"Generations" Combiner Wars Smokescreen Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: January 2016
Price Point: $15.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapon, Shotgun

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
This Deluxe Class Smokescreen figure can become part of a Sky Reign Combiner build. Collect all 6 figures (each sold separately) to build a Sky Reign figure. Smokescreen is the resident fixer for the Autobots; when a fight goes wrong, he cleans up the mess. Using an array of disruptive and disorienting weapons, Smokescreen confuses his enemies and obscures his allies as they regroup for a punishing counterattack. 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 Smokescreen figure compatible with Voyager Class Combiner Wars figures, so there are numerous combinations that can be created. Sky Reign 4 of 5. This Smokescreen figure changes from robot to sports car and back in 9 steps and, with a blaster accessory, comes ready for battle. It also comes with a collectible Combiner Wars comic book featuring a Hasbro-exclusive Smokescreen 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 focus will be on updated versions of Combiners from the past (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 about a second wave of classic 1984-85 G1 Autobots as Combiner team members. Advertised as part of the "Sky Reign" wave (with the Autobot Sky Lynx at the center) this team included the Autobot Smokescreen. This figure has quite the lineage already. The base sculpt was first released as Dead End, then retooled and given a new deco as Brake Neck (aka Wildrider). Around the middle of last year the tool underwent a significant rework and was released as the Protectobot Streetwise. Then late last year the Streetwise sculpt was given a retool and new deco as Prowl.

This figure is a straight redeco of Prowl so it favors the Streetwise/Prowl designs. Check out those reviews for a more detailed look at the figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release. This isn't the first time this particular Prowl/Smokescreen connection was made. In G1, Smokescreen used the same basic engineering as Prowl (with new parts). In the "Universe 2.0" line the Deluxe Class Prowl was turned into Silverstreak who in turn was repainted into Smokescreen. In some ways history is just repeating itself.

The packaging for this wave of the Deluxe "Combiner Wars" figures is significantly different then the first wave. The first wave was a typical bubble on card, with the character art printed onto the card and a separate trading card featuring art from the "Transformers: Legends" mobile app. The back of the cards contained a ton of multi-lingual information with photos of the figure and a diagram of a Combiner made up of four Aerialbots and Dragstrip.

Starting with wave two of "Combiner Wars", the packaging changed significantly. Now a comic book was packaged with the figure, so the card became longer and the bubble on the card wrapped around the edges of the card to offer stability and security. The comic book features an exclusive cover featuring new artwork for Smokescreen (not just a repaint of Prowl's art). The figure is in robot mode inside the packaging, making for a dramatic presentation. The back of the card has a brief bio of the character along with the requisite safety information in multiple languages.

One of the most interesting points of this new packaging style is the back of the comic book. It features a full page bio of Smokescreen from the files of Autobot Rung. It focuses on him being under-appreciated and his ability to distract Decepticons with his magnetic smoke, all nice nods to his G1 counterpart.

Smokescreen comes with the same accessories as Prowl. The hand/foot/weapon piece is now cast all in black. The joints are all nice and tight and the hinge where the palm swings forward is actually tighter than the one on my Prowl figure. The shotgun has been cast in blue plastic this time, but almost the entire weapon is painted silver. The designers rightfully decided not to paint the handle so the paint won't scrape off as you put it in and take it out of his hands.

Robot Mode:
Unlike his fellow Autobots Prowl and Bluestreak/Silverstreak Smokescreen doesn't go for a neutral color. Instead, his colors are big and bold, which makes sense given part of his job is to distract the enemy. This figure is mostly cast in two shades of metallic blue, metallic red and black plastic. The lighter shade of blue makes up parts that include the fists elbows and thighs. The darker shade of blue is used on the head, torso and lower legs. Red is used to alternate with some of the blue parts, especially on the arms. The black balances the brightness out by breaking up the blue on the waist and knees.

The paint colors on this figure include red, blue, gold and silver. The red is used for details on the chest in a different pattern than Prowl focusing on the center of the chest panel. Blue is mostly found on the outside of each arm, providing details for the vehicle mode. The horns on his head are painted gold and his face is silver. The eyes are blue. Rounding out the deco is an Autobot symbol tampographed onto the center of his chest.

I have to admit I was a little surprised that there is no white in this mode. While red and blue certainly were Smokescreen's primary colors, he had a fair bit of white in robot mode such as on the thighs. I suspect because of the way the mold tree works out for this figure, any use of white would have involved additional deco which would have made the figure too pricey. Indeed it seems that much of the paint deco was reserved for the vehicle mode on this figure. His legs aren't painted at all which is a bit of a shame. I think he looks good, but it feels almost like a step was left out when he was painted at the factory.

The joints on my copy of this figure range from tight to good. The swivel joints on his legs in particular feel a tad more loose than the same joints on my copy of Prowl, but everything else is solid including the elbow and head joints. The weapons fit into his hand but the shotgun is more snug than the hand/foot/weapon piece. Don't get me wrong, it's not floppy or anything, but it doesn't hold as tightly as previous incarnations of this base sculpt.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms, legs and head.
  3. Swing out each front panel on the lower legs.
  4. Swing the legs up, then connect them together in the middle.
  5. Rotate the waist around.
  6. Swing each fist into the forearms.
  7. Push each arm down.
  8. Swing the lower leg panels closed.
  9. Swing the front of the car forward.
  10. Swing the robot chest panel up to cover the robot head.
  11. Swing the windshield piece down.
  12. The weapons can be connected to the sides and/or top of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
You know how I mentioned that it seemed the robot mode lacked some deco? Well this is why! The vehicle mode is literally covered in paint in a way that is very unusual for the current generation of Transformers toy. Sure the blue and red plastic makes up most of the vehicle mode (with black used for the wheels), but it's the extraordinary amount of metallic red paint on this figure that surprised me.

The front and rear sections look like red plastic from a distance, but look closer and you'll see they're actually covered in metallic red paint. While not a perfect match, it works nicely against the red plastic used to make the cabin section. On top of that the vehicle has a white stripe starting in the front and going all the way to the back on the sides. The windows are painted black and he has a white rectangle with the number 38 in black letters on the hood and sides. This detail directly is lifted from G1 Smokescreen. You'll notice details on the top and sides of the vehicle that show the number "38". This is a detail borrowed directly from G1 Smokescreen. Finally an Autobot symbol on the hood in red and silver rounds out the deco. In a surprise move, the sides of the wheels are actually painted. In this case, silver. It has been exceedingly rare for this deco point to be addressed so it was great to see here, especially given how many times an iteration of this sculpt has been released.

Unfortunately on my copy of this figure there are a couple messy spots. On one wheel it looks like the brush for the silver plastic left some trailing silver on one wheel. It's not a huge deal to me but it's definitely noticeable. Also some of the blue around the side view mirrors looks a bit messy on the left side.

As great as this vehicle mode color scheme may be (and it's pretty great), there are some small details missing that would have sent it into the stratosphere. First, the small lights in the front should be colored yellow to give more detail. Also, the rear window is unpainted (it was painted on Prowl). Still, the vehicle mode deco is strong. However, I do wish one part had been swapped out with Dead End's is the cabin cover. Here there is still a distinct siren on top of the cabin even though Smokescreen isn't an emergency vehicle and it looks strange to me.

The weapons attach to the top and sides of the vehicle. Both connection points are still really tight, so no issues there.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Take the hand piece and swing the fingers and thumb out, bending the piece so it forms a fist.
  3. Swing the panels on the back of the vehicle out.
  4. Swing the robot legs out and then split them apart in the middle.
  5. Rotate the piece to connect the fist down.
  6. Swing the panels back into place.
  7. Swing the windshield back.
  8. Swing the front of the vehicle up and back.
  9. Swing the robot head and chest plate back.
  10. Depending on which arm you want Prowl to be, rotate the robot waist left or right.
  11. Attach the fist to the end.

Arm Mode:
The arm mode is a good mixture of the red and blue colors that make up this figure. The black fist piece offers a nice break in the color scheme. Given how many times this tooling has been used, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fist connects very tightly to the wrist connection port. I think of all the iterations of this sculpt this one is the tightest. Now, the thing you have to be careful with is if you turn the wrist, it tends to separate the feet a bit in the middle. The easy solution is of course to hold the feet together as you turn the wrist. The weapon port in the fist is also very tight so the shotgun attaches in it nice and snug. The elbow joint is tight enough to hold weapons like say, Silverbolt's but loose enough that if you attach one of the Legends Class weapons like Powerglide it droops down a little. Of course, mileage varies on this so my suggestion is if yours is loose, pop off the joint, put some clear nail polish on the ball joint, let it dry and reattach the legs.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Swing the windshield back.
  3. Swing the front of the car back and down.
  4. Attach the foot piece to the bottom of the vehicle.

Leg Mode:
The leg mode pretty much looks like the vehicle mode standing on its back. The good thing about this is that the vehicle mode deco on this figure is particularly strong, so in terms of sheer detailing this mode looks great. Functionally the port for the foot piece is tight, which is great since you don't want a foot piece rotating out of position when posing the Combiner. You can attach weapons to the sides of the leg to give your Combiner additional firepower.

Final Thoughts:
I am actually very surprised at just how much I like this figure. I didn't expect to hate it mind you, but I thought I'd be fairly "meh" on it. Instead I think the vehicle mode deco is very strong and I guess there's something about that shotgun weapon that I really love. Plus the robot mode fits the character and the use of metallic plastic colors really enhances the figure. If you're not tired of redecos and you want another "1984-85" Combiner this figure is for you!

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