Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Vortex

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week!

Vortex, the Interrogator

Vortex is the intelligence officer of the Combaticons. He’s an expert at extracting information from captives who don’t want to talk. He got his name by tormenting non-flying enemies: picking them up and taking them on a wild ride through the air, dropping them and catching them again until they’re begging to tell him whatever he wants to know. And once he’s got the info, he can drop them and not catch them.

Vortex’s new toy looks like this in package:

Vortex In pack, with gun, hand/foot accessory and comic.

Vortex In pack, with gun, hand/foot accessory and comic.

Of course, he’s packaged with a comic which features him on the cover and nowhere else. It’s mostly about Ironhide and the Dinobots. Swindle’s in a couple of panels, though, so it’s doing better for Combaticon-tent than most of the pack-in comics we’ve seen so far.

Give me my coloured coat / My amazing coloured coat / ... Any dream will do

Close-Up on Vortex: a showy peacock among his camouflaged team-mates.

Vortex is far and away the most colourful Combaticon, with multiple paint operations on his torso, and bright yellow missiles on his forearms; actually his whole upper forearm is yellow – including the ‘copter hull around the missiles, which is kind of sloppy. His whole colour scheme is (of course) a homage to his G1 toy, comparing the toy makes the reason for his garishness obvious. Actually, I’m slightly surprised that his combining-joint isn’t teal like the original.

Vortex has had some work done. Must've seen a plastic surgeon.

Left: G1 Vortex, photo shamelessly pinched from tfu.info (an inestimable resource for collectors).
Right: Combiner Wars Vortex, photo by AddAltModeR.

Here’s an interesting bit of Transformer history; G1 Vortex and Blast-Off (who were released simultaneously) were the first transformers to feature ball-jointed articulation. It was in their shoulders.

History lessons aside, the new Vortex has good articulation at all the usual spots: knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and neck. Adjusting the position of the rotors and tail-fin can provide a good counterweight to more dynamic poses, but he’s a little bit top heavy, so I can’t get him to pass the One Leg Test. He can hold his guns in his hands, or they can stow away by pegging onto his back, if you’d prefer to pose him aiming at a target with his arm-missiles… and seriously, what else are arm-missiles for.It would’ve been nice if those 5mm post-holes were on his shoulders, so that he could be posed as if firing both guns and both sets of missiles in some madly destructive fusillade, but alas it isn’t to be.

Vortex’s hand/fist/gun is fairly simple, with nothing special about it. It does have some nice “minigun”-type barrels. His other gun appears to be a belt-fed machine gun with bullets hanging off the side.

Taking a picture of grey things on a grey background, forever, is what evil photgraphers do in the afterlife.

Vortex’s guns. Top: A machine gun with visible bullets, not a energy/laser weapon!?
Bottom: Twin miniguns!

Taking His Foes For A Spin

I managed not to title this section “GET TO DA CHOPPA!“. Do I get some sort of prize? No? Never mind, let’s talk about Vortex’s Helicopter mode. This will hold no surprise for collectors who’ve been at Combiner Wars since the beginning, but at chez Addaltmode, we’ve avoided getting Aerialbot Alpha Bravo and Protectobot Blades for the simple reason that they’re both re-colors of a mold that would inevitably be released as Vortex. Let’s not kid ourselves: This mold was designed to be Vortex from the start, and newcomer Alpha Bravo is biting Vortex’s style. The real disappointment is Blades, who should be a rescue helicopter, but seems to be carrying missiles. I’m pretty sure I’d’ve bought Blades if they’d retooled him a bit more (and put in a reference or two to his Rescue Bots incarnation  if they can reference both G1and TFA Swindle in Combiner Wars Swindle, they could do similarly with Blades), rather than skipping him as redundant. As tempted as I was by Hotspot, the only Protectobot who has made me part with hard-earned pounds was tiny Groove.

Vortex’s Helicopter mode looks like this:

Vortex In helicopter mode, stood upon his hand/foot/gun accessory.

Vortex In helicopter mode, stood upon his hand/foot/gun accessory.

He’s got a strong resemblance to a Eurocopter X3 going on at the front, but his fuselage is much longer, and he has those large missile pods. It’s a shame that there’s a big yellow patch between his missiles, and that only some of his windows are painted-in, but otherwise his deco is quite nice. It’s also quite nice that his weapons peg on in a way that makes them an integrated part of his alt-mode. His rotors spin satisfyingly well.

Don't "Get to da choppa"; get away from da choppa!

Vortex makes an exceptionally well-armed ‘copter.

Onslaught’s Left-Hand Man

Any Combiner Wars transformer in the Deluxe size-class can become an arm or a leg. However, we’ve chosen to keep the traditional G1 Bruticus arrangement, whereby Brawl and Swindle make up the legs, whilst Vortex and Blast-Off form the arms. With that in mind, let’s talk about Vortex’s arm-mode;

Vortex in Arm Mode, as a left arm.

Vortex in Arm Mode, as a left arm.

Although, to be honest, there’s not a lot to say. It’s a big brutish fist with Gatling-guns on the knuckles. Actually, although G1 purists rant about the combiner wars hands, and Perfect Effect are apparently doing a roaring trade in Third-party combiner hands (sold-out everywhere in the UK that stocked them AFAIK), I quite like the gun-knuckles. They’re better than the old-style combiner kibble that was useless outside of combined mode, and so easy for kids to lose. The gimmick from Fall of Cybertron where the helicopter’s rotor-blades are turned into a lawnmower-esque spinning blade has been dispensed with this time around. This is good, since that gimmick was stupid mince up a couple of bots with your spinning blades and you’re no longer in any condition to fly!

Fall of Cybertron Bruticus ruins Vortex's ability to fly, just to open a door.

Fall of Cybertron Bruticus ruins Vortex’s ability to fly, just to open a door.


So yeah, that’s Vortex, kind of a garish robot but a solid (tried-and-tested) mold. Reasonable copter mode.

Do you want to build a robot?

Combiner progress: We’ve got all the pieces, but you’ll have to wait ’til tomorrow to see us put them together. For now, enjoy this shot of a Combaticon-voy.

Ep. 65 "B.O.T." is easily the worst episode of the G1 cartoon, and possibly the worst non-fanfic thing ever created within the Transformers fandom.

In episode 65 of The Transformers, the Combaticons actually drove into a town like this.
The 80s were a funny time.

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