I’ve noted in the past that I like Combiners. I blame that on growing up with Voltron and Mighty Orbots (anyone remember that show?) as well as seeing the Combiners in the original Transformers cartoon. So you’d think a line of Combiners would get me excited. It really depends on how good the Combiners are. The most recent line, Combiner Wars, was hit or miss with me depending on the figure. Some “cores” ended up with odd proportions in torso mode and the combination is usually clean but not always. There are still some groups I really want though.

But this is not the first time there has been a combination gimmick line. Energon had a two-robot combination feature among the Autobots, but I’m referring to Power Core Combiners, a line in which the “core” led not a group of other Transformers to combine with but non-robot mode drones that would “automorph” into the arms or legs (depending on the drone) to form a larger version of the core. That’s not really what I’m looking for in a Combiner team. I like having five or more robots that combine into one and have their own alternate modes. If you want to know more about them, this episode of Plastic Addict explains the many flaws this line had.

One of the gimmicks was having a core released not with the drones but a Mini-Con partner. And we all know my love of Mini-Cons by now. The team I picked up was the Autobot Searchlight and Mini-Con Backwind. While the duo have been released as part of store promotional sets these toys come from their stand-alone two-pack since I never owned any of the drones or other “Commanders” from the series. This is my lone appearance from Power Core Combiners. So how does this team-up work out?

Don’t bother asking me what make & model this copter is based on because I don’t know.

For some reason I’ve never understood I’m really into helicopter Transformers. It’s strange because I’m not really a helicopter enthusiast. And yet I collect many helicopter Transformers, and that’s what pointed me to Searchlight. He’s supposed to be a rescue copter but his combiner links (how the drones combined in this gimmick) almost give him four jet boosters. I guess it gets the victim to the hospital faster. And I do like his copter mode. I’m not sure what his serial number represents (the line came out in 2010, not 2015) but his Autobot symbol is in a good spot and I like the color scheme. It works well. However, Searchlight is missing his searchlight. That’s where his Mini-Con partner comes in.

I suppose it could be a hovercar or something if you squint.

Which is about all he’s good for. One of the things I like about Mini-Cons is that they’re little Transformers that combine with a larger Transformer to give them some added help. Backwind…and no, I don’t know why HE isn’t Searchlight and the Autobot Backwind…really just sits there unless combined to Searchlight. His function is to act as additional rescue gear, with the twin searchlights and two extending claws, one of which has a machine gun-type weapon if needed to get the Decepticons or possibly a bear away from the patient. Unless he’s attached, he does nothing on his own. Slight problem for display purposes though.

I suppose he looks like he’s making a sharp climb.

On the bottom is what I assume is his official placement, while on the top is using the peg from Searchlight’s torso mode and another robot mode combination for the pair. Either way there is nowhere to attach him that looks good as a display piece. Even at play you’re ignoring a piece of equipment that has to be messing with Searchlight’s balance and aerodynamics. It has to be hard to have a piece of equipment attached like that, and most rescue copters have other ways to lift up victims and smaller searchlights. At least you can position the lights as if they’re searching for something.

By the way, I tried attaching some classic Mini-Cons to both of these ports and they do work. Backwind could attach to another Mini-Con compatible Transformer but he lacks the center peg to activate any of the Armada Transformer special weapons. Also, they look goofy in those positions as well. Backwind and Searchlight were designed to work together as a rescue team. Now let’s get them into robot modes.

With arms this long he should have been a law enforcer.

To give the rescue arms anything resembling a decent reach for play you end up with arms that are way too long in robot mode. The arms are almost the entire length of the body, stopping just before the feet if you stand him upright. I can’t help but put him into a gorilla stance every time I transform him into robot mode. Then again primate agility could be an asset in rescue missions and up close fighting so it isn’t a complete deal breaker. What is really bothersome is that his except for the legs and a few internals Backwind is all translucent green. I guess that’s supposed to indicate he’s supercharged with energy, but it makes him look like one of those Energon weapons from the Energon toyline. It looks better in his other combination with Searchlight, but before I show you that we should look at Searchlight himself.

For the record the rotors are removable but outside of holding them there’s no place to put them.

Searchlight’s robot mode is…okay. Nothing spectacular but at one of the smaller size points of the period there’s not much you can really do. The real problem is the front end of the helicopter is split in half behind him or just hanging off of his back. The forward combiner links at least look like shoulder canons now, which is pretty cool. There’s some added yellow to his color scheme which I do like. His arms are kind of floating and the best you can do is hide the fact that his shoulders aren’t connected to his body.

He has to check the blades when goes dancing.

He does have a full range of arm movement when the rotors aren’t attached as they get in the way, and he lacks wrists. No waist due to his combining gimmick, but full hip and knee movement plus an upper leg swivel are available. His feet go back and forth thanks to transformation but no ankle tilt. He also ends up with those rotors and “shoulder cannons” for weapons, but otherwise he relies on Backwind for offense and defense. The Power Core Mini-Cons have an extra way of combining with their partner, provided they pair the right Mini-Con mold with the right Transformer mold, as some redecos failed to do. Backwind and Searchlight were designed to work together however.

The power of this rifle is to make the enemy laugh itself to death. Sadly, it also works on allies.

I’m not going to mix words. Even if I had Backwind’s gun mode 100% correct and I’m never sure I do, it would still suck eggs. There is just no way for this to work. While his arm-mounted gun can protect Searchlight in vehicle mode this is just an afterthought here. Luckily he has one more mode.

“Don’t worry, I love the smell of my own laser-burned steel hide!”

This is what I think the translucent is for, to show the Mini-Con is fueled to overflowing with power, which does fit the Mini-Con mythos for the most part. As armor Backwind works much better. This is the official positioning but his arms could be used as an extra set of arms for Searchlight, or even position the gun arm as a weapon, which still works leagues better than it does as a “rifle”. Of course that play value isn’t played up (pardon the expression), but what else is new for Mini-Cons? Their full value was never showcased in media or instructions. Personally I think this is designed for the combined mode, and since I don’t own any of the limbs I’ll just use someone else’s picture of it.

Apparently the photographer didn’t agree with me.

Searchlight is one of the better looking Commanders in torso mode from what I’ve seen. I like how the robot and combination heads swivel around for the same full neck articulation. the link points are technically capable of movement, which is good because the drones from what I’ve heard have zero articulation thanks to the automorph and most arms looking like they spilled out of the vehicle. Odds are I’ll never the limbs since they weren’t sold separately for bonus combos like the Commanders were and even though the combiner packs went to clearance rather fast the odds of my finding one are pretty small seven years out, never mind after I have income to spare again.

Decision: stays

Searchlight has a few issues as does Backwind, but for some reason there’s a certain charm to the duo that just hits with me. Searchlight has the annoying back kibble and Backwind is only useful in two of his four modes while not living up to the independence of his comrades, and their combination is only displayable in armored robot mode, but for some reason I just really like this pair. I think I’ll hold on to them a little longer.