Alright, time for something a little different, a bootleg. For those who may not know what a bootleg toy is; it is a copy of licensed product
produced without permission. They can take many forms, anything from poor quality toys designed to have a passing resemblance to the license
to exact copies of existing toys. Depending on where you live, bootlegs can be fairly rare or run rampant. And one of the most popular lines
to bootleg has always been Transformers. While bootlegs are not very common in my area, but in the last couple of years I have seen bootleg
sets of the original Generation One combiner sets. Bootlegs of the Constructicon figures have been around for ages, but other combiner teams
have also been bootlegged including the Protectobots, Aerialbots and Combaticons. Menasor, now called Ses-bot, is the latest set that I've
found, though it has been floating around for some time.
Packaging - 3/10Like most of the combiner team bootlegs, Ses-bot comes in a combination blister card and box. The figures and parts are held in a blister on a large card, about thirteen inches square. The card is then packed in a box with very little front panel. The sides show the figures in their various forms: vehicle, robot and combined. The back is completely used for the poorly drawn instructions to transform each figure. Not a lot of effort went into making the packaging attractive, it is pretty purely functional.
Sculpting - 2/10They say that hindsight is always twenty-twenty. But obviously that isn't quite true when it is obscured by nostalgia. Compared to modern toys, these are pretty bad. Motormaster (the semi), now called Skirmisher, is the best of the set. The details are still sharp and the parts fit together well. The two technobots who somehow found their way into the set, Nosecone (drill) and Afterburner (cycle), now called Artillerist and Shooter both turned out well. My Shooter seems to have a striped screw though as one of the seams is splitting slightly. Dragstrip (formula 1 style car) and Breakdown (lamborgini), now called Brain Man and Barrack are pretty sad. I suspect they must have been constructed at least in part with new molds. The parts don't fit together well. Barrack in particular looks like parts from half a dozen wrecked vehicles were cobbled together. If these are the molds that made the cut to be included in the set, I hate to think what the missing figures would have looked like.
Paint/decals - 2/10I'll give the set a couple of points based on the strength of Skirmisher's paint and the decals for his vehicle mode. The other figures are lacking in paint; they have only one or two paint applications each. And the decals on all of the figures are a joke. They look bad. They are printed on poor quality stock. And they are poorly applied, often horribly misapplied. The fact that Artillerist and Shooter have both Autobot and Decepticon symbols on them shows just how little thought went into them. (I guess it is pretty easy to be a double agent in the bootleg version of the Transformers Universe.)
Articulation - 1/10Aside from the articulation used in the transformations, the combiner figures are generally limited to just two points of articulation: rotating shoulders. Their combined form is a hair better. The rotating shoulders are the only true articulation, but the wrists can be turned at the connecting point as well to form makeshift joints. I wouldn't advise doing this much though, as it is only the friction of the peg which holds the hands in place. Should the plastic wear down, the hands would just fall off.
Accessories - 2/10The set comes with three weapons and the seven parts needed to form Ses-bot. Motormaster/Skirmisher's gun is included as are the two weapons which mount to the side of shooter in his vehicle mode. But that means three of the five figures are unarmed. And shooter can't use his weapons in robot mode, though they can be used by the combined Ses-bot. The parts to form Ses-bot are pretty basic: two foot platforms, an armor plate for the figure's hips, an armor plate for the chest, two fists and a clip on head. The fit isn't great. I had to use a pair of pliers to bend the pegs to make the chest armor fit.
Value - 8/10The biggest advantage to bootlegs is the price. Since they didn't pay for the license or the original development cost, they're usually pretty cheap. The combiner sets sell for anywhere from $5 to $10. Considering that is less than the original cost of just Skirmisher/ Motormaster back when these were first released in the eighties and on par with just one, basic level Transformer today, getting the whole set for that is an excellent value.
Happy Hunting:They may be cheap, but they aren't always easy to find. The combiner sets pop up here and there on a fairly regular basis. You probably aren't going to find them on the shelves at Wal-mart or Toys R Us. I found this set at a KB Toys Outlet store. In the past I have also seen them at Big Lots, Family Dollar and Shopko stores. Walgreens stores also carry some bootleg transformers, but usually only individually carded, not in sets. Hey these are illegal copies, you didn't think they would be easy to find did you?