Only four of the sexy robot designs from Transformers: War for Cybertron ever made it toy store shelves, a tragic missed opportunity. To ensure they don't miss a second time, Hasbro and High Moon Studios are planning a much bigger toy line for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
Combaticons, transform and form Bruticus.
Call them combiners, call them gestalts, call them super happy robot team neo; when five or more Transformers get together and go all super-size on the enemy's metal asses, it's a party of gargantuan proportions. Back in 1985 when Hasbro brought a team of green Diaclone construction vehicles to North America, the six-robot giant Devastator, children already enchanted by the concept of robots turning into vehicles went completely nuts.
Soon after Devastator's release came the Aerialbots and Stunticons, two teams that established a formula of four smaller limb vehicles and one larger central unit, merging to form Superion and Menasor respectively. Then came the Protectobots and their Decepticon rivals, the Combaticons.
The Combaticons are a team of military vehicles that combine to form Bruticus, a walking army consisting of four soldiers — Onslaught (anti-aircraft truck), Vortex (helicopter), Blast Off (space shuttle), and Brawl (tank) — and Swindle, the mercenary military jeep that would sell them all for parts if you gave him half a chance.
Fahey Fun Fact: – In 2001 I spent a week writing a five-page application to play Swindle of the Combaticons in a text-based online game, proving to the game masters that I knew the character inside and out. I passed the test, and played for two days before getting bored.
In the original cartoon series the Combaticons were created by Decepticon second-in-command Starscream as part of a bid to wrest power from the hands of the infinitely forgiving Megatron. That origin won't work in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. High Moon Studios' retelling of the final days of the Transformers' home planet takes place far before the events of the 1980 cartoon series.
Whatever his story may be, one thing is certain: Bruticus is too powerful to be confined to your television screen, and if he wants to make his way to toy shelves as part of a Fall of Cybertron toy line, revealed this weekend at the 2012 New York Toy Fair, then who's going to tell him no?
Certainly not Lenny Panzica, the head designer on the Transformers: Fall of Cybertron toy line. During a recent conference call featuring representatives from Hasbro and High Moon Studios, Panzica expressed his excitement over working on this iconic group of characters.
"It's been a dream to work on Bruticus," Panzica said, "It's been a great learning experience as a Transformers designer, as well as a nod to being a Transformers fan working on a Bruticus and working out how to get the combination play going. The Transformation and combining play is really exciting."
Panzica and High Moon's version of Bruticus will feature five deluxe-sized robots. Onslaught will be the base, forming the torso of the larger robot along with his normal vehicle and robot modes. The four remaining characters will have the traditional robot and vehicle forms, with the added ability to transform into any of Bruticus' limbs, all without relying on extraneous toy bits (foot plates, fists).
In keeping with High Moon's design strategy, this new version of Bruticus retains elements of the original G1 (first generation) character, while maintaining a look that's purely Cybertron. The head in particular is pure Bruticus, while the color schemes and physical aspects of the robots and vehicles are in line with what will one day be the character's Earth-based camouflage (because a purple space shuttle parked outside Walmart is totally inconspicuous).
With five deluxe robots forming Bruticus, this will be one tall glass of killer mechanical water, though not quite as tall as one of the most impressive original combiner teams, the Decepticon Predaking. "It won't be quite as large as Predaking," Panzica explained. "Predaking was voyager scale (the next scale larger than deluxe in modern Transformers lines). My initial thought was 'I'm going Predaking size on this guy!', but after going into the design we decided on deluxe size. He's still awesomely huge. In the future I think I'll get my Predaking size figure. He's Bruticus size."
And he's only the beginning of what Jerry Jivoin, Hasbro's global brand marketing director for Transformers, said will be a much larger line than War for Cybertron. Will we see a toy of Autobot fan-favorite Dinobot, Grimlock? He wasn't ready to say, but Bruticus is too big a threat to leave unanswered.
I look forward to adding Bruticus to my ever-growing Transformers collection this fall when the line debuts alongside Transformers: Fall of Cybertron for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. He won't fill the spot left by the original figure I lost in a move back in 2000 (along with Predaking and a pristine Fortress Maximus — cry for me, Transformers fans), but he'll definitely fill a large amount of shelf space.
Until that day (til all are one?), flip through the galleries for pictures of the toys, along with some exclusive concept art and screenshots from Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
And remember kids, Bruticus hates Cybertron. Bruticus hates you all!