"Generations" Combiner Wars Ironbison Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Breastforce, Combiner Wars, Deluxe, Destron, Entertainment Earth, Generation One, Generations

Generations

Ironbison General Information:
Release Date: November 2016
Price Point: $129.99 (suggested retail)
Retailer: Entertainment Earth Exclusive
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapons x 4; Swords x 2 (Dezarus); Drill (Drillhorn); Blasters x 2 (Fellbat); Blasters x 2 (Guyhawk) & Cannon (Ironbison)

Official photos provided by Hasbro during San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Official in box photo from Entertainment Earth.

Disclosure: Entertainment Earth was cool enough to provide Ben's World of Transformers with a sample of this boxed set for this review. BWTF thanks Entertainment Earth for their kind consideration. You can purchase your Liokaiser and support BWTF via this link. For a limited time after this review is being posted (November 2016) use coupon code SINGLES to take $20 off your purchase!

Official Text from Entertainment Earth:
Boxed set includes 6 Decepticons who merge to declare victory over the Autobots as the mighty Liokaiser! Tanks, jets, and space shuttle form robots and dinobird as the most awesome Generation One-era toys from Japan you never knew you missed! Platinum Edtion set features an awesome box, poster, and trading card. Behold the mighty Liokaiser! The Destrons are a foul group of criminals and convicts that also happens to be one of the most elite strike teams in the galaxy. Together, they become Liokaiser, a Combiner whose sheer power is rivaled only by his penchant for evil.

Transformers Generations Platinum Edition sets feature figures with a high level of detail, plus premium features and packaging. These sets highlight some of the most memorable scenes, powerful warriors, and epic storylines in the Transformers universe. This 7-in-1 Liokaiser collection pack celebrates the Combiner Wars. In the Combiner Wars, teams of Autobots and Decepticons combine to form giant super robots and battle with the fate of worlds in the balance.

Join the battle and build a Combiner super robot with this Combiner Wars Liokaiser Collection Pack! Get 6 Destron figures that combine to form a Liokaiser Combiner figure in this 1 Platinum Edition set. The Voyager Class Dezarus figure forms the torso of the Liokaiser Combiner figure; the Deluxe Class Guyhawk, Drillhorn, Ironbison, and Fellbat figures form the arms and legs; and the Legends Class Ion Scythe figure becomes a Combiner weapon.

The Combiner Wars universal connection system means these figures work with other Combiner Wars figures! Combine the Dezarus figure with other Deluxe Class Combiner Wars figures or combine the Guyhawk, Drillhorn, Ironbison, and Fellbat figures with other Combiner Wars Voyager Class figures to build more Combiner super-robot figures! (Additional figures are each sold separately.) The pack also includes 12 accessories, a Combiner Wars poster, and a collectible Liokaiser character card.

Imagine it is the latter part of the 1980's. "Transformers", once one of the hottest toy brands around has begun to fade. In North America, the toy line has become dominated by Pretenders and Micromasters but other than a comic book, there is very little media to support it. It is a particularly disconcerting part of Transformers history, especially for a fan like me who grew up with the original line.

Now, imagine you suddenly learn that there is a whole other universe of Transformers overseas you did not know about. Even more amazing? There are cartoons and characters and toys you did not know about! That was the experience of learning about the Japanese Transformers shows such as "Victory". For a long time, the pure elation and mystery behind the Japanese Transformers have helped create a mystique around Transformers toys that continue to this day. Even in an era where Japanese characters such as Sky Shadow are acknowledged in the "Generations" line, direct references to these Japanese Transformers are uncommon in the line.

Enter: Liokaiser! Originally confirmed at Botcon 2016 (somewhat by accident) this set was officially revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Who is Liokaiser you might ask? Liokaiser is a Combiner giant formed by the six members of the Destron (aka Decepticon) "Breastforce". The team was named this due to the ability of their chest panels to pop out and form small animal robots. This set only came out in Japan and was never reissued (though four of its members were reworked as Autobots in Europe). To this day the original Liokaiser remains a highly sought after figure by collectors.

For fans not looking to spend thousands of dollars on Liokaiser, Hasbro has created a Platinum Edition boxed set based on the Generation One Breastforce! Using "Combiner Wars" sculpts, this set brings these (former) Japanese exclusive characters into the modern age.

Packaging:
Liokaiser is packaged in a box that is similar in style to other boxed sets such as G2 Superion and Victorion. The box is a large rectangular box with dramatic box art in front featuring Liokaiser combined fighting smaller Transformers. If you are facing the box the right side has a vertical "Transformers" logo on it with the "Generations" logo above it. On the other side is a note about the poster included inside and photos of each team member in vehicle and weapon modes. Below that is the "Combiner Wars" logo with the name "Liokaiser" under it.

That isn't all however. Under Liokaiser's name is a silver reflective strip over a purple one indicating this is a Platinum Edition release. This is likely due to the extra weapons and retooling involved in the creation of this set. Another interesting note: above the photos of the team members is the term "Destrons", indicating the team name for this Combiner. The term "Destron" was used in Japan for many years to refer to the Decepticons and has been acknowledged a few times outside Japan, but it is still relatively uncommon.

The back of the packaging features a grey background with a grid on it. Overlapping that are photos of the individual team members on the side and the combined Liokaiser in the middle. Above that is the following text: The DESTRONS are a foul group of criminals and convicts that also happens to be one of the most elite strike teams in the galaxy. Together, they become LIOKAISER, a Combiner whose sheer power is rivaled only by his penchant for evil.

Ironbison is a cool sounding name, implying power but the original name for this character was Killbison in Generation One. Of course in today's market using the word "kill" in a toy name is just setting yoruself up for trouble so he has been renamed. I actually like the new name a lot and it's a bit less "on the nose" than Killbison.

G1 Killbison has a special notariety among Transformers fans for suffering from "Gold Plastic Syndrome". This "syndrome" refers to the tendency for Transformers with certain plastic colors becoming brittle over time and breaking easily. Killbison suffers from this problem, hence why you will not see photos of the G1 version in this review. In all honesty, I'm terrified of even attempting to transform him.

The base sculpt for this figure was originally released as "Combiner Wars" Brawl. It would go on to be released as:

This review will focus on the changes made to this figure so check out the reviews above if you want my original thoughts on the base sculpt.

Accessories:
Ironbison comes with the same accessories as Brawl. One is the cannon from the turret which is cast in light grey plastic. The other is the hand/foot/weapon piece that is also cast in all light grey plastic. Both still attach to the figure nice and tight and the hinges on the hand/foot/weapon piece are also tight.

Vehicle Mode:
G1 Killbison was a tank in vehicle form, so the use of Brawl's sculpt for this character makes perfect sense. There is no retooling in this mode so the tank mode is the same sculpt as Brawl's. While this tank mode is appropriate I would say Drillhorn was a bit more faithful to the G1 version of the character. G1 Killbison had a radar dish on the turret with cannons on the sides instead of just one in the front. It's wishful thinking but I do wish the turret had been reworked to allow weapons on the sides. Still, you can attach both weapons to give him additional firepower so it's not a failure in any sense.

Ironbison is cast in metallic gold and light grey plastic. I won't lie. The gold plastic does make me nervous, but what I can say is that modern day figures that have gold plastic on them don't seem to break the way the ones from the 80's and 90's did. At least for now, I had zero issue transforming this figure and none of the plastic feels like it's going to break.

The deco on this figure is partly based on G1 Killbison. The gold and light grey colors come right from Killbison. The treads and turret have been painted silver (which mind you, is a lot of paint compared to what is used on mass releases). Silver sort of acts like a "stand in" color for the light grey on G1 Killbison. Yellow is used on the hatch covers on the top of the turret section while a bit of red can be seen in the front of the tank. Running along the sides of the vehicle are silver tampographs with yellow and black lines on top of the silver. This is a call back to the stickers on the sides of G1 Killbison. A finishing touch is a tiny Decepticon symbol on the right side of the vehicle's front section. Overall the tank looks great, and under the turret there are additional silver paint details peeking out, adding to the sheer amount of deco on Ironbison.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Pull out the rear sections of the tank, swing them out and push them in. Make sure to align the panels on the lower legs with the grooves at the knees.
  3. Pull the sides of the front section out.
  4. Swing the front section down, then back on the central panel/hinge.
  5. Rotate the waist/legs around.
  6. Swing the turret down.
  7. Swing the front treads down and pull the lower parts down to form the arms.
  8. Swing the robot head up, and swing the horns on the sides out.
  9. The weapons can fit in the fists or on the sides of the forearms.

Robot Mode:
Ironbison features an all new head sculpt based on his G1 predecessor. The head sculpt is interesting as it takes elements of both the G1 action figure and animation model. The helmet section of the head is (as his name implies) based on a bison. This includes two small eyes on the top of the head, a wide snout-like detail right above the eyes and horns that swing out to the sides. The face features two eyes like the G1 action figure, as opposed to the animation model which had one big "visor eye". The mouthplate on the face has a vertical line in the center which borrows its design from the G1 action figure instead of the animation model (which featured a flat panel in the front of the mouthplate). This head sculpt is fantastic. It pays homage to the animal nature of G1 Killbison's head and I appreciate taking elements of both the animation model and G1 toy to create something new.

Like the vehicle mode the robot form features metallic gold and light grey plastic. The silver from the treads really makes its presence known in this form via the arms, but there's pletny more on his face, waist area and lower legs. Once again the silver largely serves as a "stand in" color for the light grey on G1 Killbison. Of course, too much silver and the figure would just look terrible so several bits of light grey plastic are left unpainted including the thighs and the center of the torso. Red appears again on theeyes and small details on the torso and waist. Interestingly the circles on the knees are painted black with silver on top instead of yellow and black like the stickers on G1 Killbison. It looks good, it's just a bit of a deviation from the G1 design that I had not expected.

The joints on my copy of this figure are all fairly tight. His arms are tighter than Drillhorn's so he can hold both weapons up in one hand.

For your reference I have kept the limb transformation instructions below. The limb functionality and commentary check out the Liokaiser review.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Pull the tank turret up.
  3. Pull the back of the vehicle out.
  4. Swing each lower leg section out to the sides, then down and reconnect the two lower legs together.
  5. Push the waist section up against the underside of the chest section.
  6. Swing the robot arm sections up, then use the small tabs at the top of the arms to connect to the grooves under the sections of the chest with the three weapon barrels.
  7. Rotate the lower arm around depending on which side you want this arm to be on.
  8. Swing the connector piece (built into the chest) out.
  9. Attach the cannon barrel to the turret.
  10. Attach the fist to the 5mm port underneath the feet.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Swing the limb connector piece up.
  3. Swing the tank turret forward.
  4. Swing the robot feet back.
  5. Attach the foot piece to the 5mm port at the back of the tank.

Final Thoughts:
Ironbison looks great in both modes. I really love the new head sculpt (and the horns that can swing out). It also feels good to finally own a version of this character that I can transform without fear of it crumbling or snapping apart. Kudos to the designers for the deco which pays homage to G1 Killbison while doing its own thing at the same time.