Build King C-022


The memory of Transformer combiners does not evoke graceful imagery. You might remember the old toys as frail, awkward contraptions that could barely hold their balance. They were usually composed of five or six smaller toys that suffered from being woefully simple and unarticulated. The owner kept a handful of tiny, extra parts in a zip-lock baggie that served no purpose when the robot wasn't assembled.

If you were careful, you could make your massive automaton raise his arm and hold his gun without falling over in a shattering of plastic.

Takara, in step with the revival-crazed times, returned to the original Transformers concept under the name "Transformers 2000: Car Robot". Selling not beasts, but vehicles, Takara hopes to capitalize not only on toy-hungry children, but nostalgic adults as well.

Under TF2000, we've seen a revisitation of the combiner concept with JRX and Build King.

Rather than the old Constructicons's six members, Build King is limited to four constituent Transformers called the Build Masters. They include Build Boy, the bulldozer, Build Cyclone, the crane, Build Hurricane, the backhoe, and Build Typhoon, the dump truck. Fewer components yield a sturdier frame, and allow the designer to spend more time developing each component robot.

Build Boy and team make fine standalone toys. Not only larger than Devastator's crew, the shoulders, elbows, hip, and knees all feature well executed ball joint poseability. A fair amount of detail is etched into even the most unlikely nooks and crannies of the surface. The vehicle's large tires, while not rubber, actually roll well.

When pulling Build King out of the box, something seems missing. There are only four robots, no parts. Everything you need to form Build King, including weapons, is built right into the toy. Gone are the trails of keeping track of fists, breastplate, pelvis panel, or head.

Exploring the toy's many gimmicks is a comforting experience. We are reminded the genius that made Takara's old toys great is not lost. Build Typhoon's dump is actually a spring-action claw. Build Hurricane's bucket-arm hides a serrated pincer.

Build Cyclone deserves special attention. The marksman of the team, not only does his crane-arm become a powerful looking rifle, but he hides a small pistol stored in his cab. Further, he features small, retractable hydraulic jacks to support his vehicle mode.

The Constructicon's almost trivial transformations are improved in the Build King robots, returning to the more complex "plastic origami" of the early, first-released Transformers toys.

Build King may be assembled as a choice of three different modes. Build Boy always forms the central torso of the big robot, but each of the other three team members may take turns acting as the arms. The remaining two form the legs. An ingenious four-way interlock between the components make this possible.

The ball-and-socket technology is a blessing and a curse. While offering great poseability, the technique often encourages the designer to fudge on form allows a great handicap in sloppy planning. Solid detents are missed.

Takara avoids the problem of removable fists by forgoing fists altogether. Build King has simplified claws, which are arguably more appropriate for his theme. The claws are able to wield the set's various weapons well enough.

The only objective complaint about the set concerns Build Boy's feet. There's simply not a lot of balanced surface area for him to stand on. This is not easy to see in pictures, but he has no heel, and tends to fall backwards. He could use the little pop-out stabilizers found in DX Dairugger XV, or even Takara's own JRX.

Build King looks sharp, plays well, and carries the Transformers spirit all the way. This may be as close as it will ever get to "Soul of Transformer Combiner".