Monday, 13 June 2016

Transformers: Combiner Wars – Devastator

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Air Raid included for scale. Look how big this guy is!
Company: Hasbro
Series: Generations – Combiner Wars

Year: 2015

I have been putting this particular review off for quite a while. The better part of a year in fact. Not because I thought it was going to be a bad one – not by any means – but because I just didn’t quite know how to approach it; it was going to be a massive one whichever way I sliced it. This quite possibly the biggest figure I’ve ever reviewed, and certainly the most complex. This is a childhood dream come true – DEVASTATOR!

The Devastator toys I knew as a kid were in G2 colours – yellow and purple. I liked this, and still do; real life construction vehicles tend to be yellow, so it makes sense that the Constructicons would be too. I never owned all six figures, but at various stages owned Long Haul (who met his end in a urinal trough in Kindergarten) and Bonecrusher (who I still owned until somewhere round late high school).  After doing some research over at TFWiki, and considering the timeframe of owning these guys, I suspect that they may have even been part of a European release of the Constructicons that were cast in yellow and did not actually combine (heresy!) – but with the passage of time and the original items lost, I just can’t be sure.   

(Incidentally, at this stage, I don’t think I’ll be doing individual reviews of his component bots – there are plenty out there online already, though. OAFE’s are particularly comprehensive)   

But enough about my own, disappointingly limited encounters with the character. Suffice to say I’ve come to love the original green and purple look, and when I discovered this release was happening, Devastator immediately went on my must-have list. It took a couple of months of waiting, as I waited for stock to actually arrive, and then having to pay the thing off – but eventually, he was mine. And I was thrilled.  

Now at this point, I should mention that I bought the regular Hasbro release, which some people will no doubt tell you is for chumps. I buy enough Transformers to know that the Hasbro vs Takara wars are likely to rage until the sun burns out and takes Earth with it – possibly even longer, to be honest. From a more neutral perspective, though, there are three different versions of Devastator doing the rounds. The one you see in pics here is the “vanilla” one, which I believe was the only one that released in Australia. There was also a version released for SDCC 2015 and sold on the Hasbro Toy Shop website – this utilised the same sculpt, but came in a different box, incorporated a number of additional paint apps, had some vac-metallised parts and also featured a visor-less head sculpt. Pretty cool! But SDCC Exclusives come with a premium…and I’m not huge on vac-metallised toys, so it was never really an option for me. However, the Takara version – released under the Unite Warriors banner – may be worth springing for if you can get it at a reasonable price. The paint apps are different, and arguably better, as tends to be the case with Takara releases. But perhaps most importantly, the individual bots have been slightly retooled from their Hasbro incarnations to include additional articulation. The combined form has also been given ratchet joints in the shoulders, which is a nice additional source of stability for the figure. Each individual bot also gets its own gun, as the original figures did.  

Now to the combined form of Devastator itself/himself. This is one big toy. It’s not as big as Metroplex, granted, but it’s no slouch in the height department. Scale may be relatively non-existent when it comes to Transformers of any vintage, but you can rest assured that he will appropriately tower over any of your other figures – as he should. He totally dwarfs the original Devastator too, and makes it look terrible by comparison. I understand nostalgia very well and everything, but if you think Transformers toys from the 1980s were better than the ones we have today, you need to get with the program.  

That said, he takes a lot of cues from the vintage toy and the G1 cartoon. He’s still made up of six robots, and clicks together in the same formation – though obviously attaching everything together is a bit more convoluted. And he actually stays together this time, too! What a world we live in.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t plan to do individual reviews of his components, and the G1-ish nature is partially why. The individual bots are very cool, but as someone who doesn’t have a strong attachment to the cartoon, I think they should have opted for a slightly updated look to their head sculpts, rather than going for cartoon accuracy. It wasn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but I was slightly surprised, given the primarily more modern aesthetic of the Combiner Wars figures. While the core design of Devastator’s head is definitely pretty 80s-tastic (those sunglasses!), it’s been given enough detailing to bring it into the 21st century.  

More importantly, he now has articulation. Though not as agile as some of his smaller brethren, his ratcheted hips and knees, combined with a good centre of gravity mean that you can get him into plenty of awesome poses. There’s even some neatly concealed ankle articulation, though be careful when you access it – you don’t want to pull it the wrong way and accidentally break something. His shoulders feel a little flimsier, but they won’t pop off without you meaning them too or anything; you may just need to do some rearranging of the treads that make up the “sockets” after you move the arms. I would note here though that every time you move the ratcheted thigh joints, it sounds and feels like it’s going to break. It won’t – at least mine hasn’t yet – but I try to be pretty gentle. If this bad boy broke I would be furious.

Amazing as a collector’s piece or kid’s toy, Devastator is an essential addition to ANY Transformers collection – or a great excuse to start one! I bought a bunch of toys in 2015, and Devastator here is easily one of the best toys I bought during that time. Possibly the best, even.  Having been out for in Australia for almost a year now, you may need to do a bit of legwork to track him down – but he’s well worth it.

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