REVIEW: FansHobby MB-16 Lightning Eagle (part one)

It was only recently that I was sat here typing up a review for Fans Hobby’s God Armour add-on for their Power Baser mould that now we’re back again, this time with a redesign of that original toy in spectacular ’90s colours! Yep, it’s time to look at Lightning Eagle, the first take on what could be considered a Masterpiece-styled Thunderclash.

If you’re not familiar with the character then he was the leader of the Turbomasters, a small subgroup of Autobots who were the poster boys of the G1 line back in 1991, albeit only in European markets. The original toy was never released in the US, and due to the fact that it’s prone to GPS and other breakage issues has achieved a kind-of cult status over the years.

To bring us a more modern effort Fans Hobby have given their Power Baser design a fairly extensive overhaul, including a fresh colour scheme and a notable bit of new moulding on the front of the cab. Gone is the Masterforce engine design, as Lightning Eagle is sporting an entirely new frontage. He also features a new roof section which helps to form the robot mode chest.

I’ll admit that the idea of turning a stylised Super Ginrai toy into a reimagining of the classic Thunderclash design would have never occurred to me, particularly as the G1 figures were very different in many regards, but there’s no denying that this guy looks pretty spiffing all round. The cab section alone is one of the most multi-coloured vehicle modes you’ll ever see, but somehow it shines.

Once you add the trailer section on things really start rocking. It’s immediately apparent to Euro G1 fans who this is meant to be, even if it’s not slavishly faithful in a lot of regards. The key elements are all there and besides, it looks the business.

Aside from the wacky colours, the most obvious feature is the rather imposing armament up top. Just like the original design, Lightning Eagle sports two mahoosive cannons which look pretty intimidating to say the least! This time there’s also room to store his robot mode rifle in-between them, as if he wasn’t packing enough heat.

The cannons feature a similar on/ off safety lock feature to Fans Hobby’s recent God Armour missile launcher, which allows you to plug the missiles inside without fearing that you might accidentally set off the trigger and lose them (or worse, an eye). Given that the original Thunderclash toy was one of the main culprits for accidental missile fire injuries, it’s amusing to see this modern redesign pack in such a gimmick.

Unlike the original toy there are only two missiles included but then there’s also nowhere to store a rack of them either, so it doesn’t really matter. They have pretty faithfully recreated the ’90s gold colouring though, except this time you can play away to your heart’s content without fear that the thing might suddenly break on you – gold plastic without any syndrome worries is a great thing indeed.

Fans Hobby have also done a really great job at reinterpreting the classic Thunderclash crest atop the vehicle mode cab. Considering this piece is entirely new you can tell that there’s been quite a bit of effort put in here, as it’s nicely moulded, crisply painted, and looks the absolute nuts.

That’s to say nothing of the luscious translucent pink plastic on offer here, too. It catches the light beautifully and sets this entire piece off a treat, making Lightning Eagle the very definition of eye-catching.

In fact I have to say that considering this is now my fourth version of this mould and I’ve only just re-examined the original again for my God Armor review, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be as thrilled with it as I am! Fans Hobby have really breathed new life into the design and made it feel unique.

Comparing Lightning Eagle directly to his G1 counterpart will show you all the many ways that Fans Hobby have wrung inspiration out of that design, and indeed all the many ways they’ve taken some creative liberties with it. Still, considering that it’s origin is the Power Baser mould, it’s incredible how well it works.

I do kinda wish there was some sort of add-on to the back of the trailer section to recreate the original’s look just that little bit closer (even if it just had to be removed for transformation), but to be honest it’s a mere nitpick on a toy that in many ways I’m just impressed exists to begin with. I mean, who else is queueing up to bring us an MP-styled Thunderclash right now?

Besides, this is clearly intended to be a reinvention of sorts, and in that arena it soars. I’m definitely getting all the right rocking ’90s vibes, that’s for sure.

If nothing else it’s making me wonder if Fans Hobby will see fit to produce new versions of the other Turbomasters somehow, maybe even as redesigns of their upcoming Headmaster Juniors – who knows? Either way, it’s great fun to see the G1 toys lined up next to Lightning Eagle to try and imagine it!

After all, the Turbomasters were some of my favourite toys as a kid, so for me to see their leader redone in such a fashion is a definite kick. The rest of the team would be a bonus indeed.

Still, even if it never happens then Lightning Eagle looks pretty great next to other Masterpiece-styled toys. I always thought of Thunderclash as having an Earth vehicle mode, even if a futuristic one, so for me he works well next to the likes of the Carbots.

In fact whilst he has no obvious home in my collection right now, it’s been great fun to mess around with him and see how he lines up next to other toys.

As far as transformation goes the cab section is essentially identical to Power Baser, with the only change being the roof panel which unclips and then is repositioned on his chest. Yep, that means partsforming. If that’s a dealbreaker for you then I can only say that it means you’re missing out though, as otherwise this conversion is all pretty simple and straightforward.

You can of course leave the roof section off if you prefer, which gives Lightning Eagle a very notable set of pink window pecs! It’s interesting to note that this bit of design has been left in, despite it never being on display in any of the modes if you include the roof piece as you’re supposed to!

Overall this robot mode tidies up nicely, and looks pretty good at every angle. The redesigned cab skirt does look a little odd from the rear, but it’s far from a big problem.

The new chest piece and head look really stunning in this smaller robot mode, and definitely create enough visual difference from the original Power Baser toy to make this guy feel unique. I took the plunge and soon added a clear-backed Reprolabel to the middle of the crest on my copy, and it looks just about spot on.

In fact the design overall wears the new colour scheme exceptionally well. Some people are no doubt going to look at that mix of red, green, blue, white and gold and think it’s crazy, but for my money it’s done really nicely and works a treat.

Ultimately this design still bears a number of the problems that I found with Power Baser, in that I find sections such as the flaps on the shoulders a little untidy and I wish the abdomen section connected to the waist a little more elegantly than it does. The slight peak of the grill from doesn’t help matters (especially as it’s entirely superfluous on Lightning Eagle’s sculpt), not to mention it takes a bit of care and proper posing to keep those hip flaps looking tidy and purposeful.

I will also say that the chest piece can pop off a bit too easily in my experience, which can be slightly annoying. Additionally I found that as before, the hands don’t close round the weapon handles quite enough for my liking, something I’ve mentioned a couple of times on Fans Hobby’s designs.

Still, these aren’t massive complaints and it’s hard to ignore the fact that the toy overall is tons of fun and looks really striking in a lot of poses. I also really like the newly-designed rifle he’s sporting.

If you prefer then he can nab the two huge cannons from his trailer and wield them in hand too, something that the original Thunderclash toy couldn’t do. I had a bit of trouble getting the handles folded out, but a small tool helped me with this.

The accompanying literature for Lightning Eagle suggests that the cannons are supposed to be used with the combined mode only, but for what it’s worth they look great with the smaller robot form too, and definitely make him look like he means business!

They’re like two ridiculous golden cigars of doom! It’s at about this point that you’ve entirely forgotten that this used to be a Power Baser design, such is the fun this guy brings to the proceedings!

In fact, even a cursory glance at the two toys together will show you the extent to which Fans Hobby have gone to bring us something special with Lightning Eagle. The colour choices they’ve used have brought out elements of the sculpt that previously were overlooked due to being cast in block colours, and they’ve even gone as far as remoulding pieces such as the heel flaps to bring them closer to the original toy.

Looking at that figure next to Lightning Eagle should demonstrate how well all of this effort pays off, as it’s surprising how closer the new design comes to aping even the smallest details. Again, it’s stylised and far from a dead ringer, but it works.

As I say, I wish that midriff section was maybe a little tidier, but overall it’s hard to knock how good a job Fans Hobby have done at bringing the old toy to life here. I love the new head sculpt and those striking pink eyes especially!

So, a very nice effort on this guy so far, and again it makes me excited at the prospect of seeing the other Turbomaster designs being given a similar treatment one day.

For now, I think he looks pretty great in a classic G1 line-up if that’s your thing. Even in this smaller robot mode he’s surprisingly large!

And whilst I’m generally the first person to point out that the Turbomasters sit firmly in the G1 camp, there’s no doubt that the bold colours on offer make him look fantabulous next to the brash ’90s stylings of a G2 crew, especially with those OTT gold cannons.

But wait, there’s more to come! Be sure to join us for part 2 of this review, when we’ll be looking at the weapons platform mode for the trailer and the larger combined robot mode. See you then!

 

SHOP FOR THIS TOY 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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