Generations San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Vortex Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: July 2012
Price Point: $99.99 (included in five pack with Onslaught, Blast-Off, Brawl and Swindle)
Retailer: San Diego Comic-Con/Hasbrotoyshop Exclusive
Accessories: Swords x 2

2012's big "Transformers" multimedia event was not a movie, but rather a video game. Following up on the success of "War for Cybertron", High Moon Studios was due to release "Fall of Cybertron" in August of 2012 so a large portion of the "Generations" toy line became dedicated to characters and designs from the game itself. One of the key characters in the game is Bruticus, the Combiner giant formed by the team known as "The Combaticons". One of the aerial members of the Combaticon team is Vortex, a specialist in interrogation.

The existence of a new Bruticus figure caused quite a stir among fans. For years we've wanted a new Combiner figure, and lucky for the fandom at large we now have one. Even better? This guy was composed of five Deluxe Class figures, each one with its own unique transformation and identity. Before the initial retail release of this figure, the summer of 2012 saw the release of the entire set in a special box (with different colors)as a San Diegeo Comic-Con exclusive. This guy sold out within minutes of being available on Hasbrotoyshop and by the following week went for easily double the price on ebay. No doubt, this is one figure tons of Transformers fans wanted!

While all the San Diego Comic-Con Combaticons were packaged together, I will be reviewing each individual robot separately for the sake of space (otherwise the review will involve insane amounts of scrolling). Here are links to the other reviews for your reference:

Vehicle Mode:
Generation One Vortex transformed into a version of a Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopter. I kind of worried that this new version of the character would become something totally alien since this represents Vortex before his time on Earth. However, the designers managed to find a way to blend his G1 vehicle mode with a Cybertronian looking vehicle. The result is a Cybertronian helicopter. It has a section in the front that looks like a cockpit, skids on the sides, a gun in the front, rotors on top and even an extended tail in the back. The design of the helicopter is decidedly alien however. The rotors aren't flat at the ends but instead come to sharp points and look more like sword blades. The panels on the vehicle are all set at sharp angles with lots of line details etched along the surface of the helicopter. For those curious, when Vortex accelerates in the game, his rotors and parts of the sides of the vehicle condense and thrusters reveal themselves in the back.

What is definitely not Generation One inspired are Vortex's colors. Indeed, I'm kind of having a hard time figuring out just where these colors came from. Vortex is a combination of light brown, orange-red and black plastic. it's an odd color choice for him, and I find it a bit too similar in tone to Swindle and Blast Off, so I really wish Vortex had been made into darker colors closer on the color wheel to his Generation One incarnation. Mind you, it's not a bad color scheme, it just doesn't scream "Vortex" to me. Still, with some additional paint applications including metallic red-orange, silver and purple it looks great. The metallic red-orange colors are mostly along the sides of the vehicle and on the front of the skids. Silver is used for windows on the front of the vehicle and on the blades of his weapons. It's a very bright color scheme but it reminds me more of the Autobot triple changer Sandstorm than Vortex.

In terms of play value, Vortex has a machine gun on the front of the cockpit section (I'm calling it that but there's no real indication whether or not it truly is a cockpit that carries passengers). This was something G1 Vortex had as well, so it's cool to see that feature carried over. Vortex also comes with two additional weapons, swords that also have targeting scopes on them connected to the base. The weapon looks like it could be a blaster or a melee weapon, which is super cool. It has pegs on the back (to hold it as a sword) and the bottom (to hold it as a blaster). In this mode you can attach the weapons to the sides of the skids to provide him with additional firepower. Need more weaponry? There are holes on the sides of each sword that allow you to attach more weapons! I think he looks much better with the blades than without. They add a level of savagery to the character that wasn't present in his previous incarnations. For those wondering, the rotor blades can spin if you push them, and they're loose enough that you get a pretty good whirl out of them too!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1.     Detach the weapons if attached.
  2.     Push the two blade pieces together.
  3.     Split the halves of the vehicle's front end.
  4.     Swing the machine gun piece in.
  5.     Swing the front halves out to begin forming the robot legs.
  6.     Swing the skids in.
  7.     Split the middle section of the vehicle and swing out each half to begin forming the robot arms.
  8.     Rotate the lower half of each robot arm around.
  9.     Rotate the rotor blades so they are out of the way of the left fist.
  10.     Swing the rear of the vehicle back.
  11.     Swing the robot head piece forward.
  12.     Rotate the lower body around.
  13.     The weapons can fit in the hands as swords or blasters.

Robot Mode:
Much like his vehicle mode, Vortex's robot mode is an interesting blend of influence from Generation One Vortex while using a lot of the aesthetics of the "Fall of Cybertron" game and combining them into one design. Elements borrowed from Generation One include his chest design, which has two raised panels on the side and a vertical, rectangular section in the middle. However, the panels on the sides are angled and sleek looking instead of being more rectangular and blocky like his G1 counterpart. Another feature that is similar to G1 Vortex are his legs, which are formed from the front halves of the vehicle mode. Then of course you have the head sculpt, which is based on Vortex's original head design featuring a helmet section with two raised sections on the top of the helmet, a small crest and a mouthplate with a raised section in the middle.

Other aspects of Vortex's design break away from the G1 design. This includes having his rotor blades from his alternate form on his left arm (whereas G1 Vortex had them on his back) and an armor piece that is set over his waist area designed with several jagged looking ends, looking almost like a skirt found on medieval armor. This design may seem out of place on a traditionally blocky character, but so many of Vortex's parts are sharply angled that it fits right in and adds a unique flair to the figure.

This mode shows off a lot more of the red-orange colored plastic. That color is used for the head, chest, waist armor and the middle section of the legs. His other parts are mostly light brown or black in color. Paint applications are done with purple, silver and yellow paint. The silver and purple work together to fill in some of the smaller details such as the middle of his mouthplate and angled designs on his chest. Oddly, a spot on his chest that looks like it was sculpted to accomodate a Decepticon symbol is left blank (though I suspect one of the other two planned redecos of this figure will address this). The yellow color is used for the eyes, once again bucking the trend of using red for the Decepticon eyes and instead creating a nice homage to G1 Vortex.

There are sixteen points of articulation on this figure. This includes three in each arm, four in each leg and waist articulation. I'm being a bit generous and including the head articulation. I say this because the head rests on a small platform that has notches sticking up in the front. These notches get in the way of his head articulation, so even though his head is on a ball joint, it can't turn completely to the left or right. Each of Vortex's weapons can be attached to his hand as a sword weapon or a blaster, and as mentioned above each weapon has a hole on the side allowing you to add even more weapons to them. It's also cool that Vortex has a built in weapon in the form of his rotor blades mounted on the left arm. The blades still spin in this form, giving him a spinning blade weapon that looks really cool.

Leg Mode:
In the Generation One series, Vortex often formed an arm for Bruticus, even though his toy had the ability to form either an or a leg. With this iteration of the character, he can form a leg for the Combiner giant. Start with Vortex in vehicle mode. Split the cockpit section in the middle and swing in the machine gun. On the underside of the vehicle, grab hold if the brown part in the middle and pull it forward on the central hinge, elongating the body of the vehicle. Now swing each of the cockpit halves up and put them together. Push the tail of the vehicle forward to reveal the connection point and plug it into Onslaught (the side doesn't matter).

Thanks to the relative bulk of the vehicle mode's front end and the skids out to the sides, Bruticus gets one solid and stable leg from Vortex. I think the use of the armor "skirt" as a heel piece is brilliant and works really nicely to help keep the giant from falling back. I also really like the look of the rotor blades opened up and facing front. In this form the skids are facing forward and you can attach weapons to them, but since they're right on the ground they'll have to be relatively smaller or thinner weapons such as some of the hand weapons included with Human Alliance Commander Class figures.

Arm Mode:
Start with the figure in vehicle mode, then split the cockpit section open and swing in the machine gun. On the left half of the cockpit is the hand. Swing the hand out and move the thumb to the left or right depending on which arm you are going to make Vortex into. Extend the middle section just like you would for the leg mode. Rotate the forearm section around (depending on which side you are forming). On the underside of the vehicle mode's tail, push the connection piece down, then attach it to Onslaught's shoulder joint.

Vortex's arm mode works out to be very similar to his Generation One arm mode. The rotor blades stick out to the sides, the tail of the vehicle becomes the upper part of the arm and the front part of the vehicle becomes the portion where Bruticus' hand is attachd (though in G1 it was a completely different piece that you attached separately). Unlike his G1 counterpart, Vortex is actually able to bend at the elbow area when combined with the other Combaticons. Also, despite its "open palm" position, the hand is designed to hold a weapon. Need more weaponry attached? The skids face front here, and you could easily attach more weapons them. Porportionally the figure looks great.

Final Thoughts:
The day before I wrote this review I got to play the "Vortex" demo level on the "Fall of Cybertron" video game and I do have to admit that helped enhance my excitement for this figure. The colors still mystify me as they really don't fit Vortex at all, but I can't deny the sculpt is great and the color scheme is cool even if it doesn't scream "Vortex". My only complaints with this figure are the paint deco not being much of a "Vortex" deco and the tabs that block his head articulation.

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