The Reverand's review: Menasor
Menasor (Stunticon Gestalt)
First Cartoon Appearance:
"The Key to Vector Sigma" (Part II)
"Leave no Autobot uncrushed."
A clanking, crushing terror that destroys all in his path -- the ultimate Decepticon weapon if he wasn't so confused by the opposing thoughts of the 5 Stunticons who comprise him. (Motormaster is loathed by the other four.) Tremendous strength, his punch has the force of 140 tons. Impervious to most artillery. Uses Motormaster's cyclone gun and carries an ionizer sword with a 50,000 volt charge.
Menasor was the second gestalt to appear in the G1 series, showing up right as the awe created by Devastator was finally winding down. His renderings in the animated series are probably the biggest example of "artistic license" I can think of in the show, as neither his combined form or his components' robot modes bore much resemblance to their toy counterparts. Although his Tech Specs indicated his mental problems early on, most depictions just presented him as simple-minded (like Devastator) until Dreamwave's comics were written - although in "Five Faces of Darkness" we were treated to a strange scene of Menasor suddenly thinking himself to be a samurai or something. On the other hand, the depictions of the Stunticons themselves were often quite good - Dead End's fatalism, Breakdown's paranoia, and Wildrider's over-enthusiasm were well-portrayed. The toys themselves were relatively easy to find at retail in their day, and most of us seem to have had at least one Stunticon in our boxes. Interestingly, I had four Aerialbots and one Stunticon, so occasionally Dead End would have to substitute for the missing Air Raid in Superion's configuration. I remembered this with amusement after watching the "Scramble City" pilot, in which Wildrider attaches as Superion's leg, much to Superion's discomfort. Later on, Menasor would make an appearance as one of the "Nine Decepticon Generals" in the single "Transformers: Zone" episode, but didn't have a major role outside of being present.
Alternate Mode (Stunticons):
Drag Strip - F1 racer:
"The first one to cross the finish line LIVES."
Nasty, underhanded, loves to gloat over his victories. Would rather be scrapped than lose. Prone to overheating. Megatron would sooner melt him than talk to him, but knows he's even worse company for the Autobots. In car Mode, has a plasma-energy blaster. Carries a gravity-enhancing gravito-gun. Combines with fellow Stunticons to form "Menasor".
Drag Strip's bright yellow with a rub sign on his hood, some stripes on his sides and his spoiler, and a nicely molded chrome engine behind the driver's seat. He also has the requisite large black plastic tires (six of them). Now, I've never totally understood the Japanese fixation with F1 racers (being entries into both the GoBots and Transformers lines), and to me Drag Strip seems like the odd one out of the team. Like the other three "car" Stunticons, Drag Strip comes with a double-barreled turret that can be attached to the car's rear to create an "attack mode". Robot mode features a purple head with a blue face and rotating overly-long yellow arms. The chrome engine flips into the driver's section to form part of his chest. The car's spoiler becomes his feet in robot mode, which I didn't think was a good idea with Mirage and it's just as silly here, but it is functional. The front of the car protrudes off his back in robot mode - a motif with all the smaller Stunticons, but in Drag Strip's case it's more obvious. Most amusing, though, the holes for Drag Strip's pistol are actually in the tops of his wrists.
Breakdown - Lamborghini:
"Keep your optical sensors to yourself."
Thinks everyone is staring at him, even Earth cars and stoplights. His self-consciousness hurts his performance. Finds heavy traffic nerve-wracking. Would prefer to be human so he could fit in better. In car Mode, engine emits vibrations that cause mechanical failures in other vehicles; prone to leaky fuel pump. In robot Mode, carries a concussion rifle, which also causes mechanical failures. Combines with fellow Stunticons to form "Menasor".
Largely white, with a red hood and black windows. Breakdown resembles a downsized Sideswipe/Red Alert, but out of all the Stunticons he does possess the most intricate detail to his mold. There's a rub sign on his roof, and an actual purple Decepticon logo on his hood. Robot mode is a surprise, featuring a lot of blue in contrast to his overall white vehicle mode. He also has a red face with a large visor over the eyes and shiny chrome stickers detailing the chest, arms and legs. He carries a little blue pistol in his square fists.
Wildrider - Ferrari:
"Either you're out of my way or you're out of luck."
Look out motorists -- he exults in the accidents he causes! Driving recklessly, screaming and laughing. Some comrades think it's an act, others really know he's as nuts as he appears. Fears quiet, prone to tire blowouts. In car Mode goes up to 250mph with amazing maneuverability. In robot Mode, his scattershot gun sprays laser beams over wide areas. Combines with fellow Stunticons to form "Menasor".
An all-around dingy and dirty appearance, with a brown-black coloring and red windows. A grey sticker colors his hood, and Decepticon logos are placed on his doors. A big blocky rear with no details mars his prettiness. A chrome chest piece awaits you in robot mode, and his face is probably the most "robotic" looking of the group. He doesn't have very defined fists, and his pistol fits in either of two odd rectangular holes in what I would guess is the wrist area, similar to Drag Strip. The nicest thing about Wildrider, though, is that although he has no lower legs to speak of (just a "block" to stand on), this makes him the most stable of the four small Stunticons to display in robot mode.
Dead End - Porsche:
"We are all just food for rust."
Sullen, fatalistic, sees little reason to continue Transformers' war. Motivating him to fight is always a problem. Vain -- Spends most of his time shining himself. In car Mode, goes 220mph. Radar scan covers 200 mile radius. In robot Mode, has a compressor-air gun that shoots a 40,000 psi blast of air. Combines with fellow stunticons to form "Menasor".
Dark red with a yellow offset stripe running along the entire top of the car, making Dead End probably the most recognizable Stunticon on sight. He has a fair amount of etched detail, and his windows are colored jet black. His robot mode repeats the same color concept, being more black than red this time, and peering at the world from a golden face. He also has nicely defined round fists instead of holes for hands. The stripe is made up of several small stickers, so if you're buying a second-hand Dead End you do have to look closely at the condition of these. In robot mode, Dead End and Breakdown are slightly taller than Drag Strip and Wildrider, which makes for nice diversity as well.
Motormaster - Tractor trailer:
"These wheels are made for crushing."
No one on the road is colder and crueler. Shows no mercy to Autobots who happen to be on the highway with him. Seeks to destroy Optimus Prime so he can claim to be "King of the Road". Can survive a collision with anyone, except Optimus Prime. Reaches a top speed of 140mph and can shatter a 20-foot concrete block. Uses a 400mph wind producing cyclone gun. Forms robot "Menasor" with fellow Stunticons.
Motormaster has a black sleeper cab with purple windows, a chrome grille and a non-removable, non-moving gray trailer bearing purple stripes on its side. No, he won't be playing "King of the Road" with Optimus Prime anytime soon - he's much smaller. It'd be akin to a go-cart playing chicken with a monster truck. Because the trailer isn't attached on a joint, the truck is a brick - cab and trailer stay perfectly in line. Transformation gives you a blocky 'bot with an encased head, big rectangular arms, and a truck cab for feet (if you just hate those feet, they can be folded up against the backs of his legs). He also carries a very long purple rifle and a silver sword. Yes, he's a little clunky looking, but there's also something about his robot mode that suggests "armor" and toughness. He's also capable of transforming into a sort of "launch ramp" mode, which you can use to play with the small car-like roller that usually forms Menasor's chest plate. He can also be attached to Trypticon as an add-on in this mode, although I don't like his appearance as much as Onslaught's in this case.
The Stunticons' alternate modes are fairly realistic and credible for the time and the amount of work that went into their appearances, which is more than we would get later with the Protectobots and Combaticons. Despite their small sizes, all would pass quite well as toy cars, with little to make the observer blink except Wildrider's chunky trunk (and red windows). They're also quite compact and sturdy, making them appropriate for simulating demolition derbies on the kitchen floor without much worrying. They are, however, smaller than your typical G1 car, meaning if their aforementioned demolition derbies aren't among themselves, they're gonna lose to anyone outside of the Minibots. But we'd all like to see Bumblebee get bashed around, right?
Robot (Gestalt) Mode:
Anyone who's familiar with the Aerialbots or other "Scramble City" combiners won't need instructions to do this. Theoretically, the four small Stunticons are interchangeable, but the usual configuration is Breakdown and Wildrider as the legs, Drag Strip and Dead End as the arms. The gift set box art switches Dead End and Breakdown, which will work too - although trying to use Drag Strip as a leg can look a little strange. Purple foot-plates and fists (included with Motormaster) attach to the ends of each limb, the "car"/roller piece fits neatly onto pegs on Motormaster's chest, Menasor's face clips over Motormaster's, and a black hip piece is meant to slide into Motormaster's crotch to make him look less gangly. The hip piece isn't always a clean fit and will take some practice, but a little maneuvering of Motormaster's legs should make it work.
Menasor himself is probably the smallest of the gestalts, but also rather sturdy among his counterparts. A bit blocky in appearance, and his head is totally encased in the rear portion of Motormaster's trailer, but these attributes really make him stand out among the Scramble City lineup. If there's any design flaw that spoils his appearance, its his highly exposed shoulder joints - he doesn't actually HAVE any shoulders to speak of, the "neck" of each arm-Stunticon is quite prominent, whereas his counterpart Superion looks a little better "put together" in that area. Unlike Superion (and later, Abominus), his large legs also make him stable enough to be a nice display piece. He does have a nice long rifle to hold, and was the only gestalt to carry a sword before Predaking. The only thing about him that really irritates me, though, is that no one appears to have thought of any way to incorporate the four cars' double-barreled "attack mode" weapons into the gestalt mode! You can remove a fist and plug one in backwards, but this looks a little weird. Better to stick with the rifle, or let him bash things with his fists - which, as we know, is what Menasor was meant to do, right?
5 - The four small Stunticons have very obvious transformations. Motormaster's is slightly trickier, but only when using all three of his modes. In other words, just enough to be useful and satisfying, not hard enough to waste your time and drive your blood pressure through the roof.
8 - The entire team is a nice sturdy bunch. Be careful with the legs of the four smaller Stunticons, as they do seem to "stick" over the years. - especially Drag Strip and Wildrider.
8 - You know, with their general durability, the cars' attack modes and the sturdy gestalt mode, these guys really are pretty cool. Yes, they don't mix well with others due to their proportions, but I still find them to have a lot more play value than some of the other gestalt teams.
Buying them all at once might cost you more in the end than assembling them piecemeal. If you can find a good-condition Motormaster with all his included parts for under $50, you've pretty much won the battle and can take your time shopping for the others, who shouldn't cost you more than $15 apiece typically.
Predaking gets all the hype, and deservedly so, but you ought to check these guys out anyway.