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Transformers Power Core Combiners
by yo go re

There's some question of how the Power Core Combiners line fits in with all the other Transformers fiction. For the most part, it seems divorced from everything else, but then there the oddities, like the character who's a G1 update. Or the one who appeared in the movie comics. Or this guy, who could be referencing no less than half a dozen other continuities.

Steamhammer knows there's another Decepticon team out there with the same name as his. He doesn't care. The strength granted him through the Power Core process is more than enough to destroy anyone who dares to challenge him.

No, no it's not. He's a shrimpy little pipsqueak who would get squashed underfoot the first time he met a real team of Constructicons. He'd better be glad he's in his own universe!

Steamhammer is a decent little robot with some truly awful kibble. He's got a shovel larger than his entire torso hanging off his back, and two guns or something sticking out to the side, doubling his width and adding more than an inch to his height. It's a complete mess.

However, like we said, the actual robot is good. He leads a team of Constructicons, so he needs to look like a Constructicon - ie, blocky and industrial. He fulfils that criteria perfectly, with a square chest and limbs that are more rectangular than tubular. His lower legs are heavy treads, which is cool: it makes him look like he's wearing big work boots. There are hooked blades sticking off thebottom of his arms (along with some more kibble), so he looks pretty threatening, too. There aren't a ton of sculpted details, but what we do get is good: riveted plates on the backs of his hands, pistons in the arms, and cages near the shoulders all combine to make Steamhammer look like an actual piece of machinery brought to life.

Even the head is nice and "Constructicon-y." The top is flat, which draws parallels to the G1 crew (particularly Scrapper). He has beady red eyes, and though most of the head is the same green color as the rest of his body, he has silver plates over his "nose" and lower jaw, which add definition to the face and help make him look tough.

Converting Steamhammer is actually a bit more complex than you might expect from a Scout-sized Transformer. Well, semi-Scout-sized; the altmode is larger than the average Scout, too! He's a bulldozer measuring 4⅛" long, a tad more than 2¼" wide and nearly 2" tall thanks to the Powerlinx port over the cab. Its placement actually makes it look like a smokestack, which is cool.

A good 25% of the bulldozer's entire bulk can be found in the front shovel. It was huge on the robot, and it's huge here. There's a lot less green in this mode, and a lot more black. The sculpted details in this mode are high, because quite a bit that used to be hidden away in robot mode is revealed here. Look at the wheels in the treads, or the tiny ladders leading up to the cab - this is a deceptively intricate sculpt! To complete the look, Hasbro has given the lower edge of the shovel a silver drybrushing to make it look scratched from use.

Whatever alternate-universe Constructicons the side-of-the-box bio is referencing, Steamhammer's crew is different. All four of them are construction vehicles we haven't seen before, which is cool - it's nice to get a break from the "crane/dumptruck/cement mixer/front-end loader" combo, you know? Yes, we all love those guys, but we can love other things, too.

The drones in this set include a pale blue drilling rig, a white and blue snowplow, a dark yellow steamroller and an orange... front end loader. Well, that should be "front end loader" in quotation marks, because this isn't a front-end loader. It's some kind of asphalt scraper, with a shovel on the front and a conveyor belt running through the center. All that, and yet none of them get robot modes, because they're just drones.

The Constructicons don't actually transform: all they do is automorph when you plug them onto the bright blue plugs on their Commander.

The drill and "loader" are the arms, while the plow and steamroller are his legs. What's really cool is that the Constructicons are the first PCC drones to have thumbs: both arms have a swiveling piece by the fingers that can flip back and forth to whichever side you want, so they'll still look right attached to either shoulder.

The combined robot mode really isn't bad. It's not as coherent as the Dinobots, but it's better than the cobbled-together nature of the Destrons. Granted, if they were all painted green and purple it would be a lot better, but the varied colors make it look like Steamhammer just cobbled his team together out of sadness, which is funnier. The new head is very inhuman, with its three-pointed viewscreen and large antenna ears.

Steamhammer is a surprisingly good Power Core Combiner - his robot mode suffers from an overabundance of kibble, but he looks really cool, has an involved conversion, and turns into one detailed bulldozer. All the Constructicon drones are new vehicles, and though they don't turn into robots (sadly), the fact that the hands have thumbs makes them above average for this line. Interested in the Power Core Combiners? Get Steamhammer. You won't find a better figure in the line right now.

-- 01/11/11

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