Monday, 20 November 2017

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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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!

Monday, 7 August 2017

REVIEW: Unique Toys M-01 Archimonde & M-02 Ghaz'ranka



INTRODUCTION
Masterpiece combiners. There're two words that are a hugely exciting prospect for a large majority of collectors, and yet remain one of the few untapped areas of the first few years of G1 Transformers. Sure, we’ve had plenty of third party combiner teams, but precious few that have adequately scratched the itch for those of us looking for an accurate representation of the original cartoon designs. Seemingly though, that's about to end, with several companies now throwing their hat in the ring to bring us their take on various versions of several teams. And as with most things 3P, it's all about to happen at once, with two versions of both the Combaticons and the Stunticons already revealed and on the way. I'm sure there will be more to follow.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

REVIEW: Toyworld TW-M07 Spaceracer



I'm still a Toyworld newbie. In fact, this is only the second figure of theirs that I have even held in hand, having reviewed a test shot of Primorion a little while back. I found that release to be somewhat promising if ultimately a little lacking - not quite enough to convince me that it deserved a definitive place in my collection. Since then it's taken me a little while to give the company another go, if only because I've yet to feel enough temptation for any individual release to bite. So what convinced me this time? Well, the first and most obvious reason was that they put out a character that still currently has not been released by any other official or third party producer in a Masterpiece-style. The second reason is that I thought he looked pretty good!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11ND Dirge



It was only in my last review that I stated the case for the defence of repaints, and attempted to show that they're more than mere cynical cash-grabs, attempting to somehow take advantage of unwitting collectors. Of course, it would only be fair to consider all sides of this argument, and it would be difficult not to at least ponder the last few releases of the Masterpiece Coneheads as supporting any potential case for the prosecution. That's not to completely write them off, of course, but it's fair to say that Ramjet and Thrust have not exactly been universally acclaimed.

Monday, 19 June 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-37 Artfire



Repaints, eh? Who needs them. I mean, it was only very recently that I typed up my thoughts on this figure's mould-mate, MP-35 Grapple (read it here), and even then I'd already done a bit of a write-up on his predecessor, MP-33 Inferno at the start of the year (and read that here). So why do we need another version of this design? Is it just TakaraTomy "milking" the mould for all its worth, in a cynical cash-grab attempt to extract as much money as possible from its gullible fans? I mean, just how much enjoyment can there be in a figure that we've essentially received twice already in the last twelve months? Eh? EH?! Well, as it turns out, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye... in fact, in the hypothetical case against repaints, I would submit Artfire, and indeed all three versions of this design thus far as watertight evidence for the defence. Let me put it another way; if the repaints we're receiving are this good, then there's really not a lot to complain about!

Friday, 16 June 2017

REVIEW: ACE Collectables ACE-03 Trident



INTRODUCTION
ACE Collectables is still a new and fledgling company, although one already with a bit of notoriety under their belt. For one thing, they were the very first (and as of today still only) third party producer to put out a Masterpiece-styled Cliffjumper (or Hubcap for that matter) with their debut release, ACE-01 Tumbler, potentially plugging a rather gaping hole in a number of collections. Unfortunately that release turned out to be met with a rather lukewarm response, to put it politely, and it was sadly not enough for many fans to be convinced to jump on board.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Nine: A Kingorilla



INTRODUCTION
Keith's Fantasy Club continue to be a subject of much discussion in the third party world of Transformers collecting. I don't think any other 3P producer has confounded people as much when it comes to knowing what to expect from each of their releases, whether it's well-received prototypes undergoing undesired changes prior to release, perplexing decisions made on final colour schemes, or a still-present concern from some corners over consistency and quality of final product. Perhaps the one thing that you can say with some certainty is that they're consistently inconsistent. Thought to be fair, that belies the fact that when they want to be they're more than capable of putting out great figures, and they've no doubt been on a mostly upward swing throughout their E.A.V.I. METAL line.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby MB-04 Gunfighter II



INTRODUCTION
Regular readers of this blog might have come across some of the previous reviews I have done of Fans Hobby’s figures. Though still a new and fledgling company, they’ve made quite the impact so far, and are already building up a reputation for solid, interesting and fun releases. So, naturally I jumped at the chance to check out their latest offering, Gunfighter II, which is of course a repaint of their first figure, Archenemy. Except putting it like that really doesn’t do Gunfighter any justice at all, as we shall find out!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-35 Grapple



I admit that I often shrug in disbelief a little when I read on-line talk of the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line being in decline. I myself have been a Masterpiece collector since the line's inception in 2003, and as much as my enjoyment has been maintained throughout this time, I do also believe that in many ways we have never had it as good as now. Perhaps it's because I feel that I'm personally enjoying all current facets of the line to their full potential, whether it's Diaclone repaints or new Beast Wars moulds, where some collectors instead pick and choose their poison. However, I am also struck by the current general quality of the line overall (issues with dodgy chrome and floppy Coneheads aside), not to mention the increased frequency of releases! Last year alone gave us beloved G1 characters Shockwave, Ironhide, Ratchet, Hot Rod, Inferno and a second stab at Red Alert, and whilst I know that not all of those releases won absolutely everyone over, I find myself impressed by what I consider to be an astounding hit rate. All of those figures ended up on my "best of 2016" list bar one, and Shockwave's exclusion was more to do with the level of quality elsewhere rather than anything wrong with that figure; I still thought they nailed him too, ultimately.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11NT Thrust



With Masterpiece Dirge about to land, that means our so-called Conehead trio will finally be complete. Imagine that; a complete set of Masterpiece Coneheads. I remember when such a thing seemed like the stuff of pure fantasy, with many collectors, including myself, turning to the likes of the Igear third party versions to fill spots on our Decepticon roster. So, with such a remarkable landmark on the horizon, it occurred to me that I had never actually made any time to put down a few words on the second release of the three, Thrust. Well, time to correct that, I think.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-03 Feilong



It was only a little over a month ago that I published my review for Fans Hobby's last figure, the rather wonderful (and ridiculously-monikered) Megatooth, which you can still read here. Hot on his heels, I now have my hands on Feilong, his Monsterbot comrade and Fans Hobby's third figure overall to date. If you've also read my review of their debut figure, Archenemy, you'll know that I've been quite impressed with their output thus far, so of course I've been really looking forward to seeing how Feilong turns out. Despite only being two releases in, the company have already shown that they can put out interesting and well-made figures, and I like the direction that they're taking with focussing on more unusual characters, too. So far, so positive.