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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's Review: Generations 'G2' Vortex

Name: Vortex
Allegiance: Decepticon
Series: ĎGeneration Twoí Bruticus Combiner Set
Accessories: Gunblades (2x)

Okay, being honest here, Iíve never cared much for Vortex, or Blast Off for that matter. To me Vortex is Ďnot-Blackoutí most of the time, because I grew up on the Bay movies and was under the impression that the entire cast were part of these original ĎG1í comics, and I got excited when I saw a gray helicopter in that issue of Marvel comics where the Decepticons trounced the Autobots on the moon. Yay, Blackout! Nope, some dude called Vortex. And his bio describes his function as a sadistic interrogator, something the Decepticon army already has in the form of Laserbeak.

None of that matters to me, though, since Vortex is a helicopter, and thatís a pretty great vehicle to have in a military-themed team. He nominally takes the place as one of Bruticusí arms, giving him a pretty distinctive appearance with those rotor blades on one shoulder.

My big experience with Vortex is in the Fall of Cybertron game itself, I suppose, in which he took up an entire level. In Fall of Cybertron he turns into a Cybertronian helicopter whose design I loveÖ it can even half-transform into something resembling a jet for boosts by folding his rotor blades and unleashing a pair of engines, a cool and awesome concept. His level is by far the most fun since itís got free roam, air-to-air battle and simply great gameplay.

His game model is not one I liked, though. Itís very boxy and chunky, inexplicably being mainly beige (instead of gray). And his chest andÖ skirt? Vortex has a skirt? Anyway, his chest and skirt are pink. Not High Moonís fault, G1 Vortex had a pink chest too, itís just thatÖ well, it is a horrid paintjob. Not one Iím a big fan of.

And when pictures of his toys surfaced, wellÖ his SDCC-exclusive Ďgame-accurateí colours turned him insanely pink and made him look ugly. His retail version went to town and slapped orange, purple and neon green completely at random, making him look even more like a fruit-loop than the G2 paintscheme, which is sort of an achievement. Although to be fair, Vortexís G2 paintscheme is pretty gorgeous in my opinion. Baby blue with purple highlights? Certainly beats gray with pink, or beige with pink, or disco retail Vortex.

If it isn't obvious already, my review is of the pretty G2 repaint. More information on the various versions will be detailed on the Bruticus review.

Anyway, on with the review.

Alternate Mode:
Vortex transforms into a helicopter. A Cybertronian attack helicopter that is pretty sweet and all angles. While Iím probably in the minority on this, I thought Vortexís helicopter mode ended up being translated pretty well as a toy. A slightly busy undercarriage aside, itís actually a pretty dead ringer for the gameís helicopter design, so kudos to Hasbroís design team for that. Heís got the landing gear jutting out of the angular cockpit with wicked spiky windows, heís got these wicked sword-like propellers, heís got the double-barreled gun dead center in front of the cockpit, heís got a nice tail, heís even got approximations of the jet boosters on his undercarriage, although with all the clutter of robot kibble down there itís not very noticeable.

As mentioned above, Vortexís got a nice paint scheme thatís actually rather cohesive compared to his counterparts, both Vortexes and Combaticons. Itís mellow yet loud at the same time. Baby blue with purple blotches and a purple rotor blade, coupled with black windows and gun, and big bold G2 Decepticon insignias. The square bit that connects to Onslaught almost hidden under the tail is also black.

The rotors spin well, and as long as you transform him correctly Vortex holds together in helicopter mode pretty well. Shame he canít assume the jet mode, but we canít have everything.

There are peg holes on the landing gears for you to plug in the gunblades included, but itís stupid and ugly and there is no reason for you to do that. Just leave them aside, the worldís not going to end if you canít store the weapons in vehicle mode.

Robot Mode:
I am of mixed feelings with Vortexís robot mode, because he gets some things right, and yet screws some things up. Well, for starters, his colour distribution gets some more purple, and you get some tasteful silver detailing on his skirt and chest. Not clashing with the main colour does wonders to make the skirt not look as silly as it did in the other two versions of Vortex. Heís also skinnier than his game design, but unlike Onslaught and Brawl who look malnourished, Vortex still looks pretty tough and well-proportioned.

Vortex is also the only Combaticon that homages a lot of things to his G1 counterpart, which is a good thing. The head is a dead ringer for G1 Vortex, and the chest design is a great interpretation of the original Vortexís chest, with even a black piece at the center as a throwback to the post that can extend out on the original toy to attach to Onslaught. Nice detail there, and pretty refreshing considering none of the other Combaticons (bar Brawl) bothered with making the characters anything similar how theyíre supposed to look like bar alternate modes.

And let us touch upon articulation. Vortexís got nice head articulation, if only those black thingies donít scrape against his chin when he tries to turn his head. His arms have got three points of articulation Ė at the shoulder, and two on the elbow. Pretty great, and allows a range of motion. His waist turns as well, and his thighs are articulated. His knees are double jointed by dint of transformation. Unfortunately, his skirt blocks much of the thigh movement. You can move it out of the way by flipping it up, but that looks pretty weird and awkward.

Also, his helicopter rotor blades are supposed to end up on his back. On the toy, they end up on his arm. Yay, you say, arm rotor blade weaponry! Except that instead of ending up where youíd expect it to be, itís attached perpendicularly, so when Vortex spins the rotors heíll hack his own shoulders and legs off. Itís an awkward place to put the rotor blades, and they are unremovable. Worse, the rotor blades are articulated, so when you try to plug in his other weapons the rotor blades will swing to ruin your day. The rotor blades can be moved aside, but itís still pretty irritating. Why canít they make the rotor assembly removable? Or incorporated properly to his arm, at least.

Vortex comes with two purple gunswords. Bayonets, technically, but they donít look like guns with sword attachments, but rather chunky swords with gun attachments. And there are two pegs on each gunsword so Vortex can hold them as either blades or guns. Or you could with some fiddling adjust the blades so Vortex wields some kind of insane double-bladed sword like Movie Sentinel Prime or RID Megatron. Would certainly allow some contrast with the big rotor attached to the right arm. It puzzles me... why not allow the rotor to detach and perform the same job instead? Itíd make Vortexís robot mode less busy when heís holding the weapons, plus the weapons have less reach than the rotors anyway. On G2 Vortex, the weapons are coloured entirely purple whereas on the other two repaints of him the blade part is coloured differently to distinguish it from the gun part. Shame it didnít happen here, since the blades end up looking like just big chunky blades and the gunbarrels get lost in all the purple.

It is still puzzling why give Vortex, the dude with four giant blades attached to his arm, two extra swords. Vortex never used swords in G1 or the game. And with the arm-rotors the sword accessories just look redundant and clutter him up.

Heís overall a decent robot mode, though, despite his faults. I initially disliked him, but a combination of having colours that donít clash terribly and being posable made him easily the my favourite Combaticon toy, despite him being my least favourite Combaticon character-wise.

Combined Mode:
All the non-Onslaught Combaticons can form either an arm or a leg, evocating the Scramble City design of the original toys. Like I said above, Vortex nominally forms an armÖ and it makes sense for the two Combaticons with airborne alternate modes to turn into arms. Plus, Vortexís rotor blades contribute to Bruticusí threatening silhouette. Onslaught, being the smart guy he is, probably had Vortex be an arm all the time for intimidation tactics. Make Bruticus look even bigger than he is.

Plus in the game Bruticus can block attacks by spinning Vortexís blades around, and by the rules of awesome a spinning blade (or four) will always deflect any sort of projectile. A whirling shield of death will also probably julienne anything unlucky enough to get in its way.

Vortex as an armÖ well, Vortex is a wonderful arm. Heís got additional joints to help him function as an arm, and an entire double-jointed elbow assembly folds out to help him in that regard. Unfortunately, Vortex has a shit hand. His hand looks like itís trying to karate chop a bunch of bricks like one of those old action figures. And itís a shit pose. Why did they do this? So that the thumb could be swung one way or another in order to allow the hand to function as a left hand or a right hand. Itís an inspired idea, but done with horrid execution that makes it look abnormal.

Why not just have the hands be an add-on? Or on a ball joint? Or articulate the other fingers on a hinge so he doesnít look abnormal with that always-open palm? At least he can hold a weapon with his peg, making his karate chop hand look less ridiculous.


He can also turn into a leg, wherein the additional elbow joints function well in giving Bruticus-with-Vortex-leg an ankle joint. The cockpit section of Vortex coincidentally folds well in a position thatís similar to a shoe of sorts, although if the rotor should rotate itíll chop off half of Bruticusí feet. Probably another reason why Vortex never got feet duty.

Also, you can have Vortexís alternate mode gun pop out as a toe. Heís got toe cannons! Or the karate chop hand. Heís got a karate chop hand as a toe! Both look ridiculous to me (although the toe cannons would kind of work, I guess) so I left it out in the picture.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 7/10 Vortexís transformation is actually pretty well done for a toy his size, that one niggle with the rotor blades being sloppily slapped on aside. Iím also impressed by the additional elbow joint he brings to the table when transformed into an arm.

Durability: 4/10 The aforementioned rotor blades felt rather flimsy, and if you bend them where they should not go they will probably snap. Otherwise I donít think Vortex will pose much of a problem durability-wise. Not more than the other Combaticons anyway.

Aesthetics: 8/10 I like Vortexís G2 colours, if that isnít apparent already. And his toy design actually looks better than the game design, although thatís just me. Shame about the ugly blades.

Articulation: 5/10 Better than the other Combaticons, but standard for a deluxe class toy. Also, the skirt gets in the way as well.

Fun: 6.5/10 I had more fun with Vortex than with any of the other four Combaticons separately.

Value/Price: 6/10 Mmm, heís decent for a deluxe class toy, at least.

Overall: 6.5/10 I wanted to give him a 7 or an 8, but then I realized that Vortexís size class produced much better gems like Prime Wheeljack, Prime Soundwave and Generations Shockwave, and while I really like Vortex heís a not that great. Heís good, heís nice, but heís not great. Having to combine absolves some of his sins, certainly, but considering what we know Hasbro is able to do, as an individual all the Combaticons feel very rushed and unfinished.
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