Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Special Transformers Feature: Universe Onslaught

Members of the Official Transformers Collectors' Club were surprised a couple of months ago to learn that the Combaticons, a well-known team of bad guys that featured in the original 1980's Transformers cartoon, were being featured in the current "Wings of Honor"-based storyline... as members of the Autobot Elite Guard!  A new prose story featuring them just came out a couple of days ago, prompting me to pull out the only of one of these characters currently represented by a toy (Decepticon symbol on the toy notwithstanding): Universe Onslaught.

In 2008, the second toyline to carry the Universe name featured a number of toys representing characters from the Generation One era of the Transformers franchise (in fact, many people often refer to such toys as "Classics 2.0"), and Onslaught was one of the more heavily-promoted examples of this in the early part of that line.  The original Onslaught is probably best known for being a part of the combiner robot, Bruticus.  In fact, the original Combaticon molds have probably been reused more times than any other Generation One combiner team, making the Bruticus form (in whatever name it was given for a particular line) extremely well-known.  Since it was quickly discovered that this new version of the character would not be combining with the rest of his team (none of whom were made available in a new form at this time, anyway) to create a new version of Bruticus, many fans were understandably disappointed.  Indeed, back in the 1980's, being able to combine was pretty much the "whole point" of these "special teams" toys (as they were often called in the UK), and few of the individual robots in those teams ever had a chance to shine on their own.  This version of Onslaught gives the character a chance to do just that.

The vehicle mode bears little resemblance to Onslaught's original anti-aircraft truck form, aside from perhaps having a similar color scheme, but it really doesn't matter.  Transform this toy into robot mode and take a look at the face!  This is undeniably the same character.  Being an "ultra"-sized toy, Onslaught has some electronic sounds and lights incorporated into him, but they're really nothing special.  The flip-out weapon on Onslaught's right arm is kind of cool, as is the shield that can be placed on the left arm.  The TFWiki points out that this Onslaught stands about as tall as the original Bruticus did.  It's a great example of how a character may be updated in a way that remains true to the character essentials while also being almost entirely new.

Even so, it's still a bit disappointing that Hasbro seems to have abandoned the idea of these guys being a part of a team that combined into a larger robot.  Those were always cool. :(

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