Transformers Report: Autobot Whirl & His Mini-Con Friends

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(l to r) Gunbarrel, Whirl, & Makeshift

Okay, there are a few different backstories to go over here so I’ll summarize as much as I can. Transformers Universe 1.0 was a line of repaints and redecos of fan favorite molds from the past and molds that never made it to the US until this line, or did so in limited release. The “plot” was that a version of Unicron dragged Transformers from across the multiverse to fight for his amusement. The comics added in him feeding off of the battle…somehow. It didn’t make any more sense to me in Armada, frankly.

One of the lines tapped was from the UK. While the original line ended in the US, the UK continued making figures and comics along different lines from what Japan was still doing. (I don’t think a year has past since their debut that Transformers never had at least one official toyline and media in at least one country on Earth.) They created their own teams, each with their own gimmick. Some of them did make it to the US as the KB Toy Works exclusive Machine Wars figures. The ones we care about in this review are the Turbomasters, The gimmick for the toys was that the engine could transform into their weapon. Considering the fact that mounted and hidden weaponry are rather normal these days that might not stand out as much but back then the weapons were just set aside in vehicle mode more often than not, so I guess the idea of integrated weapons starts here.

Finally we get to the figures for this review. Whirl (I’m not even going to try to go into that history here and it might not be the same guy) is an Autobot from the 2004 period of the line, based on the Turbomaster Rotorstorm. His figure did get redecoed into Sandstorm for the 1997 Machine Wars line, making Whirl the third use of the mold. He comes with two Mini-Cons, Gunbuster and Makeshift. These two were part of the Armada line and are just recolors. Since I had the original and you don’t name both twins Steve I gave them new names–Skyport and Chopperhand respectively. The convention comics felt the same way I did apparently, but gave them the names Thunderstick and Skyscyle respectively. I will stick to their toy names for the sake of convenience. Now that we’re all up to speed let’s get the review started already.

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Transformers Report: Power Core Combiners Searchlight & Backwind

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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?

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The Mini-Con Army

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mini-cons-01

I love Mini-Cons. Well, I’m not a fan of the current Robots In Disguise versions. They’re just little Transformers that link to certain bigger robots that have an awkward launcher tossed in. But the original Mini-Con concept are some of my favorite things to come out of the Transformers toyline. You may have seen them around my Christmas tree displays and I reviewed one group previously, but now I want to talk about the gimmick itself.

Debuting in Transformers Armada the Mini-Cons are “smart tools” that enhance the power of a larger Transformer, especially the ones in the Armada line because the gimmick was that the little guys would activate certain features on the figures. We’ll come back to that. And until they were re-conceptualized for the current RID line the originals were the coolest things. Little Transformers with a robot AND vehicle mode that could add play value to future Transformers while standing on their own. They were even compatible with a few past Transformers as I’ll demonstrate later. It’s too bad the fiction failed them.

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Mini-Comic Report: Transformers Armada Vol. 2

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My Crohn’s (I’m willing to give it up if anyone wants it) was playing with me this week, not a full flare-up but a lot of gas and not as much sleep. Saturday was spent mostly in bed trying to get my strength back, so I still didn’t get any work done. So to keep things active (hopefully everything is fine by next week…I have a big corner mess to clean up and some more new reviews) I’m going back to my other site to mine a mini-comic review. I just finished reviewing a Transformers Armada comic series when I realized I never went back to the mini-comics that came with the toys and there were still three more AND the Energon comics left to go. So I made a dent. Enjoy.


 

With the Transformers Armada comic coming to an end I thought it was well past time to return to the mini-comics Dreamwave produced for the toys. In our last installment we found a very lackluster story. Whether it was the space needed to include the catalog or the insistence to have all three package languages (English, French, and Spanish as I recall) in the comic taking up much needed dialog space I can’t say. I can say it was lame. Although the same restrictions exist here, maybe this one will be better?

Not really, no.

Transformers Armada V2

“Oh, let the kids play.”

Transformers Armada Vol. 2

Dreamwave/Hasbro (2002)

WRITER: Chris Sarracini
ARTIST: Guido Guidi
COLORISTS: Chris Walker & Matt Kuphaldt
LETTERING: Dreamer Design

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Toy Report: Mini-Con Assault Team

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Mini-Con Assault Team

I love Mini-Cons! For the uninitiated, Mini-Cons debuted in the “Transformers Armada” line, and were the gimmick for that series. The concept was that Mini-Cons could boost the power of a larger Transformer. The Autobots sought to liberate them, but the Decepticons wanted to enslave them. The toys in the Armada line also had pop-up weapons that could be activated by a Mini-Con. Later lines incorporated the pegs but when with different gimmicks. I’m thinking the ports were just part of the molding process that someone saw gimmick potential in, since you can find older Transformers that unintentionally can combine with a Mini-Con but have no gimmick to activate. However, that’s just a theory.

The Mini-Con Assault Team (while occasionally sold separately Mini-Cons are released either with a partner like Armada and Power Core Combiners or as a three-bot team with a unifying gimmick or concept) was available on clearance at a closing K-Mart. While I initially remembered that my funds are low I am sad to report that my love of these things (and the fact that they go higher than the clearance price…ridiculously so for the size) outweighed my common sense. Like I said, I love Mini-Cons. One thing I plan to show is that the gimmick was poorly utilized in the show and comic for Armada.

"I'm getting paid for this, right?

“I’m getting paid for this, right?

To that end we have broken out Overload. What he lacks in posability he makes up for in standard Mini-Con ports that I can use to make my point. So if you’d be so kind as to free the Assault Team, Overload, we can begin.

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Transformers Christmas Tree Display 2013

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tree 2013a
I didn’t get to finish the computer supply drawer this week because I had Christmas decorating to do. As last year, the Autobots are celebrating Christmas around the tree because I needed somewhere to put them. So let’s see what the heroes of Cybertron are up to this year.

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