There are no shortage of 3rd Party Transformers-inspired combiners around for collectors to choose from. There are multiple projects – completed and ongoing – covering Predaking, Computron, Bruticus, Menasor, Defensor, Devastator and now Hasbro has entered the fray with Combiner Wars offering an alternative (yet classic) concept, value for money and simplicity with trusted quality over high end collector’s items. Not to mention being able to officially badge it as Transformers, Superion or Menasor. So, in order for a 3rd party combiner to stand out now, it has to be unique. So how appropriate it is that Unique Toys are currently the only company tackling the Terrorcons and the monster combiner Abominus.
What we have here is the Unique Toys “Alberich”, their Not-Rippersnapper, designated O-02 since their Not-Abominus will be called “Ordin – The King Of The Gods”. In a recent poll carried out by TFW member Sid Beckett (CZ Hazard), Unique Toys were selected as the most improved 3rd Party company of the last 12 months. Their earlier figures had come in for a lot of criticism, but recent offerings like the DX9 Invisible, War In Pocket figures and even their first Not-Abominus figure O-01 Troll (Not-Blot) have been very well received and show signs of a significant upturn in quality. Alberich appears to be mostly continuing in that vein.
As I mentioned in my Square One pictorial of Alberich, the whole Ordin team seems to be named after mythical monsters, and Alberich (according to Wikipedia) “is a dwarf, who guards the treasure of the Nibelungen, but is overcome by Siegfried. News of the gold robbery and ring of power incited gods and giants alike to action“. Unique Toys O-02 Alberich comes with a combiner fist as the figure itself forms an arm.
The positives are that he has excellent posability and just begs to be played with and stuck in dynamic stances. The ankle tilts, knees, elbows, shoulders, and waist provide great points of articulation. The robot mode proportions are really nice too, and almost against the figure’s nature of being a beastly horror – certainly it’s nothing like the original G1 Rippersnapper in that regard, but more reminiscent of his animation model, with added colour, highlights and details, all welcome. The thin legs really put me in mind of the Car Robots JRX figure J-Five. They are very stable though, with heel spurs as well.
Negatives are that he wears a shark head and tail on his back but I would not go so far as to call this a shellformer, the leg and arm transformations are too involved for that. There are no wrist swivels and when the hands fold away into the wrists, the flap that covers them doesn’t close in as flush a way as you will have come to expect from Transformers. Also, one of the double-barreled guns that Alberich came packaged with turned up broken, it does look like a fragile connection. Finally, in order to angle the robot head upwards, you have to lift the flap upon which it sits, and that never quite looks right. It’s important to outline these limitations, but it’s also important to mention that they do not hinder enjoyment of the figure. I’ve gone from having no interest in Abominus historically or currently, to actively tracking down a Troll. I’m officially on board with this set.
The robot head is quite nice and shows suitable Decepticon grump, it is also more accurate to the limited animation appearances of Rippersnapper and the Terrorcons in season 3 of the G1 cartoon than the G1 toy who had a mostly blue face and just yellow eyes. I would have loved to see Alberich sporting the sunglasses-type eyes that he seems to have in the animation model. You can see in the screen capture above (courtesy of TFWiki) just how much more detail UT have added to Alberich in robot mode to make him attractive, compared to the vastly simple animation model, and of course, the original G1 figure. You could argue that Rippersnapper had charm in being ridicul0poously stumpy and misshapen as a robot, but Alberich strikes a lovely figure, the sharky parts ensuring he doesn’t stray too far into the realm of the generic robot.
Alberich’s transformation is a good one, very much a pick-up-and-play toy and almost zero concern about possible damage being caused. He seems to follow very classic Transformers-style transformation cues and tricks, no magic moments but I like a figure that I can pick up and play with, never being restricted by the feeling that transforming will be a pain going back the other way. As a result Alberich can be found in beast mode, robot mode and even the excellent arm mode in equal measure when displayed among my collection.
There is one tricky step that I have attempted to illustrate above, where the thighs collapse into the shin cavities for beast and arm mode. You can think of it like the Transformers Animated Ultra Magnus shoulders where there is one piece that never changes its orientation, but rotates on an axle. So, that piece is held still and firm, then when pushed in and pressure applied to the right place, it folds over and slots in perfectly within the space provided. Arms, shark bits, legs etc are very straightforward and intuitive, there’s even a nice part where you compress the back panel onto the torso for land-man-shark mode.
The beast mode is more extended and certainly more lean than the G1 Rippersnapper beast mode, however he is definitely more hunched than in the cartoon. You don’t get the impression that this beast mode is something that can walk about normally, resembling a man with a shark head as in parts of the season 3 show. There is limited articulation in the beast arms as they don’t really fold outwards, and the shark head only really goes up and down a limited amount, not side to side at all. There is no tail articulation either.
Despite all that, it’s got great character. That shark mouth opens quite a bit, allowing for plenty of comedy moments. Just ask my 2 year old daughter. He can also look pretty fierce and aggressive, which surely is precisely the remit of anything called a Terrorcon. The weapons mount on the dorsal fin, and that sort of homages G1 Rippersnapper whose back-mounted gun had a blue fin moulded into the middle of it. In this case, the fin and guns are separate and the fin is more appropriately coloured to match the body of the beast. My only real gripe about the beast mode is the lack of beast head articulation. I don’t even mind the extended torso and the gap they’ve worked hard to try and mask between the top and bottom halves of the beast. I hope it’s just an issue with the test shot, but the grey cap on the beast mode head comes off very regularly on my Alberich.
Quite like the MMC Feralcons, Alberich has a distinctly techno-organic appearance, clearly metallic and robotic. I personally prefer my Transformers beasts to look far more technological than organic. Beware though, as there are a few sharp points here and there. Paint application across this figure, considering it is a test shot that I received with no paperwork or packaging, is very encouraging. Only one of the robot eyes showed flaws.
What I really like about this figure is how good the combiner arm mode is. Not since MMC Bovis have I been so happy to readily include the limb mode as a display option. Alberich can even be stood up in arm mode! There is an extension that you must execute at the waist revealing a dedicated combiner elbow joint. The attachment of the exceptionally nice and well-articulated, beautifully coloured Ordin hand is super simple and effective. Upper and forearm proportions are great, they work so well with the size and proportions of the hand itself and they make me massively excited for the final combined form of Ordin. The beast arms and legs seem a little messy in the above photos, I’ve since found a slightly neater way of lining them up in this mode.
The above image should give you a good idea of how Alberich scales with other contemporary releases that are well known. Certainly in relation to Masterpiece-type products he doesn’t seem vastly out of scale, and even if it is intended as a Generations/Classics scale combiner, that hasn’t stopped people putting their Feral Rex with MP toys.
So what do you get for your money? A very solid feeling and looking representation of a G1 Terrorcon (more cartoon than toy) that has extremely believable modes, including a great limb mode. You get a repeatable and enjoyable transformation that on the whole has no scary moments, but then again no genius moments either. Would I have liked wrist swivels and opening hands, articulated beast neck and tail at this price point? Yes, because that’s pretty much what I would have gotten from a Feralcon. Aesthetically, it’s right up there with Feralcons (in fact people thought Troll was MMC at first!) and I’m more likely to transform Alberich. This item has got me totally on board with Ordin and UT whereas before the whole thing passed beneath my radar. What more could I ask for? Alberich is much more than just a step to a completed combiner, more than just Ordin’s arm, but when he is an arm, what an arm he is!
All the best