REVIEW: FansToys FT-31A Roadking

We all know by now that the Masterpiece scene moves in waves, and currently just about every unofficial outfit going is on a major combiner kick. We’ve had Combaticons galore, a couple of Aerialbots, at least a dozen (maybe not) Predacons and I’ve lost count of Constructicons. Well now we’re well into Stunticon territory, as FansToys bring us one of the current three attempts by different third party outfits at a Motormaster. Is he the king of the road as the name suggests? Read on and let’s see.

Like the majority of FansToys’ products Roadking comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re gonna kick off and look at *that* truck mode because, well… just check it out and see! It really is a sight to behold.

Wow. Perhaps few vehicle forms could claim to be quite as enticing as a massive truck, but this guy is something else. I love the original Motormaster toy but let’s be fair, it was sort of on the small side. As a child I longed for the idea of seeing him on a similar scale to Optimus Prime, and now as an adult my eyes can barely comprehend the sight of a full-on Masterpiece-scale rendition. It’s a thing of beauty indeed.

What you see here is Roadking’s robot mode stretched, unfolded and contorted beyond belief to form the entire truck form – cab and trailer, which is really quite incredible. We’ll talk more about that particular feat of engineering shortly, but it brings both some advantages and disadvantages as far as the vehicle form itself goes. As a whole package though it’s pretty breathtaking.

The cab section is really beautiful, with a nice-looking sparkly black finish and some blinging chrome going on. I really like the translucent purple windows and those eye-catching red lights too. It’s very hard not to get awestruck by just how well-done this bit of the truck mode is.

It’s quite a real-world take on the cartoon model for this guy, cramming in a lot of extra detail and realistic styling, but it really works. It’s hard to believe that this bit shrinks down to essentially just become his robot mode feet!

The main disadvantage here is that the cab section cannot be separated from the trailer. That might not sound like a huge deal, but it’s a small element of play value and functionality which is a little lost in the mix of giving this toy an otherwise very impressive transformation scheme. Don’t expect any opening doors or other malarkey here either – he’s a down-to-business ‘bot.

Perhaps my only other slight (and it’s very slight) complaint here is the way in which the back wheels of the cab section have a bit of a tendency to fold up a bit off the ground during movement. Hey, I said it was a nitpick, right?

The trailer section is remarkably solid considering how it’s put together out of relatively thin panels, and looks pretty good too in spite of some obvious seams and joins. Just about every bit of it clips together and holds very sturdily, too.

In a fun little twist, it is indeed possible to flip down the rear door of the trailer section in a similar fashion to what Masterpiece-collectors will be familiar with from MP-10 Optimus Prime. However you’ll notice that the trailer itself isn’t completely hollowed out (given that it has to fit half a robot mode inside it), so the interior only extends back a short distance.

It’s enough to create the illusion of a full trailer interior but not enough to stow away a Masterpiece-scaled car. Still, you can have some fun displaying them like they’re rolling out of the back, which is pretty nifty!

Talking of cars, the most obvious comparison to be had here is with a complete set of Stunticons! Thus far FansToys only have one of their troupe on release, but here you can check out Roadking with the rival X-Transbots gang to give you an idea of how it’ll look. Despite being ever-so mix & match, it’s rather wonderful.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Stunticons, even as a kid, so stepping back to look at this lot lined up before me was a real dream come true moment in many ways. They may be from different companies but the full team in Masterpiece scale represents one of those collecting moments that won’t be soon forgotten.

It’ll be great to see the line-up once FansToys are done with the remaining three too, but for now this is a great insight. I love it so much I wish I could find a way to display them like this all the time!

The other comparison that is just begging to be made here is with MP-10 Optimus Prime, of course. It’s fairly obvious that Roadking was designed as a counterpart to that toy, and with good reason. The rivalry between the two characters was played up in the original cartoon, coming to a head (quite literally) during a well-known scene in the episode, Masquerade, where they play “chicken” with one another.

As it stands it’s nothing short of a small marvel that Roadking ends up being almost the exact same size and shape as the full MP-10 vehicle mode, and a comparison from all angles only makes the accomplishment all the more evident.

Again, it’s amazing to think that one of these toys has a robot mode formed just out of the cab and one takes the entire truck mode and shrinks it down to be not that much bigger in size, as we’ll see. I appreciate I’m running the risk of going on about it, but in many ways it’s still mind boggling!

Seeing how well the smaller details line up makes this comparison all the more rewarding. The very concept of the Stunticons rests on them being evil counterparts to the Autobots, and finally getting to see this realised with such magnificent attention to detail is really something.

In fact just recreating the infamous scene from Masquerade was about the most fun I’ve had behind the camera all year!

SMASH!

Ahem. Now then, time to weigh up this vehicle form versus one of its main competitors, with X-Transbots Gravestone taking an entirely different route to achieving a similar goal. I think it’s very interesting that between these two and DX9’s Capone there isn’t a consistent way that the various designers have set about delivering Motormaster’s transformation from full tractor trailer to robot to combined form. I don’t have Capone for comparison but already the differences between FansToys and XTB are immediately evident given that Gravestone is just a cab without a trailer section (for now).

Where Roadking compresses down his entire truck mode to form the robot but will require the use of a second, separate trailer later on to help with forming the combined mode, Gravestone opts for the arguably simpler route of having the cab become the robot mode and the (sold separately) trailer becoming the gestalt components. Both methods have their merits, and if you’re feeling at all confused by it all at this stage then I’d recommend checking out my earlier article on the subject to help try and explain it. I will say at this stage that I do like that XTB’s effort can separate from the trailer though.

Purely in terms of looks I’d say it’s anyone’s game here. Some will prefer the chrome on Roadking whereas Gravestone is also chock full of lovely detailing and arguably hits the animation notes a bit stronger. I think in some ways I’d maybe hand this round to Gravestone just slightly, but that’s absolutely taking nothing away from the sheer level of wonder that is Roadking’s incredible transformation scheme. Speaking of which.

I gotta be honest – I was not looking forward to transforming Roadking much. People had told me it wasn’t that bad, that it was even quite good fun, but man, a few of the more recent FansToys transformations had me dreading the idea. In truth that assessment is half right, I think. It’s accurate to say that the conversion from truck to robot is surprisingly fluid and easy to figure out (not to mention bloody clever whilst you’re at it). However the process of unfolding everything and clipping together all those panels to form the truck is definitely less so, and much less forgiving! Still, it’s perfectly doable and hasn’t put me off giving it repeated attempts.

As for what you’re left with, this is a remarkably tidy robot, all things considered. You would never really know that he has an MP-10-sized truck squished into that robot mode somewhere, would you? Yes, it’s true that there’s a bit of a notable backpack going on, but really not to the degree that one might imagine given the transformation!

In fact the robot mode is surprisingly unencumbered by truck kibble, leaving it free to strut and pose for all its worth. I feel like this robot mode looks at its best when being displayed dramatically, to be honest – a stoic stance can make it seem almost a bit dumpy, whereas put a but of motion through him and the sculpt comes to life somehow.

It’s not perfect by any stretch. I’m not a fan of how the ankles work, with the tilt available somehow never being quite enough for more dramatic poses and the design requiring you to “break” the visual appearance of the three small faux wheels on the side of the leg. That might sound like a nitpick but it can look rather odd from some angles in my opinion.

The arm joints might also allow for a large range of motion, but those double hinges require a bit of care and attention as otherwise the arms can almost look like they’re not attached to the body properly. Oh, and the knees have that annoying “empty” joint thing going on with can be a bit unsightly in more extreme poses.

But when you get it all lined up right? Well then he’s an absolute beast! It’s honestly hard not to be bowled over by the sheer size and presence that this guy commands. He looks the business.

Part of me is slightly nervous by the chrome grill being on the underside of the feet in this mode, but I’ve been careful so far and mine hasn’t scratched yet so fingers crossed.

As well as his purple blaster, Roadking also comes with a nicely shiny sword, very much a trademark of Motormaster’s. Both weapons fit solidly inside of his hands using a peg.

There’s also an additional face which gives him an angry, shouty look and adds quite a bit of character. The process of swapping them out is an interesting one, as it involves taking the entire section surrounding the head apart, although it’s not as tricky as it sounds and is well worth it!

I gotta say, I had terrific fun just messing around with this robot mode and cranking through the poses. When I first got to grips with it I wasn’t sure just how much the articulation would allow you to achieve, but I’ve found him to be exceptionally dynamic and fluid in hand.

There’s enough give with most of the joints to contort him into some quite imaginative positions overall, making him a sturdy and imposing but surprisingly nimble fellow. Overall there’s a lot to love going on here.

As far as comparisons go, the most obvious one to start with is the only other member of FansToys’ Stunticons team out so far. Spoiler is their take on Breakdown, and cuts a surprisingly tall form next to Roadking. The enlarged size of the cars from this crew has caused some collectors to balk whilst looking right on point for others, so I suspect your take on it will come entirely down to aesthetic preference.

Either way there’s little denying that these two look very good together, and that seeing the whole team lined up will be a small wonder in itself.

One thing’s for certain, the combined form is going to be exceptionally heavy indeed! Roadking is a weighty bastard himself, and even Spoiler could be used to bludgeon someone at a push. I only hope that FansToys have taken this into account when planning out their Menasor as otherwise it’s going to be an interesting experience.

Of course if you’re itching to see a completed line-up of Stunticons right now then you can always sub in the X-Transbots crew! It’s surprising how well this lot work with the FansToys leader, as you’d be hard pushed to spot that they were from different companies in many ways. Of course they won’t be able to make a combined mode, but if you’re only here for the individual robots then this could be a way to go. For my money I do prefer the smaller stature of the XTB lot, as I like the idea of them lining up at head height to the Autobot cars.

FansToys are not messing around right now and already have their Aerialbots well underway too! Roadking and Maverick look absolutely spot on next to each other, really bringing these two natural enemies to life rather beautifully.

Roadking also shapes up nicely next to the likes of MP-44 Optimus Prime. It’s surprising to see that the more anime style of recent Masterpieces can still work well with third party designs which were originally shaped around the older aesthetic of toys like MP-10.

Naturally though I’m sure many of you will be slotting Roadking into a Decepticon line-up on your shelves, and there’s little doubt that he holds his own nicely in that regard. He looks fantastic next to the likes of Masterpiece Megatron and Soundwave.

I always liked that Motormaster was one of those characters who survived the shenanigans of 2005 in the original canon, and so he also looks pretty spiffy next to a future Decepticon crew. He and FansToys’ Sovereign are perfect together.

It’s crazy now to see how many different characters have become available in Masterpiece style once you factor in the many 3P toys available. Imagining a line-up like this only a few years back was merely the stuff of dreams, whereas now it’s possible to include different combiner team members, making the display possibilities rather endless.

So, one final comparison, which is of course with X-Transbots Gravestone. Again, it’s remarkable how similar these two are in many respects, especially given how different they are in others. Whenever I’ve posted photos of one or the other of them I’ve even noticed that not everyone can tell them apart! On a side-by-side photo the variances become a little more obvious but it’s still striking to see them shaping up so similarly to one another.

I think Gravestone definitely does some things better in my estimation (not least having the bigger sword, making Roadking’s look a bit puny by comparison – and they say size isn’t everything!). I definitely prefer him from the waist down, as he has significantly cleaner legs and much better-looking feet. I think Roadking has the better arms though and I do prefer the headsculpt.

Of course Roadking has a bigger backpack but then that’s to be expected with the transformation he’s packing. Overall I think you can’t really go wrong either way here, to be honest – there’s not a bad ‘bot between them! Likely your decision will come down to which set of Stunticons you feel handles the transformation aspects better, or which set of cars you think is the better size. If you’re just shopping around for individual ‘bots then honestly, take your pick as they’re both great in their own way.

So, that’s Roadking done! I can’t wait to see the rest of this team assembled, although for now I’m still living for the mix and match line-up. What a joy this is to behold after so many years!

WHAT’S HOT? The vehicle mode and robot mode are both ace. The transformation is out-of-this-world clever (I still can’t quite believe it) and is genuinely quite fun going from truck to robot. He’s also nicely finished and feels good quality.

WHAT’S NOT? The ankles are a bit cumbersome and the legs look a little odd in places. There is a bit of a backpack going on but I don’t personally mind it or hold it against the design given the transformation.

SHOP FOR FANSTOYS 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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