REVIEW: FansToys FT-31B Magnum (part 2)

We’re back with the second part of our extended look at the latest FansToys release up for examination – it’s Magnum! FansToys have already done a stellar job with their not-Stunticon line-up thus far, and indeed Magnum himself proved to be a pretty fantastic example in his vehicle mode during part one of this review. Well, now it’s time to get him transformed and take a look at that rocking robot mode!

Now, I was slightly hindered when it came to transformation of this guy, as unfortunately it seems that FansToys neglected to include any instructions in with my copy of the figure! Fortunately it turns out that Magnum is no match for the likes of some of their other releases, such as Maverick or Jabber, when it comes to complexity, so he actually turned out to be a bit of a comparative breeze! Here was my first attempt…

Repeated transformations since have proven to be an even easier affair, and honestly I now find this to be a relatively simple process overall. The biggest turn-off for me is still the way in which you need to connect the two halves of the car together, as it’s seemingly always a bit of an effort to get everything lined up just so to avoid clearance issues and I’m never not just a little nervous about those clear plastic tabs. Overall though, there’s not much to worry about here and the result is definitely worth it!

That’s a very handsome looking robot form indeed, and a surprisingly tidy one to boot! We’ll talk about the comparative size of the various third party Stunticon efforts in a little bit, but you have to admit that seeing a character like Wildrider decked out in such fine and impressive form is a bit of a delight, whatever your take. It’s a very striking ‘bot mode with some great proportions.

From a rear view things are still looking mostly very tidy, although I’m not a major fan of the way the car bonnet just kind of hangs off his shoulders there. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but there’s just something a little lacklustre about the way it sits, and especially the rather obvious grey tab in the middle that never seems to have a proper place. Still, it’s a nitpick by any measure.

Full confession time: I have slightly mistransformed the shoulder sections in these pics! I missed the seemingly very minor step of rotating the wheel arches round so that the wheels sit slightly higher in position on the sides of the shoulders. I know, I know, it’s a heinous sin and all that, but it’s very easy to miss – kind of like those flaps on the sides of Masterpiece Sideswipe’s legs that everyone always forgets!

Still, with or without that step there’s little doubt that Magnum presents very nicely. As with the car mode, it’s hard not to be impressed by the overall fit and finish of the robot form, which feels very solid with some incredibly tight joints and a decent feel in hand. There are plenty of lovely little touches to catch your eye, too!

Amongst those are the very attractive spots of translucent blue and red plastic on areas such as the chest and the knees, which look fantastic and definitely give a bit of visual interest to what could otherwise be a rather flat colour scheme. I really like the red paint they’ve used too, and again even the main grey colour is surprisingly warm in hand. He certainly looks quite something to the eye.

The headsculpt on Magnum is excellent, too. I think FansToys have had varying degrees of success with faces over the years, but here it feels like they’ve absolutely nailed the look of the character from the cartoon and produced something very credible Red faces have a habit of blowing all of the details in a sculpt, but here the face looks crisp and well-defined.

As is becoming rather par for the course, there’s also an alternate, “shouty” face included in the box, which can be swapped out by removing the crest of his head and unpegging the face itself. It’s a simple mechanism and the second face also looks on point and suitable for the character. It’s a really good job overall here from FansToys.

The only other accessory here is Magnum’s hand blaster, which connects to his palm using the all-too-familiar peg method. However I never find it to be held in place all that stably, as it seems I’m constantly having to put it back in place or readjust it somehow. The fingers do wrap around the handle, but end up in a bit of an awkward position so it’s not the best fit overall.

So, Magnum is a really handsome lad but how does he handle? Well, it’s both good and bad news on that score, as the articulation is limited in places but what he does have works mostly quite well. First up, some bad news: there’s no ab crunch.

That probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but it does remove a bit of dynamism when trying to pose him up. It’s weird too, as this was something that FansToys managed to incorporate on Spoiler so it feels even more noticeable by its absence on Magnum. I did also find that his head not really being able to look down at all was a bit unfortunate for some poses.

Additionally, I can’t say I care for those hip flaps much. X-Transbots employed a surprisingly similar solution on their interpretation of Wildrider and I always found that a little awkward too, as there’s just no real way to pose the legs without the hip flaps looking a bit too obvious. Wildrider’s design is just so blocky and smooth that it creates a bit of a visual break, to my eye.

I will say that I found this chap a little cumbersome to pose dynamically overall. Whilst there is a decent amount of movement in areas such as the shoulders, the rather unforgiving ratchets that FansToys have used can make posing them just as you want a little tricky. Additionally there’s a bit of a lack of range in areas such as the hips, which can’t even achieve a 90 degree bend forward in an unusual turn.

It basically means that Magnum ends up feeling a little stiff overall, and perhaps not quite the fluid and fun-to-pose specimen that one might have hoped. To be fair this is feedback I’ve given about previous FansToys figures too, including his teammate, Spoiler, although actually I would say that toy is still a bit more dynamic overall.

All that said though, there is good news! It’s still perfectly possible to pose Magnum in plenty of decent ways, and the articulation is plentiful enough that you’ll still be able to have a bit of fun with him, no doubt. And hey, he looks great pretty much no matter how you choose to stand him!

Perhaps my only other little bugbear here are those wing mirrors hanging off the bottom of his arms, which forever look a little out of place once you notice them, but also continue to give me a slight nervousness about accidentally breaking them at some point. I do wish that FansToys had seen fit to allow them to collapse somehow, at least.

Still, I really am nitpicking now as overall there’s a lot to like with this robot form, and especially in how it brings the character to life so well. He also looks quite superb lined up next to Spoiler, of course!

The two of them feel very cohesive as a growing unit, as you’d hope for. There are numerous little touches that tie them together, such as the use of translucent plastic for highlighted sections and the way the vents and other detailing are all moulded. They really do look fab, even just as a pair, although overall I’d honestly say that I think Magnum is the better figure despite the additional articulation that Spoiler is sporting.

Once you throw Roadking into the mix too then it all starts to look really quite impressive as a line-up, as the full scale of FansToys’ ambitions with their Stunticon crew are becoming more evident. At present we still have little idea how the final combined form will shape up, although to be honest these guys are nice enough as individual robots that I think the journey will be worth it overall. I just hope it won’t be too long to go now before we see more on the final two team members!

It’s perhaps at this point that it’s worth addressing the size of Spoiler and Magnum, even if that’s something I’ve talked about previously in other articles, as I think it’s probably going to be the single biggest consideration that fans will have when deciding which set of 3PMP Stunticons is going to be for them. As a self-contained unit the FansToys crew look marvellous together, and it definitely works well having the car lads being a bit taller versus Motormaster, as you’ll no doubt see.

Of course where things take a divisive turn is pitting the likes of Magnum versus the Masterpiece carbots, as they’re notably taller. Some people are seemingly well into this idea, even quoting the “Holy Scale Chart” as evidence that this is indeed how it should be done, whereas there are others who like the idea of their Stunticons to be much more in line with the Carbots overall.

I prefer to think that there’s no right and wrong on this point, especially as even the Holy Scale Chart can be a source of contention. The cartoon was  never particularly consistent at the best of times, so really it’s more a question of what “feels right” to you when sourcing ‘bots for your shelf. I will say that to my eye it definitely looks at least a little jarring to see the Stunticons looking quite so large in their individual robot forms.

It also adds complexity elsewhere, as lots of collectors who’ve been merrily assembling Masterpiece-style line-ups will likely have at least one or two examples of combiner limb-lads from other 3P companies along the way. At the size FansToys have delivered their Stunticons, they now sit at the largest examples I can think of other than the company’s own Aerialbots (which themselves are massive, as evidenced in my FansToys Iceman video). If you have any of the various attempts at Combaticons, Constructicons or Predacons, then FansToys’ Stunticons will be larger in their individual robots forms.

Ultimately you’ll need to decide if that works for you or not, although I’m guessing some FT diehards will no doubt be waiting for the company to deliver their own take on all of those characters anyway (presumably in equally grandiose scale). It will certainly be an impressive sight, assuming they ever do!

Anyway, as I say I think this is probably the biggest deciding factor that one can take into account when choosing which Stunticons are right for you. Given that, it would be hard for me to definitively say that either Magnum or X-Transbots Flipout is the right choice to make as they’re both going to look incredibly different in your collection.

I will say though that the FansToys option definitely presents as the more polished article overall, with a superior finish, nicer materials used and some undeniably more attractive touches (such as those lovely translucent plastic highlights!). That said, I like the more simplified and streamlined design that X-Transbots have gone for, and it’s definitely the option I find more fun to pick up, play with and transform. Shame there isn’t a best of both worlds, perhaps!

At the end of the day, the FansToys loyalists will no doubt have already called victory on this one (I’ve already been told by one poster that I need to throw my XTB figures in the bin, rather unequivocally), but the reality is that both sets are shaping up well and achieve different things to varying degrees. As I said before, there’s no one “right” option here, so whichever way you ultimately decide to go I’m sure you’ll find things to enjoy about it.

If you do decide that the FansToys crew is the one for you though, then I’ve little doubt that Magnum will prove to be another big tick in the long road towards that finished combined mode. It’ll be great to see it once we get there, but I’m still enjoying the journey all the same.

WHAT’S HOT? Stunning vehicle mode, fairly simple transformation (for FansToys), very nice-looking robot mode and great fit and finish overall.

WHAT’S NOT? The gun doesn’t tab all that well into the hand, the robot mode is a little cumbersome in terms of posing and articulation and there are a couple of smaller nitpicks such as awkward looking hip flaps to consider.

SHOP FOR FANSTOYS AT TFSOURCE

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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