Saturday, 30 September 2017

REVIEW: MAAS Toys CT-001 Skiff & CT-002 Gold

Time for something a little different with this review. New third party company Maas have already done a good job at creating an engaging presence in the online Transformers community, and they certainly seem to be picking some unique designs for their first couple of releases. No doubt most collectors would recognise that CT-001 Skiff is a rendition of Bumblebee, but perhaps not one that they're familiar with. Well, for this release Maas have drawn inspiration from the short-lived but much-loved 2002 comic series The War Within, which featured the early days of the Transformers' war back on Cybertron. A lot of popular characters were given a Cybertronian-style makeover for the series to depict how they looked before travelling to Earth, and it's that depiction of Bumblebee that you see made real before you here.

Bit random? Well, not really, as it goes. Despite only lasting an initial six issues (and a further twelve in sequel runs), The War Within remains very popular in the minds of a fair portion of fans. This is quite possibly because it arrived at a time when Transformers comics had not been in print for a while, but also because it explored an area of continuity that, at least to some extent, treaded new ground with familiar characters.

Bumblebee's portrayal in The War Within, c/o

In any case, I'd go so far as to say that Maas have done a pretty stellar job at recreating the little yellow fella from this portrayal. He's cute as a button, and yet somehow simultaneously quite badass.

So, what's the deal with his mouldmate, Gold, then? Well, almost everyone will be familiar with the idea that Bumblebee is often "upgraded" to the new body & persona of Goldbug in various continuities, and whilst this isn't something that happens on the pages of The War Within, it's fair game for Maas to have taken the inspiration and run with it by producing a version here. They have actually produced two further versions of this mould, with a white one named Volk as an exclusive for TFCon, and a blue one named Rune as an exclusive for TFNation. Gold joins Skiff as a mass release figure, and as you can no doubt see is looking mightily handsome.

So, let's take a step back and start things off by looking at their vehicle modes, which is how they both come packaged. First thing to notice? They're pretty bloody adorable. Something about these guys instantly gives me Star Wars vibes for some reason, although the same could be said for any number of sci-fi influences. They're certainly pretty distinctive!

Fans of the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon will possibly also notice that Skiff's vehicle mode bears at least a passing resemblance to Bumblebee's Cybertronian form as represented in the very first episode from 1984, perhaps as an added bonus. But is it any good?

Well, yes it is! First thing you'll no doubt notice on picking it up is how simple and how light it is. Paint applications are kept to a minimum and there's nothing like diecast going on here, giving an air of simplicity that puts it more on the "pick up and play" end of the spectrum as opposed to being a "hefty" collectors' item that sits on a shelf. But there is definitely something that's uniquely charming about this mode, and there's no doubt that it fits together really well and feels good in hand. Oh, and that simplicity is also nicely reflected in the price - Maas were no doubt aiming for providing collectors with value for money, and first impressions say that they've nailed it.

It's a tidy mode too, with no discernible robot mode kibble, and even a bit of handy weapons storage underneath. I'd say that perhaps the robot mode hips are a slight touch too evident on the front section, but honestly it's not a mood-killer by any means, as one can easily summon up enough suspension of disbelief to overcome it. He also rolls really well on a flat surface.

I'm going to come right out and say that Gold is my definite favourite here though. That sparkly colour is just too nice, and really adds something above-and-beyond Skiff's comparatively bare canary yellow. The accompanying blue highlights also make this guy pop a little more, in my opinion.

Still, either way you can't really go wrong with this little chaps in vehicle mode. Cute as anything and nicely put together, they certainly represent something a little different. Continuing the play-value theme you'll also find that the transformation to robot mode is an absolute doddle. I didn't actually need instructions to do it first time, although if you find such things helpful then there's a bit of a twist, as Maas haven't included any in the box! In an effort to further reduce costs and provide a value-for-money experience, they've provided a link to an on-line instructional video instead - very clever. As I say though, it shouldn't take you much to convert these two, despite a few quirks with the "correct" placement of the shoulders. The intended set-up leaves the arms feeling a bit far apart from the body, in my opinion, so like I know a number of people have chosen to do, I've swivelled them round to bring them in a bit closer. The results look pretty neat!

So, let's take a look at these robots modes. First thing to comment on is that there're a lot of moving parts going on. Beyond the standard articulation points, there's also moveable sections at the shoulders, forearms and even the backpack. It would perhaps be fair to call this design a "shellformer", given how the various parts of the vehicle mode split apart and display on the outside of the robot mode quite prominently, but that's not a disservice at all and it is reminiscent of the character design. In fact it's relatively tidy overall, all things considered.

I will add though that so many moving parts can leave this mode feeling a little... fiddly, unfortunately. It's not a major problem by any means, and the robot form certainly has that "pick up and play" value going on, but you can expect to be readjusting bits of it quite frequently for posing and what not. It can also be a bit tricky to get everything in exactly the right place, such as those shoulders, in order for them to look completely natural. Still, when you do, there's no arguing with the results, as these guys have more than enough range to pull off some fun poses.

Both figures feature dual blasters that come out of storage in vehicle mode to fit snugly in their non-articulated hands. Simple, fun, and effective.

Again, I'm rather tempted to say that I prefer Gold overall in this mode. Something about that colour scheme is just too tempting, and I think it really makes the figure seem a bit more polished overall, not to mention it's a bit more of an interesting palette. I do also much prefer Gold's pretty fantastic headsculpt to Skiff's slightly moody Bumblebee. Skiff does come with a yellow and black version of the faceplated head too, though like a lot of people I kinda prefer to see the character of 'Bee with a mouth.

Either way though, they're both pretty nice figures overall, and definitely good value for the price point. I'll be upfront and say that these guys are a step outside the usual sphere of my collecting goals, so I wasn't quite sure what I would make of them to begin with. However, they're a lot of fun and certainly have that distinct "pick up and play" value that a lot of third party figures can be sorely lacking. Oh, and they do look pretty cool!

Overall, it's maybe difficult for me to say that these guys are absolute must-buys, especially as I'm still not sure whether they fit in my own collection or not. However, I will say that if you fancy a couple of fun, nicely-made and rather quirky 'bots, then there's not a whole lot of bad to say about them. OK, Maas Toys, you have my interest.

With Masterpiece Bumblebee

What's HOT?
Fun little figures with absolutely tons of play value. Both modes look great and the transformation is simple & repeatable. Oh, and the price is certainly attractive!

What's NOT?
They're a touch on the fiddly side in robot mode, with so many moving parts. It's possible to pose them looking a little awkward if not careful.

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  1. The gold deco is lovely, and very eye catching. Im not in for these but very interested in their pipes after the BC one had that ridiculous massive backpack.

    1. Yeah the backpack on BC Pipes is rather large! Maas Pipes does look interesting, even if not G1-styled.

  2. these guys remind me so much of the Impossible toys tetra jets. Albeit with vastly improved faces!

    1. I think Cybertronian modes are becoming more and more popular now!

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