"Generations" Combiner Wars Firefly Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: December 2014
Price Point: $15.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapon, Blaster

*Images above with asterisks and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Combine and convert for awesome Transformers action! This Firefly figure wields his mighty blaster in robot mode, and he converts fast to jet mode whenever his Aerialbot recon skills 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 Firefly 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 character of Fireflight was one of the original Aerialbots in Generation One. This team of Autobots was one of the first to feature aerial alt modes and they could combine into the giant known as Superion. Fireflight hasn't been forgotten over the years. There was a "Classics" Fireflight, a "Universe" Fireflight and technically the recent "Generations" Air Raid was really Fireflight with a different name. Due to the trademark issues encountered with the Air Raid release, this Autobot is now known as "Firefly" in "Combiner Wars".

The packaging for "Combiner Wars" creates a very clear delineation between the main "Robots in Disguise" toy line for 2015 and the more collector oriented "Generations" segment. While the packaging uses the same basic "Transformers" logo as the "Robots in Disguise" line, it is set against a black background instead of white. The words "Combiner Wars" are set across the top and dramatic, painted artwork is heavily featured on the card. The figure is set against it in a bubble, showing off the figure in robot mode and its accessories. The bubble features a sticker showing Superion. Overall, this look is very akin to the "Star Wars" Black Series line of figures, also aimed at older collectors.

The back of the packaging features photos of the figure in both modes with a very brief note on the character. Sadly, we have lost tech specs for the most part. There are no statistics or much of a personality. I suspect part of this is due to the multi-lingual packaging which features four languages now. To the right of the packaging is a drawing of Superion (using Drag Strip as an arm due to him being in the wave of figures) and cosells for Drag Strip (named "Decepticon Dragstrip" for trademark reasons), Skydive, Silverbolt, Alpha Bravo and Firefly himself.

The "Combiner Wars" figures all come with collector cards printed on thick cardboard. The artwork featured on the card is different than the artwork on the backing card for the toy. The backing card features artwork based on the toy itself. This card art is actually from the "Transformers Legends" mobile app card game, specifically from the "Eagle eyes" event. I do find myself wishing that the cards had been used for tech specs (the back only features generic logo art) it is a nice "add in" and utilizes the amazing "Legends" art outside the game, something I've wanted to see for quite some time now. It's a cool way to reuse the artwork outside the game.

The "Combiner Wars" Deluxe figures include a weapon and a piece that serves three purposes: a weapon, a fist and a foot. This piece is rectangular in the middle and angles down to the front. The front has two barrels with fins on top. The back has what is clearly a thumb which doubles as a heel piece. The top has a 5mm peg that allows you to attach it to a figure as a weapon and of course allows it to attach to Firefly when he is in "limb" mode. Flip the piece over and you'll see a piece with four fingers sculpted into it. Swing it out, then swing in the thumb and you form a hand. The thumb swings up and down so this piece can serve as a left or right hand. This piece is sculpted in black with silver used on the thumb joint. The piece is a tad smaller than one might expect, but it works well in all its functions. It is worth noting that among the first wave of "Combiner Wars" Deluxe figures, this piece is unique to Firefly. The pieces that come with Skydive, Dragstrip and Alpha Bravo are similar in design, but have different barrels.

Firefly's blaster is loosely based on G1 Fireflight's. It has a long barrel with a raised section at the end and the back slopes downward at an angle. This one has a ton more design elements however including tubes running from one side to the other in the middle, a large targeting scope on top and what appears to be a small blade underneath the weapon's barrel. It's a very intricate looking weapon and looks great.

Robot Mode:
I have a fondness for the G1 Aerialbots, but by today's standards they're not the greatest toys around. They had very limited articulation and very simple transformations. For the time, they were amazing and I love my G1 Aerialbots dearly, but Firefly was designed with modern day design sensibilities. His proportions look dynamic and sleek. His chest is wide and his shoulders have designs that flare upward. His waist narrows and then leads to thin thighs and thicker, long lower legs. He looks heroic and ready for action. I really like how he looks just standing straight (never mind posed)!

Firefly borrows a few design elements from G1 Fireflight. These include:

  • Several of the jet parts wind up on his back and legs. The G1 toy did this, and the animation model broke up the jet pieces between the two legs and back.
  • The head design is largely based on the G1 toy head design (not the animation model) featuring an angled mouthplate, thin eyes and parts on the helmet section that flare up at angles.
  • There are designs on the chest that angle downward, these are partly influenced by stickers found on G1 Fireflights' chest.
  • The right side of Firefly's chest features vent lines inspired by a similar detail on the G1 animation model.
  • Like G1 Fireflight, the center of Firefly's chest sticks out a bit.
  • The knees have an angled design based on stickers on G1 Fireflight's knees that had arrows pointing down.
  • On each lower leg you'll see a sculpted panel that seems to be shaped like a cover for landing gear. This would fit with roughly where G1 Fireflight had landing gear sticking out in robot mode.

Some design embellishments are unique to this figure. That includes blasters sculpted into each of Firefly's forearms, horizontal line designs on the lower legs and vents on the top of the chest sections. Overall Firefly looks very clean yet detailed at the same time. It's a nice balance and he doesn't look over-engineered.

There has been some concern that the "Combiner Wars" figures may be smaller than figures released in previous years, but have no fear fellow fans, height wise Firefly is comparable to "Transformers Prime" Prowl. Even better? He weighs in at 3.0oz whereas Prowl weighs in at 2.8oz (in both cases this includes the accessories). While he may not be the heaviest Deluxe ever, it's certainly not smaller or lighter than other recent releases of the same scale.

Firefly is cast in red, white and silver plastic. The red and white were the key colors of G1 Fireflight, so they work perfectly for the character here. Most of the body here is white, with the parts on his back (and on the back of his lower legs) cast in red. This too matches up fairly well with G1 Fireflight, whose "front facing" robot mode parts were white for the most part. The paint colors used for the robot mode include silver, blue, black and red. The silver is used for the sides of his chest, his head and feet. The blue is used for his eyes, parts of his torso and the waist area. His knees have a metallic black paint on them which sparkles nicely under the right light. A red Autobot symbol graces the left side of his chest, right on top of the silver paint. This is inspired by his animation model, which featured the Autobot symbol in the same location.

There are sixteen points of articulation in this mode. This includes four in each arm and three in each leg. That number may not sound like a lot, but consider the head, shoulder and hip joints are all ball joints so you get a really good range of motion. Indeed, the head articulation is designed to allow the head to turn left, right and up, allowing him to look up with ease (believe it or not, many Transformers cannot do this even if their head is on a ball joint). Other joints include ratchet joints on his arms (allowing him to hold heavier weapons) and swivel joints on his arms and legs. You can definitely get a good variety of poses out of this guy.

Firefly has 5mm ports in each of his fists, allowing him to hold "standard" weapons such as those from the Construct-Bots and "Transformers Prime". He can hold each of his weapons in a hand or you can store the weapons in his back using the wings that are behind his arms. Thanks to the sections of the jet form that are located on his lower legs, he has good balance and won't tip back if you attach the weapons to his wings in these forms.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms, legs and head.
  3. Pull the jet cockpit piece a bit and swing it back.
  4. Rotate the robot head around.
  5. Swing the jet cockpit forward and down over the robot head.
  6. Swing the red pieces on the back of each lower leg up.
  7. Swing the white lower leg pieces forward, each has a tab that connects to a slot on the robot waist area.
  8. Swing the red pieces from the lower legs forward.
  9. Push the halves of the lower legs (now the rear of the jet) together.
  10. Swing each robot arm down. There is a notch on each forearm that connects to a red tab on the rear of the jet.
  11. Swing each wing and horizontal stabilizer fin down.
  12. Swing the vertical stabilizer fin up.
  13. The weapons can be attached to the underside of each wing.

Vehicle Mode:
Firefly's vehicle mode is based on a Harrier Jump Jet used by various military groups throughout the world. The biggest give away is the way the middle of the vehicle curves downward to the sides where the wings and rear horizontal stabilizers are. Also, each wing sweeps back to a point, a design element some variations of the real life Harrier have. Where the design differs from most Harriers is the cockpit, which has a very pointed tip (whereas a lot, but not all, Harriers have a more rounded nose) and the air intakes in the front are pretty small with horizontal vents while the real life Harrier generally has a semi-circle air intake that is huge. It's not surprising this vehicle mode doesn't match a real life Harrier completely since that would run into all sorts of licensing issues.

I like the design of this vehicle mode, but it's not perfect. The robot mode forearms are very obvious in this form, and the lower half of the vehicle is thick and clearly shows robot mode parts. He also lacks rear landing gear. He does have front landing gear, but it is set to the same height that his feet prop the vehicle up. It's a compromise, and in a perfect world the feet would fold in and there would be some collapsing of the torso components. However, I'm guessing that would also increase the price of the figure significantly. Given the price point of the figure and its source material (the G1 Aerialbots all suffered from similar issues) I'm okay with these design compromises, but not all fans may agree.

While the robot mode focuses heavily on the white plastic color, the vehicle mode is mostly red with white wings. Sure the white on the underside peeks through, but the red really grabs your eye. This red is a nice bright shade and matches up nicely with the G1 Fireflight figure. Silver paint is used for the cockpit cover and air intakes and black is found on the nosecone. The really interesting colors come into play on the wings and the vertical stabilizer. These colors are blue and gold. All three parts have gold and blue stripe patterns. These are inspired by blue and yellow sticker details on G1 Fireflight and they look great. The wings each have an Autobot symbol in red laid right on top of the blue and gold details. Overall this vehicle mode looks bright and there's a certain retro, non-gritty sensibility about these colors that I really like.

Each of Firefly's wings have a 5mm port on the underside, allowing you to attach both his weapons in this mode. He does look a tad awkward with one giant weapon under one wing and just a one-barreled weapon under the other, but I prefer that over not being able to store the weapons in this mode at all! The top of the vehicle has two small tabs on it. At first I thought these would connect with Powerglide somehow, but I couldn't get it to work. The purpose of these tabs remains a mystery for me at this time.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Transform the fist piece into the hand. Flip out the four fingers that are sculpted together, then swing the thumb up to the side you want to form.
  3. Press the two lower legs together.
  4. Swing the jet cockpit piece back.
  5. Push the robot head section back, this will swing out the square peg that serves as the Combiner connection point.
  6. Swing the jet cockpit piece back into place.
  7. Swing each robot arm down.
  8. Bend the arms at the elbows so they roughly line up with the angle of each wing.
  9. Rotate the waist around so the red parts on the back of the lower legs face forward.
  10. Attach the hand piece to the port under the robot feet.
  11. The weapon can be attached to the hand.

Arm Mode:
Having taken lessons learned from their work on 2012's Bruticus figure, the designers went back to the drawing board and wound up creating a new type of design that allows for a solid joint and articulation. It doesn't look too thin or hollow. The design gives it an appropriate amount of bulk. The hand looks like it could cause some serious damage with the thick fingers and the blasters mounted on the knuckle area. The jet parts hanging off the side echo the G1 Superion arm designs, so there's a great call back to the past.

By utilizing a combination of Firefly's waist and knee articulation, you can swivel the arm in and out and bend it at the "elbow". The square peg that attaches to larger figures like Silverbolt can swing up and down, adding another point of articulation. Since the hand piece attaches on via a peg, technically there's wrist articulation too since you can rotate it. This is a huge step up from the Bruticus arm designs, and light years ahead of G1 Fireflight. I'm very happy with this design.

The fist has a 5mm port on it allowing you to attach weapons as if he was holding them in his hand. You can also attach additional weapons to the ports on the wings.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Swing the jet cockpit piece back.
  3. Push the robot head section back, this will swing out the square peg that serves as the Combiner connection point.
  4. Swing out each half of the lower legs, then swing them forward and condense them (as if you were forming the rear of the vehicle mode).
  5. Push each arm down against the sides (as if you were forming the vehicle mode).
  6. Unfold the fist/foot accessory so it's flat. Make sure the "thumb" is now a heel piece.
  7. Attach the fist/foot piece to the hole on under Firefly's feet.

Leg Mode:
Firefly's leg mode is interesting because the correct way to attach him to Silverbolt is to have the jet cockpit and wings face the front. Traditionally the robot torso and legs faced front, with the jet parts in the back. While you can attach Firefly like this to Silverbolt or Optimus Prime, you lose knee articulation in the process since the joint only swings one way. If you attach it with the jet parts facing front, the result is proper knee articulation. The foot piece is stable and I had Ultra Prime standing with Firefly as a leg for several hours. However, on very smooth surfaces it might slip as there's really no grip on the bottom of the foot. The way the barrels stick out at the front, one could easily see this as a bit of a homage to "Superlink" Superion.

The wings can serve as weapon attachment points in this form. Since you'll have plenty of accessories when you combine the "Combiner Wars" figures, it's great that you don't have to stash them somewhere else.

Final Thoughts:
Firefly is a fantastic update of an old skool character. Up until now, almost every "Fireflight" toy has been a redeco of another or only loosely based on the original. It's great to see him finally get a proper "Generations" style update. He's not perfect, but between the aesthetics, the play factor and the much improved combining system I am very impressed. Recommended!

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