Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Combiner Wars G2 Menasor (2016)


Back in the days of what we now call "Generation One," the Aerialbots and the Stunticons came out more or less simultaneously, and their first appearances in both the cartoon and the comic were closely tied to each other. It perhaps thus seems obvious not only that both teams were redone in Combiner Wars, but that both received "Generation Two" redecoes. Fans of the actual Generation 2 line, however, know that the story is rather more complicated than that, specifically in regard to the Stunticons.

Although there were Stunticons created for Generation 2, the line was cancelled before these toys could be released to the retail market. Of the five original Stunticons given new, "G2" color schemes, only Breakdown received an official release at all, becoming the first-ever BotCon exclusive in 1994. Specimens of the other four G2 Stunticons have surfaced over the years, but it's unknown exactly how many were actually produced. I've heard rumors that it could be as few as a dozen, and while I've seen them pop up every now and again online... I honestly can't say they aren't the same specimens each time. G2 Motormaster is particularly scarce, as the others have at least been seen in packaging, but Motormaster never has been. Needless to say, authentic G2 Stunticons tend to be extremely expensive, when they're found on the after-market at all.

In the pictures here, from left to right, these are Drag Strip (technically, "Decepticon Dragstrip" now), Motormaster, and Wildrider (now called "Brake-Neck" for trademark reasons) in the top row, Dead End and Breakdown in the second, and new team member "Decepticon Blackjack" at the bottom. Blackjack was named for one of the Decepticon Micromasters (see this old post for more details), but was originally molded to be a new version of the Battlecharger Runabout. It seems that Hasbro decided to change the character for reasons that are not entirely clear, although trademarks may well have played a role.

Naturally, fans of this corner of the Transformers franchise were thrilled to learn that the entire team would get G2 homages in Combiner Wars, but the rarity of the originals posed a problem for Hasbro. Usually, when doing a new version of an old character, Hasbro has plenty of source materials from which to draw. However, with only a handful of authentic G2 Stunticons out there in the world, Hasbro ended up resorting to fan recreations, and these toys are in fact based on (as the TFWiki puts it) "somebody's digibash based on somebody's hand-painted recreation of the cancelled Generation 2 toys." Thus, while they resemble the original G2 schemes, they're not quite right. Of course, Blackjack never had a G2 color scheme at all (nor did Runabout, for that matter), but since he's intended to replace the little roller car that came with the original Motormaster, his color scheme likewise borrows from Motormaster's.

Menasor is the combined form of all six Stunticons, and in keeping with the Combiner Wars play pattern, has considerably higher articulation than the original "Scramble City" molds. That said, I do feel that the Combiner Wars pattern of using interchangeable accessories that could be either fists or feet made for awkward looking giant robots (fists a bit too large, feet decidedly too small). I'm much happier with some later toys that, although retaining the Combiner Wars molds for the characters themselves, nonetheless utilized specially-molded fists and feet, such as this version of Computron (the toy seen in the link is an amalgam of Hasbro and Takara releases, but the fists and feet are Hasbro versions).

I do apologize for the long break. The move definitely took more out of me than I'd expected it to! Not Your Father's Autobot: A Transformers: Generation 2 Comic Book Podcast returns with a new episode on Sunday, discussing issue #11. I hope you'll come back to have a listen.

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