We Transformers fans, we consume. We consume toys, information, comics, stories, movies, and we demand immediate and un-metered access to all of it. We are an entitled bunch who are becoming increasingly spoilt for choice when it comes to all of the above. So to ask us to wait the better part of a year after being teased relentlessly with preview images of upcoming Masterpiece or 3rd Party items, despite paying or budgeting for them mere days after the news hits…well there’s a lot to answer for if the toys don’t measure up.
Last week we put MP-17 Masterpiece Prowl under the spotlight and found it more than worthy of our expectations, so as promised, this week we turn our attention to the first of the Feralcons by Mastermind Creations, He-Who-Resembles-Tantrum, the “Reformatted” R-03 Mercenary Supply Specialist “Bovis”. Bovis and his buddies will form MMC’s answer to Predaking (“Feral Rex”) and we should all have the finished team in our hands by mid-way through next year.
To say that MMC’s Feralcons were highly anticipated would be the mother of all understatement, so suffice to say times were exciting when Bovis finally started shipping. The packaging is suitably appealing, large and features a nice teaser image of the massive Not-Predaking on the back. The paperwork has a very nicely illustrated comic, a collector’s card and instructions that are actually worth paying attention to.
Now, Masterpiece is generally considered a proven product these days, and in most people’s eyes the high prices are justified – but some of the compromises don’t sit well with a significant portion of the fandom and so there’s always debate. 3rd Party products can often be even more expensive, and sometimes people find themselves taking a chance on a given company’s product. With MMC, it was extremely important for the success of these Feralcons that their previous offering – Terminus Hexatron (Not-Sixshot) – do the business, which it did.
So, Bovis. When I bought my G1 Predacons a decade ago, I did so because of the combined Predaking mode, as do most people I suspect. My attraction to Feral Rex was the same, the idea of having a poseable, well-proportioned and sizeable modern Predaking that could in some way be even one millionth of the glorious custom Predaking X , well it had to be considered. In that vein, I wasn’t expecting an enormous amount from individual Feralcons – especially Bovis/Tantrum – I was just interested in the full Feral Rex when it was complete. Any decent poseability, displayability or even playability from Bovis would have been pure bonus.
As it happens, Bovis is tremendous. His transformation seems super-complex the first time if you follow instructions, and then it almost immediately clicks and becomes second nature. As far as transformations go, it’s a beauty. The fact that all of his accessories can be attached in both modes is a great thing, because he comes with two deadly looking blades, a pair of handguns and Feral Rex’s giant left foot which doubles up as his backpack/cannon. I much prefer his robot mode to the beast mode, but I very much like how mechanical and non-organic his beast mode looks, I think that’s very true to the original Predacons. The beast modes on all the Feralcons look as though they would make a satisfying techno-organic buzzing or whirring when moving at speed, a perfect aesthetic for this team.
Bovis can be armed to the teeth with both guns, blades and the cannon making him look incredibly chunky and bulky. The weight of the cannon can compromise poses sometimes as he may topple if leant back. You can just as easily remove the cannon and pose him lean, which just adds to the options and makes for some really dynamic stances. I will admit to being unfamiliar with some of the latest technology and solutions that 3P companies use to make these toys so intricate and looking the way they do in both modes, but at the core of it they are unmistakably Transformers, so it doesn’t take long for me to forget that they are unofficial – well, apart from the shock of something so sublime being neither Takara nor Hasbro. That never gets old.
I’ve only included a few pictures of Bovis in beast mode because I’m so enamoured with his robot mode. If I never own the other Feralcons, I will still treasure Bovis, he’s really that good, a virtual Masterpiece in his own right. Maybe it’s because I have gotten so used to the fact that combiner limbs are just that, limbs for a greater purpose, but this, this is a proper figure – and for over $100 it bloody needed to be. He looks great with the blades, holding the cannon, pointing handguns – hell he even looks impressive in Feral Rex leg mode (or ‘Ambulon’ mode as some of us have started saying). Proof.
It’s not all fun and fairies though, MMC recommend you use plastic lube to avoid the above pictured issue. Since when did anyone need to buy lube to keep their toys in working order? The ratcheting elbow can occasionally shred the teeth meaning that it doesn’t fold all the way up. This creates a problem when trying to lock the forearm into the upper arm for beast/combiner mode. You can see the chewed teeth in the photo as well as the deformed plastic tab towards the bottom of the picture, a result of repeated attempts to get the damn thing to lock into place.
Now it’s true that it does not affect playability in the slightest, but we are not children, and these are not children’s toys we buy to play with. This entire category of Transformers – 3rd Party – is there to cater to collectors who wanted their Transformers to look a certain way, be that much more than the compromises from Takara Tomy and Hasbro could provide, the dream Predaking, the definitive Devastator, the perfect Sixshot etc. When you pay over $100 for an unlicensed, unofficial product from a virtually new company – to take your custom away from the official providers – it needs to be of a certain standard. And if it isn’t, then the company responsible has to show some accountability.
To their great credit, MMC have been excellent with their customer service, mailing out replacement parts fast, free of charge, and responding to customers even more rapidly. They will also include a fix for Bovis’s occasional butt-cracking (go and read about it) with the next release, “Fortis”. Despite this QC issue, I am beyond thrilled with this item and they have me totally committed for the whole run – and that’s saying a lot considering the arm on mine doesn’t lock away neatly in 2 of the 3 modes. To me this won’t be Feral Rex, this will be THE Predaking I’ve always wanted. And that is the whole 3rd Party appeal and raison d’être for me.
Despite a hiccup that will be fixed, MMC R-03 Bovis: expectations met and surpassed. I’ll whisper it for fear of heresy, but I even prefer it to Prowl.
All the best