The only thing harder than trying to convince my parents to buy me a toy robot when I was a kid? Trying to convince them to buy me five toy robots that formed a bigger one. With the Transformers Generations Combiner Wars toy line I finally have my Superion. Well, mostly.
The Combiners (or as some call them, Gestalts) were the pinnacle of Transformers toys when I was a child, right up there with the massive city bots Metroplex and Trypticon. Not only did possessing five or six robots that combined into a larger one teach kids a valuable lesson about bragging, it helped them learn how to keep track of spare feet and hands, a skill that will eventually come in very handy in real-world situations.
As an Autobot lover, I wanted nothing more as a kid than to have a fully completed Superion, the amalgam of the five Aerialbots — Silverbolt, Air Raid, Fireflight, Skydive and Slingshot. I distinctly remember commiserating with team leader Silverbolt from the original cartoons, a large robot/aeroplane who was afraid of heights.
Ultimately I only wound up getting two of the Aerialbots, Skydive and Air Raid, so my dreams of making this lovely creature (image via the ever-entertaining Transformers Wiki) never came to fruition.
But that's ok, because this year's Combiner Wars toy line from Hasbro has given me something arguably better than the original.
Take one part $US24.99 Combiner Wars Silverbolt, in all his blocky off-white glory.
Add three Aerialbots ($US15.99 apiece) — Skydive, Firefly and the new helicopter, Alpha Bravo.
And finally add in the Decepticon Dragstrip, who's technically part of the Stunticon Combiner Menasor, but winds up puling cameo duty since Hasbro decided to release one wave with four Autobots and then reverse it later in the year.
Awwww, c'mon guys. Aerialbots are such elitist jerks.
Put them all together and what do you get?
It's the new, improved Superion, guest-starring Menasor's leg. He's still beautiful.
Hasbro's new Combiner feature functions much like the original toys from the '80s. You've got a central robot that forms the torso, with four points to add legs and arms. Any of the smaller bots can become any limb. When all is said and done, collectors (and kids, I guess) will have a pile of potential giant combined robot awesome to play around with.
What's great about Superion here is that while he's evocative of the original, he kicks poor G1 Superion's shiny metal arse in terms of poseability. There'll always be a soft spot in my heart for G1 Supes, but could he dance, for inspiration? No.
After another disappointing movie line and the bright colours of the toys from the upcoming Robots in Disguise animated series, the Combiner Wars figures are a wonderful throwback to the good old days, when bots were blocky and not too complicated, while adding in some neat new transforming features (the Aerialbot's folding legs are excellent) to keep things current. The entire Generations line doesn't shy away from using colours that were more in fashion some 30 years ago to help milk the nostalgia.
Purples, yellows, odd reds and greys — and while it's hard to see in the photos, Silverbolt's creamy off-white is about as '80s as it gets.
The only real disappointment in the line so far has been the Combiner Wars version of Optimus Prime. I don't mind his vehicle mode.
And his robot mode is kind of nice and beefy.
The issue is that Optimus, like Silverbolt, can become the core of a Combiner team, and he's just not right for the job.
Maybe if I paint the Matrix in his chest, or find a nice Legends-class (smaller, simpler versions of bigger bots) figure to fill his gaping chest cavity. Maybe then I can learn to love him. Then again, I'm not sure I'll ever get over the quarter-sized gap between his head and shoulders.
Still, I suppose it beats Energon Optimus Prime (via TFKenKon.com).
Optimus aside, I'm quite pleased with the Combiner Wars Transformers line as it currently stands. It's provided me with an excellent update to the original Superion without rendering him completely unrecognisable, as some earlier attempts at combiner revivals have done.
Now I just need to wait for Dragstrip's friends to show up, the poor bastard.