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!).

So, it's fair to say I was tremendously excited about having the opportunity to review a test shot of Stomp, but does he live up to expectations? I'm going to break every reviewing rule and come right out and say it now: yes, yes he does. However, it's still one fun journey of discovery coming to that conclusion!

PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
This being a test shot, I don't have the full packaging that will come with the production release. Like other newer FansToys' releases, I'm sure we can expect some rather lovely artwork and a polystyrene inner casing. However, he does also come loaded with different accessories, some of which are quite unique, and some that are actually for other figures.

Also included is a set of red robot mode eyes

Like other Iron Dibots, Stomp comes packaged with both his red sword, which can be lit up with the use of batteries, and his gun. He also comes with two spare robot mode faces, a set of red robot mode eyes (as a replacement for the default blue), a set of red dino' mode eyes, and the much publicised 'pop out' eyes, which serve as a homage to his battle scene with Devastator in the '86 movie. More on all of these later!

Tracks and Road Rage lend a hand to show where those Sever bits should go

Also included with this set are two replacement parts for FT-06 Sever. Many fans were unimpressed with the large hole that can be found on the underneath of Sever's dino' mode, and so FansToys have kindly supplied a solution here. The two new parts will replace parts of the undercarriage, and feature an extra panel which will apparently cover that hole ably. This being a test shot, I didn't swap out the parts on my own copy of Sever, as I'd rather wait until I have my own copy in hand. Although I will admit that the hole on Sever never bothered me to begin with, this is a nice touch by FansToys, as they've clearly listened to the feedback.

You can't tell it from his face, but he thinks this is all pretty illogical

Stomp also comes packaged with a spare arm and hand for the recently-reissued version of FT-03 Quakewave. This particular arm piece allows the hose to be rotated and thus slung under the robot mode arm. Again, a nice touch, though strange to see it turn up here and not be included with the reissue, to be honest.

Before we continue, I should reiterate that this is a test shot of Stomp, and so naturally tolerances and details may vary with the final product. From my limited experience of doing these test shot reviews and then comparing them to the final product, I have seen first hand how much that can be! Both the final versions of Mercenary and Spotter feel quite different in hand to the pre-release samples I reviewed, and so I wouldn't be surprised if this follows suit.

DINOSAUR MODE
Wow. Where to start. I've already said that I think this figure is just bloody marvellous overall, and so perhaps it's not surprising to hear that the dinosaur mode is nothing short of absolutely incredible. It's everything that I would have wanted it to be and more.

Be still my beating heart...


So dynamic!

Do I sound like I am gushing a bit too much? Well, perhaps, but after three FansToys Iron Dibots (and, let's not forget, TakaraTomy's own MP-8 Grimlock!) I have of course built up certain ideas of what to expect from Stomp. Well, let me just say that those expectations have been more than surpassed, and I can honestly say that I consider Stomp to possess the best of the dinosaur modes from this line (so far...). This thing truly is that good.


I love the little blasters on the inside of his mouth

Seriously though, what's not to like? Firstly, he's huge. As soon as I took him out of the shipping packaging I was struck by the sheer size of him in hand. It's a big old mode, no mistake, and really looks impressive in hand.


No undercarriage holes here


Secondly, he looks nothing short of stunning. The proportions and general sculpt are excellent, perfectly capturing the essence of the intended character in this mode. Other reviewers have made a similar observation, but FansToys have clearly learnt a lot with each figure in this line, and it really shows in Stomp. He's beautiful from every angle. There are genuinely no bad bits to be seen!




Closer inspection brings further reward for the eyes. It's not just the general shape and obvious finish of Stomp that is lovely to behold, but the smaller details. Lovely shiny gold and silver chrome, superb and intricate robotic detailing under clear plastic on the neck and areas such as the legs, beautiful moulded details all over, not to mention some of the finest paint applications that I have seen on any figure in recent memory. Yep, this chap has it all.






It's worth paying particular attention to the chrome. The source of much debate throughout the evolution of this line, FansToys have confused many fans by altering the shade of the gold used on each subsequent figure. For me, Soar was just about the perfect shade, with Sever being slightly too dark for my tastes. Well, I can only say that they're truly hit a home run with Stomp, and a good thing too considering that his entire head is coloured this way. Fortunately, it looks nothing short of glorious, and I think really does a great job at homaging his look in the cartoon, as well as referencing the original G1 toy with the detailing on the neck.


I dare anyone to say this head isn't perfect!


However, Stomp is not just beautiful to look at, he's also loads of fun, thanks to an incredible amount of articulation. I think a large part of the reason I consider this to be the most successful FansToys' dino' mode thus far is because it also has the most play value. He can pull off a ton of exciting poses, and looks dynamic in just about any stance you choose. Both sets of legs have a great range of articulations at two points, as well as a much more convincing heel motion than Sever. Add to this a superbly articulated and very expressive tail, which is also nicely locked into place using a little mechanism that Scoria would have benefitted from. Then of course, there's the neck.


Probably my favourite photo that I have taken of Stomp

Peekaboo!

The neck is nothing short of brilliant, in my opinion. I was very curious how FansToys would handle this before the prototype was unveiled, and I think the solution is both elegant and well-executed. Three simple points of articulation that give you a whole range of poses, especially as it's possible to completely rotate the base of the neck to make it appear more natural from certain angles. Now, I'd be lying if I said it was impossible to make the neck look awkward on occasion, but I'd also argue that if that does happen there's a certain amount of responsibility on the person posing the figure too, as it's probably easier to make him look absolutely terrific!



These guys were never going to get along

The neck is so much fun and really allows for a lot of possibilities. Probably the only real complaint of any kind here is that there are two small grey pieces of plastic that pop out on occasion when rotating the base. They're clearly not meant to, and could just be glued back in place to prevent it from happening, though I can only guess that FansToys will fix this for production anyway (or at least, I assume so!). Even if they don't, it's a mightily easy fix, and doesn't at all detract from an otherwise amazing figure.


With his good friend and (depending on your canonical preferences) creator, Wheeljack

Of course, there's more play value to be had here than just articulation. Firstly, for those who prefer a more G1 comic-accurate look, a simple swap out method allows you to display him with red dino' eyes instead of blue. It's an easy change, but one that fundamentally alters the feel of the figure in quite a dramatic way. He suddenly looks really angry, for starters!

What shall I wear today?

Angry

With MP-8 Grimlock, both sporting their red eyes

Then there's the pop-up eyes. Fans of the 1986 Transformers movie will instantly know the reference, from when Devastator hits Sludge so hard that his eyes pop out of his head in an uncharacteristically cartoonish fashion. It's a silly scene, but this accessory suitably captures it. I doubt that it's something that I will use a lot when I finally receive my copy in hand, but I won't deny that posing him next to Unite Warriors Devastator wasn't a lot of fun, at least.



Aside from the obvious gimmicks, I must say that I enjoyed photographing Stomp in this mode a lot, and I think that's because he just exudes so much personality. There are certain figures (like Masterpiece Bumblebee, in my opinion) that just radiate character, and so it is with Stomp. Whether it's anger, sadness, humility or just general charm, Stomp has a way of conveying emotions that I think most figures can't even hold a candle to, as I hope some of my photos attest. It also helps that he mixes incredibly well with other figures.












Impressive stuff, but of course what a lot of fans will be waiting to see is just how well Stomp completes the Dinobot line-up (at least, until Grinder arrives). Well, I don't think I need to share too many words on the subject... just behold the absolute majesty of seeing these five figures all lined up next to one another. It really is like a dream come true.

I live for moments like this

If anyone else says they look like a barbershop quintet...





They're friends underneath it all, really

So, there you go. I'm sure I've probably raved on enough about how much fun this mode is, but fortunately the excitement is only just beginning...

TRANSFORMATION
All of the Iron Dibot transformations have been somewhat simple in premise, but surprisingly quite inventive in their execution. One particular element that receives a lot of praise is how FansToys have engineered the robot mode legs in each case, and how they hide dino' mode tails, heads etc. Stomp is no exception in this regard, although once again it's quite clear that FansToys have learnt a few lessons along the way with this line.



Whilst everything transforms sort of how you would expect, there are some neat little touches, that are really appreciated. I particularly like the way that the lower legs form - arguably this is the most clever arrangement of this kind on any of the Dibots, especially considering how neat everything ends up looking in robot form. I also like how the dino' mode tail locks into place, and indeed how they have incorporated a locking mechanism for the robot mode hips, something that in retrospect Scoria could badly do with.



The other really fun part is the robot head. It unfolds from his chest in a very clever and quite intuitive fashion, and is the final glorious step in revealing the impressive hidden robot form.

Headmaster?



Overall, I'd say this is probably the most in-depth Iron Dibot transformation overall. The amount of moving parts alone means that it takes me longer to complete that the likes of Scoria or Soar, and I still think it's more intricate than even Sever (and certainly more fun). It's the kind of transformation that bears repeated undertaking, which is a good thing considering how amazing both modes are here.

ROBOT MODE
I'm sure by now you know that I'm really quite impressed with this figure, so it should come as no shock whatsoever when I say that this robot mode is quite genuinely incredible. Seriously now, FansToys have outdone themselves with this one.




As I mentioned at the beginning, I'm a huge Sludge fan anyway, but seeing him brought to life in this fashion is really quite something. FansToys Stomp is so spot on with the design, the proportions, the detail... this is Sludge, no question. Every inch of this figure slavishly evokes the intended character in a way that you can't quite truly believe it's been made real.




As in his dino' mode, Stomp is a big bulky bastard, and really cuts an imposing figure. His nice, chunky limbs and solid torso really make him look super impressive, and tough as nails.



Just freakin' look at him...

He's also quite stunning. Like the dino' mode, there's positively tons of lovely detail going on here that really makes this figure something to behold up close. It's beautiful.











Add to the above that he's super poseable. I had no difficulty putting Stomp into any number of amazing and quite awe-inspiring poses. Just play away and it all happens quite naturally!




Articulation-wise, it's all what you would expect. A good range of motion on the head really adds to the dynamism. Each arm is super-articulated, with very clever shoulder joints that feature multiple points of articulation, bicep swivel, elbow joints and wrist swivel, not to mention the usual fully-articulated hands for a FansToys release. Beneath a welcome hip swivel there's some very natural hip joints, knee bend and a decent ankle tilt. Add it all up and it's a recipe for a figure capable of some stunning stances, to say the least.



Then of course, there's the head. Wow. Anyone who thinks that FansToys cannot do decent robot mode faces will surely need to rethink their position after handling this guy. The face is nothing short of perfect, and completely captures the essence of the character, whilst also being pleasing from every angle. It's chock full of personality.

Tell me again how FansToys' figures don't have decent faces...



This expressiveness is just added to by the inclusion of both two alternate faces, and a pair of red eyes for the robot mode for those of you who prefer more of a G1 comic bent. The swap out mechanism here is surprisingly simple for a FansToys release, which usually seem to require at least one or two screws being taken out. I'm really pleased to report that this isn't the case here, with the forehead crest plate being on a simple peg that is easily removed. It feels much more like something TakaraTomy would do for one of their figures, and the whole thing is strangely reminiscent of the face swap gimmick on Masterpiece Ultra Magnus.




As with the dino' mode, the red eyes add a distinct touch of menace to Stomp's look, and though I will be sticking with 'toon accurate blue myself, it's great to have so many options included with this release. The red does look great.

Loud noises!



Equally, the shouty face adds quite a bit. I found a range of uses for it, all of which proved suitably dynamic, whether it was anger, fear or just straight up boredom!

I don't know what we're yelling about!


Optimus' latest speech has the predicted reaction...

There's also another face, although this one is more difficult to describe. The lips are sort of pouting or pursed, and it ends up looking like he's just a little annoyed about something. It's a nice inclusion, although I'll likely stick with the default or shouty faces, for the most part.



Pouty face?

Of course, the most important accessories here are his weapons, and they definitely do not disappoint. The red sword is quite incredible, and absolutely huge! It's the biggest of the Iron Dibot swords so far, and makes MP-8's look quite tiny by comparison! Stomp's sword can be lit up by use of a small button on the hilt, same as with the other Dibots, though predictably it looks like batteries are not included.




Then there's the gun. The source of some controversy from photos, many fans were quick to decry the gun as not being cartoon accurate. Truthfully, I do not know why, as there's plenty of screen grabs to be seen to prove that it's almost the spitting image of the weapon Sludge wields in the cartoon, and I'd add that it looks really quite stunning as well. It's definitely my favourite of all the Dibots' weapons thus far!




So, pretty amazing stuff, right? Well yes, but that's not to say that there aren't some complaints, small though they might be. Though Stomp is incredibly stable on account of the mass amounts of diecast in those huge clompers of his, he is also a little back heavy and has a tendancy to 'lean' slightly. In fairness, he hasn't actually fallen over on me though, so I guess it's all about proper posing!


There's also two bits that could do with being quite a bit tighter. The first is the inside of the robot legs, which though very tidy can come unlocked and fall out without too much movement, and I'd like to see this fixed slightly for the production version. The other is the 'wings', which don't particularly have a proper locking position. They can be angled up or down slightly depending on your preference, but they're a little on the loose side and can be a little irritating when they move about during posing etc. Again, it's the kind of thing that I am hopeful that FansToys will see to for final release, though I suppose there're no guarantees.

Wings down

Wings up

Still though, these couple of points really are mere nitpicks on what is otherwise an absolutely magnificent figure. Really, truthfully, I cannot articulate enough how much I think FansToys have absolutely nailed this guy. It only becomes even more obvious once you start lining him up with a variety of figures and see how he not only more than holds his own, but also adds something to the general mix.






Like his dino' mode, something about the robot mode face allows for a range of emotion and personality, from fierce and threatening to subdued and docile. It really allows for a lot of display options and possibilities for interaction with other figures.






Naturally though, it all comes down to how well he lines up next to his Iron Dibot colleagues. Well, what can I say? Did you really think that FansToys would drop the ball here? Of course not, and seeing all five Dinobots stood shoulder to shoulder is one of those moments that makes you remember just why you love this hobby so damn much in the first place. It's an absolute joy.

With TakaraTomy MP-8 Grimlock (who is looking a bit tiny now even with those boots...)

With FT-04 Scoria, the first Iron Dibot

With FT-05 Soar

With FT-06 Sever

Oh my stars and garters...


In reality, Stomp could probably have been a somewhat half-hearted effort and it still would have been enough to take this complete line-up over the finish line and firmly into the realm of being considered an accomplishment. As it is, FansToys have exceeded my expectations and given us a figure that not only ably continues what has been such an amazing journey so far (with Grinder now on the horizon too), but actually improves on what has preceded it. Yes, they're all amazing figures, but I have no hesitation in saying that Stomp is the finest of all.





Dinobots no fool around

CONCLUSION
So, what else can I say? Yes, Stomp is amazing. Yes, he more than lives up to expectations. Yes, FansToys have done it again.

I was recently chatting with Maz at Transformers Square One about how best to approach this review, swapping notes after he had already published his own review. His suggestion was to post just two words: "Buy it". Reading back over the review, I realise that I probably could've done just that, especially as it's entirely sage advice, and exactly what you should do. You will not regret it.

What's HOT?
Seriously, just about everything... awesome dino' mode, amazing robot mode. Fun, sturdy & visually striking, Stomp reigns as king of the Iron Dibots (so far...).

What's NOT?
Hopefully the retail version's wings will hold tighter in place, but otherwise... um...

With G1 Sludge and WST Sludge

With G1 Sludge for the ultimate nostalgia kick


18 comments:

  1. Superb images, the ones with Stomp interacting with other bots are just flawless and totally believable, in places hilarious. Such a strength of yours!

    All the best
    Maz

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    1. Thanks, Maz, I appreciate that. He's a lot of fun to pose with other figures, as you know. Just so much character!

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  2. Amazing pics! I was fortunate enough to get to play with him a month back he absolutely lives up to the hype. I can't wait to get my own.

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    1. Thank you! Glad to hear you're so excited. I'm looking forward to my own copy too!

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  3. Oh my god, your pictures are amazing. The one with Tracks chilling with him was a favourite.

    Amazing work.

    Doucoo

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    1. Thanks so much! That's really kind. A lot of people seem to like that one.

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  4. The pics where all the dinobots are mouth-agap.. I picture that old Budweiser commercial with everyone yelling WAZZZZZUPPP!

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    1. Haha! Yes, I suppose I see what you mean.

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  5. Look gorgeous. Shame about them going with the little rocket launcher rather than his assault rifle :-(

    My only real complaints about this line are the multiple shades of gold and the faces all being a bit flat.

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    1. He really is gorgeous. The gun is pretty great, too, to be fair, and does look a lot like the cartoon. If it helps, the gold on this guy is quite close to Soar, so does help to bind together the team a little. I think Sever looks the most out of place, in that regard, personally.

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  6. As usual, awesome pics from Sixo!
    Def looking forward to getting my hands on "Stomp" (Was also one of my fav's growing up). Just need FT Grinder and my life would be complete (until FT comes ut with some more goodies). :)

    Keep up the great work Sixo!

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    1. Thanks very much, dude! Really appreciate the kind words, and glad you enjoyed the read.

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  7. Amazing pics. Are they going to come out with a limited edition version with the shinier metallic finish like they did for Scoria?

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    1. Thanks! I believe they are, although it might be a while off yet!

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    2. Guess I'll wait for him then! Lol! You think they'll do one for swoop too?

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    3. Supposedly yes - apparently there will be a blue X Soar and a red one!

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  8. Sixo, your review of this figure is outstanding! I felt like I had it in hand with the attention to detail a precise angles of your shots. I ordered this piece upon reading. This will be my first dibot, couldn't miss out on him even though the price point is a bit higher than I tend to spend. Stomp however will be well worth it. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, mate, that's really kind! Glad you enjoyed the read. :)

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