The Reverend's Review: Constructicons/Devastator
"Thinking and winning do not mix"
"Awesome and terrifying, a bizarre combination of six Constructicons: Scrapper, Scavenger, Bonecrusher, Hook, Long Haul, and Mixmaster. Pure brutality---sole purpose is to crush all in his path. His mind is a melding together of 6 parts, but limited by their competing thoughts. Enormous height, incredible strength---can knock down a bridge with one punch. Has 10,000° C solar energy beam rifle. Slow, awkward, not too bright."
I won't go into a huge amount of background on these characters as A) their in-universe origins vary and even contradict each other and B) as the first Transformers combiner team released by Hasbro, they're pretty well known in the line.
I will say that I recall them actually starting out as pegwarmers - they hit the stores a little before the first cartoon episode featuring them aired, and they were everywhere at first. Once that episode aired, they quickly became harder to find at retail - an interesting point when you consider how often critics were pointing out that the cartoon could be described as a half-hour toy commercial back then.
Still, aside from the combining gimmick, the Constructicons were an interesting lot in that they weren't a team of four very-similar robots forming interchangeable limbs to an oversized team leader. While they did all share the same green coloring, they were function-specific both as characters and as parts of Devastator, and in some cases even their accessories had specific roles to play. They also filled a particular niche within the Decepticons, as up to that point their ranks consisted mainly of soldiers and spies. Devastator himself might have been a little shorter than Shockwave, who was released the same year, but the combining gimmick was enough to send kids into tantrums wanting their parents to pick up yet another member of the coveted set.
Alternate Mode: (Constructicons)
"Hit it till it stands no taller than dust."
Rubble-strewn wasteland is his idea of beautiful landscape. His wild ways create fear and terror. As vehicle, at 30mph. Exerts 800,000psi... has short-range concussion bomb launcher. As robot, carries laser pistol. As left arm module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator".
Bonecrusher is a bulldozer, with fixed treads and a large wide shovel. He has two "exhaust pipes" on top and a roof shading the driver's compartment. His "concussion bomb launcher" is actually Devastator's forearm, and it connects to the pipes on the bulldozer mode. You can load the launcher with either the included chrome drill missile or Devastator's fist, and the Bonecrusher I got in 1985 actually had a pretty strong spring in its launcher. The shovel can move up and down to a degree, but its positioning is somewhat limited. Because there's no wheels on the bottom of the bulldozer, it does not roll, and the large sticker on the bottom of the shovel (Bonecrusher's chest detail) can be damaged if you go pushing it across the floor too much. Still, as bulldozers went, it was a quite passable imitation. After transformation, Bonecrusher becomes a robot with a single visor on his face, spread arms locked outwards in a gunfighter pose (although the shoulders rotate and the elbows have a 90 degree range). He comes with a small green laser pistol and you can still attach the launcher to his left arm if you really want to. The shovel that forms his chest makes Bonecrusher look a bit brawny, although it's covering the fact that he really has a large empty space in his torso. A Decepticon sticker is meant to be placed right in the middle of the sticker on his chest. Bonecrusher's a tad funny-looking because his arm positioning looks like he's about to hug someone, but you could also say he's about to punch your lights out. It fits with his character, who's basically a brutal type who apparently likes to knock down pretty much any structure he lays eyes on.
Scavenger (power shovel)
Function: Mining & Salvage
"Everything is worth something, even me."
Desperately tries to prove his worth to comrades by trying to find things of value -- whether by digging up a hillside or a backyard. Only tolerated because of ability to use shovel's magnetic, ionic, electrical, gas sensors to detect presence of fuels, metals, etc. As right arm module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator".
Scavenger's alternate mode has a fair amount of play value - although his treads don't move, his carriage rotates and the shovel arm has two joints of its own. Posts just to the side of his cab allow his launcher (identical to Bonecrusher's, but with a different attachment) to be mounted on his vehicle mode, and he also came with both a chrome drill/missile and a fist to use as projectiles - although for some reason, his launcher isn't mentioned in his Tech Specs. Probably for space reasons. Scavenger's transformation is fairly simple, the vehicle basically unfolds and his arms and head are pulled out of the notches they were folded into. Scavenger is a little harder to stand in robot mode than the other Constructicons, mainly because his feet are fairly small and because the same folding joint that allows transformation tends to cause him to fall over forwards, like he's trying to touch his toes. He's also rather drab in robot mode because his torso is basically a rectangle with thin arms. Despite the rather pitiful personality Scavenger's given, he ended up being the sharpshooter that blew Prowl away, so maybe you shouldn't make fun of the fact that he's got a shovel sticking out of his butt. He carries a slim black pistol, although his launcher doesn't fit in a useful position in robot mode. Also, Scavenger's toy is seriously affected by loose joints - besides the folding-over problem I mentioned earlier, Scavenger's ankles are unsteady when loose and the silver connecter in his chest that's used for combined mode tends to fall out of position and look rather like a chrome phallus. As a result, if buying your own set of Constructions, I would suggest putting extra cash towards a nice tight Scavenger if you can.
Function: Construction Engineer
"My work is a monument to -- and of -- my enemies."
A wizard at designing fortresses and energy plants, but modest. Shows his true malevolent genius by incorporating defeated Autobots into his buildings' structures. Shovel can slice through 12in. thick carbon-steel, lift 30 tons. As right leg and part of torso, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator".
I remember a small bit of confusion on the part of us kids in 1985 as to who was supposed to be the leader of the Constructicons, but the Tech Specs list Scrapper as the highest in rank. As a payloader, Scrapper has four large, treaded plastic wheels and an extended shovel arm that has some vertical movement available. The roof over his driver compartment only pegs onto to the toy, so if shopping for a secondhand Scrapper, make sure this is included - it can fall or break off. Scrapper comes with the purple "Super Wing" (this is what the instructions call it), which can peg onto the rear of his vehicle mode and also will form Devastator's chest armor. The Super Wing has two small gun barrels in its front, and Dreamwave's "More Than Meets The Eye" profile for Scrapper indicates that he can use it to fly over limited distances in vehicle mode. Transformation is quite simple, with the arms already visible in vehicle mode - all you have to do is flip out the legs from the rear of the vehicle, push Scrapper's shovel into an upright position and pull out his head. Scrapper's a fairly good-looking robot, despite the shovel projecting out from behind his shoulders, and he carries a black laser pistol identifiable by the round protrusion on either side of it. His arms are a bit short and tend to loosen quickly, but he's generally devoid of the awkward proportion issues that some of his teammates have. Scrapper's head seems like it's supposed to trigger some tabs that slide out of his back to keep the shovel positioned at an angle when acting as Scrapper's foot, but if this was the intent I've seen way too many Scrappers for which it didn't work well. I used to actually tape my Scrapper's head down and shake out the tabs for when I wanted to form Devastator... but more on that later. Scrapper's a tad plain, but a generally solid, good-looking figure in both modes. One thing to note is that he came with a fair number of stickers to apply on his torso - while a Scrapper with badly applied stickers won't affect the combined mode, they do affect his appearance greatly in robot mode.
Function: Surgical Engineer
"Strive for perfection even if others must suffer."
With the precision of a fine jeweler, Hook performs his job with skill unequalled among the Transformers, whether reconnecting a damaged microchip or setting a two ton girder into place. He's a snobbish, supercilious, unpopular perfectionist who is able to lift 20 tons. As shoulders and head module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator".
Hook's Tech Specs hint at abilities he probably should have gotten to exercise more in the various Transformers media, but at least the cartoon succeeded in getting him an amusedly snobby-sounding voice. As a crane, he has rolling wheels, purple windows in both front and rear operator's compartments, and a crane boom that can extend as well as some pivoting movement for the chrome hook itself. The boom itself can raise into a near-vertical position and the operator's compartment in the rear of the vehicle can rotate. Hook also has a small hole in the front of his vehicle into which his black laser pistol can be placed. His pistol is the largest of the Constructions' and is easy to identify in a pile of parts. He also comes with the head of Devastor on a bracket, which can be pegged onto the middle of his vehicle mode (with the head folded down to hide the face), and a large green cannon can be plugged into a hole on the side of the head (Devastator's "ear") to give Hook some firepower in vehicle mode. Hook's transformation requires slightly more care as it's easy to break the toy if you're not paying attention - the front and back halves of his crane mode are connected by a long sliding joint, and you have to pull this all the way out in order to transform his feet properly without breaking them off. In robot mode, Hook's a tall fellow with longish arms and a surprisingly well-detailed, almost careworn face. He has shoulder movement, but that's about it, and that's not always useful as a secondhand Hook's shoulders are often so loose that he can't point his pistol at anything. Like Scrapper, Hook had a number of stickers to apply on his torso - if they're not done well, it won't affect Devastator, but he relies on them for detail as a robot.
Long Haul (dump truck)
"A battle front is only as good as its supply line."
Unhappy with unglamorous role, but understands its importance... helps build Decepticons' massive energy-recovery installations. As vehicle, can carry 90 tons for 1200 miles, use a dual heat-seeking missile mount. As torso module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator". Can be goaded into a fight in which he's overmatched.
Long Haul is a bright green dump truck. His truck bed splits to form his legs and feet, so while the bed has some vertical movement available, you can only go so far before its halves start to separate. He has large treaded plastic tires like Scrapper and a roof covering the driver's compartment (which isn't removable) His driver's compartment has open windows, not purple ones like some of the others. Long Haul's transformation is fairly simple, the arms folded at the sides of the truck remind me of G1 Hound. Like Hook, you have to be a little careful when flipping down his legs, but there's no sliding joint to get in the way here. As a robot, Long Haul is a little funny looking because he has a huge chest (the front of the truck), short arms that don't reach past the chest and great big legs with no real feet. He comes with a missile launcher with two non-removable green missiles; this is also Devastor's hip piece. A smaller green piece (actually Devastator's groin-plate) tabs onto the top of the missile launcher - on mint samples you may find this a little difficult to attach at first. The launcher cannot be attached in robot mode. Long Haul comes with a green laser pistol with an angular shape that differentiates it from Bonecrushers. Also, he is intended to have small, thin stickers on his wrists, but these are often missing on secondhand samples. Some versions of Long Haul have an open slot in the truck's molded front grille - my 1985 Long Haul is one of these - but don't worry, the slot serves no purpose in play or combination and you won't miss it if yours doesn't have it.
Mixmaster (Cement truck)
Function: Materials Fabrication
"How strong the steel, how quick the conquest."
Nothing is safe from him... he will use anything from unliving rock to living robot in making new materials. Uses acids and bonding agents to reduce and recombine almost anything inside mixing drum... a chemistry lab on wheels. As left leg module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator".
In the cartoon, Mixmaster was given a chattering, giggly voice. He didn't get to use his abilities much beyond his first appearance, unfortunately. As a cement truck, Mixmaster rolls on small wheels and his drum can rotate. The original Mixmaster (1985) has a green drum, some later reissues/KOs have a grey one. Mixmaster's truck mode is fairly well-detailed and closely resembled the cement-dispensing vehicles from that era, minus the purple front window on his cab. He also has a chrome grille in the front of the truck, this is often worn on loose samples. Mixmaster has one of the simplest transformations of the group, the result is a sturdy-looking bot with a uni-foot and straight arms that can move at the shoulder - like Hook, these are often very loose. His head is permanently fixed in a recess under the truck and does not flip out like the others. I guess Mixmaster is always eating dirt, maybe to keep his drum full. Mixmaster came with a small black laser pistol, as well as Devastator's larger purple rifle, and these can be mounted on his truck mode if you wish. He can hold both weapons in robot mode, and he also has a head-mounted missile launcher. Oddly, you get a chrome missile to use in the launcher if you like, and also a chrome double-barreled gun which I assume is not meant to be launched like a missile. The launcher on mine was never very strong, so while I'll say that Mixmaster looks weird without anything loaded in the launcher, if you can only get the twin-gun piece you're not missing a lot by not having the missile too. Mixmaster's rubsign in both 1985 and Encore versions is apparently at the back of the truck, where it tends to get dented when combining the Constructicons into Devastator. He has a few stickers on his chest and hips, and the truck mode has yellow and black "construction" markings at the rear behind the drum.
Robot (Combined) Mode: (Devastator)
Combining the Constructicons is not as simple as it is with the later "Scramble City" teams, but still fairly simple once you've done it a few times. Bonecrusher and Scavenger both have large posts on their vehicle modes so that you can attach their purple launchers as Devastator's forearms - after doing this, you can choose to load Devastator's hands in the launchers or perhaps the drills if you like. The large purple rifle that comes with Mixmaster fits in either one of the fists. Scavenger has a chrome piece that flips out from under his vehicle mode, while Bonecrusher has a small black socket between his treads. Pull Hook's crane mode all the way apart, using that sliding joint, and fold his halves against each other - once you've done that, you can slide the bracket on Devastator's head onto the sliding joint. The original instructions showed Hook's large green cannon sticking out of Devastator's ear; whether you want to do this is up to you. Hook has a socket on one side for Scavenger to plug into, and a small rotating chrome bar on the other to plug into Bonecrusher.
Fold Long Haul basically in half (with the legs untransformed) and flip back his roof to reveal the posts that connect him to the underside of Devastator's head bracker. Scrapper's Super Wing clips onto the front of Hook. Slide Long Haul's missile launcher into place between Long Haul's legs, and plug the small green shield into the slot just below Long Haul's front bumper. Mixmaster snaps into the square socket on one side of the launcher, so all you have to do is pull his cab out and fold it up to make Devastator's foot. Devastator's other foot will be formed by Scrapper's shovel, but you need his arms also rotated downward for the extra support. (Note the comments I made about Scrapper's head in his section, you may have to tape his head into place for more stability.) Scrapper fits onto the non-rectangular fitting on the missile launcher, this completes Devastator's assembly.
In combined mode, Devastator is a bit asymmetrical and has a very visible amount of construction-vehicle-parts sticking off of him. While you'd expect this to a degree, its somewhat more pronounced than with the later Scramble City teams. It doesn't bother me, but maybe you like your combiners to look a little more streamlined. Despite having his head set back rather far and his legs out in front, he still looks good in combined mode, although the annoying half-smile they gave his face sculpt might turn you off. He's quite limited in posability due to his unjointed legs and hips, but his arms do have articulation at the shoulders some movement available at his forearms, and the forearms can lauch either his fists, or drills/missiles from them. Scavenger always seemed to rotate better as an arm than Bonecrusher, and he's also got more room to move the forearm around if you want to do that (although Scavenger's shovel tends to get in the way). There are a few 3rd-party kits you can get on the internet to increase Devastator's articulation and improve his overall look - while I haven't tried any of them, they do have their fans. Because of the inherent issues with Scrapper in particular as a foot, I can't say that Devastator makes the greatest display piece - if you want to do that, you'll have to try it and see if he stays upright. Because Long Haul acts as Devastator's waist, if he is loose and slouchy, you're going to have a Devastator that slumps. This seems to be a bigger problem on reissues than originals, from what I know. Still, Devastator's an imposing toy, and his component parts are different enough from each other that he looks like an actual robot without having *too* much extraneous stuff floating around to clutter the design. He also doesn't have the "flat plastic feet" visual that the Scramble City combiners did. The Super Wing can fall off of his chest if he's jostled too hard, but that's about it. I've never had a problem with Devastator coming apart in my hands, unless I lifted him by Hook. That's a no-no - you have to lift him by Long Haul's portion of the torso. Scavenger seems to come dislodged rather easily, but that might just be my sample. Although Devastator's hip piece looks a little strange on sight, it isn't quite as distracting as Superion's "chicken legs" or Menasor's stick-thin arm joints.
7. The Constructicons in general have interesting little transformations (well, maybe minus Mixmaster), and combining them into Devastor is a little more complex than most combiners, but not at all difficult or annoying.
4. Devastator's connecting pieces are pretty solid for the most part. Looseness on Scrapper is a big issue - it can be so with the other Constructions, but that won't cause problems in combined mode. I gave it a fairly low score just because there's a degree of care that needs to be taken in combining and some of the individual transformations.
8. Devastator's unique combination style would not be seen again until Predaking. Hasbro gave the individual Constructicons some intriguing personalities, and combining them is, admittedly, something of a joy.
7. Devastator and the Constructicons, while somewhat monochromatic, still look good as a group or combined. Stability issues might come up, but if yours will stay put, they make a nice display. (I actually bought one of those cheap KOs and keep it in Devastator mode - I glued KO Scrapper's arms and shovel in place.)
2. Devastator doesn't have a lot of articulation, and the individual Constructicons are similarly limited. They can (sometimes) point their guns.
8. Price is in flux right now due to Encore release. You still get sizable bang for the buck, though.
8. Okay, maybe the Constructicons and Devastator are overrated, but as the first combiner, being a non-Scramble City type and being reimagined in the second TF live-action film, you really should check this group out if you don't have it.