Unite Warriors Superion
Review by VF5SS
If you have been following my reviews, it should come as no surprise that my favorite Transformers combiner team is the Aerialbots. The Generation 2 version of the flying robot boy band was one of the first full sets I ever completed, as before I only had an odd assembly of limbs from the late era of G1. While they have been a near-constant staple in the minds of the fans, a true modern update for Superion and his components seemed like it would never happen. Sure, we still had the Energon combiner, but that team seemed like a placeholder for something better. There was also that non-combining Silverbolt figure, but let's just forget about that one...
After years of waiting, Hasbro unveiled Combiner Wars! However, the toys in their current state weren't enough for the detailed scrutiny of TakaraTomy's domestic fans. Enter: Unite Warriors!
For this review, I made two videos.
The first covers the four deluxe-class Aerialbots.
And the second covers Silverbolt and the team's combined form, Superion.
While the latest iteration of the Generations line is mostly kept under the Combiner Wars label in markets outside of Japan, TakaraTomy has them split up into three lines. You have "Legends" for anime-inspired repaints of select Generations toys, "Adventure" for all the Robots in Disguise (2015) figures mixed with slightly remolded legends-class toys, and lastly, Unite Warriors for complete box sets of Combiner Wars figures with an emphasis on show-accurate coloring. The name is a stylized translation of the Japanese term for Transformers combiners, Gattai Senshi (合體戦士). When I saw what TakaraTomy was doing with the new Aerialbots, I deliberately waited for their version to get released and I honestly feel rewarded for my patience.
The five Aerialbots (or Airbots) come packaged in jet mode and, true to the original team, consist of four nearly identical jets accompanied by a larger one. The team's uniformity is both a blessing and a curse, as it delights aviation enthusiasts while turning away fans who prefer more variation. And this certainly isn't helped by the fact that TakaraTomy put two versions of the same figure in one box. Fortunately, I am an aviation enthusiast, so this release is right up my alley. And I gotta say, getting all five parts of a combiner team all in the same box makes the whole experience feel just a little extra special.
Both the packaging and instructions for this set are adorned with this gorgeous artwork of Superion surrounded by his components in jet mode. Also, I noticed that all of the English on the box and paperwork uses the characters' western names, whereas the Japanese text uses their foreign names (i.e. the front has"Aerialbots" in English, but the katakana reads, "Airbot."). So in a sense, this release was made with international appeal in mind.
The back of the instructions have this cool illustration of the team enjoying an energon BBQ on the deck of Metroplex. Even Prince Jumal from the episode "Aerial Assault" showed up with his Rolls Royce!
I'll start off this review with team leader and chronic acrophobia sufferer, Silverbolt. As with many modern transformers, his vehicle mode has been genericized, but is still recognizable as a Concorde SST. He has picked up some canards from the XB-70 Valkyrie, which is an airplane a lot of fans think Silverbolt should actually turn into, as it is a real high-speed jet that does have a huge blocky section underneath (unlike the Concorde). In this mode, Silverbolt is about nine inches long.
Silverbolt also adds a set of angled tailfins in the back to further distinguish him from any real life aircraft. I will say this: Despite following in the grand Silverbolt toy tradition of having a "thing" underneath the jet mode, at least this version integrates parts of his legs into the dorsal side of the airplane.
As a nod to the real Concorde, Silverbolt has a working droop nose.
If you fold up his front (static) landing wheel, Silverbolt's huge gun can plug into two holes on the underside of his nose section. To compensate, the weapon its own molded on landing gear so at least the Aerialbot can rest level when fully equipped.
And despite this Silverbolt being... well, a Silverbolt toy, he is a very playable plane who holds together nicely in jet mode. Plus, he retains a bit of grace when shown "in flight."
Also on the plus side, that boxy undercarriage is loaded with 5 mm ports, so you can load up Silverbolt with his teammates weaponry to create a very well-armed airliner.
Silverbolt toys have come so far...
At the very least, both official Silverbolts still looks better than that one third party toy that Prometheum5 reviewed.
Thanks to a friend, I am also able to provide comparison shots with the Hasbro version of each Aerialbot. These were done in her photo tent, so please excuse the change in scenery. In airplane mode, the Unite Warriors version sports several additional paint apps on its center tailfin and undercarriage. Also, it uses a much brighter yellow for better show accuracy.
There's even a slight bit of remolding with the Japanese release, as less of the movable nosecone is rubberized plastic. This leaves a solid ABS area where a faction symbol can be tampographed on.
Transforming Silverbolt to robot mode is both fun and easy. Probably the most involved part of the process is folding the legs out from the sides of the airplane. There is somewhat of a set order to it, as you must flip out his feet before closing the remaining wing panels down against the thighs.
Along the way, you can also convert Silverbolt into his unofficial "Sky Lynx" mode.
Silverbolt stands about seven inches tall in robot mode, and is an excellent modernized version of the original G1 design. While his arms and legs have gained a bit of extra bulk, this figure is unmistakably the Aerialbot leader.
His airplane bits fold together into a fairly tidy backpack, while a pair of flip-out heel struts help keep the chunky toy upright. And I appreciate that a good portion of the jet mode becomes Silverbolt's lower legs, as it minimizes the toy's silhouette and makes you feel like you've done more than just fold out a robot from underneath an airliner.
All that said, the way his tail assembly hangs down reminds me way too much of that doofy samurai chicken with the same name...
And if you want a more cartoon-accurate look, it's easy enough to leave Silverbolt's wings folded outward.
The Unite Warriors Silverbolt has the most obvious coloring changes when placed alongside the Combiner Wars one. For one thing, TakaraTomy did not use any red plastic in their version, and instead cast those parts in white and painted over them. This resulted in the Japanese version having more accurate color placement, as well as a nice matte finish on the red areas. Unfortunately, this means there is potential paint rubbing, as places like Silverbolt's own chest plate are key parts of all of his transformations.
The figure's head is pleasingly faithful to the animated version, and rocks some bright blue eyes and appropriate silver face paint. Silverbolt's head is mounted on a ball-joint, which allows it to tilt up and down and even rotate a full 360 degrees. Bear in mind, his angled chin-guards may scrape against his raised red collar if you go farther than 45 degrees to each side.
Far from his humble roots as a brick-like Scramble City leader, the modern Silverbolt boasts nearly all the amenities of current-day Transformers. His shoulders move with deliciously tight ratchets in both axes, while biceps and elbows articulate with pleasingly tight friction joints. Below the waist, Silverbolt features ratcheted universal hip joints, thigh swivels, and double-jointed knees. His feet and heel struts fold as part of his transformation, so they can also be used as a little bit of extra articulation. The only thing Silverbolt lacks is a waist swivel, but this is due to how he becomes Superion's torso.
Silverbolt's big black gun has to split into two parts in order for him to wield it normally. The rear of the weapon becomes an okay looking shield, while the front is a ridiculous long-barreled hand cannon.
You can also mount the weapon on Silverbolt's back for some Kame Bazooka action.
And thanks to his sturdy joints, Silverbolt has no problem wielding the mighty Powerglide Cannon. In fact, he holds the braggart gun so much better than Superion can.
Now that I have both Silverbolt and Hot Spot in my collection, I'm having a hard time deciding which is the best combiner leader. My heart belongs to the noble Concorde, but my fingers can't stop posing the action-ready fire engine...
True to the original figures, the four deluxe-class Aerialbots all transform in roughly the same way. Their jet nose section folds up into a backpack, their arms swing out from the sides of the plane, and their rear fuselage becomes a pair of robot legs. Like a lot of Combiner Wars limb bots, these guys use an internal double hinge assembly to make their legs extend, rather than traditional sliding joints. Sky Dive features an extra step in his transformation, in which his shoulder and wing assembly move upward on a hinge for robot mode. Each Autobot flyer is aboutsix inches long in jet mode, and six inches tall in robot mode (backpack included).
First up is probably my favorite member of the team, Slingshot (or just "Sling" in Japan). While we were first introduced to this figure as Combiner Wars Firefly (nee Fireflight), it seems pretty obvious that this toy was always meant to be a modern update of Slingshot. His jet mode is very much a Harrier Jump Jet, albeit one that has been squashed a bit to make it more cartoonish (and adorable). Out of the whole team, Slingshot pulls off his alternate form the best, because of how his predominantly white coloring does a better job at hiding his robot mode arms. He also has a single fold-down nose wheel.
Like with Silverbolt, this version of Slingshot aims for show accuracy with its paint scheme. Oddly enough, this includes a pair of black stripes on the back of the aircraft that mimic the original toy's backpack hinges. For whatever reason, Slingshot was the only Aerialbot to look like an animated version of his G1 figure in jet mode, rather than a more true-to-life rendition with the toy's colors.
The four smaller Aerialbots feature 5 mm ports under their wings, which allows them to carry their weapons the way fighter jets normally do.
Slingshot's inclusion in the Unite Warriors version of Superion led to much trepidation (and anger) for western fans, some of whom were bitter about the introduction of Alpha Bravo to the US release. However, fears were quelled when Hasbro unveiled Quickslinger, a domestic version of Sling renamed because of issues with the trademark for "Slingshot." The differences between the two toys in jet mode is very subtle, but I appreciate the thinner wing stripes and faux black hinges as they help break up all the white. Strangely, the Combiner Wars release has finer detail with airplane accurate unpainted white struts for the canopy frame, while the Unite Warriors version goes for all orange like in the 'toon. I find this odd because otherwise, the Hasbro version isn't as precise with its paint apps.
In robot mode, Slingshot is quite a handsome lil' jerk. Like Silverbolt, all of his red parts are cast in white and then painted over. Quality-wise, he is most excellent and makes for a terrific desktop companion.
All of his airplane bits are neatly folded to the rear, with the front of the airplane forming a backpack similar to the G1 toy. A part of me misses the "mini-jet" from the 80's toy, but that's a minor aesthetic quibble.
Slingshot's head sculpt is absolutely perfect, and no other Aerialbot can bring the 'tude quite like he can. One of the things that really attracted me to this version was TakaraTomy's fidelity to this Autobot's rockin' orange shades. Truly, Slingshot is a cool dude in the clouds.
But is he cooler than Alpha Bravo? I'm afraid to say anything...
You can arm Slingshot with any of the weapons included in the set, but he uses a flamethrower and double-blaster combo by default.
His joints are nice and tight, so he has no problem pulling off a quick shot with either of his weapons.
The Combiner Wars Slingshot has a bit more paint in robot mode, but some of that is due to his weird all black hands that extends the color to the little wrist guns. It makes him look like he's wearing latex gloves. Also, the western release features more Autobot-appropriate blue shades, but that is not at all true to the real Slingshot, who forges his own fashion trends in defiance of tradition.
Next up is Fireflight, who is known as Firebolt in Japan. In the west, we saw this guy as Firefly, as he was one of the first Combiner Wars Aerialbots to be released. Despite preceding any of the Slingshot versions of this mold, I can't help but think of this as the remolded toy. In jet mode, Fireflight is physically identical to Slingshot.
To most laypersons, the faux-Harrier is enough like an F-4 Phantom that there's no need to make a fuss about it. As for me? I am okay with this Fireflight, but I wish they had at least done a little more remolding to better distinguish the two planes.
"Ah.. What a lovely day to fly over the meadows..."
"Wait, I was supposed to doing something! I think I heard reports of a big... chicken?"
Poor Fireflight was always the fifth wheel of the team who rarely got any lines. I still have a soft spot for the daydreaming jet though.
There is not much to say about the differences between the Combiner Wars and Unite Warriors Fireflights. Aside from the Japanese version having the fake black hinges and thinner wing stripes, the two are well matched.
Robot mode is where this toy gets a bit more interesting. TakaraTomy did their best to dress up what is mostly a Slingshot design as the cartoon version of Fireflight. His chest features thin silver borders around the various molded details, as well as a tampographed Autobot symbol on his left breast.
And from the back... Well, at least you won't mistake him for Slingshot with all that red.
"Megatron's big purple chicken wasn't a tough fight at all. I should have been there to help out sooner."
For whatever reason, Fireflight has a head based on his G1 toy rather than the cartoon design. It's not a bad lookin' mug, but it does make him the odd man out in a team of pretty spot-on cartoon references.
"Yeah! You shoulda been there sooner! Just what were you doing anyway?!"
"Hmm... I think I stopped to pick some flowers."
"In the desert?!"
"Maybe it was cacti..."
Despite being mostly the same mold, it's not hard to make Fireflight and Slingshot feel different.
His nominal armament is also the flamethrower and double-blaster combo. Out of the four Aerialbot limbs, Fireflight and Slingshot have the easiest time kneeling down. Even then, they just look okay doing it.
"You know the Autobots are a very forgiving bunch when they let a guy like me handle pyrotechnics."
"Oh look, there's a flock of birds over there. I wonder where they're going."
Combiner Wars Firefly has a somewhat simplified paint deco in comparison to his Unite Warriors counterpart. I definitely prefer the more intricate highlighting on the Japanese release.
Third up is the team's reckless flyboy, Air Raid. His jet mode has been changed from an F-15 Eagle to an F-14 Tomcat, but the two planes are similar enough that most buyers won't be bothered by this. In some ways, he suffers the most from his blocky undercarriage - it's so massive that it makes front landing gear unnecessary, and it contrasts heavily with the all-black airplane stuck on top. Note that his twin tailfins are made from flexible plastic, and can warp when put next to high heat (like lights in a photo tent).
Air Raid's F-14 parts are a bit more on model than his cohorts. I assume it's easier to get away with that when the airplane in question was retired many years ago. Now, while the rest of the team feel really good in terms of build quality and construction, my Air Raid is a bit off in terms of parts fit. I have to really fiddle with the black part of his legs in order to get them to align with the main body of the plane. Most of the time, I end up letting the connection between the inner forearms and shins hold everything together, even though the legs are supposed to stay flush by themselves.
And like any good toy of the Tomcat, Air Raid has swing wings. Unfortunately, having the wings at full forward sweep leaves a nasty gap. There just wasn't enough room inside the toy's body for the wings to fully retract without taking a chunk out of them.
In jet mode, the two releases for Air Raid follow a similar pattern to their compatriots. The Hasbro version has more colorful, toy-accurate wing stripes, with the TakaraTomy one has simpler silver bands. I'm okay with the TakaraTomy one, but I do feel weirdly nostalgic about the Hasbro one. I never owned a G1 Air Raid (mine was G2), but that combination of colors reminds me of the logo for an old Store 24...
Air Raid's robot mode is quite slick-looking, and makes a big effort to bring the cartoon design to life with a bit of modernization. His arms are nice and beefy, and his legs (the underside of the jet) have some curious F-22 Raptor style details.
And like his fellow Aerialbots, all of Air Raid's jet bits fold backwards to clean up his silhouette.
One cool thing is how his swing wings allow for some variation on how you configure Air Raid's backpack as a robot or a limb.
"Ha ha! I once flew into a nest of Sharkticons and made it out with my body 91% intact!"
This toy of Air Raid has a cartoon-based head design. Although the toy head was still pretty similar, it had a pro-wrestling style visor instead of eyes. I think the new toy's head is hinting at that with a weird seam line between his cheeks and eyes. Also, Air Raid now has cheek guards for some reason. That seems to be a theme with a lot of the Combiner Wars updates.
His assigned weaponry consists of the white double blaster and a missile launcher version of the combiner hand/foot/gun. Like Silverbolt, Air Raid has 5 mm ports on his forearms so you can play around with where his guns go.
Also, the 5 mm ports on his wings let the toy pull off some cool over-the-shoulder action.
In robot mode, the two releases are again split into G1 toy accuracy versus G1 cartoon accuracy. I think the western version's attempt comes across a bit odd, since the 80's toy got most of its details from tech-style stickers rather than molded details. Also, the overall design of the modern Air Raid is sculpted to resemble the cartoon first and foremost. Meshing the two styles just feels weird to me. Plus, the Hasbro one tries to put gold on red without being an Iron Man, and that is a major fashion faux paus.
Last but not least is the team's resident bookworm, Sky Dive. He's received a major planelift, as Sky Dive now transforms into a Russian Sukhoi Su-27. It's a fair departure from the American F-16 he used to be, but to most people it's just another sleek jet that has two tailfins instead of one.
Sky Dive shares a few parts with Air Raid and, likewise, has a more egregious undercarriage than the others. He also has the same rubbery tailfins, but colored blue this time.
While I didn't mention it before, both Air Raid and Sky Dive have an extra 5 mm port in the middle of their fuselage for weapon mounting.
For a look at toy progress, here is the modern Sky Dive next to the original toy in G2 flavor. I would have done this comparison for all the Aerialbots, but sadly only this toy and my G2 Silverbolt are in displayable condition. Despite the change in alternate mode, the new Sky Dive still captures the spirit of the old one.
Right down to being outdone by a Gobot in terms of jet mode looks.
You know what they say, "the more things change, the more Transformers will stay wedded to their aesthetic."
Out of the five main Aerialbots, the Hasbro version of Sky Dive suffered the most from a tighter paint budget. The character had distinctive lightning bolt markings on his wings, both on the original toy and in the cartoon. The Combiner Wars Sky Dive doesn't even attempt to replicate this, and instead has a solid area of gold paint for the wing. It also leaves more unpainted red and gray plastic exposed, which throws off the look of the jet mode.
In robot mode, Sky Dive embraces the distinct details of his cartoon model while adding some robo-bulk to his upper body.
As I mentioned before, his shoulders and wings move upward together on a hinge as one big block. It's a neat little trick that helps keep Sky Dive's upper body looking very cohesive, while still allowing for a sleeker jet mode.
"Hmm... I need to come up with a plan that is Air Raid proof..."
And I must agree with my fellow reviewer Dkun - this Sky Dive has some of the most luscious lips ever seen on a Transformer. I'm still not too keen on the cheek guards, though.
"Now, Air Raid, you did get a copy of today's mission briefing, right?"
"Uh... yeah! Let me just go fetch it from the desk drawer in my office."
"You don't have a desk! And you don't have an office either!"
Speaking of Air Raid, Sky Dive shares a few parts with his fellow Aerialbot. The two have the same shins, thighs, and combiner joint. Now, while the detailing and general shape of the legs are more based on Sky Dive, they do an okay job as Air Raid's limbs.
Sky Dive is armed with the black plastic double blaster. The color of each weapon all depends on what toy it shares a mold with. Since Sky Dive has black joints, his weapon shares that color.
With his default position as Superion's right leg, Sky Dive is assigned the other missile launcher type hand/foot/gun.
Here is the modern Sky Dive with his G2 colored ancestor. Along with Fireflight and Air Raid, he was another member of the team who had a different head design than his toy.
And let's just put Gobot Heatseeker in the picture again, just to make you think.
Being a box set, the Unite Warriors Superion gives you the instant gratification of a having a complete combiner team ready to go!
"Okay, Aerialbots! Transform into... SUPERION!"
Silverbolt undergoes a very novel conversion, in which he actually does a handstand to transform into Superion's torso. It's a very cool idea, which allows the combiner's body to have the right heroic proportions without bulking up Silverbolt's own robot mode too much.
The rest of the Aerialbots simply convert to a variation of their robot or jet mode, and then add the hand/foot/gun in the appropriate configuration. Again, this is very true to the original toys. And to make things a bit more tidy, all of them have some way of tabbing their individual arms down in limb mode.
The completed Superion is an excellent figure. He's tall, sturdy, and looks amazing. This configuration of limbs is his default look, but you can have any Aerialbot (or other deluxe-class Combiner Wars toy) be an arm or leg. Due to his uniform limb design, Superion suffered from a large number of coloring errors in the cartoon...
Like with his components, all of Superion's small wings and fins stay happily out of the way, and, unlike Uranos, they aren't going to fall off when you handle the toy.
One cool thing about Silverbolt's wings being upside down is: This is actually true to the Studio OX version.
This Superion is the first Transformer toy to bring in many of the particular details of the cartoon model, like the way the chest plate looks and the mouthless head. Also, the Unite Warriors version adds a much needed bit of polish, as the movable gold antenna are not gummed up with paint like on the Combiner Wars Superion. The head itself can turn left or right, but does not possess any up or down motion.
While he lacks a waist joint, clean design and smart limb placement allow Superion to pull off a variety of poses and even kneel down. Admittedly, his pointy shin guards can make this a bit tricky. The hand/foot/gun thumbs do an adequate job of emulating ankle tilts, but I am still curious to check out some aftermarket combiner feet.
Here's what the combiner looks like with his default configuration swapped around. As you can see, both Sky Dive and Air Raid have their own way of securing their own arms in place while they serve as Superion's arms.
Superion wields the combined form of Silverbolt's weapons, which itself is an elongated version of the G1 toy's gun.
Personally, I like plugging just the front section of the gun into Fireflight's hand, so Superion can have his integrated arm cannon like in the cartoon. These new combiner figures continue to offer a bunch of "fan modes" and different display options, which makes them all the more engaging.
You can also spin his lower leg components around to further enhance the animated homage. Superion even retains a bit of knee articulation, so long as you don't mind him having tiny thighs...
"I picked this up on my trip to America."
And as you would expect, Unite Warriors Superion is fully compatible with any Combiner Wars limbs. The act of merging extends far beyond language barriers.
This team's swanky limbs can be used with other torsos as well, keeping the legacy of Scramble City alive for generations to come.
Like the other combiners I've covered, Superion has plenty of open 5 mm ports all over his body, so weapon storage isn't an issue. Also, both the box art for this toy and a lot of fans like to use the double blasters as a means of beefing up the giant's skinny thighs. Personally, I expect my Superion to be like that, as it was true of both the G1 toy and the cartoon model.
The shield part of Superion's weapon has a 5 mm port, so you can add a gun on top of his gun. With either this setup or just the Powerglide Cannon by itself, the combiner needs both hands to hold this egotistical blaster.
When placed alongside the Combiner Wars Superion (left), the Unite Warriors version shows how its various changes produce a subtly superior looking figure. The white hands and feet, coupled with the extra detailing on his main body, come together to make a real treat for Aerialbot enthusiasts.
And here is Unite Warriors Superion next to Combiner Wars Defensor. The giant Autobot warriors look good together, but having a Japanese set with my American figures makes me curious about the Unite Warriors Guardian (especially since it replaces Rook with a deluxe-class Groove).
"Stand down, Menasor!"
In my household, Superion always wins.
Unlike in the cartoon...
I am extremely pleased with Unite Warriors Superion. For months, I staved off the urge to buy the domestic release Aerialbots because I believed the TakaraTomy version would be a better buy. While they are not vastly different from the Hasbro Aerialbots, it's the little bit of extra polish that really brings this set together. All of the toys feel just a bit tighter and look just a bit better. And thankfully, the weak yen and preorder discounts make the Unite Warriors Superion not that much more expensive than an individually purchased domestic set. Even so, you are definitely getting a solid team of Transformers for your money.
|Posted 3 August, 2015 - 13:58 by VF5SS|