Transformers United EX Combatmaster Toy Review

in 2012, Action Figure Review, Combaticon, Decepticon, United

United

Combatmaster

General Information:
Release Date: September 22, 2012
Price Point: $50 (depending on importer)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: Morser Drone (Missile Carrier), Panzer Drone (Tank Drone), Kannonier Drone (APC Drone), Spaher Drone (Armord Car Drone)

Translations from the back of the box by Doug Dlin:
It's a new generation of battle between the young Autobot warriors known as the Master Class and the Decepticons' secret force, Master Chaos. The conflict gains yet another dimension when they acquire the power of "Prime Mode" through their new combination system!!

Harbingers of Invasion
It was a battle over drones between Autobot and Decepticon, one which would control the future state of the war. The two parties collapsed, exhausted, with four drones rolling on their sides. Then..."Ha ha ha, what matters in the end is the form your strategy takes...combine!" A third party had calmly appeared on the site of battle: Combatmaster. And with these words, he merged with the four combat drones. "Gh...how did the plans leak to the Decepticons...that the Master Class exists..."

Paying no mind to the heavily damaged Choppermaster's surprise, the cool-headed strategist Combatmaster held up the injured Rollermaster. "Wrong, it's Master Chaos. Well, there won't be as many Autobots as before who know that name. Farewell." With these words, Combatmaster unleashed a strike that hit the snow fields far overhead. In the next instant, there was a quiet vibration all around. This rapidly grew stronger, and a mighty avalanche rushed down upon the battlefield.

Combatmaster flew off into the distance, leaving the wounded Autobots behind. Returning to the Decepticons' secret underground base, Combatmaster saluted a figure displayed on a terminal screen in the wall. "Supreme ruler, soon all Power Core Combiners shall be in Decepticon hands."

The face of the being to whom he reported was blank, mask-like, betraying no emotion. "You will use the combiners created from your data as a diversion...and while the Autobots are distracted, we shall achieve victory. We shall be the true masters of the next generation."

COMBATMASTER
A strategist who has been active since the early days of the war. Hands down orders to subordinates more often than he appears on the front lines.

1: MORSER DRONE - A missile carrier drone. Transforms into an arm.

2: PANZER DRONE - A super-heavy-armored tank drone. Turns into an arm.

3: KANONIER DRONE - An APC drone that attacks with machine guns. Becomes a leg.

4: SPAHER DRONE - An armored car drone that conducts reconnaissance. Converts into a leg.

COMBATMASTER PRIME MODE
Combatmaster combined with the four ground combat drones. Freely handles combat strength that until now required five Transformers. Enormous firepower can pulverize an opponent dozens of kilometers away.

Back in 2010, Hasbro released a sub-line of Transformers known as the "Power Core Combiners". Far from being the Combiners of the past or the "Combiner Wars", Power Core Combiners featured a central Scout Class Transformers figure that transformed into a robot, vehicle and torso. Four small Drones would attach to the torso, using a spring loaded gimmick to auto-transform into arms and legs. The series only lasted one year, but it produced enough figures that Takara to create its own sub-line of figures continuing the "United" line as "United EX" in 2012.

Instead of being simple re-releases of Hasbro's Power Core Combiners, Takara created an entire storyline set in the Generation One universe revolving around G1 characters becoming part of an experiment to power up one Transformer and let it combine with Drones for additional power. One of these characters was "Combatmaster" who would later be revealed as a new incarnation of Generation One Onslaught! This set was a redeco of the set released by Hasbro as Bombshock with Combaticon Drones. The core figure would later go on to be used as Steelshot. Check out both of those reviews for my original thoughts on the figure and Drones. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Packaging:
The packaging for the "United EX" five packs was similar to the Hasbro "Power Core Combiner" packaging. The figure and Drones come in a window box with the figure in the center and the four Drones around it. The "Transformers United EX" logo is set at the top and towards the bottom is "Combatmaster Prime Mode" written out in large letters the the function of "Decepticon Strategic Commander" below that. The packaging also names each Drone in English and has a write up saying "Young Autobot specialists of the Master Class unite with four Drones into Prime Mode. Together they will use their expertise to fend off the Decepticon spies of Master chaos.". This is a bit odd in that it is written twice on the front in English and it refers to Autobots while this figure is a Decepticon. The background of the packaging shows off the artwork for Combatmaster in his "Prime Mode" combined with the Drones. One side of the box shows off Combatmaster and the Drones (and their combined form) while the other side shows more artwork. The back of the packaging shows alternate art for the character as well as the toys in their various modes. There is a lot of text on the back as well, telling some of the "United EX" story (translated above).

Combatmaster

Robot Mode:
Combatmaster does not feature any retooling. It is a straight up redeco of the Bombshock sculpt. The interesting thing here is that this figure technically represents a version of Onslaught. However, the original Bombshock figure was already given a deco similar to Onslaught's including the heavy use of green and some yellow trim. Instead of just reusing Bombshock's deco pattern or even creating a G1 Onslaught faithful deco Takara's designers decided to start with Onslaught's basic deco but then go off in a different direction.

Combatmaster features a dark green plastic, which is the callback to G1 Onslaught. However the other primary plastic color is a light teal which really stands out against the green. Smaller parts such as the head are cast in black plastic. It is an interesting and somewhat unique color combination that looks good. The paint colors on the figure include gold, silver, light grey, orange, gunmetal grey, light green and red. The gold is perhaps the color that stands out the most. You'll find it on the waist armor, hands and head. The silver appears on the face and torso. Gunmetal grey is used for the front half of the cannons. Light grey is used on the legs while the green and orange are on the torso. The eyes are painted red, calling back to the G1 era when Decepticons mostly had red eyes. A purple Decepticon symbol caps off the deco on his chest. Overall I think the deco looks great thanks to the unexpected color pattern and the varied colors chosen for this figure.

All fourteen points of articulation in this form are amazingly tight. Given that this sculpt was used a couple of times and then was reused later I was very impressed by this. You can also swing the cannons on his back over his head to give him some firepower in this form (though his fists have 5mm ports so you can attach weapons to them as well). "Power Core combiner" figures were also designed to work with Mini-Cons and this sculpt has two Mini-Con ports. One is in between the base of the cannons while the other is on the back. That said, attaching a Mini-Con to these points will cause balance issues since the feet really do not have meaningful heel pieces. In theory if you put weapons in his hands however you can balance him out.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Swing the cannons so they point upward.
  3. Swing the arms up, then bend them at the elbows and swing them up over the robot head, pushing the two wrist/hand sections together.
  4. Swing each foot up.
  5. Push the two lower legs together.
  6. Rotate the turret on the back around.
  7. Rotate the lower body around.
  8. Swing the panels on the sides of the lower legs back to form the sides of the vehicle.
  9. Swing the cannons down.

Vehicle Mode:
Like the robot mode, the vehicle mode takes some color cues from Onslaught, but it goes off in its own direction. Most of the vehicle winds up being dark green and light teal. A bit more orange shows on the rocket launchers on the turret and the gunmetal grey on the cannons really features nicely in this form. The windows in the front are painted purple. Unfortunately a lot of the vehicle is left unpainted, no doubt a bi-product of having so much deco in the robot mode.

This mode allows you to rotate the turret around. You can also attach a Mini-Con to the top of the vehicle.

Kannonier Drone

Kannonier Drone
The "Kannonier" Drone (a reference to a Dutch military artillery role) is a redeco of the APC Drone from the "Power Core Combiner" Bombshock set. There was no retooling done to the Drone. This is a straight up redeco. The main color is a light, olive green color. Smaller parts like the wheels in the front and his cannon are the same light teal as the one used on Combatmaster himself. There is quite a bit of paint deco on this figure. The windows and treads are gunmetal grey, there is light grey on the section right under the cannon and silver is used on the smokestacks in front. A Decepticon symbol is painted onto the hood. I appreciate how different this Drone looks from the original.

Like the original version the cannon can turn and you can attach a Mini-Con to the top of the Drone.

Morser Drone

Morser Drone
The Morser Drone is a redeco of the Missile Carrier Drone from the Bombshock set. "Morser" is a reference to a type of cannon used by Germany in World War II. Interestingly, this Drone does not actually serve as a cannon but instead it is a missile launcher. This Drone is cast in black and light teal plastic. However there is an unusually high amount of paint on this Drone. The launchers and the base of the vehicle are painted olive green. The missiles are painted light grey. The middle section has metallic blue and silver paint on it. The left side features a Decepticon symbol on it. Overall I'm kind of amazed at the sheer amount of paint on the figure. I am very impressed.

The top of the vehicle has a peg to attach a Mini-Con (or Energon weapon).

Panzer Drone

Panzer Drone
The Panzer Drone is a redeco of the Tank Drone from the Bombshock set. "Panzer" is the German word for "tank", so no real deep meaning here. The tank is mostly cast in light olive green plastic with smaller parts cast in black. There is gunmetal grey on the treads and a small Decepticon symbol in front. Surprisingly there is less deco on this version of the Drone than the original, but it still looks good and fits the theme with the others.

The cannons on the Panzer Drone can be turned side to side. On top is a Mini-Con peg.

Spaher Drone

Spaher Drone
The Spaher Drone is a redeco of the Armored Car Drone from the Bombshock set. "Spaher" is the German word for "scout" or "lookout", which makes sense for a Jeep-like vehicle. It is likely this vehicle is faster than the other Drones so it can get in and out of enemy installations quickly. While the original was mostly beige in color, this version is a light olive green and black plastic. There are some nice paint applications on this figure. This includes a copper color on the windows, yellow in the lights above the windshield and silver on the headlights. A small Decepticon symbol is found on the left side of the hood. This vehicle looks good, especially the with the copper on the windows which was an unexpected touch.

You can turn the rocket launchers on his back. On top of the launcher is a Mini-Con peg.

Transformation to Combatmaster Prime Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Swing the feet up on each leg.
  2. On the back of each leg swing out the Drone connection points.
  3. Rotate the legs out, then swing each one up to the sides.
  4. Turn the turret around.
  5. Push the turret up over Combatmaster's head.
  6. Swing Combatmaster Prime Mode's head up and turn it around.
  7. Rotate each robot arm up, then swing the forearms against the tabs on the sides.
  8. Make sure the cannons on the back are pointed up.
  9. The Kannonier and Sapher Drones can form legs (either right or left).
  10. The Morser and Panzer Drones can form arms (either right or left).

Combatmaster Prime Mode

Most of the newly revealed parts in this form come from Combatmaster's torso mode. This includes a Combiner head, chest and mechanical details on the front of the thighs. The torso section is a combination of dark green, light teal and black parts. Gold, red, orange and gunmetal paint applications help provide some really nice detailing to this figure. Light teal paint is used on the thighs, helping to bring out the sculpted details. Together with the exposed parts like the claw hands and feet the colors work together really nicely in this form.

The fun part about Combatmaster Prime Mode's design is that he is basically a walking weapons platform. The cannons on his back can be pointed up, back or forward. He can fire missiles from the sides of one shoulder while blasting cannons from the other arm. Meanwhile one cannon points forward on one knee while the other leg has rockets on him. Add on the Mini-Con connection pegs on each limb and you can attach even more weaponry!

All twelve points of articulation on this figure are still nice and tight. The springs on the joints are also stable so I had no issues with the Drones popping out on their own or having the figure standing unevenly.

Final Thoughts:
Combatmaster is a really nice redeco of Bombshock and his Drones. I am glad Takara did not just repackage the original figures. This offers something different and unique. I also find the concept of Onslaught taking on a new form for some experiment in Combiner technology. I purchased this set on sale for around $35 plus a couple bucks for shipping. At that price, if you're into the "Power Core Combiner" gimmick it's worth it to have something a bit different in your collection. The original prices however were well above $50 and that is a bit much in my book. If you already have Bombshock and company and you're happy then I'd say you're all set. Mostly recommended for completists and those into interesting variants.

Pros:

  • Unified deco pattern looks great.
  • Colors are similar in theme yet different than the original figures.
  • One of the better "Power Core Combiner" sculpts that holds together well.
  • All joints are nice and solid on Combatmaster.

Cons:

  • No additional accessories to make the potentially higher price worth it.