"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Crash Combiner Primestrong Toy Review

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

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Primestrong General Information:
Release Date: January 2017
Price Point: $14.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: None

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
What happens when you crash and combine forces with Transformers: Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime and Strongarm figures? No, not a traffic jam. You get a 2-bot Primestrong Crash Combiner figure!

This Crash Combiner 2-pack features one Optimus Prime figure and one Strongarm figure. Crash these figures together in one awesome step to form a Primestrong combiner robot. Crash these figures with other Crash Combiner figures to form different 2-bot combinations. The Optimus Prime figure converts from robot to truck in 3 steps; Strongarm figure converts from robot to police car in 3. Scan the Autobot shield in combiner mode to unlock the Primestrong character in the mobile app.

Together, Optimus Prime and Strongarm form an even more powerful robot, Primestrong. Combine forces and join the battle with these figures based on the Transformers: Robots in Disguise animated series.

Concept:
After thirty plus years, it is not easy to come up with anything "new" when it comes to Transformers play patterns, but that does not keep the folks at Hasbro from trying. In early 2017 fans were introduced to a new sub-group in "Robots in Disguise": the Crash Combiners. Crash Combiners borrow a bit from the past but add some new functionality into the mix. They feature two characters whose vehicle modes can "crash" into each other and thus activating a transformation that combines the two into a single robot. Similar concepts have existed in past lines such as G1 and "Energon". In both cases there were pairs of robots that could combine with each other to form a larger robot. Crash Combiners are different in that they only combine one way (meaning not every character can be the upper and lower body, they are one or the other) and their combination mechanism is spring loaded.

Packaging:
Crash Combiners are packaged in a bubble attached to a card. The card has a vertical "Transformers" logo with the "Robots in Disguise" logo above it. Off to the other side is artwork for Optimus Prime and Strongarm. Both pieces of art are pieces of promotional art used for the characters since the first season of the show. Each of the characters is in vehicle mode set at angles inside the bubble. Inside the bubble is also an insert with artwork of Primestrong, the combined form of Optimus Prime and Strongarm. The insert also features the "Combiner Force" logo, connecting this to the theme of "Robots in Disguise" in 2017.

The back of the pckaging features pictures of both figures in robot and vehicle mode as well as their combined form. Off to the side is a cosell for "Beeside", the two pack featuring Bumblebee and Sideswipe. Below that is legal information and info on the "Robots in Disguise" app.

Optimus Prime

Vehicle Mode:
Optimus Prime's vehicle form is based on the truck mode he uses in the animated series. Features include a longnose front end, angled windows reminiscent of Star Convoy and a trailer section that angles up on the sides. The best section on this figure is the front end, which has the sleek looking windshield and some line detailing on the "nose" portion. Unfortunately the vehicle mode design suffers because of the "Primestrong" bits that show in this form. The back of the vehicle has a large panel on top that forms Primestrong's torso. The middle has sections that stick out on the sides which come from Primestrong's hips. These really knocks down the aesthetics of the vehicle several notches. The front of the vehicle features a large "clip" mechanism that is part of the "Crash Combiner" gimmick that does not do the vehicle any favors visually. On top of that the wheels are tiny "clip on" wheels and they look very bad. The "clip" pieces that hold the wheels in place just look cheap. The better way to go would have been to have the wheels filled in on the sides so the clip doesn't show.

The vehicle mode is cast in metallic red, blue and black plastic. It is mostly red, with some thin blue lines on the sides. The wheels and combining mechanism in front are black. There are only two paint applications in this mode. One is black on the windshield. The other is blue-green on an arrow in the front combining mechanism. The result is a very plain looking vehicle.

While they do not look great, the vehicle can roll on the wheels. The top of the cabin section has a 5mm port that allows you to attach weapons and/or Mini-Cons. The back has Primestrong's fists showing so you could use those ports to attach other accessories as well.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the vehicle over.
  2. Swing the robot arms out.
  3. Swing the torso panel forward, swing the head up, then swing the panel back in place.

Robot Mode:
Unfortunately, Optimus Prime's sculpt does not get much better in robot mode. He does have a lot of the key features of the character's "Robots in Disguise" incarnation. These include a face with a mouth instead of a mouthplate (which he usually only puts up in battle), shoulders with distinct notches on them, a faux windshield on his chest and long legs that include wide knee armor and wheels on the lower legs. There are two key issues with the sculpt. First the proportions are rather off including both the waist area and shoulder armor being significantly shrunken down compared to other iterations of the character. The other issue are the extra parts from the Primestrong mode that wind up on his hips. The result is an Optimus who looks like he is carrying around two gigantic saddlebags and it looks odd to say the least.

Optimus uses the same colors as the vehicle mode. In this form the windshield on the chest is painted black and his face is silver and...that's it. I had hoped that the lack of deco in vehicle mode meant more in robot mode but that is not the case. The shame is there are some nicely sculpted details in this form, especially on the torso but they kind of get lost in a sea of metallic red plastic.

Unless you count the ability of his arms to swing out to the sides, there are zero points of articulation on this figure, which is very unfortunate. Now, I am glad that this half of Primestrong has a robot mode at all, but I wish it had been much better than it is.

Strongarm

Vehicle Mode:
Strongarm's vehicle mode is much stronger than Optimus Prime's. For the most part the design and shape of this form matches up nicely with previous figures and the TV show animation model. The only parts that diverge from those designs are the back, which is angled downward with fin-like pieces on it. The front has the combining mechanism in the front in place of a grille. Still there are no pieces sticking out on the sides and the proportions look good.

In addition to the proportions, this mode also features some nice detailing. This includes the headlights and notches over the wheel wells. The top of the cabin section also has a light bar on top and the truck bed has some angled notches in it.

Strongarm is cast in white, metallic blue and black plastic. White makes up most of the vehicle with blue making up significant chunks on the front, sides and back. Strongarm features much more deco than Optimus. The front end has some white paint. The windows are black and the light bar has red and light blue on it. Overall I'm much happier with the look of Strongarm's vehicle mode than I was with Optimus Prime's.

There is a 5mm port between the two halves of the light bar in this mode. This allows you to attach any weapon with a 5mm peg.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the vehicle over.
  2. Swing the robot arms out.
  3. Swing the torso panel forward, swing the robot head up then push the panel back in place.

Robot Mode:
Like her vehicle mode, Strongarm's robot mode is better than Optimus Prime's in many respects. This is partly thanks to there not being giant saddlebags on the sides or super odd proportions. Sure she is not exactly the TV show model made into plastic. By necessity it seems this design shrinks parts of the upper body and makes the lower body larger. Still, many of Strongarm's key details are here including her head design, the angled panels on her torso and even the "pouches" on her waist area. She also has small details like the angled notches on her legs. From a sculpting point of view this is successful for a simpler figure.

This mode is mostly made up of metallic blue plastic. Sure a big white truck piece basically sits on her back so you can't get away from the white plastic. The torso is painted white in the middle and her head has yellow and silver details. Unfortunately that is it for paint details, and it is a shame because so many other sculpted details could have been brought out more with some paint.

The standard design for the Crash Combiner individual robot forms seems to be zero articulation unless you count the arms going in and out to the sides. In many respects this form is more of an "Easter egg bonus" than a full fledged form by modern day Transformers standards.

Primestrong

Transformation:
With both vehicles facing each other, press the front end pieces together. A few things will happen at the same time. The Primestrong arms from the back of Optimus Prime will swing down. The torso panel on Optimus Prime will also swing down. This will also reveal Primestrong's head. To finish the transform swing the legs out to the sides a bit and swing down the metallic blue parts in the front to form the feet.

Combined Form:
This form is really what everything with this set leads up to. Primestrong has mostly "Optimus Prime-based" features on the top half of the body and Strongarm features on the lower part. The Optimus Prime portion borrows heavily from his animated "Robots in Disguise" design including elements like the "V" shaped windshield on his chest and thick arms. However some other details are different including what look like gears on his shoulders and a head design that includes a crest and "horns" coming out. Now, it would be easy to simply call this a Star Convoy homage and call it a day, but I think there's a bit more at work here. Since this character is a combination of Strongarm and Optimus Prime, I think what is really happening here is that the "horns" from Strongarm's helmet design "mix" with Optimus Prime's head design. I appreciate that this idea works on two levels and it looks great.

Overall this form looks like a powerful Transformer. Optimus' shoulders and thick forearms look like they could take Decepticons down with ease. Strongarm's vehicle mode being bulky creates bulky legs for Primestrong. The result is a really cool looking robot in my book.

Primestrong of course blends Optimus Prime and Strongarm's colors. The top of the figure is mostly red plastic with a bit of blue on the head and back. The lower body is mostly white plastic with some blue. The head has yellow and silver paint on it. The torso has black on the chest for the windshield while silver is used on the lower part of the torso. The legs mostly rely on the black window details and the light bar for its detailing. A scannable Autobot symbol is found on the left shoulder which unlocks Primestrong in the "Robots in Disguise" official app. Of all the various forms this set has, this is the best looking one color-wise.

This mode has two points of articulation: the elbows. This is good since the fists are sculpted with 5mm ports. It's always a tad frustrating when characters can hold weapons but not point them forward, but Primestrong does not have this issue. I do think there was a missed opportunity here to give the figure head articulation. The head is not part of any mechanism, so it could have easily been put on a column or ball joint to add some articulation. I also think it would have been nice to add a swivel joints on the arms so they could move in and out.

Final Thoughts:
Much like One Step Changers, Crash Combiners emphasize a gimmick over qualities that older fans generally favor such as sculpting, posability and G1 homages. As gimmicks go I have to say it is a fun one. I have to say it is fun pushing the two vehicles together and watching the spring loaded actions form (most of) Primestrong. I also think the Primestrong robot mode looks great. I would love to see this character animated and in action. I do recommend this figure but only for the gimmick and as a set to play around with. This is not a "Generations" or "Masterpiece" type figure for display, nor does it have a complex transformation. I like this set, but I recognize its limitations.

Pros:

  • Fun gimmick.
  • Nicely sculpted combined form.
  • Able to use 5mm weapons in vehicle and robot forms.

Cons:

  • Needs more deco points.
  • Needs more articulation.
  • Individual robots are relatively weak figures on their own.