Released in 1989, the Multiforce (not to be confused with the Diaclone Multi-force 14) were in many ways the Autobot nemeses to the Decepticon Dinoforce and Breastforce, but unlike those characters these toys had no Western equivalents or re-purposes like Monstructor or The Rescue Force.



Reissue packaging – check the instruction numbering visible through the packaging, denoting what figure is inside.


Never released in the West in any form, they were however more widely available in 2004 when Takara reissued them, and the change in retail patterns meant many retailers imported these into Western territories, and some consumers just ordered direct from Japan using the internet.  The reissues were also the first time these characters were available separately, as they were originally released in twin-packs and as a six-pack.




Today we’ll be looking at the 2004 reissues, and their chase variants.  The only difference between the originals and the reissues are the addition of tampographs to replace stickers, and some shade variations in the plastic colour.

The Multiforce

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So, from left to right, we have Tacker, Dash, Waver, Tackle, Wing, and Mach.  From here it gets a bit more confusing, so pay attention, there will be questions at the end.


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These figures can be combined with any other figure to make a unique robot mode (similar to the combining concept in the Energon range).  The most common of these are WingWaver, DashTacker, and MachTackle (I capitalise to clarify the character divide), because of the original Japanese twin-pack releases, but because each character features both a small robot head and a larger combined robot head,  you can invert any combination to make characters such as WaverWing, TackerDash, and TackleMach.


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Dashtacker, Machtackle, and Wingwaver – the traditional two-man combined forms.

But you’re not limited to these options, you can have TackerTackle, MachWing, WingMach, or any other combination, a total of 30 different combination options!  A nightmare for collectors who like to have multiples to display in every mode, as they’d need 8 sets to display them in individual robot, two-man combiners, six-figure combiner, and alt. modes.  Plus a ninth and tenth set if you collect boxed versions as well!  Insane.  If you really, REALLY want to, you can combine multiples to make characters such as MachMach or WingWing.


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The individual robot modes are basic and don’t expect too much from them, as the emphasis with these toys is on the combining on combining gimmick and as such the individual proportions feel a bit off.  The vehicle modes feel more satisfying and complete as they are nice and solid, and functional as a kids toy too.  The two-man combiners feel a bit more proportionate and thought-out, but these vary greatly depending on which of the 30 combinations you decide upon, and I always feel these is where the most design attention time was spent.


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The six man combined mode is how the majority of collectors will probably opt to display this figure.  The chest plate is classic retro Takara design, feels somehow closer to early Diaclone or Scramble City than 1989 era, and in many ways the same can be said for the amazing head design.  I always felt the FOC Ruination figure used the Landcross head as it’s major influence.  Unfortunately, this set of figures is a bit lousy with parts storage, especially considering how good Devastator was at utilising parts in vehicle modes, and the hip-plate, chest-plate, hands, feet and head are just kind of put to one side when not combined.  The one shining part of the combiner parts are the way the individual hand-guns combine to make a six-piece mega-cannon similar to TFC Hercules, which – if it was released now from a third party- would probably have a cool-ass name.

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Shockingly, we never got an update to this character during Combiner Wars, even one that ignored the two-man combination gimmick.  Seemed like an obvious one to me, as it’s a simpler build than Raiden and more akin to the Scramble City figures.

Stealth Multiforce

Takara stirred the pot by including 2 “stealth mode” variants in every solid case of 12 (similar to the Micromaster combiners around the same time, to the point that this reissue of the Multiforce was actually branded DX Micromasters, when they really were nothing like Micromasters), meaning that in order to collect a full set of the Stealth Mode Landcross variant you had to buy three whole cases and hope there were no duplicates.


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The black individual robot modes feature basic minor stickering, and white-outlined Autobot logos.  In some ways this is a limitation, as I tend to always prefer to think of most “Stealth-mode” black repaints as Decepticons, as part of my totally headcanon Black Redeco Clan.  I guess I can repro-label these however I want now I’ve finally tracked them down, 12 years after they came out.


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As with the normal colours, these combine into two-man configurations.  If you mix the black repaints with the normal released sets, you have a quite mental potential of 72 different two-man combinations.  Again, I personally would have preferred red eyes and visors on all of these guys, and while they’re an easy fix, it’s such a rare set I don’t really want to take paint to it.


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In alt. mode, these guys feature universal silver paint detailing for all windshields, which really helps unite these as a cool-looking team compared to the normal Multiforce.  A rarely seen feature of these guys is that you can (sort of) combine the vehicle modes.  It’s not really an advertised feature or in anyway an official , more a convenient leave-over from the way the two-man combiner ports are still accessible in alt. mode, although the way the ports are situated means you are limited to which ones take the front and rear positions.


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Stealth Landcross

Combined mode is more of the same.  He looks a bit more imposing in solid black, and I’m almost tempted to swap his charcoal grey head and chest plate for the black of the regular Landcross, but I guess this gives it a little bit of contrast.

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Overall, I find this a very fun set to own, and it really is one of the rarer reissue variants that does the rounds, much harder to find than most of the Chase variants from the 200x Micromaster reissues.  I’m a sucker for G1 variants, obscure Japanese G1, and I’ve always been one for the black repaint, so this was always going to be one for me to collect.  Even if I’d prefer it if he’d been a Decepticon.


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If you can track these down, I would recommend it, even if you can only find the original colour schemes.  They make an excellent addition to any G1 collections, and give the Autobots some much needed reinforcements in the combiner stakes, as this is one of the few areas where Decepticons outnumber the good guys.


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These guys have never been re-worked for any other toyline, not even Kreo, and have had very few media appearances outside of Victory, except for a brief SG cameo.  There have not been any 3rd party toys announced for these guys, they’ve had pretty much zero love from the fandom since their original incarnation.  If you want to experience the Multiforce, this is your only bet.


These are not your father’s Gobots.


So, just what is Machine Robo?  It’s a Japanese toyline released by a subsidiary of Bandai known as Popy in 1982, known as Robo Machine in Europe and Machine Men in Australia.  Starting in 1984 these toys were distributed in the UK and the USA by Tonka Toys as Gobots.  It’s a toyline with very similar origins and distribution deals to Transformers, and ran parallel to that series, arguably as the Pepsi to Transformer’s Coca-Cola.  When Japan got the Marvel / Sunbow animated series in 1985, Machine Robo responded with the 1986 TV show Machine Robo: Revenge of Chronos (distributed in the UK as Revenge of the Gobots), produced by Ashi Productions.


Courtesy of BWTF!

Due to a series of convoluted events and buy-outs, in 1991 Hasbro purchased the rights and the names to the entire Gobot franchise, but not the likeness rights, meaning they are free to use the names (as with their Pre-school Gobots range, and the use of Leader-1 with Armada Megatron) but they cannot re-release the toys or redesign them / update them for the current market.  There have been a few homages, such as with the eHobby release of the minibotsas GoBots and the TFCC release of Bugbite, but these have all been Transformer’s likenesses carrying re-purposed Gobot names.


Clockwise from top left: Pathfinder, Smallfoot, Bugbite, Bad Boy, Treds, and Road Ranger


These new releases, designed by Lu.K of the Awaken studio and produced and distributed by Action Toys (copyright Production Reed) will only see official distribution in the East.  Spencer from Action Toys confirmed (in this great interview) that this new toyline will only feature characters used in the Revenge of Chronos anime, so unfortunately this is not the full Machine Robo / Gobot revival that some people may have hoped for, any many fan favourite characters will see a release, but for this collector, I am happy to take what we get and I am pleased that they have figures planned for the next 2/3 years.

Let’s take a look at what we have so far:

(Note:  Machine Robo Series 01: Bike Robo – also known as Cy-kill – has not been released yet as Action Toys are working hard to perfect the mold, rather than released an inferior product.  While it’s disappointing for some, I admire the dedication to the quality of product.)

Machine Robo Series 02: Rod Drill

Rod Drill was first released as MR:17 Drill Robo, known better to a lot in the West as Screw Head.

The robo mode of this chap is somehow very cute.  Although they feel smaller than expected when you open them up standing at five inches tall, they have a surprising amount of weight to them, including some heavy die-cast feeling parts.  No limb feels too heavy for the joint to hold, which means these toys hold fun and complex poses incredibly well.




Unfortunately, these guys are packaged in alt. mode, which means your first transformation is lining things up and compacting them down.  However, the transformation on this guy is very clear, and thee instructions go out of their way to further explain potential trouble points.  Extra kudos to Action Robo for this attention to detail and making our lives easier.  The transformation is very fun, and this guy compacts down in a very satisfying way.


Transforming into a drill tank, this mode features an extra attachment, so you can swap the head out for a more anime accurate extended drill-head.  While this extended drill looks cleaner with it’s lack of head molded into it, I can’t help feeling that I much prefer the smaller drill, even if it means the head is visible when you look under the alt. mode.  In both modes, he successfully captures the look of his original design, but improves on his original toy in the ways that are needed.



Machine Robo Series 03:  Eagle Robo

My favourite of the three so far.  A lot of people know him as Leader-1 as part of the Gobots franchise.



A very satisfying robot, that doesn’t feel as heavy as the others but has amazing poseability, once again, all his joints are quality and manage to hold poses incredibly well.  He has oodles of charisma, and his very unique rounded head mode achieves the look of a humanesque fighter pilot in robot form, and using the air intake ducts as the robot chest gives Eagle Robo a very distinctive look.




His weapon is the combined part of his two missile rigs and side pods which provide extra stability and clever weapon storage, and makes for a very distinct gun.



Transforming into an F-15 Eagle, the same alt. mode as a famous grey jet from the Transformers line, the transformation feels very different to the other two figures released so far; rather than compacting down, this figure opens up unto alt. mode.  Once again, everything is surprisingly simple, and quite intuitive, but I would suggest having the instructions along for the ride just for security, as there are a few panels and long stalks (connecting the head and one connecting the cockpit) which feel could easily break if miss-handled.  If you take your time and follow the guide you will not have any problems.



The weapons and landing gear complete the look, and the detailing throughout is fantastic for a figure this side.  It’s one of the most satisfying real-world fighter-jet transformations I have ever seen in this scale; if not THE best.


Machine Robo Series 04:  Battle Robo

Released in Gobots as the unimaginatively named Tank, Battle Robo is probably the most improved figure in this range over his original.



I always found the original toy of this a bit weak, and while there have been a few new designs over the years, this release captures this character for me the most.  Although I imagine some people would have preferred a darker blue.


Like the other figures, he has functional, tight joints, which enable the figure to express himself in a multitude of ways.  Ever present is his tank turret gun arm (where have we seen that before?), and his shoulder cannons are also very functional in robot mode.



A great, fun transformation which compacts down so tightly, there is zero wasted motion, and everything tabs together perfectly to create a solid little alt. mode, with the arms hiding away better than in previous incarnations.



There’s not loads to say about the alt. mode, it looks like a futuristic non-Earth mode tank thing, it looks like a transfoming robot with all the Transformers influence removed and replaced with Starcom.  A vehicle mode with this many guns probably shouldn’t look cute, but somehow it looks like a deform.


Modular Bases



I have a feeling these fully modular chain-style bases will be some people’s favourite part of this range.  Shown here are three bases joined together with two sets of the backer, but this is just one configuration of potentially thousands.  You can use these to make a back-drop, or to display the jet in flight mode, or hold the figures in a hovering action pose.  Great fun, and expansive, I feel these chain bases will literally join this collection together and convince collectors to embrace the full range with an in-build display solution.  A great touch.




While I have always admired Gobots, it has been from afar, I have picked up the very occasional mold, but never enough to commit to a “collection” as such.  With this new line, it might have seemed like the perfect opportunity to get into a Machine Robo / Gobot style collection, and indeed it is, but actually my reasons for collecting this line are completely different.  As I mentioned in a previous article about 3rd party Devastators, I am a huge fan of the aesthetic of the Fans Project Causality line and the Maketoys combiner series, while I have yet to have it officially confirmed by official sources, I strongly believe I am right in saying these are all designed by Lu.K, who designed these new Machine Robo figures.  It’s not even really a secret as such, it’s more that toy designers are not widely discussed, known, or credited, and I feel that’s a real shame.  I’m proud to say; I am collecting the new Machine Robo toys because I am a fan of this designer’s aesthetic.




We live in a world where comic colourists and some letterers are finally getting their names on the cover of comics they produce, and Neca have led the charge in putting the sculptor’s name on their toy products.  As the internet, forums, and social media have faded the line between fans and creators, I strongly feel we should see this happen more throughout the toy industry.  I would have loved for Eric Siebenaler’s name to have been credited on some of my favourite TF toy releases, just as I would like people to know and understand the full breadth of work undertaken by Kohjin Ohno.  MMC have been very good with this, as several of their creators are well known to the fandom, and well done to them, and well done to Action Robo for crediting the designer on the boxes for these guys.

These are wonderful toys, masterfully designed and lovingly produced, and they come with a built-in audience of Machine Robo / Gobot fans, but even if you’re not a fan of the brand, these are quality figures through and through, and well worth checking out!

They are in stock and available to grab now from Kapow Toys!

Today’s article will be looking at two things I absolutely love; obscure G1 figures that most people don’t collect, and a third party toy which is about as niche as it gets!

Yup, I’m talking about Action Masters Devastator and Before & After’s incredibly G1 cartoon accurate Engineer General, an item which is probably the most screen-accurate representation of a toy we’ve had since the Animated era in 2009.

Action Master Devastator


In 1990, when the Action Masters hit the market, there had only ever been the one Devastator figure (and one tiny little decoy), it seems weird to think of that now, with the plethora of Devys on the market, not to mention the non combining Euro Devy, two G2 releases, two distinct KO colourations and an Encore release.  Having such a limited scope of Devy releases, you’d think  that would have made it super easy for Hasbro to get the colour right, right?  Wrong.


I guess it makes sense that this guy was released between the original 85 and G2 releases, as his colour scheme is somewhere smack bang between Constructicon Green and G2 Yellow.


As an Action Master, I’m sure I don’t need to explain that this Devy is not a combiner or even a Transformer (and there was sort of a tie-in story in the UK comic explaining the all-in-one Devy, but Ironhide destroyed it before completion).  To make up for this lack of transformation, Devy has an animal drone companion called Scorpulator, who can transform from a wicked scorpion into a pretty cool-gun extension thing.  Pointless, considering Devy has a gun already, but now it is Scorpion-powered.  Oh, and Devy now has six legs on his back too.

Devy also features a rather cool head that doesn’t quite look like Devy from any of the fiction, but is sort of close to the original Diaclone designed head.


Before & After Engineer General


The market place for Devastators (official and third party) is busier than a building site these days, with packaging almost as big as some construction equipment filling attics around the world.  Box-sets, CHUG size, Masterpiece scaled, Combiner Wars, G1 reissues, KOs and vintage add-on sets… it’s quite refreshing that Before & After went in a totally different direction.

The emphasis isn’t just on super toon accurate aesthetics and heads, it’s also in poseability, with the Engineer General capable of pulling off some menacing poses with his stunning 31 points of articulation.

Size wise, he’s about the same height as Maketoys Giant at 3ocms / 12 inches, but scale wise, he’s pretty damn good to tower above your G1 Autobots, and scales well to the rest of the Action Master line if you’re so inclined to have the combiners look like monsters.  His joints are very solid and of a high quality, and this makes the figure feel of a very high standard overall, despite the somewhat limited aesthetic of the cartoon look.  This is a completely stylistic choice, and by no means a limitation of design imagination.



His colour choice is spot-on, pretty much perfect I would say.  The lime-green is almost more G2 than G2 in it’s almost fluorescent, and that shade of purple screams “DECEPTICON” no matter who it’s on.  As you can see, he towers over the original Action Masters, but sadly he doesn’t have a scorpion buddy all of his own, a feature I find sadly lacking in all recent Devastators.


I love this figure.  It’s fun, left-field, and not something I’d expect to see from Hasbro or Takara anytime soon; so pretty much everything I think 3P should be doing rather than outright competing over the scraps of the MP line and all releasing the same bloomin’ figure.  Even though I’ve never been a huge fan of the cartoon, you have to admire how much they’ve set out to hit a certain style, and have completely aced it.  It’s enough to make me want other non-transforming combiners in the same size and style.
It’s weird talking about transformers without covering the alt. modes and transformation, but neither of these figures really lack playability despite this.  Sure; I think the play pattern of the original Devy is pretty hard to beat, especially for it’s time.  I know the Action Master line never really found a place in many collector’s hearts, but it’s a concept that makes sense on paper; boys like action figures, and at the very least it made Hasbro aware of the power of the brand and original characters such as Megatron, Soundwave and more, many of whom had not been seen since 1985.  B&A Engineer General has none of these limitations, as the entire intent behind the figure is very clear for all to see from the day it was first released.

I don’t think any review could change your mind on Engineer General; if you think the concept is dumb I cannot change that.  If however, you had a smile creep over your face the first time you saw it, and though about how cool this would have been in your childhood collection, then this figure is for you my friend, and I recommend you give it a look.

B&A Devas1-800x800
Enjoy it.

Engineer General is available and in stock at Kapow.


Thanks to the awesome Ben of Collectibles (link in the side bar) for giving us this little bit of information.

Turns out in 2014 there was another non-transforming Devastator offered by a third party, with an 18″ tall vinyl Devy homage called Hercules Combine Giant.  He’s a big old boy with a good six inches on Engineer General, but he’s also not the most attractive of figures.  I guess it’s a question of size vs attractiveness (no comment, hey guys?).

It’s cool to see it, but having not experienced it in hand I don’t feel qualified to discuss the figures good and bad points.  None the less, it’s very cool to see this, and I don’t know how I missed it as I was at all of the main US cons the year this was announced, but there ya go, just another example of the sheer diversity and the wealth of choice in the fandom these guys.

Thanks Ben!

Appearing in the Brave Command Dagwon series in 1997, Gunkid makes for an interesting toy.


One part Brave, one part Battlestar, no wonder he ends up looking like something from Brave Starr.  I’m surprised he didn’t come with little handheld pistols like Shadow Maru and Gun Max.
In robot mode, he stands about the same height as G1 Galvatron.

The cowboy theme is worn right on it’s sleeve with this guy, or maybe on his head.  I mean, Cowboy hat aside, he has little spurs on his heels, and he also has a “battle mask” face which is very reminiscent of the old handkerchief mask of the Wild West for bank robberies and the like.



Notice the very brave crest on the cowboy hat, the face plate covers, and the shoulder cannons.


It’s easy to spur him into action. Ho-ho!

His transformations are simplistic, but effective.  He transforms into four “distinct” modes.


In gun mode, or INFINITE CANNON as it’s known, he can be held as a gun by humans and used to fire foam darts at your friends eyes.  It’s a really fun mode, with a good size and weight to it, and it’s all too easy to lose the foam pellets which adds to it’s toy charm.




His second mode is the obligatory and somewhat phoned in cannon mode, or KID TANK mode.  Let’s be fair, G1 Galvatron got away with it just about, and the “transformation” between modes was less involved than with this guy, and the little molded tank treads do help.


His final mode is as a jet, or KID FIGHTER mode; complete with landing gear, wings and tailfins.  It’s obvious where all the parts go, but they never intrude upon the other modes, and the way the view-finder folds down to become a cock-pit is very satisfying.  The landing gear hidden inside the gun handle is another nice touch, and it makes this mold super fun and interesting.


As we look at his alt. modes, something interesting becomes apparent.  Cannon… gun… flight mode?

The rumour is that the design for Gun Kid originally started life as Battlestar Megatron, if this is true, then he would have been the only Decepticon to make it into the Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Return of Convoy toyline, alongside Star Convoy, Grandus, Sky-Garry and a handful of combining Micro-masters.  It’s a well known fact that bad-guy toys do not sell as well in Japan, which explains why the Autobots constantly out-number the Decepticons, especially in Japanese only lines such as Victory, Zone and Return of Convoy.



This was the penultimate Japanese line of G1 Transformers released in 1991, coming just before Operation Combination in 1992 which was mostly repaints, Euro releases and Micro-masters, as such Return of Convoy featured the last of the big leader type toys, and Takara was busy at work designing new toys for the Brave toyline.





At this point, there was no TV show to support the line, and the story of Transformers continued exclusively in the pages of the Battlestar Manga, published in the Japanese TV Magazine.


Dark Nova


Dark Nova Robot – size of a small moon

In the storyline, Dark Nova (to relation to any Nova Prime) resurrects Galvatron as Super Megatron.



Super Megatron – scourge of the ice-caps.


Below is the character model which is believed to have been the predecessor to Gunkid, and there are certainly comparisons between Super Megatron’s jet mode and Gunkid’s.  Although maybe not as much as the robot mode looks like Animated Megatron, but given Derrick J Wyatt’s love of the animated series that does not surprise me.

gunstars megatron
All this could explain why Gunkid feels like a G1 toy through and through.  There is zero partsforming and you can transform between modes very quickly, and the toy doesn’t disassemble into fifteen pieces to combine with five other things like some Brave toys do.  To the point that I’m almost tempted to customise one into Megatron; if the Gunkid head wasn’t so darn adorable!


Of course, to keep things Brave, Gunkid does have the ability to interact with other characters, and he can interact with both Fire Dagwon (who you might remember had a cameo in our Thunder Dagwon comparison article) and Power Dagwon in his GIANT WEAPON MODE.  I don’t want to spoil this interaction until the Super Fire Dagwon blog goes live, but once it does I will post the pictures here to complete this blog (although SPOILER if you go back up and look at the very first image of the box).


Thanks for reading!

If there’s one thing the majority of the fandom loves that I completely agree with, it’s combiners.


Devastator, Raiden, Scramble City, G2 repaints, JRX, Road Caesar, TFCC Nexus Maximus (snigger), Brave toys, official, 3rd party; I love ’em all!

After the Devastator battles of 2012, it became pretty clear even to Hasbro that, yeah, there is a market for these things after all.  But what was the problem to begin with?  Why did Hasbro think the market would not respond?


History time.  Hasbro’s problem with doing Combiners during the early days of the CHUG era was a practical one; they didn’t believe retailers would know how to stock them given the mixed scale would place them into different cases, and not all retailers stock all assortments.  Given how annoying the distribution was for the Energon combiners back in 2003/2004, I guess they know what they’re talking about.  After the shelf-warmer disaster that was the ROTF combiners (Energon Bruticus and Superion – both clogged up the aisles until FP released add-on packs), and the failed Titan Devastator combiner all in 2009, it’s not surprising they were cautious.

The solution: test the market with a video game tie-in, and make all five components the same scale so they can all be distributed in the same case assortment.  This gave the world FOC Bruticus (the first rule of Wreckers club is we DO NOT TALK ABOUT RUINATION), and whatever your personal feelings on the matter; he sold very well, but with very mixed reactions online and in the fan community (leading to 3rd party add-on sets, and an entire replacement figure) and obviously the water had been tested, and it was lukewarm.

While that was happening in the retail stores, online dealers were selling TFC Hercules parts for up to $100/ £80 each, and Maketoys debut combiner Giant was selling for $350 / £300, and the online buzz surrounding these figures was HUGE!

I’ve spoke at great lengths about how the greatest legacy of 3rd Party releases to date has been the free market research that they gave Hasbro / Takara, proving just how much disposable income there is out there waiting for updates of these characters we all love.  While Takara took the direction of upping the quantity of Masterpiece releases and quality repaints, Hasbro and Takara took a decision to commit the mainline Transformers to Combiners… in a big way!

Combiner Wars has been a huge success, and by making the entire line (excluding Leader classes) interchangeable and interactive (harkening back to that original Scramble City ethos of 1986), case assortments were no problem for retailers, especially with savvy fans knowing exactly what they want.

For me, the best part of Combiner Wars has been the randomness; Sky Lynx… a torso-bot?  New characters with Rook, Alpha Bravo, and Offroad.  G2 repaints including the never before officially released Stunticons (don’t let us down on Defensor now guys).  SCROUNGE for goodness sake!!!  Sure, there have been miss-steps along the way – such as making Blast-Off a plane, keeping Groove as a scout class ‘bot, and how token the Hasbro first attempt at Scattorshot was –  but while Takara has capitalised on these miss-steps, Hasbro has also been quick to rectify and listen to fan feedback.  And good on them for doing so!

Of course, while this has been happening, the 3rd Party Combiners haven’t gone away, and in many ways Hasbro are still playing catch-up, as we’ve now had 4 different Devastators, 2 Computrons, 2 sets of Dinobots, Abonimus and all the Scramble City guys, and are already well in to the realms of Liokaiser, Dinoking and the Seacons.


Today, we’re going to be taking a look at Maketoys third combiner offering; Guardia, their version of the Protectobots, and we will be doing so alongside comparison shots of the Combiner Wars Defensor.


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Groove is possibly the hardest figure of the team to do right for a multitude of reasons.  His scaling compared to his other team members makes zero sense, but this is G1 influenced, and Maketoys seemed to judge the fans wants, needs and expectations better than Hasbro with this one.

The robot mode for Axle just oozes character.  They’ve managed to do a complete 180 with the character and actually make him look cool.  His hyper-stylised and uber-poseable lean robot mode is very reminiscent of manga stylings , and I think people could criticise the company for going such a different direction for Axle, however, I think we’ve all come to expect this sort of creative liberty from the amazing designers that Maketoys employ.  If this was the first figure out of the gate from a new company, I’m sure it would be more divisive, but after Giant and Quantron, we have a bloody good idea what to expect from this company and designer, and stylised cool-ass ‘bots are the way to go.

Hasbro’s first attempt at CW Groove is a bit… well;

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I’m not with him.

Transformation wise, the Hasbro bots win.  I don’t want to have to say this four times, so presume I feel this way about all of the others except when I mention otherwise.  The Maketoys ones are not awful to transform, I found them easier and way more instinctual than both Giant and Quantron limbs.  I managed to transform all four of them from robot mode to vehicle mode without instructions all within the running time of Jaws 3 (1 hour 20).  I say this a lot, but I genuinely believe that had these been packaged in alt. mode, the first transformation experience would be so much more positive it would improve people’s perceptions of the transformations.


Groove’s G1 figure was the first Transformers motorcycle attempt, and he was always a bit basic; making him a police bike might have hurt his aesthetic, but it provided the extra bulk necessary to pad him out for a combiner limb.  It’s a bit unfair to compare the two we have here, as the scale is so different, not to mention the disparity in pricing.  Hasbro CW Groove makes a great pocket money bot, and kudos to Hasbro for trying to think about scaling by making Groove a smaller bot and chest attachment, even if the majority of fans want the old-school look.  As I always say, it’s great to have the option, and I love the attempt to add to the legacy of the brand not merely draw from it’s past that characters like Rook deliver.  Overall, I like the idea of the small bike mode a lot more than the execution.  Whereas the Maketoys one looks damn cool in both modes, and the bike mode is an especially pleasing end result.



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Streetwise is a bit of an also-fan in the Transformers history book, except for an excellent Christmas issue of the UK comic.  Perhaps it was a tad redundant having a second police car on the good-guys side?  To further compound bargain-Prowl comparisons, they also made him a Nissan Fairlady.  Doh!  Thankfully, two things made this guy stand out back in 1986, one was his fairly unique transformation making his front windshield his chest, and the other was his unique head-sculpt, completely separate from his combiner peg giving him a lot of character.   Thankfully, the Maketoys release; Rover, follows this unique transformation, which is great because I feel it gives his robot mode a really unique look.  Not so the CW figure, as it could be one of 100 characters, but then none of the Combiner Wars characters seem to integrate car parts into their robot mode particularly well, leaving Prowl’s robot mode hood-less and killing a key part of his character in the process.

Head wise, I cannot fault any of the head sculpts of the Combiner Wars line, they are an absolute highlight of the line across the board, and Streetwise is no exception.  Rover’s is equally good, similar enough to be recognisable as Streetwise, while different enough to not get sued have a character all of his own.


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Transformation; again you have to give it to Combiner Wars, just for it’s fun fiddle factor and done in seconds change.  Rover isn’t too bad, but the more involved transformation does give him split down the middle syndrome, similar to the P:RID release of Vehicon.  I feel this is the price we pay for a more involved robot mode which integrates parts.  Contrary to this, the CW Streetwise is uber clean in vehicle mode, though fairly generic with a bit of a shell-former robot hiding within.



“What’s got four wheels, a £50 price tag, and goes Woof? Maketoys Rover!” Thanks Alan.

Technically, he transforms into a Sheriff’s car, rather than a police car.  You wouldn’t know this looking at the CW release, which just has police lazily branded on him, and no efforts to even place a sheriff badge on him somewhere.  Repaints have killed a lot of the car molds for me in the CW line, and I really like how distinct Rover looks, and his SHERIFF badges are hard to miss.

MT Himed / First Aid

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First Aid, probably considered a Ratchet replacement for the 1986 range after the great cull of The Movie.  First Aid’s face-plate has somehow always managed to convey a lot of character, and that’s definitely carried over into this sculpt.  The inverse red cross on his chest somehow manages to look more Christian Rock album cover than I think it was intended.

Somehow, the boxy little ambulance guy ends up looking super suave.  They’ve somehow kept him lean and athletic.


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The transformation on Himed isn’t so bad, and honestly, I’m pretty amazed by the engineering involved.  That’s a crap ton of robot packed into a tiny little alt. mode that ends up smaller than the CW toy.  It’s one of the cleverest transformations I’ve played with, and at times makes you believe in mass shifting.  Compact.


It’s hard to make an ambulance look super dynamic and interesting, but at least Himed looks like First Aid in alt. mode, as once again, that alt. mode could be any one of maybe 6 different characters.  The clear windshield makes a big difference to me, and I also like the lack of huge, visible weapon ports.  Yet all of the Maketoys guys can use their weapons for a weaponised vehicle mode no problem.

MT Katana / Blades


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Katana is probably the most interesting figure in the set, in terms of what has come before with small helicopter ‘bots, and what we get here.  Sure, we’ve had some decent helicopter toys with varied designs in recent years; Springer, CHUG Blades, Skyhammer – but few in a deluxe scale.  Tomahawk came the closest, but his legs suffered a lot.

What we have here is a hyper stylised, lean, athletic poseable figure complete with all the hyperbolic terms I used with all the other figures, but with the added bonus of having a fantastic transformation.

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Katana is the biggest member of the team, limb-wise, and he’s just great.  So much fun to fiddle with, pose and play with.  I know that rotors becoming swords is the biggest cliche to hit Transformers since green construction vehicles, but I think the melee weapons really help give him a bit of extra character and identity within this team.

In vehicle mode, Katana looks great, and little details such as fold-out landing gear makes a real difference.  I also welcome the four helicopter blades over the two on Blades.  Overall, I like the design solution to hide the arms as guns on the CW version, but I like the clean helicopter mode and the option to attach weaponry  the MT version affords.


Interestingly, back in 2012 I opted for Hercules over Maketoys Giant, I preferred the bulk of the robot mods and found the transformation of the TFC versions to be more fun.  Giant was just too far out there aesthetically, and different from my idea of Devastator.  Fast forward a few years, and we have Quantron, Guardia, FP Intimidator and the FP Bruticus upgrade kit, and these combiners have such a distinct look and styling, that what I once considered a weakness, I now consider their greatest strength.

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Maketoys transformation really are the other end of the spectrum to the CW, with CW looking like it hasn’t learned anything about transformations other than articulation since 1986.  Is this a plus or a negative, and for which set?  Well, that’s up to the individual, with many people preferring the Fiddle Former aspect of the CW range, and yes, they are fun, yet sometimes there is something more rewarding in a complex transformation, no?

Maketoys give me everything I want in a combining Bot, and I don’t mind the price-point as they feel like quality products throughout, and at no point was I scared of breakages, but at the same time there is a part of me that would have liked slightly simpler transformations.  I feel there is a middle ground somewhere between complexity, pricepoint and aesthetic, which has not been hit yet with combiners, though I feel Classics era figures had the balance right, but no combiners.  Go figure.


Despite the matching character choices and end game, these figures really are aimed at two completely different markets, and that’s pretty cool.  The costs involved, not to mention the ease in which you can pick up the majority of CW figures, make the CW an obvious choice for the majority of collectors.  Should you want something more, and you’re not afraid by the price of entry, then Maketoys have the stylised bots for you.

So which one is better?  Quite simply, only the individual can decide.

Ultimately, I personally feel that with just a few minor changes, the CW would be great toys and very display worthy, but like a lot of Hasbro figures post 2011, they’re just a bit too simple, light, and cheap for me.  I find the clip-on wheels particularly lame.  For that reason, and space reasons, I am keeping the MT, but I’m holding out for a G2 Defensor set, so I can have the best of both worlds.


As soon as Vulcan is in hand, I will do a Hotspot comparison, and a combined mode comparison.


Thanks for reading.

You can find a full selection of Maketoys products right here.

As strong as a Diamond, as fast as a Cyclone;  Diaclone!



Seems everyone is going Diaclone mad with the release of the Diaclone V2 series.  Good!  About time.

The earliest releases of Diaclone were quite different to the later Car Robots series that we know and love from their eventual licensing agreement and development with Hasbro, they were of a more science fiction bent, featuring the good Diaclone drivers and their (seemingly occasionally sentient) vehicles and armour, fighting the Evil Waruder Empire, some of whom later became the Insecticons (a name later used in Transformers for the Botcon 2015 Waruder set of Waspinator repaints). zetabio

We all know how early Diaclone and Micro-change figures were re-packaged, re-imagined and re-branded and released as Transformers in 1984 (if you’re unsure as to the who and the what, click here), what is perhaps less known is how some of the early non-TF molds of Diaclone were released in the West, fully licensed by Takara and put out by Hayes Ltd in 1981 as part of the Grandstand Converters line, which contained a mash-up of various toys from a multitude of different lines.


The most common of these is the Diaclone Gats Blocker which was released in the Grandstand line as Alphatron, but other releases included a Microman vehicle which was included as Deltrian Tracker, one of the Waruders which was released as Siclonoid, and some of the more savvy of you may have noticed Omega Supreme in different colour scheme parading around as Omegatron, this was duel-licensed from Tomy / Toybox for UK release in Converters, and may have been the reason that Omega Supreme did not get a UK release.  Over time, we’ll take a look at all these guys, but today we’re taking a look at a latter-day Grandstand Converters figure from the second range; Zetanoid.


Zetanoid / Dia-Attacker




Any of the green packaged Converters range are from the second range which was made in much smaller numbers, and it is speculated that it may be harder to find than the original Diaclone Dia-Attacker release.  Released in 1985, the packaging only features a date-stamp for 1981, but this is referring to Takara’s original copyright date for the mold.  The packaging is pretty disappointing, with the same image on the back and front of the packaging which really wastes the potential of showing exactly what the toy can do, and a generic throwaway story and profile on the side of packaging that offers less insight and character into the Converters background than the (uniquely British) little comics on the back of Space Raiders crisps.


zetabio spaceraiders


The differences between Zetanoid and Dia-Attacker are minor, heck, even the inner styrofoam containers are identical.  The most glaring omission from the Zetanoid set are the Diaclone drivers, these were absent from most of the Diaclone re-releases (including the Transformers range).  The missiles are included (although long since lost in my version), and a running change seems to be that the head-crest that comes with Zetanoid is now yellow, rather than the original Diaclone chrome plated, though I have seen evidence of both releases with the Gig and Takara releases.  The chrome on the toy often wears, and reveals all the molded plastic underneath to be the same yellow as the head-crest, so whether some of the head-crests just escaped the chroming process by design or accident is unknown.  Another common defect is the chest stickers, which are prone to wear and cracking on the flexible plastic material.







The toy interacts well with the Diaclone drivers as seen above, and you can swap the (slightly too large) fists out with the little vehicle pods for extra playability, although sadly the vehicle pods and fists don’t seem to store well in the missile holes.  You can also rotate the fists and seat a Diaclone driver in the back of them, which looks a bit odd, but explains the slight over-sized-ness of them.



The head sculpt is awesome, channeling more than a little bit of KISS’s Peter Criss.  It’s one of the most distinct faces in a line note-worthy for it’s awesome head designs.  Purely subjective, but I’ve always felt Takara’s robot faces are what gave Transformers the edge over Go-Bots in making us invest in these characters for 30 plus years, and these same faces are evident all the way back to early Diaclone, all the way up to latter-day Brave toys.



A look at a release packaged with the Diaclone drivers, missiles, and two head-crests, in yellow and chrome.


This is one of the examples of early Diaclone which actually transforms, rather than pulling apart into separate components like Gats-blocker, Dia-Battle, or even Robot Fortress X.  The transformation is basic, fold the arms under, put the cod-piece / cockpit forward, rotate the head back section forward into the chest section, and swing the legs backwards rotating the wings in the process.  Ta-da!




You can also choose to store the fists in the arms whilst in vehicle mode, it does limit the playability of the vehicle pods which can also plug in under there.  As well as the two smaller pods, the larger vehicle which sits on top of the vehicle mode and stores on the back of the robot mode is detachable (although sliding a vehicle on top of 30 years old mint chrome is never fun and always a risk), and this gives an extra dimension of playability.

It’s a fun toy, although I feel the lack of Diaclone Drivers hurts the release, in a same way that as a kid I always felt there was something missing for the driver seats and cockpits of the early G1 toys.



Diaclone Release



Rear of box, Gig release

It seems a collectors work is never done; whilst researching this article I have seen photos and evidence of a black and purple knock off of this mold, which I now really need.  Sigh.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to get onboard with the new Diaclone V2, keep an eye on the Kapow! website for those, and the unofficial Perfect Effect offerings.