Too many Transformers, too much choice, too little money and definitely not enough space. Then we add the 3rd Party toys coming at us from all angles, and try to balance that against older toys we may be trying to buy (or not buy), and we all develop strategies for staying away from what may bankrupt us. For some the decision to pass on a particular type of product can be arbitrary, for others it’s because it won’t fit with their collection direction. Some may want it all, but can’t afford to give in. From behind a computer screen where gorgeous promotional images and enabling collector photography can only do so much damage, we are safe. However, seeing certain things in the flesh…
I had no interest in Keith’s Fantasy Club E.A.V.I. Metal “Citizen Stack”, the Masterpiece-scaled Ultra Magnus-based figure that has elevated KFC from a maker of fiddly little toys to a company collectors will have to take notice of. While I liked the Micro Robo, the quality wasn’t there. Once collectors started to get this item in hand, I have to admit I was intrigued by what a positive response it was inspiring. What hadn’t changed was the price, the imminent Takara Tomy MP-22 Masterpiece Ultra Magnus and the slightly IDW aesthetic of Citizen Stack that didn’t quite match the toon-accurate look of the Masterpiece Transformers it was scaled to. The lack of a standalone white cab robot was a bone of contention too.
In the flesh: Holy crap that’s a large Transformer. Rubber wheels good, MP-10 cab aesthetic good, detailing on trailer good. The transformation looked so intuitive too and was remarkably close to the actual G1 Ultra Magnus trailer transformation. Until it was mentioned to me that the rear cab wheels sit further in than the front wheels, it didn’t bother me, now I have recurring nightmares about it.
Of course I don’t, it’s a paltry little thing, but it could have been a paltry little fix too. Anyway, that robot, it’s gigantic. If you fold up a Prime cab of MP size and stand a properly scaled trailer up as its main body of operations, you’re going to get an enormous Transformer. Citizen Stack, to me, felt like a really beautiful and large toy not entirely different from the vein that Generations Metroplex exists in, as opposed to a Masterpiece-style high end collector’s item. That’s not a point of derision either, it felt like a toy I could transform over and over again, pose with abandon (apart from those knees, they’re limited) and actually enjoy instead of only display. While I may not pop the cash necessary for this item and don’t have a place for it in my collection, I’ve gone from indifferent to quite seriously impressed. Bravo, Keith.
Unless you’ve read Transformers comics, most recently the Last Stand Of The Wreckers or More Than Meets The Eye, a midget Fortress Maximus isn’t going to make a lot of sense. Perfect Effect’s “PE-DX03 Warden” is based heavily on the Fortress Maximus from those aforementioned IDW comics, a Fort Max who is not city-sized. That may already turn some off, but I was into the comics at that stage and so I could appreciate the market this was being aimed at. I’ll admit to having been impressed by the prototype robot mode and ridiculously large weapon, but the head mode and tank modes didn’t affect me much, not owning an original Fortress Maximus and not collecting Generations-scale Transformers. Despite being head over heels in love with MTMTE, I was not in the process of assembling a book-accurate cast either. Easy pass.
In the flesh: I was speechless. With all of his appendages, the tank treads and the phenomenally huge gun attached, Warden rewards. The finish is immaculate, the proportions are strong, the tank treads are rubber, the heft is eye-opening and he’s simply beautiful. It’s a remarkable piece of work and I did just want to stare at it. I had no desire to transform it or re-arrange anything, and that’s been cited as a slight weakness, but I cannot speak from experience. When he was placed in my hands, I was immediately engineering a way to afford one, alas that has not happened. He isn’t for everyone, though, if you need to transform your toys on a regular basis with ease and don’t have any sort of connection to IDW Max, then maybe Warden isn’t for you.
I still don’t have a place for Warden among what I collect, but I wouldn’t even care it’s so pretty. Its strengths don’t outweigh its deficiencies by an enormous margin, but what strengths it has are so important to someone who wants their robots to look and feel the part, even for simple untouchable display, that one can become quite bewitched. FT Quakewave, MP-11 Starscream and now PE Warden have been genuine “Wow” moments on first handling in the last 12 months, and it’s that kind of magic that makes a figure a classic. I just cannot believe that a 3rd Party company has produced something so stunning. Seriously, that gun.
How to make an expensive toy even less appealing. Take MP-10 Masterpiece Convoy and get rid of its trailer. Done that? Good, now please choose an imaginative colour scheme and create a new character that might appeal to those who like a bit of variety in their collection. What do you mean you can’t be arsed? OK fine, douse it in black paint, make it a Decepticon, and give it the most literal name you can think of. Greetings, MP-10B Black Convoy, we saw you coming.
OK fine, the black paint was supposedly shiny, it had bluey-green highlights and clear red windows, it had a Decepticon symbol which pissed some off and sated others, it had better feeling joints and tightness to the moving parts compared to Hasbro’s Optimus Prime. It was still just a black trailer-less MP-10, so quite why everyone felt the need to spam the pants off forum threads with photos of MP-10B was a mystery.
In the flesh: Sold.
It’s very rare for me to be interested in anything vintage outside of 1985, at a push, 1986. I’m not an early G1 snob though, I collect a lot of modern lines when finances and space allow. But as far as vintage Transformers go, I do believe the spark faded a little after the movie and I’ve rarely been interested in what I’ve seen. The 1992 Turbomasters are a good example of this. The gaudy colours and design choices aren’t to my liking, and to be completely truthful, I don’t know them from one another and have never taken the time to study them in any sort of detail, and Rotorstorm was no exception. It’s just not my era or my cup of tea.
In the flesh: Well, now, THAT’s a pretty and very classic G1 robot head sculpt and face. That’s a terribly solid helicopter mode and a bloody well-proportioned and sizeable hunk of toy. The pink eyeband with light-piping is exquisite and I hear my fellow collectors telling me just how excellent the transformation is. I’ve gone from not caring a jot to actually wanting this in my collection, I mean actively searching for one to buy as we speak. I loved Last Stand Of The Wreckers but I still didn’t jump on the Rotorstorm bandwagon, I had to see this thing with my own eyes to understand, and I truly do now understand. A late Generation 1 masterpiece, and that’s a title I didn’t think any toy could claim.
This was actually a toy I wanted, and had every intention of picking up at the first suitable opportunity. I am already on board with the Mastermind Creations Not-Predaking “Feral Rex”, and have been since the first figure was released. I own Bovis and Fortis, and Leo Dux, the MMC version of Razorclaw, needs to be purchased even now. The prototype images and video reviews made me think that Feral Rex was slowly moving away from incredibly strong standalone robots to more functional token limbs that are better used as part of the combiner. In short, Leo Dux wasn’t doing it for me as much as Bovis and Fortis were, he just looked like an articulated and slightly better-proportioned G1 Razorclaw. As a result, I put off ordering him, thinking I’d get around to it eventually, an obligation purchase apparently.
In the flesh: I was completely unprepared for how much better this toy was in-hand than images online suggested. Even the pictured combined mode with the two legs didn’t get me as excited as seeing Leo Dux in the flesh, his size compared to Bovis and Fortis quite a surprise indeed. The sheer weight and heft of the figure is immense, he’s bulky as anything but still hugely posable, a delight to handle with many display options thanks to the weaponry he comes with. I actually feel ashamed for doubting MMC on this one, seeing what a masterwork Bovis was. How could the Feralcon leader have been anything other than spectacular?
What the pictures of Leo Dux don’t do is give you an idea of how wonderful it is to manipulate the limbs, pose the head, fold out the lion’s mane and adjust a pose in the full knowledge that you have no need to be super-careful. The articulation is superb and I spent quite a long time just trying out different poses. The lion mode is also huge, and so much better in person than I imagined, completely displayable in that mode. I’ve now seen pictures of Talon as well (Not-Divebomb) and that actually looks brilliant, maybe the best of them all thus far. Feral Rex, as a package of 5 robots and as a combiner, could be one of the most significant and crowning achievements of the 3rd Party scene, one that will stand out even a decade from now.
I’ve gone from not really caring about the above figures to having a real crisis of priority over what I’d spend the first iota of disposable income on. Obligation dictated that if any, Leo Dux would get bought, but I would say on quality and in-hand impressions, he would possibly be the victor anyway. Overall, I think MP-10B Black Convoy was the most immediately delicious of the bunch, but the amount by which Leo Dux was better than what I thought it would be represents a feeling that just won’t diminish.
Leo Dux definitely blesses the rains down in Africa.
This has been a Pub(e)Con production, brought to you by your betters: Steve Phiakkou, Sid Beckett and Colin Pringle.
All the best