Sunday, 19 February 2017

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



INTRODUCTION
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

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2016


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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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



INTRODUCTION
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.

Friday, 7 October 2016

REVIEW: Badcube OTS-11 Speedbump & OTS-12 Lorry



INTRODUCTION
Badcube have deservedly built up a loyal following by continutally raising their own bar to put out some cracking Masterpiece-styled figures. Like many others, I have been a fan since the first days of Huff, when they still went by the name Cubex, but I can only marvel at how much they have evolved with each subsequent release up until Sunsurge. Honestly, when people ask me what my favourite 3P figure is, I often find Sunsurge somewhere on the tip of my tongue, along with maybe only one or two other examples. And yet despite their hardcore fans, there's an argument to say that Badcube still encounter some resistence whenever they unveil a new design, whether it's because of criticisms about the proportions of their figures or their complicated transformation schemes.

Which brings us smack up-to-date with the companies latest offering in the form of not one, but two new releases - Speedbump & Lorry, modelled after G1 Trailbreaker & Hoist. I've been tremendously excited to lay my hands on these guys since they were first unveiled, and so jumped at the chance to take a look at the review samples. I believe (correct me if I am wrong), that I'm also fortunate enough to be the only reviewer in the world taking a crack at both at once... how exciting!

Friday, 30 September 2016

REVIEW: Generation Toy GT-4 J4ZZ



INTRODUCTION
There is a mere handful characters who were first introduced in season 1 of the Generation 1 cartoon who are left to be produced in Masterpiece-style, whether by TakaraTomy themselves or by a third party. Depending on your preferences for different companies, Decepticons can now be considered done in one form or another. Perhaps naturally, the few remaining Autobots spots have left many collectors eager to see these characters represented on their shelves as soon as possible. Until recently, Trailbreaker was on that list, though now we have at least three versions of him on the horizon. Cliffjumper remains another. But perhaps no character has inspired such anticipation as Jazz.

Monday, 19 September 2016

REVIEW: Unique Toys Y-04 Allen



INTRODUCTION
Springer fits into a relatively dwindling pool of somewhat periphery G1 characters who, up until now at least, have yet to be tackled by either the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece line or by an enterprising third party effort.

Of course, such third party attempts are often like buses. You wait forever for one, and then several come all at the same time. So it is with the green Autobot triple changer, amid cries of “the Springer wars have begun!” across the internet. First out of the gate is Unique Toys, who came from nowhere to surprise us with Allen. However, there's also a figure from 3P heavyweight FansToys on the horizon, as well as at least one new enterprise who've already shown off their own version.