Really long post, since I've saved stuff that I haven't been able to complete until now.
Reviews of Motormaster, Huffer, Blackjack, the Stunticons, and Menasor
^ As is Blackjack!
Stunticons haven't shipped for me, but Motormaster is very diasppointing, Warrior Class Prime (RID2015) is good but feels like an upscaled legends commander figure, and I really like Warrior Class Drift (RID2015) even though he has almost the exact same transformation as BB he's a completely new mold.
I got my Stunticons from HasbroToyShop. More on them later. You were right about Motormaster, sadly
In short : Ugh, don't bother
Huffer had a pretty terrible G1 toy that was only redeemed by its transformation being pretty much unique. But it was stumpy, with smokestack arms and a plate head.
Combiner Wars Huffer is an immediate improvement, and I was impressed with the figure in the packaging.
Then I took it out. And a leg fell off.
Transforming Huffer is an exercise in frustration as both legs popped off, the tabs refused to lock together, and the whole thing just feels like it doesn't want to lock in. Eventually it does.
You are rewarded with a strange looking truck. The legs are pretty much undisguised and the wind shields don't look right in either mode.
It's better than G1 Huffer, but what wouldn't be? I didn't realize this was a recolored Prime. It kind of works as Huffer, but you'd think with this being a recycled mold, they'd get the legs right.
Verdict: Not worth $10, and I will probably keep it in robot mode.
In short: Now that's more like it! Awesome!
Blackjack has a design that's more ambitious than some Deluxes. Also, even with its small scale, it has painted details in both modes, less panels hanging off the arms, and a backpack that doesn't hamper.
Slightly disappointing that the wheel rims aren't painted, which would really complete the look of the toy. I guess that's just not part of this scale.
Apart from that, I really like it. Elegant but simple transformation, great proportions, and fun to transform and pose. I like it even better than RiD2015 Drift
Verdict: Better than some Deluxes. Worth getting, and the Combiner Wars integration is a bonus. Or it would be if it worked.
In short: See what I said for Voyager Prime, with added disappointment
On the one hand, Motormaster is a fantastic update. Vehicle mode looks great, and substantially different than Prime. Same for robot mode. There is enough difference in paint and resculpting that they look and feel completely different. I am not ashamed to own both.
Motormaster also had an unfortunate G1 toy. It was an ambitious design that just really didn't work, although -- like Huffer -- it was something that hadn't been seen before. But it had board-like arms, ridiculous 'feet', and the head was just part of an unmoveable rectangular brick.
Combiner Wars gives us a Motormaster that looks so much better by ditching the trailer. I'll take that, especially since the robot mode is so good looking.
Combined mode, before you strap the other limbs to it, also looks fantastic. Better than Prime, even, because the colors are coordinated and it looks more finished. The black, silver, and grey looks unified and it doesn't feel quite so unpainted as Prime.
So what happened? Well, when you put the limbs on, you have a severe case of old man pants. This, if anything, looks worse than Prime.
Technically, it's the same flavor of bad and the same problem. The 'waist' is jacked up so high that it looks pretty bad, and you can only compensate by repositioning the legs so much. The best 'fix' still looks pretty ridiculous.
This looked bad on Prime, but we really didn't have an Ultra Prime before. There were no expectations to disappoint and we all knew it was recolored Motormaster. Motormaster and Menasor are a different matter.
We know what Menasor is supposed to look like, and while Motormaster looked pretty terrible in G1, Menasor looked decent. And Combiner Wars Menasor looks so much worse than Superion.
But more on Menasor later.
Verdict: Worth owning, especially if you didn't get Combiner Wars Prime. But, sadly, it's better as a single figure than a combiner.
And now, on to the new stuff:
In short: Best Combiner Wars figure yet. I wish all Generations/Combiner Wars were this good
Dead End is seriously awesome. Someone went the extra mile and made sure that Dead End had a killer paint job, a terrific car mode, and a nicely decorated robot mode that is different than the other Stunticons.
Where do I even start? Car mode is beautiful. The car is sleek and elegant. It has a metallic bronze racing stripe, a decepticon emblem on the hood, silver accents on the hood, gunmetal accents on the doors, and silver wheel rims. The plastic is swirly red, which gives the figure interest even where it is largely one color. It is gorgeous in a way that I am unused to seeing on Hasbro products.
Transformation is elegant. The rear parts of the car open up (which also helps to lock the car mode together), then fold back to create the lower legs. Fists fold out, shoulders rise, and the hood becomes a backpack. It is similar to Breakdown, Offroad, and Dragstrip, but different.
Robot mode has metallic bronze and gunmetal accents and a variety of color. Not quite as much paint as car mode, but I am not complaining.
Dead End is similar to RiD2015 Drift, but better in every conceivable way, from the clearance to the variety of paint and color. Hell, Dead End actually looks like one of Hasbro's photoshop jobs, but it's real.
Dead End makes a serviceable limb for Menasor, but there are some limitations, which I'll save for talking about Menasor.
Verdict: Buy this even if you hate Menasor, Stunticons, and Dead End. It's that good. Encourage Hasbro to do this more often. I may even buy another one, just so I can have the figure separate from Menasor. It's going into my list of favorites.
In short: Not quite as awesome or elegant as Dead End, but also really good.
Like Dead End, Breakdown's car mode is beautiful. The car a nice off-white, which I really appreciate since I think many of the bright white Transformers look cheap. There's the expected red accent, blue trim along the bottom, silver accents and a decepticon symbol on the hood, and painted wheel rims. The rear half of the vehicle is missing some love, being largely unpainted. It needs something. Overall, though, it looks great.
Transformation is a little more fiddly. It's different than the other Stunticons and it involves an extra hinge inside the legs. It's not impossible, but it's a little less elegant and difficult. Breakdown also seems to be hard to completely tab together in the sense that the tabs and locks are very tight. I'll take that over not having enough of them or them being inadequate, though. Breakdown has swivels on his legs that kind of baffle me -- they make the legs less stable for no reason I can really figure out.
Robot mode has silver accents and some sections painted blue. It's a bit more plain than Dead End. Breakdown has molded fists that don't fold out and are monocolor, like his arms. Breakdown has better feet, but everything else is just a little less nice.
Like Breakdown, Dead End makes a serviceable limb for Menasor with some limitations.
In short: Not a home run like Dead End, but by no means bad. Not a fan of the swivel legs, but apart from that, a solid and large-feeling toy.
In short: Well, two out of three isn't bad. After Breakdown and Dead End, this is a serious miss and Hasbro is 0 for 2 for non-original team members.
Off Road has a nice truck mode and some interesting transformation bits. However, it also has a seriously ugly backpack and the paint isn't nearly as good as the other two. This is more like a RiD2015 figure, and I don't mean that in a good way.
Vehicle mode is good. There are red speckled windows and lightning stripes on the sides. There's a small decepticon logo on the hood, on top of some gunmetal. There's also a lot of flat gray. A lot. And the gunmetal doesn't really stand out. The vehicle is hampered by the robot feet, which don't fold out of the way and have little clearance. Wheel rims are painted (yay!), but the vehicle is an uninteresting sea of gray.
Transformation is simple, with elements of the other Stunticons. Nothing terribly good or bad here. I really like the way the upper feet join with the cab.
Robot mode has silver and red paint accents, and teal plastic parts not visible in vehicle mode. The colors are good and the teal and green add interest to the figure. Unfortunately, we've got monocolor, non moving fists with panels on the other side and shoulder/upper arm panels that really need another folding joint.
All of that pales next to the backpack from hell. Seriously -- this is Pontiac Aztek bad in the sense that it's there by design and nobody bothered to fix or mitigate it. There's room, and with a little extra engineering, it could have folded more out of the way. Sadly, it is big and ugly and obvious. I have no idea what they were thinking with this. Terrible.
Offroad is a good limb in both modes, and better as an arm since it can be posed more than Breakdown/Dead End. Hasbro's toy show pictures have him as a leg, so I'll have to see if doing so leads to additional poseability.
In short: Not a total loss, but a total letdown from the other three. Where's my Wildrider?
In short: King of Mild Disappointment
I really don't want to hate on Menasor. It does a lot of things right. Menasor is imposing and large, stocky and brutal looking. If you look at it straight on, it doesn't look so bad.
Then you notice the old man pants. Menasor's waist is so high that it looks ridiculous. There are some things you can do, but they all come with serious drawbacks.
This would not be enough to sink Menasor. Unfortunately, many of the things that went right on Silverbolt and Superion also go wrong here.
1. Menasor is not nearly as poseable. The cars, especially as feet, do not bend as well as the planes. With Superion, you could unhook the mid parts and get extra articulation and flexibility. It doesn't really work with the cars. As arms, you can get a little more flex, but not as legs. This makes it much more difficult to give Menasor dynamic poses.
With Breakdown and Dead End, you can half-transform them and get articulation mid leg. However, the internal joints are not stiff enough to hold Menasor's weight, and unlike the Aerialbots, you can't really put them in a way to support the weight. Additionally, it makes Menasor's legs even longer and more ridiculous.
2. Blackjack doesn't stay put. Blackjack was designed to work with Menasor, and he falls out all the time. I had a much easier time attaching Thundercracker to Ultra Prime and that one isn't even official.
3. Worst of all: Menasor's shoulders don't lock in. Oh, there are tabs. Two of them on each shoulder. But they're weaker than the ratchet joints in the arms, meaning that any time you attach or move a limb, they are likely to dislodge. This is a serious design flaw and it really hinders enjoyment of the gestalt.
All these together produce:
4. An unstable, difficult to pose gestalt. Menasor often ends up in uncomfortable looking positions, pitched forward or backward. If you correct, he looks like a brick. When you correct, something else moves out of place. Then Blackjack falls out. The whole upper body is a mess, and if the shoulders or Blackjack don't come out, the head assembly moves.
I tried a number of different combinations. You can compensate a bit for the old man pants, but then you get less stable legs and a Menasor that is extremely difficult to pose. Or you can have a more stable Menasor with old man pants. In any case, whenever you move the arms, the shoulders typically dislodge, leading to more posing, leading to more fiddling, leading to Blackjack on the floor, leading to Blackjack being thrown across the room...
It's not terrible, but it's much more uncomfortably close to Energon Superion than Combiner Wars Superion. This makes Menasor a figure that misses the mark in some very substantial ways that make it a lot less fun to play with and pose.
That's a shame.
Unfortunately, this is not the Menasor of your dreams, and the hopes of getting something roughly equivalent to a third party figure will remain unfulfilled. You can kind of pretend, if you find a good position and never move him again or leave him in default brick mode.