The most recent incarnation of Ruination marks the first time a Scramble City-style gift set has been sold domestically since 1988. It's also the eighth time this particular production mold has been pressed into service, which as far as I'm concerned means that this is one very tired, overworked group of toys who need to be put out to pasture. (Well, unless Hasbro wants to do just *one* more production run in G1 colors, in which case I won't complain too much.)
The packaging for the gift set is clearly moldeled after the Armada template, the only real difference being that they used the RiD logo instead of the Armada logo (which are nearly identical to one another). As far as the package goes, what makes this a not-Armada toy is the fact that it doesn't come with a comic book (the graphic that should have gone on the collectible sticker is instead printed on the back of the box). Obviously, the toys themselves aren't Minicon-compatible, which is probably the main reason why Hasbro took the RiD route. (I still say a few non-functional powerlinx pegs would have been a nice addition, especially since Movor and Ro-Tor are already halfway there.)
The toys and accessories are secured to the inside box flap with something like 26 twist ties, even including the individual little weapons for each Commando, which struck me as a very odd thing to do. My first impression was that Hasbro was showcasing the sheer number of parts that come in this set (24, by my reckoning) to make it seem like you get more bang for your buck. Upon reflection, maybe there was just no other way to fit so many pieces inside the box?
Incidentally, Armorhide is the only one of them who avoided being mistransformed to fit in the packaging. Even the box photos of Ruination are wrong, showing him with super-extended legs, apparently in an attempt to make him look more poseable and/or make him resemble the Dreamwave art. Both the art and photos also show Armorhide with his tank turret facing forward (like the way Bruticus had traditionally transformed) rather than facing backwards (the configuration introduced for Car Robots/RiD). The box also shows early versions of the toys without the mold changes, carrying differently-colored weapons and with large Decepticon symbols tampographed in the wrong spot.
Also, it amused me that somebody made a translation goof and had to slap stickers all over the packaging and instructions to cover it up. The set is described on the trilingual box as being a Quintette/Multi-Pack/Multipaquette, until you peel off the stickers to see that the first and last words were originally "Quatuor" and "Guādruple," suggesting that somebody hadn't quite figured out that there are five toys in this gift set, not four. (The box also has a $24.88 Wal-Mart price sticker on it, but those are usually applied at the distrubution center level, similar to the K-Mart stickers that appeared on the Beast Riders repaints.)
This set has a *lot* of unusual paint applications on it, stuff that doesn't conform to any of the previous paint masks they've used for these toys, which is one of the reasons I pegged these things as fakes when I first saw images online. They all have three different camouflage colors applied, plus the three ground vehicles have brown paint airbrushed on them to simulate dirt, then the Decepticon symbols tampographed on top of that, *and* the brand-new robot-mode detailing, *and* the new paint applications that cover *entire* pieces of Mega-Octane. Ruination's feet, for example, are made from grey plastic but are painted completely purple. It's all very bizarre. It's also unfortunate that, despite all these new spray-ops, the toy is still extraordinarily boring. For all intents and purposes, Ruination is entirely grey, and that strikes me as really uninteresting. It is worth mentioning that this is the very first Decepticon sub-group team in history who all have red eyes in robot mode. (Of course, none of the Combaticons actually *had* red eyes in the cartoon except Vortex, but the effort nevertheless did not go unnoticed by me.)
Mold changes: No changes were made to Armorhide or Ro-Tor. Rollbar's small gun got a very minor change made to the weapon grip, with new tabs added to the base of the post similar to the ones Armorhide's got, resulting in a very poor fit when you try to connect both of Rollbar's weapons together. What a pointless change. Also, Rollbar got saddled with the most goofy official paint deco in history. Somebody decided he would look good with a big, white, toothy grin, despite the fact that his face isn't actually molded to accommodate such a paint application. (Maybe, *maybe* I just got a mispainted one, and it's not *really* supposed to be that bad. It's happened before. My Rippersnapper toy has some misapplied eye paint that makes it look like he's doing an Optimus Minor impression.)
Movor, of course, got a much rounder and stubbier nosecone, which just kind of makes him look goofy. What, was he really that dangerous before? Were kids going around school playgrounds stabbing each other with pointy-nosed space shuttles? I don't get it. Mega-Octane only got one major change, and unfortunately it's an irritating one. Some bright spark decided it would be a good idea to increase the length of the tab on his ramp *just* slightly, without adjusting the corresponding slot in his back. That means that this version of Mega-Octane (and all subsequent versions of the toy, unless they catch this and fix it) can't use his own ramp! How bothersome. (It's also worth mentioning that the ramp is cast from the same neutral-grey plastic as the rest of him, but it's painted entirely in gloss black except for the tab and post. The mount for his twin lasers is painted, too. It's an interesting way of getting different color combinations out of the toy without changing the molds around, that's for sure.) Sadly, Mega-Octane is a really boring toy in vehicle mode without stickers. He could do with a lot more camouflage than he's got, particularly around the roof of the cab and the back section of the truck. He's also got a bizarre paint application on his face, since only half his face plate is painted. What, don't these people *look* at the toys before they design the paint masks? It makes him look a bit like G1 Scavenger, actually.
Ruination's head is *exactly* identical to the original RiD version, including the plastic color and all the paint applications. Same deal with the fists; as far as I'm concerned, the two versions are interchangeable. The chest shield is the same mold, and mostly the same colors aside from the new yellow and purple-painted panels.
I might recommend this set if it weren't so boring. I can understand how a uniform color scheme might be appealing to some people, but... ugh. I'll take the G2 Combaticons over this any day. :) -- Zobovor