Saturday 25 February 2017

REVIEW: DX9 D-10 Hattori Hanzo

Despite being released in late 2016, I was a little slow off the mark to pick up Hattori Hanzo, DX9’s latest Masterpiece-styled release and their attempt at the Decepticon six-changer, Sixshot. I’ll admit that the initial reveal didn’t quite tempt me enough to immediately leap on him, which was probably not helped by my being somewhat underwhelmed by their previous attempt at a multi-mode former, Gewalt. That said, most people seemed to love that figure, and I myself was quite a fan of Tyrant & Mightron, their takes on Galvatron & Megatron respectively. Add to this that their previous releases have for the most part been quite well made, so perhaps it was inevitable that I might reconsider at some point.

And so here we are, with Hanzo now in hand. I was actually quite excited by the time he arrived, and I will say that it was a refreshing change to have a new figure arrive only a day or two after deciding to pull the trigger; the regular long wait for pre-orders to come in can be a bit wearing a times, I guess.

So, first impressions? Straight out of the box he comes across pretty well! I always suspected that the robot mode was going to be the highlight for me here, but it’s definitely a nice-looking affair overall. First thing to notice is that he’s big, chunky and colourful – pretty much par for the course with DX9 then. The overall look is good, and certainly evokes a sense of character. That’s aided by the rather lovely headsculpt! It looks the absolute business with nicely smooth sculpting and piercing red eyes. I love it.

I also think they got the size of this guy pretty spot on. In preparation for taking some photos I did run back over his one and only cartoon appearance in the western G1 episodes, in The Rebirth part 1, and he’s certainly much bigger than you might remember there. In fact, he absolutely dwarfs Cyclonus by comparison. It definitely would have been fun to see a much larger figure of this stature, but arguably this wouldn’t have worked in other respects. Fans of the Japanese Headmasters series, for example, will be more familiar with him as something of an archenemy to Ultra Magnus, and in this sense he lines up nicely.

With Masterpiece Ultra Magnus

In fact, there’s a lot about the design of Hanzo that more closely resembles his appearance and character in Headmasters, where his ninja-esque stylings were perhaps more apparent. This is even evident in the choice of name, Hattori Hanzo having been a famous Japanese ninja of the 16th century. Overall though it’s an attractive ‘bot mode, with some nice detailing and attractive moulding. There has been a lot of debate on-line about the colours choices here, specifically if the blue-green of the chest should be greener than it is blue. Arguably it’s not quite accurate, but it works well enough to my eye at least, and you’re in no doubt that this is Sixshot.

He comes with a pair of swords and two guns, which look fairly cool. I was however annoyed with how the swords were packaged, as stickers are used in the box to hold the them in place. The glue doesn’t seem to want to come off easily, and I’m quite nervous about scratching the chrome when trying to get rid of it. Not good.

Unfortunately, where this guy really falls down a bit is in the proportions. Massive, unwieldly hands have become an unfortunate trademark of DX9’s releases in my experience, and this does nothing to redirect that trend. If the hands look too big in comparison to his arms and body, they look positively ridiculous when you consider their relative size to his head, not to mention that they make the swords look tiny! The forearms also feel a little too long, and the whole thing can look a little awkward in certain poses if you’re not careful.

It’s not the only awkward aspect of this mould either, sadly, with a few bits here and there requiring the occasional adjustment to keep it all looking as it should. It’s a shame that the rear wings are not better kept in place, as they frequently move around during handling, and the chest wings are quite clearly a bit of a hindrance to the large upper arms. The left shoulder on my copy is also a bit weak, and relentlessly pops out of place. I’ve had a look but there appears to be no obvious way to tighten it either, which is a shame.

He does look pretty cool when lined up to other Masterpiece-styled figures though.

With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime

With Maketoys Cupola & Iron Will

So, robot mode is good but certainly not perfect, but how about the other five modes? Surely one of the key attractions of a figure like this is having so many different forms to cycle through and enjoy. In reality, it is still fun but the transformation of this guy can be a bit unforgiving at times, to say the least. There are various bits that require quite a bit of force to get stuff moving, and I had to use tweezers or other tools at least two or three times to release certain pieces. It also doesn’t help that the instructions randomly decide to skip the occasional step here and there and, for some modes, only show you how to convert starting directly from the robot form itself, not from the mode that they have asked you to achieve previously. Overall I wouldn’t describe the various transformations as challenging, but they’re definitely not intuitive either. I don’t foresee myself re-doing any of these very often, let’s put it that way.

Car mode is first up on our cycle through the various forms on offer. I’d say it’s fairly representative of what you can expect from all of them, in that it tabs together well, is sturdy and solid, but it looks a little odd and has some serious kibble issues. There’s quite clearly a pair of wolf legs sat on the back of it, not to mention various bits & bobs that just sort of end up where they do to get the general shape correct. It’s by no means elegant, and bears only what I would say is a passing resemblance to how this mode appeared in the animation. I’m also not a huge fan of the blocked-out windshield, which looks a bit naff by “Masterpiece” standards.

With Masterpiece Loudpedal

Next up, jet mode. This was the one that I thought might be best, and that very likely bears out to be true, though again it feels a little inelegant. The biggest sin here is the obvious pair of wheels sat right on top, which as before just smacks of stuff ending up roughly where it needs to without really being thought through. I’m sure it’s tough engineering six modes out of one figure, but this just feels a little on the nose. Still, for the most part this mode holds up comparatively well, and does at least look quite cool with a bit of imagination. It’s also a decent size, stacking up about the same as a Masterpiece seeker. Shame there’s no landing gear, but maybe I am expecting too much there.

With Masterpiece Thundercracker

Now we move onto wolf mode. Look, let’s admit it, this form was always going to look at least a little silly, right? I get that it’s quite a challenge to pull off something like this, I really do. That said, this mode feels messy, to say the least. The rear legs are a bit bizarre, there’s kibble everywhere, and there’s an unfortunate lack of poseability going on. Even a slight ankle tilt would have helped to make this mode look a little more convincing, but the options for a decent stance are sadly limited. I do kinda like the wolf head though, but again this mode is a bit spoiled by random bits & bobs being all over the place, such as the chest wings clearly just being folded underneath the body, or the obvious wheels on the back. The comparison with FansToys Lupus no doubt demonstrates some of what this mode is lacking, though keeping in mind that figure only needs to achieve two modes, I guess.

With FansToys Lupus

Onto the tank mode, which is pretty much the robot mode with the legs folded over and some guns popping out of the soles of his feet. I mean, sure, that’s how the animation sort of does it too, but there’s little to no attempt to hide this fact on this figure. Equally, there’s no attempt at a cockpit or anything here, so it just kinda looks like a box with guns attached. The tank treads are also a little unconvincing. This mode probably achieves the biggest eyebrow raise from me.

And finally, it’s gun mode. Well, either that or it’s robot-lying-down mode. Yep, it’s basically the robot form with the arms folded up and the wings out to make a handle. It is fun and does sorta work if you squint a bit… kinda… and again it is at least vaguely in keeping with the animation, so there’s that. It does feel more mainline toy gun mode than anything else though.

Look, as I say, I feel like perhaps I am being a bit unforgiving with my comments on this guy. At the end of the day there is some fun to be had here and the robot mode is at least quite good. It’s just that if I am honest I can’t really see myself going through the effort to transform Hanzo a whole lot moving forward. The combination of a somewhat unforgiving and unintuitive series of transformations resulting in a bunch of alt’ modes that only vaguely resemble what they’re intended to but are covered in kibble is not all that pleasing. If anything, I almost wish they’re written off one or two modes completely and given us a really sweet jet mode, or a cracking winged wolf. But alas, they all fall short in one way or another, which is a bit of a shame.

So, Hattori Hanzo then. He’s by no means a write-off, and there is still plenty here to be enjoyed, but he’s not without his problems. The robot mode is fun and at least looks quite cool, but just don’t be expecting much from the alt’ modes, I’d say. If anything maybe the mistake with this chap was in trying to make him appeal to the Masterpiece market, as I’m almost wondering if my expectations were a little too high to begin with. That said, I do think that the renders for FansToys version of Sixshot, Hydra, look pretty good by comparison, so I’m fully expecting that figure to have some serious advantage when the two are stacked up side-by-side.

Until then, there’s still some enjoyment to be had here, but I shall be leaving my one-robot-army purely in his robot mode for the time being.

What's HOT?
The robot mode is nice overall. The head sculpt is positively banging, and he’s capable of cranking out plenty of decent poses. It’s mostly well-made despite a dodgy shoulder.

What's NOT?
None of the alt’ modes are particularly convincing, and the steps to get between them can be a bit arduous. Even the proportions of the ‘bot mode feel a little odd, and DX9 yet again offers up massively oversized hands.

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  1. A great read as usual mate. I just found there was too much compromise all round on him so decided to pass. Hoping FT deliver on theirs.

    1. Thanks very much! Yep, I am exciting to see what FT puts out too. The test shot does look better by comparison, but that's just based on pics, so let's see.