The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

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The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Blurrz » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:09 pm

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It's been a long day. You're sipping a cold beverage at BotCon 2011 in Pasadena, California. It's one of your favorite times of the year. Not only are you in Transformers heaven, but you've made your trip to the dealer room and unleashed your wallet to buy your holy grail. Now you're hanging with all your buddies from Seibertron.com. You make sure everyone's listening, when you ask the question 'What do you think of the Power Core Combiners? I love those guys!" Everyone around you halts what they're doing. Half of your friends start to scream, while the other half shake their heads in shame. Peter Cullen is even facepalming. The bartender kicks you out for causing the mess, and then... Woah. Let's hold on for a minute here. I'm here to make sure than none of this happens at BotCon 2011, to the person who asked the question, to the friends of that person. and especially Peter Cullen.

The line itself has caused a lot of anguish among Transformers fans the past few months. I've watched forum topics pass by and by. I've tried my best to get a grasp of the situation, and understand the opinions of my fellow collectors. Ultimately I land at the question - How has it come to this? We're in the 21st century, and we've got an entire toyline that's seemingly worse than Armada Side Swipe.

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While I originally planned to do a review of the first wave of Power Core Combiners for Seibertron.com, that's something that no collector needs. An essay formed from my single opinion is nothing compared to you going around Seibertron.com, looking at photos of the figures or asking the general community of their opinion on a figure. It's really simple, toys are attractive to people because of their aesthetics. No one should be detered from buying a toy that they like from photos, because of one person's opinion. Especially not from a guy with hairy hands, playing around with a Transformers figure for 10:00 on Youtube with a low quality camera.

So what am I here to do? I'm here to convey the idea of Power Core Combiners. To let you know that it's more than just the toy, but also a movement. If you're not liking the sentence you just read, you probably might not want to read the rest of this article. You likely know me well already - I'm a crazed collector of Transformers: Armada, a Blurr fan, and I'm not exactly one to go along with popular trends. But no, this is not blind love for Power Core Combiners, it's a bit more like tough love. Whether you're laying the smackdown on these toys, or you love them to death, they're still just toys. And that brings us to the start of my discussion.

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Toy. Toys. [toi]. Looking it up in the dictionary, obviously you'll find a definition. A bunch of English nonsense, but there's a key phrase - "for children or others to play with". I'm sure you've heard of this all before, but for those who haven't, Hasbro's target audiences are within the definition. The children, and others, which are us Transformers fans. While I wish that us Transformers fans were pushing Transformers in the direction we wanted to, it's just not there. Even if Jon Doe dishes out one grand on Transformers every month, a kid and their ever affectionate parents outnumber us. We humans just can't stop making babies. Then there's Live Action. The 2007 Transformers Movie did not only include explosions from Michael Bay, no, it exploded the Transformers into the stratosphere, and it's a fair guess to assume that alot of kids jumped on the bandwagon.

To the movie toyline in particular. Leading up to the years before it, Transformers was always a singular toy line. Everyone had to go through the disco colors of Generation 2, the clashy colors of Universe, and the cool to me, but probably not very cool to you, Transformers Armada. Now in recent years we've had collective lines sharing the Transformers name under Hasbro's brand. In 2008, there were Movie toys, Universe/Classics 2.0 and Transformers Animated. Respectively we designated the figures under the different sections of the Transformers fanbase, for the movie fans, for the faithful Generation One fans, and for the kids. But there's a big problem here. In no way should Transformers Animated should have been designated towards the children population. Yes, it was a morning cartoon, but the toys were intricate puzzles. They require a force and memory, things that some young children have yet to develop sufficiently. To top it all off, Transformers Animated probably had the worst quality control in the history of Transformers. Loose hands, sloppy paint application, basically the works. Not only is that a huge turn off for us Transformers collectors, but when a kid doesn't like, or can't even play with the Transformers toy, that opens a huge can of warms. The parent's likely going to deem Transformers for being too difficult for their son or daughter. And while the majority of some Animated figures were completely shoddy, it still was successful because of it being part of a cartoon! Fans had to complete the 'cast' or get the toy of their favorite characters. Even to this day, people are demanding figures for Animated characters that have yet to receive one!

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Fast forward to 2010. It's the same as 2008 - Hunt for the Decepticons for movie fans, Generations for the G1 fans, and Power Core Combiners for the kids. I ultimately feel that Hasbro deemed that the Animated toyline was a failure, and in order for a 'kid toyline' to be successful, Power Core Combiners had to simplified. There's alot of playability, the line is really aimed for children...

..And just like Transformers: Animated and everything before it, the line has it's own cartoon! Hasbro's got the business down pact, a kid watches Huffer and his best buddy Caliburst blast down Smolder and Chopster. Then after the show's over, the young boy kindly asks his mother to take him to the toy store. Both figures are purchased so he can re-enact their battles all over the carpet floor. Wait.. something's not right there. Ah yes, I got it wrong. The kid buys a comic book, and sees Bombshock with the Combaticons, shooting down Skyburst and the Aerialbots.. Wait that's not right either.

Utterly Dumbfounded. It's been 3 months and I still can't get over the fact that Power Core Combiners has no connecting media. Not only is having no related cartoon for a major toy line breaking the trend, but having a toyline by itself is just silly to me. A single appearance in in Cyber Missions doesn't count either. Even reading Transformers Ongoing #11 got me interested in buying Generations Red Alert, Movie Firetrap (Brawn) and 2010 Takara Predaking. But for the PCCs - No toyline, no comics, no nothing. There's nothing to save this line if it's ratings fall. Compound this entire situation with the fact that the year 2010 yields no Transformers movie and no Transformers cartoon till Quarter 4 - I just see it's more likely for a child to be interested in Star Wars, Ben 10, or Iron Man. Even if a kid is a Transformers fan, I personally believe that the Movie line and Generations are alot more appealing than PCCs.

The last nine paragraphs have led to my conclusion of this situation - Transformers Power Core Combiners have purely been marketed out for children. Personally I believe that Hasbro is using this to test out if a kid-only toy line can suffice. I just don't see that this project is going to work well. An entire toyline made out of Activators wouldn't work either. Yes, maybe Power Core Combiners could work, but not at this time. Maybe in December, when it's Christmas time and toys are bought up more than fast food. Maybe next year, when Transformers 3 comes out and the Transformers buzz is back. But in the Summer of 2010, competing externally against Star Wars, Iron Man, GIJoe, and internally against Generations and Hunt For the Decepticons - PCC's at the bottom of the league, and they traded away their first round draft pick. I just don't see that there's any hope for this line.

Power Core Combiners have been engineered for younger fans, I just don't see how 21st century Transformers Technology can make PCC 5-Packs look like antiques compared to their superior Generation One brothers. Is that wrong? Certainly not, I'm sure younger fans and children will enjoy these toys due to their low cost and for the reasons stated above. But to us, to the older fans, to the experienced, Seriously Hasbro? I can't even consider myself as old, but this line is a complete turn off to me - an Armada collector. These Mini-cons are a shadow compared to Targetmasters, Headmasters, and Armada Mini-cons. My fellow Seibertron.com staff member Counterpunch, a man who collects almost everything, is flabbergasted at this line.

I can put words as to why this line was created, to how we got to this point, but I've got nothing in the English dictionary to describe these toys. So, Mamma Mia! I did say that with this article, I would make sure that no one would talk bad about Power Core Combiners at BotCon 2011. I'm sorry if I came off with the intention of making your opinion of these guys to be positive. No, just let your anger and hate out now.


~Blurrz
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Last edited by Blurrz on Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby adamassc » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:34 pm

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I agree with you, but I still love this line. I can't pass on a Scout-class figure, especially these guys. Plus being able to collect an entire line for at most $20 is nice. BUT,

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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby chrisc4 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:37 pm

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i really love this line. sure it isnt perfect but what line is? they are meant for kids, they are simplified combiners for kids. we are all collectors (and occasionally we play with) of transformers. i think this line really brings out the kid in me. i'm 18. i have been buying transformers since i was little. and i've gotta say this line makes feel like a kid again. besides my generation is messed up and transformers makes me feel better than my wasted generation. :BOT:
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby CybertronHotShot » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:43 pm

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Nice post. It make me thinks about the real purpose of the PCC line. :-? ;)
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:44 pm

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Blurrz wrote:
Utterly Dumbfounded. It's been 3 months and I still can't get over the fact that Power Core Combiners has no connecting media.
I hate to say it, but it's Machine Wars all over again with the PCCs. :roll:
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Megazarak » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:45 pm

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Well, I like them. Of course, I would have liked them a whole lot more if the commander was a Deluxe class figure with Scout class parts that actually have 3 forms each (robot, alt, and combiner), but that would have costed a whole lot more than what people are paying for the current PCCs, and as such, may not have been the best idea. I personally love the idea of combiners, and though I'm a little saddened at the simplicity of these guys, I still like them. The commander figures look pretty decent for scouts, and the mini-cons are by no means bad, so I really don't see them as a bad thing at all. Maybe down the line they'll make one giant PCC with the aformentioned Deluxe as the commander (or even leader of the commanders) and it'll be great, but until then I'm happy with these guys.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Captziltoid » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:47 pm

armamda...sideswipe...

oh the memorys. i really think its bcuz the arms and legs dont transform. i have the aerialbots and the combaticons. combined the combaticons are really cool but the aerialbots are poop in plastic form. i really want the dinobots one just bcuz its a cool idea, but like everyone else i hate that stupid left arm. at least one of the connections is always just a giant piece of metal coming out of the arm or leg socket. and then most of them have the same piece. like the helicoptor form the aerialbots. if im not forgetting, at least 2 other packs have the same chopper. its like the movie devastator, 100 bucks for some vehicles and the ez version was waaaaay better. the power core series was a good idea but done badly. the worst part is that ill prolly still be gettin the dang dinobots combiners. haha im such a sucker for good ideas. :BOT:
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Stixx » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:57 pm

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Bravo Blurrz! That was beautifully written! Come on, that is something you could write for college and turn it in. Wow, Send that to Hasblow!I 100% Agree with you. This made my night. Thank you!

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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Traxus Prime » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:04 pm

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I bought the Combaticon 5 pack just to see.......and i hate it. I kinda like the 2 packs though; well Huffer, Smolder, and Sledge anyway. but i agree with the points in this article.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby noodles2go » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:09 pm

I don't know what's more sad... The fact that a lot of what you said is right and the PCC line is filled with flaws, or that of all the current tf toys this year, these are my favorite. Seriously, despite their issues, these are some damn fun toys. They are making me appreciate the armada line (which I hated) and now regret I never bought any Energon toys. the 2-packs are easily the best thing in this line, and while the 5 packs have their issues, they compliment the 2-packs and open doors for endless amounts of combinations. What's more is how inexpensive this line is, you really get a good deal. Sure things could be better, but then I'd expect prices that'd turn me down otherwise. Surprisingly I like the look of a lot of the human alliance toys (despite my hate for bayverse astethics), but I refuse to shell out $30+ for them. $10 gets you 2 awesome toys, $20 gets you 5 decent ones. I hope that this line sees more than just repaints after wave 4, as I will continue to throw my money at these and welcome them with open arms.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby FanimusMaximus » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:12 pm

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And yet you dont post the PCC galleries, EXPLAIN ME THAT SEIBERTRON.COM.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Mindmaster » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:16 pm

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That was -sniff- beeeeaaaaauuuuttttiiiiffffuuuuulllll...... :APPLAUSE: :APPLAUSE: :APPLAUSE: :APPLAUSE: :APPLAUSE: Awesome essay on PCC's. I'm 15, and I kinda like the PCC's. Well, the more G1-orientated figures are more of my taste, i.e Bombshock, Menas- I mean Crankcase, Skyburst, etc. The Constructicons are to come around Christmas, right? If so, I'd better go ahead and nab Sledge, as I find him a more attractive-looking team leader than the original. :lol:
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Quaternion » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:33 pm

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Armada Sideswipe is actually kind of endearing, in a kind of 'worst Transformer ever' kind of way.

Of course, I don't have any PCCs

This article made me go and dig up my Armada Sideswipe, who I had stashed with my pile of crappy TF knockoffs from Big Lots. (Ha! found Armada Blurr there too!)
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Noideaforaname » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:34 pm

I'm not too sure what this topic is about. Are we stunned that toys were actually designed with kids in mind?

PCCs don't really need advertising, especially with the Movies, WfC, and the upcoming Prime cartoon throwing the Transformers brand into the public's view. Plenty no-show/toy only characters sell well, and the PCCs have an interesting interactive gimmick that spans the whole line.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Sky-Quake » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:35 pm

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I have Smolder and Puffer and I love them so much but they need more fiction for these guys hell even animorphs had fiction albeit one that was completely irrelevant to transformers but fiction none the less
I am in need of another missle for my energon Starscram and a wing for my Armada Terrorsaur the one with his name on it if anyone has spares of these items that they don't need please PM me
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Swiftpaw » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:43 pm

Personally, other than the Destructicons that look like they rolled out of a Mad Max movie, I find the drones to be rather crappy. And even them I can't really count because they're not really transformers, just freaky looking cars.

The minicons and actual figures, however, have been nice. I just wish they didn't have those glaring blue connectors, and I'd be able to forget they're some sort of weird combiner wannabe. Some people like them, some people don't. It's as simple as that, as it is with anything else.

Either way though, good writeup on a take on how the business side of this odd trek may be.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Blurrz » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:47 pm

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Thanks for the love everyone. Hopefully aiming to get a weekly editorial going on Seibertron.com

FanimusMaximus wrote:And yet you dont post the PCC galleries, EXPLAIN ME THAT SEIBERTRON.COM.


Generations and Movie figure are at our highest priority at the moment. We'll be getting Power Core Combiners up in the next few weeks, but it's not exactly a favorite of Seibertron.


Noideaforaname wrote:I'm not too sure what this topic is about. Are we stunned that toys were actually designed with kids in mind?

PCCs don't really need advertising, especially with the Movies, WfC, and the upcoming Prime cartoon throwing the Transformers brand into the public's view. Plenty no-show/toy only characters sell well, and the PCCs have an interesting interactive gimmick that spans the whole line.


As much as I'd love to agree with you about Power Core Combiners being known to everyone, I just don't see it. I know the PCC Fanboys and girls seem to be out in full force in this thread, but the bottomline is that this line is not selling well. It's the shelfwarmer, and there's a majority of Seibertronians and Transformers who absolutely despise this line.

The topic of my editorial.. I guess it's basically saying that Hasbro has designed Power Core Combiners to fail. I guess I'm also trying to get the point across that people should form their own opinions on toys. And of course.. trying to throw in a little fire into the pit and get some discussion going!
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Envisaged0ne » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:51 pm

You have some interesting points of views. But I, overall, disagree on a few issues you listed. 1st, you stated that the animated line was geared more for children and the quality control was aweful. There certainly can be no argument that it was aimed towards children. Esp since it had a silly Saturday cartoon attached to it. But many adults were drawn to the line as well. I'd dare say that more adults were serious about collecting them than children. And I include myself in that statement. And I do believe that the original animated toy line, specifically wave 1, had some quality control issues. Esp loose joints. But as the toy line matured, the problems seemed to go away. Not just in the toys I bought, but reading/ watching reviews, I noticed problems with the toys not really being mentioned anymore. Of course every once in a while, you're going to pick up a toy that's got some issues, but overall, it seemed to disappear relatively quickly.

Second, I'm not sure I agree with your assumption that the PCC's are geared towards children because of the cheap price. $20.00 is pretty steep. Esp when there are a lot of deluxe, scout and legend class figures that are more affordible for a child. Granted, for a combiner toy $20.00 is a very cheap price. But children are more likely to see a $20.00 price tag for a transformer and want to move on to something cheaper. I personally think that Hasbro is trying something new and seeing how well it does. I don't think they want to put a lot of money behind it just yet, thus they are cheap and don't have anything major like a comic or cartoon backing it. Just simply want to see how well something different will sell and attract a broad audience of collectors. I actually think the idea is pretty kewl and I bought the aerial bots and combaticons. But I don't think they were great and have a long way to go before people will like what they see and feel it's worth the purchase.

Now, will Hasbro just assume that since they aren't popular and aren't selling well, that they were a dismal failure? Probably. And we'll see the toy lines existence fade out quickly. But I'd love to see Hasbro put more attention and money into them and release a more finely tuned product that would attract a lot more Transformer fans.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby adamassc » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:54 pm

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I don't think they were designed to fail.

I think they were executed to fail. The designs are promising, the idea on paper is solid- affordable combiners with intechangable, selftransforming limbs. It's the fabrication where the problems start. The limbs don't work well most of the time, and look little like arms. The Universal interlink joints don't need to be light blue on everybody.


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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Autobot Strider » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:00 pm

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Great article Blurrz! While I loves me some Scout Class figures, I can't really get into these PCCs. However, that picture on the article's page of Armada Deluxe Prime holding that axe has me very tempted to pick one up for him.... ;)
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Megatron Wolf » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:01 pm

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Great article and i agree with you 100% on all things but toys needing some kind of stand alone medium like a show or comic to work. Im kinda on the fence when it comes to the PCC line. I like the way the figures look, i love that they tried to bring back target masters, and they're built pretty damn well but the combination gimmick is a fail and my main gripe. They dont sell the drones separately and i dont like the idea of non-transforming drones one bit. They need a robot mode. And if your going to buy the pack that has a leader and the drones your probably not going to use those drones on one of the 2 pack figures. My 2nd reason for not being a huge fan is some of the modes for the mini-cons are so half assed its hard to figure out what hasbro was trying to accomplish in the first place. Take Searchlight for instance, his mini-con doesnt look right in any of his modes. All it looks like is a robot that was forced to be a transformer and mistransformed. In my opinion its just another case of hasbro getting an idea and throwing it out there before doing any kind of research or thinking it fully through. As for the toys not having a show or comic they really dont need one. When kids (well any one for that matter) find something they like they normaly stick with it. If they like Transformers and it says "Transformers" on it they'll probably want it. And i also think that the PCC are actually part of the generations line anyway. They have the same box style just dont share the name. This wouldnt be the first time there was as subline fo figures with no kind of series besides the toys themselves. Yeah having a relatible medium does help but its not needed for a successful and rooted series like Transformers especially now with all the media its had in the past few years. If hasbro were to take the PCC leader molds take off the blue bits, make the mini-cons better, andvofficialy throw em in the generations line i think the PCC would be better off than were they are now. Oh on a side note, you should really post those reviews and pics of the PCC figures. It might help some people out when it comes to the line.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby omega666 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:09 pm

There was science? 8-}
Bah weep granah weep nini bon!
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby Liftgate » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:13 pm

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Just wanted to say that I'm a fan of Armada too. The toys and video game anyway, not the show. :p Somehow I love the Starscream mold, it's very G1-ish. Hoist is awesome too, and just happens to be the first transformer I bought in many years, since G2 actually.

Power Cores just look wonky and none of 'em jump out as something I'd want on my shelf. Maybe it's the colors, the designs, I dunno. Steelshot/Beacon is the only one I'm getting, it's got a nice color combo that seems to suit him.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby UltraPrimal » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:20 pm

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What? People don't like PCC?! I think it's a great line! Sure the only ones I have are Smolder and the Combaticons, but I still think they're awesome. And there's still a lot of potential for the future. Imagine if they evolve the line beyond nobody characters with little drones. Imagine redoing Energon Optimus Prime with Powercore technology. How about doing an Omega Supreme where the tank is the commander figure with the rocket splitting in half to form the arms with a battleship and crane/train for legs. Try an Ultra Magnus with a trailer that splits in 4 piece to form his armor/limbs. Or use that same idea for a Star Saber with the commander being Saber and the part that the Saber jet plugs into being the 4 drone/limb pieces. The possibilities are endless if they deviate from the standard "gestalt" gimmick they have now.
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Re: The Science and Madness Behind Transformers Power Core Combiners

Postby grimdragon2001 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:34 pm

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nice work blurzz. i gotta agree with all the points here on this one. but even with that, PCC does have a couple gems in my view. those would be huffer and smolder. huffer could have easily sold as a generations scout. i guess a more g1 accurate head sculpt would have helped but he really does fit nicely with my neo g1 display. smolder is a nicely built figure but the real star of his set would be chopster, whs size, coloring and low price make him the most easily accessable energy axe for any deluxe or voyager optimus prime to whield (which reminds me, nice shot of armada optimus with chopster as the article's pic).

now if hasbro wants to turn the PCC line around, i think they would be best served by going back to the energon combiners and expanding on what was started with them. those three combiners had flaws (most addressed by Fansproject), but their base designs still have great potential. i would love to see energon type versions of menesor, defensor, computron, abominus and predaking, as well as new combiner groups
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