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Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Yeah, I admit it: I'm a sucker for Devastator.

The ultimate Decepticon weapon has arrived on Earth, and nothing will ever be the same. Constructicon Devastator is the biggest robot ever - towering above Autobots and Decepticons alike. As his Vortex Grinder snaps open and glows with power, all before him quake in fear, knowing their destruction is inevitable!

When ToyFare magazine made the first announcements about Transformers 2 toys, we were all really disappointed to see that while there would be robots that turned into construction vehicles, and construction vehicles that turned into Devastator, the two would be separate groups. How annoying was that! Constructicons don't come in two groups, right? They turn into robots, vehicles and bodyparts, not vehicles or bodyparts! Well, see, that's what we get for making assumptions.

Devastator is the same size/pricepoint as the Ultimate Class Bumblebee, so you know two things right away: he's going to be huge, and he's going to be expensive. Both of those hold true here. Devastator averages $99.99 at retail, and there really haven't been any sales on him yet. Plus, he's been named one of the "Hot Toys" for 2009, so there probably aren't any sales forthcoming. And big? Depending on how you pose him, Devastator is about 13" tall.

In this mode, there's a nice amount of tech detailing all over the place. For instance, the shoulders are sculpted with pistons and plates that would slide over one another when the actual robot moves, and the upper legs have gaps in the surface where internal workings are visible. There's a lot of vehicle kibble spread around, but also a lot of bonus details that have nothing to do with the bits they're molded on and are instead all about making the big guy look good. This is a far cry from G1 Devastator, who was very smooth and undetailed, by comparison.

Devastator's face is very angular and wicked-looking, though it's not quite true to the final film design: like many of the toys, the CGI changed slightly after production was begun. It's nothing major - there should be more red on there, and some more prominent horns. Yes, call him "Devilstator." The exposed teeth of his Vortex Grinder are sculpted on the top of his "neck," visible when two big flaps are folded back. They're like rabbit ears or something.

Speaking of the grinder, Devastator has an electronic play feature. Pressing down on the gray tab on his chest causes his head to lifts up and his jaw to open as his eyes and throat light green and one of several sounds plays:

"Crush Autobots!"
"Devastator destroy Autobots!"
*Maniacal laughter*
*Different maniacal laughter*
"Ya-ha-ha! Autobots!"
"I am Devastator!"
"I am Decepticon!"
"Devastator destroy!"

And maybe even some others. The clips play at random, not in a set order, and some of them seem to be cobbled together from different snippets. Plus, if you hold the tab down during the initial vortex sounds, it switches to a longer version and the throat-lights begin to swirl around. That's some complex electronic engineering, right there! Early releases apparently had ludicrously sensitive activation for the electronics, but either that's been fixed now, or the early adopters were lying through their teeth. The mouth is big enough to swallow Legends-class figures, and the back of his head flips open so you can either retrieve them or duplicate the flow-through design of the film.

Other than the eight joints in Devastator's mouth, articulation is better than expected. The shoulders have both swivels and hinges, and the same is true for the elbows. The hips swivel, and the knees and ankles both hinge. His left hand has joints for the thumb and both fingers, and you can get a smidge of poseability out of the right wrist. As an assembled robot, Devastator is quite good. Now, let's break him down.

Turning Devastator into his individual components is just a question of unplugging the limbs from their sturdy, sturdy ports. He's built from six pieces, which isn't movie-accurate. Of course, it's hard to get a firm count, since there are seven Constructicons on the design model sheet, eight (or maybe nine) in the movie, plus any number of duplicates seen joining in the wrong spots during the big assembly sequence, to say nothing of the ones that are running around but don't combine. Basically the movie Devastator just jams everyone together wherever they like, then swirls them around until they come out in the right spot again.

The legs are formed by Long Haul and Rampage, which presents us with issues of scale right at the outset. Long Haul, you'll remember, is a huge mining truck, while Rampage is a bulldozer. Here, they're the same size - about as big as the average Deluxe Class toy. You know, like Bumblebee or the twins. Converting them from feet to vehicles is very simple: it's really just a question of two hinges, but when you're done, they're almost unrecognizable. All the limb elements get covered, and all the vehicle bits are exposed. Lovely!

Next we have the once and future arms, Hightower and Scrapper. Unless you count Constructin' Devastator's solid-molded limbs, neither of these guys have had a toy yet. Taking a step up on the value scale, both vehicles are nearly Voyager sized. Scrapper is a front-end loader, as you'd expect, with free-rolling wheels and a movable bucket (provided you unhook a minor bit underneath). Hightower is a truss crane with two joints in his crane arm. The name first appeared during Robots in Disguise and has since supplanted "Hook" as the go-to appellation for crane-style TFs. Hightower's design is a bit of a cheat: his altmode has no scoops, so how does the hand? It cheats. Two otherwise-useless scoops are hidden under Hightower's body.

Mixmaster, the cement mixer, is even larger here than he was in his solo release, though the proportions are visibly skewed to make room for the electronics and the gaping mouth: the mixing drum is about 50% bigger than it should be (or else the cab is 33% too small). All six wheels roll, but that's all he has - like the Voyager Class release, the back doesn't rotate or anything. Converting him from head to truck is simply a matter of folding up a bit from the bottom to cover his huge face. When you pop him on or off Devastator's shoulders, a deeply pitched version of the "transforming sound" plays. Other than that, Mixmaster makes no noise in this mode, no matter how you bump him or move him around, so feel free to go nuts.

And at last we have the biggest Constructicon, Scavenger. As before, Scavenger is a steam shovel - or, in this case, a tremendous excavator. He's visually identical to Demolishor, but Hasbro insists on calling them different names. Why? It's not like any of the other duplicates get that treatment. The toy is the size of a Leader Class figure, but changing him between forms involves little more than folding two panels and bending two hinges. In vehicle mode, the scoop arm can be positioned just like the real thing, and the bucket can be moved up and down as well.

I was perfectly willing to ignore the Ultimate Class Devastator until I actually saw the film and realized that what the toys showed us was accurate: there were robots that turned into construction vehicles, and construction vehicles that turned into Devastator, and the two were separate groups. There were two Mixmasters, two Long Hauls, two Rampages, etc. The ones that turned into Devastator were never shown to have robot modes of their own, so suddenly the big expensive set was back on the menu for me.

Devastator is an expensive figure, make no mistake. But he's well-made and fun to play with, so you have to give him some credit. Besides, run the numbers: in one set you get the equivalent of two Deluxes (2x $10) two Voyagers (2x $20) an Ultra (1x $30) and a Leader (1x $40). To buy that many toys individually would cost you $130, so even at normal retail Devvy is a decent value; he just seems pricey because you have to pay that in one chunk, rather than spread out over several purchases. So if you're interested, don't let the price be the only factor that keeps you from buying. I don't regret for a second buying this set when a Toys Я Us gift certificate offer knocked a few bucks off his price - yeah, I'd like it better if it were green and purple, but right now the only thing bugging me is the worry that a deeper sale will come along later.

-- 11/24/09

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