Power Core Combiners Smolder with Chopster Toy Review

in 2010, Action Figure Review, Combiner / Gestalt, Decepticon, 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: Chopster Mini-Con action figure/weapon

Images:

*Images and text below from Transformers.com
No one holds a grudge like SMOLDER. He plots elaborate revenge against his hundreds of enemies, and thanks to his combination with CHOPSTER, he’s got the power to see each of them through.

Power up for the ultimate robot battles! Your SMOLDER figure is already a virtually unstoppable opponent in his vehicle and robot modes. But his strength gets doubled when you factor in your CHOPSTER figure and his four modes! Convert this MINI-CON ally figure to weapon accessories for him when he’s in fire truck vehicle mode or Commander mode. Then, convert your CHOPSTER figure into an armor accessory for your SMOLDER 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 SMOLDER robot-to-vehicle figure and MINI-CON figure with four modes! CHOPSTER figure converts from robot to weapon accessory for SMOLDER figure vehicle mode, weapon accessory for SMOLDER figure robot mode and armor accessory for SMOLDER figure Power-Up mode. Ages 5 and up.

The first wave of Power Core Combiners was released with a bias towards Autobots. With both Searchlight and Huffer on the Autobot side, the Decepticons have to make due with only one Power Core "Commander" 2-pack in this wave. This figure is Smolder, a Decepticon who transforms into the unlikely vehicle mode of a fire truck. He is partnered with Chopster, a Mini-Con who (among other modes) can transform into an axe, quite an appropriate accessory for a fire engine Transformer!

Chopster Review

Images:

  • Robot Mode
  • Robot Mode (Side)
  • Robot Mode (Back)
  • Robot Mode (Angle)
  • Robot Mode (Posed)
  • Armor Mode
  • Weapon Mode
  • Weapon Mode (Side)
  • Weapon Mode (Back)

    Robot Mode:
    Chopster's robot mode is a great reminder that Mini-Cons allow the designers to experiment with forms that may not necesarily work as well with larger scale Transformers. His robot mode pretty much screams "living weapon". Both of Chopster's arms are gatling style machine guns and there an axe blade on each of his lower legs. Even better? He has a big cannon sticking up his back (reminscent of Generation One Targetmasters) and his head has a targeting scope built in as one of the eyes. Talk about a mean machine! For what most people may write off as a simple accessory, Chopster's robot mode makes a strong visual impact.

    Much of the design of this robot mode is very curved and sleek. His chest, shoulders and head design are all more curved than angular and robotic. His legs are a bit blocky, but still have enough curves at the edges and corners that it fits in with the design of the rest of hte figure. You have to look close, but behind the big targeting scope eye are a nose and mouth, nicely sculpted on the face inside the larger "helmet" portion of the head.

    Chopster is cast in two plastic colors: translucent orange and black. The arms and upper legs are black, with the rest cast in orange. The orange color is quite appropriate as it resembles fire, the very destructive element that Smolder's vehicle mode is meant to fight (though in this case he probably favors starting them!). Black and orange paint are used to give detail to the figure. The face and "eye" are painted black while the edges of the axe blades on his legs are painted orange. This helps bring some visual pop to the figure and matches well with his existing plastic colors.

    There are six points of articulation on this figure, which is about average for a Mini-Con. It is important to note that four of these articulation points (the shoulders and hips) are ball joints, allowing for a wide range of motion.

    Each of the transformation instructions below assume you are starting with Chopster in vehicle mode.

    Transformation to Blaster Mode:

    1. Swing each lower leg up into the upper leg.
    2. Swing the leg segments up against the sides of the torso, then swing the legs back.
    3. Swing the cannon barrel on his back down.
    4. Point the arms forward so they are on either side of the axe blades.

    Blaster Mode:
    In his blaster mode Chopster delivers on his promise of having some major firepoewr going for a Mini-Con. Twin gatling gun like cannons combined with a large blaster barrel make him one awesome looking figure. This mode really does feel very reminscent of Generation One Targetmasters (or more recently, Nightstick from last year's Cyclonus release. All that said there's one unfortunate aspect of his design. On the bottom of the blaster there is a Mini-Con port, but not a peg. That means he can't be held in Smolder's fists. If you want Smolder to use him in robot mode, you need to connect him to the peg on Smolder's right arm and then swing the arm back at an odd looking angle to point the weapon forward. I found this a rather odd decision but given that the Mini-Con and Commander figures are meant to be swapped around in future redeco waves I'm sure there are some figures which would be better suited for this design (such as Huffer who has a peg on his arm). That said, in vehicle mode Chopster fits perfectly onto the top of the vehicle, so I guess it's easy to argue that the blaster mode was meant more for the vehicle mode than the robot mode, but I still think that's rather unfortunate.

    Transformation to Axe Mode:

    1. Swing the robot arms back a bit.
    2. Rotate each leg out to the side, then swing each lower leg up against the sides of the torso.
    3. Move the gatling guns so they point down.
    4. Swing the cannon barrel down.

    Axe Mode:
    This axe mode is the one that is meant more for the robot mode than the blaster mode. He looks great in this mode, with sharp looking, angulr blades. I dig the cannon barrel doubling as the axe handle, really nice touch. In this mode you also get a better look at the blades that form the two sides of the axe. Not only is the blade detail at the ends segmented from the inner part of the blade, but there are also lines running to the edges that resemble circuitry lines that look awesome.

    Transformation to Armor Mode:

    1. Turn the legs out to the sides.
    2. Fold the lower legs in a bit so the axe blades are out to the sides.
    3. Point the robot arms down.

    Armor Mode:
    Chopster's armor mode is a slightly awkward one. I dig the idea of his axe blades serving as extra armor since they cover a good chunk of surface area across his chest. His lower torso is covered by the rest of the Mini-Con, but unfortunately the blaster barrel is placed in a rather unfortunate place that has caused many a snicker from Transformers fans. Given that, I still think it's cool looking armor, though you've got to feel sorry for Chopster in this mode since his job is to take hits for Smolder! I do appreciate the fact that you can turn his arms up and point them forward along with the blaster barrel, making this more of a combination of weaponry and armor attached to Smolder in this mode.

    Smolder Review

    Images:

    Robot Mode:
    A character's alternate mode often informs the robot mode, and in this form you can definitely see elements of the fire truck mode, but I was surprised by how sleek and streamlined a lot of his parts are. The torso section is almost entirely made up of curved lines, smooth angles that curve into the central body form the arms then leading to the waist ng legs. His forearms are also curved and long (almost out of proportion with the rest of the body). Contrasting with these smooth parts are huge upper arms and legs that have more traditional blocky and angular details that look fantastic. His upper arms especially are very powerful looking and give him a hulking, menacing appearance (the fact that he's a Decepticon helps with that of course).

    I'm a stickler for sculpted detailing on Transformers nowadays. I don't think they're a "nice to have" feature anymore. To me they're required parts of the Transformers design for figures in the main line. The arms have a lot of nice detail including ridged lines, circles, layered tubes and rectangles. The torso has circular details inside crevices that mirror th eshape of the sections that connect the arms to the torso. His upper legs have tube details sculpted into them that lead to the lower legs. Interestingly, these tube details are on the back of the legs as well - nice touch. Look on the upper back of the figure and you'll see some really nice armor details that look like jagged armor, reminscent of the armor on Megatron from the Transformers movies. If you look at the head sculpt for this figure and find it a bit familiar, that's because it takes influence from the Autobot Inferno, perhaps the most well known Generation One fire engine Transformer. Among the details that remind me of Inferno are the central crest and the protrusions on either side of the crest with ridged lines inside of them. That said, there is a neat modification to the Inferno design in the form of the curved helmet portion, which is reminscent of some firefighter helmets in real life. I really love the sculpt work on this figure and am glad to see a bit of a G1 homage thrown in to boot.

    Smolder is cast in very "Inferno-esque" colors including red, black and translucent yellow. Indeed, if he didn't have Decepticon symbols painted onto him, I would swear this was Inferno. The red plastic makes up most of the body of the figur eincluding the upper arms, torso and panels on the lower legs. Black plastic is almost as dominant, making up the head, forearms, thighs and feet. The translucent yellow plastic is found above the feet. Black plastic is used for many smaller sections as well including the parts that connect the torso to the arms as well as the base of the Combiner pegs, though the ends of those pegs are light blue as they are on all Power Core Combiner figures released so far.

    Paint applications are done in light grey, yellow, brown, red and gold. The light grey paint is used on his upper body for details around his collar and near the waist. It is also used for the Decepticon symbols on his upper arms. The yellow paint is found on his lower legs on the sections that form the front of the vehicle. Brown is found on the legs as well, coloring in the windows. The red and gold colors come together on the robot face, where gold is used for the face and red is used for the eyes. Red eyes aside, this figure looks so much like a Scout Class Inferno I can't help but like it. Having him be a new character is just a bonus in my book.

    Smolder has nineteen points of articulation. This includes four points of articulation on each arm and five on each leg. While he cannot hold Chopster as a blaster, he can hold other Mini-Cons that do have pegs that fit in this standard slot. He has two pegs that allow Mini-Cons to connect, one on the back of his right arm and one on his chest. The chest one can fold down to stay out of the way unless you're using it.

    Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

    1. Fold the forearms up over the upper arms.
    2. Swing the panels on the sides of the arms over.
    3. Push the feet up into the lower legs.
    4. Connect the two halves of the lower legs together.
    5. Swing the combiner pegs on the legs in.
    6. Swing the lower legs back and swing down the front panels of the vehicle mode.
    7. Swing the two arm pieces down and connect them together.

    Vehicle Mode:
    Transformers are often given alternate modes based largely upon their allegiance and personalities. This has been a tradition since Generation One, so it's sometimes fun to take expectations and chuck them out the window. Like Barricade from the Transformers movies, Smolder transforms into a fire department brush truck. Essentially it looks like a modified pickup truck with a storage section in the back. He has a lot of nice detailing in this mode, just like the robot mode. His front section has vertical and horizontal bars acting as a protective cage. On top of the cabin are siren lights and running along the sides of the top of the vehicle are bars with small vertical details runnin galon gthem. Other small details include vents on the sides of the back section as well as raised, cross hatch details on the top towards the back. On the sides of the vehicle are tanks (what they contain I'll leave to your imagination) sculpted into the side panels.

    In this form, the red color dominates the vehicle mode, with very little black showing except for the wheels and the middle section near the siren lights. The sirens themselves are cast in translucent yellow plastic and show a lot more prominantly in this mode than the robot mode. Paint applications use the same colors as the robot mode for the most part. This includes black and yellow on the front of the vehicle as well as light grey for the tanks on the sides. White paint is used for the word "Fire" on his doors and a broad stripe running along the sides of the vehicle. The white paint is also used to paint a Decepticon symbol on both sides with a flame detail coming out the top at an angle. It's an amusing detail that also looks cool.

    As mentioned earlier in the review, there is a Mini-Con peg on the top of the vehicle mode, allowing you to attach Chopster, or really any Mini-Con or Energon weapon to the peg. This gives him the additional touch of being an offensive vehicle despite being one that is meant to rescue people - talk about deception!

    Transformation to Combiner Mode (Starting in robot mode):

    1. Swing the chest panel with the Mini-Con peg on it forward.
    2. Push the robot head down, which will flip up the Combiner head.
    3. Swing the Combiner pegs on the upper arms up.
    4. Fold the forearms up over the upper arms.
    5. Swing the panels on the sides of the arms in.
    6. Rotate the arms so the back of the upper arms face forward.
    7. Push each robot foot back.
    8. Fold the lower legs into the upper legs.
    9. Swing the Combiner pegs on the legs down.
    10. Rotate the robot legs so the sides of the vehicle with the words "Fire" face forward.
    11. Connect Drones to any of the four blue connection points.
    12. Chopster can be connected to Smolder's chest peg.

    Combiner Mode

    Images:

    Before I began to write this review I heard some folks remark that this was a rather weak "torso" mode out of the many figures out right now, but I have to say, I really dig it. If you look at my photos, you'll notice I move the arm sections up so they give Smolder a hunched over look. That was deliberate, though the arms can move down to look more "normal". I just dig the idea of a Decepticon combining with Drones and forming a huge, hulking robot that is hunched over and threatening looking.

    The Combiner head takes its inspiration from rescue gear, similar to the regular robot mode head. This one has a curved helmet section with visor eyes and tubes running to a mouthplate, resembling breathing tubes leading to an oxygen supply mask on firefighter equipment. The sides of the head have circles on them with antennae sticking up, looking almost like a modern day take on Optimus Prime as a rescue truck. It's a rather heroic look for a Decepticon, but of course he will be given a new deco as an Autobot later in the line. Still, the head sculpt looks fantastic and I really like how different it is from the regular robot head. The head is cast in black plastic with translucent yellow eyes and the mouthplate is painted light grey.

    There are seventeen points of articulation in this mode. This includes four in the legs and the head being able to turn left and right. The leg joints can bend at the knee, where Smolder's leg connects with the Drone.

    Overall, I'm very happy with this Combiner Mode. It's not the best of the bunch in this first wave, but it has character and a cool design. It's also solid thanks to tight joints and plenty of clearance space for the Drones in their limb modes.

    Final Thoughts:
    Smolder is an excellent figure. I like all three of his modes and find his allegiance to be a cool aspect of the character. Chopster is one dangerous looking Mini-Con in any mode. The two paired together makes a package that is highly recommended!

    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!