Thursday 15 June 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Nine: A Kingorilla

Keith's Fantasy Club continue to be a subject of much discussion in the third party world of Transformers collecting. I don't think any other 3P producer has confounded people as much when it comes to knowing what to expect from each of their releases, whether it's well-received prototypes undergoing undesired changes prior to release, perplexing decisions made on final colour schemes, or a still-present concern from some corners over consistency and quality of final product. Perhaps the one thing that you can say with some certainty is that they're consistently inconsistent. Thought to be fair, that belies the fact that when they want to be they're more than capable of putting out great figures, and they've no doubt been on a mostly upward swing throughout their E.A.V.I. METAL line.

Still, despite every success story like Transistor or Simba there's some who would say it's only fair to approach KFC with a certain amount of scrutiny in mind. I will admit that I would be one of those people based on my most recent experience with Ditka, which was perplexing in many ways, especially as the first test shot was so much better than the revised version... Still, whilst I've no desire to pick at old wounds, I must admit that it left me feeling a bit uncertain about what I should expect from Kingorilla before he arrived. Can he win me over in hand? Thanks to the lovely folks over at, we can find out!

If nothing else I am at least very excited to check out a new character in updated form, as this is the first time we've seen Apeface given the "not-Masterpiece" treatment. KFC also have a version of Snapdragon on the way with their next release, Kingzilla, so that's something to look forward to as well. I've always been a big Headmasters fan, so it's good to see the Horrorcons given a bit of love.

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. Kingorilla is packaged with two rather sizeable, identical guns, a shield which also becomes his rear fins in jet mode, and two translucent plastic bursts of flame that can be added to the rear of the jet. Finally there's the inclusion of the (now standard) KFC / X-Transbots flight stand. Overall not a bad set of kit.

There is of course also the Headmaster himself, named Kongor! Although whether you truly count him as an accessory or not is up to you.

Let's kick things off by looking at Kingorilla's robot mode. I have no idea if this is how he'll come packaged but it was how he turned up for me (albeit slightly mistransformed, which caused me a bit of confusion!). Once I figured it out, I was rather struck with this mode - it looks pretty great!

First thing to notice is he's pretty big! The backpack (which we will of course talk more about) makes him feel perhaps more sizeable than he is, but there's no doubt that's he's a chunky hunk of robot, and feels suitably epic as soon as you get him in hand. He certainly brings an element of presence.

Second thing to notice? He's surprisingly sturdy! I won't lie, I was a bit nervous about this, especially because of how KFC's previous figure turned out for me; I had considered that Ditka and Kingorilla have some potential drawbacks in common, both being figures with large backpacks that risk being top heavy, so I had concerns about stability in particular. Fortunately that all turned out to be nothing to worry my pretty head about, as Kingorilla is not only very solid, he's also surprisingly well-balanced. Of course, the backpack does mean that he's carrying some weight to the rear, but he doesn't feel particularly back heavy, and I haven't been bothered with him falling backwards at all. It also helps that he has some rather wicked heels that, even if this was a problem, should be more than enough to compensate. It's a significantly better looking solution than on Ditka, and overall it feels like night and day versus the issues going on with that figure. Phew!

In fact, it's not just the balance that feels a lot better - the general quality on offer here is much more in line with what regular KFC collectors have come to expect from the company in recent years, hopefully cementing Ditka as more of a blip than a downwards trend. The main thing to notice is that the joints are all nice and tight here, with virtually no concerns of floppy limbs or weak balance. There's some lovely ratcheting going on in the shoulders, but even the other joints feel secure. Perhaps the only exception on my copy is a slight give in the ball joint on his left ankle; it's not enough to be a concern, and particularly not for regular posing, but I have noted that it struggled under the more extreme stances I tried to crank out of this guy.

Likewise, plastic quality is very much in line with the likes of their more recent releases; whilst it's not necessarily top drawer, it feels absolutely fine for the most part. I did note that the grey parts have that unfortunate swirly thing going on though, which is a bit of a shame. Still, overall he feels very solid and sturdy in this mode, as I say.

So, the feels are mostly there, but what about the looks? I will say that he's an interesting figure for me in this regard. I wasn't 100% convinced on him aesthetically speaking from the photos I'd seen, but I will admit that he's gone a long way to winning me over in hand. I thought the backpack was going to look ridiculous, for example. However whilst it is large it kinda works I think, and as I mentioned does give him a certain amount of presence. My other main concern from the pictures I had seen was the robot mode head, which to me just didn't "feel" like the character. I have warmed to it a bit, although I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it could be better. Still, it seems that there's good news on that score too, as KFC have listened to feedback and will be including an alternative version with the sister release, Kingzilla, and it looks to be a significant improvement! That's me more than happy.

Kingorilla's new head, which will be packaged with Kingzilla

I think the main reason I wasn't quite sold on the current head was because it didn't closely resemble the cartoon, at least not enough for my liking, and there are a couple of other niggles that I have with this figure in that regard. Again, the backpack is rather oversized compared to how he is represented in animation form, though perhaps that could be considered forgivable due to the nature of the transformation and that it does at least resemble the likeness of this part of the G1 toy. But perhaps more of an oversight for me are some of the colour choices. Don't get me wrong, I actually like the colour scheme used by itself, it's just that there's a couple of small tweaks that could be made to bring him more in line with his animation model (which, interestingly, was quite consistent in both his USA & Japanese portrayals, and actually wasn't that different to the G1 toy in many regards). Firstly, the choice of a distinct grey for much of the body is rather different to the off-white used in the cartoon, but perhaps the bigger example might be the use of purple for the hands, instead of them matching the colour of the forearms. It's all a bit nitpicky, I guess, but I can't help but feel that these were odd choices. Still, he does look cool overall, and no mistake.

Apeface's animation model (c/o

Accessories-wise, there's a fair amount of play value to be had with Kingorilla. The dual guns can be employed in a variety of ways thanks to the fact that you can fold in the usual handles to reveal a set of pegs. These can then be used to secure the guns to multiple different spots on Kingorilla's body, including both his biceps and forearms as if they were cannons, but also on the sides of his backpack for storage. If anything that's a lot more reliable than trying to secure the guns in the palms of his hands, as the tabs used for this are quite ineffectual. Add to this that the guns are rather long, and the result is that they will fall out of his hands seemingly just by looking at them too hard. It's pretty annoying, and meant that I even resulted to using a tiny spot of Blu-Tack to keep them in place for photos... needs must! The shield is quite good fun however, and can again be placed in the various peg holes on Kingorilla's arms or backpack. I feel like it really adds something to his presence as well, for some reason.

Of course, the most notable amount of play value here comes from the Headmaster, which can be removed and transformed into Kongor! G1 Headmasters fans will likely be delighted to know that adding and removing the Headmaster also controls the "stats" visible on the inside of his chest panel, just as on the original toys (and in direct contrast to the equivalent solution on the Maketoys' Headmaster figures, where the stats are just painted on). It's a neat touch.

Overall then, this is a pretty good robot mode. It might sound like I have had a few niggles along the way, but I have genuinely found Kingorilla to be quite a bit of fun. If nothing else, it's great to add another character to the Headmaster roster, and I also can't wait for Kingzilla too!

With X-Transbots Eligos and Andras

With FansToys Sovereign

With FansToys Lupus

With Masterpiece Artfire

Transforming third party test shots without instructions is never not an adventure. There's frequently an element that is perhaps a little counter-intuitive or rather perplexing and can be hard to resolve, and it has been known to cause me a little bit of frustration in the past, I won't lie! I have often resorted to studying photographs of the finished modes in an attempt to figure these things out, but even then it can be a challenge at times! On this occasion I had to look up a couple of video reviews to work out precisely what was going on with getting Kingorilla into his ape mode.

The main source of annoyance was the robot mode legs and arms! I just couldn't work out how everything was supposed to contort together in a reasonable fashion to form the ape's body, but as it turned out it's no easy task even when you know what you're doing! It's especially tricky to get the robot mode arms past the jet's nosecone and locked into place, but once you manage that it's all relatively secure. I do still have some problems with keeping the robot arms solidly locked in place though.

There have also been some reported issues with how the ape's hands store away on the reverse of this transformation, with some reviewers discovering that the little finger on each hand has been sheered off by closing the red wing section down over the top of them. This is definitely something to watch out for, and can be avoided by careful placement of the fingers once the hands are tucked away inside this section. Instead of clenching the fingers into a fist, you need to only bend them at the knuckle nearest to the tip, meaning that they should store away safely inside the red section that folds down. It's definitely worth doing this bit carefully and checking before you close everything up again, as you will lose his fingers otherwise... sadly this happened on one of my hands before I realised, but I have been able to superglue the finger back on! Not the best design element though...

Other than that, it all starts to come together once you've figured out the robot mode legs & arms placement. My only other mistake was in not properly folding down part of the backpack section (the bit with the jet's landing gear), which is unfortunately something that you can see in a couple of my photos below! It doesn't look bad either way, but it's definitely a little cleaner when properly done.

Apes. One could argue that they're rather unrepresented when it comes to Transformers beast modes, with the notable exception of Optimus Primal, of course! I remember always feeling that Apeface was quite unique for this reason; something a bit different to a lot of other G1 characters. He also spent a fair amount of his time in his ape mode in both the cartoon and the comic, and so of course it was always going to be an important one to nail on any Masterpiece-styled figure. I was initially a bit nervous about how well Kingorilla had achieved this, but having put him through his paces in hand, I can honestly say I think he's pretty great!

Very beastly! OK, so where to start? Well, the thing I was perhaps most worried about from photos was the proportions, specifically the limbs. Apeface's animation model always looked very stocky, chunky and powerful to me, and the pictures I'd seen of Kingorilla in beast mode didn't make me feel that he represented this, with rather scrawny legs by comparison. Fortunately, it works much better in hand that I had imagined, and although he's still a little different, it works. He certainly "feels" much more like the character than I was expecting.

Apeface's animation model (c/o

In fact, looks-wise I think he's really won me over in this mode. He's surprisingly clean and kibble-free, which is impressive when you consider the steps to get here! I'm actually still slightly marvelled by the placement of those robot mode legs now.

I also think the ape head works much better than the current robot mode equivalent, too. Again, it's not an exact match for the animation model, but it does feel much closer. I haven't yet seen if they plan to change the ape's face along with the new robot mode head, so that will be something to look out for, but this one is good if they stick with it. He also has a moving jaw, with two small red blasters inside his mouth. A cool touch.

Articulation-wise, there's a fair bit going on here, and it mostly works quite well. The ape arms are on tight ratchets, and so can swing side-to-side as well as back-and-forth. They also feature multiple joints in the forearms which really help with posing and making Kingorilla feel quite animalistic. The legs can also be hinged to the side, and he features a very welcome ankle tilt that comes in exceedingly useful in a lot of poses. As with the robot mode, he also has plenty of articulation in the hands, but perhaps my single biggest bugbear here is that there is no wrist swivel or bicep swivel. Unfortunately, it severely limits some of the posing opportunities, as it can be difficult to position Kingorilla in a way that feels natural that doesn't involve him dragging his knuckles on the floor. Even a beating chest pose is impossible because of this, which is a bit of a shame.

Fortunately, the hands do help a lot with balance, as otherwise it can be a tricky prospect to stand him on just his tiny feet. It's not impossible by any means, but it does require a bit of patience to get him securely stood without worrying about him tipping backwards.

You can also store some of Kingorilla's weapons in this mode, mostly by using his robot mode shield as a backpack. His dual guns can then be pegged in on top of this. I think it looks pretty cool myself, and definitely adds something extra to this mode.

Ultimately, I think KFC have done a pretty good job with this mode overall. It's not perfect, but it is a fun and good-looking interpretation of the character in what is arguably his most memorable form. He also looks neat next to other Headmaster-era characters.

With FansToys Lupus

Also with FansToys Sovereign

Of the two transformations that this figure has to go through, I definitely expected this to be the easiest. Whilst that is perhaps true, it's still not without its own challenges however, and again that's all to do with the placement of the robot mode legs. It took me quite a bit of time to figure out how to get them locked into the sides of the jet properly, and even now after a good few attempts I still find it to be a bit arduous. The problem is mainly down to some very tight clearances, meaning that the correct layout of the jet seems at times like an impossible goal. It's not as simple or as fun as first it appears, unfortunately.

Still, it's not all so bad. Bits like the nosecone are an absolute doddle by comparison, and there's an argument to say that once you have got the legs locked in properly then everything else falls into place relatively easily. I do still have a bit of bother with keeping the ape arms tabbed in on the sides though.

I always loved the two Headmasters for featuring a jet mode as well as a beast mode. To this day I think they're one of the coolest concepts in all of G1 - triple-changing Headmasters! Somehow they wouldn't be as much fun if they just turned into beasts like the regular Decepticon Headmasters. The same is of course also true here with Kingorilla, with the jet mode adding quite a bit of play value. Check it out!

That's not a bad jet mode at all. If anything, it's perhaps a little more representative of the G1 toy as opposed to the character's animation model, but I guess some allowances need to be made as this figure is trying to cram in quite a bit overall. It feels a bit less aerodynamic than his fictional appearance, but overall it works. Probably the worst offence here being the rather obvious placement of the robot mode arms and ape feet at the rear... they're not exactly well-hidden, unfortunately! I think it may have been a little less obvious if there was some way to collapse the arms a little, not leaving the elbow sections on display, or finding a method to tuck away the ape's toes somehow. As it is this mode looks a bit unsightly from the rear.

Fortunately it's a different story from the front, which is mostly very clean and tidy and also sports some nice detailing. I'm also pleased that they moved away from the pink canopy shown in some of the original photography of this figure. The clear canopy looks much better, even if it's not quite the green found on both the G1 toy and animation model.

Apeface's animation model (c/o

Pop-out landing gear allows Kingorilla to stand and roll suitably well in this mode, whilst he can also be proudly displayed on the included flight stand. Regular readers will know that I prefer my own three-point stands, however, as I find them much easier to pose for photography.

In terms of other accessories, the dual guns can be placed under the wings and look pretty good here. You can also add the translucent flame pieces to the read sections if you wish. They're a fun if relatively superfluous inclusion.

Of course, the main source of interaction here is Kondor, who can fit suitably inside the cockpit section. He looks pretty good in place! There also an electronic piece installed here, which includes the ability to light up should you wish. Again, it's a fun inclusion, but not one I particularly needed on this figure.

Kongor himself is pretty neat, and certainly looks the part! He's surprisingly detailed, even sporting a tiny moulded section on his chest for a Decepticon logo (though good luck trying to find a sticker to fit this!), although at the same time quite simplistic. His transformation consists of literally just flipping over his legs and standing him up, leaving both his ape face (BOOM!) and his robot face on his rear, and making him identical to the G1 toy in this regard. Still, he's surprisingly articulated for such a little chap, and proves to be a lot of fun.

Overall, the jet mode mostly works well. It's not a knock-out by any means, and in truth is probably this figure's weakest form in many respects. However, considering everything else that's going on it's not bad, and rounds out a decent figure overall.

So, I went in feeling a little nervous about what to expect after my previous experience, but has Kingorilla completely reassured me? Well, yes and no, I guess. Yes, this is much more in keeping with what I have come to expect from KFC in terms of their more recent releases, and feels generally more in line with their continued upwards swing in terms of overall quality (even if we're not quite hitting a home run). However, there are still a couple of design elements which I fear hold this guy back a little, and force him to being just shy of a really great figure. It's stuff like the guns not pegging into the hands properly, which is just annoying and shouldn't be an issue at this stage.

Still, overall this is a pretty nice design and a generally well-executed figure, and I've definitely been won over by the robot and ape modes for the most part. It's also made me even more excited for their Kingzilla, especially as Snapdragon was always a favourite character of mine growing up. So bring it on, KFC, because I can't wait to see these two side-by-side. Oh, and I'm looking forward to that new head, too!

What's HOT?
Robot mode is mostly all good, and the ape mode is a lot of fun. For a backpack-heavy figure, he balances really well and feels super poseable. The quality is mostly there despite a few niggles, and there's lots of fun to be had with elements such as the Headmaster. I would add the robot mode face to the NOT pile, but I'm pleased that's being corrected.

What's NOT?
There's some issues. The guns don't tab into the hands well at all. There's a severe danger of sheering off the ape thumbs if you're not careful during transformation. He can be rather fiddly and frustrating to transform. Oh, and a couple of the colour choices are a bit odd.

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  1. Your pics man, your pics.............

    Looks amazing



    1. Ha, thanks so much! Glad you like them. :)

  2. Yeah not feeling this, that silver swirly plastic just looks awful to me (even your godly photography can't save it ;))
    I'll be waiting to see what MT eventually put out, as cupola, ironwill and contact shot are 3 of my favorite figures.

    1. Can't fault you there - those three are all amazing, and I've every confidence that MT can do justice to Apeface also if they ever finish him off. Fingers crossed!