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Blackjack's Review: Combiner Wars Deluxe Class Quickslinger

Name: Quickslinger (a.k.a. Slingshot)
Allegiance: Autobot
Sub-group: Aerialbots
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: Neutron Rifle, Superion Fist

If everything Quickslinger said about his feats in battle were true, he’d be the most decorated Autobot warrior. While he’s not actually a battlefield legend, he’s is the best shooter among the Aerialbots. Once an enemy is in his sights, there’s a good shot they’ll end up in a sling.

So, Combiner Wars! All your favourite Scramble City combiners, done up in modern-day articulation and toy engineering so you can have giant figures Superion, Defensor, Bruticus, Devastator and Menasor fight each other while swapping limbs and whatnot. They’ve certainly learned from the absolutely hit-and-miss Fall of Cybertron Bruticus combiner how to actually execute combiners, and part of it is to not try to do too much with a mold. We don’t really care if the hands and feet of the gestalt are in separate pieces so long as the resulting gestalt doesn’t look like poop.

And the first two Combiners released by Hasbro are Superion and Menasor. From an engineering standpoint it kind of makes sense – every single limb among the Aerialbots basically transforms the same, while three of the four smaller Stunticons more or less transforms in the same way. All you need to do is to swap out some parts – wings, car kibble, robot heads. The end result is pretty pleasing, too… most of the smaller Aerialbots and Stunticons look pretty decent… but Hasbro knows that having so many similar-looking jets on the Deluxe Class peg will probably lead to shelfwarming – which was the concern that many people speculated was the difficulty in making combiners work.

So the result? They cut out Slingshot and Wildrider from their respective teams, replacing Slingshot with “Alpha Bravo”, who is a thinly-disguised repaint of an upcoming Vortex/Blades mold, and replacing Wildrider with Offroad, an admittedly nice-looking SUV dude that will serve as a basis for things like First Aid and some Season One dudes like Ironhide and Trailbreaker who have no business being combiners.

But Takara isn’t Hasbro, and what Takara likes to do is to make ridiculously slavish toys of G1 characters, so they said ‘hell no’ to all this Alpha Bravo business, and simply cast a new Slingshot head, slapped it on the Firefly Fireflight mould (here’s a review) and made a Slingshot. Then in a slightly roundabout way, Hasbro imported the Slingshot retool (renamed Quickslinger for trademark reasons), changed some colours to resemble the G1 toy more instead of the cartoon model, and released it as a retailer exclusive toy, as well as incorporating it into a planned G2-themed repaint of the Aerialbot team.

I saw the brand new Quickslinger hanging out in pegs of toy stores, but I honestly don’t care much for Slingshot as a toy or a character. My choice of the smaller Aerialbots would by Skydive (an interesting character thanks to the RPG and other fanfiction) or Air Raid (who looks awesome). But as fate would have it, due to some mistake at checkout, the Skydive I picked up somehow got swapped with a Quickslinger, and I didn’t realize it until I get home.

So now my collection is plus one asshole of an Aerialbot. Because that’s what Slingshot is in all fiction where he has a personality – the asshole Aerialbot. Skydive is the bookworm, Silverbolt is the acrophobic, Fireflight is the daydreamer, Air Raid is the brash one, and Slingshot is the asshole.

Since Hasbro lost the trademark to Slingshot around after G2, there really hasn’t been any other character called Slingshot over the years, and in newer incarnations or homages of the Aerialbots he’s been substituted with brand-new characters (Alpha Bravo in Combiner Wars, Airazor in Universe 2.0) or with the name ‘Quickslinger’, first introduced in Kre-O, which seems to be the official stand-in name for Slingshot.

Slingshot is a lot catchier than Quickslinger, however, so for the purposes of this review this dude shall be referred to as Slingshot.

Slingshot also comes with a comic titled “Combiner Wars #3”, promising to detail a new chapter in the big Combiner Wars event presumably running in IDW comics right now (I’ve not kept up with it) but really, it’s a very old issue of Robots in Disguise, issue #11 as I’ve looked it up. published in 2012. And I guess it’s sorta relevant because it features the (utterly stupid) Prowl-Devastator combiner thing, but Slingshot isn’t even mentioned anywhere in this issue and it’s one of the comics that made me gave up on the RID series, so yeah, screw that.

Alternate Mode:
The funny thing about Slingshot being a retool of Firefly Fireflight is, well, the Fireflight mould’s alternate mode was clearly meant to evocate G1 Slingshot’s Harrier Jump Jet alternate mode, whereas G1 Fireflight transformed into a F4 Phantom. So either Hasbro balked out of releasing the mould as Slingshot either because name trademark reasons, or they thought rolling in Slingshot’s alternate mode into the Fireflight toy would be a sneaky way to represent Slingshot among the Aerialbots. Or maybe they just goofed up. I dunno.

And Slingshot, well… he’s a bit of a blocky jet. Granted the IRL Harrier Jump Jet is kind of a chunky jet, but Slingshot certainly makes it an even chunkier jet. Really hard to fault, though, because in addition to being a jet and a robot, Slingshot also needs to be a stable leg and an arm of a larger robot, so he gets some leeway. And for his part, he’s got the general silhouette of the jet down – the wings, the chubby nosecone, the tail-wings… and looking at him from anywhere but the top will show the arms that aren’t even trying to hide themselves, or the legs that take up a good chunk of the undercarriage.

There’s this little landing gear that is extremely loose on my copy of Slingshot. Slingshot comes with a gun and Superion’s fist (which can ‘transform’ into a twin-barreled chunky blaster thing) which you can peg under his wings, but it really only succeeds in making him look silly.

What annoys me about Slingshot, though, is just how boring it is. It’s almost entirely white, which washes out a lot of the nice panel sculpting done into the mould. Sure, he’s got a bright yellow cockpit and the tip of his nosecone is black, but the only coloured places on this big chunky jet are the blue stripes on his large wings and the single vertical stabilizer wing, bordered with red and a small Autobot insignia within the stripes.

It’s really boring, especially compared to his teammates, so maybe the reason they went with Fireflight instead of Slingshot is because Fireflight’s bright red is a lot more striking on a toy.

You know what I would’ve loved to own? This mould in G2 Slingshot colours. All that gold bling. So much more interesting than his boring white jet mode.

But really, I can’t have it in me to be too hard on the jet mode. It’s relatively decent, if unattractive.

Robot Mode:
Robot-mode Slingshot is a lot more colourful and less boring than his alternate mode. His chest is bright red and black with hints of silver and gold here and there, he’s got more black on his thighs, shoulders, hands and feet, some gold on his knees and his iconic bright-orange noggin is there for the world to behold. They painted in his eyes with blue, which really makes him look better than the entirely-orange face that Takara decided to do, a demonstration on how slavishly copying a G1 toy will backfire because that particular decision just kind of looks stupid to me.

Slingshot’s robot mode is delightfully faithful to his original G1 design, while updating it so it doesn’t look entirely like a brick with a folded-up plane on his back. He definitely looks pretty good in robot mode, still having the same silhouette as the original Slingshot while looking pretty fresh and new. I certainly like the lower legs in particular. They just look so fun and blocky. And I do like the moulded little blaster details on his wrists.

He’s also decently articulated too. He can’t be too poseable because a big jointy mess isn’t going to support the weight of a combiner, but he’s got all the necessary joints down. His head is ball jointed, his shoulders are double-jointed, his elbows are ratcheted, his waist can turn (and double as a rotating joint when Slingshot is in limb mode), his thighs are ball-jointed and his knees are hinged. This allows him to pull off some neat poses with the fun little chunky blaster accessory. You can have him hold out Superion’s fist, all flattened, and pretend that it’s a big chunky space weapon thing, or have him hold a giant fist, but I think that’s just silly.

Arm/Leg Mode:
Slingshot can transform into an arm or a leg for any combiner in this toyline, of course, and while I don’t have a Voyager class to plug him into yet, I’ve tried to transform him into an arm and a leg and he does look pretty stable in leg form, and arm form does show that he’s got pretty decent articulation.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8/10 It’s very simple, really, basically an update of something that worked thirty years ago. But it works really well, even if his alternate mode does end up being a bit chunky, and it especially works to make him a good component of a combiner team.

Durability: 8/10 Slingshot feels like he’s made up of good sturdy plastic, and beyond the loose landing gear I think he can withstand a decent amount of punishment.

Aesthetics: 6/10 As I’ve mentioned before, his jet mode doesn’t do him any favours, mostly because it’s so boring. But his robot mode more than makes up for it, being relatively pleasing to the eye – the orange and blue face really help out in making him look colourful. And he is really a decent update to the original design. I’d still prefer the G2 deco in both modes, but eh.

Articulation: 6/10 Decent articulation. Nothing too spectacular, and the wing-backpack kind of gets in the way of some arm poses, but overall nothing too notable.

Price/Value: 5/10 He’s what a Deluxe Class should be, really. Nothing too big of a bang for your buck, but I don’t feel like he’s a below-average toy.

Fun: 7/10 Surprisingly, I did find Slingshot to be decent fun to muck around with and transform and pose and whatnot. It might just be me coming from not buying any new toys for close to a year now, but I really liked Slingshot.

Overall: 7/10 Slingshot is definitely a solid toy. He might not be my first pick of the Aerialbots, but despite cursing at the little bugger for being an unwanted purchase that snuck in, I’ve grown to kind of like the dude. The value of him as a toy might increase more if you’re gunning for a G1-accurate Superion, or it might decrease because you’ve already gotten three other dudes that transform similarly to him. But for me, I find that I like Slingshot more than I thought I would, and that is always a nice fuzzy feeling to have. And one of my biggest worries about Combiner Wars is that the toys would be sub-par because they have to combine (something that plagued the FOC Combaticons), but Slingshot is a good, decent toy even on his own, which is awesome.
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