- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2014

A look at some toys devoted to the new movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Transformers Battle Stadium (Hexbug, ages 6 and older, uses LR44/AG13 button cell batteries included, $39.99) — In the finest traditions of the television show “BattleBots,” a company known for creating lifelike robotic bugs presents a slick challenge for fans of Autobots and Decepticons.

Players assemble an arena (about 10 minutes of effort) that looks like a fan blade and approximately 20-inches in diameter with a translucent red canopy covering its center area. They power up 2.5-inch-long micro warriors (tapping a button on the belly), that sort of resembling Optimus Prime and Lockdown, and place them in one of the five lanes.

Then the battle begins. The warriors, wearing configurable armor and weapons, vibrate, briskly moving around the arena and randomly attacking, well bumping, each other. As they bump, each take damage denoted by their health light going from green to yellow and then a flashing red before the loser stalls out.

To add to the strategy and replayability, players get some extra attachable pieces such as spinning and twisting blades colored to resemble parts from the Transformers Galvatron, Crosshairs, Bumblebee and Drift. When used in the right combinations they can offer an advantage of keeping an enemy at bay or jab at the right point on an opponent to trigger damage.

Where the game really shines is if parents spring for additional Hexbug Transformers ($9.99 each). Now, the action now gets very chaotic and delivers quite the show for youngsters during each match.

Grimlock Street Attack (Hasbro, ages 6 to12, $19.99) — Hasbro gets into the middle of the brick-building competition between Lego and Mega Bloks with its own lineup of licensed, construction kits called Kre-O.

Besides sets devoted to the Star Trek, G.I. Joe and Dungeons and Dragons, they now have about dozen creations tied to the “Transformers: Age of Extinction” universe.

The Street Attack kit offers around an hour’s worth of building using 106 pieces to create the barest of a Hong Kong street scene from the movie and starring a 6-inch tall, non-transformable version of the Dinobots leader.

Owners get an Chinatown-style arch that cracks open in the middle, 1.75-inch-tall mini figures of Gold Knight Optimus Prime with a spear, and a pair of Vehicon soldiers (Decepticon wannabes) wielding a missile launcher and pistol.

The extra magic in this set is something called Dinoforce Technology. Well, it’s really the power of magnetism that allows a Vehicon to get munched on by Grimlock as he gets drawn into the mouth of the T-Rex by the metal strip in his helmet.

Kre-O is still not ready for primetime, in my opinion. While assembling, my young tester pointed out one of the bricks was partially melted and the instruction manual was difficult to decipher the piece colors. Youngsters will have much more fun with Hasbro’s Construct-Bots line.

Contruct-Bots Lockdown (Hasbro, ages 6 and older, $19.99) — With a tip of the helmet to Lego’s Bionicles, these constructible and reconfigurable action figures offer dozens of interchangeable plastic parts and plenty of design possibilities for young builders in the family.

This set contains a pair of 7-inch-tall figures when completed, the bounty hunter Lockdown and mechanized raptor Hangnail.

Owners get 57-pieces ranging from armor, body parts and weapons that use rubberized ball joints, clips and sockets to offer a decent range of articulation.

After building Lockdown (about a 30-minute process), with some quick twisting and tinkering, he can transform into a sturdy combat vehicle or back to his robotic form. Hangnail is a much quicker build and can either stand by the villain’s side or become part of him with pieces of the dinosaur attached as Lockdown’s Dino armor.

Contruct-Bots deliver the best of both worlds for creative Transformer fans. They get to build some classic characters, covert them and even design unique Robots in Disguise.

Parents should note that the illustrated directions are sometimes vague, and Junior might need some guidance.

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