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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Transformers Report: Animated Jazz

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Transformers Animated is rather different from other Transformers shows. It’s probably the most light and cartoonish of the shows right down to the art style. It’s a sharp contrast to the Michael Bay films that started coming out around this time, but it still managed to bring about good characters while the Autobots took a more superhero role than the traditional defending army or current “police officer” approach. The heroes weren’t trained soldiers but a simple work crew in over their heads and trying to survive on Earth. It’s really a good show and worth checking out.

One of the later characters was the Animated version of Jazz, working not with Optimus Prime but with Ultra Magnus, this version not too sure about humans due to Cybertronians in general having a xenophobic fear of organic beings. Jazz, however, grew to see the humans as just as worth as any Transformer, and the only one of that group to respect them. It’s why I like him, but his cool persona and ninja styling helped. It was around this time that my FIRST hospital stay came about, due to inflammation and where I first learned what Crohn’s Disease was. So a friend on the Transformers newsgroup sent me a bunch of Transformers to make me feel better, and it sure helped. I couldn’t buy my usual “pity Transformer”, which in hindsight is part of the reason my collection is too big today. But where does Animated’s Jazz fit into that?

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Transformers Report: Classics Rodimus (aka Hot Rod)

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I never cared for Rodiums Prime. I won’t go into the details. This isn’t my storytelling review site, but the short version is that Hot Rod was a more interesting character before being given the Matrix Of Leadership, at least to me. So I’m always happy to see Hot Rod being given a new toy, even if Hasbro didn’t have access to the Hot Rod name and had to call him Rodimus, sans Prime. (Toy name trademarks are an odd discussion. As I write this Hasbro is suing Mattel and DC because their DC Super Hero Girls line includes a figure named Bumblebee, even though that was the name of a DC Universe superhero long before the Transformers woke up from their 4,000,000 year dirt nap in 1984.)

So when they released a Hot Rod figure in their Transformers Classics line, I had to pick one up. Cut to 2017 and the question is how do I feel about it now?

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Transformers Report: Classics Optimus Prime

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Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Transformers Classics was an attempt to bring the classic “G1” character into the modern age with updated versions of their classic alternate modes. For example, you’ve probably seen Bumblebee’s Classics form sitting on the Bumblebee shelf in the past. Instead of his classic VW Beetle form he got a more updated compact car mode, mainly due to Volkswagen not wanting to be tied to war toys. Others were given a modern model of the vehicle they were originally based on. To grab names at random, if a car had been a 1980s Ford Taurus or something, this would be a 2008 Taurus. Note that I don’t know if they even made the Ford Taurus in the 1980s. I’m just giving a hypothetical example here.

One of those toys was an update of…naturally, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. (And yes, they did have a Megatron but thanks to modern restrictions on toy guns they made him more like a Nerf weapon than his traditional handgun.) Originally a red flat-nosed semi, Michael Bay gave him a long-nose blue semi with flames because he thought it looked cool. But what does a proper Optimus Prime update look like?

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Transformers Report: Alternity Bumble(bee)

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The original Bumblebee from the “G1” era of Transformers was called simply Bumble in Japan for reasons I am not aware of. So while technically this is a Japan exclusive figure I’m going to stick with Bumblebee because that’s the name I know and love. You may recall I have a whole shelf dedicated to this character and a few namesakes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that another one was in my birthday Amazon wish list.

The history of Takara Tomy’s Alternity is tough to go into full detail for so I’ll give you the highlights. Did you ever hear of the Alternators line? It was a series of scaled vehicles that looked like model cars right down to being licensed with an engineering style that led to crazy hard transformations. I own a few and frankly wasn’t a fan because they’re such pains to transform. I know there are collectors who enjoy these puzzle style transformations but I prefer a smooth, fun transformation. In Japan the line was called “Binaltech” and the instructions actually came with chapters of a text adventure whose story isn’t important here. Alternity is a sequel line right down to the engineering and story, but the toys were given a smaller scale and the story a larger one, involving alternate universes, and Bumblebee getting cool dimension-altering powers. To say more would bore the casuals so let’s move on.

To be honest this toy is rather pricey but it’s partly die-cast, highly engineered (more so than Transformers figures usually are), has a lot of parts put together, features licensed vehicles, and is a canceled Japan-exclusive toyline. That last part dropped the price to something slightly more reasonable than you’d pay for it previously here in the US. So let’s take a look at the toy.

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