Clay's review of: SuperionName
: Superion (Afterburner, Air Rider, Fire Bolt, Sling, Skydive)Allegiance
: Aerial WarriorSub-Group
: Gestalt"In any age, war destroys everything, producing only sadness..."Ancient warrior who has continued to fight to protect the menacing power of Super Energon. His Combination Spark, condensed over millennia of countless battles, has the secret ability to allow all five of his components to transform and combine. That ultimate Super Link ability is sure to lead to victory in key conflicts. *Translations by Doug Dlin, and taken from bwtf.com*
Ah, combiners. The original gimmick after transforming robots. I remember when I was a wee lad and inherited my cousin's Constructicons. Then, for the Christmas of `86, I was presented with all five Stunticons, and for my birthday the following March, the Technobots. At some point that year, and not all at once, I amassed the Terrorcons. For as long as I've known Transformers, I've known combiners.
I did not know in advance, however, that at some point I would begin to collect transformers as an adult. Devastator was blitzed, Menasor went out in the trash, Abominus (with ALL THE FREAKING PARTS) was traded off to a comic store for some Magic: The Gathering cards along with a G2 Bruticus... only Computron remains, but as a mutt with limbs from Superion and Defensor.
None of that matters now.
With the Energon line, combiners are back in a way that dwarfs the quality of the originals. Though there are only three new combiners in the traditonal sense, they far outweigh in articulation and thoughtfulness any inferior numbers. Since I'm sure any of my description and praise of the individual Aerialbots will be redundant from the other reviews you may read, I'll instead focus on the set as a whole, and the various points of interest.Articulation
The original combiners made use of an interchangable-limb/joint system. However, the old scheme lacked any real means of movement for the final mode. Arms go up, arms go down. A couple of them could even turn their heads left and right, but that was it. Fast forward a couple of decades, and Has/Tak have finally revisited the concept of the five-member teams with swappable parts, and made up for lost time to boot.
The new joints are made in an octagon shape with small clips on the inside to lock it in place. The pegs are mounted on the centre bot, and the sockets, complete with their own axis to swivel on, are part of the limbs. The result is a great deal of articulation in the complete form, especially considering the old combiners were essiantally four small plastic bricks and one slightly larger plastic brick. Ah, how the times change.
This of course is more than it sounds. No only can they rotate on the peg, but socket can swivel on its axis, leading to some pretty interesting poses. It also takes advantage of Afterburner's legs, giving Superion joints at not just his knees and shoulders, but his hips, too.No hands/extra parts
The first big complaint after pictures started showing up was about the lack of hands, or more precisely, molded fists. Personally, I liked them from the beginning, but that's a minor point. Occasionally, it was made obvious that these are alien robots, and that there shouldn't really be any precedent requiring hands.
However, most people didn't notice the reason for the new scheme: no extra parts. The traditional combiners required a zip-loc bag to keep track of the all the extra parts necessary to make the big bot, which is something I never particularly cared for. The new toys have remedied this quite simply by having the "hands" and "feet" be the weapons for the smaller robots and vehicles. And remedy it does!
Moreover, it underlies something less noticable: since then hands and feet have joints in them, they can actually be positioned so that Superion can pick up and hold smaller bots. Even though they don't look quite as 'normal' as molded snap-on fists would, they're actually much more fuctional. Also, having gun barrels at the ends of his arms is cool in its own right. Most Autobots/Cybertrons never even see that much armament, let alone carry it around.Five bots, three molds
Another downer for some people is the fact that, because of financial reasons, Has/Tak could only produce three different molds and had to repaint two of them for the extra limbs. This is not necessarily a detracting feature, however! Instead of five mediocre molds, we get three outstanding ones.
Again, I actually like the way the robots can pair off, either working with their twins, or going with their opposite. Another thing to consider is that, given that no extra 'molded' parts are used, using the molds twice gives a uniformity to the larger robot, while still keeping him asymmetrical.A brief on the individual bots themselves
And for the bread and butter of the set, the individual toys are fantastic in their own right. Afterburner's a bit complicated the first time, but the A-10s and F-22s are more intuitive in their transformation schemes. Great articulation abounds, and there's enough weaponry for the whole group. Firebolt and Air Rider can split their weapons with Sling and Sky Dive, letting Afterburner handle both of the dual-barreled boomsticks. Even little touches like the light-up eyes were not forgotten. Again, they're all fantastic toys individually, and the fact that they can combine together is really just gravy.
One small item of note: Air Rider and Fire Bolt (the F-22's) weapons are split in two pieces with a third piece connecting them for hand/foot mode. This third piece can stay on one of the guns when not otherwise in use.Transformation
: 7 - The limbs are straight forward, but Afterburner will require a glance at the directions.Durability
: 9 - The only part with a high-stress job is Afterburner's torso during the various transformations, and even that seems to be made with a beating in mind.Fun
: 10 - Fairly accurate vehicle modes, intuitive transformations to robot modes, highly articulated robot modes with great design, and an intimidating, articulated combined mode with no extra parts to drag around. And the back-lit glowing eyes for all five figures and the Superion head is like gravy.Price
: 2 - I paid $70 for the imported box set to not have to hunt down the parts separately (physically and over time). It turns out it was worth every penny, but it's still a wallet-bruiser. These will be a real deal if you can concievably find them all at retail price stateside.Summary
: 10 - The perfect transformer, for me. The design is simple, yet complex. There are no surplus parts because everything is used in all the modes. This is simplicity, and at the same time took a good deal of planning. The vehicle modes are based off of real planes. The robot modes are ideal in look, transformation, and articulation. The combined mode is... ideal. Asymmetrical, heavily armed, articulated, and hands that are functional instead of aesthetic. It's pretty much everything I've wanted in a Transformer toy in one set.
Kids today are so spoiled. And we are, too.
(Oh, crap... did I just romanticize toy collecting? NOOO!)