At the Q&A part of the Transformers brand panel at San Diego Comic Con today, the Hasbro reps were asked about missing combiners not covered during Combiner Wars getting made. The question was met with a "stay tuned" standard non-commit answer. But you know, the real answer might have been staring us in the face all day - as well as the answer to another question or two, and Power of The Primes in addition to its Prime Masters gimmick may just turn out to secretly be Combiner Wars II. Keep reading!
We had some obvious questions early on when we found Darkwing - I'm sorry, Blackwing
- and Dreadwind were retools of Combiner Wars Aerialbots, and appeared to yet retain their combiner plugs. That got compounded when Jazz - by all signs a fully new mold - also was found to have a combiner plug and a 5mm socket on one foot typical of Combiner Wars Deluxes. So while that's all a bit odd on its own, one way to interpret it is a matter of throwing an easter egg of some backward compatibility in select figures. But that wasn't quite all. See, everyone caught on kind of quick that Starscream had an odd degree of ...thickness... about the limbs. And there was a reference made by one of the reps to a "secret power" or similar to be revealed at a later time. And to their credit, they did make some deliberate steps to hide what was going on as much as possible. The promotional renders released shortly after the panel, however, did not do so much. Starscream is a combiner torso.
Starscream's forearms have conspicuous open spaces on the inner face. Yes, you might say this is not an unusual happening anymore, but there's more to it. The photos we have of the display copy, if examined closely, suggested extra facets, extra details that seemed remarkably consistent with the socket end of a Combiner Wars joint. Adding an interesting wrinkle, at some point during the breakfast event today, Starscream's pose was changed a bit to try to obscure view of the inner arms. And when it went in the display case they were similarly posed to show only the outside faces. It's almost like they want to hide something from us, isn't it? The promotional renders are not nearly so carefully staged, and are theoretically a little more color-correct than the hand-painted samples on display. The inside of one arm is pretty well visible, and there's a grey strip above the wrist that corresponds perfectly with how a combiner socket is built. The odd girth of Starscream's limbs? A design necessity, to accommodate the thick combination plugs.
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As I and RAC were rolling this notion around on Twitter, Anthony from TFU.info connected with us Jalaguy, who had observed the renders also showed combiner feet - on Starscream's shoulder weapons. At first we were thinking these might be designed like Computron's or Victorion's combiner parts with fists nested in the feet, but Jalaguy came through again and pointed out something else that had been in front of us already: The hands are on the Deluxes. Okay, let's back up a bit. The Deluxes were said to include armor parts that the Prime Masters attach to. As it turns out based on the panel slides, those armor parts (which were not present on the display samples, by the way) are pretty easy to identify as combiner hands. At least once you know to look for that.
So, we've got Deluxes with obvious combiner hardware built in, the reveal of them also including a combiner accessory, and now we can establish the presence of new torso toys in the Voyagers which come with the feet for whatever combiner you assemble from these various bits and pieces. While it is not in any way right now the advertised focus of the line, all evidence right now is pointing towards the conclusion that not only do we get toys still compatible in one way or another with Titan Masters as well as the new Prime Masters, but combiners are back from a hiatus too. It's my guess that the combiner reveal might be intended for the Hascon presentation to give that event a special reveal, and so the information was held back as much as possible from what was shown today. Unfortunately it is quite impossible to remove every last bit of combiner compatibility from the toys, and given a little time, impossible to hide anything from we fans who love nothing more than to scrutinize every last detail to be found in new toy reveals! Sorry, Hasbro. (not sorry)