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?

The initial point to note is that DX9 do some lovely packaging. It really is quite sublime, with gorgeous artwork. I was also impressed with Gewalt's size right out of the box. Tank Transformers are always at their best when they're big and imposing, and Gewalt certainly gives that vibe as soon as you unbox him. He's pretty chunky!




Yep, those of you who like massive tanks are likely to be in for a treat here.



Now, as I say, the two vehicle modes were probably my biggest point of hesitation before picking up this figure, and I'd love to say that the in-hand experience has completely changed my mind about this tank mode, but sadly that wouldn't be completely true. The things that bugged me from pics are still bugging me now, I'm afraid. Probably the biggest faults on that list are the overall proportions (it feels rather... boxy, for want of a better word), the obvious mismatched panels & colours (not to mention those obvious jet wings at the back), and the most glaring point... the robot mode head.


Yes, that's the robot mode head that you can see peeking out very unsubtly from the front of the tank mode. Not hard to miss, is it, especially as it's, y'know, yellow!


Not to be unfair, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to create a fun & intuitive triple changer of this sort, let alone a semi-G1-realistic Blitzwing in all three modes, but the head just feels like a bit of a poor effort, sadly. It's like they got so far along in the design process and still hadn't worked out what to do with the head, so they just had it plonk to one side. They could have even had another panel flip down to cover this bit, I would have thought (and I believe there's already a further 3P solution in the works for this...), but it was not to be. So, I would say a big part of your enjoyment of this mode relies heavily on your ability to suspend disbelief of the robot mode head.


Sadly it's not all good news elsewhere either, as the rear end is a bit dubious also. Two massive holes, and the rear jet fins feel like a very bizarre afterthought (more on that later...).


Still, there is a lot to enjoy here too, if things like the above don't bother you. As I say, it's a big ol' chunky tank, so there's a certain amount of fun that comes as par for the course! Even at my ripened old age I will admit it's hard not to make tank noises whilst giving this thing the once over. Ahem.


As I say, he's also rather delightfully ma-hoo-sive, so if big tanks are your thing then that might be enough to float your boat straight away. He looks suitably imposing next to the likes of the Masterpiece cars, for example.



However, for me it's still just a little bit disappointing as far as tank mode goes overall. I can't be alone in being a tad sad to not be gifted with rubber treads (if only because they were such a delight on DX9's own Tyrant). Equally, a simple comparison with the original G1 animation model shows how different Gewalt is to his cartoon appearance. Now, whilst a great deal of the official line has forgone cartoon accuracy in vehicle mode in favour of a real world flair (I'm looking at you, Bumblebee!), Gewalt doesn't really scratch that itch either, being a sort of very generic tank. In fact, I'd say that both other 3P efforts on the horizon at least look more plausible as actual real world vehicles, whilst also both being similar-ish (even if not entirely accurate) to the G1 source material. Of course, it's far too early to decide this contest yet, especially with FansToys' effort only being at the render stage, but it's interesting to compare all the same.



So, one vehicle mode down, and time to look to another. Fortunately, I was actually quite pleasantly surprised by Gewalt's jet mode, especially as my hopes weren't too high from pictures. However, it's actually grown on me quite a bit!



Looking at it again now I'm not quite sure what I was so worried about, but I think this mode felt somehow too "flat" to really make for an exciting, sleek jet. Fortunately, it's actually pretty neat.



Perfect? No, definitely not, but it's a surprisingly clean jet mode considering all the various twisting and turning this thing goes through to get into its various modes. Other than the tank treads under the wings, there's really no evidence of kibble from either tank nor robot to be seen here, and even they are relatively well-disguised as intakes.


It also looks pretty nice when propped on a flight stand of some sort. Rather annoyingly the front landing gear on my copy refuses to stay stowed away, continually popping back down, so I have had to position the flight stand I used here to keep it in position.




Yep, pretty clean. He even stacks up pretty well next to the Masterpiece jets.




You'll note he's a fair bit bigger by comparison, but I don't mind that too much. Equally, his size looks impressive versus Masterpiece cars, who seem so tiny they can even sit on the top of his jet mode!


So, how about a comparison with his animation model, as before? Well, this is a tough one, as there're definitely some elements in which Gewalt is at least superficially accurate to the animation model (well, all of the colours are sort of in the right place here!), although it's not exactly spot on overall. Arguably KFC's attempt comes closest to that goal here, based on the prototype image. Still, I have seen some folks make a case for Blitzwing's jet mode needing a bit of an update anyway, as the, um, "wing design" is not exactly something that you would see on a real world jet (being more of a hangover from the G1 toy), even though I think of it as pretty iconic, personally!



Regardless of your personal opinion, I have to admit to being quite pleasantly surprised by Gewalt's jet mode overall. It's a relatively neat blend of updated design and old school homage, that just about works in terms of representing the intended character.


So, onto the main event with robot mode, although a few points to mention on the transformation front first. Overall, I have to say that the transformation here is really quite clever, and certainly a lot of fun. The first time over I was quite bemused at times, but now I find it all relatively easy to flip back and forth between modes (the only bit that still causes some confusion at times is the arms and remembering how they store away in both vehicle modes). Still, it's a clever scheme for the most part (even if it does include a little partsforming...) and produces one very BIG robot...




Sheesh, this guy is a bruiser! I have to admit that I don't ever recall Blitzwing being quite so large... but it certainly makes for an imposing figure. Shelf presence, thy name is Gewalt!


So, he's big, but what else? Well, first glance is pretty rewarding, with everything looking really nice overall, and an absolute stonker of a headsculpt on display. Look at that noggin!


Elsewhere, everything looks pretty much as it should for the character, and on the face of it, this seems cartoon accurate for the most part, or at least in the most obvious details. He's also definitely a bit of a looker overall, and no mistake.



Pretty tidy from every angle, eh? Yes, this is what drew me to this figure in the first place - the look of the robot mode, and it's undeniably still a beautiful thing to look at in person.


Unfortunately, handling this figure is where some niggles started to creep in, I'm afraid. Everything starts to feel surprisingly... fiddly, and even a bit cumbersome. For example, the legs are rather awkward to pose. Firstly, the hips joints will only allow the legs to sit completely straight or at a near 45 degree angle, making it very difficult to achieve many poses. Equally, the knees are rather tight and don't allow for much in the way of motion, not to mention that they also look a bit pants when in full bend. Equally, I find the feet a bit frustrating, as they won't really allow for a forward bend without coming un-pegged.



But what of the top half? Well, more of the same, I'm afraid. The arms are just about as frustrating at the legs, and also have a habit of looking rather awkward in certain poses, including a stoic stance. The elbows are about as annoying to pose as the knees, and look equally odd if not carefully posed, and I can't even begin to explain how much I find the hands to be a source of contention. They just never look quite right, and the best I can seem to manage with them is either a straight up fist or a point. It's honestly quite hard to explain why I find this so difficult, as admittedly some of these frustrations do not come across in pictures!


I'm also not a big fan of the floaty shoulders. They get in the way a fair bit and end up feeling like quite a hindrance, unfortunately. And then there's my final, and perhaps one of my biggest grumbles, which is the wings on the side of the legs. Now, I have seen plenty of test shot photos of this figure, and clearly something changed just before final production, as the smaller purple fins were not originally part of the original design. They've clearly been added at a very late stage, which is also why they're not really well-accounted for during transformation back to tank mode (remember how I said the rear was a bit awkward?). As far as robot mode goes, they're a downright hindrance, as the larger white wings now have nowhere to go! I know that sounds bizarre, but the photo below hopefully shows what I mean. Where the white wings were clearly first designed to sit flush to the side of the legs, now they sort of awkwardly curve round the purple fins... it does not work, and is very frustrating when trying to get this guy into something resembling a decent pose. Even the instructions do not take account of those purple fins... weird!


So, all bad? Well, no - as I say, he still looks very pretty, and he's equally quite imposing when armed with both his blaster & sword (despite the wrists not being quite strong enough to hold the sword perfectly). If you can pose him well, he's quite a stunner.






So, how does he compare when standing next to some other figures, both Masterpiece & third party alike? There's no denying that he brings something new to the party, and he's definitely a formidable presence next to his Decepticon comrades.





So, how about the inevitable comparison with the other upcoming not-Bliztwings? Ultimately everyone will have their own opinion, though for my money each one seems to be shaping up with its own strengths right now. As far as robot modes go, this is looking like it might be a close race to the finish.



CONCLUSION
Sadly, a bit of a mixed bag. I expected to love this figure for its robot mode, and be a little so-so on the two vehicle modes. In truth, I like the jet mode way more than I thought I would, but the robot mode has some in-hand problems that stop it from being as good as it could have been. I debated between a 2 and a 3 rating, but in the end I had to make up my mind...

What's HOT?
He's big, chunky & fun. The transformation is loads of fun and bears repeating, and the jet mode is surprisingly good. Robot mode looks sublime, and carries a real shelf presence.

What's NOT?
Gah, so close... but the robot mode has several unfortunate issues that make it less of a joy in hand. The tank mode is also a bit iffy, and features the worst attempt to hide a robot mode head in recent memory. Oh, and those wings on the legs...


13 comments:

  1. I don't like the jet mode and the tank mode. The robot seems really cool instead.
    I don't understand why Takara is not creating new dinobot, triplecharger and combiner in masterpiece class. Not to mention that the Megatron Mp5 is horrible and I need a more big Grimlock.

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    1. I'm sure that Takara will get there eventually, especially as they're really stepping things up at the moment.

      MP-5 is certainly not the best, although he's really quite old now - will be ten years next year! I don't think he's very representative of the modern line.

      As for Grimlock, you may be interested in that oversized KO of the mould that's doing the rounds...?

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    2. I'am moving towards third party. Both for Megatron And Dino. Third party Combiner are really expansive for me☺.

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    4. I'm a big fan of FansToys Dinos myself. Not really into any 3P combiners though, personally.

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    5. What do you think about Gigapower and toy world dino?

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    6. I think they look very cool, although they're not for me, personally speaking. Just don't fit my collection goals. However, Gigapower Guttur especially looks great and I frequently read good things.

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  2. Completely disagree with the score. I think hes great. The plane is miles better than tank I admit, I just transform to plane from bot mode. I think the imposing robot mode is the best, the legs and ratchets are frustrating, but everything else is great. A 4 or a 3.5 at least out of 5.

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    1. I'm really pleased if you enjoyed him a lot more than I did, and certainly happy for the disagreement. I didn't at all think that everyone would agree, especially as most of the other reviews I have seen of him have been quite a bit more positive than mine! As I say, I did enjoy quite a bit about him, but just found posing him (one of the aspects I enjoy the most about these figures) quite frustrating, so that killed it a bit for me. I did debate between 2 & 3 as a final score though!

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  3. Apart from the Gewalt, I have to say it man. You do the best transformers toy's photo of the web.

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    1. Gosh, thanks, that's really very kind. There are plenty of other photographers I admire more though, personally. :)

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  4. I agree with a lot of what you're saying here, but at the end of the day he's massive, looks great and is loads fun to mess with (I can't pose for toffee so that's a non issue).
    Even with one of the foot hinges partly breaking on him I love him, so not looking to trade up.
    The fit and finish being less than Carry was a big surprise tho, really hope that's just a blip.

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    1. Can't argue with any of that - he's certainly big and lots of fun, and I do love the transformation, so there's definitely a lot to like about this guy! I don't dislike him by any means. Think maybe my review came across as a bit harsh! :)

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