Sunday, 28 January 2018

MONTH IN REVIEW: January 2018

I've been steadily pumping out reviews of new figures that come my way for several years now, and whilst I do try to put down my thoughts on most stuff in my collection, I don't always find it achievable to write about absolutely everything! It's not even just that hobby time needs to fit into a busy schedule along with family and work and lots of other stuff; it's also that some of the figures I choose to pick up don't really demand a full review to be written about them. However, that doesn't mean that I don't want to take pictures and even share a few thoughts, so I thought I'd try my hand at a quick monthly rundown of stuff outside of the regular reviews, both old and new, whilst chucking in a few other bits for good measure. Hopefully it proves to be an interesting read too, not least because I think it's a good opportunity to showcase some of the more unusual figures that come my way!

So, what has January brought?

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

REVIEW: Unique Toys R-01 Peru Kill

Lets be frank - some third party toys have rather bizarre names, don’t they? I mean, Unique Toys own efforts can be a bit ropey from time to time, with contributions like Allen and Sworder landing with all the elegance and charm of a handgliding rhinoceros, and that’s to say nothing of me still scratching my head over stuff like Gahz’ranka. Not that the competition have it sown up; let’s not forget that whole FansToys Willys debacle after all. Still, I was genuinely mystified by this submission in particular, until a friend reminded me that the character in question makes a notable kill in Peru as part of the movie from which he hails - hence Peru Kill. I’m not sure if I like it better now or not.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-39 Sunstreaker

Ever since MP-12 Lambor was released in 2012, it’s fair to say that the carbots have been a sort-of backbone for the Masterpiece line. Despite some detours along the way, there’s been a relatively steady stream of the fellas, and so much so that the roster of characters still available for the treatment is actually starting to thin out a little nowadays. That said, there’re still some very notable spots left to be filled, although perhaps at long last we can tick off one ambition with this release, as the ‘bot that started it all is finally able to stand side-by-side with his brother. Sunstreaker is here at last.

Monday, 15 January 2018

REVIEW: TakaraTomy C-310E E-Hobby Fire Guts God Ginrai

I don’t collect G1.

Oh, sure, I do just happen to have a number of classic figures from days gone by, which might lead a casual observer to believe that I had at least the beginnings of a small G1 collection, but I don’t collect G1. And sure, I might have been adding to that pile in recent times with a semi-casual interest in some rather interesting and unusual reissues, but that doesn’t count - I don’t collect G1. And yes, I suppose it might be true that stuff like the subject matter of this particular retrospective has captured my interest arguably more than most recent releases, but that’s not a sign of anything - I don’t collect G1.

Friday, 12 January 2018

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-09SP Bounceback

If I hadn’t already gushed enough about how generally wonderful and dreamy I find Maketoys Downbeat to be in my original review of that figure, then I’ve certainly cemented the case by sticking him in a fairly prominent position on my list of best figures from 2017. And why not? He’s positively delightful; an absolutely terrific representation of an iconic character that, thus far, we’ve seen no sign of in the Masterpiece line, presuming we ever will. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, I think Downbeat is one of only a few third party toys that pretty much seamlessly blends with official figures in a way that some can only aspire to. If we never see a TakaraTomy Jazz, I know I’ll remain happy with Downbeat as a representation of that character.

Monday, 8 January 2018

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-15E/ 16E Cassettebot Vs. Cassettron

If there's one thing that can be guaranteed in the Masterpiece line, it's that TakaraTomy like to throw us a complete curveball every so often. The history of the official line is peppered with examples where particular releases went against expectations, or were released in a manner that defied the perceived logic of what came before them. Well, I'm not sure there's ever been a better example to show us that really, we have no clue what the future might hold than this release. I mean, c'mon, who seriously would have predicted that a Masterpiece Nightstalker would be on the way any time soon? Yet, here we are.

Monday, 1 January 2018


I feel like every year just gets better and better. I said the same thing in my Review of 2016, but it really feels like there were some new boundaries pushed in the wonderful world of Transformers collecting in 2017. Just consider that the Masterpiece line continued at quite a pace, not only expanding its roster of Beast Wars figures with Cheetor, but now also branching out into more 2007 movie characters too, with both Optimus Prime and Bumblebee being released this year. That's to say nothing of some of the wonderful G1 releases that we received in the last twelve months, the most talked-about of which was definitely a new (and very much long-awaited) version of Megatron, which arrived to much fanfare.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-06 Power Baser

Whilst still a relative newcomer to the third party transforming robot arena, Fans Hobby have already built up a pretty impressive track record. I've reviewed five of their figures so far in 2017, and have yet to see them make a misstep. So it feels rather appropriate to round off the year with the final review covering what is no doubt their most ambitious project to date in Power Baser. Many collectors, myself included, have been excited at the prospect of this particular character design being realised in "Masterpiece" style at some point, and so it's also an exciting release to close of what has been an incredible twelve months of releases.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-12+ Lambor

It was only a little over a month ago that I was looking back at a variant edition of the first release of MP-12 Lambor, (Sideswipe to you and me), the write-up for which can be found here. Of course, that first release stretches all the way back to 2012, and was in fact the original Masterpiece carbot, so it's an unusual opportunity to be looking back at other versions of it twice in such close proximity all these years later. Yet here we are with the newest version, MP-12+, which sees the mould being given a bit of a makeover in an attempt to make it even more cartoon accurate and bring it more in-line with some of the current Masterpiece releases (such as the upcoming MP-39 Sunstreaker, which is released this month!).

Monday, 4 December 2017

REVIEW: Badcube OTS-01 Huff & OTS-13 Piper

Cubex Huff is an interesting tale. Released in 2014 by a then-brand new third party company, the figure was initially well-received and, in a lot of people’s minds, quickly became the definitive not-Huffer for your burgeoning Masterpiece collection. And a great figure it was indeed! Not only was it an almost-dead-ringer for the character’s animation model, but it proved to be a fun toy with two great modes and a relatively fluid transformation. But there was a twist... whereas most Huffs seemed ok out of the box, reports soon emerged of a variety of quality control problems, including loose joints and floppy limbs. However, the most notorious example was definitely the flaky paint, which in the subsequent years has proven to be something of an inevitability, much to the disappointment of a lot of collectors. Indeed, it happened to my own copy, previously thought to have escaped the dreaded curse, with Huff forever left looking like his has a bad case of cosmic rust.

Monday, 20 November 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase 11: A Stratotanker

Masterpiece-styled triple changers remain a bit of a tricky prospect. Aside from there being about eighteen different attempts at a decent Springer (possibly an exaggeration, but hey) there's an argument to say that we're still on the hunt for the "definitive" version, and when you move onto the other characters it starts to look even more bleak. To their credit, Unique Toys / DX9 have previously led the charge, with attempts at Blitzwing, Sandstorm, Astrotrain and yes, Octane all behind them. However, none of those figures were particularly cartoon-accurate or reminiscent of the characters as they appeared in their respective animation models, and so don't quite scratch the itch for me, personally speaking. Then KFC unveiled their own attempt at Blitzwing, with Ditka, but you may recall that turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I actually reviewed two versions of the Ditka test shot, but sadly found that the second version (which was much closer to the retail release) took several backwards steps and overall felt like a missed opportunity, to put it kindly.

Friday, 17 November 2017

REVIEW: Wei Jiang NE-01 New Evolution Megamaster

Megatron. Has any character caused as much debate or created as much focus in discussions around the Masterpiece line? I certainly doubt it. Whether it’s the now legendary story of how MP-5 was rushed into existence and a comment on the subsequent disappointment that figure created, the longstanding absence of a version 2 Masterpiece figure and the rather colourful debates that created in years now gone by, the polarising opinions on the previous three third party options and in particular the wildly varied schools of thought on X-Transbots Apollyon, or indeed the reactions and disagreements that are still raging today about MP-36, I’m pretty sure that most collectors have been sucked into it at some stage or another. Clearly this is a character that people care quite a bit about, and perhaps with good reason - we are talking about the Decepticon leader after all. Add to that how challenging it appears to be to do Megatron justice - it’s widely acknowledged that the transformation is a difficult thing to do well whilst achieving two decent modes, and that’s to say nothing of the headaches of producing a realistic gun mode in the first place - and perhaps it’s no great surprise that the character is such a common topic in online discussion forums and social media.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-12 TF Expo Lambor

I'm sure most readers of this blog will be familiar with MP-12 Lambor, at least by reputation if nothing else. The Masterpiece line's rendition of Sideswipe, as Westerners will more commonly know him, was of course the first carbot to be released as part of the "reboot" that started after MP-9 was released, and immediately caught the attention of collectors. The reasons for this are perhaps rather obvious. Firstly, a modern Transformers rendition of a car like the classic 1980s' Lamborghini Countach was unheard of at the time, and so signalled something that fans who grew up with G1 as the backdrop of their childhood would be instantly excited about. Secondly, it transformed into a accurate rendition of the character as he was represented in fiction. Like MP-10 before him, this figure gave collectors the sense that the animation had come to life and Sideswipe had stepped off the screen in a way that many thought we would never see. And of course, MP-12 gave the promise of further carbot releases to come... oh how very tantalising it all was.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

REVIEW: MAAS Toys CT-001 Skiff & CT-002 Gold

Time for something a little different with this review. New third party company Maas have already done a good job at creating an engaging presence in the online Transformers community, and they certainly seem to be picking some unique designs for their first couple of releases. No doubt most collectors would recognise that CT-001 Skiff is a rendition of Bumblebee, but perhaps not one that they're familiar with. Well, for this release Maas have drawn inspiration from the short-lived but much-loved 2002 comic series The War Within, which featured the early days of the Transformers' war back on Cybertron. A lot of popular characters were given a Cybertronian-style makeover for the series to depict how they looked before travelling to Earth, and it's that depiction of Bumblebee that you see made real before you here.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

REVIEW: DX9 D11 Richthofen

I've mentioned it a couple of times before, but growing up in the UK I wasn't familiar with the entirety of the G1 cartoon. I had a handful of episodes on VHS tapes, which were of course played on repeat and so became well worn, but much loved. Consequently, the episodes featured have an enduring place in my memory and remain some of my very favourites to this day, and the characters contained within have all made a rather lasting impression too. So, if I told you that some of my favourite adventures were Dinobot Island and the absolute classic The Girl Who Loved Powerglide, it will probably give you some insight into how much I adore the arrogant sky jock that this figure represents. Yep, it's POWERGERRRLIIYYDE!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-05 Flypro

If I haven't yet made it abundantly clear during my reviews of Fans Hobby's previous figures, I'm immensely impressed with their work-to-date. Four figures in and we don't have a duff one among them. Instead, the company is quickly carving out a well-earned reputation for solid, interesting and above all FUN figures. Not to mention that they're picking some interesting characters, which helps to make their output feel a world away from the factory line of Springers that is currently domineering the third party scene elsewhere. So it is with great anticipation that we come to the final release in their not-Monsterbot trilogy, Flypro. Will he measure up to the bar that they have set for themselves, or is this their first misstep? The answer may not surprise you, but it's still a fun journey to get there!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

REVIEW: X-Transbots MM-IX Klaatu

It wasn’t so long ago that I sat down and wrote up my thoughts on another not-MP Cosmos homage, and so it should perhaps come as relatively little surprise that a competitor follows right around the corner; it seems to be our perpetual fate to be gifted waves of the same character one after the other, to the point where you expect that another might be just around the corner. Still, despite enjoying Toyworld’s Spaceracer for the most part, I did definitely feel that he left enough on the table for someone else to have a crack and even improve on him (you can read the full review here). Step forward X-Transbots with their attempt, Klaatu, named after a character from the classic sci-fi film, The Day the Earth Stood Still (or the somewhat less classic 2008 Keanu Reeves remake, if you really must).

Thursday, 10 August 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-20 Terminus Giganticus

Where to begin with this one, eh? There are certain releases that can only be considered "event" figures, and I'm sure you'll agree that the idea of a Masterpiece-inspired Omega Supreme definitely qualifies for that honour. I mean, seriously - it's ridiculous when you think about it, isn't it? The size of the thing by itself is seemingly crazy, and for the longest time it seemed like such a release would always be merely a pipe dream for MP collectors. But what's this? We now have not one, but two third party offerings on the horizon representing that very character. First out of the gate is of course FansToys Terminus Giganticus, with DX9's Gabriel soon to follow. What a time to be a collector!