Power Core Combiners Stakeout with Protectobots Toy Reviews

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

Power Core Combiners

General Information:
Release Date: October 2010
Price Point: $19.99
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Mobile Artillery Drone, APC Drone, Helicopter Drone and Fighter Jet Drone
Image Gallery: Gallery of images featuring Stakeout and his Drones

Text below from Transformers.com
Thought lost long ago, Power Core Combination has recently been rediscovered on Earth. It creates a new breed of powerful AUTOBOT warriors to destroy the DECEPTICONS!

Before he became a team commander, STAKEOUT was considered a loose cannon by many AUTOBOTS. He often ventured out on his own, against orders, determined to win the war on his terms or not at all. Undergoing the Power Core process has mellowed him. He has learned that with power comes responsibility, and is determined to use his new power for the greatest good.

Power up for the ultimate robot battles! Your STAKEOUT Commander vehicle is already a virtually unstoppable opponent in his vehicle and robot modes. But his strength gets increased five-fold when you convert him to Power-Up mode and convert his PROTECTOBOTS drone figures into his limbs! And the action doesn't stop there. With this Power Core interchangeable robot combination system, MINI-CONS (sold separately) and drone vehicles can attach to power up any Commander figure. Collect more packs and you can create tons of unique and fierce robot battler figure combinations!

Five-pack includes STAKEOUT, Mobile Artillery Drone, APC Drone, Helicopter Drone and Fighter Jet Drone figures. Ages 5 and up.

The third wave of Power Core Combiners was entirely made up of redecos, but they were not straight forward. Instead, Commander figures were teamed up with different Drones and/or Mini-Cons than their initial releases. In the case of Stakeout with the Protectobots, the Smolder Commander figure has been teamed up with two vehicles from the Aerialbot set and two from the Combaticon set. I'll reference these sets again as this review goes along, but it's worth checking out all three of them as this review will focus on the changes made to these figures for this release.

Stakeout Review

Stakeout strikes me as what this sculpt was meant to be, an Autobot. Sure there are some exceptions with Decepticons taking on an emergency vehicle form. I noted in my Smolder review that the figure seemed to take a lot of influences from the Generation One Autobot Inferno. Of course, making him actual Inferno colors would have been redundant as that was the color scheme Smolder had (primarily red and black), however the alternative color scheme chosen was a perfect call and influenced by the Generation One Protectobot Hot Spot. Indeed, the designers could have easily named this figure Hot Spot (or "Hot Zone" as he was more recently known) and I don't think anyone would have minded, but it seems part of the goal with the Power Core Combiners line is to introduce new characters into the Transformers universe, which is fine by me!

Robot Mode:
In general, the color swaps from Smolder to Stakeout are pretty straightforward. The red plastic on Smolder has been replaced with white, the black parts are now light blue and the translucent yellow parts are now translucent blue. A couple of black parts were kept intact on Stakeout including the joints that connect his arms to his torso, his feet and the leg joints that connect to the hips. Interestingly enough, the light blue Drone connection points are actually a slightly different shade of blue than the light blue used on the rest of the figure.

The paint decos on Stakeout do not follow the exact same pattern as Smolder, which is always welcome to see. There is so much detail on Transformers figures nowadays that constraining them to only one layout of paint decos would be unfortunate. Stakeout's paint colors include yellow, red, silver, light blue and black. Silver is used the most. You'll find it right on his face, where it paints everything but the mouth, making it different than Smolder who had his whole face painted. Silver is also found on the top of his chest, the knee armor and on the back of his arms. The next most prominent designs are a series of red and yellow hazard stripes. You'll find these on his shoulders as well as the sides of his legs. The yellow used on the stripes is slightly darker than the yellow paint used on the rest of the figure. You'll find yellow paint on the circular details right under his chest as well as the knee armor. The light blue paint is used on the triangular details on the sides of his chest as well as the waist section, a part that was unpainted on Smolder. Now, while Smolder boldly advertised his affiliation with Decepticon symbols on each shoulder, Stakeout decided to be a bit more reserved and instead there is a red Autobot symbol painted onto his chest, right over the silver paint. Finally, the black paint is found on raised details located on the back of each upper arm. Overall, this is a really good looking color scheme that gives off the "rescue vehicle" vibe and pays homage to the Protectobots in general. He immediately strikes you as a different character altogether and that is party of the essence of a good redeco.

The various joints on my Stakeout are just as tight as the ones on my Smolder. This includes the Powerlink peg on his chest. While I understand the cost concerns, I really really wish Chopster had been given a new deco and tossed into the set. I love the idea of a fire engine that has a partner that turns into an axe. Here's hoping for an Autobot affiliated Chopster redeco somewhere down the line!

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Fold the forearms up over the upper arms.
  2. Swing the panels on the sides of the arms over.
  3. Push the feet up into the lower legs.
  4. Connect the two halves of the lower legs together.
  5. Swing the combiner pegs on the legs in.
  6. Swing the lower legs back and swing down the front panels of the vehicle mode.
  7. Swing the two arm pieces down and connect them together.

Vehicle Mode:
Stakeout's vehicle mode keeps consistent with the theme established in the robot mode. Showing mostly white and black plastic in this form, he offers a nice blank palette for the colors painted onto the figure to work off of. Running down the sides are more red and yellow hazard stripes and the translucent sirens are now clearly visible on the top of the cabin section. The windows are painted a dark blue color, matching the gone of the translucent blue plastic. This mode also allows the silver and black details from the back of his arms to be featured more since they're right on top of the vehicle. The silver details that form the front of the vehicle also get to shine along with the silver panels on the sides. One extra detail I appreciated was an Autobot symbol on the right side of the hood. Sure it kills the "in disguise" aspect a bit but I love how it looks set against the white plastic.

The Mini-Con peg in this form works just fine (several different Mini-Cons attached just fine in my testing).

Transformation to Combiner Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Swing the chest panel with the Mini-Con peg on it forward.
  2. Push the robot head down, which will flip up the Combiner head.
  3. Swing the Combiner pegs on the upper arms up.
  4. Fold the forearms up over the upper arms.
  5. Swing the panels on the sides of the arms in.
  6. Rotate the arms so the back of the upper arms face forward.
  7. Push each robot foot back.
  8. Fold the lower legs into the upper legs.
  9. Swing the Combiner pegs on the legs down.
  10. Rotate the robot legs so the sides of the vehicle with the hazard stripes face forward.
  11. Connect Drones to any of the four blue connection points.
  12. A Mini-Con can be connected to the chest peg.

Combiner Mode:
The primary piece featured in this form that did not appear in the others is the Combiner head. This time the head is cast in light blue plastic. The eyes are light piped translucent blue, but the blue is so dark they look almost opaque, which is unfortunate. His antennae are painted black and his "rebreather" detail is painted silver. Once again I truly appreciate the designers using a different color pattern on a redeco. Using the silver brings out one of the my favorite sculpted details on the figure and the colors work very well together.

All of Staekout's Drone connection points work like a charm in this form and there are no loose joint issues. I really do like how powerful and brutish this robot form looks and while some may hate me for saying it, this is a sculpt I'd love to see released at least one more time before the Power Core Combiners are shelves for something else.

The combined form of all these Drones works very well. I like how the helicopter and Stakeout himself really emphasize the "rescue" aspect of the Protectobot team while the other vehicles can be seen as vehicles that protect others. It's also cool to see a Transformer whose role is to protect well armed! The "mix and match" selection for this combiner works very well in my opinion.

APC Drone

The Armored Personnel Carrier Drone originates from the Combaticon set, this time the Drone is an Autobot. I really love the idea of a military Drone serving on the Protectobot team. I can imagine the vehicle carrying troops into battle, or shuttling wounded away to safety all while blasting away with its guns.

This time the Drone has been cast in silver and black plastic, with silver making up most of the armor. Parts like the wheels and the turret on top are cast in black. You'll also find some black plastic on the joints that extend out when the vehicle is in "leg mode". Paint applications are done in a variety of colors including silver, yellow, red, black and dark blue. The silver is used on the smokestacks and raised details along the sides of the vehicle. The windows are painted dark blue while a red Autobot symbol is painted right onto the head. Keeping in theme with Stakeout himself, there are yellow hazard stripes running along the side of the Drone. The black paint is used on the sides of the treads, keeping them consistent in color with his wheels. It's a great little color scheme and I really like how the silver plastic and paint on this Drone jives with the silver on Stakeout himself. The use of the hazard stripes is also very cool. I like the way they are distressed a bit, giving the Drone a worn look.

Functionally, the Drone is in tip top shape. The turret still turns, you can attach Mini-Cons without issue and he transforms into a leg without any problems.

Fighter Jet Drone

The Fighter Jet Drone has a sibling unit in the Aerialbot Power Core Combiner team, but this time around its colors are much brighter! Cast in blue and black plastic, this Drone primarily uses yellow paint applications (with a bit of silver and black as well). This color scheme has a real life source, the Blue Angels, a demonstration squadron belonging to the Navy branch of the U.S. military. Blue and yellow are the main signature colors and this jet has yellow all over it including the sides of the nosecone, the wings and the top of each vertical stabilizer. Black paint is used on the cockpit and silver is found on the sides of the vertical stabilizers in the form of Autobot symbols.

When you transform this vehicle into its limb mode, you get to see some more colors revealed. It turns out the entire panel that forms the middle of the vehicle is actually silver, with blue painted on top. Also, there are some smaller sections such as the Powerlink Mini-Con peg that are cast in a slightly lighter shade of blue.

Functionally, the Fighter Jet Drone transforms fine, but the whole mechanism of having the vertical jet stabilizers hold the wings down rarely works if I start messing with the figure. It works if you're only displaying it, however. Fortunately, the combined figure stands fine regardless of whether or not the wings stay down or not. That said, this aspect of the Fighter Jet Drone does hold together better in this incarnation than the one from my Aerialbot team.

Helicopter Drone

Like the Fighter Jet Drone, the Helicopter Drone as a sibling in the Aerialbot Power Core Combiner unit. This time the helicopter borrows from a real life color scheme for rescue copters, using red as the primary plastic color. There are also grey plastic parts including the rotors and the claws (which stick out from the underside a bit in this mode). Paint applications are done in silver, white, yellow and black. The silver is found on the thrusters on either side of the vehicle as well as the rear rotors. White used for a large Autobot symbol on the top and hazard stripes running along the sides. Yellow us found on the front of the aforementioend thrusters and black is used for the windows. I also like this color scheme because it reminds me of the G1 Protectobot Blades, though I grant that Autobot had a good balance of red and white whereas this Drone is mostly red.

In its arm mode, a lot more grey plastic is revealed in the form of the inner arm, two claws and joints connecting the shoulder sections to the rest of the arm. It looks really great. I love the sculpted detail underneath and it contrasts very well with the red color.

The Helicopter Drone transforms smoothly without issue and holds tightly to the Drone connection points on various Commander figures including Stakeout and Huffer.

Mobile Artillery Drone

Bringing the number of military based drones in this team to an even two is the Mobile Artillery Drone, a redeco of a Drone from the Combaticon team. This is one of my favorite Drone sculpts thanks to its bulky look, firepower and its dangerous looking arm form. Of all the Drones in this set, this one is the one that looks perhaps the most "military" in color. Cast in green and grey plastic, it's also quite dark in contrast to the other Protectobots. In terms of paint applications however it does share some similarities to other Drones on the team. Yellow, black and gunmetal are all painted onto the Drone. The gunmetal runs along the sides, where black Autobot symbols are found on either side towards the front. The treads are painted black while bits of the turret base and the vent section behind it are painted yellow. While I like these colors for a standalone Drone, I sort of wish the colors were more in line with the rest of the team. Perhaps emphasizing gunmetal or silver colors more instead of the green. It's not bad by any means, it just looks a tiny bit out of place in the team.

The Drone transforms just fine and looks good and solid as an arm. Some more grey plastic can be seen in this form in between the two halves of the vehicle. The turret turns just fine (no looseness at all) and the Mini-Con peg works as well.

Final Thoughts:
This set is a prime example of how the "mixing and matching" of different Drones can work in a boxed set. I also consider the Smolder/Stakeout sculpt to be a very well made one so that helps a lot as well. It's not always the case that a redeco without any retooling truly feels like you have a "new toy" but in this case it totally works. If you are into redecos and like the Power Core Combiners, I would heartily recommend this set!