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Blackjack's Review: PCC Bombshock

Name: Bombshock
Allegiance: Decepticon
Subgroup: Combaticons

This whole 'Power Core Combiners' subline centers around a gimmick first seen in Transformers: Energon, where Optimus Prime was able to combine with an army of non-transforming drones to form a superpowered combined mode, almost akin to combiners in the traditional sense. It was around five years ago, give or take. Now Hasbro has decided to capitalize on the combiners' popularity due to the inclusion of Devastator in Revenge of the Fallen, and combined both concepts together, and threw in Minicons into the mix.

Thus the Power Core Combiners were born.

The toys were sold in two different sizes, two-packs where a Transformer is packaged with a Minicon partner, and five-packs where a Transformer is packaged with four combiner limbs. Every transformer in this line would be able to transform into the central component of a combiner, and the combiner limbs then attached to them. In other words each transformer in the Power Core Combiners subline would be able to form a combiner, kind of an attempt for Hasbro to 'collect them all'. Plus, Minicons are able to attach to any transformer/drone in the line.

It sounded so much fun. In theory, at least. Most of the toys released so far had been disastrous due to cramming too many gimmicks into a toy, with only one or two PCC toys that are particularly good. However, there are some great ideas there, like Smolder and Icepick and the upcoming Undertow. Most of the other toys fall into well-imagined but poorly-executed mediocrity. This, sadly, includes the combiner five-packs that are supposed to be the driving force behind the subline.

Bombshock was one the first two combiner five-packs to be released, a homage to the Combaticons in contrast to his wave-mate Skyburst's Aerialbot theme.

The name Bombshock had not seen a reuse ever since his initial release at the tail-end of G1, around 1990. Bombshock was a Decepticon Micromaster, the leader of the Military Patrol that included Dropshot, Growl and Tracer among its ranks. In Japan the team was released as Autobots. Well, practically every Micromaster was released as an Autobot barring the Race Track Patrol and the team that came with Metrotitan. Micromasters have recently been given a lot of homages, a welcome development to a Micromaster fan like me. Why, we've got Flak, Treadbolt, Blaze Master, Dropshot, Storm Cloud, Skystalker, Groundshaker, Countdown in the past two years alone, and that's not counting the phletora of homages in the Walmart-exclusive Minicon repaints.

Bombshock here is described in his bio as being a member of "the most elite military squad in Cybertron", and that after betraying them he was taken in by the Decepticons and upgraded to command a squad of drones which could combine with him. A nice little backstory, no? Some representatives of Hasbro even mentioned that he is supposed to be G1 Bombshock, upgraded into a new body. It's kind of sneaky

ROBOT MODE
Bombshock is a mainly dark green and silver robot. He seems to be designed to resemble some kind of weird hybrid between a military pilot and a knight of old. His face has these goggles strapped above his eyes, but his torso and waist seems to be designed to emulate a knight or a blacksmith or something... that piece over his crotch looks hilariously like a loincloth to me.

Bombshock is rather short and stout compared to other Power Core Combiners toys. He manages to look very generic, what with his primarily gray and green paint scheme. Shades of yellow, black and maroon serve as secondary colours. A Decepticon insignia adorns his rather antique-looking chest. His head is cast in black plastic, with red slit-like eyes, silver goggles above his eyes and a golden face. It's pretty ordinary and generic. Standing straight, I can't help but note Bombshock's resemblance to one of those thickly-armoured military soldiers. Can't remember what precisely they are called.

Two turrets jut out from Bombshock's back, in a way akin to G1 Onslaught, upon whom Bombshock seems to be based loosely upon. Like Onslaught's, these cannons could point straight up, or point forwards over Bombshock's shoulders to point forwards. Kind of a nifty feature.

But that is where my praise ends. Articulation wise, Bombshock has got all the joints at the right places head, shoulder, elbow, thighs, knees, ankles and even the elusive waist joint. Plus there are his cannons. However, most of these are rendered somewhat ineffective. The thighs and knees couldn't work properly without Bombshock toppling over due to his over-long (and thick) lower legs, while his waist couldn't possibly rotate due to the stupid loincloth piece. And trying to put him in a position other than standing straight or an awkward Dreamwave crouch would lead him to toppling backwards. The entire turret piece that serves as the gestalt mode's chest hangs from Bombshock like a big, heavy backpack and it upsets his balance terribly. His wacky legs don't help either.

To make matters worse, I mentioned in my review for Searchlight how horrible the baby-blue connector ports are. On Searchlight and Icepick they almost blend to the paintscheme, but Bombshock has no such luck. While the ports for the gestalt knees are neatly tucked behind his legs, the ports for the gestalt shoulders are placed under his wrists. And I do mean under them, perpendicularly jutting outwards, with no attempt to fold them aside. At least with Huffer and Searchlight and Icepick the ports are at least shifted to other places that are less awkward. But Bombshock? It's not enough that his hands look like ugly blocks, but those baby blue connectors stand out like a sore thumb from the dark green/gray paintscheme.

I really can't find it hard to imagine Bombshock as anything more than a generic Decepticon troop soldier, so he's lost a lot of his charm on me. The robot mode has failed to impress, and it looks dull. But worse is to come...

ALTERNATE MODE
Comparing Bombshock with pictures of G1 Onslaught, I literally laughed out loud. G1 Onslaught was designed nearly twenty-five years ago, and he looks like a respectable representation of an anti-aircraft tank. Bombshock? Bombshock looks like a squat rectangle with a over-large ugly chunk of machinery stuck on top with two spindly turrets. This time, the dark green is more evident, but his alternate mode looks like something a three-year old would draw on a paper with a crayon after watching a military movie. It's diabolically lazy.

First the 'cab'. It's laughably tiny, squat, and I wouldn't have figured it as a cab had the windows not been painted in. Bombshock's left foot forms this, and as such it doesn't stand out. The rear of the vehicle is a veritable mess. The shoulders and arms jut out noticeably, with a large, visible gap below the turret. The arms are placed like you're holding your fists side-by-side, and it hardly passes for the solid rear of a military vehicle. Moreover, the baby blue connector ports portrude out, with no effort made at hiding them. This looks unbearably ugly.

The turret, actually the gestalt's chest, is so out of scale with the truck that it makes me wonder who thought it was a good idea. There are what are probably supposed to be missile racks on either side of the overlarge turret, but it is so unwieldy and unattractive that it's hardly worth noting. The cannons, carried over from robot mode, are kind of cool, but with little to add to that coolness factor it falls short.

This is rather pathetic, after all the effort that Hasbro has done to show that their toys can be more than just a lump of transforming plastic. Bombshock, sadly, seems to be something that was put together when one of the designers got drunk.

There are two Minicon ports, one on the very top of the turret where the gestalt head is stored, and the other on the gray piece between the cannons. A weak attempt, since not even attaching Minicons could make Bombshock's alternate mode salvageable.

COMBATICON DRONES
Before we forget, Bombshock comes with four chunky drones that are a bit smaller than a Scout-sized toy, all four of them tanks and military vehicles to keep with the Combaticon theme. All four look better compared to Bombshock's alternate mode.

The first drone is a 'Missile Carrier Drone', according to the instructions. It's like a tank, only it carries two ginormous missiles that I could only assume to be highly explosive. Truly something that would be feared in the battlefield. Its main body is lime green, with black colouring the launching mechanism, tank treads and other assorted kibble. Two streaks of yellow are present, and on the front of the tank is a gray plow, which I assume are used to clear mines. And the missiles themselves are coloured in a silver finish that catches the eye. A Decepticon insignia is embalzoned in silver on one side of the launcher. A Minicon port is on top of the missile launcher mechanism, and you could plug one on it if you like that kind of stuff.

The second drone is a 'Tank Drone'. It's a rather chunky affair of a tank, and it's not like the normal battle tanks you see in Transformers (Brawl, Megatron et al). Rather, instead of one gigantic turret the tank drone has a two shorter turrets mounted on a swiveling mount, attached on the front half of the tank. What I think are smaller gun emplacements dot the sides of the tank's rear. The tank drone is mainly light gray and black, with two streaks of yellow to brighten it up. A tiny black Decepticon insignia is painted on the right side of the tank's front. The very futuristic turret can rotate 360 degrees. At the rear a giant plowing claw assembly is attached, those things you normally see on those farm machines. A rather uninspired place to hide the gestalt hand, but at least there was an effort to place it where it might serve a function, not like Bombshock's combiner ports. As with the missile truck drone, there is a Minicon port on top of the turret.

The third drone is the APC drone, which can't help but remind me of G1 Bombshock's patrol-mate, Growl. With a little difference in paintjob, the APC drone would make a decent enough representation of Growl. Unlike Growl, though, this APC is a half-track, and has these horn-like exhaust ports mounted beside it's front end. Not sure if it's the case with real APCs, but it looks cool. It also has a swivelling turret, although unlike the large cannons of the other tanks, this one is small, kind of like those machineguns you see on Humvees. But since this is a Decepticon, the gun is shaped more like a pulse cannon than a machinegun. The APC is mainly a dull orchre, with the gun turret, wheel and treads cast in gray, the exhaust ports painted silver, the windows and the 'Con insignia painted in black, while the headlights and a small part of the hood's sides are painted in yellow. Like his other drone buddies, the APC has a Minicon port on top of his cannon.

The fourth and final drone is the armoured carrier drone, which seems to be based on G1 Swindle in appearance. It's a squat Humvee with two tiny missiles strapped on top, very similar to G1 Swindle's original chunky-jeep-with-a-cannon. The missiles are angled upwards, as if they are ready to go off at any time. 'Swindle' is coloured mainly tan, of course, with wheels, front bumper, headlight housing and the missiles being done in black. The front window is painted a chromey maroon, and on his sides the doors are painted dark green like Bombshock's body. Military jeeps are supposed to be like that, I assume? The headlights are purple and there's a tiny silver Decepticon insignia on the right side of his hood. Oh, and a Minicon port on his missile mount, naturally.

Basically all four drones had me more excited than the central component, which I don't think should be the case.

GESTALT MODE
Bombshock's transformation is a little unwieldy due to his oversized turret/gestalt chest piece clipping against his arms and robot-mode chest. Plus, his lower arms attach to the sides of his chest by means of a weak tab, so they tend to droop after combining with the Combaticon drones. His robot mode legs rotate and expand to reveal silver detailings. The knee connector ports are flipped up, and the head is flipped up, and you have gestalt Bombshock's torso. It looks marginally like Bruticus, with the cannon things pointing upwards, but that's where the similarity ends. Bombshock's gestalt face is painted cast in black and painted in silver, with a bloodred optic band. It kind of looks like Armada Scavenger's face with those riveted holes, but what it reminds me the most is those Eradicon drones in the upcoming Transformers: Prime show.

Anyway, you attach the Combaticon frones onto the baby-blue connector sockets, as if that wasn't blindly obvious. The missile truck and the tank can only form the hands, while the APC and the armoured carrier forms the legs.

Here is one bit that I have to credit the designers for, after my angry rank above. The limbs' automatic transformation when the pegs are inserted is cool and refreshing. The missile tank simply unfolds, showing spindly mechanical arms holding the two pieces together while a four-findered claw slid apart from the base of the tank. The same goes for the other four, unfolding and becoming feet and arms.

It's a very welcome change compared to G1 and even the Energon combiners, where the combiners look like a robot with four vehicles attached to its sides. Comparing it with more primitive gestalts, this Bombshock looks more like a killing robot rather than just Motormaster-with-four-cars-and-fists-strapped-on. Mechanical details are revealed as the drones transform, a great bonus.

'Swindle' has to be attached sidewards like the stock photography, to prevent Bombshock toppling forwards without the support that Swindle's splayed toes will provide you.

It does take time to balance the gestalt due to it's rather tight knee joints, but his articulation, due to the funky blue ports, compensate for that. It's less troublesome playing with Bombshock than the unwieldy Energon gestalts, due to the fact that if a limb pops off, you don't need to spend time reconfiguring it or attaching ugly fists (the Aerialbot Treadshot is notorious for this), you just need to plug it in. Bombshock's head can rotate, and so can the cannons. He has limited thigh articulation, knee articulation, and his shoulders can rotate. He can also lift his arms up sideways if you feel like doing so. Lifting the loincloth up allows you to rotate his hips.

But that's not all! Since Bombshock is a turd, what I like most is to switch out the central part for better PCC toys. It's great fun, mixing and matching the combiners, or to pretend that the Autobots have hijacked Bombshock's mental command for his Combaticons. Bombshock may be trash, but his gestalt mode is fun to play with.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 1/10 Horribly designed. The alternate mode look like something crudely pasted together, the robot mode has the combination pegs hanging off his hands, articulation is hampered by kibble... it's as if they didn't put any effort into designing Bombshock. Which is probably the case.
Durability: 8/10 The turrets worry me, I'm afraid that they'll snap off. Otherwise, though, he's a brick. Bad toys are all bricks.
Aethestics: 6/10 Bombshock himself isn't anything to write home about in both modes, but combined with his drones he manages to look menacing. The drones look great as well.
Articulation: 3/10 Comparing Bombshock to Huffer, Icepick and even Searchlight, he should be ashamed. The leg joints are hampered by the loin-cloth/plate thing, and he has balance issues if you try to pose him. The gestalt mode gets about 7/10.
Fun: 4/10 The Combaticon drones are fun to fiddle around with and combine with other PCC toys, but Bombshock himself is just another tank-like Decepticon. And he's far from stellar.
Price/Value: 2/10 I love my Combaticon drones. But paying for Bombshock, especially nearly twice what he should be priced at, makes me feel violated.
Overall: 3/10 Bombshock himself is a victim of Hasbro's hurry to get the PCC toys on the shelves, and as such has a crappy alternate mode. He does make a nice display piece in combined form, but his robot mode is sub-par. The Combaticon drones are kind of fun if you have other PCC toys, but Bombshock himself is far from being a good toy. And no amount of gimmicks could save him.
 
 
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