Series: Superlink (Energon)
Alternate Mode: Helicopter
The US version, Stormcloud.
Note: I have the Japanese version of this set, so I'm going with the Japanese names partly because of the G1 links and partly because Hasbro's reuse of names in this set is so random..
Height: 6cm Length: 13cm Width: 5.5cm
The blade is 13cm long
An orange Apache-style helicopter with brown winglets and enginepods, Vortex has a gold cockpit and a gold tailshaft, while his canopy is transparent blue (with orange seats visible inside), and there are some other blue highlights, notably the nose. While the colours might be a radical departure from those of G1 Vortex, this alternate mode is in itself a good tribute. The orange is a darker, persimmon orange, rather than the safety orange that Transformers seem to use these days, and actually looks really good. I suppose Ohio football fans will like the Cleveland Browns colours. This is a pretty nice colour scheme, not in the least because it's refreshing to see a Transformer done in orange without being ridiculously bright. The quite different principal colours provide a contrast to Blast Off's similar colours. It's also interesting to note the plastic colours on the two don't match (Vortex: orange fuselage and rotor, Blast Off: grey fuselage but purple rotor).
I'm not sure if this is accurate to an actual helicopter model out there, but it looks like it could be, which is enough to keep me happy. Both the main and tail rotors spin freely and both are single blade. Vortex doesn't have any wheels on his underside, but the arms form runners of sorts on which he rests. The energon weapon forms a sort of gunpod which clip in underneath the chopper, which is why they didn't worry about wheels. I'm not completely sold on the gunpod - the idea is good but an orange chopper resting on a transparent blue gunpod is a little weird, although it does add about 1cm of height. The pod itself is well put together, so I'm not really complaining. Curiously there's an orange piece of plastic embedded inside Vortex' Energon weapon, which is purple on Blast Off.
Vortex sports a small purple Decepticon logo on the right, just in front of the rotor's base - it's only about 1/2cm tall, yet is moulded and the grooves are painted white (makes you wonder what happened in Armada!). Behind the rotor shaft is his spark crystal, which actually faces backwards. Behind the spark crystal is a panel which is fairly obviously the robot groin, although it's been done in a way that it's believable as a helicopter surface.
I have only two real complaints about this helicopter mode - firstly without the gunpod it has no ranged weaponry, which is a little unusual for a combat helicopter. Secondly the main rotor has a tendency to pop off (specifically the uppermost half). I really like the colour scheme, both because it's striking and because it actually makes great use of orange. Of course the homage to G1 Vortex isn't as strong as it could be, but this is a good chopper for a basic in it's own right.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Swing the tail down and underneath the tailshaft, unclip the engines and rotate them back to form his left, flip up the feet. Rotate the waist, unclip the arms from underneath and swing them out to the sides. There are two little orange panels under the cockpit that have to flip out (not sure why), which will allow you do fold the canopy down to form his chest and reveal his head. Position the arms, give him his gun if you'd like. You're meant to fold the rotor halves together so they hang down on his back, but I prefer to leave them opposed since it gives him more of a G1 Vortex look.
Height: 10.5cm Width: 8cm, 13.5cm
Again persimmon orange and brown, Vortex is dominated by orange with a brown head, brown forearms and boots and a gold chest and gold hands. The face is gold with a blue eyestrip, and there's a decent lightpipe effect happening here. As with the chopper model, Vortex has some blue paint apps here and here which help justify the transparent blue. Ok, so again it's not G1 Vortex, but it's a really nice colour scheme, and the overall effect is a light top half and darn bottom half (although it's a little more complex than that).
Something that I find I'm enjoying about the Energon combiners is the integration of vehicle elements into the robot modes - it helps gives them a G1 feel. Vortex is no exception - the chest is his cockpit, the winglets sit on the outsides of his forearms and of course you have the open of leaving the rotor deployed on his back. The tailshaft is actually visible behind his legs, since it doesn't fold away at all, but thankfully it's quite inconspicuous.
The spark crystal is now on his back, but that small Decepticon logo is now on the top left of his chest, standing out against the orange background. Vortex has the option of holding his rather large, five-barrelled Energon weapon in his hand or attaching it to holes on either winglet, and you can even detach the two outside barrels as single handguns (although since the posts are on the outside sections, if you do this the core piece will be spare kibble).
The Energon weapon is actually quite complex, as these things go. The gunpod mode has the two outer barrels rotated back, while the composite gun has all four swung forward, and the swivels are loose which is what allows the handguns to detach. I like the options, although I suppose detaching pieces makes it easier for stuff to lose itself.
Vortex's articulation is is excellent for a basic. The head and waist turn while the shoulders, elbows, knees and hips are all ball joints and the ankles are hinged. He's a little back heavy, but his tail can serve as a third leg which helps greatly in posing. Lots of ball joints are one thing, but a toy which can actually make use is even better, and Vortex falls into that category.
I don't really have any complaints about Vortex's robot mode. Sure, the tail is kibble, but it's out of the way and actually aides posing rather than hindering it. The colours are well done and the weaponry options are good. While it's not what I'd call spectacular, this is a very solid robot mode.
None that I know of, although as mentioned the US name is Stormcloud (because Stormclouds are orange, as we all know).
With a very good robot mode, great colours and a good chopper mode, this is a toy I can really recommend. He's both poseable and reminiscent of G1, and while this isn't the best homage to G1 toy of the same name, it's certainly worthy of the name. The vehicle mode has some minor flaws, but it's still a great toy - 8.5/10