Nineteen eighty four was a significant year in pop culture. Apple partnered with director Ridley Scott to create; what at the time was a groundbreaking and has since become an iconic commercial for their new Macintosh computer, Van Halen released their sixth and final album with the original lineup (on my birthday of that year no less) with the appropriately titled 1984, and kids in North America were introduced to Transformers.
While I didn’t get to the party until a couple of years later, once I did show up it was full speed ahead in obtaining as many of those Robots in Disguise as possible. But, while I was primarily focused on getting the core unit for Christmases and birthdays; Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Starscream and the like, I also had my eyes on something bigger, literally and figuratively.
What’s one super cool, transforming robot when you can collect five singular robots that can combine into one larger, even cooler looking robot, thus my pursuit of the Combiners was born.
While I did end up with larger Transformers in my collection; namely Jetfire and Sky Lynx, I was never able to add the Combiners to the list. In part because my spending money sometimes was directed elsewhere, and in part because the department stores with their toy sections where I grew up, didn’t carry the various Autobots and Decepticons required to construct these giant robots and feed into my toy collecting sickness.
2019 marks the Transformers 35th anniversary, and with that celebration in mind let’s take a look at those Transformers that I pined to have in my collection, with my 5 favorite G1 Combiners.
King of the road. Brute of the black top.
The brainchild of Megatron, the Stunticons were a much needed ground attack opposite the Autobots. Menasor kicks this list off, because while I like the G1 toy I didn’t love it, and for a moment I contemplated putting Computron in this spot instead.
Menasor as a whole is not greater than the sum of its Stunticon parts. The weak link for me was Motormaster; who in my childhood brain I always associated as an evil “Optimus”. Hell, it was Motormaster’s goal to destroy Optimus.
Being a fan of the stylized sports cars in the toy line; from Sideswipe and Sunstreaker to Wheeljack and Jazz, Drag Strip and Breakdown stand head and shoulders above the rest of the group, especially with Breakdown’s gorgeous vehicle mode.
Menasor fully formed looks fine, but the torso always bugged me a little. While I do enjoy blockiness and chonk, the overall image for me felt average at best.
Anything the Decepticons can do, the Autobots can do better, like a Cybertronian Springfield vs Shelbyville. The Decepticons made the world’s largest pizza, so the Autobots burned down their City Hall…
Where was I?!
I wasn’t fortunate enough to have the Seekers or the Coneheads growing up, but loving aircraft; especially fighter pilots, the Aerialbots and Superion were the next best thing, and I did end up with two fifths of the group with Slingshot and Skydive, but never found Air Raid, Fireflight and Silverbolt who I especially wanted the most. A friend of mine the next town over had Superion and I could never strike a deal for a trade for one of my other Transformers in order to obtain him.
Where I felt Menasor’s overall asthetic was average and didn’t completely wow me, Superion was, in a word, superior. Sleek, streamlined and sexy, as you might expect from a group of fighter jets.
With a name as metal as Predaking, what’s not to love?
Five sexy (literal) beasts forming for me what has always been and will forever be a majestic beauty. The Predacons while individually great, make up the Combiner that I gave serious consideration for the top spot on this listicle to.
Where I felt Menasor fell a little short when it came to appearing imposing and ferocious, Predaking more than picks up the slack. But, maybe that’s the difference between automobiles versus ferocious beasts. Tantrum, Headstrong, Rampage and Divebomb give Predaking the heft and full bodied form needed to stand out and clock in at number three on this list, with Divebomb pulling double duty, acting as Predaking’s left arm and contributing his wings to the back of the torso supplied by the Predacon leader Razorclaw.
For as metal as I felt the name Predaking sounded when spoken aloud, Razorclaw sounds like a hella cool name for a heavy metal band in its own right.
Spotting a Platinum edition at a local toy expo last month, I almost dropped that cash money on him, but having just got back from Vegas I restrained myself (I know, I’m as disappointed in myself as you are). But, seeing that Predaking in all its glory and splendor reminded me of how much I loved the design and aesthetic stemming back to his G1 origin.
Soundwave superior, Constructicons inferior?!
Whether Big Blue is correct or incorrect with his boastful proclamation (he’s a hundred percent correct, thanks for playing), I still dug the Constructicons and Devastator just the same.
Get it? Dug? Because they’re vehicles found at a construction site, and construction sites have a lot to do with digging…and…look over there! Yoink!
If you want to get my attention and catch my eye, it helps to be colorful and vibrant, and the damn near blinding green color scheme (with some splashes of purple) never fails to make me do a double take, whether it was the original G1 release of the early to mid eighties, or its reissued Walmart exclusive of last year. Devastator is still the OG Mack Daddy of the Combiners, and almost topped this list.
Except, I decided to go for what may be considered an unorthodox choice. I kept going round and round in my head on whether number one would be the presumably obvious choice in Devastator, with a heavy consideration to side with Predaking as I mentioned earlier.
But, the more I thought about it, the more and more I kept coming back to the Combaticon team and Bruticus. Is it possible some of it has to do with a bias towards Starscream, who I’ve always had a deep fandom for?
Yes, yes it does.
Starscream being their creator aside, Bruticus tops my list for checking all the boxes when it comes to my sensibilities for a G1 Combiner. Sleek and dynamic like Superion, while striking the balance between Menasor and Predaking for imposing stature without being overly bulky like the latter or having a disappointing torso like the former, Bruticus has it all.
With the other Combiners on this list, I’m not a fan of all of their individual Transformers like I am with the Combaticons. I dig a couple of the Stunticons, most of the Aerialbots and a Predacon or Constructicon here and there.
However, I’m never not stoked about Onslaught, Brawl, Blast Off, Swindle and Vortex, either as singular entities or when they merge into Bruticus. While he may not have been top of the Combiner food chain on the animated series and didn’t get the shine like Menasor or Devastator did, when it came to the G1 toy line and the Combiner I geeked out for the most, my top pick is clear.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be on the hunt for the other four on this list, or the Combiners that didn’t make the cut like Defensor, Computron or Abominus. Whether it’s original G1, reissues or third party variations, I’m already clearing off shelf space as we speak.