Friday, 18 July 2014

Transformers Construct Bots: Shockwave

In a time when plastic toys are facing heavy competition for childrens' attentions from electronic-based pastimes, Hasbro are keen to expand their properties into new areas and, hopefully, snatch back some of the lost pocket money. They're attempt at a Transformers Lego, 'Kre-O', was a moderate success. The mini-figures (kreons) were near-universally welcomed but the fact that you couldn't properly transform the block models (once the vehicle was built you had to take it apart to 'transform' it into the robot) was criticised.

So now we have the Construct Bots range. These promised to be fully customisable Transformers. You could build them from parts using the instructions in the box and then swap around pieces to your heart's content. Most importantly, the Construct Bots transform between modes without the need to dismantle them first.

Being a big fan of the purple dude (and him being discounted), I picked up Shockwave first. The instructions were relatively easy to follow and building only took me a few minutes. The plastic is quite thick, though I was in some fear that the clips would snap as I put pieces together (it should be noted that none did, however).

In robot mode the figure is a so-so representation of Shockwave. It does appear a little skeletal, but overall I like it. The joints aren't overly tight but do hold their position and it's possible to get some decent poses out of him.

Transforming him definitely requires the instructions the first time you do it. Since the figure is so skeletal and joints can be folded in many directions, it's not obvious how they're supposed to go. It doesn't help that the final vehicle (a kind of spaceship) isn't obvious that it is indeed the final vehicle once you get to that stage. One of the advantages of the Construct Bots is that if you don't like the position of some of the pieces then you can clip them off and reattach them somewhere else.

I draw your attention to the 'some' in that last sentence. The Construct Bots aren't are freely customisable as I'd initially thought. There is a definite framework to them, upon which extra pieces (I guess 'armour' is the best description) are then added. For example, the wings can be put almost anywhere, but you can't move too much else and still have it transform.

The vehicle itself isn't bad. At first I didn't like it much, but then I started playing about with the wing positions and started having them in Star Trek Bird of Prey flight/landing/attack modes it became a lot more fun. The large grey pieces can be detached & moved to form a large gun at the front, though they have to be moved to transform back into a robot.

Shortly after getting Shockwave I went back to the shop and bought the (further reduced) Optimus Prime and Hound figures. This is where I started to get a little sad about the line. The transformations for these two are exactly the same as it is for Shockwave. In fact it looks like all the Construct Bots basically transform in exactly the same way which, as a toyline, makes them a little boring. Legs and arms can be switched between figures, but the limbs are all essentially the same so, other than a colour swap, it doesn't achieve much. And the less said about Hound's overly cartoony grinning face the better.

As a concept Construct Bots aren't bad but they are very limited. It'd have been nice if Hasbro had released some kind of armour or accessory pack, which would allow extra bits to be added on to the figures. At the moment this isn't really possible and if you buy numerous packs you just end up with a bunch of very similar looking parts. I can't see many children wanting more than a couple of these figures before they realise they're all the same.

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