My streak of Transformers combiners reviews continues with the third set of combiners, the Protectobots. This team of emergency response vehicle
themed figures was the Autobots' second combiner group in the original Generation One line. But to my knowledge, other than bootleg reissues, they
have not be produced since then. But now they are back in the form of the third combiner team to be released under the Combiner Wars banner.
Menasor better watch out cause back up is on the way for Superion.
Packaging - Grooves 6/10 Hot Spot 7/10, Others 8/10The third series into the Combiner Wars line and there is finally some consistency. And overall I really like the packaging designs. The packaging for Grooves suffers a bit simply due to the lack of room on the card. Hot Spot is a larger, Voyager class figure and comes in the same style box as Silverbolt and Motormaster. It shows off the toy well and has a decent description of the Protectobot team despite being multilingual packaging. It would be nice to show off the IDW comic artwork better. But this design works well. The deluxe figures have the best balance of all three designs. The comic artwork is nice. Both modes are shown off well on the back of the card. Again, it could use a bit more information and artwork showing off the completed Defensor. But the cards do show off the individual figures well.
Sculpting - Rook & Hot Spot 7/10, others 8/10Reusing molds is fairly common practice with Transformers. And they have gotten very good at it. That is displayed well here with the deluxe class Protectobots. Three of the four (First Aid, Streetwise and Blades) all share their basic designs with a Stunticon or Aerialbot. Yet they change enough of the parts that it is hard to notice the recycling of the designs on Streetwise and First Aid unless you put the two figures next to each other and point it out. Blades is a more of a straight up reuse of Alpha Bravo from the Aerialbots but with a new head. The vehicle mode seems more appropriate for a medical response helicopter save for the rockets that are molded onto the arms. Streetwise and First Aid both look great in both modes. Rook looks like a linebacker in robot form, including the metal bar across his face. The one thing I don't like about it is that his fist are molded into the side of cannon barrels at the end of his arms. I just don't understand why. His vehicle mode doesn't have any cannons. They aren't used in any of his forms. But because of them, he can't hold his weapon properly in robot mode. And there seems to be no point to it. Grooves is fairly lanky, but that is understandable. Finding a way to transform a motorcycle into a humanoid form is quite a challenge. And making a motorcycle this small transform into three forms is an even greater challenge. With all that into consideration, Grooves turned out quite well. And I really like having his vehicle form being in scale with his team members, or at least close to it. Finally there is Hot Spot, leader of the Protectobots. He transforms from his robot mode to a modern style, ladder fire truck. He has a much more complex transformation that his G1 incarnation. Because of that, most of his body and limbs are hollow which gives the entire figure an extremely light hefty and a slightly cheap feel. For a momment I actually thought that I might have accidently gotten a bootleg figure. But once you get used to it, Hot Spot looks pretty good. I do wish that the knees were better designed. They have so many moving parts that it can be quite annoying to get them in the right position for each mode. Once you do, it all works quite well. But if it could have been simplified, it would have been better.
Paint - First Aid & Blades 8/10, Others 6/10The Protectobots have an interesting challenge since emergency response vehicles tend to have a fairly limited color scheme, largely just white and red. I suspect that must be part of the reason why they made Hot Spot blue in the classic line and repeated that color again in the Combiner Wars line. It was a convienent way to add some other color to the figures. Both Blades and First Aid have a better balance of colors in my opinion. Streetwise is just excessively white for my tastes.
Articulation - Others 8/10At this point, looking at the third set of Combiner Wars teams, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the deluxe class figures. And there are no surprises here. Each figure has the equivalent of about a dozen points of articulation in their robot mode and a decent range of motion for that articulation to boot. Hot Spot actually has a lot more articulation, but most of it is used exxclusively for the transformation process or in the ladder assembly. I would be more impressed with him if he also had a working, extendable ladder. That might be asking a lot. But they were able to do it for the Robot In Disguise Optimus Prime and even for the G1 version of Hot Spot. But the most impressive figure is Grooves with his twelve points of articulation on a relatively tiny frame. And since half of those are ball joints, he has a great range of motion as well.
Accessories - Grooves 1/10, Hot Spot 6/10, Others 8/10Grooves is the first Combiner War figure I've opened and reviewed that didn't have any accessory weapons. He does come with a character card which has an image of him and his name on one side and the Generations line logo on the back. It's not nothing I guess. But it is pretty close. Hot Spot also comes with a similar card. But he also has a pair of guns for weapons. The deluxe Protectobots each has a pack to serve as either a foot or hand when they form Defensor, an individual weapon and a comic book. Their weapons are nothing too special. First Aid simply recycles the same battle axe as Offroad from the Stunticons. But they serve their purpose. And the inclusion of the comics is still a great little extra. With a little luck, by the time I collect all of the six combiner teams released so far, it will make a complete run of the twelve issue Combiner Wars story.
Defensor - 7/10The combined form of the Protectobots is Defensor. The big guy is the beefiest gestalt I have seen so far. He is a bit shorter than Superion or Menasor, but the large vehicles that form three of his four limbs and the way that Hot Spot transforms to form the torso gives Defensor a very solid look. He is also the first group where I will probably use the optional sixth member going forward. Grooves just hooks onto a peg on the chest. And he hangs a bit lower than I would expect. But at least he doesn't want to fall off. And he isn't just hung in his normal vehicle mode like Blackjack. I'm also not a big fan of using Rook as one of the arms as suggested on the packaging. As an arm, he has too much bulk on the upper arm and the lower half is quite plain and flat. The big guy could also use a better primary weapon. Hot Spot's two weapons can be combined into a rifle for Defensor. But he looks rather silly holding such a long, thin weapon. And when they are split apart, they don't look too impressive either. But I guess if you are a giant robot, even amongst a population of huge robots, you probably don't speak softly and you may not need to carry a big stick.
Value - Grooves 7/10, Others 8/10As with the other two teams I have already reviewed, the Protectobots are split between three different classes of Transformers, each with a different price. Grooves, the Legacy class member sells for $10 to $11. The Deluxe class limbs usually sell for $15 each, but may sell for up to $20 each depending on the store. Hot Spot sold for $25 as part of the Voyager class assortment. Overall, they are all solid figures and decent value. And given that they come together to form Defensor is a great extra. But as with the previous teams, the Legacy class member is completely optional to complete thier combined form.
Happy Hunting:The Protectobots all shipped at different times which made picking them all up after the fact a bit of a challenge. Grooves is actually still shipping as of the time of this review. But the Deluxe figures I ordered online through Big Bad Toy Store and they are still available there for close to the original retail price. For Hot Spot, I opted to buy him from eBay since I couldn't find one for a more reasonable price locally or through any of the major toy retailers' web stores. Fortunately he was not too expensive yet.