Monday 4 December 2017

REVIEW: Badcube OTS-01 Huff & OTS-13 Piper

Cubex Huff is an interesting tale. Released in 2014 by a then-brand new third party company, the figure was initially well-received and, in a lot of people’s minds, quickly became the definitive not-Huffer for your burgeoning Masterpiece collection. And a great figure it was indeed! Not only was it an almost-dead-ringer for the character’s animation model, but it proved to be a fun toy with two great modes and a relatively fluid transformation. But there was a twist... whereas most Huffs seemed ok out of the box, reports soon emerged of a variety of quality control problems, including loose joints and floppy limbs. However, the most notorious example was definitely the flaky paint, which in the subsequent years has proven to be something of an inevitability, much to the disappointment of a lot of collectors. Indeed, it happened to my own copy, previously thought to have escaped the dreaded curse, with Huff forever left looking like his has a bad case of cosmic rust.

But wait, here’s the real kicker: no-one else has seen fit to put out a Masterpiece-styled Huff since, leaving desperate fans with no other option but to consider the battle-damaged Huff as a potential contender. I’ve read about many a collector trying to track down a decent copy of the original figure, often at somewhat higher prices, or going to great lengths to customise and repaint a flawed version.

Cubex Huff

Cubex Huff

And Cubex? Well, as perhaps is well-known, they reformed themselves into new company Badcube, and immediately began working with a different factory capable of delivering a much better product, something that was evident in their follow-up releases of Brawny & Backland. Yet despite all of that, Badcube’s social media channels have frequently been awash with suggestions of a Huff reissue, collectors still keen to get their hands on that original elusive release. Badcube eventually confirmed it was something they were considering until, finally, test shot images were released to show that they’d not simply re-released the original mould as it was, but given it quite an extensive overhaul in the process. Oh, and this time we get a Pipes-styled repaint, in the form of Piper, as well! But are the new figures any good, and how does Huff compare to the original?

Well, the short answer to the first part of that question is yes, they’re good. Both figures are fun, well-made and feature transformations that are repetitively engaging and simple to follow - something that feels very different to the comparatively complicated conversion on a figure like their Wardog. They’re also a close approximation for both characters’ likeness in animated form, with Piper being the most cartoon-accurate interpretation of Pipes that we’ve yet seen.

Looking at them on their individual merits, I like Huff the most overall here. The robot mode design itself is about as close to practically perfect as I think you can feasibly get, and definitely resembles the intended character well.

I will say that I find the colour scheme a little dull in places, and some of the paint is mismatched, especially to the bits of bare plastic orange. Still, it’s a strong look overall and features plenty of articulation, strong joints and a ton of playability.

There is an alternate, “shouty” face on offer, as well as not one but two guns - who knew Huffer was packing so much heat? There’s a small handheld blaster and a larger rifle which can be wielded with two hands. It all looks fab.

Puff... sorry, Piper is also rather good in robot mode, although no doubt the first thing anyone will spot is the rather mahoosive backpack on display here. There’s no getting around that it looks kinda silly, to be honest, even if an argument could sorta be made for cartoon accuracy. It’s a shame that the cab section cannot collapse somehow, in a similar fashion to Huff’s but from the front of the cab backwards to make this element a bit tidier. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to cause him any balance issues, thanks both to some dependable heel spurs and some sturdy joints.

Piper is similarly poseable although can feel a little awkward at times due to the wheels somewhat incumbering the range of shoulder movement, but also because you have to work a little to make that backpack look natural. Otherwise though he certainly looks the part, despite being a little plain due to the heavy dominance of unpainted blue plastic.

As with Huff, there is an option for an alternate face that brings a touch more G1 toy accuracy, as well as another with red eyes instead of the default blue. He also comes packaged with an interpretation of Metroplex’s transformation cog, which is a callback to the cartoon episode Five Faces of Darkness when Pipes has to help with installing it. It’s all good stuff, and overall he’s quite a bit of fun.

Transformation-wise, I’m not sure I will ever cease to be amazed how much difference behind the scenes Badcube can ring out of two figures that appear the same on the surface, and its once you start contorting these guys into their different modes that you realise how dissimilar they are. Neither of them is in any way difficult to transform - far from it, it should only take you a few minutes to complete. Most of it feels pretty sturdy too, although I have to say I have some concerns about the durability of that thin plastic cab section, and especially the wing mirrors. I also wonder how well the paint will last over the translucent plastic used for the top bit on both figures. I haven’t had any scratches yet but I’ve been really careful and would advise the same.

As for the vehicle modes themselves, they’re not bad. I definitely like Piper most in this mode overall, as I think the colour scheme suits the look of the truck a bit better and also there’s a few more panels available to help disguise and tidy up the rear section.

Looking at each individually, it’s probably time to acknowledge the main bugbear that a lot of people have vocalised about Huff v2 online - the truck mode is quite a departure not only from the look of the first version, but also from the animation model. In fact, it’s an entirely different model of truck, and doesn’t feature the sloped front on the cab section. That’s a real shame, as I can’t help but think that this could have been achieved with that rather nifty collapsing section, but maybe I am wrong.

Ultimately, this mode still looks good enough, but I know a lot of fans would have wanted something a little closer to the animation model, myself included. It still reminds me of the character though, and is certainly nicely done. Bonus points for alt’ mode weapon storage too.

Piper somehow wears this mode a little better as I say, despite also being a bit of a departure from the animation model. He also feels like he holds together a bit better in this mode, and rolls a bit smoother.

I don't know why, but where Huff looks a little awkward from certain angles, Piper feels much more natural, and I think actually looks pretty good overall.

One thing that is very cool is both trucks’ ability to pull MP-10’s trailer along. They’re fitted with a built-in connection that works seamlessly, and they’re also big enough to make it look convincing. In fact, you have to hand it to Badcube for being able to design two ‘bots that are pretty small in robot mode yet end up being able to compare to the like of MP-10 in vehicle mode. They even look quite sizeable next to Masterpiece carbots.

With Masterpiece MP-10's trailer

With Masterpiece Optimus Prime

With Badcube Sunsurge

Of course the real comparison we need to make here is v2 Huff vs v1 Huff, a side-by-side of which should immediately show you how much has changed in the re-design. Clearly the Badcube version greatly benefits from hugely improved quality control and paint application, and it won’t take you long to notice that my Cubex figure has seen better days! Put that aside though and I’m a bit torn, to be honest. I do definitely prefer v2’s robot mode overall, and the transformation is significantly sleeker, but I have to say I do like the cartoon look on v1’s alternate form. I also think the original has a better colour scheme overall, with a nice, rich purple and a more captivating face, with the eyes as the new version feeling a little dull by comparison. The orange on the newer model does pop rather well though, even if it is a little mismatched in places. Ultimately though, there can be little doubt that the Badcube figure is the one to pick up if you’re considering a choice between the two now, if only because the Cubex version has proven to be an absolute time bomb. To be fair, the Badcube version is much more slick overall, and is the all round better figure - I guess I just miss that old alt’ mode.

Badcube on the left, Cubex on the right

So overall I would say that there is a lot to like about both these figures. They’re not perfect by any means, but I do think that they’re the best interpretations of both characters I have seen done in Masterpiece scale and style thus far. They also fit in really nicely with their respective sets of Masterpiece-scaled comrades, both pre and post-1986 movie era, and so should look suitably good on any shelf.

With Badcube Grump & Brawny

With Badcube Backland & Slick

With Masterpiece Optimus Prime, Ratchet, MP-12+ Sideswipe & Bumblebee

With Masterpiece Rodimus Prime, Open & Play Big Spring, Maketoys Downbeat & X-Transbots Ollie

So, now that the clamouring for a Huff re-do is a thing of the past, the new question to ask surely has to be what will Badcube do next?

What's HOT?
Both 'bots are tons of fun, with good-looking robot modes, simple transformations and plenty of play value. They're also very well-made, with nice, sturdy joints and a decent finish. Overall they're good figures.

What's NOT?
The vehicle modes are OK, but not exactly cartoon accurate, and may be a bit disappointing for people who were after something that looked more like Cubex Huff. The paint on Huff is a little dull & mismatched in places, and Piper looks a tiny bit bland.

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  1. Beautiful pics as always mate. I really enjoy huffer v2, despite the alt mode lacking that G1 accuracy and charm. Pipes I got rid off within 24hrs, I looked at the backpack and thought that's the stupidest thing I've even seen on an mp. Hoping Mass toys deliver a good one.

    1. Haha, thanks! Sorry to hear Pipes wasn't for you. I do agree that the backpack is a bit crazy!

    2. I'm not a fan of the backpack either, but, at the same time, MAAS is doing the IDW MTME version, so Badcube is still the only G1 MP version in play. Ugh. Decisions , decisions.

    3. There is the old X-Transbots version too, but I think the Badcube version is way better personally.