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by yo go re

There were three big properties in the '80s: He-Man, GI Joe, and the Transformers. While Eternia faded away and the Joes got decommissioned, those robots in disguise kept rolling along. Maybe it was because you were really getting two toys in one. Maybe it was because robots were the future. Or maybe it was just because they had those cool combiners.

Everybody loved the combiners. While one big robot is cool, five big robots that make one gigantic robot are even cooler. The intricate geometry that went into the toys' engineering was a sight to behold. The first combiner, the granddaddy of them all, was Devastator.

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Devastator was the Decepticons' big muscle. Comprising the six Constructicons, Devastator was a green and purple beast, big enough to kick even Optimus Prime over the horizon. Not that he did, but he could have. Well, he could have if Megatron weren't subconsciously self-defeating.

Awesome and terrifying, this Decepticon is a bizarre combination of six Constructicons: Scrapper, Scavenger, Bonecrusher, Hook, Long Haul, and Mixmaster. He is pure brutality as his sole purpose is to crush all in his path. His mind is a melding together of his six parts, but he is limited by their competing thoughts. He possesses enormous height and incredible strength - can knock down a bridge with one punch. He carries a 10,000 degrees Celsius solar energy beam rifle. Devastator is slow, awkward, and not too bright.

The Constructicons were the first toys that I think I actually collected. While I had plenty of toys by that point and wanted many others (I was a kid, after all), these were the first specific group of figures that I set out to acquire. I knew that I had to get them all if I wanted to build the combiner.

Nothing is safe from him... he will use anything from unliving rock to living robot in making new materials. Uses acids and bonding agents to reduce and recombine almost anything inside mixing drum... a chemistry lab on wheels. As left leg module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator."

Mixmaster is the cement mixer, and the first Constructicon I got. He's got a pretty easy transformation: pull his rear wheels out to the side, rotate the cab down and you're finished. He's a very blocky robot, but that didn't matter in 1985. Ditto the fact that he has almost no articulation: Mixmaster moves at the shoulders and... the shoulders. That's it. They swivel. Envy those designers working back then who could get away with Transformers like this - fans today would riot if we were given the same thing. There's a lot of molded detail on his chest, and his head ends up in a box - a rather endearing look for him, really. There's a hole on his forehead, where a launching missle can be plugged in: either a one- or two-pronged variety.

By pulling the cab upward, Mixmaster becomes Devastator's left foot. All the Constructicons came with various pieces of Devastator's gear, in addition to their own weapons. So besides his small black gun, Mixxy comes with a giant purple gun, to later be held by the combined robot. Both guns can plug into the roof of the cement mixer, if you want.

A wizard at designing fortresses and energy plants, but modest. Shows his true malevolent genius by incorporating defeated Autobots into his buildings' structures. Shovel can slice through 12in. thick carbon-steel, lift 30 tons. As right leg and part of torso, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator."

Scrapper, the front-end loader, has an even simpler conversion: flip down the legs and pull up his head. Again, his only articulation is at the shoulders. Other than the giant wheels and the shovel hanging off his back, the 'bot looks pretty good. He actually gets two separate lower legs, rather than a giant block like Mixmaster had. There's a raised block running dowwn the center of his chest, but all of his details are accomplished via stickers rather than sculpting. It's frankly a bit surprising that he stands as well as he does, considering that the scoop sticking off his shoulders is 200% longer than the robot's thickness otherwise - by all rights, he should be falling over backwards constantly.

He turns into Devastator's right leg by raising his arms and shovel; that's all. He's armed with a small black gun, and though the canopy of the vehicle mode can be removed, it's not meant to be. His included Devastator kibble is the big purple chestplate, which can serve as wings on the vehicle here.

Rubble-strewn wasteland is his idea of beautiful landscape. His wild ways create fear and terror. As vehicle, at 30mph. Exerts 800,000psi... has short-range concussion bomb launcher. As robot, carries laser pistol. As left arm module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator."

Bonecrusher had a fairly complex transformation (for a Constructicon): flip the canopy back, twist the arms out to the side, move the shovel up to be his chest, fold out his head, and swing the treads down to be the legs and feet. That's wild for the time! Because of the way the shovel sits against the body, he has to hold his arms out to the sides all the time - it makes him look like a gunslinger waiting for the clock to strike 12 so he can draw! The fact that his legs are just made directly fromthe bulldozer's treads gives him large, rounded feet, almost as if he was wearing thick rubber boots for slogging around in wet industrial waste. He doesn't really have a face: just a large silver panel in the center of his head.

He becomes Devastator's left arm simply by plugging the giant purple forearm to his underside, so clearly, that's the piece of Devastator kibble that's included with him. It plugs onto the short smokestacks on the top of the dozer, and so he's not driving around with a giant fist for no reason, the hand can be ejected and replaced with a drill. Bonecrusher's actual gun is a small green number.

With the precision of a fine jeweler, Hook performs his job with skill unequalled among the Transformers, whether reconnecting a damaged microchip or setting a two ton girder into place. He's a snobbish, supercilious, unpopular perfectionist who is able to lift 20 tons. As shoulders and head module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator."

Hook, obviously, is the crane. If Scrapper is the leader of the Constructicons, then Hook is their second-in-command; they've got diametrically opposite personalities, though. His transformation is the same as Mixmaster's, though you have to pull his head up. Also, you have to spread the crane in half before you can flip the legs over, because the metal frame blocks them otherwise. His left foot is bigger than the right, and he gets lots of stickers on his body to create details. All the Constructicons look like they have square heads, but if you look past the fact that their heads are actually squares, you can tell that that's just kibble: the designs of their head-ular regions are more rounded. Hook has a mouth, nose and a visor.

To transform Hook into Devastator's shoulders, pull the front and back halves of the vehicle apart and rotate them to the right. That's all. His Devastator kibble is the head and the giant green laser that plugs in the side of it. His personal-use gun is small and black and has a scope on top.

Desperately tries to prove his worth to comrades by trying to find things of value - whether by digging up a hillside or a backyard. Only tolerated because of ability to use shovel's magnetic, ionic, electrical, gas sensors to detect presence of fuels, metals, etc. As right arm module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator."

Scavenger was originally going to be called "Scrounge," a name that accidentally made its way into the Constructicons' cartoon debut. To convert him, you swing down the treads to become legs, twist the feet outward, fold up his head, and his arms pull out to the sides. The bucket arm of the excavator just folds up behind his back, though it isn't as heavy as Scrapper's. His face has a visor, rather than individual eyes, and inexplicable silver details on his forehead and chin. The comic and cartoon both interpreted that as a large, blocky pad over the mouth, but on the toy it looks like a scuba mask's rebreather.

Like Bonecrusher, Scavenger's transformation to Devastator's right arm is ridiculously... non-existent. You just drop a metal peg that plugs into the shoulder. Also like Bonecrusher, Scavenger comes with a hand, arm, and drill that can attach to the vehicle mode. His little black pistol can plug into the cab roof, as well.

Unhappy with unglamorous role, but understands its importance... helps build Decepticons' massive energy-recovery installations. As vehicle, can carry 90 tons for 1200 miles, use a dual heat-seeking missile mount. As torso module, combines with fellow Constructicons to form giant robot "Devastator". Can be goaded into a fight in which he's overmatched.

Long Haul was the last Constructicon I got, after a long wait - I was personally handed him by Santa Claus himself! I can't recount how happy I was to unwrap that present (and not just because it was cool to meet Santa). The dump truck's cab folds down to become his chest, the rear turns into his legs, and his arms pull out of the wheel-wells. This is a very "traditional" Transformer design, in that it's a robot with giant truck parts hanging off it. His head is very flat, and other than a silver eye slit, he really doesn't have any facial features.

He becomes Devastator's torso, and comes with several of the pieces needed to combine the 'bots, so without him I couldn't even pretend that the big guy was battle-damaged. The purple and green pieces plug together, and can mount on the back of the truck for "attack mode." In robot mode, he can hold his small green gun in either hand.

Transformers combiners have really gone downhill since Devastator. The other G1 gestalts were built from five robots, and now the Robots in Disguise and Armada lines have shrunk that to three or four. Energon is going to drop it down to two. Devastator was the first, and he's still the best.

The vac-metalized sections of the Constructicons are wearing away, revealing the purple plastic beneath. I'd love to see Devastator re-released the way other G1 'bots have been. Put all six Constructicons in one package and print their file cards on the back. And as a bonus, include the Devastator action master figure from 1990. While MOC Constructicons can be found on eBay for less than $20 each, that's still more than $100 for the set.

Interestingly, the Constructicons were not originally intended to combine. As one of our readers reports, their earliest Diaclone counterparts didn't have all the proper pieces needed to plug together, though subsequent editions swiftly fixed that.

-- 02/12/03

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