Hasbro loves finding new ways to merchandise the Transformers. Whether it's a potato, Heroes-scale figures or fake Legos, the Robots in Disguise get around. The newest iteration is "Bot Shots," a toy-based combat game.
The premise is this: you take a Bot Shots figure in vehicle mode, roll it head-on into another figure, and hope that the collision triggers its conversion to robot mode. All the toys switch the same way: head under the front end, arms down the side, feet in the back. Why so simple? Because, like the Battlechargers, their transformation is spring-loaded: when the front end is hit, it releases a catch and the figure stands up automatically. The figures are sold on solo cards, as well as in three-packs like this one.
The figures in the three packs are all repaints - which is fine, since in this case, ⅔ of them still represent new characters. We start with Nemesis Prime, a repaint of Optimus. The vehicle mode is a long-nosed truck that's somewhat reminiscent of the Armada version, but it has a "trailer" component that takes up the back end. The front and rear wheels roll (the middle ones are just sculpted), and the familiar "Optimus Prime stripe" is molded on the sides of the trailer. The truck is entirely black, with a metalic blue windshield, dark blue fenders and a silver grill.
Once you, ahem, "convert" Nemesis Prime, he stands 2" tall. The head is the classic "Prime" style, with antenna ears, a pentagonal vent on the forehead and a mouthplate covering everything below the eyes. The body is superdeformed enough that it's hard to tell if he's supposed to be based on any specific version of Optimus Prime, but you can make out his window-boobs. He doesn't have "arms" so much as he has hands molded on one end of his wheel-appendages, but there's a little bit of sculpted detail up near the armpits. He even gets silver paint apps there! His stats are 555 Blaster, 855 Fist, 215 Sword.
Next we have Megatron, who's disguised as a tank. That's a movie-style tank, not a G2-style tank, so I guess at least that reveals which continuity he's styled upon, huh? The tank looks very intimidating, with all its weird, sharp, Cybertronian angles and whatnot. They didn't even make an effort to conceal his four rolling wheels inside the tank treads: they're right there on the outside.
Megatron's spring may be set a little tight: every time he pops up to robot mode, he ends up falling on his back. Fortunately, you can adjust that. There are two screws on the chest; tighten them, and the spring-action gets stronger; loosen them, and it relaxes. Though we called Megatron a repaint, this is actually the first time he's been released - he's not available on a solo card yet, and the other version (with a big fancy launcher) didn't show up until a few weeks after the three-packs. He's dark grey with silver apps on the legs, and though his body is based on the movie, his head has an animated look. His stats are 820 Blaster, 170 Fist, 625 Sword.
And finally, we have Acid Storm, this box set's "Super Bot." What does that mean? Well, he's molded from translucent plastic and... that's about it. His stats will be higher than usual, but that honestly doesn't mean much. Acid Storm is, of course, a repaint of Starscream - he's based on the non-toy G1 character who was turned into a figure and given a name during the Universe 2.0 line. This one is a superdeformed F-22 Raptor, and the only solid plastic in this mode is the four grey wheels.
In robot mode, Acid Storm is still mostly paint-free. His body is bright neon green, which actually makes him closer to the G1 cartoon than his last toy was. He has the typical Seeker head, and that's where we see some paint: a silver face, golden eyes and a black brain-bucket. The sculpt of the body doesn't really seem to favor the movie design over anything else - he's mostly just "generic robot." His stats are 905 Blaster, 420 Fist, 285 Sword. Really, guys? The smokey green toy gets marked with a "420?" On his green dial, no less?
Okay, so what are these stats we keep talking about? They're how the game is played. Much like the original Battle Beasts, Bot Shots' combat is basically a glorified version of rochambeau. Each figure has a three-sided spinner in his chest, with different symbols: Blaster beats Fist, Fist beats Sword and Sword beats Blaster (obviously somebody's watched too much Star Wars, because it should really go the other direction). You select whichever weapon you want before sending your Bot Shot into battle - in case of a tie, the higher number wins. If one Bot doesn't transform, he loses!
The fact that you're choosing which symbol to use in each battle adds a bit of strategy - I thought the spinner would be activated by the same springs that transform the robot, which would have made things completely random. By making your own choice, you have a chance to outplay your opponent, rather than just leaving it up to the gods.
Transformers Bot Shots are very simple toys, but they're designed to be. In a way, they're like Robot Heroes that actually do something. There's even ridiculously cute chibi art on the back of the box. Bot Shots are sort of the Angry Birds of the toy world: remarkably simple, slightly addictive, and though you may never admit to playing with them lest you lose all your street cred, you'll secretly adore them.