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Transformers Combiner Wars
by yo go re

Like Boyz II Men have said at the end of every school dance since 1992, we've come to the end of the road.

Scavenger is an excavator. Scavenger is always an excavator (at least in G1 - other continuities are on their own). While his TechSpecs don't list any especially unusual feats for his vehicle mode the way they do for the other Constructicons, they do tell us that he's loaded with sensors that allow him to detect the presence of a variety of materials within a 500-yard radius. Do other Transformers have ground-penetrating radar that goes 1.2 miles deep? I think not!

The vehicle is 3" wide, 4" long, and... at least 2⅝" tall. That's the height of the cab, but clearly the height will vary depending on how you pose the bucket arm. At its tallest, it's approximately 7⅜" - completely retracted, it's about 4" shorter. Or, of you stick it driectly out to the front, you'll add about 5" of length. It has two hinges, and a swivel in the middle. It really would have been nice if we got a third hinge for the bucket, but we're already doing better than the original toy. The sculptural detailing on the sides of the arm is more technological than a real thing would be, but the actual body of the machine is good. So the vehicle can roll around, there are two little wheels under the treads, and a wider roller in the back.

The 1985 version of Scavenger came with Devastator's hand kibble, which could be mounted on top of the excavator with a big drill bit sticking out the front. This time there's none of that. While Devastator does still have hand kibble, and it can be turned into a (non-functioning) missile launcher, there's no way to mount it on the vehicle - not even the loose, not-really-a-way ways we've come up with to attach some of the other weapons. The best you can do is lay it on top, and not jostle it too much.

Converting Scavenger is very similar to the '85 figure: the legs fold down 180°, the arms come out of the sides, etc. The major difference is that while the head used to be at the back of the vehicle and the leg-hinge at the front, this time those positions are reversed. The arms pop off the shoulder balls very easily, but they go on again just as simply.

Scavenger is driven by a manic urge to find things of value in a desperate attempt to prove his worth to his comrades. It makes no difference to him whether he has to dig up a hillside or someone's personal property in order to accomplish his goal. But more often than not, what he brings back is useless junk, which only reinforces his own image of uselessness to the others and wastes his fuel supplies. Megatron has gravely noted that "such behavior would be charming in a puppyoid, but ill-becomes a Decepticon warrior." It is only because Scavenger's unique abilities sometimes prove to be of vital importance that Megatron tolerates his continuing existence.

His head is based strongly on the old cartoon: it's very square, with a horizontal vent on the forehead and large angular structures on his cheeks. His eyes are a red visor that wraps around to the sides of his head, and instead of a mouth or any other facial features, he has a bevelled square on the front of his head just above the chin.

The torso really goes out of its way to reference the original Scavenger toy. There's a narrow waist that then angles outward to be a large chest with pentagonal designs in the upper corners (a simple vent on the right, and a more complex bit of mechanics on the left) that are both based on the '80s decals. There's a silver plate down the center of the chest, with a large piece of faux-kibble: that segmented bar going up the center represents the peg that allowed the old toy to attach to Devastator. His feet unfold just like Bonecrusher's, rather than trying to swivel around like they did back in the day. What a shame!

Like most of the Constructicons, Japanese Scavenger (スカベンジャー, Sukabenjā) has slightly different articulation than his American cousin. They both move at the ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and neck, but Takara opted to make the knees swivel/hinge rather than balljoints. Yeah, that was a better choice. Takara also gave Scavenger a small black pistol based on the one the old toy carried, but if you get either of the two US releases, he'll still be armed with the big rocket launcher thing. Kill 'em all, Scavenger! Unfortunately, it weighs a little too much for the shoulder balljoint to support, so he's often drooping, firing it at his own feet.

Turning Scavenger into Devastator's arm is not complex at all: starting from the altmode, you tuck the scoop arm down, swing the kibble out from between the treads, and attach the forearm/hand piece. Really, that's all there is to it. The forearm is detailed really nicely, with little pistons and whatnot that make it look like a functioning piece of machinery. Unfortunately, it's hollow on one side, limiting the angles from which it looks cool. Also, the short pegs that allow the fist to flip out and replace the missile are so short that the entire thing tends to pop out of place when you try to turn the wrist. You kind of have to pinch the sides when you turn it, to keep everything where it should be. The arm attaches to one of Hook's large black tabs, while a smaller tab on Long Haul's arm attaches to the rear tread and the chest armor attaches to the front tread to keep everything stable.

As a standalone figure, Scavenger isn't bad. The vehicle proportions are a little wonky, there's really noticeable kibble in robot mode, and the conversion isn't quite smooth. But the thing is, he isn't a standalone robot. He's not even sold by himself! For whatever reason, Hasbro and Takara both opted to only sell the Constructicons as a box set, rather than individual toys - maybe they thought that would be easier for us to swallow than six Voyager-class releases (or maybe stores didn't want to dedicate six Voyagers' worth of shelf space to them). But he's fun alone, and as part of the big guy, which is all that matters.

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

-- 04/12/16

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