Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Menasor

When the first images of Combiner Wars came out at SDCC 2014, the fandom was utterly blown away by the immaculate-looking stock photos of Superion, and then brought a bit down to reality when the physical toy was seen (though it still looked great). On the other side of the coin, the initial response to Menasor, second combiner, was… not quite as glowing. The Stunticon combiner has been a controversial talking point amongst the fandom in the lead-in to his full release (with the Optimus Prime figure leaving a poor first impression), but now that all five six Stunticons are out, how does Menasor really stand?

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Here we have the Swindle-made Stunticon hack-job himself, looking… uh… hmm. Yeah. Motormaster’s stock torso configuration leaves much to be desired, between his incredibly wide hips, low shoulders, and complete lack of anything that can be considered a midriff (seriously, he’s just a chest and a crotch). Even in-hand, it’s easy to see how images of this guy made him look like an awkward mess. Thankfully, there are some ways to improve his stature…

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There, that’s a bit better. There are plenty of ways to modify your Menasor’s torso, but this is my preferred version for most posing. It thickens and narrows his thighs, and, when properly posed, creates a slight illusion that he has something resembling a midriff. My fix isn’t perfect; some hip articulation is hindered, it’s not entirely stable, and it doesn’t look super good just standing up straight. I’ve seen others simply straighten out Motormaster’s legs completely, but I think that looks a bit too odd. Ultimately, though, Menasor’s hips aren’t the problem, it’s the truncated nature of his torso.

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Just to cover a few more of Motormaster’s weaknesses as a torso, there are two areas in particular that make posing Menasor a frustrating affair. The first of which is the well-known complete inability for Blackjack (whom I’ve just realized I’ve forgotten to review) to connect to the pegs on Menasor’s chest. It’s a combination of the pegs being too thin and the sculpted detail on his chest sticking out too much. At best, Blackjack just kind of rests there and will fall out if Menasor leans forward at all. There are multiple ways to fix this with varying effectiveness; I just put some tape around the tips of the pegs, which helps decently. The second major issue is one that I didn’t have with Optimus, which is that the tabs that connect Motormaster’s arms to his shoulders to form Menasor’s shoulders are not secure at all. The tightness of the combiner joints means that trying to pose Menasor’s arms will more often than not result in his shoulders kind of exploding. I haven’t figured out a way to fix this, but maybe thickening the pegs with floor polish might help?

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All right, enough of the negatives, because let me just say that I think Menasor is hella cool. While, as a whole, I’d say he’s objectively an inferior package in comparison to Superion, there are a couple of areas where I think the Stunticons win out. While Superion’s color scheme is a bit jumbled and disorganized and is heavily affected by which limb is where, Menasor’s colors are much more solid, and switching limbs has no detrimental effect on his overall look. I also really like the AOE Galvatron-esque chest details, which you can either (fail to) cover up with Blackjack or just fold up the chest panels for a G1-ish look. Ultimately, I think Menasor has a bit more of a presence as a combiner; he looks bigger and more visually impressive than Superion, mostly thanks to his “hulking brute” aesthetic as opposed to Superion’s somewhat-lanky proportions.

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I’ve also found that Menasor is a bit more dynamic and more fun to pose than Superion, largely thanks to the extra flexibility offered by the modified hip transformation. As far as proper articulation even in the standard stock formation goes, Menasor still trumps Superion on two notable points of articulation. Menasor’s head (which is really well-sculpted, by the way) is on a very expressive ball joint that lets him look up and down as well as left and right, which helps a lot with posing. Secondly, Menasor retains Motormaster’s waist swivel, though due to the crotchplate, there isn’t a whole lot of movement you can get out of it. But hey, it’s there! The rest of the joints are pretty much the same as Superion.

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As I did in my coverage of Superion, I’ll go over each Stunticon in their roles as Menasor’s limbs:

  • Drag Strip: Works fine as either an arm or a leg, but I like him best in his “proper” position as an arm, largely because he has the most range of any CW arm figure yet. The only issue he has as an arm is that his own arms can tend to collide with Menasor’s shoulders if you move them too far outward.
  • Offroad: Since he’s taking Wildrider’s place, Offroad should officially be a leg, and he works really well in that role. The only reason I prefer him as an arm is mostly just because I don’t like Dead End as an arm. Plus he matches up pretty well with Drag Strip. Unfortunatly, my Offroad has a very weak connecting peg between his two legs, so a lot of times Menasor ends up with a split forearm.
  • Breakdown: He makes a great leg, but arm mode is a little awkward. It’s really no less functional than the other three (aside from some minor clearance issues with the shoulder), but, like with his robot mode, it just looks really awkward.
  • Dead End: Despite being my favorite figure of the bunch, my opinion of Dead End’s role in Menasor is pretty much identical to Breakdown’s. He makes a fine leg, but the arm mode just looks awkward and suffers from some clearance issues. Plus he and Breakdown match up well as legs, which gives Menasor a tiny bit of a symmetrical appearance (if you’re into that).

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My configuration of choice is ultimately Drag Strip and Offroad as arms and Breakdown and Dead End as legs, but of course it’s all up to your own personal tastes. Each limb figure fulfills their dual roles to a satisfactory degree, though plastic tolerances and individual quality will have bearing on exactly how well they perform combined. With Wildrider (as a retool of Dead End) on the horizon, I’m actually not sure if I want to replace Offroad with him, mostly because I like Offroad too much as an arm. But hey, we’ll cross that trademark-necessitated-name-changed bridge when it hits retail.

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Overall

Combiner Wars Menasor is a rather polarizing package, since so many people either absolutely hate him or vehemently defend him. In the end, you’ll find that the majority of fans will say that he’s just okay. Menasor is a totally decent combiner. He’s certainly not great, hampered by poor torso design on Motormaster, plastic tolerance issues on several crucial connections, and some smaller issues with his individual components in arm mode… but he’s definitely not awful. He’s overall a step down from Superion, but a definite step up from, say, Fall of Cybertron Bruticus. There are a couple of upgrade options for the figure, namely being Perfect Effect’s upgrade kit and Bold Forms’s entirely new Motormaster figure. Both utilize very different methods of fixing Menasor, but I’m not really a fan of either. Flawed as he is, I’m very satisfied with this guy.

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