Originally posted at Hippopotami on the Lam on Dec 10, 2010
You'd think that my review of Grimstone an the Dinobots would mean that I'd decided to drop the Power Core Combiners from my pull list of Transformer toys, but I'm you'd be wrong.
Though I really was disappointed by that first wave 4 set, the second one was enough to keep me on the hook.
Steamhammer and the Constructicons is the second of 2 5-packs in this fourth wave of figures. Unlike the last wave of figures which was entirely made up of re-purposed figures from the first 2 waves, this series is completely new. Both the 5 and 2-packs are molds that we haven't seen before with new drones and new mini-cons. Sadly, you have to enjoy it while it lasts because wave 5 has only 1 new figure, Undertow with Waterlog. Yet Steamhammer has a whole lot of awesome to tide you over until that new set comes around.
He comes packaged in his robot form (or the Commander) with the 4 drones surrounding him. It's a blessedly easy to open pack, with only one paper tie for each toy (or accessory depending on your perception). Once you get through them, it's easy scheezy. Just pop them out of the plastic bubble.
Jump after the cut for further details...
The Commander form is where we'll start, because:
- That's what he comes packaged as, and...
- It's my LEAST favorite mode on the toy.
Why you ask? Because you can't really do anything with him. The huge backpack formed by the bulldozer blade and the power-up form's head make it almost impossible for him to stand. The only way to do it is to move the blue power-up pegs in his feet down and off-set the weight of that monstrosity. It doesn't change the look at all, but damned if it isn't annoying.
To make matters worse, you can't really move his thighs any where. The way it's constructed means that it has almost no range of motion at all. He can kick sideways, but movement front of back? Not a chance.
It would have been nice if they had just let the blade detach so he could use it as a riot sheild or something, but since the gestalt head is attached to the back of the thing, I guess that that wasn't an option.
You'll also notice those two big, black things sticking out of the blade. Those are the front ends of his tank treads. Don't know what they're supposed to be in his robot mode.
His arm articulation is much better than that below his waist. He's got the same balljointed shoulders as most Scout Class robots, plus a bicep swivel and elbow hinge, which allows him to do pretty much whatever you need him to do.
I also like the fact that you can twist his left hand around and pretend the mini-con port on his left elbow is another gun. Pew pew pew! He's also got those Wolverine claws to fool around with.
Commander Steamhammer converts to a relatively big bulldozer. The transformation is one of the good points about him. Compared to some of the others (Like Sledge below) it feels well thought out and leaves a minimum of kibble (if you don't count that big ass backpack and those annoying blue pegs). If he didn't have so much trouble standing...
But we were talking about the bulldozer. It's an excellent looking example of a bulldozer, though I don't know if it's actually based on some real design out there. It feels more like someone's IDEA of a COOL-LOOKING bulldozer.
It's got one mini-port on the top of his cab.
The drones are shaped like other heavy construction equipment. There is a drilling rig (right arm), a wedge-plow (right leg), a scoop loader (left arm), and a steamroller (left leg). They're all smaller than Steamhammer, which is odd, but just go with it.
The sculpt of each looks nice, less cartoony than the previous releases which had proportions that were slightly round and stubby. I kind of felt that the drones with Crankcase felt like the chibi versions of military vehicles, caricatures. There are some interesting paint applications that you'll see on the wedge-plow's and Steamhammer's blades, and the steamrollers roller. Tiny little streaks of silver that make it look like they've been scratched right down to the naked metal. I don't know about you guys, but little touches like that really sell a toy to me and increase my perception of its value.
While I love the vehicle modes, I like the gestalt mode the best.
I said that Steamhammer was the best of the Power Core Combiners so far and I meant it. He's the one that has limbs that are recognizable as actual hands and feet! Yay Hasbro! You finally came to your senses!
No as a Fine Arts graduate, I know that asymmetry is graphically interesting. It draws the eye, creates imbalance, makes you queasy. But there's a reason that nature decided to make most animals symmetrical. Even a race of robots would be subject to the laws of survival of the fittest. All other things being equal, as the Power Core Commander with the most balanced looking body, Steamhammer would most likely kill the competition.
Really, I can't understand why the rest of the drones can't look this good.
His articulation as a gestalt is just as limited as the rest though, limited mainly to shoulders, hips, and knees. He's got a neck, but the construction around the head limits the movement to a tiny angle that might as well not exist. He makes up for it with antennae equipped with swivel joints.
He's also got the requisite mini-con ports on his person. His are placed more logically then some of the sets, so go nuts.
Really, this set turned me completely around and brought me back to the place I was before Grimstone. I was on the verge of really enjoying this line after getting Crankcase and Bombshock, but now I'm totally sold. I don't think I'll be getting the other 5-packs, because I can't stand the puny and malformed limbs, but if they keep making new ones with the same attributes of this set, I'll keep buying them.