Series: TFC Toys
Legal stuff first as always. Ares is not a figure (or rather a group of figures combined) released by Hasbro or Takara-Tomy and thus not officially a Transformer. He's from third party company TFC and clearly intended to be G1 Predaking
, but for legal reasons he can't be called by that name.
Ares is the combined form of the TFC Not-Predacons, each of whom I have already reviewed individually here at TFU. You can find these reviews here:
Let's start off by saying that this giant combined robot here is clearly Predaking, no doubt about it. G1 Predaking was the biggest and - in my opinion - best of the G1 combiners and Ares takes everything great about that old figure and enhances it. More details, larger wings, real shoulder cannons, giant sword, huge arm cannon, gun-feet, the whole package. Ares looks fantastic as a combiner, absolutely no complaints here, and the homage to the G1 original couldn't be any clearer. So two thumbs up for the looks.
In terms of proportions Ares scores better than Predaking, too, simply because Nemean - who forms the torso - is bigger than his teammates, whereas Razorclaw was the same size as the others, making G1 Predaking look like he took steroids for years, bulking up his arms and legs to huge proportions. Ares looks a lot more streamlined, while still strong and powerful. Articulation is also nothing to sneeze at, as all limbs can move and bend pretty much freely and even the big wings on the back can move up and down, forward and back, and even be folded in. Very nicely done.
Weapons-wise Ares has no room for complaint, either. One arm (left or right) sports his huge, light-up arm cannon. The three swords and two scythes carried by the individual Ares team members combine into a huge, huge sword. Nemean's big shoulder cannons remain in play here, of course, with the barrels extended to better fit with Ares' larger size. His huge feet have two gun barrels each (in G1 those were supposed to be mortars, which he actually used in the cartoon, too) and finally he has big, spiked brass knuckles on his hands for close quarter combat. Speaking of his hands, each finger can move individually, is sharpened to a tip, and he has two thumbs on each hand. Not sure what the idea was behind that, but it makes for a cool, somewhat disturbing look.
Sadly it's not quite all praise here, as Ares does have a weak spot. The big wings and his huge weapons make him rather top-heavy. Now his arms and fists are more than strong enough to support the weight of the weapons and his big feet give him ample stability, but the joints connecting the thighs to the waist need some tightening up. Lean him forward or backward too much or spread his legs too wide, and Ares will topple over at the waist or go into the split. It's not that big a thing, but as the only real weak spot on an otherwise great combiner figure, it stands out. Gonna have to see if I can't tighten up those joints myself somehow.
Otherwise, though, absolutely no complaints here. A superb combined mode.
Predaking was a bit of a strange guy as far as G1 combiners go, because at times he seemed more of a character than the five bots he is built from (if not by much). Predaking had a fierce rivarly with Autobot Sky Lynx
(who rather regularly kicked his skidplate) and didn't just combine for combat, but also for flying through space on his own. Given that none of the individual Predacons ever got much in the way of character development (except possibly Divebomb), Predaking almost seems more real than them.
This also marks the (to my knowledge) first occassion that three different third party companies brought out a homage to the same character almost at the same time. Unique Toys brought out Warlord, Mastermind Creations gave us Feral Rex, and TFC has Ares here. The general scuttlebut among fans seems to be that Warlord is pretty much the unloved step child, while Feral Rex is considered the best, with Ares somewhere in the middle. I doubt, though, that there are too many people out there who actually got more than one third party Predaking (they are somewhat expensive, after all), so this seems to be more a case of which third party company you feel more comfortable with. Anyway, having been quite happy with the previous TFC combiners, I was very much predisposed towards Ares and I was not disappointed. Sure, the hip stability is a bit of a bother when posing him, but let's be honest: these expensive third party figures aren't for playing with, they are for putting them up on a shelf to gaze at them adoringly. And Ares does a great job here.
Bottom line: not quite as nicely designed as Hercules
, but still a great combiner robot. Recommended to everyone who likes the Predacons and can afford him.