Surely about 5 years ago, something like this would have been completely inconceivable? A high quality transformers product created by a new company, completely unaffiliated with the official manufacturers and based entirely on an original character created for an official Transformers comic by a fanfic writer who made it and illustrated by a fan artist who made it. If Mastermind Creations Cynicus is not worthy of “For the fans, by the fans”, I don’t know what is. Based on the IDW More Than Meets The Eye original Decepticon Justice Division character “Vos”, MMC’s Cynicus takes the vision of James Roberts with the visual execution of Alex Milne and gives it form. The DJD’s newest member has a toy.
When you consider that a lot of 3rd Party companies are now producing Masterpiece-esque figures to appeal to a very strong buying segment of the fandom, a figure like Mastermind Creations Reformatted R-12 Cynicus is a relative breath of fresh air. A reminder of how 3rd Party companies would do things Hasbro and Takara may never bother with for Transformers. Having given us Terminus Hexatron (Sixshot), the Feralcons (Predacons), Azalea and her female mould-mates (Arcee, Paradron Medic, Elita-1 etc), MMC have now turned their attention to more IDW-inspired figures.
MTMTE’s popular Decepticon Justice Division are the direct influence behind MMC’s next batch of figures. With R-13 Anarchus (Kaon) and R-18 Kultur (Tarn) on the cards, those who wanted the DJD in their toy collection have had their prayers answered. They will have to wait until Roberts & Milne show off Helex and Tesarus’ alt modes before they can get started on the rest, though! Introduced properly for the first time in MTMTE issues 7 and 8, fans have had the DJD’s development drip fed to them, with more significant appearances in season 2 issues #34 and #39. Without spoiling anything for the uninitiated, the five members of the DJD are named after the first five cities a rebellious upstart Megatron ‘liberated’, so “Vos” was the name of a city and a sort of title rather than the actual character’s name. Before this Vos there was another Vos, as hinted to in MTMTE issue #29. And the new Vos is who R-12 Cynicus is referencing, or rather, precisely replicating.
Cynicus takes a very spindly and petite robot with huge feet and turns it into a sniper rifle that has been seen being held by various other DJD members and even Megatron in the pages of MTMTE. The rifle mode has 3mm and 5mm pegs for holding by other figures, and a dedicated gun handle that attaches allowing MMC Feral Rex to hold him. He features a new comic arc for the MMC figures called “Issue 12 – Lucrative Job” and the now essential collector’s card. Don’t know if anyone displays them all, especially for obscure characters, but who wants to be the first company to start leaving the suckers out? Exactly.
On first handling, it gave me the sense of “Yes, this is definitely MMC quality”. It had the feel of Felisaber but with Azalea’s added delicate stature. Like Azalea, posing Cynicus how you want is more complex than with a blocky chunky Feralcon. There are so many moving parts, especially with the abdominal articulation, waist articulation, thighs and hips etc, that one move of a limb necessitates another to balance it all out. I found idle stances to be the hardest, aiming for symmetry. This is no issue though, if anything the lovely nature of the robot makes you focus on minutiae such as that. The ankle and foot articulation is great, but not immediately like anything else I own. There is no simple ball and socket interaction between foot and ankle, the feet are connected to the legs via a separate connector. While it works, the grey plastic connector looks prone to stressing if abused.
The proportions are excellent across Cynicus, so kneeling, running and dynamic posing in general is a joy to undertake, leading to many photo opportunities and expressive stances. Believable ones at that. He is immensely solid when standing due to the size of his feet and quality weight distribution, even with the majority of the sniper rifle attached to the backpack. You can see that the sniper rifle can be slung over his shoulder, stored on his back or even separated and used as a hand weapon – held or self-standing. The blaster connects to the back of the sniper rifle to extend it and aid with it being held by Cynicus in robot mode.
Cynicus may look very kibbly, but he is extremely faithful to Alex Milne’s illustrations in More Than Meets The Eye in proportions and storage of parts, right down to the weird double-handle that hangs down from his right elbow. The images may make Cynicus look dark grey or black, but he is definitely purple. The lovely paint application on his highlights again homage the comic character’s appearance well, I really do not believe MMC could have done a better job of representing Vos in toy form, there’s truly no doubting how well they’ve nailed his aesthetic. Whether that aesthetic, or even that character, will appeal to a majority of collectors and MMC’s regular customers is another question. Vos is super spindly and small with bits of gun coming off him everywhere in MTMTE, and Cynicus does all that too in the right places. I love MTMTE, I like the DJD and I particularly like Vos, so Cynicus was right up my street. The added amount of interaction one can enjoy between figure and accessories is an enormous bonus.
Speaking of accessories, Cynicus comes with an extra robot head and a face mask whose interior is teeming with spikes. That references Vos’s ability to remove his facemask, leaving a very dead and blank face underneath, and making others wear his mask avec beacoup spikes as a form of torture. That is what the DJD are, after all, a bunch of depraved, bloodthirsty and murderous bastards. Apparently. So technically, the mask does not detach or attach, you actually have to use a second head to make it look like Cynicus has removed his mask. This second head and its spiky mask are not painted either, which is a really big shame. I will be getting both parts customised immediately and slapping a Decepticon sticker on the large space provided on Cynicus’s chest.
There was simply no way MMC would have been able to get away with doing such a niche and obscure character (in that most will not have needed a toy of it) without allowing him to recreate Vos’s most memorable action to date.
Going back to the regular Vos head, it really is beautiful. So accurate and so detailed, one of the best MMC head sculpts to date with some of the best neck articulation they’ve managed. To make a masked face expressive takes work.
Once you get over all the possible poses and configurations Cynicus is capable of as a robot, thoughts eventually turn to transformation. You would be forgiven for fearing a similar experience to Azalea, where a super-lithe and poseable robot somehow contorts frustratingly and reluctantly into a makeshift alternate mode, leaving one with no interest in repeating the procedure ever again. For a start, remember how RID Side Burn was touted as one of the hardest transformations ever? Go back and try it now, you’ll ask yourself what all the fuss was about. For this photo shoot the same thing happened to me with Azalea. It’s been a few months now, and I cycled through her modes with ease, can’t see what all my own fussing was about. Mercifully, Cynicus’s transformation is much more user-friendly straight off the bat.
I will admit to a few “You what?!” moments when transforming Cynicus for the first time using the instructions, but those were interspersed with moments of “hah, that’s nice”, and it is a fun transformation with quality touches that have my appreciation sewn up. He actually is the type of figure I can walk past on my shelf, pick up and transform to alt mode then back. It isn’t as immediately transformable as a Combiner Wars deluxe, but it’s not Azalea, not by a long shot.
I have to say, you need to be really careful what you do with the grey connecting arm that runs between his abdomen and the backpack, that can and will stress if pushed in a direction it does not intend to go, and that’s very possible when you are mucking about trying to move the backpack around in robot mode to achieve interesting poses and configurations. I did it myself to my own specimen during the photo shoot. You must also be wary of the rings that hold the mini shoulder wings on. They are thin and look dangerously likely to break, meaning you’ll have no way of connecting those shoulder wings to Cynicus’s arms.
Having carried out the conversion about 4 times now, and being wary of the danger spots, I just transformed Cynicus from robot with parts attached to sniper rifle with all bits aligned and standing in six and a half minutes. Sure there are quicker Masterpiece conversions, but 6 mins is about the limit of a fun small figure transformation for me, and with this level of intricacy and delicate arrangement, I think it’s more than acceptable. Good, even.
Being a rifle, the intention is that Cynicus can interact with other figures. I tried it with Hexatron and was not particularly impressed with the results. The Feral Rex handle is too large so I tried to use the 3/5mm pegs, but Hexatron’s hands and the way his wrists and arms are set up just didn’t allow for a flush grip or anything I could call satisfactory. With Feral Rex and the specially included pegs on the handle for secure grip in those gigantic spiked hands of his, Cynicus looks at home. However, the way Cynicus’s feet protrude from top and bottom of the end of the rifle make it more awkward than you’d imagine at first. For a start, I could not get Rex to hold him in the Tigris hand, I had to get the Talon hand to hold him. Even then I needed to fold up the robot Cynicus heels to get a secure fit without obstruction. I was very very pleased with the result, though. The above image also helps illustrate the purple colour of Cynicus very well.
Cynicus is a fun figure, but how much of me is being influenced by my appreciation of his comic persona and the excellent representation of that MMC have produced compared to a simple evaluation of this thing as a collectible transforming action figure? Despite my love for MTMTE, I was not crying out for a Vos figure, or any DJD members actually. There are other things I want MMC to do, namely Carnifex (Overlord) and especially Grandus Hexatron (Greatshot). However, it does make me happy that someone is doing a non-Masterpiece niche set of figures, because that strikes me as precisely what a 3rd party company should be doing, giving us stuff we’d otherwise never get officially. Of all the companies out there, it’s MMC I’d trust with this, too. Cynicus has clearly been made with love, he’s almost the perfect Vos.
If I were to judge Cynicus purely as a transforming action figure by a 3rd party company, I’d say it is a supremely well-articulated and well-presented figure. Its long term durability is going to depend on how careful the owner is with its sensitive parts, because there is risk of damage, so I’d rate it just a touch too fragile in places. The nature of the figure is such that it encourages me to transform it. Without the back story and comic persona/significance, there’s not enough there for me to leave him in one mode too long, but I like the transformation so that’s a plus. There is a lot of interactivity there with other notable figures and within itself, and the configurations for storing and using the accessories in robot mode make for much enjoyment and play value. The rifle mode is cool and solid enough that you can shake it and it all stays aligned and attached. It’s a decent, interesting and well-made enough to be a standalone curiosity in most collections.
It’s not standalone, though. This is a Decepticon. This is Vos, and his story is being handled by the most capable Transformers fiction writer in the history of the brand, in my opinion. The gorgeous visuals he has been given by Alex Milne are superbly translated into plastic, and I know the artist himself was interested in MMC’s DJD project although he could not officially take such a stance. This is a bold move for MMC, while everyone is benefiting from Masterpiece mimicking, they’ve gone for something supremely specific and as well as they have fulfilled their brief, I just don’t know how well a line of DJD figures at Classics scale will perform for them in the long run compared to combiners or MP-style releases. I’m just thrilled this thing exists, that they’ve done it, and that I have it.
All the best