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.
UPDATE – NTF HERCULES COMBINE GIANT
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.