"Generations" Combiner Wars Protectobot Groove Toy Review
Release Date: May 2015
Price Point: $9.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Convert, arm and attack with all the Transformers action you can handle. Protectobot Groove is a fierce Autobot who fights for freedom. This Protectobot Groove figure looks just like him and he’ll be a match for any Decepticon who tries to take him on. He converts fast from robot mode to speedy motorcycle mode, and no enemy can hope to escape him. Keep converting him back and forth so he can handle whatever his foes dish out. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
When the Protectobots were revealed at Toy Fair 2015 fans were introduced to a new Protectobot: Rook. However, that didn't mean the G1 Protectobot Groove had been kicked out of the team or anything, but he did wind up becoming a bit smaller than fans had expected. Now a Legends Class figure, Groove makes a bit more sense alongside his fellow Protectobots size-wise and he still combined to form part of Defensor, just not a limb. Instead he now forms chest armor for the Combiner as well as having robot and vehicle modes.
For the traditionalists out there, Takara Tomy is releasing a Deluxe scale Groove later this year, but as of now there is no indication as to whether or not the Deluxe Groove will be released outside of Japan.
Protectobot Groove is packaged on a blister card in robot mode. The card features Groove's package art in the background with a black strip on the left side (right if you are facing the card) with the vertical "Transformers" logo and the "Generations" logo above it. I really like the artwork for the character. It's very dynamic and I'm glad it is not recycled from the "Transformers Legends" mobile game. Behind the figure is a collector's card featuring the same art as the backing card itself. The back of the packaging features photography of the figure in robot and vehicle modes, but there is no mention of his chest armor mode. There is a brief bio in several languages and tons of safety information on the bottom.
Many of the "Combiner Wars" figures have focused on updating a G1 design. Groove is an interesting example of a design that has many elements of the G1 Groove's design, but still manages to look distinctive. Here are the elements carried over from G1:
- The head sculpt is a stylized version of the G1 head design. This includes a crest in the center that angles up, visor eyes and panels on the sides of the head. The panels on the sides are angled now instead of being flat like they were on G1 Groove.
- The front of the vehicle mode winds up behind the head and on his back.
- The forearms have some machinery parts sculpted onto them, echoing the design of the G1 Groove toy.
- The halves of one of Groove's vehicle mode wheels wind up on the insides of his lower legs. On the G1 Groove figure his rear wheel was set in between his legs.
- The robot feet are formed from the section behind the seat of the vehicle mode. G1 Groove's feet were formed from this section and the seat, but it looks very similar.
The rest of the design helps distinguish the figure from its predecessor. The chest has part of the vehicle mode's front window on it and his arms have more angles and sleek lines on them than G1 Groove (toy or animation model). Between these designs and the G1 inspired elements Groove winds up looking modern and classic at the same time. Some fans may be turned off by his proportions, which are a tiny bit odd. The torso section is rather small compared to how long the arms and legs are, but it doesn't bother me much.
Groove is cast in silver, black and white plastic. Black and white were the base plastic colors of G1 Groove so this fits perfectly with the originally. The white is found on the upper body and lower legs. Silver is used for parts like his arms, hips and thighs. The black is used on other sections including his feet and chest armor. I like the way the colors are broken up on the figure. It keeps any one section from looking dull and monotonous.
Paint colors on this figure include light gold, red, silver and black. Light gold is used on his chest and face. This color is a callback to G1 Groove's toy which had gold on the torso panel. Red is used on the sides of the legs and for a tiny Autobot symbol on his chest. Silver is used on the forearms and the eyes. Black is found on the "helmet" section of his head and the feet. All these colors help solidify the bond to the original Groove and look great.
Groove has ten points of articulation in this mode. This includes six ball joints (two in each arm and the hips), so his range of motion is pretty wide. His fists are designed to accommodate weapons with 5mm handles. Interestingly he also has the ability to attach weapons to his legs. The right leg has a 5mm port while the left has a 5mm peg. This is a bit of a play on G1 Groove's ability to have weapons attach to his legs. This was a pleasant surprise for sure.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Push each foot up.
- Push the lower legs together.
- Swing the chest panel up.
- Swing the chest down.
- Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
- Push the arms in, connecting the shoulder pieces together and fitting the forearms into the grooves formed by the legs.
G1 Groove was a very typical police motorcycle of the 80's. This time out Groove is a much more futuristic looking motorcycle. The profile is very low to the ground with the headlight and front window angling down aggressively to the front wheel. Like the original Groove the rear section is very thick and it looks like it's housing some powerful horsepower. There are some really great small details too including grooves (okay, okay, ridges) on the seat, tubes in the back that look almost like thrusters and handles on the front including brake levers. It's a very cool looking vehicle mode and I'm glad Groove received a slightly "scifi" along with a couple of the other Protectobots.
This mode features all his plastic colors nicely. The wheels are black, white makes up most of the body with silver appearing in the middle area. The gold window is prominent here and you get a better look at details on the sides including a red line and a black star with an Autobot symbol in the middle. This symbol references Groove's role as an emergency vehicle, not just an every day motorcycle.
The weapon connection points on the lower robot legs wind up on the back of the vehicle here. This time out, the peg on the right side is a tad low to connect certain weapons. You need to find a weapon that doesn't have a lot of width otherwise it will just lift the vehicle off the ground. The port on the left however is more centered, allowing you to attach almost any weapon. I like the way these ports allow you to duplicate the functionality of G1 Groove who did have weapon on the sides in vehicle mode.
Transformation to Armor Mode (Starting in Vehicle Mode):
- Swing the robot arms out.
- Split the rear of the vehicle mode and swing the halves out to the sides.
- Rotate the legs at the hip joints so the star details face the same direction as the front of the vehicle.
- Bend the robot legs at the knees.
- Swing each of the robot arms under the robot thighs (they hold on to the center section of Defensor's chest panel).
- Use the hold on the back of the armor piece (in the middle) to connect to the small peg on the center of Defensor's chest.
- The robot arms can be positioned on either side of the panel Groove attaches to.
Groove's armor mode is kind of weird. At Toy Fair 2015 and in all of Defensor's photos from Hasbro Groove is positioned such that the front wheel of the vehicle mode is facing down. However, in practice (and from all photos I've seen taken by fans so far) the wheel faces up. Sure you can rotate him around so the wheel points down, but if you do so he looks like he's set too low on the chest. I speculate that on the prototype used for photography by Hasbro Defensor's chest panel was installed upside down, causing this confusion.
Thanks to the shape of Groove's lower leg panels, he really does look like a chest armor piece and not some random vehicle slapped onto Defensor's chest. No new details are really revealed here, but thanks to the sculpt and color scheme he blends right in with Defensor.
Groove is a cool Legends Class figure. I'm glad the character was not left out of the mainstream release of the Protectobots. Sure I would've preferred him being a Deluxe, but I also understand the logic of having him in the Legends Class. This figure isn't critical to form Defensor, but he's a cool addition to the team.