Transformers Universe Defensor Review
Price Point/Size: Basic ($3.99), figures carded individually
Retailers: Kay Bee Exclusive
Release Date: May 2004
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Accessories: First Aid (Right Foot), Autobot Groove (Waist, upper leg piece), Hot Spot (Right fist, Gun),
Prowl (Chest piece, head), Red Alert (Left Foot), Streetwise (Left fist, missile pod/radar dish piece)
A long time ago (okay a bit over ten years ago), the Transformers line was shrinking to almost nothing in Japan. A small group of toys were released that were exclusive to Japan - Micromaster giants. Of course, the term "giant" is very relative - but the basic idea is that these were teams of six Micromasters who combined into one larger robot with the help of body armor parts. Among these was a team of race and rescue vehicles whose combined form was called Sixturbo.
These toys were not easy to find, and over the years, their rarity caused their secondary market prices to go to insane levels (I had seen one set of Sixwing go for over $200!). Obviously there was some type of demand for these guys, and in summer of 2002, Sixliner (the first of these combiners) was reissued - and the others would soon follow. One of which was Sixturbo.
Fast forward to May 2004, and Sixturbo has seen another release - but this time in the US! As part of the Transformers Universe line, Sixturbo represents a new take on a classic team: the Protectobots! Each character has been given a G1 character name, some from the original Protectobot group itself. This review will be fairly brief, focusing on the changes made to the toys. If you want to read more detailed reviews of these guys, check out the original Sixturbo review and the Sixturbo reissue review. All comparison pictures are with the 2002 reissue, which these are based on.
Each member of this new Protectobot team is packaged individually on cards with a part (or parts) to combine the team into Defensor. The cards use the standard "Transformers Universe" backing and logo, so it seems "Universe" is now the generic line to be used for store exclusives. The back of the packaging shows each member of the team and in the center, their combined form: Defensor. What's really nice is that the team is also labelled as what they are: "Micromasters". And on a tantalizing note, these guys are labelled as "Series 1". Could more Micromaster teams be reissued down the road? Let's hope so!
Taking a cue from Autobot Jazz, Hasbro found a way to somewhat retain the name "Groove", who was one of the original Protectobots. Not only is the name preserved, but the vehicle form is rather fitting. The original Groove was a motorcycle, making the choice of Glide
as Autobot Groove perfect.
There is only one major change to the toy, and it's in a minor detail: copyright information. Whereas on the 2002 Glide reissue the information shows the copyright years 92 (its original release year) and 02 (its reissue year), Autobot Groove shows 92 and 04.
The choice of making Sireen into First Aid was a no brainer. Both Transformers are ambulences, although Sireen's robot mode certainly seems like First Aid has been upgraded! There have only been two major changes made to the toy for its release as First Aid. The copyright information has been changed. Whereas on the 2002 Sireen reissue it shows the copyright years 92 (its original release year) and 02 (its reissue year), First Aid shows 92 and 04. Interestingly there is no Hasbro stamp, just Takara's. The other big change are the upper legs in robot mode. First Aid's legs are silver instead of the black used on Sireen.
Most fans kind of scratched their head when it was revealed that the fire engine they knew as Hot Spot in the G1 Protectobot team would now be...a sports car. The name sort of fits if you think of a sports car as "hot", but still, with a fire engine on the team, the name may have been more appropriate to assign to the sculpt that ultimately got the name Red Alert.
Hot Spot probably has the most significant changes from the reissue version to this version of the toy. The biggest is centered around the point where the upper legs connect to the waist. For some reason (perhaps durability?), there is an extra bit of plastic around this area on Hot Spot. It's as if the designers were trying to make the area less apt to break, but that's just speculation on my part.
The other changes made to this sculpt come from the deco. Like many other members of this team, the "02" copyright date from Neo Wheel has been changed to "04". Also, and this could just be due to the machines used in the paint process, Hot Spot's Autobot symbol is nowhere near as thick as the one applied to Neo Wheel.
Since the Sixturbo team has six members while the original Protectobots only had five, one member and name had to be added. So who more appropriate than Prowl, who himself was an emergency vehicle? The only odd conflict this created was the effect on the name Streetwise, which in the G1 Protectobot team also belonged to a police car. At the end of the day, Road Police's deco may be what made the decision as his black and white design pattern in vehicle mode resembles G1 Prowl's.
The only difference between 2002's Road Police and this version is in the copyright information, where the year "02" has been substituted with "04". Other than that, deco and plastic colors are the same between both versions
of the toy.
The original Protectobot team had a member named Blades, a helicoptor. However, no one on the Sixturbo team really would fit with such a name, so instead, "Red Alert", a more "emergency vehicle" sounding name was tossed into the mix and assigned to the mold once known as Discharge.
The change made to this toy was simple: the legs are silver instead of the white Discharge had. That's it, a simple change that doesn't affect the look of the toy too much. If anything, it improves it slightly.
While the name Streetwise is an odd choice to attach to a race car, it's still nice to know the name is safely in the hands of Hasbro for the Transformers line. The toy has been changed very little. Only the copyright information has been changed with the "02" to "04" switch seen on most of the team. This doesn't really affect the look of the toy much at all.
- Transport with Red Alert
- Defensor (Upper Body View)
- Defensor (Alternate Angle)
- Sixturbo (l.) and Defensor (r.)
Since the changes in each individual figure are extremely minor, and for the most part, hidden away in their combined form, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 2002 Sixturbo reissue and Defensor. It's that fact that makes the combined form very cool. While part of me would have loved to have seen this team given new decos in more "Protectobot-ish" colors (red, black, light gray, light blue etc.) the fact that this is basically a former Japanese exclusive toy being reissued in the US makes it special enough that it should be kept close to its original form so those who never had the chance to get a Sixturbo now do. And who knows? If Hasbro likes the sales on these guys enough, we may yet see redecos in the future.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the instructions for each toy came with a picture of how to assemble Defensor's "armor" parts into a transport vehicle. This was one of the central selling points of the original Micromaster "Six" Teams, and it adds awareness of an additional level of playability to those who have never seen these toys before.
At $3.99 a pop, you pretty much have to either a) Not have this toy at all or b) Be a completist to purchase this toy. When released in 2002, it was fairly easy to get the entire Japanese reissue team for about $20-25, so you're not really saving any money by getting this version. Still, it was an awesome idea to bring these over to the US, and even cooler to try to attach G1 identities to the team. Given the conditions stated above, this is highly recommended.