It’s time to bring in the big guns. The Combaticons, no surprise, are my favorite combiner team of all time. The Autobots didn’t have something that came even close. A combiner team is about diversity and versatility. Everyone brings something different to the team. Onslaught, Blast Off, Vortex, Brawl and Swindle had distinct personalities and each one had their own area of expertise. I wanted them to be sent on a mission commando-style but that never happened. When I rejoined the craziness of collecting Transformers, I knew I wanted to have a new representation of these guys.
Bruticus, or like Zeta aptly calls him, Armageddon, is huge. How we got here, was a lot of waiting and ordering through several sites as the team was finally formed. When it all comes down, or perhaps I should say up, to it – there’s a lot to be said for size. Zeta Armageddon is a little too big. He manages, and incredibly enough you can get a couple of poses to work, but just barely. Still, I am proud to say, no pieces were broken but there’s a lot here that I had to work with and more than a few things could’ve perhaps been left out. That being said, you have a lot of options regarding display but it’s hard to argue with the gigantic combined mode. Not that they don’t stand out individually either.
ZA-01 Take Off (Blast Off)
The Good: He looks like Blast Off with an advanced transformation, yet the same robot model. ZA-01 looks like the same mode blown up in a large size. This is something that I’ll say about all the Zeta Non-Combaticons. They use the small shape-form, so they look bulky and short. This is not a bad thing, since you will recognize them, but it’s obvious they’ve done it on purpose. The alt form is a superbly done space shuttle, which looks gorgeous.
The Bad: There’s a lot of paneling. The allowances are just borderline making it. It’s going to depend on time to see how they will behave. Finding how the combined mode’s elbow ratchet took a bit of figuring out. You’re supposed to turn around the top chest swivel so that the elbow ratchet is oriented the right way, the bottom one will not help.
The Ugly: That being said, nothing broke but I had a really difficult time when taking out the arm plug for the combined mode. I mean, how do you pull this stiff as hell ratcheted plug when it’s folded inside the cavity?
ZA-02 Whirlwind (Vortex)
The Good: I was really looking forward to this alt-mode. This helicopter seems extremely well detailed. The aesthetic is really well done. The robot mode is definitely Vortex, colors and all. I really wish I’d manage to bridge all the gaps, and perhaps I’ll do it some day.
The Bad: The paneling is way worse in this one, and unfortunately I couldn’t close all the gaps which is a pity, because if I had I’d be tempted to show Zeta Whirlwind in his helicopter mode. The balance is an issue due to the blades on his back, which means you have to pose him leaning forward just a bit. Holding his arms in front helps a little.
The Ugly: The blades don’t come in pre-assembled. You have to put them on and lock them in place using this little metallic-like pins. This definitely requires tools and a lot of patience, which I would strongly recommend doing at least a day or a week earlier to get done and over with.
ZA-03 Blitzkrieg (Onslaught)
The Good: The paneling is back, but some good paneling. This one I like to transform from robot mode to alt mode and everything is reminiscent of good ole’ Onslaught. The detail on the truck is excellent and the flatbed can carry vehicles, as well as his missile launcher. Some of the transformation has been changed a bit but for the better.
The Bad: The balance is really bad on robot mode once you put the missile launcher on his back. He already had a backpack before, so although the launcher is mostly on the light side, it really tips him over.
The Ugly: The combined mode transformation is him bending into an engine block. That means that he literally turns into a heavy cube. I think he was meant to turn into upper legs and torso at some point but I guess that failed so he’s mostly a backpack. Zeta Armageddon is going to require a chunk of material to provide the upper legs while Blitzkrieg just fills up a section.
ZA-04 Uproar (Brawl)
The Good: It’s Brawl! You can’t not be a fan of Brawl. He’s the epitome of a fight-fight-FIGHT little guy that wants to prove his mettle and jump into the fray without asking questions. Uproar is a really cool figure and I wouldn’t mind displaying him in tank mode any day of the week.
The Bad: The tank treads. Let’s be honest, it’s a pain to get him to transform with all the treads getting stuck and disconnected. Suspiciously, the treads very much look like the LEGO variety. That’s not a completely bad thing as they will disconnect more than they will break. They’re still a pain to use.
The Ugly: Do yourself a favour and transform him without the treads. Then look at the finish product and decide if you want to spend the next hour and a half trying to get the treads to fit or just enjoy him the way he looks.
ZA-05 Racket (Swindle)
The Good: Good ole’ Swindle! The salesman, conman and weapons dealer of the group with the personality of a shady car salesperson, he was known to be a great negotiator with loose morals. As ZA-05 Racket, he’s got the smirk and he looks just like his old G1 self. Even the transformation pays homage to his old model (the front wheels just flip into his backpack). Also, first ever transformer vehicle with wheels that steer.
The Bad: Okey, he’s a bit panel-y. Everything does fit in the end in my copy, so we’re good.
The Ugly: Not a thing!
Zeta Armageddon / G1 Bruticus
The Good: A really kick-ass version of Bruticus that is for the most part solid and stable. Most of his transformation involve some parts-forming but the final product is amazing to look at. He can assume a couple of poses and has the stiff joints to keep them.
The Bad: Yes, he’s stable and poseable as long as you plan how you’re going to move him before you do. Honestly, there’s a balance issue as with most combiners and there’s a sweet spot where he can hold his own. I will probably have to comment on this soon, but balance is a bit of a thing where you can get a huge figure to depend on his own joints but do you really want to? Joints get loose. Isn’t it better to lean his back to the wall and not wear his joints early? That being said his ratcheted joints are incredibly hard to move.
The Ugly: The size comes with the most obvious disadvantage: he’s cumbersome, unwieldy and his joints are really stiff. That last one helps with his balance but sometimes things are way too stiff to even move. I fear that if anybody else will try to move him they’ll break something.
Honestly, it depends if you really want a Bruticus or the Combaticon team to be as massive as Zeta Armageddon. I don’t regret buying this one since for me if I want a giant combiner team, the Combaticons are my first pick always. Sweet military vehicles or giant combiner Bruticus, I have enough display options to avoid getting bored.
There’s a level of frustration that I had with the Technobots that was probably even bigger with the Combaticons (Whirlwind’s blades, Uproar’s treads) but the reward of each vehicle’s transformation as well as the recognizable figure of Bruticus was just all the more satisfying.
If I already had another smaller third-party version of the Combaticons, I’d reconsider. But if you have a spot in your collection for a huge combiner, and the Combaticons are your all-time favorite team, Zeta Armageddon might be your best choice.
That will do for now.