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.

Straight out of the (very tiny) box, there's no mistaking that Boost is definitely a minibot, and a pretty awesome looking one at that. The car mode is pure 1980s, giving off a distinctly retro vibe, and I really like it.

There's been some challenge from fans on-line saying that this car mode isn't representative of Windcharger, as many feel that X-Transbots should have kept the slightly deformed proportions of the original G1 toy, or at least fitted out this mode with oversized tyres akin with his original appearance. I have to be honest and say that this doesn't bother me one bit. This thing looks absolutely great in terms of the design, and I like how XTB have reimagined the character in a way that feels in keeping with what the official line would likely also do.

As well as the attractive sleek form, the car mode is helped by a shiny painted finish, and is a rather fetching shade of dark red. The colours are perhaps a little muted, and don't pop as much as other recent releases such as Masterpiece Ironhide, but they're certainly nice.

Sadly the paint is a little mismatched here and there. Some of the panels are noticeably different colours to others, in a way that sort of reminds me of Masterpiece Sideswipe. I'd also add that some of the smaller paint apps are a little lacklustre too, particularly the brighter red highlights on each wheel, which feel a little inconsistently done. Still, it's an attractive mode overall, no doubt, and one that looks pretty eye-catching from just about any angle.

Boost features some handy weapons storage underneath. He comes with two weapons, a pistol and an electromagnet accessory which is a homage to his signature power as seen in the G1 cartoon, and both can be tucked away neatly underneath the car mode. The pistol doesn't appear to fit quite as snugly at the instructions would seem to indicate, but it doesn't fall out either, so all good.

The other notable feature of this mode is the pop-up headlights, which are really quite cool. I like that it gives Boost two quite different looks, despite being such a tiny change. I will admit that I had a bit of bother getting one of the headlights out of its socket the first time, though the trick seems to be to apply pressure on top at the base, instead of using a fingernail to pry it open.

So, pretty cool car mode no doubt, but how does he shape up next to some other examples? Well, the obvious comparison is with Masterpiece Bumblebee (they are both minibots, after all!) along with some of the rest of the official line. I think he fits pretty nicely overall, and perhaps my only real nitpick is that Boost ends up looking slightly different because of the lack of translucent windows. It's a shame that XTB didn't see fit to have tinted windows similar to Sideswipe, which I think would have made Boost seem a little more premium and fit more seamlessly with the Masterpiece line.

With Masterpiece Bumblebee

Also with Cubex Huff and Badcube Brawny

With Masterpiece Bluestreak and Sideswipe

Roll out!

Still, aside from that it's all good stuff, as far as I'm concerned. I know that the small size of Boost is something that's already caused a lot of debate, but frankly I think it's great. The official line is all about robot mode scale after all, with the vehicle sizes falling where they may, so this works in my eyes. Besides, I'd argue that Boost scales far better versus Optimus Prime in this mode than any of the official carbots besides Bumblebee do!

Riding with the big cheese

He definitely fits in the trailer, by the way!

Is anyone really going to tell me that it's Boost who is out of scale here?

At this point I'll throw in a quick mention of Boost's sibling release, Hatch, especially as it feels only appropriate to make a comparison of these two figures. Hatch is a slightly modified white version of Boost's car mode, with the most obvious difference here being the completely symmetrical bonnet (Boost's is only raised on the one side), though there are more variances revealed during transformation and in robot mode.

MM-VII Hatch

Colours are a bit wonky

I have to say that, of the two, I significantly prefer Boost. The mismatched paint is noticeably worse on Hatch, and there's at least a couple of panels that are quite apparently a different shade. The white also doesn't look particularly nicely finished, especially when compared with other figures like Masterpiece Prowl or Clampdown, and Hatch definitely suffers a little by comparison in my opinion. I also found it virtually impossible to get the front of the bonnet to line up properly on my copy, which is a bit jarring. Still, there's no denying that the Trans Am model looks pretty neat despite all of this, and it's definitely an impressive design.

So onto transformation. I will admit that I was a little daunted about what to expect from Boost in this regard, as I had heard reports of the conversion being rather intricate, and the sheer size of the instructions for such a small 'bot didn't exactly assuage my fears. Unfortunately, I can't exactly say that the actual process itself put my mind at rest either - it's very fiddly and, particularly the first time around, quite frustrating at certain points.

There's at least a couple of manoeuvres that don't feel natural in any way, such as unfolding the arms from the car, the way the hands fold over a door panel, or rotating the feet out. I was also more than a little worried when moving the quite thin car roof, though this turned out to be more durable than first thought. Sadly my copy does have a slightly snapped peg on the back of the roof though.

I will say that repeated transformations have definitely brought more expertise, and despite the odd moment of slight annoyance, I've mostly got it down now. Still, it's not exactly a process that I would say that I relish, and I do think that certain parts are just simply more complicated than they actually need to be. I'm no designer, true, but I can't fathom there not being an easier way to accomplish that leg transformation, for example.

It's worth mentioning at this stage that I wholeheartedly recommend Boost's designer's own video that shows off how to complete the transformation. I'd actually go as far to say that this is essential viewing when converting this figure for the first time.

Still, despite all the fuss around the transformation, I'm pleased to say that the result is a great one. Boost looks nothing shy of absolutely stellar in his robot form, and completely evokes the intended character to the nth degree. This is Windcharger, no doubt.

Though he was never one of the most prominent 'bots in the cartoon series, Windcharger was certainly one of the most distinctive, and X-Transbots have captured him to a tee here. If indeed that transformation is required to produce this attractive result, then so be it! Not many figures could claim to be as strikingly cartoon accurate as this little chap.

He's also quite amazingly articulated. The legs especially allow for a great range of motion, and the impressive amount of ankle tilt means that you can create some very dynamic stances indeed. I'd also add that it's great to see articulated fingers on such a little 'bot, even if it is just block fingers, and it's something that I can't help but miss on Masterpiece Bumblebee.

X-Transbots have also caused a little controversy with the colour choices for this mode. Despite revealing Boost's colour scheme some time ago through renders and test shots, they have only just unveiled a second 'toy accurate' version, along with another Hatch. The toy version features a grey chest, whereas this 'cartoon version' does have a distinctly blue tint to it. Many fans have been wishing that the cartoon version was also more grey in tone, although I have to say that I think it really works as is. It's a very eye-catching colour, and works well, in my opinion. I am slightly less keen on the white legs though - they look ever so slightly unnatural, and I can't help but feel that a grey tinge here would have been preferable, perhaps in keeping with the colour used on Masterpiece Optimus Prime.

Regardless, the colours are pleasing enough, and as I say there's no denying that Boost looks pretty fantastic here, and particularly so when wielding his two accessories. The electromagnet accessory is very simple - just slip it over his closed fist like a gun and he's good to go.

One thing I have to credit this figure for is the absolutely astounding headsculpt. Rarely are characters as spot-on represented as this, and faces continue to be a particular strength of X-Transbots' releases. This release does also come with an alternate 'toy' face, but I'm only personally interested in the cartoon version.

Perhaps the only real nitpick I have here is the knees. I do wish that they had a way of securing properly, as they have a habit of unfolding slightly when posing that can be a little irritating. As I say, it's a nitpick, but there you go. Other than that, this robot mode shines.

Of course, it's also worth making a brief mention of Hatch, who in this mode is differentiated from Boost by several notable mould changes, including a new head and new design for the transformation because of this, and a new chest. It really pays off, as Hatch certainly feels quite different in hand, despite being the same overall design.

I much prefer Hatch in this mode to his car mode, and he does look pretty cool. Perhaps my only gripe here is that his chest pops open when you rotate the head as a whole. I guess maybe you're only supposed to rotate the 'face' inside the head piece, but this limits the movement somewhat. Ah, well, another nitpick. Overall I would say that Hatch is certainly fun although by no means essential; if you were only going to get one of these guys, Boost is definitely the way to go.

As for comparing with other figures, Boost fits in pretty well I think, both with official Masterpiece and third party alike. Sure, he's small, but he's meant to be! This is Windcharger after all.

With Masterpiece MP-27 Ironhide

With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime

Also with Masterpiece MP-12 Sideswipe

With Badcube Brawny and Masterpiece Bumblebee

With Masterpiece Wheeljack... bad things are about to happen...

So what else is there to comment on about this guy? I won't lie and say I think he's perfect, as there are no doubt several things that I wish had been handled differently, but overall I would say he is pretty neat, and certainly a great rendition of Windcharger. The transformation is perhaps the biggest turn off overall for me here as I just can't see that it needed to be that complex, although perhaps I'm mistaken. Regardless, both modes are pretty great, and so it's just about worth it.

...told you so! Recreate your favourite death scenes!

He may be the only Masterpiece-styled Windcharger on the market right now, but another company is going to have to really pull it out of the bag to produce a design that's better looking, that's for sure.

I remain pretty excited for future releases from X-Transbots, and am already preparing for a similar write-up on their next release, Arkose. Oh, and as for those other classic characters that are yet to be realised, a quick look at the bottom of Boost's box reveals a tease of who XTB have lined up for another future release... yep, it looks like we're going to be getting a Cliffjumper after all.

What's HOT?
Great looking robot mode, and a high degree of cartoon accuracy, especially the awesome face sculpt. The car mode is also nifty with a distinct retro vibe.

What's NOT?
That transformation... oof. There are also a couple of QC disappointments, and the paint on Hatch's vehicle mode is horribly mismatched.


  1. Is anybody else planning on doing him? Still waiting for Jazz, Cliffjumper and Trailbreaker!

    1. Not that I know of but I'm sure it's a matter of time... XTB have also teased Cliffjumper now!

    2. Done deal then. Gonna pick these guys up too!

    3. Just be warned - don't know how long it will be until that Cliffjumper sees the light of day! Boost was well over a year from initial tease.