Power Core Combiners Huffer Toy Review

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

Power Core Combiners

General Information:
Release Date: June 2010
Price Point: $9.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Caliburst Mini-Con action figure/weapon

Images:

*Images and text from transformers.com:
With CALIBURST by his side, HUFFER is just as inclined to grumble as he’s ever been, but he’s also faster, stronger, and smarter, which means the DECEPTICONS have a lot more to complain about than he does.

Power up for the ultimate robot battles! Your HUFFER figure is already a virtually unstoppable opponent in his vehicle and robot modes. But his strength gets doubled when you factor in your CALIBURST figure and his four modes! Convert this MINI-CON ally figure to weapon accessories for him when he’s in truck vehicle mode or Commander mode. Then, convert your CALIBURST figure into an armor accessory for your HUFFER figure’s Power Up Mode! And the action doesn’t stop there. With this Power Core interchangeable robot combination system, MINI-CONS and drone vehicles (sold separately) can attach to power up any Commander figure. Collect more packs and you can create tons of unique and fierce robot battler figure combinations!

Exciting two-pack of robot figures includes HUFFER robot-to-vehicle figure and MINI-CON figure with four modes! CALIBURST figure converts from robot to weapon accessory for HUFFER figure vehicle mode, weapon accessory for HUFFER figure robot mode and armor accessory for HUFFER figure Power-Up mode. Ages 5 and up.

The year 2010 brings back a Transformers concept from the year 2003, namely the combination of a Transformer with a Mini-Con. The term "Mini-con" has begun to gain wider use in Transformers lore. With the introduction of the "War for Cybertron" unified continuity, Mini-Cons (or Minicons as they are spelled in the book "Exodus") are basically seen as any smaller Transformer that works in conjunction with a larger one. With the Power Core Combiners, the idea of combining technology and Mini-Cons are fused into one in a series of two packs and five packs. The two packs include a Scout Class figure along with a Mini-Con that has four modes as opposed to the previous Mini-Cons which generally topped out at three modes.

Huffer is a name that many Transformers fans will know as the whining, orange and blue truck from Generation One. Originally part of G1 Optimus Prime's crew on The Ark, the character disappeared from Transformers lore for many years, but with the introduction of a Botcon exclusive figure a couple years back and now this figure, Huffer is stepping up into the limelight again. It is interesting to note that this is the only "legacy" character in the Power Core Combiner assortments (thus far). Whether or not he is "War for Cybertron" Huffer or not is up in the air, but there's certainly nothing to say he isn't.

Caliburst is another name taken from G1, but a bit later during the Targetmaster era. The original Caliburst was a Nebulan Targetmaster partner to the Decepticon Slugslinger. Like his G1 namesake, this Caliburst has a robot/humanoid form and a gun mode to go with his other two forms.

Caliburst Review

Images:

  • Robot Mode
  • Robot Mode (Side)
  • Robot Mode (Back)
  • Robot Mode (Posed)
  • Weapon Mode (Vehicle Weapon)
  • Weapon Mode (Vehicle Weapon, side)
  • Weapon Mode (Vehicle Weapon, back)
  • Weapon Mode (Robot Weapon)
  • Weapon Mode (Robot Weapon, side)

    Robot Mode:
    Caliburst may share a name with a G1 Transformer, but his design is largely unique while being reminscent of the Targetmasters of yore. Caliburst stands about about 2.5 in/6.4 cm tall in robot mode, making him a bit tall compared to some past Mini-Cons. His styling is quite streamlined, with a five sided, raised design on his chest that evokes the classic Mini-Con symbol, a very rectangular waist area and legs that are long and have a raised bar in the front of each section. His arms are a bit small in comparison, but his left arm has a relatively huge honking weapon attached to it that looks absolutely fantastic. This double barreled cannon gives Caliburst the appearance of a Transformer that can do plenty of harm on his own without his larger partner! The head design is pretty standard, with an angled off helmet around a regular face with eyes, nose and mouth. His mouth looks partially open which is kind of cool. It's not often you get to see expression in such a small Transformer. My favorite flair in the design are the gear like sections hanging off his back. They look almost like wings and give him a very mechanical appearance.

    Caliburst shares a basic color scheme with his G1 namesake. His primary plastic colors are translucent blue and grey (G1 Caliburst was solid blue and grey). I love this color combination and the blue is a fantastic color. His "gear" sections and his face are painted silver, bringing some extra brightness to the figure.

    There are nine points of articulation on this figure. I'm being generous by counting the ability for his arms to swivel out and in on their transformation joint, but with such a small figure every little bit counts! The cannon is attached to his arm by a ball joint, so you can move it around in all sorts of directions. I like to have it pointing "back" to simulate a "standby" mode and then forward for a "battle mode".

    I should note that in the next session, each transformation assumes you are starting with Caliburst in robot mode, the mode he is packaged in.

    Transformation to Vehicle Weapon Mode:

    1. Raise the left arm and turn the cannon around so it is pointing down towards the ground.
    2. Move the arm back down.
    3. Swing both "gear" sections up to cover the robot head and torso.
    4. Rotate both legs on the ball joints and the hips, the swing the lower legs forward.
    5. This can be attached to any Mini-Con peg on Huffer.

    Vehicle Weapon Mode:
    It seems like a small distinction to have Caliburst have a "vehicle weapon mode" and a "robot weapon mode", but this form does look much more like something you'd mount onto a vehicle as a weapon. The rectangular shape of the base gives the solid appearance of a gun emplacement. Even better? Thanks to the ball joint the cannon is on, the gun can move up and down as well! Since the cannon is now between the gear details, this is effective on a play level and a visual one. Play wise it gives him a nice range of movement to blast enemies on the ground or in the sky. Visually it gives the illusion that there is a gearing system controlling the height the weapon points. It's a brilliant design move that I really love. You'll also note in this mode (and the next) you see a lot more gear details on the sides, looking like he has a series of gears interacting to operate his cannon. I really love this touch as well.

    Transformation to Robot Weapon Mode:

    1. Raise the left arm and turn the cannon around so it is pointing down towards the ground.
    2. Move the arm back down.
    3. Swing both "gear" sections up to cover the robot head and torso.
    4. Raise the legs so they are pointed up, then bend them at the knees.
    5. Attach to the Powerlinx pegs on HUffer's right arm.

    Robot Weapon Mode:
    Whereas the vehicle weapon mode looks like a compact gun emplacement, the robot weapon mode has the opposite effect, looking like a rifle like weapon that is meant to be carried by a warrior. It is pretty cool how a very minor arrangement of the legs can make the weapon mode look so distinct. In this mode, Caliburst also harkens back to the old G1 Targetmasters where a bit of the robot mode still shows, but is more a part of the aesthetic than anything else.

    Interestingly, at Toy Fair 2010 I was told that the Mini-Cons from this line would not function with the Powerlinx pegs of past Transformers. However, when I attached Caliburst to Vector Prime, he fit tightly, but he did fit. While I know pegs varied a bit from figure to figure with the Mini-Cons, it looks like there is some level of compatability with the Unicron Trilogy era figures. That said, when I tried to attach Caliburst to my Universe 2.0 Hot Shot figure the fit was very loose, so I guess your mileage will vary when it comes to cross-compatability with other lines.

    Transformation to Power-Up Armor Mode:

    1. Rotate the cannon on Caliburst's arm so it points down.
    2. Swing the gear sections out to the sides.
    3. Swing the robot arms up so they angle with the edges of the gear sections.
    4. Swing the robot legs up against the torso to cover up the head.
    5. Caliburst can be attached to any Powerlinx peg on Huffer but he is meant to go on the one in his chest.

    Power-Up Armor Mode:
    There are two things I love about this mode. First, it fulfills the promise that Mini-Cons had years ago. Originally, Mini-Cons were intended to be small Transformers that could become anything from weapons to robots to armor. While we did have the Star Saber and various interesting Mini-Con forms, armor was not one of the ones that was emphasized. Now to have that and a robot and weapon forms in one figure is awesome.

    Secondly, this armor actually looks like it could protect Huffer. With the gears splayed out, it covers most of his chest and the translucent plastic gives it the feel of energy protecting Huffer, not just armor plating. The gear designs also give an extra bit of mechanical "feel" to any Transformer you attach Caliburst to. I also like the way you can still swivel the cannon forward to give Huffer an extra weapon in this form.

    Huffer Review

    Images:

    Robot Mode (aka Commander Mode):
    Huffer was never portrayed as the most heroic Autobot (though the early Marvel comic books did try). Indeed, the original Mini-Bot figure was quite weird looking with claw hands and arms set at a weird angle. His treatment years later as a Botcon exclusive gave him a more humanoid form, but it was still rather squat. It took the Power Core Combiner line to give Huffer his due as a rather "normal" looking robot with humanoid proportions and a rather powerful looking chassis. Standing at about 4.5 in/11.4 cm, this is probably the tallest Huffer has been made into toy form. While he is based on his G1 namesake, the overall design is not a slavish design homage like those you would expect from say, the Universe 2.0 toy line. There are however some minor touches that clearly show influence from the G1 character.

    Huffer's head design does pay a slight bit of homage (though it may not have been intentional) to G1 Huffer in its eye design. On top of a rather normal looking head design (thin helmet with protrustions on the sides and a nose/mouth) are large visor eyes. G1 Huffer's toy had visor eyes as well, albeit more angled ones. These are straight on top and only come up to a point where the nose is. The mouth design has some extra design flourishes on either side, giving him a more movie-Transformer like appearance.

    The body has another design element that seems to pay homage to G1 Huffer. The design of his upper arms are cylinder in shape, very similar to those on G1 Huffer's original toy and cartoon model design. That's pretty much it for the overt design elements from G1 Huffer, but that's already a lot. I like to see small elements brought in with an original design (and otherwise I'd just want this guy in the current "Generations" line as a deluxe figure). I could almost argue that his chest design alludes to some of the elements of the G1 figure, but they're different enough that I think they're original.

    If his iconic name doesn't remind you Huffer is a truck in his alternate form, the wheels you find on his chest and legs will. I dig this design. Sure it "reveals" his alternate mode, but it also harkens back to some G1 designs that did have some vehicle mode kibble on the robot mode. These are unobtrusive and in the case of the wheels on his chest they actually add something nice to the design on a visual level.

    I like a lot of the angled design elements on this figure. Very few parts on his torso and waist are simple right angles. Instead a lot of the designs curve and angle into other designs such as the chest designs angling into the waist. His legs are curved a bit with rectangular designs near the knees. Small details like wires in his forearms, tubes leading to his feet and two cylinders sticking out in the front of each leg look great and really show the care that is given to the sculpts of this line.

    Huffer is cast in light blue, black, silver and mustard yellow plastic. The yellow is the primary color, making up most of the torso, the lower legs and the parts that the arms are attached to. Black breaks up the monotony by making up smaller parts on his arms and the ehad. Silver is kind of hidden in this form since it's meant more for the Combiner mode, but you'll see it on the insides of his legs and his knee joints. The light blue may seem like an odd color to throw into the mix, but it is more of a standard color used across the Power Core Combiners line, used for the joints that the drone vehicles from the larger five pack Combiner sets attach to. Here, the light blue is most prominant on his heel pieces.

    Paint applications are done in various colors including silver, red, dark blue and orange The silver is the blue is the most prominant, used on all the raised sections of his torso and waist. The silver is distributed throughout the robot mode, found on his head, forearms and legs. Yellow is used for tinier details such as lines on his chest and what appear to be headlights on his waist. A red Autobot symbol is painted on the left side of his chest right on top of the blue section. In what I found to be a possible nod to his G1 self, a big patch of orange paint is found on his back on a black panel.

    Huffer has eleven points of articulation in this form. This includes ball joints on his shoulders and elbows as well as swivel joints on his hips. His upper body is one solid piece so there's no waist articulation, but he's still quite posable without it. As mentioned in Caliburst's reviews, you can attach the Mini-Con to Huffer at various points. In this mode that includes his chest and arm. I love how large of a weapon Caliburst appears to be on Huffer's arm. Out of curiosity, I took Safeguard and also attached him to the peg on Huffer's arm and he fit fine. Just for kicks I also attached Thunderwing from the Classics Clear Skies Team and he fit fine as well. I was kind of relieved by this as I feared Safeguard may have been an abberation. I still caution that compatability may vary from Mini-Con to Mini-Con, but these are at least two I know will work!

    Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

    1. Swing the robot head down.
    2. Swing the robot arms up, then rotate the forearms around so they are facing front.
    3. Connect the robot legs together.
    4. Swing the heel pieces on each leg back.
    5. Swing the arms out to the sides including the panels they are attached to and connect them together to form the top of the cab section and part of the back section of the vehicle.
    6. Attach the holes in the robot fists to the pegs on the back of the truck.

    Vehicle Mode:
    In Generation One, Huffer was a rather boxy tractor trailer truck. In 2010, he is now more of a extended nose style truck, akin to Optimus Prime's form in the live action movies. The front grille is pretty strong looking with what appear to be bars reinforcing the front and around the grille itself. The cabin section has siren and horn details on the top and on either side of the vehicle are ladders leading up to the doors (Huffer must be one tall truck!). Behind those sections are smokestacks with the requisite series of holes leading up to the pipe on the top. The rear section is less blocky on the sides, with curved sections over the rear wheels. Overall this is a tough looking truck and definitely an upgrade from his G1 form!

    In this form the same mix of colors from the robot mode shows, with the mustard yellow playing the most prominant role. Aside from the wheels, the front end and parts of the back are cast in black. The blue "Combiner posts" stick out the back and are perhaps the most visually intrusive element of the vehicle mode. Orange, yellow, silver and dark blue colors are used in this form as well with some black added in. The orange panel from the robot mode now reveals itself to be the front hood. Silver is found on the grille and smokestacks while blue is used for the windows. The headlights in the front are yellow. Black is used for small details such as the lights and horns on the top of the truck as well as two Autobot symbols, one on each door. Overall it's a scheme that is consistant with the robot mode but with an added splash of brightness (namely the orange) that connects the toy to its G1 counterpart while looking cool.

    Connecting Caliburst to the back of the vehicle gives Huffer some firepower in vehicle mode. I love the idea of having a truck smashing through enemy lines with a big ol' gun on the back. Huffer looks great with or without the weapon, but having it definitely adds a lot. Of course, other Mini-Cons can fit as well since the peg used here is the same as the one from his arm in robot mode.

    Transformation to Combiner Mode (starting in robot mode):

    1. Swing the robot head down.
    2. Open the orange panel on the back and swing out the Combiner head, then swing that entire piece forward.
    3. Swing the forearms up against the upper arms, then attach them to the chest using the rectangular tabs connecting to the rectangular holes on the forearms.
    4. Swing each lower leg out to the sides, then connect the holes on the insides of the yellow pieces to the peg on the silver pieces.
    5. Swing out each of the light blue connector pegs and attach vehicles (sold separately).

    Combiner Mode:

    Images:

    The Combiner Mode is really a variation on the robot mode. Now you get to see two parts that were not revealed before. First is the head, which to Generation One fans should look very familiar. With its angled front end, horns sticking out the top and vent like sections on the sides, this is actually a head sculpt for none other than Menasor, the Stunticon giant from Generation One. So why is this head on an Autobot?! Well, it was reveled at Botcon that one of the upcoming redecos will feature Huffer given a new deco as a Decepticon with a team of cars, alluding to the G1 Stunticons. Here however the head sculpt just looks intimidating, with the horns and lots of small details on the face including a toothy smile and a chin that protrudes out quite a bit. It's a great modern take on the Menasor head sculpt and I dig it a lot.

    The other newly revealed parts are the inside mechanisms of his legs which include two tubes leading to angled pieces. I like the visual implication of greater machinery hidden inside Huffer's legs. They look great and like they wer designed to support the extra weight of having limbs attached. Very nice!

    the head piece is cast in black with a silver face, yellow on the horns and translucent blue light piped eyes. the leg pieces are a combination of black and silver. These colors keep color consistancy with the rest of the figure while giving these pieces a nice look as well.

    Any of the vehicles that come with the five packs are meant to connect here. At the time I'm writing this review I only had the Aerialbots to test out and they all connected without a problem. What's even cooler is how incredibly solid this guy felt. No parts felt like they were going to flop around or fly off, a complaint sometimes mentioned by fans when it came to G1 or even the more recent Energon combiners. I also like the use of the forearms forming panels on the sides of his chest. it gives him a formidable appearance while giving added width to the combined robot.

    Final Thoughts:
    Huffer is the first Power Core Combiner I cracked open and I have to say it's a fantastic figure with fun gimmicks. Seeing Mini-Cons finally come into their own as multi-purpose Transformers is also a delight. If this is how other Power Core Combiners are going to be than this line has a bright future. Highly recommended!