turns out to be wholly opaque grey. The overall look of the head sculpt seems almost to suggest Megatron's traditional 'bucket head' with a crown added... Appropriate, given Galvatron's portrayal in the animated movie, but not so appropriate in a G1 toy homage.


Collectors' Coin:
A fun bonus, considering I didn't specifically order UW Grand Galvatron with collectors' coin, this is something Takara Tomy started adding as special gifts. It's not part of the boxed set, and was included as an entirely separate item in the shipping box. I'm not about to start consciously and deliberately collecting these - I tend to dislike random TransFormers merchandise like this - but it's an interesting feature. The envelope is designed to look like Galvatron's chest, and opens up to reveal the coin inside a plastic bubble. I can't see any way of accessing the coin without tearing open the envelope, so it'll stay exactly where it is...


Given that the presentation here is immaculate - the style is a hybrid of Hasbro's CW/G2 boxed sets and TT's own unique Unite Warriors branding, with an awesome painting on the front flap covering an enormous window, and further details of the figures within - both on the inside of the flap and the back of the box - it seems to be a great shame that Hasbro haven't taken a similar tack across the board with Combiner Wars... though I can see their strategy leans more towards people making lots of smaller purchases and building teams as they see fit - as evidenced not only by their Galvatronus, but by Sky Reign as well. 'Free Play' is all well and good, but something like Combiner Wars always benefits by having a little more structure of its own rather than falling back on such tenuous and even nonsensical G1 references.

Then again, what is this if not a tenuous and even nonsensical pan-continuity G1 reference? Grand Galvatron's torso is such a gorgeous homage to the G1 toy, with the molded detail cleverly painted to reference paint and stickers from the original, but the limbs come from alternate G1 continuities, as well as Armada and Prime. Technically, it's as jumbled as any Galvatronus would ever be, even to the extent that one of the limbs is an Autobot. What's outstanding here is the choice of individuals, their colourschemes, their paint jobs, and the fact that some thought has gone into who makes up Grand Galvatron and why.

In terms of quality control, this thing is essentially flawless bar the issues with Wandering Roller's left hand/cannon/5mm port and Zombie War Breakdown's occasionally floppy shins. Starscream's legs occasionally don't like staying together when he's in arm mode, but that's generally less of a problem. The paintwork is immaculate throughout and there was only that one instance of plastic flashing remaining on the toy. The biggest problem, as with Silverbolt, is that Cyclonus' shoulder joints aren't quite strong enough to comfortably support Grand Galvatron in a lot of wide-legged stances, but I'd imagine some replacement feet from Perfect Effect (or, as mentioned above, Transform Dream Wave) with ankle joints and foam rubber pads on the soles would help that. The stock hand/foot guns are entirely inadequate for anything other than standing up straight, and it's a shame an imaginative and beautiful set like Grand Galvatron didn't come with the newer-style dedicated hands and feet that have been shown with Victorion and Computron.

The weird thing is, now I have this, I'm less keen on acquiring Titans Return Galvatron or even DX9's awesome Tyrant. The former because, having now seen some more images and videos of it, I'm starting to think it looks a bit crappy. The latter because I'm honestly starting to wonder if I really need a cartoon-accurate Masterpiece-scale Galvatron at all. By and large, Galvatron just ain't a character I'm that invested in... This set represents an intriguing curiosity and collectors' piece rather than being a 'go-to' Galvatron figure.

My only reservation about this set is that its presentation is so opulent that it must surely be aimed squarely and solely at the adult collector, despite having the same price point as all the other Unite Warriors sets, and a very similar cost (on import) to Hasbro's boxed sets. I cannot think of it as a child's toy on its appearance alone. Take into account the issues with the gestalt's poseability and it's just too fragile and too easily damaged to entrust to kids.

For a collector, however, it's a fine, quirky, intriguing addition to the ever-expanding neo-Classics lines and, aside from the remarkably weedy cannon, looks far better and far more imposing than Titans Return Voyager class Galvatron. It also interacts really well with Smallest Transforming TransFormers...

4 comments:

  1. This guy is very interesting. I was rather eager for Wandering Roller, Thrust and Starscream, but didn't want the others. He does look a lot better than I expected though and I think they've been very clever with the colours.

    I too was looking forward to TR Galvatron and slowly went off the guy, sadly I forgot to cancel the order and he just arrived 5 minutes ago. I'd be up for a nice G1 Movie Galvatron though. He kind of looks nice and regal.
    And 80s robot Spectacular

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    1. He's well worth a look, Tets! The concept was clever, and Takara Tomy have created something that looks like a premium collectable at their usual sort of price point. Its ties into any ongoing Unite Warriors story may be tenuous at best (and I'm curious to see if the existing Combiner Wars fiction actually makes any use of Galvatronus, let alone something like this), but it's a fantastic-looking set of individual 'bots and one of my favourite gestalts so far.

      Now I've seen more photos of Takara Tomy's Legends Galvatron, I've more-or-less decided not to bother with either... but it remains to be seen whether I'll stick to my guns if I ever see one on the shelves of a toyshop or at a convention... And I look forward to reading/hearing your views of TR Galvatron!

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