Thursday 2 March 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-01 Archenemy

I’d say there’s at least three things to be excited about for this release. Firstly, it’s a black repaint, and they’re always fun. Secondly, it’s based on a character that I can say with some confidence the official Masterpiece line is very unlikely to produce themselves, so in that respect this is “safe” territory for collectors. Thirdly, it’s from a brand new company! This is the previously-unknown Fans Hobby’s first release, and with several other figures on the way that’s good reason to be a little joyous, especially as this guy certainly bodes well for a first-time effort. He actually landed for me at exactly the same time as their second effort, Megatooth, but that’s a story for another time; this is all about Archenemy.

So, where to begin? Well, how about a bit more background. The character in question here is Scourge (not that one!), and the original toy was released back in 2000 as part of the Car Robots / Robots in Disguise line. It was actually a repaint of the Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime mould from a few years prior, and was generally considered to be a great toy of the time. Believe it or not, this was the figure that kicked off the trend of black Optimus Prime repaints! Hard to imagine a time when every release of the heroic Autobot leader wasn’t accompanied by an evil repaint, I know, but this is where it all began. Conversely, this time around the black version is being released first, with the red & blue deco’ to come later from Fans Hobby, but for my money this guy is more interesting anyway.

Straight out of the box and you’ll notice two things. First, he’s pretty big and chunky. Secondly, he smells. Bad. I know that sounds weird but there’s a really funky whiff that immediately comes off this guy that is, to put it mildly, pretty repellent. It does dissipate a little with time, but a couple of days later I can definitely still smell it. I don’t often find that I need to comment on how figures smell, but it bears pointing out here! Fortunately, the assault on the nostrils is made up for by some good looks.

Yep, he’s a bit of a stunner. All sexy black with a nice warm grey and striking teal highlights. It’s every bit as gorgeous as you’d hope and then some. The paint apps are superbly applied, including some lovely red & yellow highlights and some attractive details on the inside legs.

His good looks are aided by an absolute corker of a headsculpt. It’s unmistakably Optimus Prime in origin, but feels suitably different to give Archenemy a bit of individuality. You can move the antenna which makes it feel in keeping with the likes of Masterpiece MP-10. On a slight bum note though, it also copies that figures attempt at light-piped eyes with no actual piping in the back of the head, meaning that they can look a bit dull at times. Still, it’s a great job overall.

I already mentioned that this guy was big and chunky, but he’s also incredibly sturdy. For a new kid on the 3P block, I’m tremendously impressed with Fans Hobby for pumping out something with this much quality for their first release. The tolerances are superb, the ratchets give out a nice strong cranking sound, and I found very little concern that Archenemy will topple over despite a relatively sizeable backpack. Another big tick for this release.

He’s also pleasingly articulated, despite a couple of quirks. It’s no real effort to get him into a dynamic pose or two, although the nature of the massive shoulders can present a bit of a challenge at times. I have to say, it’s one of those things that is such a signature part of this character’s look that of course they had to be designed this way, and to be fair Fans Hobby have done a good job at including some extra articulation points to make the shoulders as moveable as possible, so it’s actually done really well I think. There are also a couple of much-needed articulation points like a waist swivel and ab crunch that really help here too.

Accessories-wise, Archenemy comes with a pretty large translucent red sword, which looks really cool. It’s so long, but it works well I think! It can be stored on his back by use of a small clip, which is a nice touch. It grips into his hand nicely too, though it’s a little annoying that you seemingly cannot close his hands into a tighter fist around the hilt – they do look like they’re a bit too open to be convincing. It’s also a big shame that this release didn’t include a blaster of any kind! It leaves Archenemy looking a bit like he brought a sword to a gun-fight… fortunately his hands do grip other weapons such as the one that came with Megatooth, so at least you have that option.

He does also look pretty cool by comparison to other figures. Not only does he make a brilliant counterpoint to MP-10 himself, he also looks really neat as part of a black repaint line-up!

With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime

With Masterpiece MP-10B Black Convoy

With FansToys Quakewave (grey version), Masterpiece MP-13B Soundblaster and MP-9B Black Rodimus

With Fans Hobby Megatooth

So, a well-polished and very attractive robot mode, but what about transformation? Well, it’s all pretty simple to be honest. In fact, I’d say you could look at this figure and pretty much guess how it converts into truck mode. Seriously, there are no surprises. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a 3P figure that’s an absolute breeze to move between modes, but if anything I fear this guy might be a little too simple… a couple of extra panels here or there to fill out some of his vehicle form wouldn’t have been a bad thing, and there’s no doubt in my mind that those robot mode feet could have been better tucked away! Don’t get me wrong though – the truck mode looks amazing for the most part. I mean, just look at it, right?

Firstly, it’s massive. Absolutely massive. I mean, it dwarfs the Masterpiece cars and even manages to make MP-10 look a little small by comparison!

With Masterpiece Bumblebee

With Masterpiece Smokescreen and Badcube Sunsurge

With Masterpiece MP-10 Optimus Prime

Secondly, it’s mostly really nicely done, with an attractive silver grill, lovely rubber tyres, striking paint applications and a gorgeous red windscreen. It does look fabulous.

Unfortunately, I just think that there are a couple of points that let it down just a bit. For instance, the back of the robot mode legs is very evident from a rear view, and yet again there’s no getting away from those obvious feet sticking out. It just feels a touch underdone on this back section, and as I say would have benefitted from just a little more finesse, perhaps.

However, don’t let that detract you too much from what is otherwise an impressive alt’ mode, and one that I think lines up surprisingly well with other figures. It’s pretty great overall.

With Masterpiece MP-12G G2 Sideswipe

With Masterpiece Spike

So, first figure from Fans Hobby, eh? I have to say that if they keep putting out quality like this, then I am indeed very excited to see what they’re going to be unveiling in the future. Now to have a look at Megatooth!

What's HOT?
The robot mode is pretty fabulous! The transformation is nice & simple and the truck mode looks pretty cool for the most part. Paint apps look wonderful and there’s some gorgeous details to the figure, plus the quality is really good.

What's NOT?
The smell. Really, it’s awful! Other than that the main flaw with this figure is the rear of the vehicle mode looking a little unfinished for me, and I do wish they’d included a gun.

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  1. Definitely going to get him. You convinced me to get Stealth Sphinx.

    1. Glad it was helpful, Ryan! Hopefully you're enjoying Stealth Sphinx - I think he's lovely. :)

    2. Sphinx is the best figure I've got! Both Sphinx and Archenemy are amazing. Thanks for the helpful and convincing reviews.

    3. Thank you very much! :)

  2. this comment's gonna be weird on a 5 year old post, especially since it isnt even about Archenemy, but, I just found your reviews yesterday while looking for pictures of him compared to MP-10, and I wanted to say something about Lightning Eagle, but since that review's on tfsource instead of here, I figured this is as good as place as any?

    anyway, maybe someone's already told you this within the 2 and a half years since that review, but I was surprised to find no mention of it in said review: Lightning Eagle's combined mode isn't just a theoretical "what if Thunder Clash had a super mode," it's based on his IDW design! the shoulders, knees/shins, and cannons on the back are all details featured on that design which are very much not featured on G1 Thunder Clash or on Power Baser. the only thing it's missing from the IDW design are arm cannons. so, I just thought that was something that made Lightning Eagle even cooler: not only is it the first (and likely to be only) MP-scale Thunder Clash to be made, but it gives you the choice between his G1 design and IDW design to display!