REVIEW: Fans Hobby MB-11A God Armor

Fans Hobby have quickly established themselves in the world of third party Transformers, and have already proven that they can pump out solid yet fun & enjoyable designs. Better yet, their choice of characters is often not just the “same old, same old”, as evidenced by the new MB-11 God Armor, which could be considered the first attempt at a Masterpiece-styled Godbomber. But wait, who exactly is that anyway? Well, we’ll get to that and more as we take a look at this exciting new release!

If like me you’ve been hoping that Fans Hobby would produce a Godbomber figure ever since you first laid eyes on Power Baser, their attempt at a God Ginrai, then you’ll no doubt be very excited for this! Fortunately the package seems to live up to expectation on first glance, and boasts a decent range of accessories.

Included in the box are two swords, a rather sizeable gun, two missiles, a spare head for Power Baser and three smaller Headmaster Juniors. We’ll go through each bit of that in turn but there’s definitely some fun to be had here. First let’s take a look at that assembled vehicle mode!

Nice! If you’re familiar with the character or the original Japanese Masterforce line then this will likely be what you would’ve expected this guy to look like in vehicle form. If you’re not then it might all look a bit bizarre, I guess! So here’s the deal – Godbomber is essentially a drone that is partnered with Ginrai (who in the Japanese continuity is the same design as Powermaster Optimus Prime, albeit a completely different character). The two original toys could combine in both robot and vehicle modes, powering up to become God Ginrai. Sadly the Godbomber toy was never released under Hasbro and so remained a bit of a mystery for much of the Western market.

Of course what we’re seeing here is a black version of the character, whereas he’s more usually known for sporting a similar colour scheme to Ginrai (the somewhat traditional red & blue look!). Interestingly there never was a black repaint of the Godbomber back in the G1 line, despite the Ginrai mould being released in what is typically thought of as “Nemesis” colours back in 2001. That toy was known as “Nucleon Quest Super Convoy” however, and so was actually the Japanese version of Optimus Prime and not Ginrai, so that probably explains it. Anyway, confused yet?

In truth there’s no real need to worry about all the complexities of the character’s origins and whether there’s precedent for a black version of the design or not – the fact is that Fans Hobby have produced something that looks undeniably awesome! As we’d expect from this company, the armoured trailer mode is suitably beefy and armed to the teeth. It’s also chock full of clever little touches.

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First thing to note is that the God Cannon (yes, that is what it’s called!) can be mounted on top of the trailer mode to awesome effect. It’s big, imposing and beautifully made. Oh, and it features a really cool gimmick whereby you can apply a safety catch of sorts, meaning that there’s no more accidentally firing missiles into your eye! It’s these sorts of little touches, along with the beautifully-applied detailing on the missiles themselves, that make Fans Hobby stand out at what they do.

In fact the whole thing looks kinda stunning. I really like the blue and gold highlights that they chose here, as they complement the predominate black and grey colour scheme nicely. I’m also a big fan of the translucent red windows and lights on the front of the trailer, along with the sparkly finish to that section. It’s a winning look overall.

Sadly my copy doesn’t quite feel as solid as I might have expected. The nature of Godbomber’s transformation means that this vehicle mode is essentially made up of component parts, and whilst it mostly all pegs and snaps together pretty well, I can’t seem to get the front section to clip inside the side panels snugly enough as I’d like. I’ve tried to remedy it a few times but can’t see that I’m doing anything particularly wrong, leaving the front section of this mode prone to unclipping if I’m not careful. It’s by no means a major problem, but still feels slightly irritating at times.

Still, that issue aside there’s no denying that he brings a lot of looks and presence in this form, and lines up beautifully next to Power Baser in his own vehicle form. The two of them complement each other really well, as you’d expect.

It’s when making this comparison that you suddenly realise the sheer scale of what’s on offer here. Power Baser was already a sizeable prospect, but seeing God Armor lined up alongside him really makes you step back and take in what Fans Hobby have achieved, and that’s before you even get around to combining them! The front of the God Armor trailer has a small hitch that unfolds and clips onto the back of Power Baser, leaving you with an impressive result.

Woof. I don’t know if you have space to display a thing like that, but it’s certainly eye-catching! Again, it’s a testament to Fans Hobby’s output that they’re producing these kinda characters instead of yet another MP-style carbot, and I’m most definitely here for it.

But wait, the fun continues! The front of the God Armor trailer folds up to reveal a cockpit section which can house the three Headmaster Junior figures included with this release. They all slot snugly into little compartments that enable them to look out of the red window sections, and there’s even room for the “hats” that are required to finish off their head modes. The cockpit section looks really ace and is a nice touch indeed. I had some trouble getting the bumper unpegged to release it initially, but with a strong pull it’ll come open.

So, who are these three then? They’re representations (albeit in black colour schemes for this release) of the Headmaster partners that came with Goshooter, Minerva and Cab in Masterforce (the toys for which shared moulds with Siren, Nightbeat and Hosehead under Hasbro). In the Masterforce cartoon they were portrayed as children and commonly rode inside of Godbomber, which is what you’re seeing here.

The three minifigures are supremely well done, with a surprising amount of articulation for some little things and plenty of play value and character going on.

Size-wise they’re just a touch bigger than Masterpiece Spike (this being the MP-45 version), and just a bit smaller than Power Baser’s own companion, meant to represent Ginrai himself. For me that works pretty well, and sits better than a lot of third party attempts at humanoid characters.

Of course they also transform into their head modes, giving us the first look at what we can expect from Fans Hobby’s releases of the Headmaster Juniors. We know that they have Athena, their attempt at a Minerva, on the way already, but it won’t be surprising to see them attempt the other two as well. It’s kinda strange to be seeing their heads released before the main robots themselves, but it makes for a lot of play value with this release!

So, let’s have a look at God Armor in robot mode, shall we? Firstly, the transformation is a fairly simple affair overall, involving a high degree of partsforming. That word might be a turn-off for some, but to be fair it’s kinda the name of the game when it comes to Godbomber! In this case the trailer splits into seven main pieces and then transforms and reassembles into the form you see below. It’s a clever process despite its overall simplicity, with the legs in particular featuring some surprising little tricks. I was a little worried with some of the thin panels at the rear of the trailer section and how they unclip, and I can already see a small stress mark in one spot, but if you’re careful then it should all be ok. And hey, just check out the result!

That’s definitely a handsome rendition of the intended character, and looks pretty spot on to his animation model too, even if a little stylised. He’s a surprisingly tall fellow, standing approximately the same height as Power Baser, and so brings a degree of presence right from the off.

It’s a tidy robot mode too, with nary a whiff of kibble to be had. He tabs together very solidly in this mode, with absolutely no worries about falling apart or anything like that. In fact if you didn’t know better by this point then you wouldn’t necessarily guess that he was made of so many component parts!

As far as articulation goes he’s a relatively nimble chap, although some of it is slightly hampered here and there. There’s a good deal of range in both arms and legs, for example, but I found the hip skirt sections to be a bit of a pain, both impeding some more extreme stances and looking somewhat awkward without careful posing. The head also doesn’t rotate on its ball joint as much as you might imagine, which is a result of the way it is made out of two pieces from inside the halves of the robot mode chest. He can pull off some decent poses, but perhaps nothing too imaginative.

Fortunately he looks the absolute business as is, with a striking colour scheme and some very eye-catching highlights going on. He’s a really lovely looking ‘bot!

The God Cannon can be held in hand or mounted on his shoulder, both exactly as shown in the cartoon, and he also features a pair of twin swords which can be stowed on his hips via the use of pegs.

The swords themselves extend for the combined mode, so here look a tiny bit “sawn off”, but they still work well. Added to the cannons featured on his arms and shoulders and he looks ready for battle!

Overall I’ve really enjoyed this mode. It’s not perfect due to stuff like the hip skirts, but it really looks great and is suitably imposing. As far as modern representations of the character go this is definitely the best I’ve seen so far in many respects, especially that handsome noggin.

Of course the real test is how well he shapes up stood next to Power Baser, and as I’m sure you’ll agree he passes it with flying colours!

The two toys complement each other nicely, despite being such different designs. There’s enough commonality between them to tie them together well, and they really look great all armed to the teeth and ready to battle.

If anything I was surprised to see how God Armor makes Power Baser looks slightly less imposing by comparison, given the size and imposing nature of that toy. One thing’s for sure, you’ll need a decent amount of shelf space dedicated if you plan to display them both together in robot mode!

If nothing else this comparison has made be really excited to see the traditional red & blue version of God Armor, which is also on the way soon. The black version is ace too though.

Fans Hobby have come a long way since they started out with Archenemy, their take on a Masterpiece-styled Scourge, but it’s great to see how well that toy still stacks up against some of their more recent releases. Let’s hope they keep up the momentum.

But wait, there’s more! Yes, of course we haven’t shown off the combined mode yet, have we? No doubt this is the main attraction for a lot of collectors, and certainly it was the bit I was very excited to see when I was checking out God Armor. Fortunately, the transformation and combination process is really simple, and can be done pretty quickly. God Armor himself needs to be split back into his component pieces, but Power Baser requires no transformation beyond just stowing away his hands and making a few adjustments to his new head.

The head on the left above comes with this release and is a quick swap-out job in order to allow you to extend the crest and antennae sections for the combined mode. Again, it’s the little touches like that that are really appreciated in what Fans Hobby do! And without too much hardship we’re soon left with the final combined form… and WOW!

Phew. It’s one of those collecting moments that makes you step back and do a double take. I was quite content with just marvelling on the combined God Ginrai form for some time before I felt the need to really mess with it much at all, for it is a truly sizeable beast. The main body itself is massive, but it’s the wingspan going on that really pushes the envelope here.

So yes, it’s bloody big and very impressive, but the real question is how stable is it? For the most part the answer is “very”, which is a relief when it comes to a project of this nature. The extra backpack presents no issue to the balance of the combined mode, the new feet do a great job at keeping it all standing up straight, and the new chest and hands are sturdily clipped in place if applied properly.

Perhaps the only exception then is the waist on Power Baser, which sadly on my copy  is a little too loose and has a habit of rotating out of place if not careful during posing. It’s not a big problem, but it can be annoying at times. Overall though, he’s a solid lump of awesome and handles about as good as he looks!

And yes, he really does look great! It’s likely going to be the mode that I’ll inevitably end up keeping these toys in and with good reason. It captures just about every great aspect of the God Ginrai design and brings it to life fully realised. It’s a sterling achievement.

In fact if I had any minor quibbles about Power Baser’s design then they’re mostly all compensated for in this mode. Yes, he’s still “hench” (or “chonky” or whatever you prefer to call him), but the additional components help to balance that out a bit and give him surprisingly decent proportions overall for a mode of this type.

He retains much of the original articulation from Power Baser, which is to say quite a bit but still with a little awkwardness around how the hips can be posed. It’s a skirt thing all over again, you see, but it doesn’t really impede too much. Besides, it’s kinda the nature of these larger combined modes that they’re not necessarily going to be able to contort into every weird and wonderful stance you could imagine, and it doesn’t stop the big lad looking amazing.

I had a real thrill from seeing this mode lined up next to Fans Hobby’s own Double Evil figure, which of course represents God Ginrai’s opposite number, Overlord. It’ll be amazing to see the red & blue version confronting the Decepticon soon, but for now you can see just how well it works with the black design.

In terms of size, Double Evil still takes it by about half a head or so, but neither of these is a small toy by any stretch. Just look at the size of him next to MP-10B!

So, all in all I think Fans Hobby have done a bang-up job with this one. It’s not a perfect release by any means, but whatever nitpicks there might be along the way honestly melt once you get to that rather incredible combined form. Now, I just need to find the space to display him!

SHOP FOR FANS HOBBY AT TFSOURCE

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers photographer & blogger from the UK with quite a well-known carpet. Collects both vintage G1/G2 and Masterpiece/3P.

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