REVIEW: Fans Hobby Athena (part 2)

We’re back with the second part of our extended look at the latest hot third party offering – it’s Fans Hobby Athena! If you haven’t yet then do check out my unboxing video for this toy, where we cover off a bit of background on the character in question too, and indeed part one of this review, where we took a look at her alternate mode.

Needless to say, Athena has made quite the first impression thus far, with that Porsche-inspired vehicular form shaping up very nicely indeed! Now it’s time to get her transformed up and take a look at that robot mode. If you haven’t seen it yet then I cover off the process of doing so here.

Since then, I’ve managed to convert Athenaback and forth quite a few times, and honestly it’s a very straightforward process overall. I think all in it probably takes me at most about five minutes to do now, which I’m sure will be welcome news to a lot of 3PMP collectors who could do without another toy taking up hours of their time! The legs are the most challenging bit, if only because getting the necessary clearance in order to swing them out can be a bit tricky, but really there’s nothing here to cause concern for anyone. I have had quite a few comments from people online asking if the roof section actually needs to be removed for transformation, as rather expectedly a lot of folks don’t like the idea of partsforming. The answer is yes, you will need to remove the roof in order to properly transform the toy as, besides anything else, there’s no way to rotate it round for its position in robot mode, with the peg it clips onto being in a fixed position. Still, I can’t say it bothers me a jot, especially not when the result is this striking.

Athena makes an immediate bold entrance in her robot form, catching your eye for lots of different reasons!

It’s a highly distinctive design, made all the more memorable by that vivid white and red colour-combo, and immediately brings the character to life with aplomb. It may not be the most cartoon-accurate figure imaginable, but boy, does it look great all the same.

It’s also a remarkably clean robot form for the most part, with the front only showing evidence of car kibble where it’s arguably required to recreate the character’s typical appearance, and even the back doing a good job at stowing it all away quite tidily. I love the simple but effective way the wing mirrors fold it and out of the way, and although the backpack looks quite sizeable from this angle, I’ve not once thought it to be a problem in hand, at all.

Of course, should you prefer then you can just remove the backpack all together and leave yourself with an even more streamlined robot form. For my money I prefer her with it on, as it does a better job at representing the way she’s supposed to look, but it’s nice to have the option all the same. I guess it could have been good to see the backpack utilised as some sort of riot-shield-type accessory, but I don’t mind that this cannot be done, either.

Otherwise the biggest bit of car bumf are those shoulder pads, for want of a better term, which are designed to replicate her cartoon appearance to some degree. In truth the wheels would need to be on her forearms and a few other bits would need to be moved around in order for her to be considered truly accurate to the source material, but the overall look is close enough.

The shoulder pads themselves are mounted on small black joints that allow for quite a bit of movement and posing. The white sections are not fixed in place at all, so can be freely moved around to suit your preferences. It does mean that they may also require a bit of readjustment every so often, but it’s far from being a problem. In their “default” position then they do impede some of the arm movement a bit, most notably being able to swing the arms out to the sides. However, it is possible to also move the arms at the hinge joint connecting them to the body, so this counteracts the issue somewhat.

Should you prefer then you could swing the white sections back a touch, positioning them just behind the shoulders themselves and allowing the arms to move as freely as you wish. I have found that this makes a lot of posing look a little more natural too.

Alternatively you could also swing those sections all the way back to appear as though they’re sitting flush with the backpack, too. I found it creates quite an interesting silhouette to pose them this way, but regardless of your personal preference it’s fair to say that there are a lot of display options available with this toy.

To my eye though, the default look is best and does a great job at bringing to life the slightly bizarre robot form we know from the cartoon. Again, the look is a lot more stylised, and indeed the proportions more exaggerated, but the intention is clear. Besides, it all works surprisingly well – even those sizeable boots she’s packing!

Actually the legs have probably been my main gripe with this toy overall, as although the design itself is good, my copy seems to have a small issue that’s worth mentioning. If you’ve seen my initial video then you’ll note I had some trouble getting the door pegged into the back of her right leg, as no matter what I tried it wouldn’t stay in place. Sadly this remains the case, meaning that I’ve ruled out the notion that it’s user error, but rather seems to be that the peg just doesn’t fit the required hole particularly well.

It’s annoying as the other side clips in quite securely with no effort, so it can be a little frustrating when the right one pops out repeatedly during posing. Hopefully it’s just a quirk on my copy and not a widespread issue.

Still, there’s plenty to be enjoyed here despite that little quibble, with Athena’s robot form being chock full of articulation and allowing for plenty of wonderful poses.

Perhaps the most restricted joints here are the knees, which only allow for about a 90 degree bend on account of the larger lower legs, but otherwise there’s really no limit to the freedom of movement on offer. The waist joint in particular gives a lot more than most robots and allows you to really go to town when it comes to setting her up for dynamic display.

Athena is rocking a pair of dual hand-blasters that, as we’ve already seen, can be stowed away inside her car mode when not in use. They peg very securely into her palms and really make her appear quite ready for action when put in hand.

I often mention in these reviews how I’m a big fan of any ‘bot that can dual-wield their weapons, so posing Athena like this was fun indeed!

You can also fold the guns back up and store them on little tabs on the sides of her legs, should you wish.

Of course the other notable “accessory” here is her head, which transforms into the minifigure we looked at last time. It’s amazing to see that it really isn’t obvious as being a Headmaster at all, and looks quite convincing placed atop her body.

In fact it’s quite something to see her next to the representations of Shuta & Cab we’ve already received from Fans Hobby, which came packaged with their God Armor release, as hopefully it’s only going to be a matter of time until we see fully realised versions of them, too!

All of the heads are interchangeable, so if you really wish then you can give either of the other two a spin on Athena’s body for now!

Athena also makes a stab at the familiar Headmaster readout gimmick of days gone by, in that she features a fold-down panel on her chest which traditionally would have hidden her tech spec details. As far as this updated toy goes, pulling down this panel will activate an integrated gimmick where the stats move as they would have done on the original design (without requiring you to even insert the Headmaster itself), although really it’s just for show. Still, it’s a neat inclusion.

As far as the face goes, I really like what Fans Hobby have done here. The sculpting is nicely crisp, although something about the deep orange complexion does tend to mask the details a little. Still, it looks good and features a nice sparkle to the eyes when they catch the light just right.

There is also an alternate face which is very easy to swap out. It’s sporting a rather cheesy grin that looks fun, but honestly I think I’ll mostly be sticking with the stoic option.

So overall there’s a lot to like about Athena’s robot form, as she’s loaded with poseability, good looks and play value. A triple threat indeed.

In terms of comparisons, it’s great to see how well Athena slots in versus any number of other MP-styled offerings. Despite being a fairly stylised effort overall, she still looks right at home with other toys, both official and non. Size-wise, she’s pretty much MP Carbot height, meaning that she looks good in any number of different displays. Really, I wouldn’t struggle to think where she might be at home on my shelf!

She’s quite noticeably smaller than the Headmaster efforts from other third party companies, such as Maketoys, but for my money I think it works pretty well in terms of bringing their fictional portrayals to life! Here’s hoping that we see both of these teams fully fleshed out with the remaining four characters. What a display that would be!

I guess it’s amazing to see how many Headmasters and Targetmasters we’ve now seen represented by different companies, although there are still a lot more to go.

Of course there are now an increasing number of Japanese series Masterpiece releases on the go too, so here’s hoping that trend continues!

Where Athena is most at home though is with Fans Hobby’s own offerings, as she immediately looks superb next to the likes of their Power Baser design, amongst others.

There’s a lot of cross-functionality starting to bloom from their growing line-up that I’m a big fan of. I couldn’t help but feel as I was taking these photos that it’s a real pleasure to have been on board since the beginning and see how their output has so quickly evolved in the short three years they’ve been producing toys.

As I’ve already said, all of this makes extremely excited to see news of Fans Hobby’s takes on Shuta and Cab, too! It will be amazing to see this set completed in their signature style! Hopefully it won’t be too long before we get some news.

They have of course also teased a Nightbeat repaint of the Athena mould, so I’m really curious to see how that pans out too, and what differences they’ll make to this design.

And who knows where they’ll take us next… maybe they’ll keep going on the Masterforce track they’re currently rolling down and be the first outfit to finally bring us Masterpiece-styled Pretenders, eh? Wouldn’t that be a thing!

For now though, we’ve got more than enough great stuff from them on the go already, of which Athena is just the latest fantastic instalment. Top drawer stuff indeed.

WHAT’S HOT? Really great vehicle mode and a fab robot mode too. Nice, easy transformation and a bunch of cracking gimmicks.

WHAT’S NOT? My copy has a bit of an issue with a door panel that won’t stay tabbed in robot mode. The partsforming may be an issue for some.

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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