"Generations" Fall of Cybertron Vortex Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: October 2012
Price Point: $14.99
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Swords x 2

*Images above with asterisks(*) and text in italics below from The Official Transformers web site:
Few AUTOBOTS fear a fight against VORTEX. What they fear is being captured and at his mercy. He uses magnetic grapples to haul helpless captives high into the sky. There he treats them to a terrifying series of swoops, loops and dives before dropping them to their doom.

This high-flying DECEPTICON warrior is big trouble for the AUTOBOTS all by himself, but he’s also part of something a lot bigger – and scarier! Your VORTEX figure comes with awesome firepower, and he can convert to Cybertronian assault chopper mode and back whenever the battle calls for it. But when it’s time to bring overwhelming force against his AUTOBOT enemies, he can combine with other COMBATICONS (sold separately) to form a giant DECEPTICON BRUTICUS robot figure! His weapon combines with other COMBATICON weapons to form DECEPTICON BRUTICUS’s sonic cannon! Get one piece of an invincible DECEPTICON BRUTICUS warrior with this hardcore VORTEX figure!

Robot-to-vehicle warrior! Converts to Cybertronian assault chopper vehicle mode! VORTEX figure combines with other COMBATICON figures (sold separately) to build a giant DECEPTICON BRUTICUS robot! Figure becomes an arm or leg! Collect all 5! Includes VORTEX figure and accessories. Deluxe Class Series 1 006 VORTEX. Ages 5 and up.

2012's big "Transformers" multimedia event was not a movie, but rather a video game. Following up on the success of "War for Cybertron", High Moon Studios was due to release "Fall of Cybertron" in August of 2012 so a large portion of the "Generations" toy line became dedicated to characters and designs from the game itself. One of the key characters in the game is Bruticus, the Combiner giant formed by the team known as "The Combaticons". One of their members, the always scheming Swindle was part of this release.

The existence of a new Bruticus figure caused quite a stir among fans. For years we've wanted a new Combiner figure, and lucky for the fandom at large we now have one. Even better? This guy was composed of five Deluxe Class figures, each one with its own unique transformation and identity. Before the initial retail release of this figure, the summer of 2012 saw the release of the entire set in a special box (with different colors)as a San Diegeo Comic-Con exclusive. This guy sold out within minutes of being available on Hasbrotoyshop and by the following week went for easily double the price on ebay. No doubt, this is one figure tons of Transformers fans wanted!

However, those fans who did not attend San Diego Comic-Con would also get a chance to purchase Vortex (and the other Combaticons) at mass retail several months later. In October 2012, the Combaticon team was released as one wave to mass retail. Each of these figures featured new decos that were intended to be brighter and more "eye catching" on toy store shelves. This review will focus on the changes made to Vortex for this release. Check out my previous Vortex review for a closer look at the figure's sculpt and mold.

Robot Mode:
It's kind of funny, in my previous Vortex review I had ended it by saying the color scheme mystified me a bit because it really had nothing to do with any previous Vortex color scheme. The closest tie I can think of would be to the Wal-Mart exclusive "desert camo" version of "Ro-Tor" from "Robots in Disguise" (which used the G1 Vortex sculpt) but that's about it. Now I begin this review by scratching my head once again and wondering - where did these colors come from?!

This time around, Vortex is mostly cast in red and lavender plastic. Some smaller parts are black (such as his elbow joints), but those two colors are the most striking on the figure. Red makes up most of the armor panels around the center of the robot including his arms, lower legs and back. The center of the robot is mostly focused on the lavender plastic, which forms parts such as his head, chest and the rotor blade weapon on his left arm. The colors chosen are not ultra bright in shade, but together definitely have a dramatic effect. The blades of the weapons have been painted yellow and the hilts are red, but you can still see some of the base lavender plastic sticking out.

Just as you're settling into the idea of red and lavender being the primary colors on Vortex, your eyes will get walloped by the neon yellow and red paint colors used on the figure. Red outlines the chest in the same way brown was used on the SDCC version. Yellow is pinted onto the eyes and thin strips on his chest, making it look almost like he has two gigantic eyes on his chest (it's a bit unsettling). Black paint is found on the lower legs, where they fill in color for the vehicle mode windows. It's also used to paint the hands, which is a small but important detail. Bits of lavender paint are scattered about here and there such as the edges of the forearms and small details on the feet. Some areas that were painted on the SDCC version (including the shoulders and waist cover piece) have been left unpainted, but those were minor enough details that I didn't really notice until I did a side by side comparison. It's not unexpected for the mass release figure to have less deco applications than the SDCC exclusive so this isn't a big deal as far as I'm concerned. I like the colors overall and they work well together, but nothing about them scream "Vortex" to me.

All of Vortex's joints are tight and his weapons can attach to his hands without a problem. His rotor blade also spins well when pushed, but you may have to angle the forearm out a little to get the full effect.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Push the robot head (and the platform it is on) back.
  3. Swing the back panel (the tail of the helicopter) up.
  4. Rotate the waist around.
  5. Swing the robot arms back and fold the forearms against the upper arms.
  6. Swing each arm up on the piece connected to the shoulders.
  7. Rotate the base of the helicopter blades to the center and splay them out.
  8. On each lower leg piece, swing the skids for the vehicle mode out.
  9. On the inside of the right leg, swing out the blaster weapon.
  10. Fold both legs back and connect them together.
  11. Attach the weapons to the sides of the skids.

vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Vortex's red color really stands out as the primary focus of his deco. This is largely due to all his armor panels coming together and hiding a lot of the contrasting lavender parts from the robot mode. There is still some of the lavender color however, mostly found on the rotor and the base of the rotor. The figure isn't one note by any means however. The weapon mounted on the front nose is black and some of the black parts for the Bruticus limb mode can be seen sticking out from the bottom of the figure. Lavender paint is used in a slightly irregular pattern that runs from the front to the back of the vehicle on the sides (though it breaks where his skids are). The lavender is also used on the skids themselves towards the front. In contrast to these brighter colors, black is used to paint the windows of the vehicle. This matches up nicely with the weapon mounted in front and helps tone down the figure a bit. Overall, I have to say I do like the color scheme, but I'm mystified by it at the same time since it's not very "combat" like (no dark tones, camo patterns etc.) and it doesn't really homage any pre-existing version of Vortex.

Functionally speaking the rotor on the figure can spin freely in this form and you can attach extra weapons to Vortex's own blade weapons to create more powerful configurations.

Leg Mode:
In the Generation One series, Vortex often formed an arm for Bruticus, even though his toy had the ability to form either an or a leg. With this iteration of the character, he can form a leg for the Combiner giant. Start with Vortex in vehicle mode. Split the cockpit section in the middle and swing in the machine gun. On the underside of the vehicle, grab hold if the brown part in the middle and pull it forward on the central hinge, elongating the body of the vehicle. Now swing each of the cockpit halves up and put them together. Push the tail of the vehicle forward to reveal the connection point and plug it into Onslaught (the side doesn't matter).

Thanks to the relative bulk of the vehicle mode's front end and the skids out to the sides, Bruticus gets one solid and stable leg from Vortex. I think the use of the armor "skirt" as a heel piece is brilliant and works really nicely to help keep the giant from falling back. I also really like the look of the rotor blades opened up and facing front. In this form the skids are facing forward and you can attach weapons to them, but since they're right on the ground they'll have to be relatively smaller or thinner weapons such as some of the hand weapons included with Human Alliance Commander Class figures.

Arm Mode:
Start with the figure in vehicle mode, then split the cockpit section open and swing in the machine gun. On the left half of the cockpit is the hand. Swing the hand out and move the thumb to the left or right depending on which arm you are going to make Vortex into. Extend the middle section just like you would for the leg mode. Rotate the forearm section around (depending on which side you are forming). On the underside of the vehicle mode's tail, push the connection piece down, then attach it to Onslaught's shoulder joint.

Vortex's arm mode works out to be very similar to his Generation One arm mode. The rotor blades stick out to the sides, the tail of the vehicle becomes the upper part of the arm and the front part of the vehicle becomes the portion where Bruticus' hand is attached (though in G1 it was a completely different piece that you attached separately). Unlike his G1 counterpart, Vortex is actually able to bend at the elbow area when combined with the other Combaticons. Also, despite its "open palm" position, the hand is designed to hold a weapon. Need more weaponry attached? The skids face front here, and you could easily attach more weapons them. Porportionally the figure looks great.

Final Thoughts:
I can't in good conscience say that this is a bad figure. I like it in all its modes and it's fun to play with. The sculpt is cool and the colors are neat. My only problem with it is the color scheme doesn't say "Vortex" to me in any way, shape or form. It looks more like a semi-homage to "Robots in Disguise" Ro-Tor (and even that's a stretch). A good figure, but if you're a Generation One "stickler", it may bug you for the same reason it bugs me.

Note: After I posted this review, fellow fan Emanuele LaLota pointed out that this color matches up with the "Vortex" equivalent from the Energon "Bruticus Maximus" set. This makes total sense from a deco/homage perspective. Sadly, G1 fans are still shorted deco-wise on this sculpt.

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