Mastermind Creations continue to do that which many others dare not, explore the realm of the current IDW Transformers comic universe and give us figures of characters that Hasbro never will. No Masterpiece mimicking here, no hundredth version of the same character or combiner, but instead we have toys of characters seen sparingly in the comics. That is not to say evil buggers Anarchus and Commotus were bit part and forgettable, quite the opposite, but from a handful of memorable appearances to actual 3rd party product with not insignificant price tags? We should applaud and thank MMC for these.
Having already hit veritable home runs with Cynicus and Spartan in terms of popularity, the Reformatted line carries on churning out brilliant toys, and while R-14 Centurion ”Commotus” shares the base Cassy Sark-designed mould with R-13 Spartan, R-16 ”Anarchus” the Journalist (surely torturer suits him better?) is a brand new mould from a new designer at MMC.
Anarchus is surely something that Hasbro will never dare make as a toy that children could buy. He turns in to a shock chair (torturer/executioner’s electric chair to you and me) with the sole purpose of inflicting deathly pain on victims who have crossed the evil faction’s cause, or even unfortunate heroic types like poor Trailcutter. He also has an additional scorpion mode not yet seen in the official source material (the top 10 selling current TF title!), and while he doesn’t quite come with a Sparkeater pet, he does have a partsforming spider-like attack drone.
Straight out of the box I was hugely impressed with the feel of Anarchus’s plastic. I didn’t sense any fragility or shaky parts, tightness all around and the sculpting is divine. His characteristics and aesthetic – even his general demeanour and how he holds himself – have been beautifully recreated. Distinguishing features like the lifeless black eyes, the gold fan-like detailing on his chest, the conical shoulder attachments and tank-tread shins are all there and ensure that Anarchus is laced with accuracy and character. He has lovely gold painted forearms, gorgeous silver paint and a stunning head sculpt. You can see above that the drone claws can be attached to the outside of Anarchus’s arms, or connected as a separate entity with the gun mounted on top, featuring ball jointed legs. You will need to alternate between the gun grip intended for Anarchus and the little peg for attachment to the claws by swinging that piece up or down, a very common mechanism on most high end Transformers style handgun accessories these days.
Expressiveness is utterly key to a release like this, because collectors are going to want to recreate iconic scenes from the source material and experience the depth of character that the creators have imbued this guy with in the pages of the comic. MMC have sculpted a neutral enough – yet perfect – expression onto Anarchus’s face that allows him to look natural when standing idly or wielding a weapon. Articulation is joyous, and this is despite the lack of thigh swivels! Because the lower legs swivel and bend at the knees, I am more than satisfied with what can be produced. There is a lot of movement in the ankles and feet, the wrists swivel but you get the fixed gripping hand that MMC used on Spartan and the Feralcons. Elbows are double jointed, and I just think for comic book characters that get to have as many adventures as those on the pages of the popular TF titles, this kind of articulation is totally essential to the enjoyment of their plastic manifestation.
The foot rest from chair mode that folds over the robot head can limit the neck movement, lift it up and it frees the head up to be more expressive. The gun grip is a little loose for me, so it doesn’t take much to knock the hand and gun out of alignment, leaving me having to re-adjust before taking a photo. For a bot with such enormous feet, I still find the weight distribution to need a little work before Anarchus stands solidly (even with the heel spur unfolded – unlike in my pictures!). Also, occasionally when you move the shoulders or arms, the section they are attached to becomes unclipped from the side of the torso. Let me make one thing abundantly clear, though, Anarchus has a spectacular robot mode which feels completely top quality and it is visually polished to an impressive level. MMC’s robot modes just go from strength to unbelievable strength. Anarchus does The Run, he does the Ultra Magnus movie poster pose, he does the disapproving/mocking idle stance, but I can’t get him to kneel convincingly.
Then there’s chair mode. Chair. Mode. A transforming electric chair that is simultaneously horrific and sublime. When the chair is empty in the above photographs, it seems like a chilling image from a documentary into a psycho’s lair. It is superbly well engineered though, I just sit and marvel at it, while battling disgust that it even exists. This is exactly what 3rd Party companies should be doing though, what official manufacturers won’t. Anarchus is the product of Transformers fiction and characterisation being pushed to new levels of creativity, and giving that creativity physical form is just going to make the collecting of these toys that bit more exciting. I have decided to skip the somewhat distasteful strapping of female Transformers toys to the chair, and opted for Animated Blurr with his impenetrable crest! It looks every bit as ‘authentic’ as a TF torturing session should look, I guess. The treads, much like Commotus, do not roll. Unlike Commotus, though, it does not affect the functionality of this mode. It’s a pretty solid mode, too, once correctly assembled. I did need to mess about with the treads a bit to make the whole thing sit flush atop a surface, but it was worth it. It is a legitimate display mode. However, beyond putting other robots in it, it is still just a chair. I asked my wife if she could ever imagine Hasbro making such a thing and of course she said they’d never dream of it. I agreed, what would kids do with a toy that becomes a chair? “Electrocute their sisters’ Barbies in it”. Of course.
After a few runs through, transformation to chair mode is very logical, actually enjoyable and comparably simple to what a number of 3P companies consider the standard for high end figure conversion these days. There are little spots of bother peppered in like the rotating of the treads before they clip on, or the alignment of the robot thighs, feet, ankles etc to get them to clip onto the sides of the chair, and for it all to be level, allowing the chair to sit on a surface flush. These are small fry, though, I find the transformation really good and not at all a deterrent. I especially enjoy the slide mechanism to extend the chair’s back, the fold-away of the arms and clipping of the gun to secure them and the final product is so satisfying to behold. A note of concern, though, when disengaging the clipped feet from the side of the chair, be extra careful because they are connected very tightly and some specimens have been known to develop stress marks on the tabs where the feet clip on. I can see the beginnings of one developing on my own sample. It’s not impossible that one day the whole tab could snap off with repeated abuse. That aside, the transformation belongs in the pros column for me as far as engineering and process are concerned.
Transformation to scorpion mode is easy enough and it’s not as much of an afterthought as I imagined it would be. OK, it does sometimes look like one is being attacked by the aggressive table spawn from Hell (IKEA), but it’s certainly not the worst 3rd mode I have seen. This mode is a new invention by MMC and is not shown in the source comic, so I can’t see many collectors even factoring this into their considerations during a purchase. It’s as much an added extra as the attack drone is for me. I’d have been thrilled with Anarchus even without the existence of this mode and the engineering required to achieve it. It’s pretty clever, mind.
If you have bought Anarchus, chances are you jumped on MMC Cynicus as well, the other previously released member of the Decepticon internal affairs sadist torture squad. The articulation, sculpting and character moulded into these two unforgettable and quite unique bots means that they look exceptionally good alongside one another, as much as we all hoped they would. Sure, Anarchus is considerably taller and bulkier, but that’s not a complete departure from the source material. Anarchus is seen holding a weapon-mode Cynicus in the comic, and while I would not say it looks effortless with the actual figures trying to recreate those scenes, it is possible and semi-natural looking. Certainly the pose achieved by MMC on the rear of the packaging looks decent enough. Despite the compatibility, I’d rather avoid transforming Cynicus any more than I have to, as enjoyable as I find it, parts stress too easily. Anarchus on the other hand, as mentioned previously, is supremely solid in itself and really, I think MMC have done the best job anybody could with producing a definitive version of this character. If you have any connection to the source material, or just want a chair transformer, I heartily recommend Anarchus. Deeply impressed, one is.
And now, Commotus. This hulk of an evildoing transforming robot is another IDW creation inextricably linked to a fan favourite character, so while Spartan is said to have come from the base mould designed primarily for Commotus, MMC and Cassy Sark have done a remarkable job of extracting two excellent representations from it. Commotus, like Spartan, comes with attachment rings to aid the connecting of various bits and bobs, although Commotus can have a hand to hold the gigantic cannon, or the cannon can be attached directly to the wrist. Maybe they expect you to attach some of Spartan’s gear too? Both Commotus and Anarchus come with the pretty MMC comics we’ve come to love (I’m sure there’s an ongoing tapestry of a story in there but I may have lost the plot somewhere after the Feralcons), and delightful looking collector’s cards.
My feeling is that this figure, for the scale it is intended to fit with, should have been much more imposing and massive. However, the mould suits Commotus and his character really well. I reviewed this base sculpt in depth when I featured Reformatted R-13 Spartan on this blog, so I won’t go into all of the familiar details and features of the mould again. Commotus is of course head to toe matte black with some very attractive electric blue panel lining, spikes on his knee caps as seen in the source material and a freakin’ enormous cannon. I thought this would be really dull in hand compared to Spartan, but it’s truly pretty in its monochromatic glory. Both my wife and daughter were quite taken with him. For at least 5 seconds.
Just as with Spartan, this mould affords Commotus some breathtaking articulation and expression in posing. The balance and poise of this figure is incredible. His head sculpt resembles his most recent appearance in the comics, but he has been seen in official literature sporting a yellow-y orange one-piece visor. There is seriously no end to the poses you can slap Commotus in, photoshoots took ages because I was having so much fun.
Now, when I reviewed Spartan, I complained about a transformation that was most unsatisfying at the end because not all the little clips and pegs would hold in place and align, leaving me with a frustrated 99% complete transformation and a tank that would not roll on static treads. The Crown Prince Of Transformations has since enlightened me as to the missing step in the instructions whereby one must rotate the upper thigh guards to a very specific point before closing the whole thing up. The result was actually profound, and now both Commotus and Spartan sit on my shelves perfectly clipped together and flush from front to rear. It has been sensational in how much it has elevated a “very good” toy to “superb” in my estimation. I now love the transformation and take particular joy from that last step of clipping the treads and sides of the tank to the rest of the central section. I called Spartan a superb figure but not a great Transformer, I wholeheartedly retract that statement. Spartan and Commotus are brilliant transformers, you just have to learn the tricks.
Once you’ve learnt what to position where, you are rewarded with a beefy, compact, imposing monster of a Metal Slug-based tank (or is it a Dominion Tank Police Bonaparte tank?), that in Commotus is painted appropriately with not so much as a whiff of rubber ducky (I’m looking at you Spartan, with your duck beak and googly eyes). Disengaging the piston mechanism allows one to rotate Commotus’s turret and cannon more freely. The alt mode suits Commotus immeasurably more than it does Spartan, so it’s technically more of a success, but Commotus lacks the charisma, gravitas and visual event that is Spartan’s robot mode. I do also feel that parts of the Spartan/Commotus plastic are thinner and lighter feeling than most of what Anarchus is made of. They are all such great figures, though, and I cannot reiterate enough how much sorting out the transformation elevates Commotus for me. The looks, the posability, the transformation…it’s all there, the ingredients to make it a classic, just without the added ounce of magic Spartan is blessed with thanks to who he represents.
Goodness I wish the Commotus tank mode could roll. I cannot explain why I need it to do so, but there’s more than enough going on there anyway. It’s a small complaint that seemed bigger in the wider context of not enjoying Spartan’s transformation and alt mode when I first encountered this mould. One other wish I have for this mould and future MMC figures of this scale is articulated hands. Not necessarily whole fingers, but at least an opening hand. It is a small matter but it can have a noticeable effect on posing and how natural or expressive a specific stance appears. I should also state that Commotus features the same issues as Spartan in that the shovel part on the elbows pops off regularly if the elbows are moved and not gripped appropriately to keep everything attached. The shoulders can occasionally become unclipped during posing too, just like Spartan, but much less so.
Look how much those beautiful red eyes of Commotus stand out in the sea of black, even from an appreciable distance. I am glad they didn’t overdo the blue panel lining, either. Considering the stories that this character has been involved in, and despite the fact that I wish he was taller, he actually scales reasonably well with other toys which hold relevance and that can be displayed with him. The upcoming E-Hobby exclusive Deadlock figure will slot right in with him too. In the comics Commotus is shown as being able to mount his great cannon on his arm a la Megatron, the toy as it stands can do that but there are further upgrade parts for the cannon in the pipeline from other sources, though. Maybe an eye patch too, please?
Mastermind Creations have, in my opinion, released a slew of figures in 2015 that were of the absolute highest order. Grandus Hexatron, Spartan, Commotus, Cynicus, Anarchus, Sphinx (under Ocular Max), Salvia Prominon, Nero Rex and so on. They are getting better at what they do, which was already a fair amount better than what most of their competition was doing. They were my standout 3rd Party company of 2015 and on the evidence of Anarchus (their newest mould I guess), that is not about to change. What they release in the Reformatted line is no longer considered flavour of the month, that accolade is firmly in the hands of the those caught up in Masterpiece mimicry (something even MMC have now embarked upon). However, these Reformatted figures have a real soul to them, and backed up with mostly excellent quality and excellent customer service, MMC remain absolute frontrunners in the 3rd party race. Relevance to the wider Transformers audience may not have been secured with figures like Anarchus and Commotus considering who they represent and the source material, but for those of us who want these figures, they have done the job something fierce.
All the best