Combiner Wars Motormaster Review

  Posted in Reviews, Toys and Collectibles on May 11th, 2015 by JediTricks TF

Motormaster-113Combiner Wars voyager-class Motormaster is the classic leader of the Stunticons, a tyrannical crusher of both his enemies and his team. Motormaster transforms into a semi-tractor truck, as well as the central component of Menasor; he comes with 2 accessories, a pistol and a sword, which combine to make Menasor’s mighty sword. Motormaster shares a design and parts with Combiner Wars Optimus Prime, but seems like the better use of the mold. Read on for the full review and photos, and note this review is for Motormaster only, the full Mensaor review is coming last in the series. 

Packaged: Menasor is in the standard Combiner Wars voyager-class box, and ships with a collector card featuring character art. The back of the packaging features 4 different languages.

Vehicle Mode: Motormaster is a sleek semi-tractor truck, a rounded extended-cab affair that doesn’t quite seem like something seen on the American roads but perhaps Japan or Europe. Unlike his G1 counterpart he doesn’t include a trailer. The dark gray plastic with purple and silver painted details looks nice, although the metallic lavender windows are incomplete on the sides, and the gold painted lights get visually lost. The silver grille with tiny purple Decepticon emblem in the center is a standout touch. The sculpted detail is at a decent level for a vehicle like this, although Menasor’s crotch plate just being at the back of the cab is a bit odd. Everything tabs together to make a solid vehicle, but if something is off inside the parts and panels pull at each other (you can see this in my photos at the side silver plates, they kept popping the panels ahead of them out due to the head inside the rear half being slightly out of alignment, it actually can be done better so everything’s closer and better-aligned but during photography it wasn’t obvious). Vehicle mode rolls well once everything is aligned properly.

Both Motormaster’s weapons can be stored at the rear of the truck, although where the sword goes isn’t obvious at first since it tabs directly to the side of the pistol. The truck has a trio of 5mm pegholes including one formed by the 5th-wheel, but annoyingly they chose to use a pair of small tabs in the holes that correspond to notches in the pistol handle; it’s likely this was done to keep the sword from sticking straight up out of this section as Hasbro has a policy against toys with pointy objects facing straight up off the floor in case a small child falls on them.

Robot Mode: Transformation is an interesting affair that has a lot of parts folding and rotating about, it’s pretty satisfying, and the head reveal is novel with the neck plate rotating laterally on the central axis.

Motormaster cuts a nice figure, he’s bulky and looks tough. The sculpt borrows considerably from the G1 cartoon over the toy itself, right down to the box closely surrounding the head, but he’s clearly been hitting the gym. The sculpted detailing is adequate, decent even, but the lower arms and legs are left a bit too simple. The deco with dark gray and black plastics is as Decepticon as it gets, although the purple paint on the black-painted chest does get a bit lost. The forearms do have a bit of kibble even extending past the fists.

Articulation is where Motormaster starts to suffer, he’s got plenty but some of it undercuts the figure. He’s got a ball-jointed head, universal-jointed shoulders and hips, rotation biceps and thighs, hinged elbows and knees, and a rotation waist; due to transformation you can have him bend upwards at the stomach. Unfortunately, Hasbro designed ratchets into his shoulders and hips that are spaced way too far apart so they force very wide, unsatisfying poses without a lot of patience (note that there aren’t any posed photos below, that wasn’t an oversight). There isn’t even play in the joints, they spring a lot when moved but remain at pre-determined ratchet spots. With the feet sculpted at a slight angle for a spread-leg pose about halfway between what the ratchets allow, posing challenges increase slightly.

Motormaster comes with a pair of silver-painted accessories, a large pistol/rifle and a sword. Both have layered angles and cutouts that feel very modern, they’re fun and dynamic. The sword has an unpainted hilt long enough to fit in either fist hole. The pistol’s grip is unpainted until it reaches the trigger, then it has silver everywhere right up to the tiny tabs at the end of the barrel which end up getting rubbed back to gray when held by any closed fist hole.

Combiner Component: Motormaster makes for a bulky central component, but one that has a myriad of issues. What works includes an angry headsculpt with hard plastic horns, all inspired by the IDW comics iteration; the closed chest design based on the G1 figure’s roller car accessory chest piece; and the open chest’s heavy sculpted detailing that may have been inspired by Transformers Age of Extinction Galvatron. The deco is pretty decent, balancing black and dark gray, and a very silver face with angry red eyes. The head articulation is a ball-joint that acts as a rotation sitting on top of a hinge.  The combiner joints are a slide-in design that has an angled, hinged plate inside to hold the limb in place rather than sliding back out of the joint.

Motormaster’s hips make for lousy combiner hips, unfortunately. The upper legs are too long since so much bulk went into the upper torso, but that’s not the biggest issue. Just as in robot mode, the ratchet stops are too far apart, but now the robot knees are intentionally bent at 75 degrees (the fold-up plate locks onto the thighs)  so instead of being entirely upright they go either way inside so the legs are pointing towards each other by 30 degrees, or are too far apart to actually stay upright. The options for dealing with that problem are to use the weight of the combined figure to hold the far-apart pose nearly upright, or unlock the thighs and bend the knees to a different angle; either way you’ll end up with a Menasor that has a hard time staying upright. There’s a few fixes/hacks out there that can address this, from removing the ratcheting and tightening up the rest of the joint, to actually swapping out the ratchet with a 3rd-party model, but we shouldn’t have to fix Hasbro’s mistakes.

If that weren’t bad enough, the shoulders Motormaster don’t hold together well, often coming apart whenever changing limbs. That would be minor except there is so much bulk ahead of the true shoulder that some of the combiners as arms run into this and hang up on it, most notoriously Breakdown who as an arm can’t move at all without something running into the Motormaster shoulder. And to top it off, they just left the Motormaster fists dangling out at the top. There also is a weird gap under the neck panel, and I’m not in love with the waist armor just kinda being on a floating, hinged arm that you can reposition lower if you don’t mind how bad that looks. And then there’s the problem with the pegs on the open chest that are supposed to accommodate Blackjack, but instead are a touch too slim and have sculpted stops too shallow.

Motormaster’s weapons do combine to make a very cool longsword, very unified-looking due to the sculpts on the accessories. Seriously, this thing is great, the whole thing is 6.5 inches long while the blade is 4.5 inches long. The blade on my sample mounts a few degrees off straight and may be a flaw in the mold, but it’s barely noticeable. It’s going to be challenging to top this combiner accessory in my eyes.

Overall: As a stand-alone figure, Motormaster has a lot of presence and a mostly pleasing aesthetic in both vehicle and robot mode. The screwy design on the side-ratcheting hips does knock this figure down in multiple modes. As a central combiner, it’s a lot of little frustrations and a couple big ones; the combiner mode isn’t a total disaster but it’s closer to that than ideal. Motormaster’s accessories tip the scales slightly back in this figure’s favor though, they’re great. So it’s a good Transformer but a weak combiner component.

Review sample supplied by Hasbro

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