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.

Friday, 2 September 2016

REVIEW: DX9 D09 Mightron



INTRODUCTION
Oh, boy, this is going to be an interesting one. This figure has already caused quite a commentary on-line, and so I've been thinking about the best way to approach this review. Usually, I would try to consider the various perspectives that TF fans might have when analysing a particular figure for their collection, but it seems that there's some especially strong opinions this time around. So, my conclusion is to simply present you with my own personal take - likes & dislikes - and let it fall where it may. I already know that not everyone will agree with everything I'm about to write, but it should hopefully help to give you a decent overview of the figure in hand, at least!

So, it's fair to say that the concept of a "Masterpiece" Megatron is one that's caused feverish levels of excitement and frustration amongst much of the on-line TF fandom, probably in equal measure. Whilst rumours have persisted for years that an official version (or rather, a second one if you count MP-5) is definitely on the cards at some point, others have been involved in some quite intense debate and scrutiny over what has up until now been the sole third party challenger for the crown, X-Transbots Apollyon.

Friday, 12 August 2016

REVIEW: Ocular Max PS-01S Stealth Sphinx



I've been a big fan of Ocular Max's Sphinx since first getting my hands on the original release late last year. I always liked Mirage as a character, and so it was exciting to see such a fantastic rendition of the character in 3D form. In fact, so great was my enjoyment of the first version that it didn't take much for me to be quite superbly enabled on the lighter-coloured "Alternative" version, and I don't regret this one bit. Arguably the Alternative brings out even more of the wonderful qualities of this mould. Then of course, we only recently had the striking red version in the form of Liger (my review of which can also be found here).

So, you might think that I am all "Sphinxed" out then, right? Far from it! As soon as I saw photos of this astonishing "Stealth" version, I just knew that it was something that I had to add to my collection somehow.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11NR Ramjet



I've actually owned Masterpiece Ramjet since he was first released this past March, but haven't yet taken the opportunity to write a few words about him. However, the recent reveal that MP-11ND Dirge will be released in 2017, after MP-11NT Thrust also lands in October this year, made me think that now was as good a time as any. A complete set of Masterpiece Coneheads - what a time to be alive!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-25L Loudpedal



In case you haven't yet realised, Diaclone-themed repaints in the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line are now kind of a thing. What started out with a relatively oddball release in the form of Tigertrack back in 2013 has suddenly snowballed, with no less than four further homages released in 2015 alone (five if you throw in the Microchange love-in that was red Bumblebee). As if that wasn't enough, next up we have none other than a full-on repaint of one of the largest Masterpiece figures in recent times with MP-31 Delta Magnus, not to mention that the third party scene has also jumped in on the action with releases such as Badcube's Blaze and Ocular Max's Liger.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

REVIEW: Ocular Max PS-02 Liger



Though we're only a few moulds in, the Ocular Max "Perfection Series" line is shaping up very nicely indeed. Equally, I've been a huge fan of the Diaclone repaints that the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece line has been putting out for some time now, and so was especially excited at the prospect of Ocular Max repainting their Sphinx mould into red as a homage to the original pre-Mirage.

For those not in the know, the pre-Transformers Diaclone line released both blue & red versions of the Ligier mould, that would later go on to become Mirage when repackaged for the first wave of the Transformers line in 1984, although the red version was only ever available packaged in a box set with Powered Convoy (which, interestingly enough, is about to receive its own homage in the form of MP-31 Delta Magnus!).

Monday, 25 July 2016

REVIEW: DX9 Toys D-08 Gewalt



Like combiners, triple changers are a kind of Holy Grail that the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece line has yet to properly tackle (outside of the likes of Tracks' flight mode, if you count that). Fortunately, a number of third party outfits have stepped up to the plate, and we now have no less than three (why is it always three?!) different versions of Blitzwing on the horizon!

First out of the gate is DX9's Gewalt, who, from pictures at least, appears to be a big chunky bruiser that also seems to be one of the company's most cartoon accurate releases thus far. I'm quite a big fan of one of their previous figures, Tyrant, although I'll admit that I was initially going to hold off on Gewalt over some concerns about the two vehicle modes from pics. However, a slew of mostly positive reviews have finally hooked me in. So, was it worth it, or should I have waited for either KFC's Ditka or FansToys' Berserk as my definitive not-Blitzwing?

Monday, 18 July 2016

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. Metal Phase Five Opticlones



INTRODUCTION
There was a time when third party skirted carefully round the fringes of the Transformers character roster. The various companies seemed to have an uncanny knack of choosing characters that neither the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece line nor any of the other 3P outfits were looking to attempt. Well, that bubble has now well and truly burst, as it seems more and more commonplace for us to see multiple different versions of the same characters rolled out one after the other. If anything, fans have learnt to expect it! However, I'm not sure that many would have predicted that treatment for a relatively minor character such as Reflector.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Transformers #5 cover homage

I don't often do work like this, but something about TakaraTomy's latest Masterpiece figure, MP-29 Laserwave (or Shockwave to you and me!) is just so profoundly awesome, that I couldn't resist attempting a homage of the classic cover from Marvel's Transformers #5, which was first published all the way back in 1985. The original artwork by Mark Bright is one of the most recognisable pieces of Transformers imagery from the time, and definitely sets the mood for the story in this issue. Shockwave has defeated all of the Autobots and is busy repairing the Decepticon ranks. It's a cool, creepy tale, and definitely one of the more memorable from the original Transformers comics.

Anyway, here's the image - hope you like it!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

REVIEW: Badcube OTS-Special 01 Sentinel Blaze


INTRODUCTION
Badcube's Sunsurge was definitely one of the most hotly-anticipated third party releases of last year. Many people had been waiting for years to see a Masterpiece-styled realisation of Sunstreaker, and despite other versions in the works, the company beat them to the punch and delivered what many consider to be a fantastic rendition of the character, and one that almost seamlessly fits with the official line.

So, naturally everyone was quite excited to see what they'd reveal next. What perhaps surprised some was that it was a red repaint of their previous release and not an entirely new mould; the initial reaction was certainly full of questions asking what it was all about! Of course, for those of us in the know, this repaint is an incredibly exciting release that represents a key part of Transformers history, and is something that we've been looking forward to for some time!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

REVIEW: X-Transbots MM-VIII Arkose


"Like if you need geology-type info, hey, just call on yours truly Beachcomber! I dig projects that don't require conflict, you know."

I've mentioned before that as a lad growing up in the UK, I didn't exactly have easy access to a lot of the G1 Transformers cartoon. Though it was sporadically shown on terrestrial TV, most of my exposure to the series came through owning several VHS tapes of particular episodes (as well as the 1986 movie), which were much-loved and watched on repeat.

It's perhaps no surprise then that certain scenes are more burned into my mind than others. One of those tapes was the two-part season 2 extravaganza Dinobot Island, which remains among my favourite Transformers adventures to this day, and one moment that always springs to mind is the interaction above between Chip Chase and a certain blue Autobot.

Friday, 12 February 2016

REVIEW: X-Transbots MM-VI Boost & MM-VII Hatch


There are a couple of notable classic G1 characters from seasons 1 and 2 that have yet to be tackled by either TakaraTomy as part of the official Masterpiece line, or indeed by third party companies attempting to fill the gap. Names like Trailbreaker, Cliffjumper and most crucially Jazz are often highlighted at the top of the fan wishlist, all still without any hint of being realised. So it also was with Windcharger, until X-Transbots teased their attempt ages ago with a render of a familiar looking Pontiac Firebird Trans Am on the box of their Ollie release. It's been a long road since then, but now the result is finally here in the form of Boost!

I've been pretty excited to get my hands on this guy, and the accompanying release of Hatch, a repainted homage to G1 Tailgate, especially after X-Transbots really pulled it out of the bag towards the end of last year with a great quality release in Andras. Fingers crossed they've followed suit here.

Friday, 5 February 2016

REVIEW: FansToys FT-07 Stomp


INTRODUCTION
It's not much of an exaggeration to say that for many Transfans, the FansToys Iron Dibots have been a particular highlight of our collective hobby over the last couple of years. Ever since FT-04 Scoria was first unveiled as the company's sophomore character release, many have been eagerly awaiting the day when we would be able to complete the set. Soar and Sever have been similar delights since, and even if the notion of finally completing the Dibots line up is now a little further away with the subsequent reveal of Grinder, that takes nothing from the sheer, unbridled excitement that surrounds the release of Stomp, their interpretation of a Masterpiece-styled G1 Sludge.

For my own part, I have to confess now that this is the figure that I have been most looking forward to in this particular line-up. Sludge was always a favourite character of mine growing up, and despite a general love of dinosaurs there was always something that I thought was particularly amazing about him transforming into the rather distinctive and herbivorous Brontosaurus (now officially considered a valid genus in its own right again, as of 2015!).

Friday, 22 January 2016

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-04 Iron Will


INTRODUCTION
I'll state one thing right off the bat: I'm a massive Headmasters fan. So, there you go. I think it's probably because I was the exact perfect age when the Generation 1 toys were first released and the characters introduced into the supporting fiction, although I'd add that there's just something so incredibly engaging about the Headmaster concept itself. Much of my childhood was spent wishing I myself had a suit that enabled me to transform into a giant robot's head, especially as it would come with the added bonus of a rather spiffy attack vehicle to call my own. Alas, this never happened, but at least now almost three decades later Maketoys have seen fit to bring us the next best thing with their RE:Master line, in the form of Masterpiece-styled renditions of the original Headmaster characters.

Their first effort, Cupola, enjoyed tremendous applause from most of the fans who picked him up, and is regularly viewed as one of the standout third party releases of last year. Indeed, if you've read my review of 2015, you'll know that this rendition of the Headmaster Chromedome was in fact my favourite 3P figure of the year, and for good reason. He was excellently designed, brilliantly realised, and a fun and inventive figure to boot, all with the quality from a Maketoys release that their fans have now come to expect.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-03 Hellfire


INTRODUCTION
I'll admit that I'm still a relatively new Maketoys convert. Whilst others have faithfully followed the company for years and over dozens of releases, I only hopped on board with the recent advent of their RE:Master series, featuring figures clearly designed to sit alongside TakaraTomy's own Masterpiece line. Still, despite not having much in the way of history, I can honestly say that I've quickly fallen for their releases so far. I found the first in this line, Cupola, to be nothing short of an absolute joy, so much so that he ended up as my favourite third party figure of 2015 (which, of course, you will know if you've read my review of 2015!). I have also been a big fan of the other releases so far, including Visualizers and both their versions of a G1 Hound in the form of Gundog. So, I was naturally very excited to be given the opportunity to say a few words about Hellfire, their homage to a G1 Inferno.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

PHOTO GALLERY: Badcube OTS-08 Sunsurge

Featured in this gallery:
Badcube OTS-08 Sunsurge, TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-10 Optimus Prime (Convoy), MP-11SW Skywarp, MP-11T Thundercracker, MP-12 Sideswipe, MP-12T Tigertrack, MP-13 Laserbeak, MP-15 Ravage, MP-17 Prowl, MP-18 Bluestreak, MP-20 Wheeljack, MP-21 Bumblebee, Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime, MMC Ocular Max PS-01 Sphinx, Maketoys MTRM-02 Gundog, FansToys FT-09 Tesla, FT-07 Stomp (test shot)



This guy was one of my most anticipated figures throughout 2015, and even though it took me until early 2016 to finally lay my hands on him I can honestly say that he hasn't disappointed one bit. I knew I was going to have a lot of fun with this gallery, and hopefully it shows in the pictures... Sunsurge is nothing short of awesome!

I'll no doubt share some more thoughts on this beautiful figure another time, but for now let me just say well done, Badcube, and here's over 140 photos to celebrate this great release.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

REVIEW: FansToys FT-13 Mercenary


INTRODUCTION
Outside of the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece line, there's not much that is greeted with quite the amount of excitement that a new FansToys' release seems to generate. However, it's perhaps also true that many of their recent reveals have also brought at least some element of controversy, with even their most ardent fans claiming that figures like their upcoming Spotter have somehow 'dropped the ball' (which is very much not the case, as you will hopefully know from my review of that figure). Despite almost unanimous praise for the first in their line of Masterpiece-styled Insecticon homages, Grenadier, the sophomore effort has been met with its own share of concern, particularly around the design of the face.

So, have FansToys finally gone and done what everyone was worried about and dropped the ball for arguably the first time, or have they crafted another figure that is a welcome and worthy part of their increasingly large line-up? The answer to this question is perhaps not as surprising as some may think, but let's give this new figure a good old once over anyway.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-14C Clampdown


I haven't been doing reviews that long, but I've already been asked quite a few times if I plan on doing write-ups for various new figures as and when they're released. As much as I would love to do full, in-depth reviews of every single figure, I simply don't have the time! However, I do like to share as much as possible, and I'm obviously keen to try and help out fellow collectors who may be struggling with a particular purchase, and so I present the first in a new series of 'first impressions'. Think of them as like mini-reviews of new figures as and when they're released, with plenty of pictures. Don't worry, the pre-releases and test shots will still get the full works, too!

What better place to kick off than with a brand new TakaraTomy Masterpiece, particularly one as handsome as Clampdown? Yes, it's a repaint (I hear some of you groan!) but as with other figures in this line, it's a repaint that homages a particularly important part of Transformers (or rather, pre-Transformers) history. Let's have a look.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2015


2015 has been an amazing year for Transformers collecting, and it's without hyperbole that I can sit here and say that as of the end of the year, we've really never had it as good as we do right now. Not only have we seen some absolutely phenomenal figures released by both official and third party companies in the last twelve months, but there have also been some frankly astounding reveals of new products yet to come. The TakaraTomy Masterpiece line is now set to ramp up the release schedule like never before, and more and more 3P operators have teased us with their own take on Masterpiece-esque reveals.

Still, as exciting as all that is, now's a great time to take stock of the figures that have already been released. In a tradition followed by many Transformers collectors, I bring you my own list of favourite purchases of the last year (a top six, because, well... Sixo!) as well as highlighting some other figures such as my best retrospective purchases.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece Convoy v1


INTRODUCTION
When the idea of doing retrospective reviews of the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line was first suggested to me, I honestly was'nt sure where and how to start. MP-10 seemed like a possibility, although I personally felt like this was skipping an important and not to mention extended period of the line's history. Not only am I a big fan of the figures that were released prior to Optimus Prime v2 and the apparent 'reboot' that came with him, but I think they're often sadly overlooked in the eyes of many collectors. Yet still, they have their place in the evolution of the line, and in my own personal opinion are by no means made obsolete by MP-10 and subsequent releases.

So, back to the line's beginnings we go. For the purposes of this review, we'll be looking at the figure that most will refer to as MP-1, debuting way back in 2003, although we'll also be talking about the significant (and some would say long overdue) upgrade that it had three years later with MP-4, and the addition of the trailer in the form of a so-called 'Perfect Edition'. There's even a little Hasbro 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime, their version of the original MP-1, thrown into the mix.