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.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-34 Cheetor

When the Beast Wars line first began some twenty years ago, many G1 fans were in uproar. The idea of Transformers that converted into flesh-and-fur-covered animal modes instead of jets and cars was simply too much of a departure for some, although of course the new direction would eventually prove to be the franchise’s saviour, spurring the way for vehicular alt' modes to eventually return to prominence. Two decades later and Beast Wars retains a much-deserved fan base of its own, although arguably it has also better established itself with more of a mainstream audience over time, becoming a more accepted part of Transformers lore with each passing year. That's not to say that there aren't some ardent detractors still out there though, as was clearly evidenced when it was revealed that the main TakaraTomy Masterpiece line, previously a love letter almost solely to those in the G1 (and G2) community, was going to start producing the occasional Beast Wars character. Suddenly the on-line arguments of two decades prior where brought to prominence once more.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Seven: A Ditka (pt2)

Regular readers of this blog will know that this is not the first test shot of KFC's Ditka that I have reviewed. In fact the previous test shot was only about two months ago, which perhaps makes it all the more surprising just how different the two of them are, as we shall see! Still, what I plan to do here is more of an update and comparison between the two, rather than another full, flat-out review, as despite some changes it's still fundamentally the same figure.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-06 Contact Shot

With the possible exception of their recent release of Downbeat, there's no doubt in my mind that Maketoys Headmaster efforts have been some of the unparalleled highlights of their RE:Master line thus far. Iron Will and especially Cupola are both fantastic figures, with the latter being cemented as one of my personal favourite third party Transformers of all time. So naturally I was very much looking forward to Contact Shot, their first addition of a Targetmaster to the line-up, even if it does come in the place of a much-desired Brainstorm or Highbrow homage.

Friday, 17 March 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-02 Megatooth

Despite being a fledgling company, third party newcomer Fans Hobby have certainly made quite the initial impression. I've already put down my thoughts on their first effort, Archenemy, which has generally been met with a warm reception, and now already we are taking a look at their sophomore figure. In fact, Megatooth dropped at the same time as Archenemy, although he's definitely not been overshadowed!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-10 Phoenix

For many collectors in the world of so-called third party “Masterpiece” Transformers, FansToys reign supreme. They were one of the first to usher in this current era of collecting of course, with Quakewave having been the figure to lead many of us down the rabbit hole initally. Since then they have bolstered an extremely loyal fanbase and a strong reputation, so it’s perhaps no surprise that each new release is met with almost unparalleled excitement. Add to the mix that their success seems to be allowing them more and more daring efforts, which brings us up-to-date with Phoenix. It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a quality, full-size Masterpiece-styled Skyfire to fill out your Autobot ranks was the stuff of dreams. Now, here we are, and I for one couldn’t be more excited!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-01 Archenemy

I’d say there’s at least three things to be excited about for this release. Firstly, it’s a black repaint, and they’re always fun. Secondly, it’s based on a character that I can say with some confidence the official Masterpiece line is very unlikely to produce themselves, so in that respect this is “safe” territory for collectors. Thirdly, it’s from a brand new company! This is the previously-unknown Fans Hobby’s first release, and with several other figures on the way that’s good reason to be a little joyous, especially as this guy certainly bodes well for a first-time effort. He actually landed for me at exactly the same time as their second effort, Megatooth, but that’s a story for another time; this is all about Archenemy.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

REVIEW: DX9 D-10 Hattori Hanzo

Despite being released in late 2016, I was a little slow off the mark to pick up Hattori Hanzo, DX9’s latest Masterpiece-styled release and their attempt at the Decepticon six-changer, Sixshot. I’ll admit that the initial reveal didn’t quite tempt me enough to immediately leap on him, which was probably not helped by my being somewhat underwhelmed by their previous attempt at a multi-mode former, Gewalt. That said, most people seemed to love that figure, and I myself was quite a fan of Tyrant & Mightron, their takes on Galvatron & Megatron respectively. Add to this that their previous releases have for the most part been quite well made, so perhaps it was inevitable that I might reconsider at some point.

Friday, 24 February 2017

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-09 Downbeat

I’ve had a slew of new releases and test shots to review recently, and so it’s been a little while since I’ve had the chance to do one of my shorter snapshot looks at a figure that I’ve personally picked up for my collection. However, as soon as I had my hands on Maketoys Downbeat I knew I had to find the to say a few words about him! Without giving the game away, I’ve become really quite enamoured by this figure, and wanted to put down a few of the reasons why.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

REVIEW: Badcube OTS-09 Grump & OTS-10 Slick

When TakaraTomy released Masterpiece MP-10 Convoy, a new goal was set in many collector’s minds. Suddenly, it seemed like completing a set of scaled, animation-accurate figures representing the G1 cartoon cast might become a reality, even if it was one likely to take some time to come to fruition. That was six years ago, and whilst we still have some distance to go in terms of the official line, it’s incredible to think that collectors who bolster their ranks with third party additions are actually nearing at least one particular finish line - the season 1 Autobot Ark crew. In producing Grump, arguably the first Masterpiece-styled Gears, Badcube have given us what could be considered the final piece of this puzzle.

Friday, 10 February 2017


In many ways 2016 was a massive year in terms of Transformers collecting. Not only did the official Masterpiece line ramp up its release schedule to a level previously unseen, but I also personally believe the general quality of those releases to be at an absolute high currently. Elsewhere, the third party scene also kicked into overdrive, with more new companies emerging to give us their own take on beloved characters, as well as more established outfits all seeking to up the quality of their labours. I've heard many fellow Transfans repeatedly mention that they believe we really never have had it so good in terms of this hobby, and I'm enormously tempted to agree myself. These really are golden times.

For me personally, 2016 was also a big year as it was the first full year of running my blog, which started in the second half of 2015. Last January I took my first proper stab at compiling a list of my favourite releases from the previous year, and so always had in mind to do the same again come the start of 2017. Well, perhaps a little later than expected, but now here it is!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Seven: A Ditka

There was a time, not so long ago, when third party companies stuck to relatively safe bets in the Masterpiece-styled Transformers arena. If TakaraTomy was likely to do it, they seemed to steer relatively clear, and rarely did one company take a poke at a character that had previously been covered by another. Oh, how innocent we were.

Of course, those days are well and truly gone, and here we are about to examine the second of three (at current count) attempts at Blitzwing to make it to market. Some of you may know that I previously took a gander at Gewalt, DX9’s take on the character, and found him to be fun but a bit lacking overall for my taste (though that opinion wasn’t very popular!). Let’s see if Keith’s Fantasy Club can take the lead here.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-08 Grinder

To many, including myself, the FansToys Iron Dibots represent one of the highlights of third party Transformers collecting so far. Despite only being a few years ago, the scale & ambition of producing an entire team of massive high-end figures like this was relatively unheard of outside of combiner teams when Scoria was first revealed, and it’s insane to think that it’s only just coming to an end now. Or is it?

I only ask as of course, we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Many of us thought we were done with our Dinobot-collecting after Stomp arrived last year (to a significantly warm reception, it must be stated!), as FansToys had already provided a solution for Masterpiece MP-8 Grimlock’s comparatively diminutive height with a set of platform shoe-type lifts as an accessory with Scoria. I think if we’re being honest though, this was never really a definitive solution, even if I will say that I was certainly happier with it than most.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

REVIEW: Toyworld TW-M01

I have to confess to being a Toyworld newbie. Despite my relative experience in the world of third party not-Transformers, there are still a few companies that I have yet to experience, and so when I was offered the opportunity to check out Primorion, I jumped at it.

That said, this figure is a bit of a curiosity for me. Like many people, I absolutely love TakaraTomy’s Masterpiece MP-10 Convoy, and would certainly count it as one of my favourite Transformers figures of all time. So, it was sort of hard to imagine what an alternative Optimus Prime figure might offer above & beyond what I am already familiar with. I’ve also discovered that I am not alone in wondering this, as since I started sharing pictures of Primorion, I have been inundated with people asking how it compares to MP-10, but also questioning the need for such a figure in the first place.

Questions abound. Is this figure Masterpiece-scaled? Is it Masterpiece-styled? In fact, is it even intended to be sat alongside the official Masterpiece line, or is it something else entirely? As I attempt to answer at least some of these points, I am approaching this with an open mind and actually quite a bit of excitement – it is Optimus Prime after all!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-16 Sovereign

There are a handful of characters that, by their very nature, will always be more desirable to Transformers collectors than any others. Obvious names like Optimus Prime & Megatron are obvious examples, but for many the Autobots & Decepticons who made their debut in the 1986 animated movie are near the top of that list too, such is the impact of that particular piece of fiction on our collective childhood years. Galvatron is a character that many collectors have been hoping that TakaraTomy would tackle as part of the official Masterpiece line for some time, and remains a frequent namedrop in any conversation speculating future characters that will be released. Still, so far there's been no indication that this is about to happen, and so of course many of us are naturally turning towards third party efforts to fill the gap.

Thus far, only one contender has arguably come close to hitting the spot: DX9's Tyrant. Tyrant proved to be something of a divisive figure, with arguably as many ardent supporters as vehement detractors, though he still remains the bar to beat as far as crafting the ultimate Masterpiece-styled Galvatron goes. Naturally, many people were overjoyed when FansToys threw their hat in the ring and unveiled their design for Sovereign, but can he live up to the hype? Let's dig in and find out.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

REVIEW: FansToys FT-18 Lupus

Ask most Transformers collectors what their favourite third party company might be and there's at least a relatively safe bet that they might mention FansToys in the list of names they give you. The company has achieved a level of reputation that most can only aspire to, and perhaps with good reason - they do put out pretty consistently good figures. Clearly their success has allowed them the confidence to experiment a little more, as we have seen them recently branch out into more and more unusual choices for the characters they've been recreating. And so we come to Lupus, which sees them attempting something outside of the arguably safer territory of the first three seasons of the G1 cartoon for the first time. Let's take a look at what is also the first "Masterpiece-styled" Weirdwolf on the market!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

REVIEW: X-Transbots MX-III Eligos

The nature of pre-ordering third party items has certainly changed in the last year or so. It used to be that many fans, myself included, would do their best to have their pre-orders locked as soon as the option to do so was available, even if it was going to be some time before the figure was actually released. Of course, even though this was a very short time ago, there were also less options for individual characters too. It's a relatively new phenomenon for multiple third party outfits to all be putting out their own interpretations of the same characters over & over. However, it's now also true that a lot of us are waiting till much later in the day to place our pre-orders, if not waiting until the actual release itself, such are the multitude of options available.

X-Transbots Eligos maintains a degree of infamy in my collection for being the longest outstanding pre-order I think I will ever know; having originally ordered back in June 2015, we're fast approaching the 18 month mark. Let's be clear, that's pretty ridiculous, even if the figure has been redesigned somewhat in that time. However, I'd be hard pressed to tell you that my excitement for this figure has dwindled in that time, especially as no other third party has yet to even fully reveal their own not-Cyclonus, let alone bring it anywhere near to release. So, now that he's finally here, how does Eligos fare after all these many months of waiting?

Monday, 10 October 2016

REVIEW: X-Transbots MM-IV Ollie v2

"Version 2"s seem to be a trend that's becoming more and more accepted in the weird world of Transformers collecting, and I can't help feeling that every time it happens the whole idea becomes a little more normal to us. I still remember when TakaraTomy unveiled Masterpiece MP-10 and some of the initial reaction. "Another Masterpiece Optimus Prime?! But we already have MP-1!" Of course, that figure went on to become one of the most beloved in recent memory (and certainly in my own personal collection), and it's hard to imagine what the current Masterpiece collecting scene would be like without it!

Fast forward to today, and just this week we have also seen released Masterpiece MP-14+ - a second attempt at Red Alert using the very same mould, just with a different paint job. Yet again, this was a figure that was initially met with a distinctly muted reaction, yet has quickly won over the hearts & minds of many collectors upon release.