"Generations" Combiner Wars Dead End Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: March 2015
Price Point: $18.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapon, Exhaust Pipe weapon

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Most Deceptions would say the Autobots are doomed. Dead End is the only one who'd say the same about the Deceptions. He's convinced the end of the universe is right around the corner, and he's going out with his blasters blazing. Combine and convert for awesome Transformers action! This Dead End figure wields his mighty sword in robot mode, and he converts fast to sports car mode whenever his fast-driving combat tactics are needed. But he can also become an arm or a leg when the battle calls for you to build a truly hardcore Superion warrior! (Other figures sold separately.) Whatever mode your Dead End figure is in, he's going to bring maximum carnage to the fight! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

The theme for the "Generations" segment of the "Transformers" toy line in 2015 is "Combiner Wars". The focus will be on updated versions of Combiners from the past (with some new elements thrown in for good measure). The idea is to take lessons learned from the Bruticus released a couple years ago and create better Combiners featuring a Voyager Class central body piece with Deluxe sized limbs. To spice things up a bit, some of the Legends Class figures released for "Combiner Wars" will be able to serve as weaponry for the combined giants.

The first wave of "Combiner Wars" Deluxes included new team members for the Aerialbots and Stunticons. The second wave "completed" the teams. In the case of the Stunticons this wave included Dead End, who had been part of the team since the days of "Generation One".

The packaging for wave two of the Deluxe "Combiner Wars" figures is significantly different then the first wave. The first wave was a typical bubble on card, with the character art printed onto the card and a separate trading card featuring art from the "Transformers: Legends" mobile app. The back of the cards contained a ton of multi-lingual information with photos of the figure and a diagram of a Combiner made up of four Aerialbots and Dragstrip.

For this wave however a lot has changed. The card now features a repeating pattern featuring "Combiner Wars" characters on it. The back of the card has a brief bio of Dead End with less legal information all over the place. Laid on top of the card is a comic book with Dead End's package art. Since the comic adds some extra weight and thickness, the bubble put on top of the card actually wraps around the edges and is taped onto the back to hold it in place. A sticker wraps around the edge of the bubble mentioning combining into Menasor. The figure is in a tray inside the bubble in robot mode. There is no more trading card included with the figure.

One of the most interesting points of this new packaging style is the back of the comic book. It features a full page bio of Dead End written from the perspective of the Decepticon Soundwave! It really helps give more color to the character's personality and sticks with many G1 elements which is very much appreciated by this old fan. Overall the packaging for wave two of the Combiner Wars Deluxe figures is much more robust than the first wave.

For the most part, the Stunticons include melee weapons along with their foot/hand/weapon accessories. My interpretation is that this calls back more to their brutal nature as warriors. Dead End's main weapon looks like a nightstick made from an exhaust pipe. The weapon is essentially a tube with a curved end. There are vertical and horizontal 5mm pegs for Dead End to hold the weapon. The curved end of the pipe kind of removes any possibility of it being a blaster but the weapon can be held as if it were one.

The other weapon included with Dead End is unique to this set. It also serves as the Menasor fist/foot pieces. There are nice little details on the weapon including a piston in the center and some vent details on the sides. The weapon has two barrels, each with three smaller barrels extending out a bit from the end. There is a 5mm peg on top of the weapon allowing you to attach it to any Transformers figure with a compatible port.

Robot Mode:
The first wave of "Combiner Wars" figures mostly consisted of Aerialbots who all looked like updated versions of original G1 characters (Alpha Bravo aside). However, with the Stunticons the designers seemed to want to go in a more radical direction. Dead End is an example of this design aesthetic. Sure he has some design influences from G1 Dead End, but not as many as you would think. Here's a quick rundown:

The head sculpt is based off G1 Dead End's animation model head. The biggest callbacks include his visor eyes and mouthplate (which was once animated to be a working mouth!).  The center of the chest has a six sided design similar to G1 Dead End's cartoon model torso, but there ar efar more layered details on this version and the six sided shape is a bit different.  The way the waist piece angles outward before angling down is very similar to the design of the G1 Dead End Action figure's waist section.
The thighs have a distinct line pattern on them that goes straight down and then angles out a bit, then down again where it meets the knee armor. There is a similar detail on the G1 Dead End toy.

That is not to say this toy isn't detailed, but he definitely looks much more "modern" in terms of detailing than the Aerialbots. The chest for instance has several wire/tube like details set at angles with a Decepticon symbol on top. The legs have several layers of armor, some overlapping for a really impressive bit of sculpting. Honestly there's a lot to absorb as you look over this mode and I'm very impressed.

Where Dead End does borrow heavily form his G1 counterpart is his color scheme. he is cast in maroon, silver and black plastic. Most of his parts are maroon in color, with two shades of silver (one darker, one lighter) alternating on parts like his waist and thighs. Black plastic is found on his vehicle mode wheels, which are visible in this form. In particular, I like the way the silver color works with the maroon. There's a premium feel to this color combination and they contrast off each other nicely. Paint details are done in purple, silver and copper. The head has all three of these colors, with purple visor eyes and a copper nose/mouthplate section. You'd normally expect his eyes to be red since he's a Decepticon, but in Dead End's case his animation model had purple eyes. Purple is also found in the center of his chest where it is used for a tiny Decepticon symbol. Silver is used on various parts including the tube/wire details on his chest . Some dark silver paint is also found on the arms.The copper color is also found on his lower legs, where they are used to paint raised armor details and the forearms. Like the sculpt, Dead End takes a bit of inspiration from his G1 counterpart, but then goes off in a more modern direction and I think it looks great.

Dead End has sixteen points of articulation including four in each arm and waist articulation. His shoulder and hip joints are ball joints, so his range of motion is pretty wide open at those points. I am cheating just a tad by counting his wrist being able to swing in and out (it's really a function of his transformation). Both his hands have 5mm holes allowing you to attach his weapons to his hands. You can also attach extra weapons to 5mm ports on his shoulders.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing in each of the fists into the forearms.
  4. Rotate the waist around.
  5. Swing the robot arms down at the shoulders, then press the arms into the sides.
  6. Swing out the front panels of the lower robot legs.
  7. Swing each leg up against the back of the robot mode and press it into place, then swing the panels back into place.
  8. Swing down the front part of the car.
  9. Swing down the windshield.
  10. You can attach the hand/foot weapon to the top of the vehicle. His exhaust pipe weapon can attach to one of the 5mm ports on the sides.

Vehicle Mode:
The original G1 Dead End transformed into a Porsche 928, but this new incarnation seems to be based more on the Ferrari 458. Most of the Ferrari influence can be seen in the front and sides of the car. The front end has a distinct shape with the sections above the front wheel wells curving up where the headlights are situated. However, the side view mirrors and the rear of the vehicle are very different (and thus avoid potential licensing issues). The real life Ferrari has side view mirrors connected to arms that extend out a bit from the sides of the cars. On this figure the side view mirrors rest righ ton the section that forms the car doors. The rear of the vehicle has sections that curve up where the rear lights are located. Also, there are two rear lights on either side as opposed to the one large rear light on the Ferrari. This vehicle mode also lacks the distinctive triple exhaust pipes of the Ferrari and instead has one large one in the center. All that said, I didn't want this figure because it transformed into a real life vehicle. All I expected was a super cool looking sports car that transformed into Dead End, and this vehicle mode delivers just that!

Since Dead End's armor comes together in this form it's mostly maroon in color. Borrowing from his G1 counterpart, a copper stripe runs down the top of the vehicle from the back to the front. The line isn't centered, it favors the left - just like G1 Dead End. His rims and headlights are painted silver. The darker silver (which looks like a lighter gunmetal) is found on the sides and front end of the vehicle. A Decepticon symbol sits at a bit of an angle on the hood. The angle is meant to follow the curvature of the hood, but I find it looks a bit odd and would've preferred it being straight instead. All the windows are painted black including the rear window (a detail that had been left blank on many releases in the past few years). I really love the deco on this vehicle mode. My only point of improvement would have been to paint in the rear lights, but that's it.

In terms of weapon attachment I prefer having the "exhaust pipe" weapon on the side of the vehicle (I really wish he had come with two). The other weapon looks cool sitting on the top of the cabin section and echoes the G1 Dead End figure which had a vehicle mode weapon that wound up positioned over the top of the car pointing forward.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Take the fist/foot piece and fold the section with the thumb down, then swing the thumb up.
  3. On the left leg, swing the silver piece down.
  4. Push the lower legs together.
  5. Rotate the waist piece to the side (either one is fine depending on which arm you are creating).
  6. Swing the robot fists into the forearms.
  7. Swing each robot arm down at the shoulder.
  8. Swing the robot head back into the front section of the car.
  9. Swing the front of the car and the head section back and down (some stock photography has it up at an angle, so feel free to choose for yourself).
  10. Attach the Menasor hand to the silver piece from step three.
  11. Swing up the connection piece in the robot torso.

Arm Mode:
In his arm mode Dead End looks thick. I was a bit surprised because when you think about him being a sports car in vehicle mode you figure his limb mode would be sleek and thin and sure in a way he is but the width of the vehicle mode really makes a strong impression here. The arm mode's deco mostly comes from parts you've already seen so there are no surprises in that department. Overall the arm mode has a powerful appearance that I like a lot.

The arm mode has five points of articulation. The shoulder joint (which connects him to Motormaster) is a ratchet joint that clicks into place every time you move it, giving Menasor good shoulder stability. "Elbow" articulation is done through the robot legs. However, the hip joints on my copy of Dead End are ever so slightly loose so the result is his forearm tends to droop down when you lift it, and that's without holding a weapon. You can compensate for this a bit by using the robot mode's knee joints to bend the forearm up. This is a relatively easy fix (some clear nail polish on the ball joints will do the trick) so I'm not going to worry too much about it. The hip joints aren't floppy, they're just not super tight.

The Menasor fist can hold a 5mm peg weapon. If you want to attach more weapons you may do so via Dead End's shoulders.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in Vehicle Mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Push down a bit on the front of the vehicle.
  3. Swing the windshield piece up and back.
  4. Swing the front of the car up and back.
  5. Swing the robot head up and back so it rests in the piece that forms the front of the car.
  6. Swing the connection piece out from the robot torso.
  7. Attach the foot piece to the back of the car.

Leg Mode:
Dead End's leg mode is basically the vehicle mode with the front of the car flipped back. It's rather wide, making the foot piece look a bit small. He has attachment points where the robot shoulders would be so you can add extra weapons to him in this form. While the G1 Stunticons had their robot torso and legs facing front when combined as Menasor, in this case the proper transformation has those parts facing back and the car parts facing forward. Some of this is out of necessity since the piece that connects Dead End to Motormaster's knee joint needs to be able to bend back without the car parts getting in the way. It looks cool either way, and those who did not grow up (and get attached to) G1 Menasor should have no issues with it.

Final Thoughts:
Dead End is an awesome figure who pays homage to G1 Dead End but also has many distinct design elements all its own. It's fun to play with and looks fantastic! Recommended!

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