The Ideal Combiner Wars Devastator - Where Do You Find It And What Will It Cost?

It's no secret that Titan Class Devastator has experienced mixed reactions starting even before we actually saw it, based on a few first-hand reports from no-photos showings pre-Toy Fair. The only thing everyone might be able to agree on is that the Devastator we got was not what was expected. But let's face it: for the prices involved, it's not unreasonable to expect as much perfection as possible. And as it's turning out, you can start to get there - for the right money. Keep reading!

Let's start off with the really obvious thing here. This article is about the official Devastator toy, but it's not the only way to get a representation of the Constructicons. TFC's Hercules is still obtainable without a lot of fuss, and MakeToys' Giant has likewise been pretty available - the yellow version is even getting a reissue through the MakeToys web shop. Ultimately if you look at the Combiner Wars Devastator and just don't feel like it has anything for you, one of those unofficial options might serve better. You'll pay perhaps three times as much as Devastator is running, but you'll get individual figures engineered with more articulation and different overall design sensibilities, also ones that are a closer match to the height of regular Combiner Wars toys. If this is the result you think is best for you, there's plenty of coverage out there on choosing between those two options, and it's a topic outside the scope of this article. If you're at this point and still have your mind set on getting yourself the best official Devastator, then let's get to business!

With Hasbro's retail Devastator starting at $150, our low-end starting point is not especially low, and everything else adds up on top of that. I'll be honest, I'm in the camp with people looking at this instance of Devastator and thinking that it's just not quite there enough. An amazing accomplishment certainly for bringing this team of large individual figures together in to a huge combiner and actually being able to take it to retail stores in the current economy. But those very same factors also are a limiting force. So, if we can accept that the $150 toy on its own is not adequate to meet our desires, we can start giving a look to the options we have jumping off from here.

Of course our first alternative is the SDCC version. That itself has gotten a very mixed reaction, mostly thanks to a whack of chrome spread over it which looks good in a few specific places, but mostly comes off a little tacky. And after Jetfire's flaking paint, it also presents a very realistic concern over durability even in the short term. Of course there's also the element of availability working against this. People attending SDCC can line up at the Hasbro Toy Shop booth and probably leave with one of these, but for the rest of us, it'll be a fight for leftovers on the website one morning within the couple weeks after SDCC ends, probably with no advance notice given. Anyone who's done this game before knows it very well, and the stories are equally well known to those who've never tried.

But SDCC Devastator does bring a little bit to the table. For one it has a currently exclusive headsculpt, favoring the more toy-accurate face design with separate eyes rather than a visor. It also adds deco changes to more closely align with the original toy appearance. Though at least some of that seems to actually be enacted by foil stickers, going by the press info distributed so far. That might be another knock against this option for some. The only other good news is the price: SDCC Devastator is a surprisingly low $180, just $30 over the basic retail price. If this specific variant manages to fill in something the retail version lacks to the point that you feel satisfied, it's your best money option to go to. But given a lot of complaint about the set in its basic form falls to the physical design of the toys rather than anything relating to deco, we probably need to keep looking. Amusingly, as of today two separate options have presented themselves in dealing with the physical shortfalls of Devastator.

First are preorders for TakaraTomy's Unite Warriors Devastator. While we're short official solicitation info, everyone's working under the idea of the Japanese price being 25,000 Yen - a number I predicted back when we first got wind of what Takara was doing with their version. This is leading to an import retail price of about $220, and retailers in Asia have been seen so far to have it priced as low as $170-$180. Though overseas shipping of something that size will add up quick and probably negate any meaningful advantage in price.

And the extra money buys a surprising range of features. There's not a Constructicon going untouched in the TakaraTomy effort, as everyone gets design tweaks, generally in pursuit of "normalizing" the articulation. Scrapper gets a set of working elbows, Long Haul gets elbows that bend forward, and the others who already had functional elbows get changes to look less awkward. Plus Scavenger and Bonecrusher's legs are retooled to adjust the knee joints to a lower, slightly more natural position. Devastator also gets a third head mold that lets you choose between a visoried face, or separate eyes. With all that, the added inclusion of hand guns for each of the Constructicons based on their original toy weapons seems like it's not even important anymore.

So, TakaraTomy Devastator certainly sounds like a winner given everything that's been done on top of Hasbro's releases. And the cost over the Hasbro release doesn't even seem that high - like most Unite Warriors sets, really. So, what's the downside? One is the projected December release of Unite Warriors Devastator. It's less than six months out at this point, but that can be a difficult wait while watching many others with their readily available Hasbro figures in the meantime. The flip side of that is in the intervening months, Devastator's importance could easily wane. Deciding that before spending $200+ is not necessarily a bad thing at all. But if you preorder the set, depending who you go through, canceling may not be an option if you eventually decide this isn't something you needed as much as you thought. Apart from silly financial responsibility concerns like that, Unite Warriors Devastator may be seen to suffer some in deco.

Unite Warriors Devastator looks a bit on the plain side from what we've been shown so far, perhaps the most sparse looking deco of any known release so far. That's not going to sit well with everyone. While some time with a bottle of paint or a nice Reprolabels set can account for that, adding those things in to the mix might take away from the feeling of the ideal Devastator we set out looking for here, especially with that added pricetag and wait time we'd already have to accept in the pursuit of this. So while Unite Warriors seems like it's the closest to a winner so far, it's still not very clear cut and could certainly have ways of turning some people off. So where do we go now?

The other new option that fell on us today was Perfect Effect. They released prototype images of upgrade add-ons for the Hasbro version Devastator that do quite a bit. In total, Perfect Effect's offerings would add poseable hands for Devastator, new shoulder joints, a cover piece for Mixmaster to more resemble a 1985 cement truck, and replacement parts for Hook's crane mast and Scavenger's shovel. In addition, they have their own solutions for the Constructicons to improve or add elbows. As a final touch, they also showed IDW-based Prowl-Devastator head parts, although no other changes to the toy like relocating Hook to be a leg are accounted for.

This doesn't do everything. There's no individual guns, and if you don't like the visored Hasbro head sculpt, you're not getting an alternative there outside of Prowl in the currently shown state. But if neither of those is a dealbreaker for you, Perfect Effect is still looking pretty strong. Their projected release for these upgrades is September, so there will still be a bit of waiting, but considerably less. And more importantly, nothing is stopping you from buying a Devastator now while you wait for the upgrades, so our childlike desire for immediate fulfillment can also be satisfied. The big question mark and the thing that might bring this down though is the price. Perfect Effect has not said anything yet in regards to pricing, but their trends are easy enough to follow. Their Perfect Combiner sets featuring just hand and feet parts for the regular combiners that change in to weapons run around $30. Those sets have some design complexity and a not-small parts count to try to justify the cost, but it fits a general model of their pricing. If all of the upgrade parts were to be sold together as one kit, it would be easy to expect it to hit $70 or more and neutralize any major advantage these parts might have over a Takara import.

But at the same time, if sold in two or three separate kits, the total cost might actually be higher to get a fully upgraded Devastator. Thing is, splitting the parts in to logical chunks such as "robot upgrades", "combiner upgrades" and "vehicle upgrades" might cost more for the full range of parts, but if you only need to add the elbows to the individual Constructicons, you could probably do it within a reasonable amount of added expense. Likewise if you just want things to dress up Devastator and don't really care about the state of the individuals.

And that brings us to the next thing to consider in this decision: What do you want? Ultimately the choices available break down in two major groups - Constructicon-oriented, and Devastator-oriented. Hasbro's releases certainly favor the Devastator angle. Some of that is by intentional design, some of it is a matter of having to meet costs. In a way those actually work together, since the needs of Devastator may have provided a road map to where some costs could be saved in the set. Meanwhile, TakaraTomy isn't ignoring Devastator in the least, but they are acknowledging that there is focus and importance to the individual toys as well. These ideals are not necessarily competitive, and finding a middle ground is not unreasonable. But given what's in front of us today, making a decision probably needs to start with deciding what you want most out of this set. If you mainly want a big, solid Devastator that can break down in to smaller dudes mostly for the fun of building them back up again, Hasbro's options as-is will probably actually be fine for you. The articulation models on the Constructicons may look not so great, but it's something you're not going to focus on much while they're all combined a majority of the time.

For displaying mainly as the individuals, Unite Warriors or perhaps Hasbro plus Perfect Effect could be more suitable for you. Just bear in mind that there's a good chance either one will carry a roughly equal price tag in the end. Indeed, it's probably more important to nail down your specific wants for Devastator and the Constructicons if you're choosing the Perfect Effect route. Given the option of lower cost, purpose focused upgrade kits, do you really need to do a full upgrade, or will just part of the range of options satisfy your needs? Personally, I think if the Constructicon elbow upgrades come along in a set hitting around $30 at the high end, that would be enough to keep me happy going with the Hasbro release of Devastator, and keep me in what I still feel like is an okay cost range. Maybe the most surprising thing in all of this is how narrow the range of variance is to work with. The unofficial option has a really tight margin they're going to have to fit in to truly be a competitive choice in this. Plus the comparatively high price of Hasbro's Devastator means that for those of us seeking the best available option in getting this set, going import or convention exclusive is not a very far leap, should either of those give us what we're looking for.

Your ideal Devastator is going to come down to what you want out of it. Amazingly there are choices enough that it feels like the need to "settle" for anything is a lot less than you'd otherwise expect. And some of you may look at everything out there right now and decide that Hasbro's basic retail Devastator is just fine for what you want versus what other choices will cost, and there's not a thing wrong with that. Plus, if you change your mind later, you'll still have that Perfect Effect option out there - even for people who go for the SDCC version, given their base green doesn't actually seem to be different from the normal retail toy. There's not a "wrong" choice to be made here, so take your time, consider the options and what they'll give you, and choose your Devastator accordingly!
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