Review: Transformers Unite Warriors Grand Galvatron

 

Tactician Cyclonus

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Vehicle Mode

Though the gross discoloration of the background makes it hard to tell, Tactician Cyclonus is absolutely gorgeous. Swapping out the Hasbro release’s deep purple in favor of a lighter, bluer color with a lovely metallic sheen, only accentuated with shiny metallic purple, silver, and gunmetal. This ostensibly makes Cyclonus more show-accurate, at least to his appearance in the movie and The Headmasters.

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The delightful metallic sheen is much more evident here in robot mode, where the copious amounts of metallic paint figuratively and literally shine. The purple on his arms is particularly eye-pleasing, though admittedly the unpainted grey bits on his hands and thighs stand out in an unpleasant way. The gun is still as unwieldy as it was before, only now it’s in a lovely translucent orange. If nothing else, Tactician Cyclonus is certainly much more visually interesting than Hasbro Cyclonus, despite being the same (quite good) toy.

Ghost Starscream

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Vehicle Mode

Ghost Starscream is probably the most questionable inclusion in the set, mostly because he’s the least interesting in the group (not counting Cyclonus because he sort of has to be there). Translucent Starscreams are probably the second most common redeco choice behind black Optimus Prime… but I have to admit that he does look pretty cool, even despite being a redeco of Skydive (and thus not an F-15). 

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Robot Mode

In robot mode Starscream isn’t terribly impressive, mostly due to the prominent parts of him that aren’t clear plastic and the fact that his silhouette is very un-Seeker. Still, the orange combiner peg is trying so hard to look like a chest cockpit that I can’t not appreciate the effort. The new headsculpt looks characterful enough, though unfortunately mine suffers from a serious glutton of paint application, making his mouth look like a silver blob. Oh, well. At least he looks pretty.

Zombie War Breakdown

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Vehicle Mode

Moving into the more interesting and crazier team members, we have the almost-interesting Decepticon bruiser from Transformers: Prime, Breakdown, or Zombie War Breakdown (because he’s dead, I guess). He’s obviously a redeco of Offroad, and the mold has never looked nicer. The blue plastic is lovely, and the shiny silver and red trim only add to the visual appeal.

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Robot Mode

It’s really amazing what paint apps can do to a figure. By picking out tons of molded detail that went unpainted on Offroad and Ironhide, Breakdown almost manages to look like an entirely different toy. Just look at that head! It’s definitely Offroad’s head (and thus doesn’t look much like Breakdown), but the color separation makes it look so distinct here. It’s also worth noting that the joints are surprisingly tight on Breakdown, actually better than Offroad and Ironhide.

Curse Armada Thrust

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Vehicle Mode

As one of the relatively recent Transformers fans for whom Armada was G1, the inclusion of Curse Armada Thrust in the Grand Galvatron set made it a must-have for me. The duplicitous, blustering Decepticon General returns as a redeco of Air Raid, and like everyone else in this set, he’s covered in paint to better resemble the character. Thrust’s paint apps are especially clever, with the bright green sculpted missiles representing the actual missiles from the Armada toy, and the 5mm port painted silver to emulate the VTOL. They even nailed the right metallic mint green. 

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The clever homage deco choices are even more prominent in robot mode, from the lines of green on his legs to the asymmetrical splash of orange on his chest. The green combiner port even works as an homage to the vertical strip of green on the original toy. The only real standout (other than having the wrong silhouette) is the head, which is more traditional Conehead than classic Squidhead. I wish he didn’t have a mouth, but it’s still a very fine sculpt.

Wandering Roller

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Vehicle Mode

Japan didn’t have to wait around for a proper Groove for Unite Warriors Defensor, and thus Takara never released Rook, instead releasing the mold as Wandering Roller. Based heavily on the unintentionally-abandoned by his allies (actually brought to the future by a guilt-ridden time traveller, but whatever) from IDW, Roller turns into an APC with a color scheme homaging the original Roller, the little buggy that came in Optimus Prime’s trailer. The shiny silver paint is glorious on Roller, and the more subtle metallic blue-green details are also lovely, but will particularly shine later.

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Robot Mode

Roller gets no new headsculpt, but since his character is a bit of a blank slate it doesn’t matter much. The colors here are excellent, with the solid block of silver that was his altmode giving way to a vibrant orange and hints of metallic green and blue, with a layout roughly matching his IDW appearance. It’s hard to say which member of the set looks the prettiest or makes the best use of their paint apps, but I can definitely say that Roller is my favorite of the bunch. (Plus IDW Roller is a fun character, and this is almost certainly the closest we’ll get to having a toy of him.)

Grand Galvatron

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Combined Mode

Making effective use of the Galvatronus mold, Grand Galvatron is primarily an homage to the G1 Galvatron toy’s grey and red colors, with the purple bits looking more like Galvatron’s lavender-esque appearance in the Headmasters anime. Like the rest of the set, the detail work on the torso is just magnificent, and all put-together, the sheer amount of paint and detail on the team results in one impressive-looking combiner… with the exception of Starscream, who sticks out rather terribly, in my opinion. Also, while I totally get that Cyclonus’s gun is representing Galvatron’s arm cannon, it does look a little weak for the combiner. 

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Since Cyclonus is a simple retool of Silverbolt, Grand Galvatron’s articulation is identical to Superion’s, including his somewhat frustrating hips that make it impossible for him to assume any position other than standing up straight or splaying his legs out. The HFG heels do a good job of keeping him stable, though, and you could always invest in some replacement hip ratchets or replacement feet with ball joints for better stability. Also, the little winglets from Cyclonus go a long way in helping Grand Galvatron’s thighs not look unnaturally thin.

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Overall

Despite being made up of redecoes and retools of toys you almost certainly already have, Grand Galvatron is probably one of the best combiner sets you can get. Every figure (with the slight exception of Starscream) is an extremely good toy with premium paint apps, and they all feel very solid despite repeated mold usage. The more left-field homages like Thrust and Roller are really fun throwbacks (hell, the whole concept is a throwback to a really dumb thing from an episode of Headmasters), and even the weakest of the set is still a really neat looking toy. Grand Galvatron is a set that I can easily see becoming someone’s holy grail ten or twenty years down the road, and I’m just glad to have one. If you love the idea of this set and can get it for $200 or under, I’d say don’t hesitate.

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