Jan 5, 2011

[Transformers] A Second Look At Power Core Combiners

Back in August, I wrote a rant against the Power Core Transformers. I felt they were an insult to the original gestalt robots of the G1 era (and yes, this includes the Scramble City ones) with their use of "drones" that become the limbs of the larger Power Core units.

Fast forward to December and a new wave of Power Core Transformers were released. Given they were being sold at 50% off because of the holidays, I figured it might be worth a second look. After all, my rant was based around the concept of these Power Core units without actually buying any.

Transformers Power Core Grimstone with Dinobots

Then I saw two figures of particular interest - Grimstone with his Dinobots and Steamhammer with his version of the Constructicons. Given the extra Christmas money in hand, I picked them up to see what they were all about.

To recap, the Power Core combiners are pretty much a much simpler version of the old gestalt Transformers. Where those figures involved five separate Transformers that you could Transform into vehicles, robots and giant limbs, the Power Core takes a different approach. Thus we get various Power Core "drones" that are named after famous gestalt groups. So we have Combaticon drones and Protectobot drones. We have Aerialbot drones and we have Destrons. And as mentioned earlier, these two sets came with Dinobots and Constructicons, thus continuing to attempt to tap into the nostalgia factor of bringing up old gestalt match-ups.

When I finally opened my own Power Core figures, I was both surprised and slightly amused by how the drones were. You essentially just plug in the vehicle units into the various Power Core connectors and then they instantly pop into their proper limbs. There are drones that are only meant to be arms and those that are meant to be legs - sort of like how the original Predacons were limited in that regard as well. So much for Scramble City.

The resulting limbs are pretty impressive. I loved how the Dinobots fell into the right configuration in rather creative ways. It's hard to predict how the limbs will look like just based on the vehicle moods, which is a good thing.

Transformers Power Core Steamhammer with Constructicons

However this is something that cuts both ways in terms of the toys. The good thing is how easy it makes it for anyone to create the final gestalt mode - just pop them in and you're ready to go. Plus you can now buy individual Power Core commanders separately and use your existing drones to create new robots. It's like how the Junkions would re-form and switch roles between rider and motorcycle in the original Transformers animated movie.

But this eliminates the need for creativity or learning how to manipulate the robots more in terms of the kids. Hasbro has taken what little work is still needed to memorize how to transform robot and instead replaced it pretty much nothing. So it's a great series to help younger kids get into Transformers but it's bound to annoy veteran fans a lot more.

Then there's the whole replaceable commander concept. It reminds me a lot of the He-Man figures for Modulak and Multi-Bot - various parts that come together in different ways. In this case you either have the main Power Core units sold in 5-packs together with the drones or the 2-pack figures sold with Minicons. Oh years, these little bastards continue to survive beyond the Transformers Armada storyline. And some of them have gotten a lot better since their alt modes either look like some pretty menacing weapons or at the very least they integrate well into the commander unit's vehicle mode.

So do I like the Power Core units now? Not exactly - I still find them somewhat insulting to the intelligence level of both kids today and of course to the older fans who've stuck with the toy company for agets.

So for completing the Power Core collection, my advise remains the same. They're generally fun but I'd never pay full price for them. The Minicons are fun but watch out for repaints and remolds - they're rampant between the 2 and 5 pack robots. An the drones are just okay - nothing to write home about and they have some odd arms and legs that have lousy balance and stability.

And get them only if you like the overall figure that you'll be able to come up with. If you don't like the Transformers final transformation, then don't get it! There's always time to be picky...or better yet just mindful of repaints. If you can't live with the figure (or his Minicon), then it can wait for it to become dirt cheap or something. And don't forget about the quality of the Minocons too - they also need careful study and evaluations.

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