REVIEW: Fans Hobby MB-16 Lightning Eagle (part two)

We’re back for the second part of our Fans Hobby Lightning Eagle review! If you’re in the market for a third party Masterpiece-styled Thunderclash then be sure to check out part one before cracking on below. Last time we looked at the vehicle and smaller robot mode, concluding that he is indeed a bit of a stunner. Just check him out!

So, what’s left for part two, eh? Well it’s all about that trailer section, as it can do some weird and wonderful things. First up, it can transform into a kind-of battle station mode to accompany the smaller robot form.

It’s not without precedent either, as a large part of G1 Thunderclash’s shtick was that the trailer converted into a platform of this kind, although this reinterpreted version does look quite different.

OK look, I have to admit that I was a bit unconvinced on this mode from the photos I’d seen prior to having it in hand. For one thing, it was fairly evident that the battle platform has been made out of the existing Power Baser mould without too much in the way of modification, so my concern was that it amounted to little more than a fan mode of sorts.

I also thought that the bottom half looked way too much like an obvious pair of robot legs, which seemed a little unbefitting as a homage to Thunderclash’s pretty unique base form on the G1 toy. Getting this thing in hand and putting it through its paces has proven that it’s actually a lot of fun, however!

Here’s the thing, what looks a bit undercooked and “fan-modey” in pics works pretty well in hand. Firstly, it’s very stable and all pegs together well, and they have made some small modifications to sell it a bit, such as a pair of handles for the smaller robot form to grip onto.

Then there’s the fact that it actually just looks kinda cool when you get accustomed to it. If anything I ended up embracing the absurdity of the robot legs through imagining this as a kind of walking platform – the sort of thing you’d see on the battlefield in so many sci-fi films.

Oh, and don’t think those massive gold guns don’t help. They look supremely badass positioned atop the platform with the missiles in place, even allowing space for Lightning Eagle’s handheld blaster. It’s a truly impressive looking arsenal.

So anyway, I was very happy to be proven wrong. What could have felt a bit naff and ropey has been pulled off surprisingly well, even if it isn’t a direct recreation of the source material. It still surprises me how much versatility Fans Hobby have eked out of this one mould though!

In fact I had to go back and see what the same configuration would look like on the original Power Baser design, and I think it works pretty well! He’s missing the handles that Lightning Eagle is sporting for the smaller robot form to hold onto, but certainly it’s not a bad shout overall. I actually prefer it to Power Baser’s own base mode.

But wait, there’s more! For in a bit of a break with the vintage toy this modern version also copies over Power Baser’s combined form for a truly unique take on the Turbomaster commander. Have a look at that hench lad.

Again, this was a mode that I have to admit I wasn’t all too fussed about prior to having the figure in hand, especially as for my tastes the smaller robot form already does an admirable job at bringing the old toy to life. However there’s really something quite fun and compelling about this souped-up armoured version that you just can’t help but admire.

I think a bit part of it is that colour scheme. Whilst you might imagine that all the various golds, reds, blue and greens would, ahem, clash a little, they somehow work together against all odds and make this mould pop beyond belief. This is a robot mode that will definitely catch your eye in a display, let’s say that!

Fans Hobby have really gone the extra mile here too, adding enough in the way of remoulded pieces and little touches to set it apart from Power Baser. The clip-on chest piece is of course a large part of that, as it looks truly at home with that marvellous crest on display for all to see.

They’ve also done a terrific job with the headsculpt on this combined mode, keeping things simple and choosing not to deviate too much from the smaller robot form’s look. It’s a striking sculpt and fits the character really well.

It’s fair to point out that this mode still sports the same nitpicks I had with Power Baser, in that I still find those hip flaps and the limited waist clearance a little annoying, but there’s also something fun and chunky about him that I just can’t help but adore.

The big gold cannons definitely serve up a look when stowed away on Lightning Eagle’s backpack, but should you prefer then they can be placed in his hands instead. In a neat twist you can then store his smaller blaster in their place on the backpack.

The cannons again add a lot of visual difference from Power Baser and serve to keep this toy feeling quite unique. He looks like an absolute powerhouse when dual-wielding them!

So overall there’s a lot to like here, and in many ways I think I even prefer this version of the mould to Power Baser. I will say though that I have had a little bit of trouble with getting the top of the combined mode to sit flush and tabbed in correctly, especially as the section where the head sits seems to pop out occasionally.

Still, whatever slight niggles I may have are nothing compared to the tremendous amount of fun on offer with this guy, not to mention the clear love and attention to detail that has gone into reimagining the classic character in such a new fashion. Considering that this was a mode I didn’t think I was going to be all that fussed about, my copy has spent a lot of time in it since I got him.

A simple comparison with Power Baser should show you the extent of the changes that Fans Hobby have made to the original design to provide something a little different here, including plenty of moulding variations.

Ultimately it’s quite telling that you can have these two side-by-side and they really don’t feel so obviously like the same toy at all. In fact they kinda complement each other really well!

It will be up to you to decide if this big beefcake has a place in your collection or not, but should he find a home then be prepared for how much space he’s going to take up! The sheer stature of this combined mode still impresses even now.

He also looks right at home with many of Fans Hobby’s previous releases, as the company continues to carve a nice niche of unusual character choices and stylish designs. I can’t wait to see what else they have on the horizon.

WHAT’S HOT? Both small and combined robot modes are a ton of fun, the vehicle mode is excellent & the battle platform mode even does the job nicely! There’s been a lot of effort gone in to make this guy feel unique from Power Baser too.

WHAT’S NOT? Ultimately a number of Power Baser’s flaws still ring true for this version, including it being a bit of a pain to get into combined mode.

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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