Power Core Combiners Skyhammer Toy Review

in 2010, Combiner / Gestalt, Decepticon, Power Core Combiners

Power Core Combiners

General Information:
Release Date: December 2010
Price Point: $9.99
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Airlift Mini-Con figure
Image Gallery: Gallery of Skyhammer and Airlift images

Text from Transformers.com:
The boiling clouds of an approaching thunderstorm hold terror for any AUTOBOT caught in the open. SKYHAMMER manipulates the weather to generate ferocious winds, torrential rains and destructive blasts of lightning. As soon as his enemies are disoriented by the pounding storm, he descends from the clouds, smashing into opponents like a hammer.

Power up for the ultimate robot battles! Your SKYHAMMER figure is already a virtually unstoppable opponent in his vehicle and robot modes. But his strength gets doubled when you factor in your AIRLIFT figure and his four modes! Convert this MINI-CON ally figure to weapon accessories for him when he’s in fighter jet vehicle mode or Commander mode. Then, convert your AIRLIFT figure into an armor accessory for your SKYHAMMER figure’s Power Up Mode! And the action doesn’t stop there. With this Power Core interchangeable robot combination system, MINI-CON figures and drone vehicles (sold separately) can attach to power up any Commander figure. Collect more packs and you can create tons of unique and fierce robot battler figure combinations!

Two-pack includes SKYHAMMER and AIRLIFT figures. Ages 5 and up.

The fourth wave of Power Core Combiners introduces a set of new sculpts and characters into the Transformers universe. One of these characters has a familiar name: Skyhammer. This name had been previously used in Generation One for a Pretender Autobot, years later the name was reassigned to a Mini-Con. Now the name is being used for a Decepticon aerial warrior with the ability to manipulate weather, making his name quite appropriate.

Airlift Review

Robot Mode:
When I first began to photograph Airlift I kept thinking his form looked familiar for some reason, but I couldn't place why other than the usual use of a helmet/face head design with a crest. Then I looked closer and realized that the Geek/Scifi funny bone that was being tickled had to do with robots from another science fiction series: Battlestar Galactica. Intentional or not, there is definitely a resemblance in two aspects of Airlift's design to the antagonists of the Galactica universe. First the head design has a curved helmet section with a high central crest and rounded off edges. His mouth area is covered in a mouthplate and he has visor eyes, which I could easily imagine the iconic red eye/sensor moving back and forth inside. Then there's the "collar" design that extends up from the torso to cover part of the back of his head. This could just be my imagination running amok, but if so it's in a fun direction!

Cylons aside, there are some really intricate details on this figure. His torso section has a lot of small pockets of detail and raised designs that give him a lot of texture. Part of this is a functional aspect of the figure. On the front of the torso is his Powerlinx connection point while on the back is the Powerlinx peg. Above each of these is are two small holes meant to accomodate the pegs on his legs in weapon mode (more on that later). These designs work well together, making these parts of him look more like design aspects of the figure instead of functional pieces that had to be crammed in somewhere. He also has quite a bit of detail on his arms, which are both barrels of a weapon. The shoulder armor comes up at an angle with small tubes at the ends (looking almost like exhaust pipes) and along the length of each barrel there are vertical and horizontal raised details. His legs have some nice line details on them including what look like springs on his lower legs.

Airlift is cast in two colors: translucent orange and black. The orange makes up the torso and lower legs, with the rest of the figure cast in black. I am happy to see the return to translucent colors for the Mini-Cons as the last wave deviated from that a bit. This is also a very visually striking combination that looks fantastic. The head has a bit of silver paint used on the helmet section (further solidifying my personal "Airlift as a Cylon" connection).

There are seven points of articulation on this figure, including a rather unexpected one: waist articulation. However, this waist articulation is not the kind you'd normally find on a larger figure. Unlike most Transformers with waist articulation, Airlift's head does not turn independent from his waist. The lower body and the head appear to be connected, so when you turn the waist, the head goes with it. While this is indeed an articulation point, I would say it was created for more functional reasons. If you turn the torso one way and transform him into weapon mode, he can use the Mini-Con Powerlinx peg to interact with another figure, but if you want to use the Powerlinx connector point instead, you turn the torso the other way and transform him. Both ways work perfectly and I think it's a nice way to make sure the use of the figure is not restricted.

Transformation to Weapon Mode:

  1. By default, Airlift is set up to utilize the Powerlinx connector point to connect to a larger figure. If you wish to use the peg instead, rotate the waist around.
  2. Point both arms up.
  3. Swing the legs back and bend them at the knees.
  4. Connect the pegs on the back of the feet to the small holes above the Powerlinx point or peg.

Weapon Mode:
Airlift has a wonderfully classic looking weapon mode. In essence, Airlift is what Generation One would have referred to as a Targetmaster, a Transformer that could become a ballistic weapon to be used by another Transformer. The term has not really been used in the Transformers lexicon for a while, but the general form of Targetmasters showed off their humanoid parts quite prominently. One of the more common forms of a Targetmaster involved the legs of the figure winding up on the top of the weapon form while the arms were seen along the side. For the most part, Airlift follows this convention. His legs do wind up on the top of the weapon form and a bulk of the weapon is formed by his torso. Where this weapon mode differs from a traditional Targetmaster are the arms, which in this case wind up pointing forward as the barrels of the weapon form. I really like the look of this weapon, and I think it was a fantastic idea to give him both a peg and a connection point to allow for more options in using the weapon. For me at least, this makes up a bit for not having a melee weapon form.

Transformation to Armor Mode:

  1. Raise the arms up so they point forward at angles.
  2. Bend the legs at the knees and raise the legs.
  3. Point each leg out at an angle.
  4. Flip up the Powerlinx peg on Skyhammer's chest.
  5. Attach Airlift to the peg.

Armor Mode:
As strong as Airlift's weapon mode is, this one just looks a bit silly and it makes me feel bad for him at the same time. Basically Airlift doesn't look like a plate of armor or an extension of Skyhammer here. Instead, he looks like a baby Transformer hugging a larger Transformer - with the intention of serving as body armor (which has to be a rough life). I wish a bit more effort had been put forth to give a believable armor mode. I can understand sacrificing a melee weapon mode to accomodate two variations on the weapon mode, but this mode shouldn't have been sacrificed as well. Despite this, I do really like Airlift as a Mini-Con, I just think he could have been better.

Skyhammer Review

Robot Mode:
Skyhammer's overall design can be seen as a variant of the classic "Seeker"design. His cockpit is on his chest with air intakes from the vehicle mode forming part of his chest. His wings are on the sides above the shoulders but they still make quite an impression in this form as they sweep out to the left and right. He even has small weapons attached to his arms (though they aren't of much use in robot mode). Where he differs from the classic Seeker design is that the front portion of the vehicle mode doesn't flatten out in any way, but instead is set at an angle to form the chest while his cockpit actually folds in at the front to connect with his waist section. The end result is a robot that looks like it used the Seeker as its base but went off in its own direction mid-way through design, which is cool to see.

Sometimes Transformers are designed with a bit more personality than others. Sure there are tons of generic 'bots with cool looking details or others that are fantastic homages to a G1 character. Other times however you get guys with neat little touches such as the Micromasters from the "Transformers Universe" Protectobots that featured sculpted designs that resembled the humansassociated with their vehicle forms (such as a police car having a police cap and tie sculpted into his robot mode). It is in this spirit many of Skyhammer's details come from. If you look at his head design, it has a helmet section with what resembles a breathing tube where his chin ends. His waist and legs have a distinctly curved and almost wrinkled pattern as if they were more fabric than metal. Combine these features with his Combiner head "helmet" (which resembles an old fashioned pilot helmet) and you have a design that looks very much like Skyhammer is wearing a flight suit of some sort.

Not all the details are "human" however. Skyhammer's face is distinctly robotic with a rather nasty look. His wings splaying out to the sides show off the missiles sculpted into the vehicle mode wings, giving him a bit of extra firepower in this form. His chest angles down a bit and then ends with his cockpit section connected to the waist, giving him an interesting angled appearance. His arms and legs are a bit more rounded off than the typical Transformer with lots of line details along with circle details near his knees. As mentioned before, there are some nice blasters attached to the underside of his forearms, but they are not really meant to point forward. You can pull them off and turn them around, but they won't fit snug in that position.

Skyhammer is cast in seven(!) plastic colors: grey blue, dark blue, black, light blue, translucent orange and solid orange. The grey blue and dark blue make up a majority of the figure, with the grey blue making up his lower legs, forearms and most of the vehicle mode parts that become robot mode sections. The dark grey balances this out on his upper legs, upper arms and waist. The black is found on samaller areas such as his wing hinges and feet. The orange color is a bit unexpected but jives with the translucent orange color used on Airlift. There is also translucent orange found on the head where it is designed for light piping. You'll find the orange plastic mostly on his landing gear, combiner joints and the peg on his chest. The light blue is found on the underside of his wings and on his heel pieces, each representing (you guessed it) a place to connect Power Core Combiner Drones!

Paint applications are done up in dark blue, black, silver, gold and orange. The dark blue paint is the most prominent, appearing in a camo type pattern on his chest and wings as well as the head. Black is used most notably on his chest, where you'll find a small Decepticon symbol. The silver is used for various parts including parts of his lower legs, chest and the vents on his torso. Gold is used most sparingly, found on his face (reminding me a bit of Armada Cyclonus in the process). Finally, the orange paint is found on his back where it alternates with black on his vehicle mode stabilizers. Overall the color scheme works unexpectedly well. I don't generally think "Blue/gold/silver/grey blue and orange" yet somehow the colors do not come off as too jarring in any way. Even the orange used is muted and nowhere near a neon shade. I really like the use of the camo deco which we will see more of in vehicle mode.

There are seventeen points of articulation on this figure including five in each leg and three in each arm. His shoulder joints and head joint are all ball joints, but as a word of warning I have to say that a couple of times his head popped off as I turned it. The issue appears to be the way the ball's curve aligns with the groove in the head piece. The head snaps into place just fine, but when you turn the head, it can pop off if you don't apply enough pressure when turning the head to hold it into place.

Another concern I have with this figure is the cockpit piece that connects to the waist. The tab that connects the two pieces does not lock as tightly as I would like it to. It's not that the two parts separate at the slightest touch, but if you start playing with the figure enough, I could see the chest piece disconnecting from the waist easily.

Skyhammer can hold a Mini-Con weapon or Energon weapon in his fists. He also has a Mini-Con peg on his back that can swing out to allow you to attach a Mini-Con to his back. In addition to the peg built into his chest to accomodate Mini-Con armor, you could potentially have up to four Mini-Cons/weapons attached to Skyhammer at once! I really like this aspect of interaction of the Power Core Combiners. It's probably fair to say we haven't seen this level of potential Mini-Con interactivity since the "Cybertron" series, so it's quite refreshing.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Pull the chest/cockpit piece up from the waist.
  2. Swing the nosecone piece up.
  3. Swing the robot head back into the helmet behind it, then push them both down.
  4. Swing the front of the vehicle up.
  5. Move the cover for the robot head down.
  6. Swing each wing down.
  7. Straighten out each arm, then swing each arm to the bottom of the vehicle, then connect each fist to the pegs towards the back of the vehicle.
  8. Swing the heel and foot pieces up on each leg.
  9. Swing the waist piece up and the legs forward.
  10. At the bottom of each leg there is an open gap that slides into tabs on the air intake portions of the vehicle mode's front section.
  11. Flatten out the horizontal stabilizers and raise the vertical stabilizers.

Vehicle Mode:
Skyhammer's vehicle mode is similar to the robot mode in the sense that it has some design elements of the classic F-14/15 jet that many of the original Seekers transformed into in Generation One. Most notably the rear section has two raised, curved sections showing where two thrusters would belong. He has both horizontal and vertical stabilizers with the vertical ones shaped very similar to the classic Seeker design angling back with a point at the top pointing forward. The rest of the jet looks quite different however. The front end has a nosecone with an open end and to the sides there are triangular panels that lead to the rest of the vehicle. It's a very sleek looking form to be sure and a worthy addition to the legion of Decepticon aerial warriors.

In any Transformers jet there is always the possibility of having what is commonly referred to as "undercarriage junk", referring to parts of the robot mode that give the underside of the vehicle a bit more mass than may look good. In this case there certainly is undercarriage junk, but the parts are all small and thin enough that it does not look obtrusive or ugly.

There are a lot of nicely sculpted details in this form. Runing all over the otp of the vehicle are intricate line details in many shapes including rectangles, trapezoids both horizontal and vertical. Each wing has three missiles sculpted into it. The bottom of the vehicle has landing gear sculpted into the area that would be the back of the robot knees. The nosecone has a piece of landing gear attached to it that you can swing down. The wheels aren't functional, but the figure sits on the landing gear nicely.

All the same colors from the robot mode appear here. The dark blue paint (which looks a bit like a dark blue grey) paint forms a large camo detail that goes from one wing to another across the middle of the vehicle. The nosecone and rear stabilizers also have this color. Each of these sections is balanced out with orange paint that is a near match for the orange plastic on the rest of the vehicle. Silver appears as well, most notably on the cockpit windows. Overall the paint scheme looks great, with the orange offering a bright contrast to the otherwise darker colors.

Towards the back of the jet is an orange plastic Mini-Con peg (this is the one used on the back of the robot mode). Flip that peg up and you can attach a Mini-Con or Energon weapon. Thanks to the translucent orange plastic on Airlift, he fits perfect in this spot on a visual level.

Transformation to Power-Up Combiner Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Swing the helmet piece behind the robot head on top of it.
  2. Swing the robot feet up and the heel/combiner sections down.
  3. Swing the wings up vertically on the sides.
  4. Move the arms up, bending them at the elbows. Attach the pegs on the forearms to the holes on the wings.
  5. Swing each combiner section on the wings down to so they point to the sides.
  6. Swing the lower legs up over the thighs, connecting the two using the tabs behind the knees to connect to the holes on the thighs.
  7. Attach the Drones to each combiner section.

Power-Up Combiner Mode:
The Power-up Combiner mode reveals one "new" detail of the figure along with rearranging other parts so they are different from their previous forms. The new part is of course the robot head for the combined form. As the instructions above indicate, this head is formed by a helmet piece fitting over the robot head, which utilizes the lower part of the robot head such as the mouth and large chin piece. Normally I prefer the Combiner head sculpt as a whole new sculpted piece separate from the regular head. However, in this case I think this works perfectly. Going with the theme of a pilot in a flight suit, the helmet here looks like an old fashioned pilot helmet with goggles for eyes and even small "wings" on the sides of the helmet towards the top. I really like this head design. It's distinctive and has a bit of playfulness about it.

The rest of the parts here all took center stage in other forms, but now they're used slightly differently. For instance, the blasters attached to the forearms of the robot mode now point forward and are quite prominent, being right near the shoulders. The missiles on the wings also point forward and serve as additional weaponry. I'm also happy to see parts are rearranged to offer stability in this mode such as the arms attaching to the wings, the legs folding up into each other.

Skyhammer has eleven points of articulation in this form. There are two on each shoulder joint and four on each leg. These joints are all tight and accomodate Power Core Combiner Drones very well. The head turns here as well, but this time it's not just Skyhammer's smaller head, but also the entire base it rests on, so there are no worries of the head popping off in this form.

There aren't a lot of new colors shown here. The most obvious is the robot head "helmet". This piece is cast in translucent orange, with black paint giving it some detail. The orange and light blue plastic also shows up a lot more thanks to the Power Core Combiner joints.

Final Thoughts:
Skyhammer is a nice, new sculpt and a cool addition to the Power Core Combiners line. My two concerns with the waist connector and the head are the ones that keep this figure from being highly recommended and instead takes it down to just recommended.