Over a year ago, Hasbro reached out to Transformers fans for help designing a new addition to its Combiners line, which features smaller bots merging to become one giant formidable opponent. As with any endeavor involving the internet there was the potential for it go very bad. But the results, the first female Transformer Combiner called Victorion, turned out a lot better than they could have.
To be clear, Hasbro didn’t just hand the keys of one of its toy factories to a bunch of internet commenters. Instead, fans were able to download an official Transformers mobile app and vote on specific details about who the new Combiner would be and what it would look like, including the vehicles used, its color scheme, its gender, and its name.
It was never going to be a completely original creation. As a result, the six Transformers that make up Victorion will probably be recognizable to fans, since they’re all re-paints and re-tools of previous toys that have now assumed new identities.
But what’s important here is that the state of female Transformers has vastly improved over the years. Arcee—who you might remember from the original ‘80s animated series and film—looked like she was one transformation away from becoming a Barbie doll. Don Johnson wore pink shirts and blazers on Miami Vice back in the ‘80s, so there’s no reason the only pink Transformer at the time had to be female.
Thankfully, team Victorion has instead been given a two-tone red and teal paint scheme that’s fairly gender-neutral. Some fans have complained that the color pairing looks more like rust, but we can all agree that it’s much better than hot pink.
Another thing that’s changed since the ‘80s, and not necessarily for the better, are the Transformers’ instruction manuals. I remember following many fold-out step-by-step booklets as a kid, but the transformation guides for the six bots that make up Victorion have all been crammed onto a poster-sized sheet that at times was so small it was frustrating to decipher. But through trial and error you eventually figure it out. So let’s check out the team.
A Lamborghini-inspired racer. Tranformers cars have always been relatively easy to transform, sticking to the same basic step-by-step process since the ‘80s. Jumpstream, who forms one of Victorion’s arms, is no exception. However, she’s a little wobbly on her feet in robot mode, so you’re probably best to leave her on four wheels while she’s on her own.
Taking design cues from a Ferrari 488 GTB, Dust Up, who forms Victorion’s other arm, is just as simple to transform as Jumpstream. Except that she’s a lot easier to stand and pose in robot mode, and has a much cooler head sculpt. If you were a kid trying to decide which of the six Victorion bots to take on a trip, Dust Up would be the easy and obvious choice.
There’s no mirrors or trick photography used here. Transformers fans apparently decided that Victorion needed to have matching legs, so the set comes with two nearly identical helicopters called Skyburst and Stormclash. They’re easily the most challenging to transform, particularly when it comes to dealing with those spinning rotors that always end up awkwardly in the way in robot mode.
Is there any real difference between Skyburst and Stormclash? It took me a while, but if you need a way to tell the two of them apart without the aid of a Sharpie marker, I eventually discovered they have slightly different head sculpts.
A firetruck, reminiscent of the huge vehicles used by airports, Pyra Magna is the largest of the six robots that make up Victorion, which automatically means she’s also the leader of the group. In the world of Transformers Combiners, rank is still decided by which robot has the most imposing stature, and who swings the largest axe.
Frailer than those burning ash snakes that try to pass themselves off as fireworks, the smallest member of team Victorion is a motorcyle called Red Dust who frequently fell apart while being transformed. She eventually becomes Victorion’s chest piece—vaguely reminiscent of cleavage—if you can get her to successfully attached for longer than 20 seconds. (You won’t.)
When the six bots are all merged together, you finally get Victorion who is satisfyingly imposing and well-proportioned. The weapons carried by her six members also merge together to form an obscenely large sword, which Victorion unfortunately isn’t able to grasp with her articulated fingers. It instead jabs into a hole on the side of her hand, which looks as painful as it is awkward.
I do like Victorion’s head sculpt, with her tall imposing helmet, tinted visor, and distinct lack of robo-lip gloss. She looks subtly feminine, and more than capable of leading an attack on some Decepticon outpost. More than I can say for Rodimus Prime.
What I don’t like is Victorion’s shoe accessories, which look like a pair of overly-stylized boots with exaggerated heels that can’t be ideal for combat, and can’t be removed if you ever expect her to be able to stand on her own.
Everything else about Victorion is a sign that the robotic-Barbie doll era of female Transformers was well behind us, but one step forward is certainly better than one step back.
- The first female Transformers Combiner thankfully didn’t end up with a purple and pink color scheme, or hairbrush blaster accessory.
- Included transformation guide crams a lot of steps into a tiny space, making some steps really hard to decipher.
- Red Dust (the motorcycle) is difficult to transform without it constantly falling apart. The set would have actually been better without it.
- Two nearly-identical helicopters? Really, Hasbro?
- Kick-ass sword that assembles from smaller weapons. It’s just too bad Victorion can’t hold it properly.
- $100 for the set isn’t cheap.