Saturday 24 June 2017

REVIEW: Toyworld TW-M07 Spaceracer

I'm still a Toyworld newbie. In fact, this is only the second figure of theirs that I have even held in hand, having reviewed a test shot of Primorion a little while back. I found that release to be somewhat promising if ultimately a little lacking - not quite enough to convince me that it deserved a definitive place in my collection. Since then it's taken me a little while to give the company another go, if only because I've yet to feel enough temptation for any individual release to bite. So what convinced me this time? Well, the first and most obvious reason was that they put out a character that still currently has not been released by any other official or third party producer in a Masterpiece-style. The second reason is that I thought he looked pretty good!

When I say that, I suppose I mean several things really. Firstly, I did think that the figure looked aesthetically pleasing and quite good fun, yes. But I also thought that it looked to be a relatively decent recreation of Cosmos in his G1 cartoon form, give or take a few details. We'll do full on comparisons in a second, but for me it at least looked close enough to make me curious. After all, a lot of Toyworld's other releases seem rather more stylised to my eye, not quite dead ringers for the animation models as we know and love them. Primorion, for example, was clearly influenced by the Studio Ox artwork of Optimus Prime way more than the cartoon. And that's fine, if that's what you're after - objectively, it's a good thing to try for something a little different and creative, after all. It's just that it's not the aesthetic that I am personally looking for in my collection, personally speaking, or at least not until now. Step forth Spaceracer.

Yep, that's a cute little 'bot, and no mistake, and definitely more reminiscent of the character as you might remember him from the cartoon. Like a lot of Autobots who made their debut in the second season, Cosmos was not exactly your atypical hero. Short, "tubby" and exceedingly non-athletic, he was as far from the square-jawed, jock-type sports carbots that dominated the first season as you could imagine. However, he was in good company, with Perceptor, Seaspray, Grapple, Hoist and several others all feeling like misfits too. I've mentioned this before, but for me it was one of the charms of the Autobot ranks that all of these different types of characters were noted for what they could bring to the table in the war against the Decepticons, and celebrated for it as much as any frontline warrior. In that regard, I'm sure you'll agree that Toyworld have done quite a good job at making him come to life.

Cosmos' animation model

Yep, that's not a bad approximation by anyone's standards. Toyworld have absolutely nailed the "dumpy" proportions that make the character so loveable, and he's chock full of smaller details such as the hips, chest panel and the circular sections on the forearms that all help sell Spaceracer as a faithful recreation. Of course I added the Autobot logo myself, but to me it's just the final touch. I think what maybe doesn't work quite as well is the colours, which are overall a little too dark for my tastes - even a little dull. The yellow in particular could be a bit more accurate, with the choice of a sparkly, darker gold not quite fitting the bill. Don't get me wrong, it looks nice unto itself, but as well as being a bit more reminiscent of the character I can't help but feel that a more vibrant yellow would pop a little better too. Still, overall he looks pretty good, and he's definitely tidy.

Not bad. There is a tiny bit of kibbly stuff present, including that small square section on his posterior that turns out to be a partsforming panel for transformation, but for the most part it's all quite clean. It's a shame that the backpack section doesn't tab in slightly better to feel just a little bit more secure, or that the folded-up heel sections don't feel just a little bit more finished. Overall there's a few bits on him that feel like they move around just a bit too much, holding him back from feeling really solid. They're not massive problems, but stuff like the rather large and noticeable holes in his feet makes him feel a bit undercooked, and does detract quite a bit both visually and in terms of the in-hand experience. Still, that's not to say that he's without his charm, and for the most part Spaceracer certainly feels like a fun little figure.

He's actually a lot more articulated that I expected, and is more than capable of cranking out a few decent poses. He's slightly encumbered by his sizeable feet, but that's more than made up for by the presence of ankle tilt, waist swivel, and a few crazy points of articulation in the shoulders. I can guarantee you've never seen something like it! There is also a bicep swivel, though it's so tight and tough to move than I initially didn't even realise it was there. Even now it makes a horrible grinding noise when moving it!

I will also comment and say that it's a bit of a shame that the hands are moulded as they are in an open position. Whilst closed fists wouldn't necessarily feel entirely true to the character, I do think that they could have been done a bit better than this. They feel a bit more like something found on a mainline figure, instead of one that is designed to sit alongside your Masterpiece collection. You'll no doubt also have noticed the black exhaust sections sitting rather ominously next to his hands. They're a bit of an oddity to be honest, and when handling the figure you cannot help but feel that they should tuck away somewhere or be more out of the way. Still, another glance at Cosmos' animation model will show you that they are sort of accurate, though I'm not convinced that this was the best result that could have been achieved. A few collectors have already noted that you can just take out the screws to remove these pieces if you prefer, and when doing so there's more than enough friction to just pop them back in place during transformation. I don't fancy that myself though. Besides, you can flip them over to form a pair of mini-blasters, which sort of makes up for his lack of weaponry otherwise. I'm not entirely sure if this is an intended feature or not, but it certainly looks cool either way!

Perhaps the other main feature of note is in the head, where it is possible to spin the eyes round to change the facial expression a little. I will come straight out and admit that I haven't even tried it on my copy however, after reading several reports of this mechanism scratching parts of the face. No, thanks! Besides, I like the default face quite a bit, so don't feel any need to change it up. I think it does a great job at representing the character. In fact I think he looks downright adorable!

So, a not-too-shabby 'bot mode for the most part, but of course that's only half the story. Transformation into his spaceship mode is relatively simple in principle, although does prove to be at least a bit of a challenge. Everything transforms pretty much as you might expect, given that most of his alt' mode parts are relatively obvious in robot mode, and vice versa. There's a slight complication in needing to rotate the waist in order to allow for the arm sections to fold down, but the real difficulty here comes from getting everything aligned and tabbed in properly. It can be a bit of a pain in the wotsit, especially as applying force to one section can cause another to become untabbed again. There's a few small tricks to help you along, such as making sure that the black sections connecting the arms are properly aligned before trying to attach everything, but even with experience I still find it a bit of a faff at times. Still, it's by no means too complicated and shouldn't take you more than a few minutes or so, leaving you with a rather cute little spaceship!

Aw, bless him! Something about this mode has always been quite quirky, if we're being honest, and there's no doubt that Spaceracer definitely captures that somewhat ridiculous feel. I love that this kinda thing exists in a series alongside stuff like a Lamborghini Countach, and yet is just as integral. It's a lot of fun!

He's also very tidy from every angle. All of those robot mode bits have folded away nicely, leaving a very clean alt' mode.

Once again, it's a decent approximation of Cosmos' cartoon appearance, if not quite as spot on in this form. The saucer section is noticeably smaller and the cockpit section a lot larger, making the proportions not quite right overall. Still, you're not in any doubt as to which character this is meant to be, and unless you're directly scrutinising Spaceracer against the animation model you'll find him faithful enough for most tastes, I'm sure.

This mode is where Spaceracer's only accessories come into play. He comes packaged with another of Toyworld's orange base plates (you can read more about them in my Primorion review ), a set of which you can see in the background of the photos with this review. Additionally, there's an orange stand which plugs into the base plate and then into the square peg piece that I mentioned earlier, now found on the bottom of the alt' mode. It works well enough, despite holding Spaceracer at a big of an angle. I will confess I do prefer my own regular flight stands still.

So, Spaceracer proves to be a fun and at least pretty faithful recreation of the intended character, and does a good job at filling a previously unclaimed spot in the Autobot ranks. He also looks good next to some of his Autobot comrades.

With Masterpiece Bumblebee

With FansToys Grinder and X-Transbots Arkose & Glider

Also with FansToys Tesla

With ACE Collectables Trident

With Masterpiece Inferno

With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime

There will of course be future challengers for this spot however, with the most obvious upcoming example being X-Transbots Klaatu. For now though, Spaceracer is a surprising delight, and more than ably represents Cosmos in my collection. He's by no means perfect, but he is cute, quirky and rather loveable!

What's HOT?
He's a decent recreation of the character and proves to be a surprising amount of fun in hand. Both modes look great, and there's a decent amount of playability to be had. I'm also a big fan of the headsculpt. Oh, and there's another Toyworld base plate in the package!

What's NOT?
Whilst both modes look good, the proportions of the alt' mode are a little off. Equally, whilst the transformation is simple enough, it's surprisingly fiddly to get tabbed in correctly. Finally, everything feels just a bit unfinished; stuff like the big holes in the feet and the fixed-moulded hands don't help that.

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  1. This is one of those cases where i can intellectually acknowledge every flaw with the figure and despite not being perfect, I don't care. He's just got so much charm and character it smooths all those bumps away. Great read as usual, thanks Sixo.

    1. Thanks so much for the lovely comment! I agree that this guy's charm overrides many of his flaws.

  2. Your job is simply AWESOMEEEEE!! :O