Well, 2016 is off to an excellent start! FansToys, 3rd Party makers of toys that aim to unofficially complete your Masterpiece Transformers collection, bring us the fourth in their series of Iron Dibots, transforming dinosaurs not completely unlike those Dinobot fellows you may have heard of. FT-07 is Stomp, the brontosaurus of the five-member team, following Scoria, Soar and Sever. It has been clear that FansToys have improved every release so that the newest Dibot is a little better than the last, and Stomp is absolutely no exception. This pre-release test shot Stomp demonstrates that FT have learned lessons from those previous releases, and applied them successfully to this absolute beast of a figure. Stomp is wow factor incarnate.
For a little while now other 3rd Party companies have been matching FansToys in terms of design, aesthetic and execution of MP-style figures, most recently MakeToys, Ocular Max/MMC, BadCube and emerging competition from DX9 and XTransbots has nudged onto their territory too. To the point where an FT candidate was not guaranteed to be the best MP-style choice for all, and figures like Grenadier and Tesla (and maybe the upcoming Willis and Mercenary) which may have previously been automatic end of year award-winners, are now not shoo-ins for a fan favourite overall or even for a particular character. With Spotter to some degree, and definitely with Stomp, FT have awoken from a perceived slumber and edged ahead again.
From Scoria’s droopy shoulders and waist, to Soar’s fragile thigh clips and weak ankles, through Sever’s face sculpt and underbelly gap – not all of which were ever issues for all collectors and owners of FT Iron Dibots – Stomp emerges having improved upon all those areas, simply nailing the design of this figure as well as you would want with respect to the original toy and on-screen inspiration. What FT have done most impressively here that they have previously not managed to do is produce a brilliant and widely acclaimed face sculpt. Stomp’s sculpt when revealed initially looked to be perfect, and through prototyping and pre-production that has not changed. It’s utterly gorgeous, the best they have ever produced. Look at those giant stompy lower legs, too.
There don’t seem to be any unsightly compromises here, FT Stomp has faithfully reproduced the shape of this character and most importantly its presence in robot mode. He’s a huge hulking robot, well-proportioned, covered in ratchets and joints that are tight enough to last but not impossible to budge, or letting out painful squeals of resistance. The articulation is fabulous, from individually independent fingers up to a rotating waist, leading to the kind of dynamic stances you can see above. Stomp is heavy, so be careful how much lean you inflict on him when posing, but he’s got the knees and waist for it when not competely unbalanced. The inner legs house the dino tail as elegantly as any Iron Dibot before him, although there is no firm locking mechanism for the tail halves so occasionally if you touch them or move the lower legs for posing they can work their way loose, but it is not flopping out all the time by any means, just occasionally. The mass of screw holes in that inner leg area can be unsightly, just as it was with FT Spotter, but there’s so much else going on to impress, you eventually stop noticing.
Still on the subject of looks and first impressions, as well as improvements, I mentioned the better face sculpt on Stomp compared to FT products generally and you can see the evidence above. You get a lovely stoic face which does not bely a deep intelligence, there’s just the right amount of subdued single-minded brute, and you also get a serious shouty face that’s quite excellent. You can swap out for red eyes with ease, no screw drivers here, just pop off the forehead, remove the face which is hooked on just like MP Ultra Magnus faces are, and replace the eyes if desired. Stomp’s chest and torso are accurately shaped and coloured with appreciated detail in the moulding, the whole section tapering down to the waist as is this guy’s hallmark. The only real case of kibble is the giant brontosaurus neck on his back, visible behind his robot head, but the bronto face is tucked into his back cavity and the Dino neck base provides no obstruction for head articulation. You might also notice I have angled the ‘wings’ upwards, because I think that makes him more dynamic, more stylish. They are a bit weighty though and I can see given enough time they could start to sag at that angle, so you could always position them completely perpendicular, like the original 80s toy or cartoon. I do think it’s a shame that FT persist with the raised moulding for a faction symbol, sometimes the stickers people select just don’t fit the dimensions. I’d still prefer a flat surface.
In addition to the red robot (and dino) eyes and extra faces (3 total), you get the popping googly eyes made famous in the 1986 animated movie when Devastator pounded him on Earth. Again, these can all be added without the need to remove screws in either mode, just clip on and clip off, making this much closer to the Masterpiece style accessory interface and less of a handyman affair, which DIY-repulsed folk like me can appreciate. As well as the extra Stomp parts, you can see a replacement Quakewave arm that I assume is for the reissue to allow an underslung hose, a translucent hand, and replacement dino underbelly parts for FT-06 Sever so those who hated the gap can now fill it with the new flaps installed on these parts.
You’ve seen a glimpse of his sword, and here is Stomp wielding it fiercely. The joint that allows you to fold the fist under into the wrist doubles up as an excellent point of articulation, giving one the option of having Stomp (like Scoria) pointing his sword blade and thrusting instead of just the hacking pose normally afforded these types of figures/accessories. Articulation and clearance allows Stomp to grip his sword two-handed for that classic overhead chop and his strong shoulder ratchets ensure it’ll stay that way . You can even wrap the fingers of the other hand around the moulded cable around the hilt, it is a quite lovely accessory. Weapon grip on these Dibots has improved as well since Scoria (although with the experience of 3 subsequent Dibots I can now get Scoria to hold his weapons better than on purchase), so it’s a firm grip here but as with the others, the red chrome on the grip will chip if you are vigorous with the attaching or detaching of the sword. It still has a little button on the base for light up feature too. The sword is moulded according to the original design of the Diaclone Brontosaurus accessory.
Controversy abounds! Stomp does not come with the signature G1 style gun that was seen with his original toy – something all three previous Iron Dibots did. He does however come with a new version of his missile launcher which of course does not propel any projectile, but it has a light up feature now. They have combined this character’s previous two weapons into one. Apart from Soar, no other Iron Dibot came with the missile launcher that the vintage toy would have had. That lack of consistency will not sit well with everyone, especially when things like the lack of consistency in gold chrome colour have been a bone of contention. There is a reason for it, though.
I’ve got to be honest here and admit that when I started photographing Stomp and doing the planning for this review, I had forgotten that it came with a separate standalone handgun, so there was no sense of disappointment. However, upon remembering, I still didn’t mind but I would totally understand it bothering others, especially if they had this character as a childhood figure and were looking for a definitive G1 MP style update. FT have clearly gone for the cartoon representation, and there are screen caps online which show the on-screen model holding a launcher which is gold trimmed just as Stomp’s is (the original toy had no chrome on the launcher) and no toy-style handgun, so I can understand the omission from that perspective considering what FT’s aim is with their figures. Let us not forget that Takara’s official Masterpiece MP-8 Grimlock did not come with his toy-accurate missile launcher either, just the gun and sword as seen on screen. Stomp holds the launcher in his hand very securely, but as the fingers are not on ball joints to move laterally, there’s not always room to have all four fingers flush against the handle. Again, there’s enough clearance and articulation for a double-handed weapon pose, and you can see how nicely and naturally he rocks it above!
Balanced correctly with weight distribution and gravity shown appropriate respect, Stomp can pull off a quite monstrous high kick, and as demonstrated by the top photo there, the inner leg assembly made up of tail gubbins does not droop out. Maybe it will in the future after many transformations, but for that image it held well and I did not keep having to shove it in hoping it would keep until the shutter closed.
When posing Stomp in these wild and wacky ways – and believe me he can pull off some brilliant and natural looking action stances (but no run or kneel) – sometimes because of the lateral knee bend for transformation I had to pick the whole figure up and pose as wanted before putting him down again. Just trying to pose him dynamically while he was grounded resulted in that lateral knee joint engaging and it bending sideways instead of how a knee naturally bends back and forth. Small issue, had it with other Dibots as well. It must be said though, FT have graced Stomp with a phenomenally good robot mode, as good as anything they have ever produced.
How about that, eh? A nailed face, a nailed robot mode and a properly nailed brontosaurus dinosaur mode as well. Heavens above, Stomp is beautiful in this mode. Check out that fat belly, the slightly stumpy but amply articulated neck with gorgeous translucency and chrome, harmonised. The swinging chrome tail and signature paint detailing across Stomp’s body is a delight to behold, and boy is he a big sod. To hold this in your hands, believe me, is a thrill rarely experienced in this hobby. It’s one of those special alt modes that must be cherished. Fabulous weight, fabulous looks, I just love it.
In terms of transformation, while it’s not as interesting and enjoyable to me as Scoria’s (not a great deal at this size is, though), it’s logical and fluid from one stage to the next, it’s more positively complex than Soar’s, less laborious and lengthy than Sever’s, basically a refinement of their experience and execution with Dibot conversions and engineering thus far. As premiered by Takara, the tail folding up elegantly into the inner legs is a workable solution all year round when designing a dinorobo. The lower legs rotate and fold up to become the dinosaur’s rear end, another staple of this line, but this time we have added Powermaster-style button releases/locks to stop the waist drooping under the weight of the lower legs with die cast content, these buttons pop out again when the waist is fully transformed back into robot mode configuration. And the legs extend (something that was not at all immediately obvious to me – lots of resistance) to allow clearance with the front end when the legs/back-end halves fold back on themselves.
There are now specific tabs that fold out from under two flaps on the dino back, and those tabs insert into the base of the dino tail to help keep it locked in. The dino neck and head rotate and fold into the robot’s back, and FT have engineered slightly more elegant transformations for folding the hands into the wrists, folding the rear dino legs inside the outer robot legs and…AND…
…they’ve incorporated closing panels to cover up the underbelly cavity, no Sever-level fan-enraging errors here! Unlike Sever, though, the rear feet are not on the kind of joint which allows as much articulation, so they can’t be pointed as far outwards. As mentioned above, the neck is well articulated to the point where he can fully look back at a number of angles. I counted four separate and well-integrated points of articulation on the neck, including the main dino head joint. The jaw is articulated as is the tail (2 points).
What I adore about this mode is just how excellently they’ve captured the natural look of what we believe a brontosaurus to have looked like, and he can be posed in ways that you would imagine a dinosaur of this size and elegance could hold itself. He is also a wonderful rendition of the original transforming bronto we’ve all come to know and love. How good is the combination of silver chrome back, gold and translucent mechanical neck, tremendously well-integrated curved lines, gold chrome head and blue eyes?
There is an issue to be aware of with Stomp’s neck base when posing it in dinosaur mode and also during transformation. When looking at him head on, eye to eye, if you rotate the dino neck from its base clockwise, a small grey plastic plug on the right side can work its way loose and fall out. The first picture above shows it in place, the second picture shows it is missing (you can see it in Stomp’s maw). I hope this will be remedied by the time final production rolls around. One more thing to watch out for during transformation, when folding away the fists into the wrists make sure they are as compact as possible and don’t go too far in, because they can be a nightmare to extract again if stuck.
The above pictures show us some of Stomp’s dino noggin details, showing off the double-barrel gun in his mouth and the panel lines around the eyes giving away the edges of the removable panel. Once you remove that panel you can slot in red dino eyes (actually very nice) or put on the Transformers: The Movie googly eyes. Those comedy eyes are going to be cliché immediately, but just as those who reviewed Stomp before me, and those who will own and review it after me, I had to put them on. Yes, it made me laugh when posed correctly with legs splayed out, you’re dead inside if it doesn’t tickle you once tried!
There he is with his fetching red eyes, stretching that neck, knowing that with the possible exception the chrome clad wingspan and elegant beak of Soar, he has the best dino mode of all the FansToys Iron Dibots. Now, about those other Dibots, I hope you’re sitting down…
Epic. There isn’t another word sufficiently grandiose to express how these guys look together. When I assembled the four Iron Dibots by FansToys and Masterpiece Grimlock, I stood back and had to take it all in. I miiiight have shouted “Yeah” and fist-pumped when I set them up, and this is why I don’t do video reviews. I am getting the same feeling when putting these figures together as I did when MMC’s Feral Rex came together in the summer of 2014, that was unforgettable and Stomp’s arrival is evoking the same feelings. For those of you offended by MP Glamrock’s booties, FT have attempted to steal Stomp’s limelight by releasing images of the FT-08 Grinder prototype with all his Iron Dibot brethren that absolutely hits the spot. Sure, each one has niggles – some of which actually interfered with some of the dioramas I wanted to set up for photography with these guys (loose Soar ankles and Scoria shoulders, and my MP-8 is now a floppy mess) – but that’s true of the great Feral Rex too.
Once MP Grimlock is removed from the picture, what’s left is not so hard to scale or justify. The Dibots tower over other figures as you’d expect, sometimes within the parameters set by the cartoon or toys originally, sometimes without. I’ve got absolutely no problem with how the above looks and Stomp is every ounce the gigantic desert warrior I expected him to be. I feel as though the tapering torso, slightly higher waist and seemingly better proportioned legs make him seem even more heroic than his FT brethren. A very special team of figures, a very special project is almost done.
FansToys are known for making collectors wait for their promised figures. Look how long it took a reissue Quakewave to come, or the delays suffered by figures released prior to Stomp. For FT-07 Stomp I feel my personal wait for April or later will be agony, now that I have experienced the glory of a full line up of the good-guy dino team, to be without Stomp will feel as though my collection of MP-scaled prehistoric warriors flicked between complete and incomplete like a light switch. A first world problem if ever there was one, but it’s just another facet of how close this team is to coming together in the right way, with each Iron Dibot improving on the last in measurable and appreciable ways. Of course there should not have been issues to begin with, but at least those lessons learned have led to a fine figure in Stomp. The bar has been raised, or maybe it’s more accurate to say the previously highly-placed bar has been reached again. An excellent, posable, stable and accurately crafted robot mode from head to toe, a robust and repeatable transformation of perfect length for an item this size, a dinosaur mode that is everything it should be in terms of size, quality, looks and faithful reproduction of the source material.
Nice work FansToys, as an (un)wise jungle warrior once said “Stomp your enemy, crush him under your feet“.
All the best