FIRST AID (2015)
When I was a kid the only complete Combiners I owned were Devastator and Defensor. I loved Devastator but because he was the first Combiner ever released he wasn’t exactly structurally sound. He was made up of six equally-sized smaller robots; 4 for the limbs and 2 for the torso. The split torso was the real problem. Devastator crumbled every time he threw a punch. Hasbro improved on the Combiner design the following year when they opted to make a single larger robot form the torso with 4 smaller robots as the limbs. That’s how Defensor, made up of the five Protectobots, was built. I loved all five of the Protectobots but my favourite was far and away First Aid.
I’m not sure why I liked First Aid so much. Maybe an episode of the old cartoon focused on him and infused him with a winning personality. I don’t recall him ever having a shining moment in Marvel’s Transformers comic. Maybe it was because of the brief character description on his packaging:
“Hates seeing any machine in pain — even those who don’t know it, like a broken street lamp or an overheated car. Compassionate, cautious — will restrict an Autobot to repair bay for faulty directional signal.”
Sounds like a nice guy worthy of my affection. Honestly it was probably the design of the character that appealed to me the most. I liked his head design…I always preferred bots with Optimus Prime-like faces. I also liked his boxy design and his red and white colour scheme. After I got First Aid in 86/87 he quickly became one of the stars of my Transformers universe. He didn’t need the other Protectobots to save the day, he was quite capable all on his own. I regret getting rid of all my childhood Transformers but First Aid is one of the ones I miss the most. Not because it was a great toy, it wasn’t, but because I loved the character so much that my imagination allowed the toy to seem better than it was.
Like most of the toys who formed Combiner limbs, the 1986 First Aid was a clunky crappy toy. His legs were stuck together because he had a hunk of plastic as a uni-foot, his stubby arms didn’t bend and he had a pea-sized head. I always had fun playing with him, and his simplicity made him durable, but the toy left a lot to be desired. I have waited years for Hasbro to release a new and improved First Aid. It’s been 30 years since the original figure was released and about 10 years since I started buying Transformers as an adult collector. Hasbro has released a ton of great updates of classic Transformer toys this past decade but for some strange reason they seemed intent on denying fans of new and improved Combiners.
Then in 2012 Hasbro released updated versions of the five Combaticons who merge to form Bruticus. That was cool and all but Bruticus was a toy that my brother Doug owned when we were kids so I don’t have as strong a connection to that character. Bruticus was a hit with Collectors so I hoped that more Combiners would follow. It took three long years but Hasbro is finally releasing the other Combiner teams. They’ve even rebranded the line as “Combiner Wars”. They started with Superion in wave 1 and Menasor in wave 2. They were cool but, again, they were both toys Doug owned.
But now wave 3 has finally arrived. Giggity Giggity. Wave 3 consists of the five Protectobots AND all six Constructicons. At present I’ve managed to track down 3 of the Protectobots in the wild and all 6 Constructicons are on their way to me now by way of Canada Post. The first Protectobot I found (not including Groove) was Hot Spot, the leader of the team who forms the torso, then came Blades the helicopter, and just last night I finally found First Aid.
Combiner Wars First Aid is a retool of the Stunticon Offroad figure from wave 2 but at a glance you can barely tell they’re the same base figure. The retool was very extensive so don’t think that this is just a repainted Offroad. Both their robot and vehicle modes are substantially different due to all of changes. First Aid has new legs, a new chest, new forearms, new door panels, and most importantly a new head. Also their paint schemes are so radically different that it further sets them apart.
Offroad didn’t impress me when I picked him up a while back but I actually think this is a fantastic First Aid figure. That’s largely because I have zero nostalgic ties to Offroad but also because the construction of this figure seems perfectly suited to First Aid. It retains all of the design elements I liked about the original while improving on pretty much everything. It’s bigger, has a normal sized head with a painted visor, has elbows, and finally he has two legs with knees. Essentially this toy is everything the vintage toy was in my mind’s eye. The only thing I like less about this new figure is that he came with an axe instead of a pistol. The axe seems too brutal for First Aid and better suited to the Decepticon Offroad. I suppose I could pretend that the axe is a medical instrument but thats a bit of a stretch.
First Aid’s ambulance mode is fine though I do miss the boxy Mystery Machine style van of the original.
I’m extremely happy to add First Aid to my modern Transformers collection and I already know that he’s a serious contender for my year-end “best of” list. 10 out of 10.