A short time ago I reviewed the Transformer Blast Off, a member of the Decepticon sub-team the Combaticons, who merged with his team mates to become the combiner known as Bruticus. When combined Blast Off fills the role of Bruticus’s right arm. Today I have for you the Combaticon who becomes Bruticus’s left arm, the Decepticon known as Vortex.
In the original Generation 1 continuity the Combaticons all transformed into WWII era war vehicles. Vortex transformed into a Kaman Aerospace SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopter. At least that’s what I’ve read, I’m no helicopter expert. The fact that the Combaticon’s alt modes were all modeled after war vehicles of that particular era meant that they had a cohesive look and when combined into Bruticus he had a very militaristic appearance. The first set of Combaticons was released in 1985 and my brother Doug had the whole set. This figure is from a newer set released under the Transformers: Generations banner in 2012. I like the Generations figures because they’re updated versions of classic Generation 1 characters. The Generations figures used to be pretty straight forward updates of the 80s toys but since the release of the “War for Cybertron” and “Fall of Cybertron” video games the designers have taken to designing G1 characters in their Cybertronian modes.
You see the Autobots have been battling the Decepticons for millions of years on their home planet of Cybertron. They’ve always transformed into vehicles but it wasn’t until they crash landed on Earth that they adopted the alt modes that we’re all familiar with like airplanes and sports cars. The video games take place before the Transformers ever came to Earth so the designers had to come up with alt modes that would make sense on their native planet. Generally they tend to capture the essence of the 80s Earth designs only slightly tweaked with a science fiction edge. Like Vortex here, he’s still a rotor bladed flying machine but he doesn’t look like any helicopter I’ve ever seen. This is true of all the 2012 Combaticons, the vehicle designs are similar to their Earth modes but a little funkier and a little more colorful. The end result is a less cohesive looking team and a less militaristic looking Bruticus. I should mention that these Combaticon figures are available in 3 different color schemes so there is a version that more closely resembles the ’85 original.
These figures only became available a short time before Christmas. I showed Vanessa the set online and told her that I would eventually like to complete the set but that maybe one or two of the individual figures would make a nice Christmas gift. I told her Swindle and Brawl were the two I most desired. Over the holidays Vanessa went home to her family and my brother Brian came home from New York and stayed with me. One day we were out shopping for gifts when I stumbled across this lone Vortex figure laying amongst the girls toys in Walmart. I couldn’t believe my luck, I never expected to find any of these figures at retail in my area. I looked for others but there were none. Since I was expecting only Swindle and Brawl from Vanessa if any, I felt comfortable buying Vortex for myself. I dared not let him slip out of my grasp. I clutched him tightly until we reached the checkout as I had an irrational fear that the manager might swipe him from my hands with a “sorry son, that’s not for sale.”
Once I got him home safely I opened him up and was immediately smitten. I was skeptical about this new red and purple color scheme on a character that I remember as being grey and blue. But I liked the design of the figure so much with his sword guns, spinning bladed forearm, and articulation far superior to that of the original, that I quickly accepted this flashy new Vortex as the real deal.
I was quite surprised when I opened my Christmas present from Vanessa once she came back from her vacation at home. She had actually gotten me all 5 Combaticons. I didn’t want her to know that I had bought myself one of these figures a few days earlier so I snuck my new Vortex into the closet to be returned to Wamart at a later date. I tried to take him back just last week but the guy at the returns counter said that the UPC on the toy didn’t match my receipt so he couldn’t take it back. I insisted that I had bought it at his store a month earlier but he didn’t seem to believe me. I didn’t really mind keeping him anyway as my other Vortex is in arm mode and attached to my Bruticus. This was I was able to display Vortex in his individual robot mode alongside the combined Bruticus. Vortex is my new favorite of the bunch anyway so it worked out well. Only after I got home did I realize that I was actually trying to exchange the figure that Vanessa had purchased online from somewhere in the USA with the receipt of the Vortex that I had bought at my local Walmart back in December. It suddenly made sense why the UPC didn’t match up and I immediately felt like a dick as the Walmart guy probably thought I was trying to pull a fast one on him. Oh well. It’s a cool figure and totally worth having 2 of them. 7 out of 10.