Seriously? A fourth Unique Toys/DX9 3rd party figure review in 6 weeks? Don’t blame me, blame what must currently be the most prolific 3rd party company on the scene. Not even a month has passed since the second UT Ordin combiner limb “Alberich” hit online stores and their stock of 3rd member “Fenrir” is already on its way. O-03 Fenrir is of course modern day IP theft speak for “Sinnertwin”, the two-headed Terrorcon that helped form Abominus. The name “Fenrir” makes reference to the giant wolf creature (with very much one head) from Nordic mythology, staying consistent with the naming theme employed thus far with Troll and Alberich.
I have an interesting history with Sinnertwin which is neither historic nor interesting. Almost immediately after I got back into adult Transformers collecting around 1998, my dad found me a “Transformer” from a local flea market and I had never seen it before. It was a silly little mega-simplified horror of un-articulated limbs and wildly jarring proportions. G1 Sinnertwin was not of the same universe to the Transformers I grew up with. It was instantly placed on Yahoo UK auctions (remember those?). This was long before I was able to appreciate the vast variety of G1 Transformers, let alone modern lines. It doesn’t get more modern than 3rd party re-interpretations and updates of ancient G1 toys and characters. With Hasbro allegedly stepping up their game in Combiner Wars to combat the onslaught of 3P combiners, UT have hit onto a real novelty – allowing collectors to get their 3rd party combiners finished in a short time!
Troll and Alberich had already far surpassed the original figures they were based on, and in fact are now challenging MMC for best combiner honours in the opinion of those very much invested in Ordin and Unique Toys’ Abominus. Partly, we must give credit because nobody else is tackling the Terrorcons, but Troll and Alberich have been genuinely good toys, and Fenrir continues that trend admirably. Packing another giant Ordin foot which has detachable guns, as well as a pair of rubbery beast tails/sickles, there’s no shortage of items to attach to Fenrir. The immediately bewitching yellow and teal colours of Fenrir are augmented with purple tails and the now-standard Ordin plum/rosewood extremities.
A quick glance at the above photographs will leave you in no doubt about the excellent posability of Fenrir. While there is no outward ankle articulation, more extreme poses like high-speed sprinting are supported by a solid heel spur. The feet are a definite copy of the Alberich mould, and the way the knees are formed contains echoes of that figure also. Fenrir’s considerable upper body bulk gives him a Troll-like appearance, but a dash of uniqueness can be added by swinging the two beast heads up and over his shoulder.
Stability, solidity of the plastic parts and general feel of the figure are brilliant. UT move closer to MMC by the figure in terms of quality. My only concerns are how the rubber handles on the sickles get scuffed easily when placed in his hands, and the feet on my Fenrir were a little loose at the pivot, but since he spends most of his time standing on them it never directly creates an issue. I also like how they’ve returned to giving their Ordin bots a wrist swivel, Alberich really did suffer for missing out on that.
While the head has more articulation than Alberich’s did, it’s still a ball joint very close to a folding panel so he cannot look directly up or particularly far down. The head sculpt itself is my favourite of the three so far. There’s still a minor Scramble City peg-head aesthetic being observed here, but he is plenty distinct enough from Troll and Alberich containing a welcomed return to the sunglass-like eyeband. Instead of a toy-style teal face with silver eyes, he more closely resembles Sinnertwin’s rare cartoon appearances.
I feel as though everything that didn’t quite measure up to expectation functionally on Troll and Alberich has been addressed on Fenrir, but that hasn’t yet elevated him to the status of spectacular, but merely ‘very good’ as with the others. For example, the panels that open on the forearm to hide the robot fists now close flush unlike Alberich. The beast heads have considerably more articulation than Alberich or Troll, the jaws open and close giving room for plenty of expressive poses.
The transformation is nowhere near as bamboozling as Troll’s, and carries over the best features of each Ordin-bot so far. It’s fun and engaging, but not at all complex. Eveything makes perfect sense and this makes Fenrir easy to play with and pose as desired, robot or beast. The rear beast legs fold away quite tidily and impressively for robot mode meaning that they aren’t exposed on the outer robot legs, only jutting out a bit when viewed from behind. Some say UT are making the bots progressively less impressive with every release, but I think this is completely unfair. Messing with Fenrir leaves me in no doubt that it’s the standout figure in terms of quality and solutions so far, while Troll is still possibly the most imaginative.
Fenrir sits strangely between the domains of a techno-organic two-headed beast with appropriate articulation and that of a very G1-esque update to the point where the elongated beast body and squared off rump seem unwelcome. I cannot deny that I truly like how much posability there is in the beast heads and the legs, down to the paws being able to swivel at the ankle and bend at the claws. It’s a hugely expressive beast mode even if it does go on forever and resemble a 2-headed table. Despite that, and the gigantic Ordin foot/backpack, I can’t stop having fun every time I handle the figure. If you can pose it limited only by your imagination, if you can make it do what you see in your head and you have confidence that nothing will break, then you are very far along the road to having a brilliant figure.
Oh yes, now we’re talking. The bigger picture. Just like Troll and Alberich, Fenrir cuts a fine combiner limb. I maintain that these look every bit as neat as the Feralcons in combiner mode, if not moreso. From the front, anyway, as the back on Fenrir’s leg mode is busy and bulky with folded kibble. You don’t get the unique beast character coming through in leg mode as you do with Bovis and Fortis. It is of course a shame that Ordin will not have the limb interchange facility that the original Abominus did, but that’s the nature of the design. I guess if you have no immediate competition, you can do it as you please within reason. The two Ordin legs feel solid as a rock, but the true test will come when the weight of three more figures and combiner parts are mounted upon them.
Without a doubt there is a shared aesthetic and design philosophy behind all 3 Ordin releases to date, but each stands out for different reasons. Troll probably has the best robot mode, Fenrir the best beast mode and Alberich doing both modes relatively well. While Troll and Alberich had semi-comic beast modes, I feel Fenrir has crossed a line where it tries to take itself a bit more seriously, and that comes directly from the source material. It is also nothing to look down on Fenrir for, I’m far more likely to pick him up for a play than Troll or Alberich. I love how everything clips together beautifully – the forearm flaps, the Tetris geometry of the rear beast legs when folded up and the flush fit of the two leg halves in combiner mode. This gentle upward trend bodes incredibly well for Unique Toys’ take on Cutthroat, Hun-Grr and, ultimately, Abominus.
All the best