While I may dedicate most of my attention as a collector to the Ninja Turtle toy lines. That isn't my only interest. Of course very few lines have
remained popular as long as the TMNT. But I've been buying Transformers for even longer. In fact, I bought my very first Ninja Turtle figure, a soft
head Michaelangelo because I didn't have enough money to complete my set of Terrorcons. Even then, I had a particular soft spot for the larger
Transformers and especially for the combiner groups. But I only had two complete combiners as a kid, Devestator and Abominus. So ever since then,
if and when Hasbro has revisited the combiner concept, it always gets my attention, and usually my money. And for the last year or so, Hasbro
has been focusing their Transformers Generations toy line on just that. Taking inspiration from IDW Comics' Combiner War story line, they have been
recreating most of the G1 combiner teams as modern Transformer figures. I managed to resist these modern incarnations for quiter some time. But
they finally broke my resolve a few months ago when they released some of the very first G1 Transformer characters I ever owned as combiners. Of course,
when I fell off the wagon, I fell hard. So I now have six complete combiner teams waiting for my attention. The first team up for review is the
first to be released in the the Generations line, a modern version of the Aerialbots.
The Combiner War figures are split up between the deluxe and voyager class Transformers. Each team consists of a voyager class figure for the torso and four smaller deluxe figures for the limbs, much like the original combiner teams. A few of the new combiner teams also have an optional, sixth member in the form of a legends class figure that forms either optional armor or a weapon. In the case of the Aerialbots, this modern version has the option of including Powerglide as an additonal weapon. (And I just so happen to already own Powerglide!) So lets get on with it and form Superion.
Packaging - Air Raid 8/10, Others 5/10The deluxe class figures (Air Raid, Skydive, Alpha Bravo and Firefly) are packaged on the traditional action figure blister card while their voyager class leader, Silverbolt is packaged in a window box. The blister card packaging received a slight overhaul between the release of Skydive, Firefly and Alpha Bravo and Air Raid's release in the following series. I really like the design, particularly the use of artwork from the IDW comics on the front of the cards. The redesigned packages used for Air Raid uses an actual, physical comic book instead of having the art on the card itself. In either form, the artwork does a terrific job of showing the characters in action and making them appear to have some personality. The back of each card has photos of the toy in both forms as well as a line art diagram of the combined form and photos of all of the figures that make it up. Transformers always have the disadvantage of needing to show off the toy in two different forms, or three in the case of the combiners. They do a decent job of showing off the robot and alt form. But they don't show off Superion very well. The first series releases are also strange in that they show Dragstrip, one of the Stunticons, in place of Air Raid since he had not been released yet. That always struck me as being incredibly silly when I first saw it in stores. It was actually a big part of why I ignored these figures for so long. That was fixed with Air Raid since all of the figures had been released at that point. And all of the figures since then have had the correct team members listed on the packages.
Sculpting - 8/10The combiner teams have always held far more potential than they were actually able to deliver. The idea of combining five Transformers together made them pretty impressive during the generation one releases. But the actual figures were generally boxy and a bit generic looking in order to be able to form the limbs. And when combined, Superion was fairly clunky too. They improved that quite a bit with the Energon version. But the trade off was that they reused the same two molds for all four limbs. But Hasbro seems to have finally gotten all the components right with this version of the Aerialbots. Each figure has a distinct looking robot and vehicle form. The only complaints I have about either forms is that Alpha Bravo's helicopter doesn't seem to taper enough at the tail, making it look more like a submarine than a helicopter. And, as with the vintage version, Silverbolt has a large chunk of folded up robot mounted under the body of his plane form. It would never work in terms of aerodynamics. But I don't mind it too much aesthetically. In robot mode, each figure does have a lot of airplane parts hanging off of their backs. But I've certainly seen Transformers with worse issue with alt mode kibble. And I really like how they changed up the bodies so there is no obvious parts reuse even if they all use a very similar overall design.
Paint - 6/10The paint work for all five Aerialbots is well done, but fairly limited. There is enough painted on each figure to replicate the color schemes of the classic G1 characters and not much more. There is a lot of detail work on the sculpts for these figures. If they were fully painted, they could look amazing. But even without all that work, they still look good in all three forms.
Articulation - Deluxe figures 8/10, Silverbolt 7/10The deluxe sized Aerialbots each has the equivalent of about a dozen points of articulation each. That includes ball joints for the hips, shoulders and neck, rotating joints in the upper arms and thighs and hinged knees and elbows. That gives their robot modes a terrific range of motion. Silverbolt is a bit more limited due to the use of ratcheting rotating joints instead of ball joints. It seems like overkill for Silverbolt. But his arm joints also serve as the hips and knees for Superion. So it makes sense for them to be beefier than would be necessary just for Silverbolt.
Accessories - Air Raid 7/10, others 5/10Here we come to the first area where the new Aerialbots are not clearly superior to the two prior versions. Silverbolt comes with two guns, a long barrel rifle and a pistol which he can use separately or can be combined to form a large gun for Superion. All of the deluxe figures come with a small weapon to use in their robot mode and a large accessory that is a combination weapon and fist or foot for Superion. The small weapons are fairly non-descript guns which lack any paint and are clearly hollow when viewed from one side. I'm disappointed that they didn't find a better way to use or incorporate the accessories into the alt modes. (I guess I've been spoiled by the old Alternators and Masterpiece line.) They do include a few extras. Silverbolt, Alpha Bravo, Firefly and Skydive each come with a character card that just has the Transformers Generations logo on one side and a comic image of the character and their name. These could be nice if they put a character bio or other information about the character on the card. Without that, the cards seem rather pointless. They changed this up with the next series of deluxe figure in which Air Raid was included. The card was dropped in favor of a reprinted copy of one of the comics from the IDW Combiner Wars story event. This seems like a great idea to me. I have been a fan of the Transformers comics since I was a kid. So it's great to see IDW's version getting more exposure with fans. They even replaced the rear cover with a large character sheet that has photos of both modes, and a quick description of Air Raid's personality as written by the psychitrist character from IDW's comic, Rung. The inclusion of the comic seems like a great bonus to me. It gives you the background for all of these combiner groups, especially the ones that weren't combiners in the original toy line. But it does have one slight problem. The comic is called Combiner Wars #7, but it is actual a reprint of Transformers: Robots in Disguise #15. It has nothing to do with the Combiner Wars story arc. It does at least have Devastator in it, so there is one combiner team present. Including an older story for the comic isn't an issue. But not labeling where it actually came from means that if someone likes the comic and wants more, it is difficult to know where to start. Hopefully it will bring in some additional fans to IDW's comics anyway and prove to be a win/win. Now if Hasbro and Marvel will just take note for the Marvel Legends line.
Superion - 8/10The individual Aerialbots are certainly an improvement over their G1 counterparts. But it's their combined form of Superion where the team really shines. The Combiner Wars version of Superion looks like he stepped right out of the comics.He is well proportioned with the minor exception of his fists which are a bit too large. And overall, Superion is about the perfect size at just under twelve inches tall. It makes him large enough to look imposing compared to most Transformers but still allow for even larger characters such as Omega Supreme or Metroplex. I also like that other than the hand/feet attachments, there are no additional parts necessary to complete the combined form as with the original version. The only slight disappointment I have is with Powerglide's optional weapon form which looks nothing like a weapon instead of the mangled airplane that it actually is. That's not really an issue for me. I bought Powerglide previously simply to be an updated version of Powerglide. But if I had paid extra to get him, I would have been quite disappointed.
Value - 8/10The deluxe class Transformers that form Superion's limbs sell for $15 to $20 each depending upon the store. The Voyager class Silverbolt will set you back $25 unless you are fortunate enough to pick him up on sale as I did. (And if you really want Powerglide, he sells for $10.) So in total, completing Superion would cost $85 to $90. Unfortunately, finding all of the Aerialbots at retail can be a challenge since they were the first combiner team released by Hasbro under the Combiner War name. So they don't appear to be shipping to stores anymore. Hasbro has released a box set with the complete Aerialbots team, including Powerglide, in their G2 colors more recently. But at $100 for the set, you may actually be paying more for the box set.
Happy Hunting:The Aerialbots were the first combiner team released for the Combiner Wars line. So they haven't been shipping in the US for some time. I was able to order a set from Big Bad Toy Store for roughly $120. That might not have been the cheapest option for getting a full set of Aerialbots, it was the fastest and most convenient. Right now, the G2 colors box set is the easiest way to get the whole group. And it is available from the web stores of most of the major toy retailers. (Walmart, Toys R Us & Target at the least.)