There’s nothing quite like Predaking. He was unique amongst the Generation 1 Transformers combiners and Mastermind Creations managed to capture the same zeal and passion from the collecting community for the Reformatted Feral Rex project as existed for the original G1 Predacons in the hearts of vintage Transformers enthusiasts. Back in 2012, the Feralcons were unveiled by MMC, and two years later collectors are able to put all five members – Bovis, Fortis, Leo Dux, Talon and Tigris – together to form arguably the most hotly anticipated 3rd Party combiner of them all, Feral Rex. Long live the king.
A good combiner has very visible elements of its members on show when united as a large robot, in the case of Predaking the beast heads were always very prominent. He was also unique in that yellow, orange and gold were the predominant colour choices, making sure the Predacons always stood out in a crowd of combiners who often had a mish-mash of decos intertwined to form a patchwork giant. Back in the day, Predaking was designed by Mika Akitaka who worked at Bandai after Takara, primarily known as a manga/anime artist, so his slightly different look to the other combiners of the time can be attributed to that.
For decades the G1 figure was more than good enough to represent that most special of combining teams, and a number of reissues allowed everyone the chance to own him. I guess with the emergence of 3rd party companies, their combiners and the quite astonishing and enormous 2009 scratch-built “Predaking-X” custom, expectations naturally rose and it was only a matter of time before someone took on ‘The King’. As it turned out, MMC were one of three 3rd Party companies to tackle the job of modernising the Predacons, Unique Toys and TFC also put out their own interpretations of Predaking. It is my honest opinion that Feral Rex not only puts the other two 3rd party versions of Predaking in the shade, but he also steals the thunder of the original G1 Predaking – a toy I now no longer feel any need to own again. More impressive is the fact that looking at “Predaking X” now, other than its size, Feral Rex has dethroned him too. The king is dead.
Two years have brought us to the point where Supply Specialist Bovis (Tantrum), Ground Assaulter Fortis (Headstrong), Squadron Leader Leo Dux (Razorclaw), Aerial Assaulter Talon (Divebomb) and Shock Trooper Tigris (Rampage) can finally stand together as a fearsome team or united as the mighty Feral Rex (Predaking), once described in the Teletraan II Data Files as a “hair-trigger horror” and a “warrior with no known equal”. His pre-release concept name of “Giganticus” strikes fear into the heart if not the imagination.
The greatest disservice one could do to MMC’s Feralcon team is to leave them combined forever and straight out of the box (for those who have managed to keep their hands off them until Tigris was released), because each individual figure – as described in all five linked articles above – has merits above and beyond most Transformers toys or 3rd party figures we see on the market today. Such is the strength of each release that picking a favourite can result in arguments and debate among collectors, I’m not sure I even know which is mine. While some collect two of each in order not to miss out on combined or individual modes, I have had to remind myself why I ever bought into this project in the first place. It’s true, Quakewave was my first 3rd party toy but that was a gift and not a voluntary purchase. Had it been up to me, I’m quite sure the following would have been the only thing that would have irrevocably turned me onto the 3P scene:
The combined Feral Rex, that’s why we’re here, that’s what sold most of us in the first place. Because of that fact, and because I’ve always wanted a significantly imposing and centrepiece-style robot for my collection, I leave him in combined mode. I originally envisioned having a Diaclone Great Robot Base as the eventual centrepiece to my whole display, but at this time that position has been forcefully inhabited by Feral Rex, to the point where I don’t feel the need to replace him with any other figurehead. From the immense Oppenheimer sword to the breathtaking wingspan of Talon’s wings on his back, Feral Rex is the mother of all spectacles.
I simply cannot imagine any other combiner where collectors were happily displaying each limb in combined mode as and when it came out. My wife still jokes about the “two robot feet” on my desk for months. Despite the order of releases being shuffled around from what was originally proposed, it all worked out beautifully with regards to building Feral Rex from the ground up and generating anticipation, excitement and suspense. Can you imagine if we had Talon first and then Bovis? Not a lot was going to happen between a leg and an arm, but as it happened, one leg became two, followed by a torso on legs that became a one armed monster and then the majestic overlord himself.
Every step has allowed us to gently construct not just the combined robot and visualise the scale and grandeur of the final product, but also create the intricate combined Oppenheimer sword, whereas the cannon really only came together with the release of Tigris and the large arm cannon to which all other guns connect. It’s also been very interesting for me to see how the addition of each figure to the tapestry has altered the perceived proportions, weight distribution, effectiveness of joints/supports and general physics of the work-in-progress combiner. For example, ever since Talon – the first arm – was added to the combined form, I found my Feral Rex required the use of the tiny black tabs in the heels of the grey feet. Swinging them up and jamming them against the ball joint of the combined robot’s ankle allowed me to prevent lean-back. You can see this in action in the last photograph above.
Adding Tigris, the finished cannon and sword to the overall mass of Feral Rex meant that he started to lean forwards and that changed the dynamics of the posing I was employing as well as how I positioned individual joints. I wanted my Feral Rex to be as tall and imposing as possible, so I sacrificed the suspension of disbelief and left the fully-extended Leo Dux thighs uncovered in combined mode to achieve the greatest height. This initially had frustrating implications for posing, stability and ease of adjustment. I was often left thinking why the left side of the figure looked higher than the right, but there was always something, and by a process of elimination – no bend in connections at the feet, no bend in Leo’s knees, no difference in angle at Leo’s thighs, no difference in leg extension – I was able to straighten him up and he would hold. Whether the extensions in Leo Dux’s legs will hold over time and allow me to display Feral Rex in this tall configuration remains to be seen.
Since Feral Rex, Quakewave, Scoria, Bluster and Trench are my only 3rd Party toys, I am still massively impressed by the idea of a posable and highly articulated combiner that pulls off the visuals so beautifully. And that is a fact, despite being a thing of horror in the Decepticon ranks, Feral Rex is also a thing of unquestionable beauty and stature. It doesn’t even matter that future combiners will be taller or wider, this is Predaking and that will always be a trump card. Mastermind Creations will be remembered for the ones who got it right first, and who would dare take them on now with yet another Predaking? It’s a done deal, a told story. But it’s not perfect, and that is important to accept before you can enjoy it fully.
Using the small black tabs to lock the ankle ball joint can mean that Feral Rex’s range of available poses is limited, and every time you want to do something dynamic, it can get a bit fiddly to adjust the little tabs. The weight and orientation of the joints in the sword handle can also create issues with wild arm posing and weapon wielding, but on the flip side the Oppenheimer sword’s nature is such that multiple configurations are possible. It can be double-bladed or even split into two swords. The fusion cannon can go on either arm, but it does mean that Talon’s tail feathers have to be rotated around to the back of the arm for connection on the left arm. I do find it difficult to pose him without accidentally collapsing the legs or accidentally disconnecting a limb, knocking the waist piece off or causing the splits. I fully accept that this is my own shortcoming though as opposed to anything inherent with the figure.
My personal opinion is that not having a proper waist does not detract from the combined mode, and I actually believe the way everything tabs away at the back of the Feral Rex and around him generally with the beast limbs is very neat. Turning him around and looking at the back, there are actually details to pick out, look at and appreciate instead of flat panels. There’s a significant amount of symmetry and it’s a non-issue, frankly. There is a genuine lack of full elbow articulation and I do feel that MMC’s effort in making the individual members so intricate and brilliant in themselves has meant inevitable combined mode compromise, but I was never going to pose Feral Rex as a runner or climber or Kung-Fu kicker, he was always going to be a massively imposing statue of a figure towering over the rest. But as you can see, if he must, he can be posed. You can do a quick forum search for some of the imaginative poses collectors have managed to squeeze out of the giant.
As far as I’m concerned, as someone who wanted a ‘perfect’ Predaking, Feral Rex is complete. Felisabre will be something I definitely get and will pose alongside the combiner, but won’t integrate as that’s just not the Predaking I’m after. Five incredibly strong and accomplished individual members that make up a stunning and well-proportioned combined robot which captures every ounce of the original’s aesthetic, featuring every modern-toy update you could want means that the hype was justified, the wait was worth it as was the price, and the whole is more – just marginally – than the sum of its considerably impressive parts. This is the Predaking I have always wanted, and I am certain that I am not alone in that sentiment. Long live The King.
All the best