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!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11ND Dirge



It was only in my last review that I stated the case for the defence of repaints, and attempted to show that they're more than mere cynical cash-grabs, attempting to somehow take advantage of unwitting collectors. Of course, it would only be fair to consider all sides of this argument, and it would be difficult not to at least ponder the last few releases of the Masterpiece Coneheads as supporting any potential case for the prosecution. That's not to completely write them off, of course, but it's fair to say that Ramjet and Thrust have not exactly been universally acclaimed.

Monday, 19 June 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-37 Artfire



Repaints, eh? Who needs them. I mean, it was only very recently that I typed up my thoughts on this figure's mould-mate, MP-35 Grapple (read it here), and even then I'd already done a bit of a write-up on his predecessor, MP-33 Inferno at the start of the year (and read that here). So why do we need another version of this design? Is it just TakaraTomy "milking" the mould for all its worth, in a cynical cash-grab attempt to extract as much money as possible from its gullible fans? I mean, just how much enjoyment can there be in a figure that we've essentially received twice already in the last twelve months? Eh? EH?! Well, as it turns out, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye... in fact, in the hypothetical case against repaints, I would submit Artfire, and indeed all three versions of this design thus far as watertight evidence for the defence. Let me put it another way; if the repaints we're receiving are this good, then there's really not a lot to complain about!

Friday, 16 June 2017

REVIEW: ACE Collectables ACE-03 Trident



INTRODUCTION
ACE Collectables is still a new and fledgling company, although one already with a bit of notoriety under their belt. For one thing, they were the very first (and as of today still only) third party producer to put out a Masterpiece-styled Cliffjumper (or Hubcap for that matter) with their debut release, ACE-01 Tumbler, potentially plugging a rather gaping hole in a number of collections. Unfortunately that release turned out to be met with a rather lukewarm response, to put it politely, and it was sadly not enough for many fans to be convinced to jump on board.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

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



INTRODUCTION
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.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby MB-04 Gunfighter II



INTRODUCTION
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!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-35 Grapple



I admit that I often shrug in disbelief a little when I read on-line talk of the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line being in decline. I myself have been a Masterpiece collector since the line's inception in 2003, and as much as my enjoyment has been maintained throughout this time, I do also believe that in many ways we have never had it as good as now. Perhaps it's because I feel that I'm personally enjoying all current facets of the line to their full potential, whether it's Diaclone repaints or new Beast Wars moulds, where some collectors instead pick and choose their poison. However, I am also struck by the current general quality of the line overall (issues with dodgy chrome and floppy Coneheads aside), not to mention the increased frequency of releases! Last year alone gave us beloved G1 characters Shockwave, Ironhide, Ratchet, Hot Rod, Inferno and a second stab at Red Alert, and whilst I know that not all of those releases won absolutely everyone over, I find myself impressed by what I consider to be an astounding hit rate. All of those figures ended up on my "best of 2016" list bar one, and Shockwave's exclusion was more to do with the level of quality elsewhere rather than anything wrong with that figure; I still thought they nailed him too, ultimately.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-11NT Thrust



With Masterpiece Dirge about to land, that means our so-called Conehead trio will finally be complete. Imagine that; a complete set of Masterpiece Coneheads. I remember when such a thing seemed like the stuff of pure fantasy, with many collectors, including myself, turning to the likes of the Igear third party versions to fill spots on our Decepticon roster. So, with such a remarkable landmark on the horizon, it occurred to me that I had never actually made any time to put down a few words on the second release of the three, Thrust. Well, time to correct that, I think.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-03 Feilong



It was only a little over a month ago that I published my review for Fans Hobby's last figure, the rather wonderful (and ridiculously-monikered) Megatooth, which you can still read here. Hot on his heels, I now have my hands on Feilong, his Monsterbot comrade and Fans Hobby's third figure overall to date. If you've also read my review of their debut figure, Archenemy, you'll know that I've been quite impressed with their output thus far, so of course I've been really looking forward to seeing how Feilong turns out. Despite only being two releases in, the company have already shown that they can put out interesting and well-made figures, and I like the direction that they're taking with focussing on more unusual characters, too. So far, so positive.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-34 Cheetor



When the Beast Wars line first began some twenty years ago, many G1 fans were in uproar. The idea of Transformers that converted into flesh-and-fur-covered animal modes instead of jets and cars was simply too much of a departure for some, although of course the new direction would eventually prove to be the franchise’s saviour, spurring the way for vehicular alt' modes to eventually return to prominence. Two decades later and Beast Wars retains a much-deserved fan base of its own, although arguably it has also better established itself with more of a mainstream audience over time, becoming a more accepted part of Transformers lore with each passing year. That's not to say that there aren't some ardent detractors still out there though, as was clearly evidenced when it was revealed that the main TakaraTomy Masterpiece line, previously a love letter almost solely to those in the G1 (and G2) community, was going to start producing the occasional Beast Wars character. Suddenly the on-line arguments of two decades prior where brought to prominence once more.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Seven: A Ditka (pt2)



Regular readers of this blog will know that this is not the first test shot of KFC's Ditka that I have reviewed. In fact the previous test shot was only about two months ago, which perhaps makes it all the more surprising just how different the two of them are, as we shall see! Still, what I plan to do here is more of an update and comparison between the two, rather than another full, flat-out review, as despite some changes it's still fundamentally the same figure.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-06 Contact Shot



With the possible exception of their recent release of Downbeat, there's no doubt in my mind that Maketoys Headmaster efforts have been some of the unparalleled highlights of their RE:Master line thus far. Iron Will and especially Cupola are both fantastic figures, with the latter being cemented as one of my personal favourite third party Transformers of all time. So naturally I was very much looking forward to Contact Shot, their first addition of a Targetmaster to the line-up, even if it does come in the place of a much-desired Brainstorm or Highbrow homage.

Friday, 17 March 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-02 Megatooth



Despite being a fledgling company, third party newcomer Fans Hobby have certainly made quite the initial impression. I've already put down my thoughts on their first effort, Archenemy, which has generally been met with a warm reception, and now already we are taking a look at their sophomore figure. In fact, Megatooth dropped at the same time as Archenemy, although he's definitely not been overshadowed!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-10 Phoenix



INTRODUCTION
For many collectors in the world of so-called third party “Masterpiece” Transformers, FansToys reign supreme. They were one of the first to usher in this current era of collecting of course, with Quakewave having been the figure to lead many of us down the rabbit hole initally. Since then they have bolstered an extremely loyal fanbase and a strong reputation, so it’s perhaps no surprise that each new release is met with almost unparalleled excitement. Add to the mix that their success seems to be allowing them more and more daring efforts, which brings us up-to-date with Phoenix. It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a quality, full-size Masterpiece-styled Skyfire to fill out your Autobot ranks was the stuff of dreams. Now, here we are, and I for one couldn’t be more excited!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

REVIEW: Fans Hobby Master Builder MB-01 Archenemy



I’d say there’s at least three things to be excited about for this release. Firstly, it’s a black repaint, and they’re always fun. Secondly, it’s based on a character that I can say with some confidence the official Masterpiece line is very unlikely to produce themselves, so in that respect this is “safe” territory for collectors. Thirdly, it’s from a brand new company! This is the previously-unknown Fans Hobby’s first release, and with several other figures on the way that’s good reason to be a little joyous, especially as this guy certainly bodes well for a first-time effort. He actually landed for me at exactly the same time as their second effort, Megatooth, but that’s a story for another time; this is all about Archenemy.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

REVIEW: DX9 D-10 Hattori Hanzo



Despite being released in late 2016, I was a little slow off the mark to pick up Hattori Hanzo, DX9’s latest Masterpiece-styled release and their attempt at the Decepticon six-changer, Sixshot. I’ll admit that the initial reveal didn’t quite tempt me enough to immediately leap on him, which was probably not helped by my being somewhat underwhelmed by their previous attempt at a multi-mode former, Gewalt. That said, most people seemed to love that figure, and I myself was quite a fan of Tyrant & Mightron, their takes on Galvatron & Megatron respectively. Add to this that their previous releases have for the most part been quite well made, so perhaps it was inevitable that I might reconsider at some point.

Friday, 24 February 2017

REVIEW: Maketoys MTRM-09 Downbeat



I’ve had a slew of new releases and test shots to review recently, and so it’s been a little while since I’ve had the chance to do one of my shorter snapshot looks at a figure that I’ve personally picked up for my collection. However, as soon as I had my hands on Maketoys Downbeat I knew I had to find the to say a few words about him! Without giving the game away, I’ve become really quite enamoured by this figure, and wanted to put down a few of the reasons why.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

REVIEW: Badcube OTS-09 Grump & OTS-10 Slick



INTRODUCTION
When TakaraTomy released Masterpiece MP-10 Convoy, a new goal was set in many collector’s minds. Suddenly, it seemed like completing a set of scaled, animation-accurate figures representing the G1 cartoon cast might become a reality, even if it was one likely to take some time to come to fruition. That was six years ago, and whilst we still have some distance to go in terms of the official line, it’s incredible to think that collectors who bolster their ranks with third party additions are actually nearing at least one particular finish line - the season 1 Autobot Ark crew. In producing Grump, arguably the first Masterpiece-styled Gears, Badcube have given us what could be considered the final piece of this puzzle.

Friday, 10 February 2017

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2016


In many ways 2016 was a massive year in terms of Transformers collecting. Not only did the official Masterpiece line ramp up its release schedule to a level previously unseen, but I also personally believe the general quality of those releases to be at an absolute high currently. Elsewhere, the third party scene also kicked into overdrive, with more new companies emerging to give us their own take on beloved characters, as well as more established outfits all seeking to up the quality of their labours. I've heard many fellow Transfans repeatedly mention that they believe we really never have had it so good in terms of this hobby, and I'm enormously tempted to agree myself. These really are golden times.

For me personally, 2016 was also a big year as it was the first full year of running my blog, which started in the second half of 2015. Last January I took my first proper stab at compiling a list of my favourite releases from the previous year, and so always had in mind to do the same again come the start of 2017. Well, perhaps a little later than expected, but now here it is!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Seven: A Ditka



INTRODUCTION
There was a time, not so long ago, when third party companies stuck to relatively safe bets in the Masterpiece-styled Transformers arena. If TakaraTomy was likely to do it, they seemed to steer relatively clear, and rarely did one company take a poke at a character that had previously been covered by another. Oh, how innocent we were.

Of course, those days are well and truly gone, and here we are about to examine the second of three (at current count) attempts at Blitzwing to make it to market. Some of you may know that I previously took a gander at Gewalt, DX9’s take on the character, and found him to be fun but a bit lacking overall for my taste (though that opinion wasn’t very popular!). Let’s see if Keith’s Fantasy Club can take the lead here.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-08 Grinder



INTRODUCTION
To many, including myself, the FansToys Iron Dibots represent one of the highlights of third party Transformers collecting so far. Despite only being a few years ago, the scale & ambition of producing an entire team of massive high-end figures like this was relatively unheard of outside of combiner teams when Scoria was first revealed, and it’s insane to think that it’s only just coming to an end now. Or is it?

I only ask as of course, we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Many of us thought we were done with our Dinobot-collecting after Stomp arrived last year (to a significantly warm reception, it must be stated!), as FansToys had already provided a solution for Masterpiece MP-8 Grimlock’s comparatively diminutive height with a set of platform shoe-type lifts as an accessory with Scoria. I think if we’re being honest though, this was never really a definitive solution, even if I will say that I was certainly happier with it than most.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

REVIEW: Toyworld TW-M01



INTRODUCTION
I have to confess to being a Toyworld newbie. Despite my relative experience in the world of third party not-Transformers, there are still a few companies that I have yet to experience, and so when I was offered the opportunity to check out Primorion, I jumped at it.

That said, this figure is a bit of a curiosity for me. Like many people, I absolutely love TakaraTomy’s Masterpiece MP-10 Convoy, and would certainly count it as one of my favourite Transformers figures of all time. So, it was sort of hard to imagine what an alternative Optimus Prime figure might offer above & beyond what I am already familiar with. I’ve also discovered that I am not alone in wondering this, as since I started sharing pictures of Primorion, I have been inundated with people asking how it compares to MP-10, but also questioning the need for such a figure in the first place.

Questions abound. Is this figure Masterpiece-scaled? Is it Masterpiece-styled? In fact, is it even intended to be sat alongside the official Masterpiece line, or is it something else entirely? As I attempt to answer at least some of these points, I am approaching this with an open mind and actually quite a bit of excitement – it is Optimus Prime after all!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

REVIEW: FansToys FT-16 Sovereign



INTRODUCTION
There are a handful of characters that, by their very nature, will always be more desirable to Transformers collectors than any others. Obvious names like Optimus Prime & Megatron are obvious examples, but for many the Autobots & Decepticons who made their debut in the 1986 animated movie are near the top of that list too, such is the impact of that particular piece of fiction on our collective childhood years. Galvatron is a character that many collectors have been hoping that TakaraTomy would tackle as part of the official Masterpiece line for some time, and remains a frequent namedrop in any conversation speculating future characters that will be released. Still, so far there's been no indication that this is about to happen, and so of course many of us are naturally turning towards third party efforts to fill the gap.

Thus far, only one contender has arguably come close to hitting the spot: DX9's Tyrant. Tyrant proved to be something of a divisive figure, with arguably as many ardent supporters as vehement detractors, though he still remains the bar to beat as far as crafting the ultimate Masterpiece-styled Galvatron goes. Naturally, many people were overjoyed when FansToys threw their hat in the ring and unveiled their design for Sovereign, but can he live up to the hype? Let's dig in and find out.