I'm back again with a second Transformers review in a row. Actually there's going to be about half a dozen Transformers reviews in a row here as I may
have gone just a bit overboard with the Combiner Wars figures. And by a bit overboard, I mean I dove in head first while holding an anchor. If you
haven't already read my review for the Aerialbots already, you may want to do so first.
As in the interest of not repeating myself too much, I'll be refering back to that review and comparing and contrasting the Aerialbots with the subject
of this review, Motormaster and the rest of the Stunticons who combine to form the mighty Menasor.
Packaging - Dragstrip 5/10, Blackjack 6/10 Motormaster 7/10, Others 8/10As with the Aerialbots, the Stunticons were mixed between the first two assortments of Combiner Wars figures. So Dragstrip who was included with the first series still has the older package design which incorrectly showss him as being part of the the team to create Superion despite the insert in the blister labelling him as part of Menasor. Breakdown, Dead End and Offroad all have the new packaging with the correct team members shown on the back. Their cards also drop the multilingual packaging which leaves enough room on the back to actually describe their personalities and back stories. Blackjack is part of the Legends assortment which comes on smaller blister cards, even though they have all the same elements as the Deluxe figures' cards. That lack of space combined with multilingual packaging, means character descriptions are limited to two lines. And there is only a single, rather small image of Blackjack combining with Menasor. So it's hard to assess if he is worth buying without actually having the toy in your hands. Motormaster has basically the same box design as Silverbolt, except for the suggestion of including a random character from the opposing army as part of your combiner team. The design looks decent. But I still wish it showed off Menasor better.
Sculpting - Dragstrip 5/10, Dead End 8/10, Others 7/10I never had any of the Stunticons when I was a kid, though I did eventually pick up a bootleg set. And the things that turned me off about them as a kid was also largely responsible for why I ignored them for so long this time around. The individual, smaller Stunticons just didn't look all that interesting and even when they were transformed, they still looked like the original cars stood on end. But once I got them opened up, they turned out a lot better than I was expecting. Dragstrip is alright in his robot mode. But in his vehicle mode they got rid of the double front wheels of the original design. Sure that design was kind of crazy, but that was what made it so unique. But worse still, it can be difficult to get all the parts aligned so that the wheels can roll freely without dragging. Breakdown and Offroad both have nice vehicle modes. But in robot mode, Offroad has the whole front end of his truck form hanging behind his head like a giant Transformers hoodie. And Breakdown does nothing to alter or hide the shape of his vehicle mode for his legs. He just has two chunks of sports car rear end that form his lower legs. That leaves Dead End as my favorite of the Stunticons since he has the best proportions and the chunks of car hanging off his back blend in better than on any of the others. Blackjack doesn't suffer from any significant issues. He's just kind of dull in both forms. Finally there is Motormaster. The original version was extremely boxy since he was formed from both the cab and trailer of his tractor trailer form. The modern version replicates that look well. His semi form is a bit dull which is to be expected since the mold is shared with Optimus Prime rather than being unique to Motormaster.
Paint - Dead End 9/10, Drag Strip & Offroad 8/10, Blackjack 5/10 Others 6/10The paint work for the Stunticons is well excuted. But the color choices work a lot better for some than they do for others. Dead End is my favorite of the six since the base maroon color works very well as the color for the vehicle mode and matches to the greys of the rest fo the robot parts well. He just ends up looking like the only fully painted figure of the six. Offroad and Drag Strip are close behind with decent color schemes. But Offroad could use some metallic finish for the grey of his truck parts so they wouldn't look like plastic. Oddly, they did give the red for his windshield a metallic finish which just makes the body color look even more like plastic. Drag Strip just needs a bit more color on his chest in robot mode and perhaps some decal details for the race car mode. (Where do you ever see a race car that isn't plastered with sponser logos?) Breakdown has a lot of nice paint work for his robot mode. But as with Offroad, his base plastic color is too cheap looking compared to the painted areas. Motormaster has the same issue as well, but the grey actually works well for his robot mode. It's only in his vehicle mode that it becomes painfully obvious that he's a toy. Finally there is Blackjack who has a pretty minimal amount of paint work. What was done is fine, but he really could use more.
Articulation - Blackjack 7/10, Others 8/10All of the Stunticons have an impressive level of articulation. Blackjack's articulation is a bit more limited than most of his fellow Stunticons. He has a decent amount of articulation but the the range of motion is more limited than on the larger figures. The deluxe sized figures all have a decent amount of articulation and range of motion. They could use rotating wrists and some ankle joints to be able stand flat footed, though they are not absolutely necessary. Motormaster actually has even more articulation thanks to the transformation mechanics. The legs are limited slightly by the racheting mechanism in the hip joints. So my figure can't quite stand up perfectly straight. He's legs are always angled out slightly.
Accessories - Blackjack, Drag Strip 5/10, Dead End & Motormaster 7/10, Others 8/10Right away with the Stunticons I was surprised to see that all of the figures had a consistent theme in that all of the figures come with primarily melee fighting weapons instead of guns. That is a kind of cool idea. But the quality of the accessories is inconsistent. Blackjack has just one accessory, a large battle axe. It fits the theme, but it lacks paint and is really a bit too large for the figure. He's more likely to strike himself than an enemy. Drag Strip has an unpainted combination sword and rifle and a foot/hand to be used to form Menasor. The lack of paint is disappointing. And Drag Strip gets shorted since he is the only deluxe Stunticon released before they started including a comic with each figure. All three of the others include a reprinted copy of one of the issues of the Combiner War story arc from IDW comics. (And thus far, each character has included a different issue. Very cool.) Dead End has the foot/hand piece for Menasor and an exhaust pipe weapon which I believe is suppose to be a billy club. I was really hoping that it would actually attach to Dead End in his vehicle mode. But it doesn't unfortunately. Motormaster comes with a sword and gun which can combine into a much larger sword for Menasor. Both are completely painted silver which is a bit dull, but still looks much better than if it was unpainted. The remaining two Stunticons, Offroad and Breakdown both come with the Menasor hand/foot parts and a melee weapon. For Offroad it is an axe with a painted blade. Breakdown has another sword/rifle, this time with a painted blade. Both weapons look great.
Menasor - 5/10While I really like the individual Stunticons, their combined form, Menasor, is not as impressive. He will make a decent display piece if that is what you want. But to actually play with, he has some issues. The biggest is that whiel all of the pieces are designed to fit in their proper place, they don't lock into place securely. So Dead End's legs keep coming apart, causing Menasor's left arm to split down the middle. And when I try to adjust the position of either of Menasor's arms, the components of Motormaster that form the shoulder just pop out of place and move instead of the shoulder joint. Adding Blackjack as an optional piece of chest armor is pointless as the pegs don't fit securely and any movement will result in Blackjack just falling off. But as a display piece, Menasor fits the bill nicely. He is just a bit taller and bigger overall than Superion, giving the impression that he would be strong enough to bully even the Autobot's combiner team. The larger size of the individual Stunticon limbs give the combined form a very beefy, burly look. It's too bad that it is such a hassel to keep all of his pieces in their proper place.
Value - Blackjack 5/10, 7/10Blackjack, the lone Legacy class figure of the set, sells for $10 to $11. He isn't a bad figure, just underwhelming in every regard. Fortunately he isn't necessry for Menasor or the group as a whole and can be easily skipped if you wish. The other figures are all pretty cool both in their robot and vehicle modes. Their combined form of Menasor has a few issues, but they are not serious enough to seriously harm the value. The $15 price tag for each of the Deluxe figures and $25 for Motormaster are a decent deal. The fact that they combine together and you get Menasor for that price as well is just a great bonus.
Happy Hunting:The issue of where to find figures is usually little more than an after thought when I write one of these reviews. After all, why would any company make it unncessarily difficult to buy their products? But if you wanted a complete Menasor, it took quite some time. Dragstrip was released in the first series. Dead End, Breakdown and Offroad were released in the following series. And Motormaster was released in the Voyager line and Blackjack in the Legacy line even later still. When I finally broke down and decided to pick up the set, I had to order the four deluxe figures online. But Motormaster and Blackjack still seem to be shipping to stores and are readily available.