Power Core Combiners Heavytread with Groundspike Toy Review

in 2010, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Commander, Power Core Combiners

Power Core Combiners

General Information:
Release Date: December 2010
Price Point: $9.99
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Groundspike Mini-Con figure
Image Gallery: Gallery of Heavytread and Groundspike images

The fourth wave of Power Core Combiners introduces a set of new sculpts and characters into the Transformers universe. Heavytread is one of these Transformers, along with his Mini-Con partner Groundspike. As of March 2011, this is one of the last Power Core Combiner original sculpts expected to be released for the Power Core Combiners line (Undertow is the last original sculpt being released in the wave following this one). 2011 will focus largely on the "Dark of the Moon" toy line. After reviewing this figure, I really hope the line may continue at some future date as this figure embodies some of the best of what the Power Core Combiner line has had to offer.

Groundspike Review

Robot Mode:
Groundspike is a new Mini-Con mold. He also looks like he was designed to be partnered with a bulky Transformers like Heavytread. For a Mini-Con, he's fairly tall and wide. Everything from his head design to his chest is wide, giving him a "tough guy" like appearance. His legs are relatively long, partly due to his rather interesting alternate modes. His chest is also rather rectangular, blocky and wide. Add in his arms and he is one tough looking Mini-Con!

There are some great details that add to Groundpike's "tough guy" look. His face sculpt has thin slits for eyes and what appears to be a mouthplate like design for the rest of his head, looking almost like a warrior wearing a helmet. On either side of his head are dual barreled weapons near his shoulders. On the lower part of his chest are circles with lines through them, generally indicating some type of rocket or cluster bomb launcher. Each of his arms has a cannons sculpted into the shoulders. I think this easily makes Groundspike one of the most heavily armed Mini-Cons in robot mode! His legs have no weapon details, but they do have many layers of details, with the legs flaring out to the sides a bit at the thighs (reminding this reviewer of some military and/or law enforcement pants) leading to feet with small line details that resemble toes. Each of the arms has a triangular blade sculpted into the back, giving him melee weapons on top of his ballistic weaponry. Quite impressive!

Groundspike is cast in light translucent blue and beige plastic. Most of the figure is translucent blue, with only the thighs cast in beige. The only paint details are on the arm blades. Each one is painted silver. There's not a ton of paint applications but it seems where they lacked in distribution of the paint the designers made up for it in amount of silver as a lot of the arms are covered in silver. I would have liked a bit more somewhere else on the body but the figure still looks good.

There are eight points of articulation on this figure, with the shoulder and hip joints being ball joints. Not a lot of Mini-Cons have ankle articulation, but Groundspike does thanks to his transformation scheme. His joints are also very stiff, offering him good support in his various modes.

Transformation to Vehicle Weapon Mode:

  1. Raise the arms straight out to the sides.
  2. Bend each leg at the knee joint.
  3. Swing the legs up, and connect the tabs on the lower legs to the corresponding hole on the arms.
  4. Angle the feet to resemble the ends of claws.
  5. This attaches to the peg that flips out from the front of Heavytread (or any other similar peg on other Commander figures).

Vehicle Weapon Mode:
Like the robot mode, this form goes perfectly with Heavytread. In this form Groundspike appears to be a mine plow, intended to move dangerous items out of Heavytread's way. I like the fact that his vehicle "weapon" mode is really a protective device, although I don't think any Decepticon would want to get run over by Heavytread with Groundspike attached! This is a cool addition to Groundspike's many modes.

Transformation to Armor Mode (from Robot Mode):

  1. Raise the arms out to the sides.
  2. Rotate the arms so the silver blades face the back of the figure.
  3. Swing each leg out to the sides.
  4. Rotate each leg down.
  5. Bend the legs at the knees and set the feet at angles.
  6. Attach to a Commander figure with the silver portions facing front.

Armor Mode:
Some of the armor modes on Mini-Cons are more successful than others. At times they can wind up looking like the Mini-Con is hugging the Commander figure instead of guarding against damage. Groundspike manages to avoid this by truly looking like a piece of armor in this mode. A lot of this is owed to the blades on the arms, which wind up looking like chest plates when attached to a Commander Class figure. The feet angling upwards add a bit of design embelishment that looks cool as well. I also like the fact that the painted silver details face forward here, giving a stronger visual impression that Groundspike is forming armor in this mode.

Transformation to Robot Weapon Mode (from Robot Mode):

  1. Swing the arms up.
  2. Swing the robot legs back.
  3. Angle the feet.

Robot Weapon Mode:
Few Mini-Cons are perfect in every mode, and as much as I love him I have to say that Groundspike is not super successful in this mode. I kind of get it. He forms a claw weapon of some sort, and I can see Heavytread using this weapon to slash at enemies or send them flying away from him in battle. The thing is, it looks a bit weird. Instead of a weapon, it looks more like Groundspike fell asleep and Heavytread has to carry his limp body around. I think it would have been cooler if he had cannon barrels sculpted into the base of his feet, so they could point forward and Heavytread would have a ballistic weapon. Oh well, you can't win'em all!

Heavytread Review

Robot Mode:
Sometimes a figure does not need to be ultra fancy to be solid and cool. Heavytread is one such figure. When you look at the robot mode, it's blazingly obvious how to transform him. Indeed, his design is not too far removed from Generation One Guzzle who was basically a tank that extended and stood up. Of course, that's a bit of an exaggeration as he does have multiple steps in his transform and he's posable to boot, but the principle of having a tank based Transformer that looks thick, solid and powerful is present and it looks great. This solid impression is borne from design elements such as his blocky shoulders, large forearms and thick legs (complete with tread details on them).

Even the finer details on Heavytread seem well, "heavy duty". His head sculpt is squared off, with visor eyes and a mouthplate. On his forearms are rivet details sculpted into his hands and the middle of his body has small gun ports build into the sides with lines indicating layers of thick armor. I also appreciate the way he is able to stand well on his own two feet without requiring the Power Core Combiner pegs to be used as heels. Instead, they tuck into the lower legs out of sight. They do however appear on his arms on the underside of the forearm armor. It's a great looking sculpt and one I consider among the best to come out of the Power Core Combiners line.

Heavytread is cast in four plastic colors: military green, an olive green, black and light blue. The two green colors dominate most of this mode, with the military green found on his head, chest and thighs. The arms, waist and most of the lower legs are cast in olive green. The black plastic is found on chunks such as his forearms and the treads on his legs and joints. The light blue is of course used for the square pegs that allow Heavytread to combine with Drone vehicles. The blue on the arms stick out like a sore thumb, so I'm very thankful the blue on the legs is tucked away.

Paint applications are done in the two shades of green mentioned above, black, yellow and silver. The green paints are used on the parts where the alternate green color is cast. For instance, the olive green arms have military green details on them. The silver is not used a lot, but is found on the robot face above the eyes and on the mouthplate. The yellow and black are found on a trapezoid shaped section on his waist. Yellow is painted on each shoulder by itself, looking like lights he can use on a dark battlefield. The colors are all appropriately muted and help paint a picture of a military vehicle instead of a more brightly colored "scifi" vehicle.

Heavytread has eighteen points of articulation in this form, which is quite a bit to squeeze into a figure of this size. This includes four points of articulation on each arm and leg and waist articulation to boot! All of the joints are stiff, allowing for some really cool posing of the figure. This figure has four primary connection points for Mini-Cons and/or weapons. Both fists have holes in them to hold a weapon, though they're not circular holes but rather diamond shaped, so the grip on weapons is not as strong as I would prefer, but they do stay in place. He also has a hole on his right arm made with the standard peg size allowing him to hold Mini-Cons, Energon weapons or select weapons from lines like the "Universe 2.0" series. His fourth connection point is the peg on the chest. Just flip out the black piece and he can attach Power Up Armor to himself for protection.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the small plate on the back of the waist section down.
  2. Swing the head down into the chest.
  3. Swing the tank turret up and over the spot where the robot head was.
  4. Rotate the forearms so they face inward.
  5. Push the forearms up against the upper arms.
  6. Swing the military green section of the chest up.
  7. Swing the green section forward then back to snap it into place.
  8. Rotate the robot arms to form the sides of the tank's front section.
  9. Push each arm in to finish forming the front of the vehicle.
  10. Swing the Drone Powerlink pegs back.
  11. Push the robot leg armor forward.
  12. Push the Powerlink points on the back of the vehicle up.

Vehicle Mode:
Heavytread's vehicle mode is based in part on the Merkava tank, used by the Israel Defense Forces. The main body of the tank is pretty much what you'd expect, a bulky set of armor sitting on treads with an angled slope in the front end. Where this tank looks most distinctive is the turret. Instead of the more common, bulky image of a tank turret, this one is elegant, with a cannon in the middle, then angles going out the sides (with details that look a bit like eyes on the turret itself). The turret then ends with a bulky section in the back. It also differs from that tank in some ways, including having a big cylinder/drum on the back of the turret and having sectiosn in the back that start high, slope down, even out, and then go up again before sloping down again in a profile view.

The sculpted detail on this tank looks fantastic, and given the design team's experience with Transformers as tanks I'm not surprised. The sides have raised rows of lines amidst raised circular details and round details representing "lights". Even the cannon on the turret is nicely sculpted, with rings of detail around each section. The turret itself also has a lot of details including hatches, rivets and lights. Overall this is a very nice sculpt.

This form shows off mostly olive green plastic, with the military green plastic only showing on the cannon and a bit towards the back of the vehicle. The treads are black and light blue Combiner points are plainly visible in the back. The dark green paint is used on both the base and turret in camo patterns. Olive green paint is used on the military green section in the middle, also set in camo patterns. Yellow paint is used for the light details on both the front of the tank and the turret. A silver Autobot symbol is painted onto the left side of the tank towards the front. Overall, the gritty look of the robot mode is retained in this form and it looks great!

The turret can turn all the way around, but I was a bit disappointed that the cannon cannot point up and down as it is one sculpted piece that does not sit on a hinge. As mentioned in Groundspike's review, you can connect him to the front of the vehicle by flipping out the black peg. The hole from the right arm in robot mode is set in the front here, allowing you to arm Heavytread even more! While his treads are nicely sculpted and huge, the vehicle actually rolls on four tiny wheels on the bottom of the tank.

Like the robot mode, this is a solid vehicle mode that looks great and has fun play value.

Transformation to Power-Up Combiner Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Swing open the top panel on the robot chest.
  2. Push the robot head in and then pull out the larger head.
  3. Swing the panel back into place.
  4. Rotate the forearms so they face inward.
  5. Push each forearm up into the shoulders.
  6. Swing the robot arms up and connect them to the center chest piece.
  7. Rotate the turret on the back around and swing the cannon barrel up (it will be on the right side).
  8. Swing the end of the turret forward, forming a weapon over the left shoulder.
  9. Swing down the top of the tread pieces on the lower legs.
  10. Pull each lower leg piece up over the thighs, revealing the Combiner connection points.
  11. Rotate the waist around.

Power-Up Combiner Mode:
Often time, the Combiner mode of a Power Core Combiner Commander figure represents a different type of design than the main figure. Case in point is Salvage's "minotaur" head in his Combiner mode. In the case of Heavytread however, his design looks like a beefed up and upgraded version of his regular robot mode. The front of the tank and the rear form a bulk of the Combiner Mode. The middle of the body is filled with details from the mid-body of the robot including raised armor plates on the mid-body and waist.

The three elements that I love the most on this mode are the head and the parts formed by the turret on the back. The cannon barrel forms what looks like an antenna on a back pack on the right side. On the other side, a chunk of the turret becomes an over the shoulder cannon. The head sculpt looks fantastic. it's squared off and blocky, with small vents on the sides and a mouthplate with thin eyes. It looks like an upgrade of his regular robot mode head.

The Combiner Mode is one of the most solid of the Power Core Combiners released to date. Each of the joints looks strong and thick, which is what you'd expect from a Combiner form based on a tank. There are eleven points of articulation on this figure, including waist articulation which is a very unusual thing to find on a Combiner of any Transformers generation. All the Drones I tried on the figure attached without a problem. The peg in the center of the chest allows you to attach a Mini-Con in power-Up Armor mode as well. Overall, this is a very solid Combiner central body mode.

Final Thoughts:
Heavytread is an awesome example of Power Core Combiner design. He looks fantastic in all his modes thanks to fantastic sculpting and coloring. He also feels solid in each mode, which is crucial for a robot that becomes the center of a combiner. Highly recommended!