And here’s another one with a backstory. I’ll try to keep this one brief too.

In the latter days of the original toyline (known as G1) another line of toys were making a huge splash on the scene. Micro Machines started a new craze of really small cars that you could carry easier in your pocket, and may arguably be responsible for the micro-playsets that started up not soon after. I admittedly haven’t done the research so call that a theory. Wanting to get in on that craze like they did the other toy cars, the Transformers creators introduced the idea of Micromasters, smaller Transformers that also came with bases, could in some cases link together to form new vehicles, but mainly worked in teams based around a central theme. In many ways they’re the precursor to the Mini-Cons. They’re even about the same size.

After Hasbro stopped making Transformers in the US for a time their Japanese partners at Takara kept going. This included a group of Micromasters that adopted the longtime Transformer gimmick (the longest obviously being transforming) of combination. The result was Sixliner, introduced in the Battlestars series and the connected manga. This would be remade into Sixtrain, which would be recolored in 2003, which is the version used in the Universe line we discussed last week to create this week’s subject, the Railbots. The Railbots were the third in a group of Micromaster Combiners brought out for the Universe line according to the Transformers fanwiki, and I’ll be going back and forth in this set of reviews between the larger robots and the Micromaster Combiners.

This line came out so close to the first Robots In Disguise line of the early 2000s but were used to hold on to some of the names Hasbro thought they might want to use again. Since there was already a “Rail Racer” so close to the last one I gave him and his components all new names. I will be showing off my cleverness (or lack thereof, you be the judge) but otherwise I will use their official names for the review. With all that out of the way, let’s get on with it. Since it’s a Combiner team I have a lot of toys to show off before the review gets boring.

I went with Highspeed and Chugz for their rename. Chugz was obvious and possibly lame.

Railspike was one of the three trains of “Team Bullet Train”, the train Combiner from Robots In Disguise, which I will get to sometime in the future. Along with Overload on the right they connect to the body of Rail Racer. Overload is one of two slightly different train types since most of them turn into bullet or other high-speed trains. Overload is a locomotive. Both have really good detailing with painted windows and other find detailing that’s rare for Micromasters and Mini-Cons. Railspike is also one of two white robots while the rest are grey or blue. Both trains look really good.

Yes, everyone except Railspike/Highspeed has a head like this.

Railspike is also a rarity from his comrades. As the image caption says he’s the only one without part of the train on top of his head. His transformation is also different. The other have the back of the train flip out into the uni-leg and then stand up. Railspike has to turn around and due to his requirements as the head of Rail Racer has a normal head. The only other thing they have in common is limited articulation–the arms go up and down and that’s it. That’s true for all the Railbots, even the combined robot. There aren’t a lot of details on the robot. Even the Autobot sigil is on the train mode, which annoys people who prefer their robots in disguise but it only bothers me that they aren’t showing in robot mode unless you look at their back. Railspike’s at least is in the perfect spot for Rail Racer.

Switchrail I think is a rather cool name. I’m not convinced I was right with Magz for the one on the right, but I think I was running out at the time.

Next up are Tankor, a name reused from Beast Machines and is now one of the popular Transformer names, and Rapid Run, another bot sharing a name with the last train combiner. I wonder if their backstory was supposed to be the original team were shrunk down by Unicron and needed the other three to combine again or something? They’re also the ones I used to demonstrate another feature. Three of the trains share a type of link that can be used to link up to three of the other trains, socket to hole. I’m not sure why you want six engines to pull each other. Only one of them remotely looks like a box car and I’m pretty sure he’s actually a cargo train.

Both are bullet trains. Tankor is a “TGV-A Super Express” according to the Transformers fan wiki, explaining the lettering on the side, and only having paint on the blue lines and windows. All the other details on him are unpainted. Technically this is also true for Rapid Run but he doesn’t have as much detailing to not have painted. Only his doors are left to the molding.

At least they never need shade.

I find with these two I have to lift the front of the train up a bit and then swing the legs out. Whether this is a byproduct of their train design or how they become the Combiner’s arms I’m not sure. I’m also not sure if Tankor has any more coloring on his face due to how dark it is in there but we do get a bit of silver for Rapid Run’s face, which isn’t limited to him but the silver on his body is. Otherwise there’s still no new color, possibly because it would show up in the train mode. Everyone except Railspike looks like they’re wearing their train mode as a costume.

Bullet is not very creative but I think it works. Workhorse is at least better than the name he ended up with.

Finally we reach Midnight Express, our last Team Bullet Train reuse, and Swindle….Swindle? SWINDLE? For the Autobot? That was odd enough for a Mini-Con but at least it was Starscream’s Mini-Con. Why would you name a proper Autobot Swindle? Come on Hasbro, I came up with Workhorse pretty easily. And I was right, “Swindle” is a freight train so Workhorse wouldn’t be that far off. Swindle. Geez! You can’t see it in the picture but his back suffers more than the others. While Midnight Express is also missing part of his back end (rather than the flat featureless back ends of the others) and showing off his robot leg joints Swindle is missing the lower half of his back end entirely. Guess he’s not very good at being his namesake. Sorry, I can’t get over it. Swindle the Autobot. What’s next, Protector the Decepticon? Only his windows, Autobot symbol, some minor detailing around the body, and his headlights are painted. Midnight Express has the windows and the nose of his train painted. Granted these are mostly Japanese trains so maybe it’s how they look but it doesn’t give them a great visual.

Fun fact: Midnight Express’s colors are based on the recolored version of a “teenage” girl Autobot named Windy. I do not know if she had stormy eyes.

There is more paint in robot mode though. Midnight Express gets a pink body, a relic of Windy’s recolor mentioned in the caption. Swindle (sigh) has some more paint in the chest but I’m not sure if there is any paint on his face. I’m guessing it would be hard to get in that space. Otherwise, no real difference here.

My “amazing” photo editing skills at work again.

While most G1 Combiners needed a few extra parts in their combination, the Micromasters had it worse since they needed an entire body to link up to instead of just hands, feet, and a few decorations. Regardless of when they came out in Universe, Sixliner was introduced in Battlestars while the other team’s predecessors came out in the next line, Operation Combination. (I think I have that right. Check back with me in the future reviews.) While their body components combine into a vehicle for one of them to ride in no such combination exits here. I figure the body could be some kind of drone fighter when linked up while the rest is a gun emplacement or something. It makes the combination components useful. Each train came with a different part to make the combined form.

Nobody’s robbing these trains.

There is an official use for them in train mode. In this image from the Transformers Wiki you have Overload, Swindle, and Tankor using the body components to arm their train modes. This comes from the Sixtrain (and I think also Sixliner originally) design but it’s not listed in the Railbot instructions. It doesn’t really work for me anyway, and I can’t even get Tankor to link up properly. I don’t know if his hitch is off or if I’m doing something wrong. I like my combination better. And speaking of combinations…

We had a “Railracer” in the previous line, so I went with Rail Rider. Simple change, but so was Sixliner to Sixtrain.

Now this is a sweet looking Combiner. Rail Racer stands just barely under the typical deluxe, which at least makes him able to give the Decepticons a decent opponent. He’s mostly components that the others connect to, which was probably a necessity at the time and shared by the other Micromaster Combiners. Also shared is the fact that the sixth member is almost unnecessary. At least the rest tried to make #6 look like he was part of the team. Overload us somewhere in the back where you can’t see him and at best fills out the back of the body even though the body and upper legs of the body unit are hollow anyway. Otherwise this looks like how a Combiner might look in the cartoon designs, which makes up for that flaw. And like I said, Railspike’s Autobot symbol looks good as Rail Racer’s chest symbol, though he’s decked out in Autobot symbols on his shoulders and legs. You can swap the arms and legs but everyone otherwise has a set spot. Railspike is the body, Overload is the unnecessary body extra, Tankor and Rapid Run are the arms, and Overload and Swindle are the feet, using their train hitches to link to the foot components. I’ll be checking to see if they can swap with the other teams in future reviews.

“Who are you calling short?”

One more common trait is the limited articulation. Since the main body is really just a chunk of plastic they all link to there is no body articulation. The head does spin on Railspike’s head and we get bending arms thanks to Rapid Run and Tankor’s transformation. However, to aim the gun forwards I have to remove which ever arm is holding the gun, connect it with the arm pointing forwards so there is no in-between, and reconnect it to the body. However, the arms can spin around behind him until it hits the armor. It’s a bit annoying and I’m hoping this was fixed for his comrades. I’m prepared to be disappointed because just having a combining Micromaster team in G1 is probably a victory in itself.

I’ll be surprised if he misses his target entirely.

Since we’re talking Mini-Cons here as well I’d be remiss not to mention that Rail Racer has some Mini-Con compatibility. using Makeshift here as an example the rifle has unintended hardpoints that Mini-Cons can connect to. The good choices boost his firepower, which already includes his rifle and what looks like knuckle guns. Not shown here his that a Mini-Con can connect to the arm sockets and one spot on the body unit but unless you’re going with my drone plane idea they don’t serve much purpose there other than to stop the proper Micromaster to link up to it. It’s like linking up to your descendants.

There will be no decision section for the Micromaster Combiners. They’re all staying. They don’t take up a lot of room in my collection, they’re the only Micromasters I own currently, and they’re all pretty cool in the final analysis. They were also limited K B Toys store exclusives, which caused us adult fans to go hunting and hopefully none of us deprived a kid of these toys. I think some of them also ended up in CVS and other drug stores at some point but my memory’s hazy. Either way Rail Racer and his predecessors were a good start to combining Micromasters.

Advertisements