Saturday, 29 April 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-03 Feilong

It was only a little over a month ago that I published my review for Fans Hobby's last figure, the rather wonderful (and ridiculously-monikered) Megatooth, which you can still read here. Hot on his heels, I now have my hands on Feilong, his Monsterbot comrade and Fans Hobby's third figure overall to date. If you've also read my review of their debut figure, Archenemy, you'll know that I've been quite impressed with their output thus far, so of course I've been really looking forward to seeing how Feilong turns out. Despite only being two releases in, the company have already shown that they can put out interesting and well-made figures, and I like the direction that they're taking with focussing on more unusual characters, too. So far, so positive.

So what of Feilong? Well, like Megatooth I can imagine that this character is less familiar to at least some fans, although perhaps more so now that he's recently been homaged in the Titans Return toyline. In any case, this is the Monsterbot Doublecross, who is no doubt immediately identifiable for being one of a handful of characters from G1 to sport a double-headed dragon alt' mode. The really unique thing about Doublecross though is how the dragon heads also become his hands! He's clearly not a dude to be messed with, put it that way! In that regard, Fans Hobby have yet again hit the mark here, as Feilong looks every bit the badass straight out of the box.

Like Megatooth, Feilong is perhaps a rather stylised interpretation of the character, and sports what is becoming a rather signature stocky look for Fans Hobby figures. Collectors who are familiar with his appearances in the Japanese Headmasters cartoon will know that whilst the general look is about right, there's no doubt that he's a lot beefier and so is perhaps a bit of a departure from what could be considered "cartoon accurate". Personally though, I don't mind that at all, as I think he looks nothing short of amazing.

So, where to start? Well, first thing to notice is how chunky and solid this guy is. It's difficult not to impressed with the feel of him straight out of the package, although it's perhaps your eyes that are in for the even bigger treat! There's a lot to like with the look of this guy, from pleasing colours like the striking red highlights and warm greys, to lots of lovely little touches that really make him feel quite premium.

There's good use of paint apps here, and even some larger painted areas such as the thighs, which seem nicely done. Collectors who picked up Megatooth may also be pleased to know that Fans Hobby have done away with the somewhat-bizarre tampos we saw on that release, instead opting for some neat little designs & symbols that look quite a bit better. I think it's a smart move actually, as I was worried that a complete absence of the tampos would feel inconsistent with Megatooth, but I'm not sorry to see them go in favour of something slightly more stylish, I must admit.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention those hands. They're just so freaking cool, and a truly unique and memorable aspect of this character, although I guess there's always a danger of them looking a bit silly! Fortunately, Fans Hobby have really nailed the way the hands work here, and they look amazing. I particularly love the blasters inside the mouths, and the way in which the jaws can fold back and out of the way completely, allowing the entire hand to feel like more of a weapon. It's a very cool feature.

I have seen a few on-line fans already adding in sets of "real" hands to Feilong in pictures, and I will admit that it would have been cool to have that option included here (even if it's not really something I expect of the character). Fortunately, Fans Hobby have you covered, as they've just revealed that a set of hands for this guy will be included with the next & final Monsterbot release, Flypro (their take on Grotusque), along with alternate faces for both Feilong and Megatooth and a set of flames for use with the monster modes. Very cool.

Still, there's no denying how great the dragon hands look here, and they certainly don't stop Feilong from having a good grip on his two massive guns! Whilst one has to wonder why a guy with fire-breathing dragon heads for hands needs additional weaponry, there's no denying that they certainly look great and make Feilong look quite imposing.

Then there's the headsculpt. It's so distinctive and expressive, I absolutely love it! Feilong has quite a snarl going on, and it really works well for the character. I also have to mention how utterly gorgeous the chromed visor is, especially as it does a stunning job of capturing the light in photography.

The other point to mention is no doubt the wings, which are really well done. They look fantastic but are also nicely-articulated so can fold into a range of different poses, or just simply collapse out of the way should you prefer. The dragons arms do kind of just hang off the back a little bit, but they don't particularly get in the way and I actually think look kind of cool. I do like that you have so many options with the wings, given how much movement they allow.

In fact, Feilong is nicely articulated overall, with the arms especially having more than enough points to allow for any number of creative poses. The legs are quite a bit more tricky though, I will admit, with the hip skirt being rather cumbersome and hindering a few potential poses unless you get a bit creative. I did also find that his feet could look a little "hollow" from certain angles if you're not careful, but it's not a major problem.

In fact the hip skirt is probably my single biggest complaint about this figure overall, to be honest. Not only is it kind of in the way a little, but it also feels quite loose and has a habit of flopping back & forth a bit. It's not really a major problem because of how it's designed, but it still feels a bit strange considering how well the rest of the figure is made. He certainly feels at least on par with the company's previous efforts thus far. The plastic is strong and feels good, and there's some pleasing ratchets to gorge yourself on when giving this guy the once over. I did detect an ever-so-slight note of the left arm feeling a bit limp under the weight of carrying one of his guns, but I honestly don't think it's anything to worry about, and hasn't been a recurring problem. Overall, Fans Hobby have put out another good quality release here.

He also looks fab next to some of his Autobot comrades, especially now that we're building up quite a few 3P versions of characters from the Headmasters cartoon. Of course, it goes without saying that him and Megatooth look nothing short of fantastic together.

With Fans Hobby Megatooth

With KFC Doubledeck

With Maketoys Iron Will & Contact Shot

Also with Maketoys Cupola

So, the robot mode is a definite winner overall, but what about the rather iconic dragon mode? Well, the first thing to mention is of course the transformation to get there. Both of Fans Hobby's previous releases have had relatively simple conversions, so I was interested to see if Feilong would follow suit. I'd say that he's definitely a bit more involved than Megatooth (not hard!) but still no doubt on the simple & intuitive end overall, with the instructions breaking down the scheme into more steps than perhaps was necessary (though I'm not complaining). The only bit that gave me any kind of challenge was the way in which the legs flip over and secure, as there's a slight element of narrow clearances and I was a little worried about scratching the paint on the hips, but it doesn't appear to have been a problem so far. Overall, it's all pretty easy.

As for the dragon mode... woof! Transformers really don't come as fun as this very often! This mode is just so eye-catching, it's hard to not keep staring at it as he sits on the side whilst I write this. I mean, just look at it!

The double-headed dragon feature is just too good, and will make Feilong stand out in just about any display, I would imagine. Again, where it could look a little ridiculous, I really think Fans Hobby have pretty much nailed the proportions of this mode, although I might have appreciated a slightly longer tail if that was possible.

Overall though, there's no denying that Feilong looks the business here, and has enough articulation going on to allow for a range of poses. The dragon heads themselves have a great range of motion, and the limbs can be moved around just about enough for most purposes. I will say that I wish the claws had more range, as they're just fixed in place, and it's a shame that the tail cannot move at all. I do find the legs to be a little hindered in certain stances, but that said the large heel spurs allow for a very solid balance and really help with posing options if properly used. Overall there's more than enough to allow the dragon mode to display quite a surprising range of character, a lot of which I think is down to the use of the wings.

I'm really struggling to say which of the two modes I prefer overall, to be honest! It's funny because I had previously been displaying Megatooth in his robot mode, but I immediately feel like keeping Feilong in dragon mode a lot more. Everything just works so nicely, and like I said before, he's just too much fun!

He also interacts nicely with other figures, and really is capable of showing a bit of character.

With Masterpiece Hot Rod

With Masterpiece Spike & X-Transbots Ollie

Feilong also looks brilliant next to Megatooth in this mode, even though I will say that he does perhaps feel a little small by comparison. Still, it leaves me feeling incredibly excited for when Fans Hobby finish off this set with Flypro, as I really cannot wait to see the three of them lined up.

With Fans Hobby Megatooth

It's funny, as I have to admit that I wasn't sold on Megatooth from the initial pictures, and genuinely considered skipping him. How glad I am that I didn't make that mistake, as him and Feilong together are sheer joy. They're simple, big, chunky, sturdy and most of all fun, which I would say is entirely perfect for the subject matter. I never knew that "Masterpiece-styled" Monsterbots were a thing I needed, but now I couldn't be happier that they're here.

What's HOT?
Big, chunky and fun in both modes. The robot mode is superb, with a gorgeous headsculpt. The dragon mode is beautiful, and has lots of play value.

What's NOT?
The hip skirt is my biggest complaint about this figure, as it both hinders a bit of articulation and also feels a little floppy. I do also wish the dragon had one or two more points of articulation, but it's great overall.

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  1. Another great read, and beautiful work as always. The monster eyes are off to me, we've all seen that shame faced look he can have!
    Still overall he looks good, guess that's another for the stairs then ;)

    1. Thanks, dude! Appreciate the nice note. Do you know, I hadn't noticed that about the eyes before, but I do see what you mean...

  2. I got Archenemy mainly due to you pictures and review. I have to say that I am not disappointed. He's glorious. These guys hit the mark. Now I'm here looking at Feilong with my card in hand. Must. Resist. Urge.

    1. Glad to hear you weren't disappointed! I misread that for a minute! :D

      Do you pick up Megatooth too? I think these guys will be extra hard to resist as a group. Looking forward to Flypro.