Hasbro couldn't have a line of Transformers where combining together (powerlinx) was a central theme without producing some old school
combiner teams. And they have delivered three such teams since Christmas, all themed around one of the original Generation One combiner
teams: the Aerialbots, Constructicons and Combaticons. Since each team consists of five bots, one deluxe and four basic Transformers. That's
a lot of new Transformer goodness. And it is sure to pique the interest of old school fans.
Hasbro did something quite interesting with these teams, each uses only two different molds for the four basic figures. So the completed teams consist of one deluxe figure, two basic figures and two repaints of those figures. I'm sure this is going to turn off a lot of customers who won't want to buy what is essentially two of the same figure to complete the team, and then have to do this twice! The worst thing is the fact that, as with the G1 combiner teams, all of the molds for the basic figures use the same connectors. So there is really no reason why Hasbro couldn't have mixed them up a little. They certainly could have used one of the helicopters from the military team with the aerialbot team and one of the planes as a replacement.
Packaging - 7/10Each of the five figures that make up the teams comes on their own card. The four smaller Transformers come on a slight variation of the basic cards while Steamhammer is packaged as a deluxe figure. There is only one major difference between the two styles, the basic figures are packaged on a traditional card layout while the deluxe cards are turned on their side in a landscape style layout with the bubble off to the right side. Both styles of cards have the Transformers Energon logo along with an illustration of the character's robot mode on the front. The toys themselves are packaged in their vehicle modes with any weapons and accessories displayed around them. The combiner teams do differ from the standard figures with the addition of a symbol showing which team they belong to; the figures to form Constructicon Maximus are labeled C1 through C5. The usual image of the figure's robot mode is missing from the side of the basic figure's package, replaced with an illustration of their combined form. The backs of the cards are dedicated primarily to the team aspect of the figures. There is a smaller photo of the toy in both modes, but most of the card is occupied by a large photo of the combined team with the portion formed by the individual toy highlighted while the others are semitransparent. (My guess is that Hasbro didn't want it to be immediately obvious that the limbs reused the same molds. While a tad bit deceptive for my tastes, that was probably a good idea on their part.)
Sculpting - Duststorm/Wideload 3/10, Sledge/Bonecrusher 6/10, Steamhammer 5/10Duststorm and Wideload, the cranes, have a decent vehicle mode but I really don't care for their robot forms. The vehicle mode of a mobile crane is pretty good, though the robot mode head which sits just under the rear cab for controlling the crane is quite visible. There are also some stability problems in vehicle mode. The hips can still move easily which results in the truck buckling in the middle. This is eliminated when the boom arm is locked in place at least. It is the robot mode that I dislike most. The feet are a bit too large compared to the rest of the figure. The body has an extremely boxy look to it and the head is small in comparison. But it is the arms that really disappoint me. The left arm is very boxy as it is formed from the crane cab. There is only a vague form of a fist sculpted to on the underside. And there is no right forearm, just the crane boom. Some might like the square design, but not me.
Sledge and Bonecrusher have really nice vehicle modes. And their robot modes are the best of the three. But they don't incorporate the parts of the power loader very well. In vehicle mode they look great. The large bulky tires look great as do the translucent cab windows. There robot mode is much better designed than Wideload and Duststorm, at least from the front. But from the rear you just see a mass of construction vehicle parts.
Steamhammer has a very cool old fashion style power shovel for a vehicle mode and a decent robot mode. His vehicle mode is simple; basically a box of a body on treads with a cab and shovel on the front. But I have to give them points for originality. His robot mode is nice with a a nice bulky look. but the use of the shovel for the right hand and the cab hanging off the left shoulder are kind of annoying.
Paint - Wideload 4/10, Bonecrusher 6/10, Sledge, Duststorm & Steamhammer 5/10All five members of the Constructicon Maximus team have a fairly simple paint schemes dominated by just two or three colors. But like most Transformers, the paint work is very well done. It is clean and consistent. Bonecrusher is my favorite of the five simply because his combination of tan, brown and orange work equally well both in robot and vehicle mode and is a nice change from the usual green tones used by Hasbro for construction vehicles since the original Constructicons. Sledge and Steamhammer are both decent looking, but I've seen enough of green construction vehicles, especially the lite green used for Steamhammer. Wideload and Duststorm both lack much contrast in the colors used, especially in robot mode. Duststorm is actually worse, consisting almost entirely of just two tones of blue. But at least his paint scheme is original. And the blue is better than the dull gray used on Wideload which gives much of him a generic appearance.
Articulation - Steamhammer 7/10, others 6/10All three molds used for the Constructicons have a decent level of articulation. The cranes, Wideload and Duststorm, have twelve points of articulation: knees, hips, shoulders, biceps, elbows, neck and the extendable end of the crane boom. While the number of joints is nothing impressive in this day and age, the ball joints for the hips and shoulders insure a good range of motion. Sledge and Bonecrusher have fewer joints still with just ten: knees, hips, waist, shoulders, elbows and neck. But the ball jointed knees and the longer upper arms mean that their range of motion is better than that of the other two. Steamhammer is easily the most articulated with twenty-four joints including double jointed knees, hips, shoulders and elbows, hinged toes, waist, biceps, and the bucket itself.
Accessories - Steamhammer 0/10, Sledge/Bonecrusher 4/10, Treadshot/Windrazor 2/10Steamhammer doesn't have any weapons at all. That is a real shame since he could use one as could the combined Constructicon Maximus. Wideload and Duststorm have the same two accessories: a blue energon chip and a claw. The energon chips can be clip onto their spark crystals. The claws are a fairly weak choice for a weapon. They are supposed to be used in the combined form as a hand. But since I use both cranes as legs, they end up being used as toes and to keep the crane booms in place. Sledge and Bonecrusher have the same energon chips as well as their own weapon. But their weapon is rather strange. It can be attached to the back of the figures in vehicle mode to be used like a clamping fork lift. In their combined mode it serves as either the sole of the foot or a hand. But it is largely useless to them in their robot mode. It can be held like some sort of club, but that is decidedly low tech for a bunch of transforming robots. Heck, even the Dinobots had swords.
Special Notes - transformationThe transformations for the basic figures are pretty simple, as one would expect. But they are still a few steps above the old fashion stand them up and pull out the arms and legs transformations of the G1 figures. And they are quite stable in either mode. Steamhammer is slightly more complex. His robot mode is quite stable. But the cab and boom for the shovel don't lock into place in vehicle mode.
Constructicon Maximus is the best of the three powerlinx combiner teams, or at least he can be. The default way to build him, with one of the cranes and one of the power loaders as arms and the other two as the legs results in the same problems that the other powerlinx teams have, a robot that can't stand straight. But by using Duststorm and Wideload as the legs, you get a stable bot that can stand easily. Plus Constructicon Maximus has the closest thing to a true set of articulated hands in the form of the weapons for Bonecrusher and Sledge. He is still lacking a proper weapon though and the large bucket from Steamhammer looks rather strange sitting right next to his head.
Value - Wideload/Duststorm 5/10, others 6/10As a deluxe figure, Steamhammer will run between $10 and $11 in most stores. The others should be available for around $7. Individually they aren't a bad value. It is the lack of proper weapons that hurts their scores most. As a group their ability to combine into Constructicon Maximus is a bonus. But since few people would buy both Sledge and Bonecrusher or Wideload and Duststorm unless they were needed to form the big guy, that value is offset.
Happy Hunting:All five figures should be readily available at most toy retailers such as Target, Kmart or Toys R Us. Your luck at Wal-marts will depend on how well they sold during the holidays. Most Wal-mart stores received a pallet sized display around Thanksgiving that included Steamhammer, Sledge and Duststorm as well as three of the figures to form Superion Maximus. They didn't sell well around here. As a result, all of the Wal-marts are choked with those six figures. One store even resorted to clearancing them out at half price.