By now it’s almost tradition for so-called “third party” companies to all attempt the same characters at roughly the same time. We’ve already been through “the Springer wars”, “the Dinobot wars”, “the Reflector wars” and even “the Seaspray wars”!
However it’s only been recently that unofficial outfits have started competing to bring us the definitive (if ever there is such a thing) attempt at Masterpiece-styled combiners! And yes, we’re well aware of all the many unofficial Big Men that have come before, but what we’re specifically talking about here are the designs that strive to ape the current MP aesthetic and shovel a whopping great big dose of cartoon accuracy onto the proceedings. In other words, the ones trying to bring us this:
Yep, today we’re talking 3PMP Stunticons, of which there are currently 3 attempts – X-Transbots, FansToys and DX9. They’re all in different stages of development and all do things in their own way (although some aspects are surprisingly similar!) but with the goal to bring us a suitably-cartoony Menasor. And yep, he looks pretty goofy and all, but that’s what many of us are in the market for!
Artwork credit: transformers.kiev.ua
So, long-winded intro out of the way, let’s start counting down the 9 things to consider before buying any of the current attempts at a 3pMP Menasor!
#9: No-one has released a full line-up quite yet
OK, first things first, none of the 3 companies currently having a pop at the Stunticons have got to the finish line just yet, although some are closer than others. Closest to completion thus far are X-Transbots, who have currently released the four smaller car team members (Crackup, Flipout, Overheat & Deathwish) and have Gravestone (their attempt at Motormaster) on the way next month, all being well. However, in a surprise twist it seems that Gravestone’s trailer section (which will be needed to form the combined mode – see more on that below) will be sold separately, meaning that we should be able to consider ourselves fully done by April 2020 at the latest.
Next likely to finish is DX9, who currently have 2 of the cars out (Montana & Henry) and have just released Capone, their own Motormaster, which includes everything needed to complete the combined form. However, we haven’t even seen designs for their attempts at Drag Strip or Dead End yet, so this one could start to lag a little unless they keep up the pace and reveal the final two team members soon.
And finally we have FansToys. Arguably they’re not far off DX9 in that they have their Motormaster (Roadking) out already and have currently released one car lad (Spoiler) with another (Magnum) supposedly on the way any day now (although FT releases are often prone to a little delay, it seems). Add to that they’ve already unveiled prototypes for their final two team members (Smokey and Bandit – yes, really) and I guess you could argue that they’re steaming ahead! However, we think it’ll take them a while to get the last two out to retail, and it seems that there will still be another release required to complete the full combined mode (which we haven’t even fully seen yet – again, more on that below), so it’s wait and see.
Whichever way you’re currently leaning with your not-Stunticons, it’s fair to say that these varying release dates can throw up some challenges in trying to complete the team of your choice!
#8: We don’t know exactly how big they’re all going to be in combined mode
So, here’s what we’ve seen so far – (from left to right) X-Tranbots Monolith, DX9 Attila and FansToys Marauder. Clearly they’re all in different stages of development (with FansToys only having shown us grey renders thus far), but at least we can get a good idea of what to expect. DX9 are definitely the furthest ahead in this regard, as their Capone release includes the bits necessary to form a “naked” Menasor (without any of the cars attached), and whilst it’s a really weird look it does at least give us some excitement for how each of these projects are going to shape up!
Photo credit: NG G June from HK-TF Facebook group
Given that Zeta’s Kronos is currently the go-to Superion in many MP-style collections (standing at around 21″ tall, or 53cm approx), it’s great to get an idea of how any of these Menasors will look stood next to it. So just how big are they going to be, anyway? Well, we don’t exactly know! We have confirmation that DX9 Atilla will stand at 50cm and that X-Transbots Monolith will come in just under at 49cm, but currently no-one has revealed how big FansToys Marauder will be. The speculation is that it’ll be roughly the same, given the similarly-sized car modes, but really it’s anybody’s guess at this stage!
#7: The individual robot modes also vary in size from company to company
One of the key differences to consider between any of these sets is the size of the individual members themselves. In an era where scale charts are eagerly employed to dominate any kind of debate about how big a particular character should be, it seems that the three companies have very different ideas when it comes to the Stunticons! How you feel about the choices on offer could just be what swings it for you, so let’s take a look!
First we have X-Transbots, who have designed the four smaller team members to be the exact same height as the Masterpiece Carbots, along with their car modes also matching in size. So, where you have Crackup and MP Sideswipe both transforming into a Lamborghini Countach, the two toys are near identical in terms of proportions and size in car mode and scale as such in robot mode.
Next up is DX9, who have gone a different route by upscaling their team quite a bit! The car lads are significantly taller, not far off the height of the MP-11 Seeker mould. They’re pretty much the same size as an MP Carbot in vehicle mode, however.
And finally we have FansToys, who are the biggest of the lot! Their individual robots absolutely tower over the likes of the MP Carbots, and stand at about shoulder-height to the likes of MP-36 Megatron and MP-13 Soundwave. Again though, they compact quite a bit in transformation and end up basically the same size as an MP Carbot (although a tiny bit bulkier, maybe). They also seem to have the largest Motormaster option too.
Ultimately how you feel about these choices is up to you!
#6: All 3 Motormasters hit the animation look *hard*
The style and aesthetic of the cars seems to vary a bit from company to company, but if there’s one team member who feels quite consistent it’s Motormaster! From left to right above we have X-Transbots Gravestone, DX9 Capone and FansToys Roadking, all of whom hit similar beats when it comes to replicating the on-screen look of the character. They do vary in height though, but otherwise it would almost be easy to confuse which was which in a line-up!
#5: Motormaster’s transformation is never not interesting…
What’s really interesting though is how each of the Motormasters transforms, all doing something incredibly different to achieve a similar-looking robot mode!
FansToys Roadking has what is maybe the most obvious transformation, in that the whole truck mode (cab and trailer) convert into the robot mode seen in #4 above. It may be obvious but there’s still no denying the engineering accomplishments here, as that’s taking a vehicle form the same size as MP-10 plus trailer and contorting it into something that stands only a big bigger in robot form (which also explains why their Motormaster is the tallest). It does leave Roadking a little backpack-heavy but it’s still pretty clever.
Next let’s take a look at X-Transbots Gravestone, which for our money is the most preferable solution (although no doubt some will disagree!). Here it’s just the cab section of the truck mode which converts into Motormaster, leaving the trailer as a separate piece (also sold separately!) used for combined mode. We like this solution for several reasons – not only does it allow a decently-sized and relatively kibble-free robot form for Gravestone, but it also means that the truck cab can be detached and used independently from the trailer. Finally, it means that there are no “extra” parts in any of the three potential modes.
And then we have the really leftfield solution in DX9’s Capone! You may have noticed that rather, erm, mahoosive trailer the truck mode is sporting,… well, see that black square section on the top of the trailer near the front? Everything past that is set aside, with only the front section folding up with the cab to become Motormaster. Everything else, about 80% or so of the trailer, becomes the fully-formed combined mode you see in #8 above (with only the cars to be added on and Capone plugged into the back). Weird! It does mean that the truck mode ends up looking a bit strange, but props to them for finding a unique solution!
#4: …and they all have unique ways of achieving the combined mode
So, we’ve already established that DX9 Atilla is made by using about 80% of Capone’s trailer, but what about the other two? Well, it should come as no great surprise that XTB Gravestone’s trailer will seemingly convert in a sort-of similar fashion to form the main bulk of Monolith (although there’re a few more surprises to be had there – see below), but what of FansToys? With Roadking already out on release and offering no particular hints of how Marauder is going to be made up, collectors have been wildly speculating as to the solution. Then just this last week their rep posted on the TFW2005 boards to confirm it – there will be a second trailer released which will convert into the bits needed for the combined mode. That means that Roadking will at some point be able to pull along two trailers! Some people love this idea… some not so much… either way it’s really interesting to see how all three companies have achieved bringing Menasor to life!
#3: There are some nifty gimmicks on offer
OK, so the main gimmick with a team like this is always going to be the combining aspect itself, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be other fun features. Fortunately there are plenty to behold, so let’s take a look at a few!
If you’re going the XTB route then it looks like you’re in for a treat as their set has a lot of gimmicks going on. Firstly, it seems that the trailer section will be able to store at least one or two of the smaller cars.
But then the big surprise is that it will also be able to convert to a base mode as well! This is a really neat inclusion and makes a good use of the trailer whilst Gravestone is in robot mode. It also allows for weapons storage and seemingly includes a set of cannons which look like they can be mounted on the smaller Stunticons car modes in an attempt to recreate the classic look of the G1 toys. Nice!
We’ve already discussed that this trailer section will then change into the bulk of the combined form, but it seems that there will then be an option to add on additional “fake parts” to recreate the animation model look fully, should you wish to. It’s specifically an attempt to replicate the larger wheel sections seen on the arms by adding additional pieces on top of the limb ‘bots. Oh, and then he has arm-mounted guns too!
XTB have released pics of Gravestone pulling along MP-10’s trailer so we’re assuming that there will be some sort of connection that allows this to happen. We don’t seem to know if he can also do this for MP-44’s trailer though, although it would seem like an obvious choice at this stage. Finally, it’s been confirmed that the individual team members’ guns will combine to form Monolith’s massive weapon, so that should be fun to see.
Not to be outdone, DX9 have some very cool and certainly unique features themselves, not least of which is the lightning bug from the G1 cartoon episode Cosmic Rust. It looks really neat all by itself, but it also transforms into Atilla’s gun in a pretty unusual twist!
Atilla also features light-up eyes, which is something we’re guessing that both XTB and FansToys options include as well, based on the pics we currently have. Additionally the DX9 cars feature things like pop-up headlights and working doors on Montana and Capone.
Which brings us to FansToys. Their cars also have pop-up headlights and doors, and Roadking also allows for a working trailer section, same as XTB. It’s yet to be seen if the second trailer that’s been announced will have any special features of its own though. The main gimmick being advertised at the moment is the ability to alter the appearance of the combined mode so that instead of a cartoon-accurate vibe you get something more akin to the popular Studio Ox look. It’s also pretty close to the original G1 toy appearance (although presumably the colour palette won’t be a match), so that’s going to be of interest to some collectors. We don’t know exactly how this is achieved yet though (other than an obvious swapping out of parts), and quite how or if it will be incorporated into that second trailer.
#2: XTB also have G2 and G1 “toy” versions being released
We already told you that X-Transbots were somewhat ahead on this journey but that’s not even taking into account that they’re concurrently releasing two other versions of their team! There’s also a repainted set inspired with a Generation 2 look, which is especially cool considering that the original G2 Stunticons were only ever seen as unreleased prototypes. Additionally they’ve just started releasing a set of classic G1 toy-inspired remoulds!
These remoulded figures are surprisingly extensive, featuring lots of new parts including heads, chest and limb pieces, as well as extra paint and stickers. It makes the team look very different and certainly brings a fresh look to the combined mode. We reckon they’ll look pretty stunning next to the likes of the toy-inspired MP-36+!
Me: I absolutely don't need toy versions of the XTB Stunticons as well as the regular and G2 versions.
Also me: Oooh, but they would look spiffy next to MP-36+… pic.twitter.com/WqqcVp6fw5
— Sixo (@SixoTF) September 23, 2019
#1: They vary in price quite a bit
OK, so the big question is how much will all of this cost? Well, no-one knows for sure but we can do a bit of simple maths to at least get us to an approximate total. Below is a summary of what we currently know and an attempt to fill in the blanks by estimating any as-yet unknown costs (in grey italics) to provide a rough summary of where each project could end up in terms of a final expense.
All of the prices have been presented in USD and taken from TFSource for consistency’s sake (you may well see them vary a little from retailer to retailer). For X-Transbots and FansToys, the big unknown is currently the trailer sections which have yet to be priced. We’ve allowed $100 for each of these, although arguably the FansToys’ release could well end up being more than this considering the comparative pricing between both sets. We’ve also made assumptions on all limb ‘bots being the same price for both DX9 and FT (despite this not being the case for XTB). Please remember that this is just conjecture though, and not accurate estimates of pricing!
Assuming these are roughly in the right ballpark though, it’s pretty clear that X-Transbots will end up being the cheapest set overall, with FansToys almost certainly coming in as the most expensive. However it’s also fair to remember that how much something costs doesn’t always equate to good value for money, so only you will really be able to work out if you’re willing to pay any of the prices that are being asked.
So, that’s our list! If you are in the market for a 3pMP Menasor then we hope you’ve found this useful and if you’re not, well… we hope you at least found it mildly entertaining!