After going through the bounty of great stuff that was the Kre-O Age of Extinction line, I was happy to read that the new Robots in Disguise cartoon would be getting its own run of Kre-O sets. Albeit much more scaled-down in quantity from previous years, the entire line would contain five builds:
- Optimus Prime Beast Blaster
- Bumblebee Disc Demolishor
- Underbite Jetpack Takedown
- Strongarm Capture Cruiser
- Sideswipe Roadway Rundown
Of these, I mostly just wanted the kreons that came with each set. Four out of the five sets were builds roughly (very roughly) based off the vehicle modes of the Autobots. In order from best to worst: a vaguely SUV-like police car build for Strongarm; a sleek red car for Sideswipe; and a very blocky (no pun intended) yellow car for Bumblebee. The worst, however, was Optimus. The largest set of the five, it includes a pretty cool little build based on Fracture’s hoverbike alt mode and a large, ugly, not-even-vaguely-like-Optimus truck build.
Even with that hideous truck build, for cheap enough I would still pick it up just for the Fracture, Airrazor, and Divebomb kreons and the hoverbike build. Of the five, the only set of which I wanted the whole thing was the “Underbite Jetpack Takedown”.
Granted, all of this speculation quickly became quite moot. Following a long, grand tradition of “showing us merchandise we want but can’t actually buy”, this year the Kre-O line pretty much evaporated off any major retail shelves. Luckily the discount retail chains stood ready to absorb the stock. While this doesn’t do any favors to the future of the toyline, it does at least provide a discount — provided you can find them. Thus began over six months of hunting at T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, and Ross stores literally throughout the country. My first sighting was in July, whilst trekking across the U.S. to the Black Hills of South Dakota. The first two sets I found were the ones I cared the least for; Optimus and Bumblebee. With the Optimus set still being more than I wanted to pay (truck build sooooo fugly), I only picked up the Bumblebee set. Then I proceeded to only build the kreons, ’cause it turned out Bumblebee’s vehicle build is about as oogly as the Optimus one.
The Decepticon crab and the lobster, Clampdown and Bisk, both come with helmets. Clampdown also has proper, non-spidery legs, but the use of the legs on Clampdown make him just look like a dude riding some kind of mechanical spider-like chair. So I leave them off. Ditto with the helmets that hide those wonderfully bonkers facial details and actually work to make them look less like their cartoon counterparts.
It would be a couple months later and back in Chicago when I finally found Sideswipe and Strongarm. Sideswipe’s vehicle really isn’t much better than Bumblebee’s, but it was smaller, and was actually kind of a fun build.
Furthering the Decepticon seafood platter, Hammerstrike is great, as a kreon he manages to do a decent job of pulling off his namesake’s on screen appearance. Unfortunately, the mouth printed on his head doesn’t match up well with the mouth on his shark helmet.
Speaking of which, minus his shark helmet, his entire face is just a black, gaping hole full of shark teeth which is pretty disturbing in its own right.
All of the Robots in Disguise Decepticon kreons in these sets are oddities due to them being vaguely normalized representations of Decepticons that definitely do not fit the normal profile. Springload is one of the more extreme examples, as his Robots in Disguise incarnation has a full-on frog robot mode.
Months of looking had lead to nothing and there was nothing new to report for a while after finding Sideswipe and Strongarm. At this point, I had kind of resigned myself to not getting my hands on the one set that I really wanted. I still hadn’t read any confirmed sightings online of people finding Underbite anywhere. Then, like some kind of holiday miracle, in one trip I located not only the Underbite set, but the even longer sought after Age of Extinction Junkheap.
The set also comes with a stasis pod. As capturing the escapees of the prison ship Alchemor is the key tenet of the show, the Robots in Disguise sets each come with a stasis pod the colour-themed to the Autobot of the set that can be attached to their vehicles. Dark blue for Optimus, white for Strongarm, red for Sideswipe, and of course yellow for Bumblebee. They come with rubber bands that attach to pegs on each side of the pod and create a snapping-shut trap effect. Though, good luck Autobots on using the pods to capture some of those larger Decepticons.