A little while ago I wrote an article on how a number of my TakaraTomy Transformers Masterpiece toys were deteriorating over time. This ranged from loose joints to paint and chrome wear, in some cases even culminating in actual breakage. It seems only fair to cast a similarly critical eye over some of the 3rd party figures I own or have recently sold too. The list is far from exhaustive, and the purpose of this article is not to vilify – just as it was not with the Masterpiece deterioration article – but just to inform and share my own experience.
I’ll begin with my MakeToys figures, probably my favourite 3rd Party toys. I currently own Cupola, Ironwill, Contactshot, Meteor and Galaxy Meteor from their Re:Master range, but have pretty much had the entire series at one point. I also have Utopia and recently had Thunder Erebus. On the whole I find MakeToys do very well with quality, but I do have issues with my favourites. Cupola, of course, had the well documented issue with the wheels on his hips falling off (I’ve owned two specimens, happened to both) and I am also experienced increasing looseness in his ankles. Thankfully, the Patch Kit MakeToys released has corrected these issues.
With Ironwill, the shoulder cannon has become quite floppy and stays up after a few attempts nowadays. The most annoying thing here, though, is that the small vents on the side of his face (humanoid version) become unstuck and fall off. I’ve actually lost one now as a result, so he doesn’t have a complete face. Downbeat was the one I was most disappointed with, however, as he had multiple issues by the time I sold him. The chest and bumper came un-clipped with every movement. On top of that, the harpoon accessory broke down the middle so it was nearly unusable, and the glue holding one of the doors/wheels to his abdomen dried up, meaning that whole section came out regularly by the end of my time with him. It could be fixed with more glue, but it was an irritating development. Bounceback, the repaint of Downbeat, has its own issues with breaking spoiler parts when the Targetwarrior adaptors are attached. Contactshot and Galaxy Meteor remain in great nick!
With FansToys, the most obvious example of deterioration I can recall was Iron Dibots Soar. Specifically, his ankles. No matter how much they were tightened, they got to the point where standing him up in robot mode on any sort of raised surface (like a shelf) was a danger to himself and other surrounding figures. There is also a real danger of snapping the thigh clips, although FT have now supplied replacements for those with subsequent figures. It has to be said, Sovereign and Phoenix held up well for the year or so they were in my collection, as did Grinder and Sever. I disliked the feel of Willys so much, though, with its mirrors almost peeling off by themselves and its non-rolling back wheel, that once I was done with the test shot review, I didn’t even bother to open my production version before selling it. I found Spotter to be a mess of tolerances too, and could see the calf flaps weakening in tightness and didn’t want it to stay in my collection long enough for something to break, but of course the green lens did eventually shear itself off from its tethers and needed replacing. My Quakewave remains strong and with no obvious signs of deterioration.
For MMC things I have owned, they certainly improved in quality as time went by, culminating with the wonderful Turben. However, a figure like Cynicus was a total nightmare, requiring in the region of four requests for replacement parts. The main culprit there was the little C-shaped wing piece on the shoulder. I got through nearly three of those by the end. The grey plastic on the backpack armature stressed as well and needed a replacement. All round, a very fragile figure, as brilliant and gorgeous as it was. I found the gun for Dicamus disfigured pretty quickly (still waiting on a replacement for that), and I’ve not been that impressed with where Ocular Max were heading by the time a Girder rear chrome bumper snapped off, an Artifex wheel sheared off (after I’d sold it) and Omne snapped at the waist on the second transformation. All of these are a damn shame as some of those toys were pretty beautiful and enjoyable to interact with. Sphinx is doing ok, though, no new issues or developments to report there, but Jaguar had started to show wear points on the tabs that held things together in cassette mode.
Of the BadCube figures I owned, it must be said that I never needed any replacement bits for Sunsurge or Blaze, that was a pretty solid figure if you could avoid scratching the chrome on the intakes and rear wing. The flaky paint on Cubex Huff is well known, and I had breakages on BadCube Wardog, Brawny and Backland. In terms of Unique Toys/DX9 figures, most were test shots so take it with a pinch of salt, but Chigurh, Sworder and Provider had issues with pins and panels or flaps not staying attached. Their Gewalt was rock solid, though. For X-Transbots/KFC, Ditka did not feel good and I moved it along very quickly, but I have heard of breakages at the ankle on that one. The Micro Robo I had was fragile and it broke in the first day or two. The Andras figure I had started to wear the paint on its heels badly and those feet were just terrible for transforming, eventually stressing some of the plastic around them. Parts of the figure would randomly fall off too, like the head ray’s rear section and the red circles in the wings. DAI Stack never developed any damage issues, and it remains my favourite figure of theirs.
I’ve had all of the Fansproject Function X Headmasters for over a year now and they have held up extremely well. I’m not noticing any looseness, stress points, breakages or paint wear anywhere on them, but I am aware that the Headmaster on Quadruple-U and the chest on Code are known breakage points. The Wei Jiang Commander I have has also weathered its time with me well, still glossy and strong with no breakages. With Commander, I think any issue that exists can be attributed to me, as I find his transformation more and more frustrating as time goes by. With Fans Hobby, I had the Monsterbots for about a year and the only things I started to notice there were spots of paint wear, sometimes due to the small clearances for the leg transformations on Feilong and Flypro, sometimes just the paint on the diecast feet rubbing off on a surface that I was photographing them on. Gun Fighter II remains excellent, as did Archenemy before I moved it on. I didn’t have enough time with The Red Dragon and Power Baser to establish any pattern of deterioration there.
So it’s not all bad news, and certainly all 3P companies have shown some degree of improvement to the durability of their figures. Maybe things are not as far along as I would personally like considering how long some of these companies have been churning out products, but when the official stuff still turns up with rapidly deteriorating cosmetics or snapping/stressing joints (Sunstreaker), one cannot be too critical of 3P in the grand scheme of things.
Or maybe one can.
All the best