This was a nice little week for me toy-wise. On Tuesday my latest Masters of the Universe Classics figures, Two-Bad and Blast Attack, showed up in the mail. Wednesday afternoon the final G.I. Joe Figure Subscription Service (FSS) package arrived which included Big Ben, Crimson Guard Immortal plus the bonus mystery figure. Then later that night I went to Walmart and found three new Combiner Wars Transformers: Motor Master, Viper, and Groove.
Groove is a member of the Autobot sub-team the Protectobots.
The Protectobots were originally released in 1986. They were five individual robots, each of whom transformed into a rescue vehicle, that could combine to form the heroic gestalt Defensor. Equally sized Groove, First Aid, Streetwise and Blades formed the limbs while the larger leader of the team, Hot Spot, formed Defensor’s head and torso. I had all five of them when I was a kid and I loved them. The Protectobots were the only other full Combiner team I owned other than the Constructicons who formed Devastator. The Constructicons were the original combiners and they looked great but Devastator wasn’t much fun to play with because he was so fragile. Hasbro vastly improved their combiner design and construction by the time the Protectobots came out so Defensor was a much more stable toy that was a lot of fun to play with.
First Aid, who transformed into an ambulance, was my favorite Protectobot but Groove and Blades were close seconds. Blades was a helicopter and Groove turned into a police motorcycle; both of which were quite unique among my collection of Autobots that mostly turned into cars. I often curse myself for selling off my vintage Transformers collection when I was an adolescent. I have to continually remind myself that the toys were not as good as I remember them to be. The combiners of old were a prime example. Defensor was a pretty rad toy as a whole but the individual Protectobots were not so impressive. Hot Spot was decent but the figures that formed the limbs were small and stubby, lacked articulation, and had pea-sized heads. The ’86 Groove was especially stumpy because of his alt mode. His legs and torso were basically a solid hunk of plastic and he had these horrible narrow feet made out of his motorcycle seat that looked like witch shoes. The arms were wide and nubby and they didn’t extend more than a centimetre or so past his thick chest. My childhood imagination allowed me to believe that Groove was cool but objectively the toy was a clunker.
I love that 30 years later those short and stubby combiner limbs are finally getting their due as legitimate action figures. If you’ve read my reviews of Fireflight of the Aerialbots or Breakdown of the Stunticons then you know how vastly superior these modern figures are when compared to their vintage counterparts. I now have the complete waves 1 and 2 of Hasbro’s Combiner Wars collection which means I can fully construct Superion and Menasor. They’re both great but to me they’re like appetizers to wave 3’s Protectobots main course. I’ve been eagerly anticipating updated Protectobots for years and soon I will finally have fully-posable, adequately-sized, well-sculpted figures of First Aid, Blades, and Streetwise…..but not Groove.
Hasbro has decided to replace Groove with a newly conceived member of the Protectobots named Rook who will now fill the role of Defensor’s right leg. It’s a bit disappointing that Groove lost his spot but it makes some sense. Groove is a motorcycle…Blades is a helicopter….they should not be the same size. Not that scale has ever made sense in the world of Transformers but I appreciate the attempt by Hasbro to make things a little more believable at least within the confines of a single sub-team. Besides, founding members of the Aerialbots and Stunticons also got the boot and scale wasn’t even an issue with them. Thankfully Groove didn’t get omitted from the team completely. While his peers will soon be released as 6” DELUXE class figures Groove gets this 3” LEGENDS scale figure.
This figure looks pretty small to me, especially when compared to the other combiner figures, but in fact this figure is about as tall as the original 1986 Groove. I think it seems extra small because this modern Groove is much leaner than the tubby ’86 model and also I’m much bigger than I was when I owned that original toy.
This Groove figure is nothing to get too excited about but it’s not bad at all. The build of the figure is significantly different from the original but there are enough similarities that you can tell they’re the same character. I always found Groove’s most distinguishing feature to be his gold face and this figure retains that. This figure is way more posable than the vintage Groove. He’s articulated at the ankles, the knees, the hips, the shoulders, and the elbows and many of those are ball-joints. This allows for all kinds of poses.
The areas where the original figure has an edge over this one is that this Groove has no weapons whereas the original had a hand gun and leg cannons. Also the old figure had lots of stickers which added some color to the figure and lastly it had chromed pieces which I always like to see. This Groove would look much better if his flat grey-colored arms and legs had that classic metallic sheen.
Groove’s alt-mode is still a police motorcycle though it looks a bit more modern than the old one. This guy could be driven by Robocop whereas the old Groove was more suited to Ponch and Jon. And even though he lost his spot as a limb Groove still has a place as part of Defensor; he now has a third mode where he form’s Defensor’s chest plate.
I would’ve preferred a 6″ Groove (which I think may be released eventually anyway) but this is a decent upgrade to the character and it’s hard to complain about a figure that only costs around ten bucks. 7 out of 10.