Unceremoniously shrunk down to a legends class figure, and replaced by a bloke in a daft hat, a true deluxe class Groove has been desired for as long as we thought there was not going to be one. Takara then came along with the ultimate Mic drop when they announced Unite Warriors Defensor and right there plugged into his right leg was Groove. No longer relegated to being a medalion around Defensor’s neck – he had been promoted back to full limb status.
At every opportunity since, Hasbro has been asked if we were ever going to see this toy and after originally feigning ignorance, and talking about Rook – they’ve cracked and given us what we want as part of this years May Mayhem promotion that last year gave us Quickslinger (Slingshot) and Brake-Neck (Wildrider).
People – we won *cue We are the Champions*
Last week the brilliant people at Kapow Toys sent me the Hasbro Asia’s release of the mold,which should be the same as Hasbro US’s, to check out.
So let’s take a look…
More debate than is healthy has raged about bikeformers lately with people going on and on about realistic scale and that being the reason Groove was dumped as a limb from Defensor. Hasbro themselves gave that as the answer…..in a line where a Police car is bigger than an F-14.
Even within their own sub group, just take a quick look at the Protectobots where Hasbro’s drafted in replacement for Groove, Rook, is an armoured swat vehicle that is a similar size to the aforementioned Police car.
I’ve seen Die Hard – that craziness don’t fly.
It doesn’t help that Hasbro have been passionately detailing tiny little doors and windows that gives us an idea of how these should scale to humans. Leader class Ultra Magnus was particularly comical in that regard as his cab would have been larger than a 3 storey house.
Groove is a fantastic looking bike surely that is all that matters and should take precedent in a line of toys?
Eschewing his classic CHIPS style Police motorcycle look, Groove has been modernised in an elegant way that homages the original but doesn’t try to apologies for being a motorbike and add some cartoonish element like giant “monster” wheels or something. The wheels he does have roll, but the front one more so than the back.
A small, but important action figure has a presence in the form of a kick stand. That is right, a small stand flips out from under Grooves forearm and allows the bike to stand in vehicle mode.
He’s a perfect looking bike that your 3.75″ action figures can ride – do we want anything else?
This subtlety extends to almost every aspect of this mode (it’s later on he gets bling). His rear end (ha), is designed to look like a storage box and there are painted red tail lights which is a luxury not extended to most Combiner Wars figures . If I thought Hasbro would drop any paint apps for their release of this figure then those would be my choice. Way to prove me wrong big H!
For a toy so predominantly white, and existing in the combiner wars range there is a surprising amount of paint apps, colour variation and clear plastic. It is all so subtle and tidily done, that you could easily fail to notice it.
Look at the silver on the bike wheels – it’s lovely. It is the right amount of paint apps, they are all in the places you’d expect and want them which is not something you can say for Hasbro’s CW figures who all feel like they are missing paint where it needs to go. Toys don’t need to be slathered in paint, I don’t want that or expect it, but that doesn’t mean Hasbro couldn’t stand to paint the odd tail light or First Aids entire back bloody windows.
Still bitter about that one.
Combiner Wars has featured zero clear plastic so far on the deluxes (I think), so it is interesting to see Takara throw so much of it in with their first original figure, and Hasbro bring it over intact. Not only is it cool to see clear plastic, but it shows up in three different colours.
You can’t say Takara don’t go all out.
The gorgeous blue windscreen is spectacular and adds the perfect contrast to the mass of white and black in a place where you would have expected to just go for completely clear plastic. Lights below, are painted silver behind plain clear plastic which provides a nice effect when light shines on it. There are siren lights molded from clear tinted red plastic too.
Someone at Takara sure loves clear plastic. Was there an offer on at their suppliers?
Bikeformers hold a strange divisive place in the Transformers universe. Perhaps it is because they are the one vehicle mode that lends itself so blatantly to compatibility with other action figures, that scale gets bought to the forefront, more so than whether it looks ridiculous the same size as a tank.
Groove has a fantastic bike mode, from the colours, its modern Police superbike stylings, to the guns that peg onto the side and have their own red lights. It is sad to think there was a time where we may never have gotten this figure.
Combiner Wars familiar transformation process is in play with Groove, with the legs splitting open and extending on a hinge before tabbing into place. If he had wings he’d be an Aerialbot.
As a Takara mold it’s easy to look at things as more exotic even if Hasbro would
The way the wheel rotates and flips over is really no different than any of the Aerialbots, but because it does rotate, and then the wheel can rotate to sit more flush – it somehow feels more flashy. Groove is completely flash.
Often when robots are engulfed in a lot of white it can make them look flat and dull – not here. A golden chest ensures Groove is nowhere near boring. He wants you to know he got bling and show off how much his colours pop.
Just like bike mode, the paint used is not over powering – it is all where you’d expect and tastefully done.
Whoever was designing this figure in Takara’s offices clearly Googled the heck out of the cartoon to study images from the cartoon and was keen to bring that to plastic. So many details are pulled in and revamped slightly but still faithful to the G1 animation model but in keeping to that process of fitting in with the Combiner Wars aesthetic.
Groove is as poseable as the other CW deluxes and if you have handled one then you will be familiar with all of the joints and articulation involved. If not then you should know they are insane fun to pose – so go out and buy one.
Massive, flat feet give him a sturdy base for you to get whatever poses you wish out of him. I had so much I managed to whip up three separate galleries of photos.
QC wise all the joints on mine are reasonable tight and smooth and even the legs, which I expected to be floppier than James Van Der Beeks hair (where’s that meme), are pretty sturdy. The only QC issue I can find on the whole toy is some random black paint splodges (they look more like scratches) on the right side under the “Police” text. But I only noticed that when I was trying to focus my camera and zoomed in far too close.
In the pantheon of great Combiner Wars deluxe robot modes, I’d say Groove occupies one of the top slots. My desperation to own this toy has in no way lead to any disappointment due to high expectations.
Groove is a deluxe that follows the cookie cutter pattern of Combiner Wars to almost a fine art, but his robot mode is so expressive and respectful that he’s a big hit.
They swung, they hit this one for a 6.
There is nothing wrong with Rook, his toy is pretty great, but when you get 4/5ths of the way through a homage to a classic character….you are going to leave people wanting that final bike shaped puzzle piece. A rectangle doesn’t quite fit into the jigsaw.
Fortunately, Groove functions brilliantly as a limb. He doesn’t add any previously unseen articulation or anything mad like that, but his shape feels so much more in harmony with with Defensor’s proportions and helps tone him down that look that he is wearing comically over sized boots.
The proportions are instantly improved with him appearing slightly taller & leaner with more a more athletic feel to him. With Rook he was reminiscent of a giant wall which in hindsight is probably more apt for a bot named Defensor.
Even the blue wind shield is a different shade to Hot Spot, it helps to blend the two as if they is where they slot together and the colours of the two mix giving a natural bridge between to the two characters to form one.
The same works from the bottom as the black detailing merges more into the black foot, helping to make Groove feel more integrated into Defensor than any of his other limbs. Odd when you think he was the one originally discarded.
Groove’s combiner peg ratchets very tightly with that lovely, echoey clunk noise we’ve all come to love from this line of figures. It is far tighter than any of the other Hasbro CW figures making it quite jarring when I pick up Defensor and almost lose a finger when Streetwise collapses over it.
There’s Groove just sat there tightly, looking superior….with my left hand doing the same.
I haven’t mentioned the differences between Hasbro Groove and Takara Groove because they are so minute they don’t warrant more than a couple of lines. All it is the pin in the knee is different, and there copyright stamp on the back of the Hasbro versions leg – oh and the gun handles may be a slightly different shape. Could the eventual Hasbro US release offer further differences? Possibly, but I would wager it will be identical and Hasbro Asia have just got a few of the early figures from the same production run.
Boom – done.
So there we go, a massive itch has been scratched. My obssession with this toy, that began the very first time I realised Takara might actually be making it – can finally be laid to rest. Fortunately it is one of my favourite Combiner Wars deluxe molds so there is no dissappointment for me to get over.
If you couldn’t afford the Uinte Warriors release – then this is a god send.