"Generations" Combiner Wars Vortex Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: December 2015
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:
The battle doesn't get any bigger than this! Transformers Generations Combiner Wars figures combine to form giant super robots. Build the some of the most powerful Combiner robots from Transformers lore, including characters like Superion and Menasor, or come up with a different combination! This Deluxe Class Decepticon Vortex figure can become part of a Bruticus Combiner build. Collect all 6 Combaticon figures (each sold separately) to build a Bruticus figure. Decepticon Vortex is the interrogator the Decepticons call when they need someone to cough up information. He'll take his targets for a wild ride, twisting, turning, looping, and diving through the sky. It's enough to make any bot cough up their secrets. He combines with his fellow Combaticons to form Bruticus. Onslaught forms the torso, Decepticon Vortex and Decepticon Blast Off form the arms, Swindle and Brawl form the legs, and Decepticon Shockwave becomes a Combiner weapon. Collect all 6 Combaticons figures to build a giant Bruticus Combiner robot. (Figures are each sold separately.) The Combiner Wars universal connection system makes this Decepticon Vortex figure compatible with Voyager Class Combiner Wars figures, so there are numerous combinations that can be created. Bruticus 2 of 5. This Decepticon Vortex figure changes from robot to helicopter and back in 13 steps and, with 2 arm-mount missile array accessories, comes ready for battle. It also comes with a collectible Combiner Wars comic book featuring a Hasbro-exclusive Decepticon Vortex 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.

The final wave of Deluxe "Combiner Wars" figures in 2015 brought out the long awaited Combaticons! It's quite appropriate for the Combaticons to bookend the first year of "Combiner Wars" as it was the last Bruticus figure that inspired this line.

Decepticon Vortex actually acts as a bit of a bookend to this sculpt for 2015. It was first released as Alpha Bravo, an Aerialbot. Later it was given a new head and released as Protectobot Blades. However fans have known since the beginning that this figure was meant to be Vortex so this redeco has been expected since the start.

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.

For this wave however a lot has changed. The card now features a repeating pattern featuring "Combiner Wars" characters on it. The back of the card has a brief bio of Vortex with less legal information all over the place. Laid on top of the card is a comic book with Vortex's package art. Since the comic adds some extra weight and thickness, the bubble put on top of the card actually wraps around the edges and is taped onto the back to hold it in place. A sticker wraps around the edge of the bubble mentioning combining into Bruticus. The figure is in a tray inside the bubble in robot mode. There is no more trading card included with the figure.

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 Vortex written from the perspective of the the Decepticon Communicator, Soundwave. It really helps give more color to the character's personality and sticks with many G1 elements such as his function as an interrogator. Overall the packaging for this final 2015 wave of the Combiner Wars Deluxe figures is much more robust than the first wave.

Vortex comes with the same accessories as Alpha Bravo and Protectobot Blades. The blaster has the characteristic chain of bullets on the side and the hand/foot/weapon has its distinctive gatling gun style weapons in front. Both accessories are entirely cast in silver plastic with no paint applications.


Robot Mode:
As I mentioned in my Alpha Bravo review, this sculpt was clearly designed to be Vortex. In that review I broke down all the design elements that look like Vortex. Here they are again for your reference:

  • The head sculpt has Vortex's distinct design including two flat panels that bookmark the crest, visor eyes and mouthplate in between.
  • The chest has two distinct tube shaped designs near the shoulders, this resembles a design found on G1 Vortex's animation model.
  • The center of the chest has a raised design on it that echoes a similarly shaped design on G1 Vortex.
  • The rotor blade from the vehicle mode winds up on the back of the figure, similar to G1 Vortex's toy and animation model.
  • The forearms each have missiles sculpted into them. This seems to be a call back to G1 Vortex's forearms in the cartoon which had blasters mounted onto them.

What really makes this figure Vortex are the colors. In many ways it finally feels like we're seeing this figure as it should have been. The main plastic colors are grey and green plastic, both shades matching very closely with the G1 toy. The grey makes up most of the body, with the green used on the upper arms, head and parts of the knee joints. Not many Transformers have these particular colors mixed together, so it's very distinctive even before paint applications are applied.

Paint colors on this figure include purple, red, black and yellow. The purple is found on the chest and the area near the hips. This is a callback to the purple panel that formed most of the torso on the G1 Vortex figure. Red and yellow are used in combination in the middle of the torso, another callback to sticker colors on G1 Vortex. The missiles on his forearms are painted yellow, again a homage to his G1 counterpart's stickers. The eyes are painted red as well, using the G1 trope of Decepticons having red eyes. Black paint is mostly found on the legs, where they provide detail for the vehicle mode, but are visible in this form. The finishing touch is a tampographed Decepticon symbol on the left side of his chest in purple and silver. While the G1 toy had this symbol in the center of the chest, the animation model had it on the right shoulder, so this seems to be a compromise to pay homage to the animated placement.

I liked Alpha Bravo and I dug Blades but I have to say, this is the character the sculpt was meant to be. Vortex looks absolutely perfect. I mean, sure he could have one or two more paint applications (like the "dots" on his G1 stickers), but since they were using the G1 figure as their reference it works out really well.

This is the third use of this sculpt (fourth if you count the Japanese release of Blades) but amazingly, all the joints on my copy of Vortex are tighter than those on Alpha Bravo or Blades! Yeah, I'm shocked too. Also, his weapons fit nice and tight in his hands, so the accessories seem to be doing okay in the tooling department.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms, legs and head.
  3. Rotate the robot head around.
  4. Swing the back piece (with the rear rotor) out and then up over the head.
  5. Straighten out each of the rotor blades on the back.
  6. Rotate the lower body around at the waist.
  7. On each leg, swing out the back half of the lower legs.
  8. Swing the legs up, connecting the tabs on the front half of each lower leg to the corresponding slots on the upper body.
  9. Swing up the rear halves of the lower legs.
  10. Push the leg halves together.
  11. Rotate the halves of the cockpit section out, then together in the middle.
  12. Swing down the top cockpit piece (these were the robot feet pieces).
  13. Push the arms to the sides and attach them to the tabs on the sides of the vehicle.
  14. The blaster weapon can be attached to the holes on either side of the vehicle (above the arms).
  15. The hand/foot piece can be attached to a 5mm port on the bottom of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
Vortex's vehicle mode is mostly grey plastic with the green and yellow from the robot arms showing prominently on the sides. This time out however we get to see the rear stabilizer fins clearly and the cockpit parts come together. The cockpit windows and nose are all painted black, calling back to G1 Vortex who had black windows. Running along the sides of the vehicle are purple strips over the windows. This horizontal strip continues on the rear stabilizers. Each of the fins has a tampographed Decepticon symbol on top of the purple paint. Like the Decepticon symbol from the robot mode the symbol is silver and purple. This specific detail pays homage to sticker details on the sides of G1 Vortex. Some black plastic is revealed on the rotor blades and the rotor engine itself is green. While not a one to one match to all of G1 Vortex's details, this is a great homage to the original figure.

Functionally Vortex works fine. His weapons attach nice and tightly and his rotor spins without a problem.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Transform the fist piece into the hand. Flip out the four fingers that are sculpted together, then swing the thumb up to the side you want to form.
  3. Swing the helicopter rotors in.
  4. Swing the robot arms out to the side.
  5. Split the front end and swing them back to the sides.
  6. Lift up the panels that formed the top of the cockpit section.
  7. Swing the bottom panel of the front end down.
  8. Lift up the rotor section.
  9. Swing the top half of the vehicle's front end out, then extend it forward.
  10. Push the top and bottom halves of the vehicle's front end together.
  11. Rotate the lower half of the body around so the legs can bend as the Combiner's "elbow" joint.
  12. Swing the robot arms back down and push them into the tabs on the sides.
  13. Lift up the rear of the vehicle and push it up and then down (as if you were forming the robot mode).
  14. Swing the robot head down to reveal the Combiner connector piece.
  15. Attach the fist to the end of the arm.

Arm Mode:
While each of the "Combiner Wars" Deluxes can become an arm or a leg, I generally have a preference of one over the other. In the case of Vortex I confess to being a traditionalist. I prefer him forming an arm of Bruticus, not a leg (though he looks fine as that too). I think the tube-shape and curves of the figure lend itself to looking more like an arm.

Thanks to the waist and leg joints, the arm can bend at the "elbow" and swivel in and out. The piece that connects the arm to the larger robot also turns, allowing the arm to move up and down. The piece has a ratchet joint so it locks in place nicely. The fist has a 5mm port in it allowing you to attach Vortex's blaster or other weapons with 5mm pegs.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Swing out the palm portion of the hand/foot piece to flatten it out. The thumb piece should act as a heel.
  3. Swing the back of the vehicle up and back down, just like it would be set in robot mode.
  4. Swing the top part of the cockpit section up.
  5. Split the cockpit itself and swing the parts out against the sides.
  6. Swing the rotor blades up.
  7. Push in the robot head to reveal the connection piece.
  8. Attach the foot piece to the 5mm port revealed in the cockpit area.

The tail/rotor piece can turn so if you want you can rotate it around or at an angle if you don't like it sticking out. It's really an optional feature and not 100% necessary.

Leg Mode:
The leg mode is not my preferred form when in Combiner mode, but it's a perfectly good one. He's stable and the way the various parts fold together looks good. I'm also glad you can tuck the rotor blades in between the stabilizer fins to keep them from flopping around.

Final Thoughts:
Vortex is the version of this base sculpt that fans have been waiting for since Alpha Bravo's release. It is a fun toy with a great sculpt and deco, but being part of the Combaticons makes it even better as this group has been long awaited in the line. I was also happy to see the figure still had nice and tight joints even after a few prior releases. Recommended!

Lightbox Gallery