Felisaber & The New King

I’ll admit, after receiving Tigris and being able to form the mighty Feral Rex as a modern update of the fully combined Predaking, I felt as though MMC’s Feralcon project had been completed. I knew Felisaber was due, and that he was integral to the Battle For Moritorus story line accompanying the Reformatted line of 3rd Party figures, but he wasn’t an original Predacon and thus purely an added bonus to increase the playability and interactivity of the set. Based on the Pretender beast Catilla, R-07 Felisaber, the Mercenary Surveillant, is a re-tooled version of Tigris and therefore nowhere near as anticipated as the other Feralcons. But then the figure arrived, and I understood. 

I have enjoyed the Feralcons enormously, they’ve expanded my horizons, met my expectations and thrilled me as a collector and toy lover. Not everyone will have been as sold on Felisaber as I was, and I believe Mastermind Creations are fully aware of this. Not being a new base mould, MMC had to add enough incentive to the set for collectors to feel attracted to – or obligated to – pick R-07 up and complete the originally intended line up of six Feralcons. As a result, Felisaber comes with his handgun and “Gauntlet” (beast helmet), two gorgeous collectors’ cards including one for the new Feral Rex “Ultimate” combined mode, new robot faces for Bovis and Fortis, red hooves for Bovis and a “Friction Kit” addressing many collectors’ complaints with the combined form not being able to support itself. The Kit includes friction-creating pads to be stuck on underneath Feral Rex’s feet. No swords for Felisaber. The last chapter in the Battle For Moritorus, penned by the hugely capable Ceno Kibble (now publicly going under the moniker CZ Hazard), is also included in the set. A wonderful addition as with all previous Ferals and Reformatted figures. There are no extra concept drawings this time, though.

Releasing Felisaber from his prison I was struck by two quite profound feelings. First of all, a bittersweet emotion, the Feralcons have all been wonderful forays into the world of Generation 1 re-imagined and improved upon with some of the best creativity, execution and presentation available in the 3rd Party scene. With Felisaber being the last of the Feralcon team, official closure has descended upon this magnificent project.

The second feeling I won’t forget is just what a high quality product Felisaber is. I’ve been raving about FansToys, Unique Toys, DX-9 and GigaPower recently, but this is something else. The inherent feel of durability, strength, tightness and hold, those insanely good ratcheting joints and the completely irresistible call of the figure to touch it, play with it, pose it and never put it down elevate this product above virtually anything I have handled recently. I know MMC get all the credit they deserve, but seriously they do NOT get all the credit they deserve. Just look at this…

That is some unrivalled poise, balance and strength in a wrist joint that speaks volumes about weight distribution and tolerances. There is no Photoshop trickery in the above image and no hidden supports, Felisaber can achieve that all on his own merits. You will have guessed by now that the posability and articulation is off the scale:

The colour palette is clearly based on the original 1988 Autobot Pretender Catilla, so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for manoeuvre there for MMC to make him reflect the colour of the others, but he provides a bit more yellow in the team that previously only Fortis and Leo Dux were representing. The grey shoulders and helmet, along with the harmonious use of yellow and black make Felisaber an attractive bot. The gorgeous sabre-tooth tiger head on his chest, coupled with the Battle Cat-style beast helmet that he wears as a shield give him a…feral look. Downsides, I guess, are the blind trial and error process of attaching the beast helmet to his arm and the front paws of the beast just hanging off his wrists like Tigris had. Accuracy aside, I would have loved to see some more interesting shapes on his head sculpt, it’s a little generic currently. The outer leg kibble usually gets a free pass on the Ferals, but I’m sure it will jar with some. Occasionally, we can forgive kibble because its absence would render whole bots too generic and featureless with no distinguished sections, although Feli would still have his tiger head chest.

The transformation to sabre-tooth tiger mode mirrors that of Tigris, except now with proper experience of how to handle the folded away hind legs the whole thing is a complete breeze and thoroughly enjoyable. Everything feels solid enough to take the abuse we would give it as a collector, there’s waist twisting, flap opening, leg unfolding, collar sliding etc, everything you need for a satisfying and engaging conversion. Depending on how you want to pose Felisaber in this mode, the double waist swivel mechanism can be used to allow the Feral Rex combiner arm elbow joint to act as a longitudinal or latitudinal point of waist articulation for the beast.

Adding the helmet turns him into Catilla, or Battle Cat! I prefer the look of Felisaber without the helmet, and yet am grateful for its addition, especially when he lacks the multiple guns and blades that helped augment the other Feralcons’ beast modes. Again, there’s enough strength in the joints to support dynamic posing and even a full on pounce or crouch. The helmet does hide that fantastic beast eyeband that makes Felisaber so unique looking among the Ferals in this configuration, so I normally leave the beast helmet for use as a shield in robot mode. Interesting that the eyeband on the sabre-tooth tiger’s head is red, but his helmet’s eyes are blue like the original Autobot Pretender Beast. Having said that,. the original Catilla only had blue eyes on the inner figure, the shell had lifeless black eyes and the helmet just had holes for eyes.

You could be forgiven for thinking, with all the accessories and extras that come packed with Felisaber, the figure himself is the bonus! In addition to the accessories, upgrades, fixes etc, you get a tiny figurine hidden away in the chest compartment that some thought would be Death’s Head – but is in fact Fernando, the Mastermind Creations logo/mascot penguin. He doesn’t come with any skis, and he’s not really called Fernando. But he does have some leg articulation! People have wondered what the point of this is, but watch the first person who gets a Felisaber without Fernando engage in a full on stratospheric freak out. Like Tigris, if you ordered from Planet Steel Express, you would have gotten an extra chromed accessory, this time the handgun in shiny spec.

On the subject of extras, above you can see Bovis with new red hooves to mimic his G1 appearance and – in my opinion – a slightly improved facial expression with the new face. You’d better really be interested in seeing these new parts on the associated figure because after trying to attach those four hooves to Bovis, the sheer pressure and force required to get the balls into the new sockets left me in pain.

And as for replacing the face, the rigmarole of having to first of all un-clip the beast head, then unscrew the face, separating the two halves then reattaching – remembering to not screw the head together before putting it back on its pivot (attach half the head to the pegs first, then snap on second half then screw in) – ensured that with Fortis I just photographed the new head alongside the old. Not doing that again, however pleased I was with the result! Interestingly, Bovis looks great in robot mode with the added red highlights provided by the red hooves, but I feel as though something is lacking in beast mode where they were primarily intended to provide a G1 effect.

Some do still complain that Feral Rex’s offensively large Oppenheimer sword is over the top large (although not too many of them have been owners), so Felisaber’s instructions show how to construct two smaller but almost more complex blades. I still marvel at the engineering and design that has gone into the creation of such interchangeable combining weaponry. Felisaber’s gun also attaches to the underside of the main Leo Dux barrel to further enhance the huge cannon Feral Rex can wield.

Did someone say Feral Rex? Yes. Yes they did, the time has come.

What you see here in the last 2 photographs is the Feral Rex “Ultimate” combined mode with Dual Blade configuration, new expanded 9-piece cannon, even the Felisaber Gauntlet can be mounted on Rex’s shoulder. Talon has been transferred around the back meaning the wings are now further from Rex’s back, all this allowing Felisaber to become the left arm. I have to admit he looks a bit more patchwork with the large yellow arm as opposed to the mostly orange scheme he had with Talon as the limb. The weight is also considerable, meaning I worry more about the lasting power of those extensions in Leo Dux’s thighs. The clips on the Feral Rex feet that can be folded up to jam against the ball joints are even more necessary now to create stability but it’s possible. I have done it in these pictures and without the use of the Friction Kit. It’s still Feral Rex and the added symmetry of the arms does add something to the look, but it’s not quite Predaking in the original sense any more and that’s what I bought into originally.

I love that Felisaber can combine with the other 5 to create a super-Feral Rex, but my preference is to have him separate and a kind of guide for the combined beast, leading them to their next target or mission. I suspect one or two might keep the thing in Ultimate combined mode for reasons of space-saving! I considered it myself.

One thing this whole Felisaber review process has reminded me of, and even more profoundly so at a time when my 3rd party reviewing and sampling has expanded to cover more companies and items, is just how exceptional the individual figures that make up Feral Rex are. They are so good that many of my fellow collecting friends no longer agree that Rex is more or even equal to the sum of his parts, but I still maintain that he is, primarily out of my deep and enduring adoration of Predaking and MMC’s execution of it. That said, taking Rex apart and posing, transforming or just handling the individual Feralcons for the above photos has been amazing.

Such accomplished figures in themselves, with the added bonus of a spectacular combined form, now have an additional member that ticks every single box the first five did and seemingly improves on overall quality and feel compared to any of the previous five with the exception of Leo Dux. The fact that he was never a Predacon, and that he’s just a re-tool of Tigris, counts against most collectors’ desire to own Felisaber. One could also argue that MMC’s sweetening of the accessory pot could do equal amounts of harm as good, but from the moment Felisaber was released from the packaging his relevance was clear to me. He proves that a figure referencing a Pretender can have nothing to do with filling a Masterpiece hole, and yet can still be desirable, magical and at the top of the quality pile.

You can buy your Reformatted R-07 Felisaber at TFSource here.

All the best

About Maz

Diaclone and TF collector & writer from the UK. I also write for & own TF-1.com and TFSquareone.


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