Power Core Combiners Searchlight with Backwind Toy Review

in 2010, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Power Core Combiners

Power Core Combiners

General Information:
Release Date: June 2010
Price Point: $9.99
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Backwind Mini-Con figure, Helicopter rotor blades x 2
Images: Image gallery of Searchlight and Backwind

*Images and text below from Transformers.com

The first wave of Power Core combiner two packs featured two Autobots. One was Huffer and the other is Searchlight. The name may be familiar to some fans. Searchlight was a member of the Generation One team of Autobots known as the Throttlebots, small cars which featured a pull back and go motor. It is unlikely that this Searchlight is the Throttlebot reborn, partly because Hasbro noted at Botcon 2010 that Huffer is the only "heritage" character in the Power Core Combiners line. Like all the Power Core two packs, Searchlight comes with a Mini-Con that has multiple transformations.

Backwind Review

Robot Mode:
Backwind is a nautical term so I'm not exactly sure how it applies to a Mini-Con partnered up with a Transformer that becomes a helicopter, but one can imagine that part of Backwind's job is to help Searchlight navigate around the world on missions. In robot mode, this Mini-Con's body structure is an interesting one. Instead of a form with human-like proportions, Backwind seems to take more after primates like gorillas. His head is very close to his torso and his arms extend almost down to his ankles while his legs are relatively short and stubby. This gives him a rather fierce and unconventional appearance since most Mini-Cons tend to favor more traditional human-like proportions. I dig the idea of giving a tiny Transformer an imposing silouette. There's a cool, underlying irony there that I really enjoy.

Backwind's overall design is rather blocky, and is very "G1" in that sense. His arms are basically rectangles, as are his legs but he does have some rounded sections such as his right forearm (which is really a gatling gun style cannon - awesome) and his knees which round off at the top. His right hand is also rounded, but that's mainly because it's designed to be a hook (though here it looks like he's curling his fingers). Speaking of blocky, I love his head design which has a very pronounced, rectangular chin that emphasizes the "tough" look of the character.

This figure is mostly cast in translucent green plastic with some black parts. The black parts mainly form joints such as his shoulders and thighs. The translucent green looks really nice, especially when you shine it up against a light. He looks like he is literally flowing with power (which is part of the point of using so much translucent plastic). Silver and yellow paint are used for detailing with silver on his face and yellow on his knees.

There are eight points of articulation on this figure. That may not sound like a ton, but if you consider six of them are ball joints, you see that the range of motion on this figure is quite high.

Note: All transformation instructions below begin with Backwind in robot mode.

Transformation to Power-Up Armor:

  1. Swing the forearms up over the upper arms.
  2. Swing the arms out to the sides.
  3. Rotate the lower legs so they point out to the sides.
  4. Rotate the hip joint so the legs can swing up.
  5. Swing the lower legs up into the thighs and tuck them right under the robot arms.
  6. Use the Mini-Con port on Backwind's chest to connect him to a compatible peg.

Power-Up Armor Mode:
You've really got to have some sympathy for Backwind. In this mode he essentially acts as a piece of body armor to protect Searchlight. That said, he makes a good looking bit of armor. Instead of being some random vehicle just slapped onto a robot, there is a V shaped design that faces front (really the back of the robot mode) that looks like it is meant to be a shield of some sort. Having the arms and legs deployed as they are really gives maximum coverage to any Transformer Backwind is protecting. A very successful "armor" mode overall.

Transformation to Robot Weapon Mode:

  1. Move the right arm so it is pointing up.
  2. Swing the right leg out to the side on the hip joint.
  3. Rotate the right leg so it faces down.
  4. Rotate the lower right leg so the foot now points up.
  5. Tuck the right lower leg into the upper leg against the torso.
  6. Turn the left lower leg so it faces out to the left.
  7. Swing the left lower leg up against the right lower leg.
  8. Using the Mini-Con peg on the left leg, you can connect Searchlight to any compatible Transformer.

Robot Weapon Mode:
The Robot Weapon Mode is perhaps the least convincing of the four modes Backwind has. Don't get me wrong, he's definitely a cannon/gun of some sort and you'd be hard pressed to mistake him for anything else. However, the bulkiness of the base is a bit awkward in appearance. However, the huge cannon barrel pointing forward looks fantastic and I loves me some gatling gun action. I think what I like to imagine is that the base is so wide because it contains a ton of artillery for Backwind to blast his enemies with!

Transformation to Vehicle Weapon Mode:

  1. Swing each arm back, then bend it at the elbow to point the forearms down.
  2. Swing each leg up into the thigh.
  3. Attach to the underside of Searchlight via the Mini-Con port on the robot chest.

Vehicle Weapon Mode:
This is certainly one of the most unique Transformers alternate modes that has come out in a while. I really like this mode a lot because it really emphasizes the multi-function "Swiss army knife" design concept behind Mini-Cons. In one mode Backwind serves three functions. First, he is a pair of floodlights. It's in this mode that you can best see his light designs (which are part of the robot knees) and they are classic looking. Round, with rows of raised lines. Then he serves as a weapon, with his cannon arm able to give cover fire to Searchlight. Then his other arm serves as a rescue crane arm (and this is where the curved hand design becomes most meaningful). If you want to stretch the functional boundaries a bit, Backwind can technically serve as armor to protect the underside towards the front of Searchlight as well. I really dig this mode and love how it serves multiple functions with a relatively simple transformation.

Searchlight Review

Robot Mode:
A far cry from Throttlebot Searchlight's non-articulated, weaponless form - this Searchlight looks like one Auobot you do not want to tangle with! His general outline is rather different from most helicopter based Transformers. Instead of winding up with his rotors on his back as many do, his are prominently displayed, each connected to his forearms. His forearms are big and powerful looking and actually reach down almost to his knee joint, giving him an almost brutish appearance. This is tempered however by his torso and legs, which are relatively thin and sleek.

Unfortunately, there is a significant amount of kibble in this mode, and if I have one big complaint about this figure that is it. In other Poewr Core Combiner figures released so far, the kibble has been kept to a relative minimum, especially when it comes to the connection points for Power Core Combiner Drones. In Searchlight's robot mode however they are on prominent display and they really do subtract from the appearance of the figgure. two of the connection points wind up on his legs while the other two are high over his shoulders. I suppose you could attach Drones to him in this mode over his shoulders, but it looks rather awkward. It really would have been better if some way had been found to tuck these out of the way. Compounding the kibble problem are the halves of the helicopters front end on his back near his legs. With those parts there, they sometimes can get in the way of moving his arms and legs so that's a bit annoying.

All that said, Searchlight does have some nice details sculpted into the figure. His head sculpt is a rather unusual one. He has a rounded section over the top of his head with a horizontal vent-like piece on top. His face appears to be broken up into two parts, a top half and a lower half. The top half looks like where his eyes, nose and part of the mouth are. The bottom looks like a chin strap blocking part of his mouth. I think the inspiration for this may have been a helicopter pilot's helmet, but that's pure speculation on my part. The chest plate has several layers of detail, which I always appreciate since adding tiny bits and pieces here and there add to the overall tapestry of the robot's appearance. Here there are raised tabs on the top of the chest, angled designs on either side of th emid-body and rows of horizontal lines on the center of the waist. On his inner thighs, you'll find tube details sculpted into the legs. It's not a ton of detailing, but just the right amount to make the robot look interesting.

Searchlight is cast in five plastic colors: light grey, dark grey, blue, light blue and black. The light grey makes up most of the body including his upper arms, forearms, his waist and most of his legs. The dark grey is used for the rotors. The dark blue plastic is distributed throughout the body, mostly as a contrast piece to the light grey. This includes his elbow joints, head, chest piece and feet. The light blue, as you would expect, is used for the Drone connection points which are (unfortunately) easily visible in this form. Black is the least used color. In this mode you'll find it on his chest where it forms the peg used to connect a Mini-Con in "Power-up armor" mode.

Paint applications are sort of sparse in this form, but they do exist. Yellow, gunmetal grey, silver, green and light blue paint are used for small details that enhance the look of the figure overall. Yellow is the most heavily used. You'll find it on his chest, waist and the sides of his arms. The gunmetal color is found on the top of his head, while the top half of the face is silver. His light blue details are pretty small, found on the angled designs on either side of his mid-body section. The tiniest paint details are his eyes, which are painted green.

Searchlight has seventeen points of articulation in this form, which is rather nice. Most of them are either swivel or ball joints. This is really fun with his arm mounted rotors since it opens up possibilities for all sorts of battle play, but the way the figure is constructed, when you move his arms, the entire section they are attached to tends to move as well. I found myself constantly straightening those parts out to pose the figure. Each of his fists can accomodate a Mini-Con figure with the appropriate peg and as mentioned earlier you can use the peg on his chest to attach Mini-Cons as well. The rotors attached to his arms can be detached, and they spin independent of the arm, giving him some awesome close combat weapons.

This robot mode has me torn. Part of me is really irritated by the kibble on his back (the front of the helicopter and the Drone connection points in particular). However, the rest of the figure is pretty darn cool including the big ol' rotors on his arms and the rather nice and sleek designs on parts like his legs and chest. Such a conflict leads me to consider this robot mode that is servicable at worst, but only barely "good" at best.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the rotors.
  2. Swing the robot feet down.
  3. Swing the lower robot legs back.
  4. Rotate the panels that the arms are attached to around.
  5. Swing the left arm into the groove in the middle and swing it back, connecting the rear halves of the vehicle to that arm.
  6. Swing the right arm into the groove in the middle and close the halves of the helicopter over it.
  7. Attach the rotors to the two holes on the top. They will fit in either hole, but the one with three rotors is meant to go in the back.

Vehicle Mode:
As unimpressed as I was with some aspects of Searchlight's robot mode, I have to say I really dig his vehicle mode. Based on military rescue helicopters that have a rotor in the front and another in the back, Searchlight manages to be a bulky helicopter while still having some sleek stylings to ogle at. The main body of the vehicle is definitely big and bulky, looking like a giant tube (which it essentially is). You can imagine him swooping in to save lots of people and shuttling them away from danger. However, there are small design flourishes that take this beyond being just a tube with rotors (as some real life helicopters appear to be). Towards the front are two stabilizers set and downward angles. The rear of the vehicle has angled sections that stick out the sides, complete with vertical stabilizers attached to the ends. On top of these sections are vent like designs. The sides have large pods on them partly due to the Drone connection points being situated there. The other two stick out in the back. While these parts got in the way in robot mode, here they are integrated rather well and this fan's imagination likes to think of them as additional boosters of some sort giving Searchlight extra flying speed! Another sleek design element comes from the rotors, which are angled downward and each have hook ends that give them an extra sleek (and dangerous) looking appearance.

Searchlight still has the lighter grey color as the dominant one in this form. The dark grey plastic is on the rotors and a combination of the light and dark blue plastic is found on the Drone connection points on the sides and back. Paint applications are mostly done in black, with some red and blue details aswell. The windows in the front are all painted black, with windows all around in the front and sides. Black is also used for the numbers "2015", painted on the vertical stabilizers towards the back of the vehicle. A thin blue line starts towards the middle of the vehicle and wraps around to the front. Bright red paint is used for an Autobot symbol on either side of the vehicle's rear panels. I really like the color scheme in this mode though part of me wonders about the significance of the "2015" number on the sides!

In this form, Searchlight has a Mini-Con peg located under the front end of the helicopter. This allows you to attach Backwind in any mode, but the one that makes the most sense is his Vehicle Weapon Mode, giving him enhanced rescue capabilities. Other ones work as well, including Mini-Cons from series like Armada or Cybertron. Each of the rotors can be spun independent of the other as well. Overall I really like this vehicle mode and the way it interacts with Mini-Cons.

Transformation to Power-Up Mode:

  1. Swing the robot head/chest section down.
  2. Rotate the head section around to reveal the Combiner head.
  3. Swing out the grey, angled panels out.
  4. Swing the chest piece back up.
  5. Swing the robot arms back.
  6. Swing the Drone connection arms by the robot arms down so they point out to the sides.
  7. Point the robot feet down.
  8. Swing the robot legs out to the sides at angles.
  9. Rotate the lower legs so the "2015" faces forward.
  10. Swing the legs up so the feet push up against the thighs.
  11. Attach the rotors back into the forearms.
  12. Attach Drones to each connection point.

Power-Up Combiner Mode:
While the robot mode may have suffered from kibble issues, this mode definitely makes every part work well. The newly revealed parts are the "wings" on either side of the chest and the Combiner robot head. The head itself is a fairly generic head dsign with a rounded "helmet" section that comes to points on the top and near the chin. The robot face is the most interesting element, full of lines and greebles that give Searchlight's combined form a very "aged" look a la Rodimus Prime or Kup from Generation One. The wings on the chest look really nice and add a lot to the design, making him look more like belongs in the skies! In particular, I like the "bolt" designs on the edges of the wings that jive with those seen on his legs in this form.

The head is cast in blue plastic, with parts of the face painted light blue. The two points on either side of the chin are painted silver. The wings are cast in light grey plastic with yellow stripes painted at angles. The stripes are a nice detail, looking almost like a military pattern. Overall, these are nice paint apps for the newly revealed parts.

The only weird part of the design is the placement of the rotors, which wind up in a position where they can't move. If they did, Searchlight would probably wind up slicing his own arms off. In this form, the rotors are more design details than functional parts of the robot, and I can't help but think there's a lost opportunity there somewhere. Now, one potential alternate transformation would be to swing the robot arms back above the Drone arm connection points so the rotors wind up on top of the arms instead, but then you get issues with the Drone arms and the rotors getting in the way of each other.

Final Thoughts:
There are some very strong points to this figure, and I almost feel bad not being able to happily recommend it, but all things considered when you are more impressed by a Mini-Con than the Commander figure included with it, I think that kind of tells the tale right there. At best, I would say I mildly recommend this figure, but it's definitely not the first Power Core Combiner figure set I would encourage anyone to buy.