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Transformers Combiner Wars
by yo go re

"What order are you reviewing the Devastator components in?" "Random."

Hook is a crane, because anything else would be ridiculous. The name just doesn't allow it. If you're going to name a character "Hook," there needs to be something hooked about them. Maybe you could make him a tow truck, but that's not construction equipment, is it? The fiction says he can lift up to 20 tons, which is weird: most of the Tech Specs go overboard, attributing crazy, unearthly stats to the vehicles, but 20 tons is a perfectly normal amount for a crane of this type to be able to lift; do you think they really meant 200 tons, and this is just a typo that's been perpetuated for 30 years?

The toy is 5¾" long, 2¾" wide, and 2⅝" tall. Of course, the way you position the crane arm can change those numbers, but really as much as you'd think: the arm can raise, but it doesn't extend at all, the base doesn't turn, and the hook is not actually hinged. There's probably already a third-party solution in the works, but there shouldn't need to be.

All the old Constructicons could carry their combiner kibble as weapons, which is how Hook was able to have an attack mode with a rocket launcher. This time, most of the kibble is built into the figures, so that, sadly, is not possible. The best you can manage is to rest something on top of the crane arm, which isn't very impressive (or sturdy) at all.

Converting Hook to robot mode is fairly straightforward, though it's not a direct copy of the G1 style and the instructions do leave a crucial step out of the process: after you swing the arms out to the sides, you need to push the base of the crane over to the side; if you don't, you won't be able to fold the whole thing down onto the robot's back; so it's a minor step, but a very important one. Once that's done, you just need to fold down the feet and the back of the legs. And while the instructions neglect to tell you the thing about his back, they do make sure to spend two steps showing you how to fold out his hands one at a time.

With the care and precision of a fine jeweler, Hook performs his job with a skill unparallelled among all the Transformers. It doesn't matter whether he's reconnecting a damaged microchip or setting a two ton girder into place - in each case perfection is his final goal. Perhaps because he is a perfectionist he has a snobbish, supercilious attitude toward his fellow Constructicons, since he considers them generally crude and dim-witted. Although Hook may not win any popularity contests, there's no denying his superior abilities and the important role they have in the Decepticons' evil schemes.

Like Scrapper, Hook has always had a flat head. Sometimes the art showed that as a separate angled flap that was just positioned over hgis head, other times it was actually part of the head, but either way, it's here, too. He has a red visor, but a silver nose and mouth below that. The black helmet he wears is very blocky, with large square cheeks.

Hook has a very long torso, which is true to the Generation 1 toy. It helps if you think of the silver area as his waist, rather than the wider purple block below that. The designers made an effort to match the shapes seen on the original Hook's stickers, but they weren't beholden to them. The strongest parallels are right by the hips, while the chest had to move things around to get them to fit. Although the vehicle's cab is now on the back of the legs, rather than the front, his shins still have some of the same shapes - look at the right leg, for instance, which has a square with a hole in the center slightly offset from a rounded bit. Today that's just a molded detail, but in the '80s, its where Hook's gun stored in vehicle mode.

If you buy the Japanese release of Devastator, then you get an update of that gun; just a little black laser pistol that he can hold in either hand. Otherwise, you can arm him with the front half of the big Devastator gun, which, at this size, really looks like Galvatron's arm cannon. Did they just rip it off his body? Japanese Hook (グレン Gren) also has remolded arms, which add superfluous secondary elbows. There are already hinge joints in the forearms that are used for combining, but Takara added similar ones farther up. They're really not necessary, and they're hard to move anyway, so this is a case where the US release is not necessarily inferior.

Hook reclaims his position as the head and shoulders of Devastator. In order to fold the vehicle in half, you first have to use those elbow hinges we mentioned before, but at least the instructions for this part inform you that you're supposed to push the crane to the side. Like Dr. Crank, the gestalt head is built-in, so it just folds up rather than needing to be attached. As mentioned in the big review, you have your choice of eyes or visor (at least on the Japanese version). Four connection points fold out of the body to join him to the lower torso and the arms. The actual joining is tough, because the pieces fit tightly, and tend to move out of alignment when you try to push them together. It does make Devastator super-stable once he's together, though.

Hook is a decently fun toy by himself, but the vehicle mode is a little underwhelming, since they didn't treat the crane like a working crane. If these Constructicons were sold as individual Voyagers, would we overlook something like that?

Hook | Long Haul | Scavenger | Bonecrusher | Scrapper | Mixmaster

-- 03/01/16

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