ALPHA BRAVO (2015)
Combiners (or Gestalts) are large Robots that are made up of several smaller Transformers. The first Combiner was Devestator, released in 1985, who was made up of the 6 individual Constructicons. The Constructicons were a squad of green and purple construction vehicles. The individual characters were awesome so a kid could be satisfied owning only a couple of them but I was fortunate enough to own all six meaning I was able to combine them into Devestator. The original Devestator looked great but he wasn’t all that fun to play with because he fell apart so easily. He was particularly fragile mid-torso where Hook connected to Long Haul. Hasbro quickly improved on the Gestalt process by making all future combiners 5 figure sets instead of 6. There was now a single larger-format figure to form the torso and 4 smaller figures to form the arms and legs. This prevented the mid-torso break that plagued Devestator. The first new and improved Combiners out of the gate were the Stunticons which formed Menasor, the Combaticons which formed Bruticus, the Protectobots which formed Defensor, and the Aerialbots which formed Superion. My brother Doug and I owned them all and they were fantastic but sadly we got rid of all our Transformer toys when we were teenagers.
Ever since I got back into collecting Transformers in the mid 2000s when Hasbro launched their Generation 1 (G1) inspired “Classics” line I’ve wanted updated versions of the Combiners. Hasbro has released dozens of Transformer toys every year since the rebirth and the brand has even grown in popularity during that time with the help of 4 crappy blockbuster movies and yet the Combiners never came. We did finally get a Bruticus in 2012 as part of the video-game inspired “Fall of Cybertron” line but that was it. It blows my mind that Hasbro sat on these great characters for so long. In the 10 or so years since the Classics line launched Hasbro has held back on fan-favorite characters and sure-fire money makers like the Combiners and the Dino-bots. It’s crazy. That oversight created a whole new market where third-party companies release their own unofficial versions of those characters. I’ve picked up some brilliantly designed third-party Transformers over the years such as the Insecticons, the Sharkticons, Gears and Sweve, and even Cy-Kill. Multiple third-party companies have tackled the Combiners but unfortunately the cost (around $100 per figure) has kept me from buying any. At least I’ve been able to get a small taste of Combiners awesomeness in recent years by way of the Kre-O block figures.
But finally, in 2015, Hasbro has taken their head out of their ass and decided to release updated official versions of the 1980s Combiners and they’re putting a major marketing push behind them. They’ve rebranded the G1-inspired line “Combiner Wars” and are set to release a crap-load of awesome new figures. The Aerialbots and Stunticons are hitting stores now and the Constructicons and Protectobots will follow soon afterwards. On top of that, even characters who weren’t traditionally part of Combiner teams like Optimus Prime and Megatron are getting new figures that can be used to create brand new giant robots. Plus the Transformers comics published by IDW will be tying into the Combiners Wars storyline, fleshing things out and building the mythology. It’s shaping up to be a great year for Transformers fans.
I was at Walmart this past Tuesday and saw that they had the first wave of Combiner Wars figures: 4 of the 5 Aerialbots and Optimus Prime. I wanted them all but money was tight so I picked up just 2 of the Aerialbots; Firefly (formerly known as Fireflight) and Alpha Bravo. I left Silverbolt (the larger Voyager class figure that forms Superion’s torso) and Sky Dive behind.
Once I got them home and opened up I was immediately impressed. Many of the recent Hasbro Transformers have felt kind of cheap but these figures feel good and sturdy. The sculpts are brand new, the designs are very nice, and there’s plenty of articulation. I was so impressed that I went right back out and picked up Silverbolt so I could begin combining them. A great thing about these current combiner toys is that any of the smaller deluxe class figures that form the appendages can be used as either arms or legs. I’ve opted to make both Alpha Bravo and Firefly legs (at least for now) and let me tell you, my armless Superion looks f**king awesome so far. I’ll post some pics of him in either my Firefly or Silverbolt review. I cannot wait to complete Superion and then move on to constructing Menasor.
As an individual piece Alpha Bravo is pretty neat. The Aerialbots have always traditionally been a team of jets but Alpha Bravo is a helicopter. He has replaced former team member Slingshot. Interestingly though he has some design elements that seem to be a nod to the former member. Slingshot had a unique head design; an orange face flanked by two white panels. Alpha’s head looks less human than Slingshot’s but is clearly inspired by it. I recall Slingshot having the most personality out of all the Aerialbots from their appearances in the old cartoon so I’m kind of surprised that he was the one to get the boot. But don’t lose hope Slingshot fans, in the Japanese Aerialbots box set they kept the original team together so Slingshot is out there if you’re willing to shell out the cash.