The ‘3PMP’ conveyor belt produces another specimen, welcome KFC’s Ditka from their E.A.V.I. Metal range of figures. This huge triplechanger goes up against the excellent DX9 Gewalt, and just like Gewalt there are compromises both visually and structurally, so the choice is yours regarding what your collecting priorities are. KFC’s products are often heavily scrutinised for quality control issues, durability and complexity of transformation, so let’s see how Ditka measures up, and how Masterpiece he is.
In the past I have not gotten on well with KFC and XTB’s (X-Transbots) figures. I was turned off Transistor, Apollyon, Ollie and Boost immediately upon first handling, and had a negative experience with both KFC Micro Robos I had. Handling Andras was a good experience, it felt like they had come a long way. I was, therefore, apprehensive about reviewing Ditka. The figure I am reviewing is a second iteration of the test shot and comes with some significant changes compared to the first test shot. For a start, the colour is less sandy beige and more olive green in hue. This has displeased those who wanted a more accurate Generation 1 colour for their evil triplechanger Masterpiece. On the plus side for the cartoon crowd, KFC have painted the midriff white and the robot’s face is now silver like the cartoon, not purple like the original toy. The jet canopy and small window on the turret are now translucent red instead of totally clear.
Ditka comes with the signature sword and handgun for this character, a flight stand, as well as an episode specific American football. There is also a large and small sprued set of parts like missiles etc to use with the alt modes. He has an extra face based on the monocled personality from his TF: Animated incarnation, as well as two working missile launchers and their associated rockets. They are spring-loaded and fire potently. I cannot stress how cool this is, finally to have a 3P (or official!) Masterpiece-style toy with actual working missile launchers. A fantastic addition and sorely missed across the other toys at this scale!
Onto the robot mode, then. He looks rather accurate and spiffing, doesn’t he? Well, if you can get your mind off the colour disparity between this test shot (presumably final) and the original toy or screen representation. Ditka is heavy due to considerable die cast content and quite top heavy. I like how the tank barrel can be displayed so prominently in robot mode, as well as the range of movement in the head which only briefly gets obstructed by the rails inside the neck cavity. On my specimen, the chest flap did not lock in properly so I often had to nudge it back in to keep everything flush for photos. This was also my first experience of the fully articulated KFC-style hands, and there is no doubt they are massively expressive, offering an abundance of poses and display options. On this test shot, two of the fingers were super loose at the base ball joint. Considering how many directions those fingers can go, they can occasionally be a little unwieldy.
Weapon grip is pretty decent, although the grip offered by wrapping the fingers and thumbs around the accessories is not that great, they can come out of the hand when knocked. The sword is translucent and lights up, and looks pretty badass. The handgun is not completely accurate to the toy, but also has fold-in parts for easy storage. Both weapons can be stored on the wings or on the back. I personally also love having Ditka in robot mode with both missile launchers still attached to the wings. You might have noticed that I do not show Ditka very often with the small vertical tailfins pointing down as instructed. This is because they are supremely loose on this sample and it’s been a challenge to get them to stay where I want them in either mode, especially annoying for jet mode. I wish they weren’t die cast metal, in all honesty.
Posing Ditka is very tricky in robot mode, as he has a tendency to topple. This is exacerbated by the highly limited movement in the hips. There is a decent waist swivel, but trying to spread the legs at the hip or get good bend at the knees with aforementioned spread is hard. This was probably my biggest frustration in handling him. The knees seemed slightly weak too, with the whole figure wanting to fall backwards starting at those joints. There is good movement in the ankles, it’s just a shame they didn’t have enough friction or strength to support Ditka on one leg for what would have been a lovely running pose. The feet extend outwards quite significantly if you want to engage the extra prongs for added stability. The problem is that they are die cast and painted purple, but not too well because they flake paint profusely. I had flecks of purple on my fingers every time I handled them, they also flopped a bit so the required stability is not completely achieved through their addition.
There is some good motion in the shoulders and a double-jointed elbow. The hands are hyper-articulated of course. If you want to move the elbows backwards, they are obstructed by the large wings behind them, something of a shame. You can see that Ditka towers over the Masterpiece coneheads, but this isn’t so bad to my eye. Gewalt did the same, and I proved that had precedent by using the 1986 Japanese Generation 1 Goodbye Megatron poster. I like this character to appear larger and therefore his size works for me, but it doesn’t for everyone, understandably. Aesthetically, I think he’s a good fit and KFC have gotten a lot of the detailing on him right.
Ditka has a really nice headsculpt, the right colours and proportions, a consistent set of features when compared to the show-accurate Masterpiece crew he’s supposed to hang with. The alternate head doesn’t work for me, I honestly believe it belongs firmly in the Animated universe where it is core to the character’s schizophrenic persona. Replacing heads requires no unscrewing, mercifully, you just ping it off the neck where hemispherical nubs sit inside hemispherical recesses.
Transforming Ditka to – or from – robot mode is not as enjoyable as the transformation on Gewalt. I’ve actually cut myself on Ditka’s pointy and sharp edges more than once. The collapsing of the robot legs is particularly stressful. I do, however, like how the shoulders/tank treads collapse and how the nose of the plane folds up and into the chest. I do have one tank tread panel that keeps flying off the shoulder, mind. The hands and arms are super-straightforward, as are the feet. Getting the whole shoulder assembly unplugged from the torso to swing down is a thing, you’ll find that a very heavy section that requires rotating down and then around is connected to the toy for a while there by what appears to be an insufficiently small and delicate joint. Be careful here, a big slip or drop and you could find Ditka down one arm/wing/shoulder. I haven’t seen any damage on my specimen and I’ve transformed this section multiple times, but just be careful. It seems that both KFC and DX9 have constructed their triplechanger to require the movement of great big panels and heavy sections in sweeping motions, this creates moments of awkward handling where an already-large toy can be splayed out in front of you and cumbersome to manipulate. I should stress, these concerns and criticisms of the transformation are specific to arrival at and departure from robot mode.
I have to say, the tank mode on Ditka is absolutely glorious. It is so obviously a tank and totally faithful to the original inspiration, I really love it. The tank rolls and has a rotating turret on a ratchet (it can be removed). The barrel extends quite some way, and once it is fully extended, the barrel can be pointed upwards. This is by far Ditka’s strongest mode, massively outshining Gewalt’s tank configuration. Brilliant, sincerely. Everything on it fits together well and he’s solid. There are opening hatches on the roof that fit Diaclone pilots rather nicely, which will be great if KFC ever do a dark green and grey Diaclone-themed repaint.
The only issue I can find with Ditka’s tank mode, other than the fact that I forgot to rotate the thrusters for the pictures, is that the tiny pegs don’t sit in the designated holes. This can be seen in the close ups above of where the jet nose has folded into the body. That’s quite a 3rd party thing, though, isn’t it? Tiny tabs and pegs and the occasional misalignment or lack of secure tabbing. There’s more of that with Ditka’s little tabs in jet mode.
From the above photos you can get a decent appreciation of Ditka’s relative size in tank mode. Scales rather well with the Decepticon jets, although you can also see how much of a disparity there is in colour between the G1 figure and the KFC offering. This, if anything, may be most responsible for people skipping Ditka. Don’t put it past KFC to later offer Ditka in more accurate colours, they have form in this regard.
Transformation between tank and jet mode is absolutely fine, nothing difficult there and highly repeatable. The splitting and rotating of the front landing gear is especially clever, really like that bit! Visually, this mode is very accurate to the original toy, but for some, too accurate. It doesn’t represent a real life MIG jet as well as Gewalt did, but it once again depends on what your aesthetic preferences and collection priorities are. Sorry once more for leaving the thrusters rotated incorrectly at the back of the jet above! I think I prefer the jet mode here on Ditka between the two 3PMP offerings thus far. The undercarriage – aka upside down turret – is a point of contention too. It’s not enough to just fold out the wheels on the top of the turret because he has a tendency to lean back again and do a wheelie! What you have to do is fold down the large panel at the back of the turret, as a reward you get stability in jet mode and a set of extra thrusters revealed. You can also see those excellent firing missile launchers attached to the wings.
You can extend the nose out on its rails a little further to stop it seeming disproportionately small, but then you cannot engage the tiny cylindrical tabs to lock it into place. Then again if you look under the nose, there’s a tab and recess pair there that won’t align or tab correctly anyway. The downward sloping intakes on either side of the nosecone have also jarred with some, visually. Originally these would have been angled the same as they are on the Seekers, but they are mostly static so robot mode proportions took priority with the design here, it seems. Those giant unsightly square holes on the side of the fuselage are where the big shoulder tabs plug in. I can actually forgive all of the above because I really like Ditka’s jet (and tank) mode, but the thing that bothers me most – again – is the heavy die cast of the vertical tail fins. They regularly rotate out of position under their own weight and the lack of friction at the pinned joint. You may also have noticed that the large flat panels that sit on shallow raised circular tabs just behind Ditka’s canopy do not do so in a manner that is flush. It may not look great, but they do not flap about, they’re very solidly in place. The air brakes on the wings can be raised if desired!
Relative size can once again be extrapolated from the above pictures. I also got the thrusters the right way up this time! Getting Ditka to balance on the stand, considering his weight and the small nature of the connecting tab, is difficult. I wouldn’t leave him up there on it for any period of time if it can be avoided.
After handling Ditka for all of 2 days, and throughout the photography, I started to notice a very significant and eye-grabbing spot of paint wear on his previously brilliant white midriff. I suspect the white paint has been scraped off during transformation thanks to the large panels attached to the shoulders when flipping them around and down. This is visible in the picture of Ditka in robot mode below:
Of all the KFC/XTB products I’ve handled – with the possible exception of Andras – I think Ditka stands as my favourite. He’s the one whose looks I can get on board with the most, he’s visually aligned with Masterpiece figures. The paint chipping, awkward but easy transformation to robot mode and dodgy tabs are things I could have happily lived with if he was easier to pose in robot mode. Ultimately, that’s what will stop me from giving him a stellar rating, because I think toys like this live in our collections more often as robots. With Ditka, I far prefer his alt modes to his robot mode, and that has a huge amount to do with the lack of stability or balance in his legs. Look how far out his heels extend, and yet it was not sufficient to allow him to be plonked down on a hard surface and stand effortlessly.
If Ditka had been released 2 years ago, I’d have rated him among the best of the 3PMP offerings available, and hailed it as a major achievement for this company. As it is though, with figures like Fans Hobby Megatooth, FansToys Stomp, Grinder and Sovereign, MakeToys Downbeat, Contact Shot and Ocular Max Sphinx all demonstrating what is possible in terms of polish and quality, I think Ditka and KFC have a little way to go yet, on this evidence. With regards to looks alone, I rate Ditka highly. He’s a damn good representation of the original character and toy inspiration, but he’s not enjoyable enough to handle and pose as a robot, and the niggling issues highlighted above all stunt the experience. With a good jet and superb tank mode as Ditka has, though, I believe he’ll fill many a collection gap until we get an official Masterpiece version of this character. I’ve said it before about other 3PMP figures I have reviewed, it’s a phrase I like to roll out on occasions like this, but both DX9 and KFC have left enough on the table between them for someone else to claim this particular triplechanging crown. That’s what I will be waiting for, but until then I’m going to have some more fun with Ditka’s tank mode!
All the best