Combiner Wars Stunticons / Menasor Review

  Posted in Reviews, Toys and Collectibles on May 20th, 2015 by JediTricks TF

Stunticons-125Transformers Combiner Wars had a mission, in wave 1 it was Superion so for wave 2 it was completing his rival, Menasor. The Stunticons are nearly defined by how they differ from their rivals, the Aerialbots: where the Aerialbots are Autobots patrolling the skies, the Stunticons are Decepticons punishing the roads. Where the Aerialbots have guns, the Stunticons have melee weapons. Where the Aerialbots work together in harmony to form Superion, the Stunticons are a ruled by the iron fist of Motormaster and have clashing personalities leading to the chaos that is Menasor. Where Superion is a heavy G1 throwback, Menasor is a more modern style. As part of the Transformers brand’s May Mayhem, the last classic member of the team, Wildrider, is getting released as a shared online exclusive on May 22nd.

As part of this review, the focus will be on their vehicle modes as a group, their robot modes as a group, and of course on their combined form, Menasor.

The Stunticons team is comprised of:

Stunticons Vehicle Modes: All of the Stunticons are road vehicles, and while only Breakdown remains in his classic G1 form, the others are all modern-day homages to their G1 origins. The Stunticons have brought new characters on the tea, Blackjack and Offroad, who aren’t a bad fit. Where the G1 vehicles were all race cars and sports cars except for Motormaster, adding Offroad as a sports truck changes the dynamic only slightly and feels more like a connective premise between the speedy cars and the lumbering semi tractor of Motormaster. The Stunticons’ vehicle modes all feel pretty complete and are a lot more satisfying than the Aerialbots in this form.

The deluxe-class Stunticons integrate their hand/foot accessories into vehicle modes better than their goody-two-shoes counterparts, the Aerialbots. Their other accessories in vehicle mode aren’t as lucky, with weapons just attached willy-nilly except for the Dead End/Brake-Neck mold that gets a nice added exhaust pipe to the side.

Stunticon Robot Modes: This is a team whose dynamic is worn on their sleeves — they are all different colors and designs, it’s not exactly exactly clashing because they are all Decepticons, but they are clearly separate on purpose. Where the Aerialbots felt underbaked, the Stunticons in robot mode feel more complete as if the designers learned and kept designing. There’s also more variety in transformations, Offroad borrows the transformation scheme from the Aerialbots but the other Stunticons all have more unique ideas in transforming. And where the Aerialbots are almost slavishly G1, the Stunticons feel like they take cues from the past but are looking towards today as much as anything. That said, there is still a simplicity to most of the deluxe-class bots.

The Stunticons all have melee weapons, suggesting a greater brutality. The theme mostly edged weapons – swords and axes – though Dead End and Brake-Neck have a club. Everybody but Blackjack also gets a gun, the deluxes get their various hand/foot accessories as guns, and Motormaster gets a separate sword and rifle.  Breakdown and Drag Strip’s swords are also designed to intentionally double as guns. Just like their owners, the accessories are fairly varied but none are substantially worse than the others, and nobody is sharing a single accessory unlike those pesky Aerialbots; Offroad and Breakdown get arguably the best hand/foot weapons.

Combined Mode – Menasor: If everything is so solid in vehicle and robot modes, it’s a shame combined mode couldn’t hold up as well. Menasor is underwhelming thanks largely to the combiner component design of Motormaster. The designers went for a much bulkier look at the cost of everything else, and that cost was steep. Where Superion was a well-proportioned combiner, Menasor is 66% legs and 33% torso. Where Superion holds together fairly well, Menasor’s shoulders come apart very easily and Blackjack as the chest plate falls right off due to poor peg design on Motormaster. Where Superion is somewhat poseable, Menasor’s shoulders block a lot of range of movement from the arms and his legs are locked into an odd angle with minimal hip movement — even setting aside the oddity of the crotch plate in the way.

Menasor’s sculpting feels more modern than Superion. The head is based more on the IDW comics design, the open chest has detailing similar to Transformers Age of Extinction Galvatron’s, even the sword is much more of a current look over the simplicity of those ’80s sword accessories. The arms make more interesting shapes than the “airplane stretched into arm” of his nemesis, and the robot arms are better dealt with than the Aerialbots where the robot arms are just out there in limb mode. Those Stunticon arms are also a bit more bulky than their G1 forms because they are flat-on instead of side-on, so only Offroad keeps it looking trim at the forearm. The robot thighs as the middle of the arms also seem gappy and out of proportion to the larger segments above and below. Blackjack as a chest plate is a lot of bulk and just looks like someone slapped a car on the big guy. Most of the leg modes look like cars (and trucks) with the front end flopped off, but Drag Strip has a little more going on and makes for a unique leg.

Menasor weighs 1.4 pounds and stands about 11.25 inches tall, he’s a touch taller than Superion and considerably bulkier. While the limbs do their jobs pretty well and are solid all around, Motormaster as mentioned has problems dealing with everything. The neck plate has a small gap under it where it meets the torso. The shoulders are so wide that the figures run right into it, Breakdown can’t even mount as an arm due to issues on both sides. The chest can’t hold Blackjack in place. The waist is tiny. The hips are formed at an odd angle due to the clunky ratchets, and Motormaster’s hip rotation joints aren’t quite tight enough to carry all that weight securely so he occasionally loses it and tips over. The upper thighs lock together with a plate that keeps the hip rotation joint from actually being able to engage, and further keeps the legs splayed out so if you want straight legged poses you have to unlatch the upper thigh plate first and change the angles, otherwise you have no functional hip articulation. Even if you do use the hip articulation, there’s a large crotch plate hanging from a hinged arm that has to be moved considerably out of the way. And all that aside, if you just transform Menasor normally and keep his arms down, the figure leans back considerably because the upper body weight is too much for the knee combiner joints on the deluxes.

As for deco, there is that intentional sense of disharmony, with everybody being a different color except Brake-Neck and Offroad who are both gray with red, and that gray is somewhat similar to Motormaster’s gray. Using Offroad as an arm exposes teal which welcomely adds to the mish-mosh that is Menasor.

The combined sword accessory looks great, very silver, very detailed, not too small but not overly big; there is a 5mm peg sticking out one side though. The Stunticons’ various hand/foot accessories all have that knuckleduster design in hand mode, but most don’t feel as much like ranged weapons as the ones on Superion, again leading to more of a melee fighter feel for this team — Menasor would rather brutally brawl than shoot a gun.

Overall: As a team of individual bots, the Stunticons get most everything right. Their variety sells the fiction of their clashing personalities yet their similarities sell the idea of them being a team. In both vehicle and robot modes, the sculpts are a little more modern, the designs have a little more variety from each other, and the weapons are more enjoyable. So as individuals, this is a pretty great team.

Unfortunately, where the Stunticons come up short is their combined form. Menasor is a half-baked wreck with ideas that seem incomprehensible how they made it to final design stage, and nearly all of those problems are from trying to make Motormaster carry too much bulk instead of staying a more balanced combiner the way Superion is. That huge chest takes too much of the resources out of the lower half of the body, and the massive shoulders unintentionally cause clearance issues on the arms. The chest plate premise doesn’t work that well as-is, but it’s much worse when the chest pegs can’t hold it in place. The head sculpt is fairly angry and satisfying, the interior chest detailing is interesting enough, and the doors don’t look too bad closed. But Menasor’s leg joints don’t do a good enough job keeping this figure upright, and poseability is limited. The accessories are fun and look good with the combined from, but the Menasor recipe is definitely less than the sum of its parts.

At the end of the day, once again the Stunticons stand in stark comparison to the Aerialbots with satisfying individual modes and a middling combiner mode. Most combiners end up shelf-queens – figures put up and left on a shelf without any further use – so in that respect if you don’t mind how leggy he is, Menasor can do that for you. But as a more rounded figure, Menasor is a tough sell.

So the recommendation is that the individual Stunticons are satisfying on their own and worth getting, while the combined Menasor is more of a bonus than a main attraction. If you don’t want to do much posing of Menasor, the combined form might be acceptable enough, but overall I wouldn’t recommend it highly if that is your chief focus.

Review samples supplied by Hasbro, Dead End purchased separately

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