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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Ganon578's Review: Combiner Wars G2 Menasor

Name: G2 Menasor
Function: Big Neon Guy with No Real Objective
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Combiner

Menasor could be the ultimate weapon. Until the Stunticons can set aside their rivalries, he’s best unleashed to demolish what he can in fits of fearsome unfocused rage.

Menasor is a figure (or rather a set) that I never figured I would lay my hands on. The original run of mass retail (G1) stylized figures floated along without so much of a thought from me. The only combiner I owned in my adolescence was Devastator, so I had no nostalgic ties to Menasor. And growing up, I never even knew G2 existed! So this set is quite an oddball for me to say the least. Even looking at stock photos of the set, the figures seem rather… EYE BURNING. As I understand it, G2 Menasor (the original, that is) never made it to retail, so someone decided to hand paint a recreation of those cancelled figures... for fun? This Combiner Wars version is based on a digibash of that hand painted set. One thing of note that differs from the recent mass retail CW release: Off-Road has been replaced with the more traditional Wildrider (thankfully). Wildrider was retooled from Dead End for the Unite Warriors version and later adopted into a US release. The other figures are straight forward repaints of their original CW incarnations. Talk about a convoluted backstory!

For the life of me, I can’t quite figure out why Habsro would make this release, save for getting a little more mileage from the molds, tidied up in a nice little gift set to sell online or whatever. Seems like a lot of trouble to go through, but at least they did a great job with this ridiculously obscure (absurd?) set of racers that can’t get their stuff together.

Name: Motormaster
Function: Stunticon Leader
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Voyager

Motormaster punishes enemies and allies alike with the brute force of a tyrant, breeding fear and hatred in all who encounter him, even his Stunticon teammates.

Alternate Mode:

Motormaster’s alternate mode is that of a snub-nosed ‘stunt’ semi-truck. I don’t recall too many ‘stunt’ semis in my time, but whatever. The alternate mode is done rather well with great molded detail and vibrant colors. The vast majority of the coloration is done in purple (which is actually purple metallic flake plastic), with light blue, silver, black, and red dotted around here and there. The colors are done tastefully (as tastefully as that palette can be) without being a rainbow spray everywhere; the detail colors are kept to a minimum. Some parts of the windows aren’t painted in light blue, which is a shame since Hasbro did such a nice job on the detailing overall. It leaves the mode feeling somewhat incomplete. Compare the lack of window paint to the front of the grill, where a miniscule G2 Decepticon logo is found. Such a minor detail, yet the windows couldn’t be fully painted.

There isn’t a ton to do in the truck mode, but the wheels roll well, and you can store Motormaster’s weapons on the back of the semi. It doesn’t work as well as Optimus Prime’s and Battle Core Optimus Prime’s guns do, since those tend to look like some serious exhaust pipes. With Motormaster, you just get a ‘gun’ and a sword sticking out of the back.

Overall the semi-truck mode is OK, but definitely not noteworthy.

Robot Mode:

A simple transformation that won’t trick you in any fashion is featured with Motormaster. The legs unfold from the back and the arms and shoulders swivel around and out. The head flips out from the chest and that’s really about it; at least it's quick. Molded detail is done well again where most of the robot does not have any large flat areas. The base color palette is the same in robot mode, but you’ll find quite a bit more red this time around, especially in the chest, shoulders, and legs. There’s a nice tampo-style silver and black G2 Decepticon symbol in the middle of the chest. Overall, I can’t stress with Motormaster (or the whole set for that matter) how well the paint apps have been applied.

Motormaster features a great range of movement, and nothing is significantly hindered. The only issues stem from a somewhat loose hip on the right side, and blocky feet that don’t tilt. You can position him around quite a bit, but some wide-stance dynamic poses are a chore to achieve. Motormaster also comes with two weapons: a rifle and a sword. They are painted in a bright silver, and luckily, the handles are left unpainted. These weapons can also combine into one giant sword for Menasor to wield.

Again, Motormaster has a decent robot mode, but nothing noteworthy.

Name: Dead End
Function: Stunticon
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Deluxe

Most Decepticons would say the Autobots are doomed. Dead End is the only one who’d say the same thing about the Decepticons. He’s convinced the end of the universe is right around the corner, and he’s going out with blasters blazing.

Alternate Mode:

Dead End’s alternate mode resembles a Ferrari 458 Italia. It’s a direct repaint of the G1 CW Dead End. If you’ve been collecting any of the CW figures to date and already own the other Dead End, Wildrider, Streetwise, Prowl, or Smokescreen, you won’t find anything new or fancy. The car mode looks really nice though, and I like the molded detail everywhere, especially in the headlights. The color palette on G2 Dead End works really well for a stunt car. It’s a nice metallic red plastic with tons of paint apps all around - small details, like the tiny Decepticon logos on the side paint apps can be found on all of these cars. All the paint apps have been applied incredibly well, and it makes me wonder why Habsro can’t do this for all of their Transformers. The one thing that sticks out the most (to me) is on the hood: it has a black paint app that covers most of the hood, but the giant G2 Decepticon logo in the middle is not painted – it’s actually just red plastic underneath. The coloration/paint apps on all of these figures is just fantastic!

Other than aesthetics, the car mode doesn’t do a whole lot. The wheels roll well, and there’s a couple spots to peg the weapons in on the top, back, and sides of the car. Overall, this one is a solid average.

Robot Mode:

Dead End’s transformation is very simple, and if you’ve seen the aforementioned figures as well as Titans Return Chromedome or Getaway, you’ve seen this before. Once in robot mode, the same crisp paint details can be found, as well as the nicely molded parts all around. There’s a little more grey plastic in this mode, as well as some more blue paint detailing. A small G2 ‘Con logo is smack in the middle of his chest. The head mold is of note, as the detail is great, and the paint apps applied are superb! All of the little nooks and crannies are painted crisply, without any paint fudging on the lines. Bravo!

For articulation, Dead End is pretty standard. The arms and legs have a great range of motion, and achieving various poses is smooth and easy. The arms get a little clunky at times, but for the most part you can get whatever pose you choose. Dead End comes with two weapons (sort of). One is the hand/foot/gun combiner part (which I usually set aside for play), and the other is an tailpipe/club that could also double as a... gun? I'm not sure if the side handle of the weapon is intended for the car mode exclusively, because if Dead End holds the thing like a gun, his fire blast is only going straight up into the air. The other sad part about the club is that it’s fully painted blue, which makes it just a tad tight in his hand. Why they couldn’t have just used blue plastic is beyond me. At least the paint is durable and hasn’t scratched off yet.

Overall, Dead End has a couple decent modes, but if you’ve seen any of the other incarnations before, you won’t find anything surprising.

Name: Breakdown
Function: Stunticon
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Deluxe

Breakdown is always worried that he is being watched. The Decepticons take full advantage of his need to remain unseen and mobilize him as a scout. Paranoia comes in handy when you’re trying to avoid detection.

Alternate Mode:

Breakdown’s alternate mode resembles a Lamborghini Diablo – but in teal! Wow, if this figure isn’t the epitome of 1990’s coloration, I don’t know what is. The main colors are teal and purple, with a little silver, gold, and black thrown in. As mentioned with the other figures in this set, molded detail is good, and any paint apps you see are sharp and well done. The Lambo mode is pretty straightforward, and there isn’t anything other than the color that is worth noting (as far as aesthetics are concerned).

The wheels roll well, and Breakdown has just enough clearance underneath to make it work. There are only two 5 mm peg holes for weapons to reside, which looks rather stupid when you get them in: the top can hold the hand/foot/gun combiner part, but the sword/gun pegs into the back, leaving a giant blade sticking out of Breakdown’s rear end. Luckily, the maroon gun-sword can be tabbed into the side of the car mode using a small tab part of the way up the back of the blade and a corresponding slot on the door of the Lambo. The weapon looks pretty good in this spot - much better than sticking out the back! You just need to take care, as the weapon is painted, and some wear can occur by putting it on and off. As for the hand/foot/gun part, this can also be hooked onto the top to act as an engine of sorts; the underside of the thumb and knuckles have some tiny tabs that hook into the back and top of the car, leaving the 'intakes' of the knuckles pointed forward. It's a neat feature, and it works much better than using the 5 mm peg hole.

The Lambo mode is fairly awesome (and very TEAL)...

Robot Mode:

Breakdown maintains the same mold (and therefore the same transformation) as G1 CW Breakdown, Sunstreaker, and Wheeljack. If you own those, you won’t find much interest here. The hood/head assembly shifts nearly identical to that of Dead End and Wildrider, but the legs are a little different. The legs unfold and swivel akin to something like Thrilling 30 Trailbreaker, Hoist, and somewhat similar to Titans Return Hardhead. The arms simply unfold, and the only frustrating part is getting the chest plate down and the arms/shoulders rotated up in the right order as to not bump everything together. Otherwise, the transformation is fairly straightforward.

Once in robot mode, Breakdown is quite chunky – much more than I expected. The lower legs are incredibly boxy, and so is the chest, but the arms are spindly. The proportions seem off to me; Dead End and Wildrider are comparatively proportional, but Breakdown is an oddball. That said, at least the color aesthetics work quite well, and much more purple and silver are featured in robot mode. The paint apps and detail are again crisp and well done.

Articulation is average with Breakdown. The major issue is the legs are so chunky, they’re a bit hampered with movement. Conversely, the spindly arms are jointed fantastically and can accommodate a wide range of movement. Luckily, Breakdown’s feet are pretty big, so he can balance all of this well. As for weapons, Breakdown features the standard hand/foot/gun, and also a maroon and silver gun/blade. I prefer the weapon to be used as a sword, as the other figures in the set all have melee weapons. This gives the set some consistency (aside from the parade of ‘90s colors), but if you choose to use it as a rifle, it will work better than the tailpipe/club things that come with Wildrider and Dead End.

Breakdown has a decent robot mode, and a pretty good Lambo mode. However, this figure is probably my least favorite of the set.

Name: Wildrider (Break-Neck)
Function: Stunticon
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Deluxe

Brake-Neck has no respect for the rules of the road, or anything on it. Autobot or Decepticon – it doesn’t matter. Any bot that gets in his way is in line for repairs once Brake-neck is done with them. Even the unpredictable Stunticons see him as an out-of-control wild rider.

Alternate Mode:

As is with Dead End, Wildrider resembles a Ferrari 458 Italia. Everything I mentioned with Dead End holds true here, so I will spare you the text. Just know that the paint apps are super crisp – the top of the car has an intricate design that will baffle you as to how clean it was applied. The plastic used for Wildrider is a semi-metallic yellow that looks good and is very bright. Otherwise, the same comments I used for Dead End apply here.

Robot Mode:

Again, I will spare you the text, as Wildrider is the same as Dead End, save for a different head - all other comments apply. The new head is done rather well, but isn’t really noteworthy. The paint apps have been applied with great care, but the final product is quite dark. I wish they had chosen something slightly lighter for the face, but at least it’s a metallic purple that they used, so it looks a little shiny in the final product.

Overall, Wildrider is a solid figure, but it's nothing special if you’ve seen the mold before (or several times over, if you've got a CW collection like I do).

Name: Dragstrip
Function: Stunticon
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Deluxe

Nasty and underhanded – would rather be scrapped than lose. Prone to overheating, but possesses the greatest pure speed of any Stunticon. Adopting the alt-mode of an advanced Formula One race car gives him a sixth gear the Autobots cannot match, but leaves him with a slightly fragile vehicle mode.

Alternate Mode:

Dragstrip’s alternate mode is an F-1 Racer, and it’s probably my favorite of the bunch. While not a ‘stunt’ car per se, the F-1 mode is pretty awesome. It’s sleek and well designed, and mostly colored in black and blue. Dragstrip is not as eye-burning as the other cars, but he does have some nifty details like the silver vents on the back and the checker flag-type design on the spoiler. There’s a nice G2 Decepticon logo on the front of the cockpit which is also painted in a nice yellow color. The F-1 mode probably has the most ‘flat’ molded detail on the car compared to the other figures in this set, but that doesn’t make it boring.

The wheels roll really well, and thankfully, the rims are in silver paint like the rest of the figures in the set (except for Motormaster and Blackjack). There are a few spots to peg in the two weapons that come with Dragstrip (hand/foot/gun and sword). The combiner part is best pegged on the top, since it doesn't fit anywhere else. Likewise, the sword is mostly suited for pegging into the very back like on Breakdown, as the side peg of the sword is set at a 45 degree angle which limits where it can go. Usually I just set these parts aside anyways, so this isn’t a deal breaker.

Dragstrip has a pretty cool alternate mode, and is my favorite of the set (which maybe due to the fact I don't own any other versions of this mold).

Robot Mode:

For me (and maybe since I own quite a few CW cars now) Dragstrip has the most interesting transformation of the bunch. The arms pop out of the sides, and the front of the F-1 racer hinges and swivels to peg onto his back. The legs slide out and lock in place, much like a lot of the old G1 toys used to. It’s a cool nod to older times, and I was really surprised at this feature; most, if not all, of the other CW cars do not transform in this fashion. Twist his waist around and he’s ready to go!

Dragstrip has a nice robot mode, one which I think works better on him than Mirage. The coloration is mostly black and blue, with a little yellow thrown into the mix. There’s a nice, clean G2 ‘Con logo on the side of the chest, and the head mold is painted with fantastic sharpness. Dragstrip’s head is my favorite of the set, right up there with Dead End. Dragstrip is proportioned well, and has a good amount of articulation. Nothing is hindered, and he ends up as the most dynamic figure of the entire set (with the possible exception of Blackjack). The included sword is done in light blue plastic, and it pegs in nicely to his hands. The sword can also be used as a gun by utilizing the 45 degree angled peg on the side. I much prefer the weapon to be used as a sword anyways, so the option is a wash for me.

Dragstrip is, without a doubt, the star of this set. I really love all he has to offer, and he looks great in both modes.

Name: Blackjack
Function: Stunticon
Subgroup: Combiner Wars
Size Class: Legends

Clever warrior calculates the odds and hatches his plan.

Alternate Mode:

Blackjack is a straight repaint of CW Blackjack that was released as a standalone figure. All of the features in both modes have been covered previously by TF Archive's very own Blackjack, and I wholeheartedly agree with the assessments in his review. The main difference here is the color palette, so I will stick to that for this review.

Blackjack’s alternate mode is a sports car of sorts, and the coloration is nearly identical to Motormaster. I really wish they had found another set of colors to differentiate the two when combined. The main color is metallic purple plastic with some teal detailing and black wheels and windows. Otherwise, the car isn't special but it is quite fun.

Robot Mode:

A very simple transformation to get to robot mode is found here, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t joyful - it's rather the opposite! Blackjack is a super fun to flip quickly back and forth. Once in robot mode, you’ll find a ton of metallic purple with teal and black detailing, and a red visor on his teal head. There's a good mix of paint apps and molded plastic here, and the colors work well together.

Blackjack has a great range of movement and good joints everywhere for such a small figure. Getting him into some good dynamic poses comes with ease. Blackjack also comes with his own weapon – a double bladed axe – which is teal and looks really good as he wields it.

There’s not too much to comment on with Blackjack - just know he’s a really solid figure from every aspect, and fun in both modes.

Combined Mode:

Menasor’s combined mode is just what you would expect: big and hulking. The downside is that he suffers from the same issues as other combiners in this line (balance) and one particular one that carries over from sharing the mold with the two versions of Optimus (weak hips). While snapping photos of Menasor, I had a horrible time trying to get an ‘action’ shot similar to his box art. His feet kept sliding all over, and his right hip kept moving all around, causing him to topple over on multiple occasions. The stability is better on carpet, but not so much that you could put him in a running position. It’s sad that more fun can’t be had here, but if you leave his legs static you can do a few poses… just don’t move the arms out too far or he’ll fall over.

One other issue is with Blackjack… or rather the pegs that Blackjack is supposed to peg onto. They’re a bit too big, and Blackjack’s peg holes aren’t that deep. Trying to get the two to stay together is like trying to mix oil and water. With some finesse you can get it to work, you just have to refrain from blinking or Blackjack will tumble to the ground. It’s a shame too, since Menasor’s closed chest isn’t all that appealing - it looks much better with Blackjack plugged in.

Aside from these problems, G2 Menasor is kinda fun. He's a hulking rainbow of neon colors, but on the whole the aesthetic of the combined mode works. His giant sword is a pretty cool weapon, and it looks good too. His face is detailed well, and I dig the ‘angry mouth open’ look. I’m quite glad they didn’t give him a stoic face!

Overall, you'll find some fun to be had with Menasor’s combined mode, but the issues really drag him down. The set as a whole is pretty neat, and you won’t find any better paint detailing than on these figures. Is this something that you should hunt down? Definitely not. I came across this one for $40 USD with spare cash in my pocket. It’s an interesting set based on a rare and unreleased bunch of figures, so it’s got that going for it.

Marks Out of Ten for the Following:

Transformation Design: 6. Typical CW fare for each figure. A couple minor fun parts are Dragstrip’s legs and Breakdown’s arms. Otherwise, really straightforward and to the point.

Durability: 8. High quality materials were used, and I haven’t seen any stress or wear on anything… yet.

Fun: 7. I want to rate this higher, but the combined mode has too many issues. The individual figures are pretty solid on their own, and they're all really BRIGHT.

Aesthetics: 8. Eye burning colors aside, the metallic plastics used and the paint apps really set the bar high. If you can get around all the neon, then you’ll find some really well done figures.

Articulation: 8. Each figure has great range, and only a few things are hampered. Each figure, I think, could use some minor improvements.

Value/Price: 10. This is completely based on my experience. The list price is $100 USD – which is not a good deal at all. The sale prices I have seen are in the range of $67 USD – which isn't terrible, but still rather pricey. I managed this set for $40 USD – for 6 decent figures (barring the bright color scheme) that’s a heck of a deal. You get 1 Voyager, 4 Deluxes, and 1 Legends class for less than $7 per figure!

Overall: 6. The color scheme won’t be for everyone. Each figure has minor issues. The combined mode has a couple problems that limit the fun. The ease of finding one on the cheap could be difficult. However, for the kind of price I was able to get this at, this is an incredibly solid set of figures. The CW designs are done well enough that you can find some good fun, and they all combine to boot. On top of all of that, you get an awesome collectible poster (but oddly of the G1 set). You’re actually getting 7 figures, an artwork card, and the poster for the cost, and if you liked the '90s this one is your set!
 
 
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