Long admired as the Autobots’ most deadly foe, the fans have been begging Hasbro to produce a “proper” toy of this leviathan for decades. The original 1985 version just doesn’t cut the mustard in the modern age, not least because of how tiny it is. Even back in the eighties, kids were disappointed; the Decepticon titan was dwarfed by most Transformer toys of the era, even its direct contemporaries.
So ever since Transformers returned to the mainstream in 2001/2002, ceaseless rumours abounded that a ‘remake’ of the toy was in the works. The case was certainly not helped when Dreamwave released a now iconic bit of artwork – it showed Devastator surging out of the water underneath the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge. Rendered in the complex, anime style that Dreamwave became famous for, it turned out to be naught but a tease, and the hopes of a mechanical Goliath appearing on toy shelves went unfulfilled.
We’ve had combining Transformers since then, but they’ve never quite been up to scratch with the original concept. Hasbro were reluctant to commit to the idea of five or six unique toys needed to combine into a single robot, and deemed it unmarketable. Therefore we were provided with combiner teams that unconvincingly consisted of two sets of robotic identical twins. It’s cheaper that way, you see – Hasbro save 40% on costs because they only have to design three toys for a final set of five. Oh, and let’s not forget that the combined robots didn’t have hands or feet.
However, Combiner Wars / Unite Warriors Devastator is material proof that if you wish on a star, cross your fingers and eat all your vegetables, dreams sometimes do come true. Hasbro has pulled out all the stops and released a colossus of a robot – Devastator how he was always meant to be. We have a full team of six Constructicons, each able to convert into a construction vehicle, but most importantly able to merge into one giant mechanical menace!
In combined mode, Devastator stands about eighteen inches tall. He’s not the largest Transformer ever made, but he comes close. Each individual Constructicon is as large as your average “voyager class” Transformer toy, which in muggle terms means about seven inches. They’re not lightweights, either, and look suitably bulky and menacing – as you’d expect for a Decepticon goon squad. Their design is based more closely on the animation models, rather than the original toys, and in fact they look like they crawled straight out of your VHS copy of Transformers: The Movie like that girl from The Ring.
Devastator is one solid toy – each component clicks and locks into place so securely that you’ll never have to worry about him falling apart. The original went to pieces easier than Adam watching Homeward Bound. The joints, especially in the legs, are stiff and ratchet into place. He even has ankles that tilt outwards for those extra-cool poses!
There are two versions of Devastator available – one for the west released by Hasbro, and one for the Japanese market (featured here) by Takara. There’s aesthetically little difference between to two; Hasbro’s has black hands and slightly different paint details. However, there’s quite a big difference in terms of construction, which is where things start to get weird.
In short: someone at the Hasbro fun factory forgot how to make elbows. We still can’t believe we really have to say this this because it sounds so stupid. But it’s such a strange and ubiquitous flaw in the group that we just have to point it out. Poor Scrapper has no elbows at all. Long Haul’s tiny forearms swing uselessly outwards on a fixed hinge. Hook and Mixmaster have it worst of all. Just look at this mess:
Remember when you were younger and you’d break your toys? Maybe you’d ask your dad to take a look at them, and he’d bodge together a rudimentary fix? Our toybox is full of hobbled, mutant robots who got the “dad treatment”. And you know what? It looks for all the world like someone at Hasbro was taking notes…
The aforementioned Japanese release does fix the elbow issues for all involved. However, Scavenger’s newly articulated arms require incredible force to bend – probably because he takes the enormous weight of the combined form on his forearms when in leg mode. Still, we’re not going to look a gift horse in the elbow. Mouth.
Takara also went the extra mile and included some new pieces. The individual Constructicons get a handgun each – a vital tool for a group of warriors, we can all agree – and Devastator gets a new head with a really nifty “visor” gimmick. You see, depending on what episode of the cartoon you were watching, Devastator either had two individual eyes or rocked the ‘sunglasses’ look that so many Transformers did so well. This toy allows you to flip flop back and forth depending on your mood (just like the animators! Arf!) by having a tiny visor that folds away to stow inside the head.
There are only a couple very minor flaws that are common to both versions of Devastator:
Most noticeably, Long Haul’s general proportions are well out of whack when compared to his team mates. This is because where the original Devastator had a removable plastic codpiece to hold his legs on, this envious job is now assigned solely to Long Haul. Well, it’s either that or he’s spent the intervening decades on the Wayne Rooney diet because he could crush planets between those thunder thighs. He’s very sensitive about it, so don’t say anything.
Devastator’s arms are subject to some minor mechanical oversights – for example, his forearms are hollow gauntlets that loosely peg on to a flap below the elbow. It doesn’t look bad at all, but they fall off rather easily. Also, his arms ratchet outwards at the shoulder, but not forwards. So he can do star jumps just fine, but can’t hold his gun out straight without the arm sagging slightly. Very odd indeed.
Overall, the toy is a wonderful slab of plastic and a fine addition to any Transformers collection… But at anywhere between £150 – £170, it doesn’t come cheap. We again plumped for the Japanese box set, but we’re not sure the modest improvements made to the set really justify the massive gulf in price. If you can find the domestic version grab it.