Editor's note: Today we're reviewing Hasbro's SDCC Bruticus box set, so we'd normally review all the figures together. However, since they'll soon be available single-carded, it made sense to give the pieces the full reviews they deserve. To save time, we're posting them all at once, so follow the links for the whole story.
Few Autobots fear a fight against Vortex. What they fear is being captured and at his mercy. He uses magnetic grapples
to haul helpless captives high into the sky. There he treats them to a terrifying series of swoops, loops and dives before dropping them to their doom.
That bio is a direct homage to Generation 1 Vortex - which, you may recall, was also used for the movieverse character Incinerator. It's a popular personality for helicopter-bots to have, apparently. So far, very little is known about the role Vortex will play in the Fall of Cybertron game, other than that the stage that focuses on him is the largest one the Unreal Engine is capable of rendering, and that it's a huge jungle gym that will require travel in both robot and vehicle modes. So that sounds cool.
Vortex's head really suggests the character's origin as a "Scramble City" combiner, where the head served as the peg that connected him to the central body. It's not perfectly cubical, like the original, but it's a far sight more squarish than most TFs get. A lot of perfectly parallel lines here. His forehead is angled back, but still he looks square.
In the broadest terms, Vortex's Fall of Cybertron body is similar to the G1 version: his lower legs are formed from the front end of the vehicle mode, he has a lump of plastic behind his head, and there's
a conspicuous bar running down the center of his chest. This clearly isn't an update of the old toy, but it retains a certain "Vortexishness." The way his arms are constructed is weird, however. He ends up looking pretty stupid if you try to straighten the arms out, so you'll have to leave his elbows bent most of the time. He also uses one of our least favorite Transformer helicopter cheats of all time: the blades don't go away, they just attach to a plate that swings off to the side of the arm. That's lazy engineering! His feet seem exceptionally uninspired, as well.
Vortex isn't even close to having
G1-accurate colors. That toy was grey and purple, while this one is a brownish mustard color with pink accents. On the plus side, that's exactly what he looks like in the videogame, which is moe than we can say for some of the others. His solo-carded release is bright red, so it's way off the mark! His accessories are a pair of swords. Or blasters. It depends on which direction you have them face. The blades (or gun barrels, maybe) are silver.
To convert Vortex, tuck his head away, rotate his lower arms 180°, fold down the shoulders and bend the elbows. Raise the tail fin, spin the waist, put the arms away and rotate the rotors back over the body. Fold out the little tabs behind the feet, raise the cockpit into place and bring out the gun in the front.
The rotor actually spins, and the weapons
can be plugged into the pseudo-landing-gear on the sides of the helicopter. Even with the crazy angular design, it's hard not to look like an Earth vehicle when you're dealing with a helicopter: jets, tanks, cars, mmotorcycles... these are all things that could believably be developed by an alien society. But a whirlybird? That just seems like such a specific feat of engineering that it's hard to believe anyone out there would duplicate it by accident. The helicopter is 6¼" long, 2¼ tall and is 5⅛" across the rotors.
While Vortex's nominal place is as the left arm of Bruticus,
the design of the combination system means that any figure can become any limb - and so, Hasbro had to design them all with the capability to be an arm or a leg. Vortex's leg mode looks pretty good, but it doesn't really plug together in any way, so it's not very stable. On the plus side, it does give you a chance to use the flap on the robot's waist that otherwise serves no purpose - stick it out a little bit to serve as a "heel" for the foot. Oh, and the rotors get in the way even more as a foot than they do on the arm, so that's disappointing.
Vortex isn't a bad figure, but he's not really special, either. If you buy him to complete Bruticus, you won't feel cheated, but he's probably not the one you'll want to get by himself.
Onslaught | Blast Off | Vortex | Swindle | Brawl