Sunday 4 June 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby MB-04 Gunfighter II

Regular readers of this blog might have come across some of the previous reviews I have done of Fans Hobby’s figures. Though still a new and fledgling company, they’ve made quite the impact so far, and are already building up a reputation for solid, interesting and fun releases. So, naturally I jumped at the chance to check out their latest offering, Gunfighter II, which is of course a repaint of their first figure, Archenemy. Except putting it like that really doesn’t do Gunfighter any justice at all, as we shall find out!

It’s probably worth highlighting what a great figure Archenemy was before we get started on Gunfighter himself. For a first release from a new company it was an incredible result, and I’m pleased to see that Fans Hobby have wisely not changed too much here, though they have made a few notable improvements. Still, it’s the same basic design, and so a lot of the detail about the mould can be found in my Archenemy review here.

If you’ve read that review, you’ll of course know that Archenemy was based on Robots in Disguise Scourge, the original toy of which was a repaint of Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime. This toy is still highly thought of by many collectors, perhaps in part because of its unique style and design, and so it’s great that Fans Hobby have gone full circle by releasing this mould in these colours too.

Final note before I begin – this is a test shot, so there may well be some variances with the final product, including things like colours, accessories etc. as well as tolerances. Now, let’s get on with it!

This being a test shot, it only came with some temporary packaging and instructions, although he does have all of his accessories. One of my slight disappointments with Archenemy was his lack of weaponry, as he only came packaged with a rather large sword, as cool as that still was. Well, Fans Hobby have certainly compensated here, and Gunfighter lives up to his name with two impressive guns! One of them is very much reminiscent of Optimus’ classic G1 cannon, and the other is more similar to the gun that came with the G2 Laser Prime figure. They both look amazing, and clip nicely into Gunfighter’s hands. It also seems that the hands can close more convincingly around his accessories’ handles on this release. Both guns are a welcome inclusion, and really serve to take this release up a notch!

Of course, he still comes with the sword, this time cast in translucent blue to match the original figure. It still looks amazing, and is certainly impressive in size!

Both the guns and the sword can be stored two at a time on small pop-out peg holes on the rear of Gunfighter’s shoulder sections, should you so wish, though I think it looks a little silly myself.

Finally, this release comes packaged with a matrix of leadership, which is a another change from Archenemy. The matrix itself is really nicely done, with a beautiful translucent blue plastic and nice shiny chrome finish.

Of course, fans of the original Laser Optimus toy will know that it came with a trailer than converted into a battle station. Fans Hobby have also revealed that they have plans to release an updated version of the trailer for use with both Archenemy and Gunfighter, although sadly it’s not available yet so that’s a story for another day. Still, it does look mightily impressive, and apparently will also come with a second alternate head for Gunfighter, more reminiscent of the original G2 toy. There will also be other accessories included with that release, including a massive gun, as seen on the backdrops in the picture below.

The upcoming Fans Hobby trailer

As a final note, regular readers might recall that I mentioned the rather overpowering smell that featured on Archenemy, as a result of the rubber. Fortunately, that's not present this time around, so you can handle this figure without an assault on the nostrils!

As with Archenemy, Gunfighter comes packaged in robot mode, and there's no doubt that he makes quite the first impression! Some figures are fun to handle right from the first moment, and Gunfighter is certainly in that vein. Even for a mould that I have previously handled, I can't understate how impressive he is straight out of the box.

Of course, the mould itself is excellent, as we've discussed with Archenemy, but there's something about these colours that really makes Gunfighter pop! The warm grey, the vibrant red, the striking blue... it's all really rather lovely, and gives the extra benefit of making him feel very different from his black & teal mould-mate. Even in updated form, this is Optimus Prime and no mistake.

There's also some lovely highlights going on, most notably flashes of yellow that make him very eye-catching. Furthermore, I'm impressed that Fans Hobby took the time to actually mould new panels for sections such as the chest and the shoulders, making him feel a little different at least. Whilst he is ostensibly the same identical mould, there's a little more going on here that first meets the eye, and it's appreciated.

As before, Gunfighter's articulation is very impressive and more than capable of allowing him to crank out any number of poses. Whilst the shoulders remain a challenge purely due to the nature of the character design, I did note that everything feels a little bit more forgiving this time around. Tolerances feel smoother, and generally the whole figure comes across as a bit more fluid and easier to manipulate. It's funny because I never had any complaints about Archenemy in this regard, but he now feels a little stiff by comparison! A sure sign of Fans Hobby learning as they go.

I've already mentioned that Gunfighter severely ups the available arsenal in comparison to the previous release, and I wasn't kidding. It's almost difficult not to make him look beefy and dynamic when holding with his guns and sword, as they certainly bring a lot of fun to this release. I could honestly spend all day just posing this guy, it's so much fun.

Of course, it's not the only upgrade on display here. Many fans were left a bit bemused by the absence of an opening chest and matrix chamber on Archenemy, but that has been fully installed here. Simply flip open the chest panels, and the matrix is waiting in place, although seemingly it is upside down! The chest compartment itself also looks very nice, with some lovely sculpted detail. Annoyingly though, the matrix does not stay in place very easily at all, and will fall out unless you lean Gunfighter back slightly - that's a bit of an oversight. Still, it's a welcome inclusion, nonetheless.

The other notable change is in on the head, which although it's the same sculpt now features chromed eyes. They do look really good, even if they're an absolute bugger for photography! If you catch them just at the right angle then they really shine very nicely indeed, and make Gunfighter feel quite alive. I am intrigued to see how the upcoming alternate head shapes up, but it would have to be pretty good to make me want to switch this one out.

Overall, it's perhaps no surprise that I quite taken with Gunfighter in this mode. Fans Hobby have taken an already impressive robot form and made a few tweaks to make him incredible! I suppose the ultimate test for me was seeing him lined up next to Archenemy. I can honestly say that I am surprised by how taken with this guy considering that I already own a version of this mould, but if you pressed me hard enough I would have to admit that I actually think Gunfighter just about steals the show!

With Fans Hobby Archenemy

He also looks great when compared to other figures, not least of which is the "original" Masterpiece Optimus Prime, and he's a welcome addition to my burgeoning Masterpiece Generation 2 line-up!

With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime

Also with Masterpiece Black Convoy

With FansToys Scoria G and Sever G, Masterpiece G2 Bumble & G2 Sideswipe

With Masterpiece Megatron

A recurring theme of all of Fans Hobby's releases thus far has been the relative ease of transformation. In a world where some third party releases could be considered rather cumbersome and over-engineered, this company seems to understand that not everything has to be super complex in order to work well. I praised Archenemy for being simple in his execution, although I did also note that I thought there could have been one or two extra panels included to try and tidy up the vehicle mode a little at the same time. Seems like Fans Hobby were thinking the same thing, as they've done just that here! This release now features small push & fold-out panels that better cover the rear legs in his vehicle form - very much appreciated.

Gunfighter on the left with the new panels; Archenemy on the right

Where to start? As with Archenemy, this thing is bloody massive! Oh, and it looks fantastic!

Lovely stuff! I was already quite enamoured with this form as it was, but the colours here are truly something. I absolutely love the fade from red to black on the bonnet, and the colours in general here really do look fab.

As before it's a mostly tidy vehicle mode, and looks pretty great from just about every angle. It's only the rear view that slightly betrays this, with the robot mode feet still being somewhat too obvious. Unfortunately that's compounded by them being blue this time around, making them even more obvious. Still, it's a nitpick when the overall mode looks as good as this.

There are also some more moulding differences to Archenemy that can now be appreciated. The first thing I noticed was the new windscreen wipers, which look great. It sounds silly to say that these make quite a big difference, especially as I hadn't noted their absence beforehand, but all these little touches help to sell the look of this mode as something that could really exist. Gunfighter also features new additions such as the lights above the front wheel wells.

With Fans Hobby Archenemy

You can store Gunfighter's guns on his rear section, should you wish. There's a small section to tab them in, which manages to hold them relatively securely. It's a neat little touch, and does look very cool, although it probably would have been desirable to rotate the guns somehow. Still, fun nonetheless.

Overall, Gunfighter looks pretty immense in this mode, and certainly lines up well next to figures such as the Masterpiece carbots. His size is suitable enough that he looks truly massive by way of comparison, so it's a lot of fun to have them roll out together!

With G2 Bumble & Siwdeswipe

Perhaps it's no great surprise for me to write that I'm really quite enamoured with this figure. After all, I did write similar positive things about Archenemy, and that's before you even consider the striking new paint job on Gunfighter, not to mention the welcome updates that Fans Hobby have made to the mould this time around.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give is this - prior to handling Gunfighter I remember thinking that I would perhaps be unlikely to put down cash on owning him, already being satisfied with Archenemy as what I thought would be the more 'definitive' version. Well, that's all changed for me now. Not only would I wholeheartedly pick this guy up without hesitation, but I'd go as far as to say that if anything, I think I prefer him overall... He's also managed to hold my full attention in a week of several other releases turning up, which is no mean feat! Well done, Fans Hobby, you're four for four now.

What's HOT?
It's already a great mould, but Fans Hobby have made some welcome improvements. Robot mode is sublime, truck mode is pretty awesome. Oh, and the quality is top notch.

What's NOT?
Most of my previous niggles about this mould have been eliminated on this version (no bad smell, more accessories, more panels to disguise the truck mode). The robot mode feet are still too visible in vehicle form however, and the matrix falls out of the chest chamber too easily.

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  1. Great read as usual Sixo. Those feet hanging off the back look ridiculous, given how well they've done everything else it's surprising they couldn't resolve that.
    Not a g2 fan but still watching their pmop.

    1. Thanks, dude! Yeah, the feet are a bit of an odd one. Shame, but overall it's a fantastic figure.