Release Date: January 2016
Price Point: $18.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapon, Blaster
Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
This Deluxe Class Autobot Hound figure can become part of a Sky Reign Combiner build. Collect all 6 figures (each sold separately) to build a Sky Reign figure. Autobot Hound has everything it takes to make him a good scout: skill, experience, and holographic mapping equipment. However, his passion for exploring uncharted territory makes him more than "good"--it makes him irreplaceable. He combines with his fellow Autobots to form Sky Reign. Sky Lynx forms the torso, Autobot Hound and Wheeljack form the arms, Smokescreen and Trailbreaker form the legs, and Wreck-Gar becomes Combiner armor.
Collect all 6 figures to build a giant Sky Reign Combiner robot. (Figures are each sold separately.) The Combiner Wars universal connection system makes this Autobot Hound figure compatible with Voyager Class Combiner Wars figures, so there are numerous combinations that can be created. Sky Reign 2 of 5. This Autobot Hound figure changes from robot to military off-roader and back in 12 steps and, with a blaster accessory, comes ready for battle. It also comes with a collectible Combiner Wars comic book featuring a Hasbro-exclusive Autobot Hound cover, specially created character content, and a look inside the Transformers design desk. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
The theme for the "Generations" segment of the "Transformers" toy line in 2015 was "Combiner Wars". The segment reintroduced Combiners from the past in updated forms(with some new elements thrown in for good measure). The idea is to take lessons learned from the Bruticus released a couple years ago and create better Combiners featuring a Voyager Class central body piece with Deluxe sized limbs. To spice things up a bit, some of the Legends Class figures released for "Combiner Wars" will be able to serve as weaponry for the combined giants.
Early 2016 brought a wave of "Combiner Wars" figures based on Autobots from the 1984-85 era of "Generation One". Like his fellow Autobots in this wave Hound is a retool/redeco of a previous sculpt. The base sculpt began life as Rook, the new Protectobot character introduced in 2015. More recently the sculpt was heavily reworked and given new colors as the Combaticon Swindle. This figure leans heavily on the Swindle design so you should check out that review. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.
Autobot Hound is packaged on a blister card. The plastic portion wraps around the backing card partly for stability since it needs to contain both the figure itself, its accessories and a comic book. The comic book inside the packaging has an exclusive cover featuring Hound's package art. The back of the packaging shows a render of the figure with some small bio information, but the extended version of Hound's bio is actually on the back of the comic book. The bio is very G1 based, mentioning him being part of Optimus Prime's crew on Earth and his love of Earth's environments as he scouts the planet.
Hound includes two accessories: a piece that serves triple duty as a hand, foot and weapon and a blaster. Both are the same accessories that came with Swindle. The hand/foot/weapon piece is now all black plastic. The blaster is painted silver (includinug the handle). Both accessories can still attach to one another to form a "double weapon". This is an artifact of Swindle's G1 design which had two weapons combining together. While I would have preferred new weapons, it's no surprise that a most of redecos/retools would not focus too much on designing new accessories.
When looking at Hound it is important to keep in mind that this design started its life as a totally different character, then became yet another character - both of whom did not really share many design elements with Hound to begin with. The figure uses Swindle's body and features a new head sculpt. The head sculpt is largely based on the character's animated appearance. In many ways it looks almost like a typical G1 "Scramble City" head with a rectangular shape with panels on the sides (even though he wasn't a Combiner in G1). It's a simple head sculpt, but that's what makes it elegant in its own way.
The rest of the body features all the same details as Swindle. Now, if you stretch your imagination a bit you can see how Swindle's designs can carry over to Hound. Both characters transformed into jeeps in the G1 series. They also both had the front of the vehicle mode forming significant portions of their torso area. In Swindle's case, the front of the jeep flattened against his torso (mostly via the magic of animation). In Hound's case, his torso had the front of the vehicle mode fold down so it stuck out a bit, both in the toy and animation model. Of course with this toy it uses the "flattened" jeep front end from Swindle's design, but there is a dotted line between the design lineage of the two characters. Some fans will be fine with this, others won't. Personally I like the design of the figure with all its complex details so much that I'm cool with it.
Hound is cast in green, silver and black plastic. Green is the dominant color with silver making up smaller parts like his elbows and thighs. The black plastic mostly shows up on the wheels from the vehicle mode. It's kind of hard to see unless you have light shining right on it, but the green is actually a metallic flake green and it looks really nice, particularly in sunlight. Paint details include the following colors: gunmetal grey, silver, yellow and blue. Gunmetal grey is used on the chest, the tube details on his arms and lower legs as well as his feet. On the chest the silver overlaps the gunmetal grey details. The face is painted silver with blue eyes. One of my favorite details is on the waist area. There you'll find designs that look like a grille and headlights from the vehicle mode, though they're really just sculpted for the robot form. The "grille" is painted silver and the "headlights" are painted yellow. The finishing touch is an Autobot symbol tampographed on his left shoulder. Overall the deco looks great. I mean, could he use more deco? Of course, I would argue almost any figure can. But I appreciate the details put into this, especially the faux grille and headlights.
From a functional standpoint Hound's joints are nice and tight. The hip joints on my copy of this figure are slightly more loose than my copy of Swindle, but a bit of clear nail polish on the ball joint will fix that easily. Something I did not notice when I reviewed Swindle was the ability of his blaster weapon to clip onto the figure so it winds up over the shoulder area. The blaster has small knobs on it that fit into grooves on the back of the windshield. You can do this on the left or right side. This is cool because G1 Hound had a weapon that went over the same area. This was not a design element for Swindle, so that means this figure was designed with this "Hound feature" in mind even though it was released as Swindle first!
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
- Straighten out the arms and legs.
- Swing the back piece down.
- Turn the robot head around then swing it back.
- Rotate the forearms in so the tubes on the insides of the forearms face forward.
- Swing the arms back and attach the tabs on the robot mode's back to the corresponding grooves on the shoulder pieces.
- Swing each lower leg out to the sides then push them up and in.
- Swing the heel pieces up.
- Swing the panel from the robot mode's back, snapping it into place.
- Weapons can be attached to any of the three attachment points, two 5mm ports from the shoulders and one peg in the center.
There is no retooling for the vehicle mode, so from the vehicle mode perspective this is a direct redeco of Swindle. The green color makes up most of the vehicle. Black plastic is used for the wheels. The "cage" area around the driver's section is painted gunmetal grey. The front end also has some gunmetal grey, a carry over from the feet. Silver is used on the headlights mounted on the hood. The center of the hood has a white star printed on it. This detail comes directly from G1 Hound. The left side of the hood has an Autobot symbol tampographed on it. Overall I really love how the deco looks. The only missing detail I can call out would be paint on the rims, but unpainted rims are more common now than painted ones so this is no shock.
Hound's weapons can still connect to the peg on top and to each other making Hound one well armed jeep in this form.
Transformation to Arm Mode (from Vehicle Mode):
- Lift the section that forms the cabin cover.
- Swing each leg down, then connect them together.
- Swing the heel pieces up.
- Swing the robot head up so the back of the head aligns with the back of the shoulder pieces.
- Swing the cabin/hood panel all the way up and push it against the robot forearms.
- Swing the connector piece on the robot torso up.
- Take the hand/foot/weapon piece and swing the fingers out and swing the thumb piece left or right (depending on which arm you want Swindle to be).
- Connect the fist to the port on the bottom of the robot feet.
- The blaster weapon can be connected to the fist.
There are no newly revealed parts or deco in this form, but that's hardly a bad thing since there's plenty of detailing to catch the eye. From a functional standpoint Hound can hold his own small blaster or a weapon like Silverbolt's without a problem. When he holds a Legends Class figure the arm droops down unfortunately. Some tightening up should do the trick. He holds it better if you tuck the arm up against the body and bend it at the elbow.
Transformation to Leg Mode (from Vehicle Mode):
- Swing the front end of the vehicle down.
- Attach the foot piece to the port that is revealed from the previous step.
- Swing the Combiner connector piece up.
If you read my previous reviews of this base sculpt you'll know that I prefer it as a leg mode. I think the blocky, rectangular shape lends itself to making a stabile leg that also looks sturdy. All the parts attach tightly in this mode so no worries about parts slipping off accidentally.
I really liked this base sculpt as Rook and Swindle so it's hard for me not to like it as Hound. The alt mode is appropriate to the character, the new head sculpt looks great and even the faux-jeep designs on his torso totally work for the character. If you already own other versions of Hound, then you could skip this but I think it's a very worthwhile addition to your collection.