"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Activator Combiner Strongarm & Trickout

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Activator Combiner, Autobot, Combiner Force, Robots in Disguise (2015)

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Bumblebee General Information:
Release Date: January 2017
Price Point: $19.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Stuntwing Mini-Con

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
It’s a high speed chase. The Decepticons brake right, leaving Strongarm in the dust. But wait, it’s Trickout teaming up with Strongarm -- they’re in pursuit again. With Trickout, Strongarm becomes supercharged.

Experience exciting battle play with this Activator Combiner 2-pack featuring one Strongarm figure and one Activator Trickout figure. Kids can combine forces and activator awesome pop-out battle modes with Transformers: Robots in Disguise Combiner Force Activator Combiner figures. This Activator Combiner 2-pack features one Strongarm figure and one Trickout figure. This Strongarm figure converts from robot and police car in 8 steps; Trickout figure converts in 1. Attach the Trickout figure to the Strongarm figure to activate a super power boost.

The theme for "Robots in Disguise" in 2017 is "Combiner Force" where combination in various ways informs the gimmicks built into the toys. One segment features "Activator Combiners". Riffing off of the "Armada" series these two packs feature a larger figure with a Mini-Con. The Mini-Con can be attached to the larger figure to activate a feature. Each larger figure measures larger than the Warrior Class figures, but not as large as the larger 3-Step Changers. They are in a size class all their own. The first wave of these figures featured two Autobots: Bumblebee and Strongarm, each with a different Mini-Con partner.

Packaging:
The Activator Combiner figures are packaged in a window box. The border primarily uses white and red colors with the "Transformers" logo set vertically on the right side (if you are facing the box). Above that is the "Robots in Disguise" logo along with an Autobot symbol inside a circle. Towards the bottom of the packaging is the "Combiner Force" logo. Above that are the names "Strongarm" and "Trickout" inside arrows that come together in the middle, symbolizing their ability to "combine" (yeah, we're using the term pretty loosely here). The artwork on the packaging features Trickout running in robot mode and transforming to connect to Strongarm in vehicle mode. Both figures are in robot mode in a plastic tray inside the box. The back of the packaging shows CG renders of the figure in all its various modes. This includes Strongarm both connected and not connected to Trickout. It also mentions that the Mini-Con feature can work across figures including Bumblebee and Stuntwing (pictured in vehicle mode off to one side). Below all that is legal information in various languages.

Trickout

I am a fan of unconventional Transformers designs, and Trickout falls into that category nicely. The top part of the robot looks thick and tough. He has a head that is reminiscent of G1 Ironhide's animated look (with a large crest, curved helmet and a grim expression on his face). The torso is thick but has cool, sculpted details on the sides. His arms look like they have extra thick armor on the forearms and his fists look like they have protective armor on the top of the hand (as if to protect them in combat). The unusual part comes into play with the lower body. Instead of conventional legs, he has thick wheels which call back to designs like those on the Vehicons from "Beast Machines". I really dig this design.

Trickout is cast in red and black plastic. The red makes up most of the body with black mostly used on the lower part of the figure. The face is painted silver with blue eyes. The finishing touch is a scannable Autobot symbol on the torso. Scanning this in the official "Robots in Disguise" app unlocks the Mini-Con inside the game.

Swing the chest up and the figure "auto transforms" into the vehicle mode. The vehicle is a monster truck and has some nice sculpted detailing including windows, an indentation on the hood and grille in the front. This mode has two huge wheels in the back and smaller ones in the front. As part of the transformation, a weapon barrel extends in the back of the vehicle. Here it looks more like a rocket, making Trickout a Rocket Powered Truck!

On the bottom of the vehicle is a black peg you can swing down. This changes him into a weapon for a larger figure to hold!

I really like Trickout. Despite his lack of articulation, he is neat in each of his modes and I like the color combination used for the figure.

Strongarm

Robot Mode:
There have been quite a few Strongarm figures to date, so her design is pretty much well established in the toy line. While her Warrior Class version is still the best version, this design does a good job of replicating a lot of the details from the animation model in plastic form. These details include:

  • The head sculpt is show accurate including a central crest with horns on the sides, a helmet section that flares out on the sides and the helmet wraps around the head down to a "chin guard" on the bottom.
  • The chest has two armor panels with an indentation in the center.
  • The shoulders each have vehicle mode wheels on them, giving them significant bulk.
  • The waist area has a series of details that resemble a belt including a "buckle" like design in the center.
  • The knee armor resembles something you would see on riot gear.
  • The lower legs have distinct, angled lines pointing downward.

The only real design element "missing" are the doors on Strongarm's back stickin gout to the sides. Overall this is a nice sculpt.

Stongarm is cast in blue, white and black plastic. Given the limited deco used on the Activator Combiners Strongarm looks good. The head has blue paint on top and yellow on the crest. The face is painted silver while the eyes are blue. Some dark blue is used on the chest while white is found on the lower legs. The finishing touch is a scannable Autobot symbol on the right side of the chest. Scanning this in the official "Robots in Disguise" app unlocks the character.

Unfortunately a lot of the deco to make this "show accurate" are not featured on this figure. This includes some white on the forearms, a white line on each of the blue sections on the chest and black and blue on the 'belt'.

Strongarm has seven points of articulation in this mode. It looks like the arms have elbow articulation, but this is actually a hinge for the wheel gimmick in vehicle mode. Unfortunately the legs cannot move forward and back, which severely hampers the articulation. This is most likely done to make sure all the parts are properly aligned in vehicle form for the "Activator Combiner" gimmick. Personally I wish this articulation had been included. I think it would not have been too hard to get the legs to align properly in vehicle form, especially given that the lower legs clip together.

As mentioned above, Trickout can turn into a blaster for Strongarm. Just transform him into truck mode, swing out the peg on the bottom and turn him around.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Swing the front grille section on the back over the robot head.
  3. Push the lower legs together.
  4. Swing the lower legs back to form the rear of the vehicle.
  5. Push the arms in.

*Note: If the wheels swing down or the spring loaded gimmick activates, just push the wheels back into place. If you lock something in place but need to make adjustments, press the black button on the back. This will push the arms out automatically using a spring loaded feature.

Vehicle Mode:
Like the robot mode, Strongarm's vehicle mode does a nice job of replicating much of the design featured in the animated series. These details include:

  • The front of the vehicle features a grille with an Autobot symbol sculpted in the middle.
  • The headlights are set vertically.
  • Under the grille is a bumper with distinct rectangular and "L" shaped designs.
  • The hood has a raised vent in the middle.
  • The sideview mirrors have a distinct angle on the lower section.
  • There is a lightbar on top of the vehicle, though the shape is different than the one show in the cartoon.

Unfortunately, the relative lack of deco in this mode winds up obscuring the sculpted details a bit. for instance the headlights and the details under the grille just blend in to the blue plastic instead of standing out. However some white paint was used on the front end, the doors and back to keep the figure from looking too blue. Also the light bar is painted red and blue on the ends. The windows are painted black (inspired by their appearance in the cartoon). I do wish there were more paint applications but that is a given with the Activator Combiners.

This mode features a 5mm port on the top of the vehicle (on the lightbar). Attach Trickout (or any Mini-Con with a 5mm peg) and it activates Strongarm's "Activator Combiner" feature. What happens when you do this? The sides of the vehicle push outward and all four wheels raise up. This also reveals some additional sculpted detail on the front end of the vehicle and a little bit on the sides near the rear wheel wells. I do like the idea of the vehicle being raised up as if to help it get over tough(er) terrain. However I wish there was more revealed, like weaponry or something. Revealing just a few details here and there is not particularly impressive I'm afraid. By the way, if you don't have a Mini-Con or 5mm weapon handy, there is a black button on the top of the vehicle you can press to activate the feature.

Final Thoughts:
I was rather disappointed with the Activator Combiner Bumblebee set so I was happy to see this set improves on the concept in many ways. Strongarm looks good in both modes and the figure feels chunky and solid. Trickout is also a fun Mini-Con figure in all his modes. I also find Strongarm's "Activator Combiner" gimmick more dynamic than Bumblebee's. Still, she could use more extra detail/features when the feature is activated. Overall older fans will want to skip this figure, but I think kids will definitely get a kick out of it.

Pros:

  • Strongarm is a good figure in both modes.
  • Good deco given the figure class.
  • Gimmick is rather fun and dramatic.
  • Trickout is a neat Mini-Con in terms of sculpt and design.

Cons:

  • Could use more deco in robot mode.
  • Needs more additional details and/or features in the "activated" vehicle mode.