Sunday 3 September 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-05 Flypro

If I haven't yet made it abundantly clear during my reviews of Fans Hobby's previous figures, I'm immensely impressed with their work-to-date. Four figures in and we don't have a duff one among them. Instead, the company is quickly carving out a well-earned reputation for solid, interesting and above all FUN figures. Not to mention that they're picking some interesting characters, which helps to make their output feel a world away from the factory line of Springers that is currently domineering the third party scene elsewhere. So it is with great anticipation that we come to the final release in their not-Monsterbot trilogy, Flypro. Will he measure up to the bar that they have set for themselves, or is this their first misstep? The answer may not surprise you, but it's still a fun journey to get there!

Oh, and if you haven't yet, you can still check out my reviews of Megatooth (Repugnus) here, and Feilong (Doublecross) here! Flypro himself of course rounds out the Monsterbot team by homaging Grotusque. It's become very clear to me through the process of doing these reviews that there are still a surprising number of collectors who're unfamiliar with these characters, having even received a couple of comments asking if they're from G1 or not, and a few more assuming that they were only ever known in the Japanese series! Well indeed they were part of Western G1, and in fact the original toys were
released in 1987 at the same time as the original Headmasters and Targetmasters. They did feature briefly in the G1 comic, but never in the cartoon, which probably explains why most fans on this side of the globe are less familiar with them.

Grostusque's G1 character profile, c/o TF Wiki

Still, whether you're familiar with them or not, there's no denying that they're vibrant, exciting characters, and so it's great to see Fans Hobby round out the team so swiftly. So, let's get on with it!

Final note before we get on with it - this is a test shot, and so there may be some differences with the final retail product, including tolerances and the like.

This being a test shot, I didn’t receive all of the final packaging for Flypro. However, I did get what I believe to be a full compliment of accessories, and there's plenty of fun to be had here! Fans Hobby have loaded a few more bits & bobs into this release, much of which compliments the entire trio of figures.

First thing to talk about is all of the extra faces and other bits that come packaged here. Not only is there two alternate faces for Flypro himself, besides the stock stoic face, but you also receive a further two faces for both Megatooth and Flypro! It means that each character ends up with an angry face and a smiling face on top of their default expression, and it's a really nice touch. Megatooth also gets an additional set of chromed eyes, as opposed to the dark blue that the figure originally came with, in an attempt to bring him more in line with Feilong & Flypro.

Fans Hobby Megatooth - smiling face

Fans Hobby Megatooth - angry face

Additionally, there's a pair of hands for Feilong that can be installed into the blasters inside his dragon hands! G1 purists will no doubt say that this is sacrilege as the character was never traditionally represented with hands, but I know a lot of collectors who will be interested in this. Sadly I have to also mention that whilst the hands themselves look fine once installed, the pegs that you use to slot them in are rather tight, and unfortunately left a bit of a stress mark on my Feilong. So I'm not so sure I'll be using them that much.

Fans Hobby Feilong - smiling face & new hands

Fans Hobby Feilong - angry face

Overall though, the new faces look pretty great and certainly add a lot of character to the mix. The only downside is that they require the heads to be unscrewed and taken apart, something that proves to be a bit of a faff if you're looking to do all three and have a bit of fun with it. Don't get me wrong, I love that they included these extra parts here, but I hope that for future releases Fans Hobby see fit to adopt the more simple face-swap mechanisms that TakaraTomy have employed on figures like Masterpiece Ultra Magnus. Having to unscrew stuff is a bit of a pain and makes me much less likely to use items like this, if I'm honest.

Smiling face

Angry face

Still, it's all a lot of fun, and certainly appreciated. But wait, there's more! Also included here are four plastic flame accessories which can be used with the characters in their monster modes. Why four of them, you ask? Well, Feilong is a double-headed dragon, of course! The flames split into two parts, or simply just peg into the monsters' mouths. They look really cool, and certainly add a little something! Game of Thrones, eat your heart out!

And the final accessory included here is a big, hulking gun for Flypro himself. It looks very imposing and makes the character feel quite different to your typical Autobot! The gun can also be stored away in Flypro's monster mode on his back, so that's a neat touch.

I'm going to kick things off with Flypro's robot mode, both because that's what I have done for each of the previous figures but also because that's how he comes packaged. And what a robot mode it is! First thing you'll no doubt spot is those vibrant colours... WOW! There aren't that many hot pink Transformers out there, so Flypro immediately feels rather distinct because of it. In fact, he absolutely pops!

Yep, that'll get you there! The colours alone are just so fabulous that you can't help but fall in love with this guy just a little as soon as you take him out of the box. That pink alone is absolutely lush, but it's complemented so well by the unspeakably great choice of blue, the striking white and the warm grey on offer. It's a hell of a colour palate, and coupled with some exquisite detailing and superior paint applications, particularly on areas such as the chest, helps to make this chap stand out from the crowd. Gorgeous.

The other thing to almost immediately notice is of course the wings. Observant collectors will no doubt have noticed that Flypro shares a number of parts with his predecessor, Feilong, even though there's extensive remoulding going on. Whilst in reality it's mostly limited to his lower half, like Feilong this guy sports an articulated set of wings that carry over into his monster mode but can also be put to good use in robot mode. However, in a sign of evolution in terms of Fans Hobby's design, there's quite a bit more going on with the wings here. Most notably they have a few more points of articulation to speak of, giving them much more flexibility and use overall. This really helps to make them feel like more of a cohesive part of the robot mode, adding a lot of personality and display options into the mix at the same time. They're really rather wonderful.

Of course, should you wish, you can just as easily fold the wings back and out of the way, and they do tuck on his back quite neatly. Overall, it's a very tidy sculpt, with the only bits of kibble present being somewhat intentional in order to fit the character model. Stuff like the monster tail on his legs and the head on his backpack is all forgivable in this sense, although I will say that I do find the tail section slightly irritating at times as it has a habit of occasionally touching the floor during posing. Still, it's a minor nitpick, and certainly doesn't impede the distinct range of poseability on offer here. You shouldn't have too much trouble cranking out some dynamic stances from Flypro!

In fact the only real negative I can give you in this regard is the hip flaps, which are kind of annoying. Again, these parts have been somewhat upgraded from Feilong in that they can now move independently from one another, which does help. Unfortunately they still have a tendency to inhibit some of the leg movement at the hip, and can feel like a hindrance because of it. It's not the end of the world, but could have been designed a little differently, I'm sure. Still, it won't stop you making him look good, put it that way, and especially not with that huge gun of his. In fact, despite the hip flaps he's a lot of fun to mess around with and pose.

It also helps that he's loaded with quality joints, all more than capable of holding him stably in place. Quality has been a consistent point for Fans Hobby so far throughout all of their releases, and Flypro certainly continues that trend. The plastic is good, the joints are tight, and overall he just feels top notch in hand.

Overall then, there's a lot to like in this robot mode, and only a couple of notable downsides. Once again, I have to comment how distinct and he feels amidst the rest of my collection. The superb detail and colours are so wonderful that he demands to be ogled again and again. Just check out that chest section, for example.

Of course, the real test of this guy is how well he lines up with the other not-Monstersbots, isn't it? Well have no fear - he looks absolutely brilliant next to them, as if you had any doubt! In fact he's a great compliment to the other two, again feeling very much in keeping with the general team aesthetic whilst still adding something new due to his colours. And any fears that anyone had of Flypro being a simple rehash of the Feilong mould can be put to one side - there's more different about these two than there is the same, with it really only being the legs that feel at all the same. In fact, seeing all three together lined up is a bit of a thrill!

One thing that's bit a consistent delight of Fans Hobby's figures thus far is that they've not been too complex and fiddly when it comes to transformations. As fun and inventive as some third party conversions can be, there's no doubt that can also push the boundaries of what could be considered fun!

Fortunately, Flypro maintains the trend by steering to the right side of that particular barrier, and is not what could be considered overly difficult. In fact, for the most part he's really very simple, particularly in the upper body section, where if anything it's about as easy as you could get! I especially like the very clever head section, which features a rather ingenious automatic "flap" to hide away the hole needed to store the robot head. It's quite elegant.

The main area of challenge is in the legs, which can prove to be a bit of a pain due to some relatively tight clearances along the way. It's nothing too bad, mind, but does require a minute to make sure everything is in the right place as you flip the main leg sections over. Still, once that's done it's all just a matter of tabbing him all together and you're good to go!

Of the three Monsterbots, I think Doublecross (Feilong, in this case) is the most recognisable, most because double-headed dragons have a certain more-mass-market appeal, but also because he's recently been revisited as part of the main Titans Return line of figures (although renamed as Twinferno). Repugnus (Megatooth) has also had some love, even if he is just a Headmaster! However, Grotusque remains untouched in this respect, and when you add to that how... bizarre his monster mode is, well, let's just say it might be an acquired taste for some! Still, I think it looks nothing short of awesome, and Fans Hobby have ably recreated it here. Behold!

OK, yes, he looks kind of ridiculous, but that's how the character's meant to be! He's sort of equal parts cute & cuddly and downright menacing. Yet, despite how crazy this mode is, it somehow seems to work, and really rather well! It helps that there's a lot of decent articulation going on here, with the arms of course being a hangover from the robot mode. The legs are a directly repainted section from Feilong, but look rather marvellous in the lovely grey & blue, and have enough movement in them to help with most poses. Oh, and you can move the neck and jaw around too. More than enough to give him a sense of real character.

As with the robot mode, the wings contribute a large part of the fun, and if anything work better than on Feilong. They have much more range here, and it really adds a lot in terms of posing and play value. Flypro looks brilliant whether his wings are bundled up on his back or stretched out ready to fly, especially on a flight stand.

That head may be utterly monstrous but I'm sure that's what you were hoping for from a release like this! It's certainly chock full of personality. Just be careful on those metal teeth - they're quite sharp!

And as if he wasn't enough fun already, the accessories add a whole dollop more play value to the mix. In fact, if I had to choose one word to sum this mode up, it would be just that - FUN.

So overall there's a lot to be said for this mode. I think the only real criticism to be had here is that the back section, including the robot mode hips, has a bit of a habit of coming unpegged or untabbed if you're not careful. It certainly doesn't cause any major issues but can be a little annoying if you're playing around with him. Still, there's absolutely no denying that he looks brilliant, and never more so than when lined up with his Monsterbot colleagues. Seeing these three together kind of feels like a real achievement, but in reality it's all happened very quickly. I have to give credit to Fans Hobby for following through with these releases and not letting the whole thing drag on - it's always good when you can complete a team in a decent timeframe. And just look at them all together!

The final figure in this trio does not disappoint and keeps the high standard that Fans Hobby have achieved with all of their previous releases. It's also a real pleasure to bring this team to a conclusion within a very quick timeframe, but that's to take nothing away from what a thrill it is to see them all lined up together. Whilst in many ways he may be one of the more crazy figures you're likely to look at in a while, there's no denying that Flypro is a satisfying and worthy end to a brilliant set of releases.

What's HOT?
The colour scheme is just my favourite thing about this release - it's amazing! Both modes are really good fun with only minor niggles, and the transformation is easy for the most part. He also comes loaded with fun accessories including some for the other two figures in the set.

What's NOT?
There's a couple of small nitpicks like the hip flaps impeding the leg articulation a little, and I did struggle with keeping them tabbed in a bit in monster mode too. There's a few tight clearances when transforming the legs.

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  1. awesome photos as always, sixo. seeing all three of them lined up in their stocky robot modes reminds me of a Mr Olympia/Universe pose-off lol.

    1. Thanks, dude! And yeah, they are pretty beefy!

  2. They look stunning together, no doubt helped by a touch of Sixo magic!
    I must admit, if I had the space I think I'd be getting on board with these now but I'm having to make some hard choices collection wise currently, and as good as they look with my sensible hat on I know i'll have to pass on them.

    1. That makes total sense - always a good thing to make sensible collecting choices, and no doubt these guys too take up a lot of room! :)

  3. Great photos/review as always. I'm so glad I found your page as it's become a staple of my research before ordering my bots.

    So I'm afraid it's all your fault I've bought these 3 Monster bots �� and I can't wait to see them in hand. They are quite unusual!

    1. Sorry for the late reply! So pleased you like the page. :)

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