Monday, January 19, 2015

Ok, fine.

So, last summer I declared the new voyager Optimus for Generations to be a huge embarrassment for hasbro and basically a step backward, looking nowhere as good as the nearly-decade-older Classics Optimus mold.

Since then, we have learned that Optimus was in fact a (p)retool of Combiner wars Motormaster. Now, the fact that we have Optimus and Motormaster is no big deal; many smaller-scale Optimuses have been repainted into Motormasters (if not in name). The big deal, of course, was that this meant that Optimus himself would be one of the torso cores for the upcoming Combiner Wars play pattern! 

Now, if you say "Optimus" and "combiner" in the same breath, most people think back to Energon, where the infamous leader class Optimus (derided as "Fatimus") was able to combine, Megazord-style, with four transforming limb/vehicle drones (a system later emulated on a smaller scale with the Power Core Combiners). A LOT of fans didn't like this toy. I mean a LOT. I really did, but whatever. The point is that Energon Optimus came very close to doing something people had wanted for a while - a scramble city-type combiner with Optimus as the torso core - but didn't hit the mark, since the limbs were all relatively simple drones rather than familiar Autobot characters.

Now, all of the sudden, not only do we have an iteration of the Generations line with two size classes (more, if you count some of the legends toys like Blackjack) dedicated to scramble city combiners, but Optimus can form the torso core for the limbs! While wave 1 won't allow you to make any normal combiner from a traditional lineup due to which characters got released, you can make an "Ultra Prime" by attaching the available 3 Aerialbots (Alpha Bravo, Fireflight, and Skydive) along with the lone Stunticon of the wave, Dragstrip. Of course, even this is not quite the legendary Optimus combiner I'd longed for, what with a cohort of limb characters that you wouldn't think of when designing an Optimus combiner. However, thanks to some leaked toy listings, we know now that there are some upcoming combiner wars releases for Prowl, Sunstreaker, Mirage, and Ironhide! Now, I'll grant you that even this is not an ideal lineup - being that these toys are ostensibly part of the IDW continuity, you've got Sunstreaker as a confirmed traitor (since redeemed), Mirage as a once-disaffected traitor suspect who has dreamt of betraying his faction, Prowl with all kinds of problems, and Ironhide, who at least can't remember that he's the one that caused Mirage's disaffection thanks to beating the autobrand off of him (he died afterward, and doesn't remember anything from before his resurrection by Alpha Trion). So, yeah, a bit of a weird mix, plot-wise. But still, all of these guys are currently active-duty Autobots, with only Prowl as the questionable member. But this is great. An Optimus combiner with a limb team of '84 cast Autobots? What's not to like?

(Aside: ok, I would change some things if I had my druthers. I MIGHT have made the combiner a different character - maybe even Primus - rather than Bigger Optimus. Also, my ideal limb lineup might have been Prowl, Hot Rod, Ironhide, and Jazz, with a Bumblebee chestplate. But I'm happy with what we're getting. Honest!)

I should mention that these new toys of Optimus' limb team are VERY likely to be Stunticon remolds, just as how Optimus himself shares a mold with Motormaster. It's a safe bet that Mirage comes from Dragstrip (and fitting; Classics Mirage was repainted into Universe SE Dragstrip). Breakdown's also a safe bet for Sunstreaker, as they both share a Lamborghini alt mode, but moreover, Breakdown's Menasor fist has knuckle-guns that HIGHLY resemble the engine pipe thingys on G1 Sunstreaker's back (and according to his box art, can even be mounted with them pointing up on his back). That leaves the Dead End and Offroad molds for Prowl and Ironhide. I'm pretty sure they're not gonna turn Ironhide into a sports car, so despite Prowl currently having a SUV mode in the comics, they'll likely make him from Dead End and Ironihde from Offroad with his truck mode. Clearly, I'm really looking forward to these guys, and very much hoping that they will be officially revealed in a few weeks at Toyfair (we DO know from a leaked UK Toyfair image that we are getting a repaint of Optimus with a Magnus-y white head and a remold of Blackjack into Hot Rod...). So while I only have Optimus with Dragstrip as his lone limb at the moment, I'm sure sometime later this year I'll have a fully realized Optimus combiner to display and square off against Menasor.

I'll end on this note - while I was very certain last summer that the Combiner Wars line was not for me, as it appeared to be overly simplified and overly G1, my subsequent impressions (which have been strengthened by handling Optimus and Dragstrip myself) have only improved, and it looks like this line will provide us with the best combiners in the franchise's history, and not just one! This is a near-quantum leap over FoC Bruticus/Ruination, which I considered pretty sophisticated at the time (despite its somewhat serious drawbacks). I may not be going in for everything, but at the very least, Menasor, Ultra Prime (with his team of '84 Autobots!), and the Fan-Built Combiner of 2016 will be gracing my shelves.