Review by Optimal III
During a previous review, I brought up that Generation 2 was, among other things, a very short chapter in the history of Transformers. It only lasted 3 years, and of the toys released during that time, over one-third were repaints & retools of figures from Generation 1. What's just as interesting and sort of sad is that quite a few more toys, both original and classic, would have been made if Hasbro hadn't pulled the plug so quickly.
The Stunticons are chief among those who didn't get their shot. The prototypes are out there, but it's speculated maybe only a dozen of each team member were made. Breakdown is the exception since he was the exclusive at the very first Botcon, but at around 300 pieces, that's still pretty rare. Whenever they do surface, they easily go for thousands of $$, never mind the whole set. So it's good news for us non-rich folks then that following on the footsteps of the G2 Superion boxset from Combiner Wars, Hasbro decided to give Menasor the same treatment.
These guys have all been reviewed at least once on the site already, so I'm mainly focusing on the changes and any improvements or new defects.
Hasbro has kept the same layout between boxsets. The front is a slick piece of art depicting Menasor in all his menacing glory, while the back has photos of all included figures and modes.
Additional contents include a single large instruction sheet and a poster made for last year's May Mayhem, both stored in an envelope. I really like the Superion poster from the last set, but Menasor's is even better since nothing's cut off, even though it's G1 with Offroad in place of Wildrider.
Combiner Wars makes combining a six-robot job, so the sixth Decepticon added to this team is Blackjack, formerly a Micromaster and leader of the Decepticon Sports Car patrol. His black was mostly swapped for a richer shade of purple than what he had before, his gold windows turned black, and his purple trim replaced with an electric blue.
These were going to be the colors of Motormaster's roller car, and since it also became Menasor's chest plate, it makes perfect sense to give Blackjack this deco.
His robot mode is about the same, but his face has taken on a grey mouthplate and red visor. He actually reminds me of the generic Battlechargers from the Devastation video game.
Next we take a look at Brake-Neck (AKA Wildrider). Debatebly the craziest Stunticon (which is really saying something), he's traded in the grey & maroon red for banana yellow and blue windshields. Many Brake-Neck toys had joint issues the first time around, so it's a pleasant surprise to see his G2 version is nice and tight.
In robot mode, we see he's gone grapeface and picked up a little black, with some blue to match his weapon and windows. His eyes are now red too, making him like most Decepticons. His improved joints especially show. Everything is firm and steady. It's actually kind of hard to get his weapons in and out of his hands and mounting ports, which is definite improvement.
Moving on to Deadend, he's gone a little further down the color wheel from Brake-Neck, ditching his maroon, black windows, and racing stripes for solid red and silver windows. He's got some flair on the sides, but it's pretty minor. And also like Brake-Neck, his fit and feel is much better than the previous Deadend figure.
In robot mode, he's not as loud as Brake-Neck, but still very bright and primary. There's a little paint slop on his face, but I like it. I'd expect a Stunticon to be a little dirty. He's also picked up a red visor, and some matching blue and black. Again, his joints are so much tighter now. I recommend not pushing his weapons in all the way, or you'll lose minutes trying to get them back out.
And while I'm at it, let's stop and look at how similar Deadend & Brake-Neck have become. Yes, the latter is a minor retool of the former, but doing red & yellow really pairs them up, like Double Dragons.
I don't think any of the Stunticons look bad in their G1 garb, but Dragstrip may be the least appealing. So it's literally and figuratively cool to see him drop the yellow and reddish-purple for black and blue. His G2 deco is the simplest and plainest on the team, which is interesting since he's the only actual racecar. The yellow cockpit is the only loud part.
Robot mode has about the same layout. All that's new is his face going from a grey blue to silver. His chest is also yellow. I like the energy of the G2 Stunticons as a whole, but I think Dragstrip may be my favorite.
Cue the Miami Vice theme. That's what looking at G2 Breakdown makes me think about. Getting him is a little less special than the other Stunticons since his toy was actually made. He was also made available as a retool of Universe Sideswipe in this deco at a Botcon 2010 exclusive.
He's now teal with purple trim. His previous G2 toys had more of a pink, but what is a cool callback are the gold windows, which the original G2 figure had. "94 RACING" is a nod to Botcon '94, the first one and where the original G2 figure debuted. And the event was held in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, which is only a couple of hours away from the Indianopolis 500.
Robot mode is about the same, but he's picked up a little silver and a blue face with red eyes (I'm just now noticing most of the Stunticons don't actually have red eyes like most Decepticons). If this encounter were to actually happen, it'd be interesting since Breakdown is so paranoid. They'd both probably only agree that conspiracy is afoot.
Motormaster has also gone blue & purple, definitive on the blue with red accents. Unforunately, he's missing paint in the same places as the original. Even so, he looks good with the blue showing through his wheels.
In robot mode, it's now that I really start to get the G2 feeling from Motormaster and the rest of his team. His helmet is now one solid color, and his face has gone from pale purple to silver, but his eyes still look so soulless. Which they should since he's the brutal uncaring tyrannical leader. His hips are fine, but my original never had that issue either.
That's the whole team, so it's time. "Stunticons, unite to form Menasor!"
Chest open or closed, Menasor still looks good in 90's fashion. Actually having a purple chest makes him look even more monster-like, so that's a bonus. Unlike G2 Superion though, there's no real unity in the colors. They're all over the place with red, yellow, green, and blue. There's no sense to it, so the goal was probably to be as loud and "in your face" as possible.
And while it may be unintentional, that fits the team since the five minds composing Menasor are almost completely opposed to each other.
Unforunately, while the problems with Brake-Neck and Deadend were addressed, nothing was done about Blackjack's inability to stay attached as a chest plate. If it was a tighter fit or the pegs were longer, it'd help, but as is, Blackjack will have to continue as Menasor's point man instead.
And great looking as he may be, Menasor is still awkward around the hips, which makes posing him tricky. If the intent was to make him more of a monster and less humanoid, then they they succeeded. But I'd prefer something less ambitious and standard in this situation.
As a whole, this is a great set. I think Menasor is a little disappointing, especially compared to Superion, but he's still an enjoyable combiner. The photos don't do justice to how nice the colors look on all these guys. And as before with the Aerialbots, at this point this is the easiest way to get the CW Stunticons. The originals are pretty much gone from retail, which means rising aftermarket prices. The Takara boxset is still available, but more expensive at $135+ and doesn't include Blackjack (I forgot to mention the same with the Aerialbots; Takara's set doesn't include Powerglide). This boxset is only $100 at the moment.
Improvements aside too, I have to give Hasbro creative props for actually making this happen. Most of us will never have a chance to own the original G2 Stunticons, but this is the next best thing. Actually if I'm being honest, this is even better.
|Posted 24 October, 2016 - 10:24 by Optimal III|