REVIEW: FansToys FT-43 Dunerunner (part 1)

It was only the other day that we were taking at look at another FansToys product, that now we’re back again with Dunerunner. It feels that barely a month goes by now without the unofficial outfit pumping out some new toy or other in their attempt to deliver seemingly every classic Transformers character imaginable.

I mean, genuinely, at this stage it becoming like there’s nothing they won’t do, right? Dinobots, Insecticons, Stunticons, Aerialbots, Headmasters, Targetmasters, Skyfire, Omega Supreme, FORTRESS bloomin’ MAXIMIUS… that’s quite a roster they’re building, and it seems like there really is no limit to the scope of their ambition. All that said, it’s fun to take a beat and examine one of their smaller offerings, for a change!

And in this case small is very much by design, as the character this toy is meant to represent, Beachcomber, is a Minibot, after all. In fact he’s one of my personal favourite Minibots, as my recent Toy of the Week spotlight on that glorious vintage toy was designed to show.

Fortunately, Dunerunner looks to be a decent stab at the Beachcomber design too, and makes for a credible first impression (which you can also see in the Unboxing effort for this toy!). Today we’re going to be taking a look at the vehicle form in a little more detail.

And quite a striking little thing it is. I say ‘little’, although in reality it’s actually not that different in size to a Masterpiece Carbot in many respects, and definitely looks quite oversized in terms of real world scale. Still, that’s not going to be something that ever works for Masterpiece-styled toys, unless you want robot modes to be all over the place!

There is still something about him that “feels” little though, if that makes sense. It’s like he captures all the essence and cuteness of a Minibot despite being a relatively larger size all the same. It’s an interesting one as the Chenowth “Hellfire” Fast Attack Vehicle is actually a miltary dune buggy and would typically be armed with some serious weaponry, but Beachcomber being the pacifist character that he is, there’s nothing about this interpretation that looks even remotely threatening.

You can mount his robot mode pistol inside the cab section, mind, but despite that I’ve little doubt that FansToys have opted for a heavily stylised interpretation of the actual vehicle in an effort to bring it significantly close to the character’s animation model. And you know what? It works.

It’s quite at odds with the previous attempt in Masterpiece-style we’ve seen for this character, X-Transbots Arkose, in how it eschews such real-world trappings to swing heavily into that animation style. However, by doing so it sets what FansToys have created apart somewhat and is sure to delight collectors who’re looking for something as accurate as possible to the source material.

One of the first things you notice in the box is the silver plate accessories that accompany Dunerunner, of which there are two varieties. One is the single piece that clips over his bonnet section, which looks accurate to the cartoon and is perfect for popping on an Autobot logo to complete the overall look, although it will need to be removed for transformation.

The other is the same piece but split into two parts, meaning that should you prefer then you could leave these on the front of his legs during robot mode (although actually removing this piece altogether makes the robot mode more accurate!). It means you have options with how to display the toy, including leaving these pieces off altogether, should you prefer!

It makes Dunerunner’s transformation ever-so-slightly partsformy, which is a facet that I know will be a turn-off for some, but in my mind I think it’s a very simple but clever solution, and it means that the Autobot logo can be in the right place for vehicle form without needing to be present on the front of his shins in robot mode. If TakaraTomy ever do a Masterpiece Beachcomber then I kind of suspect they’ll find a way to integrate such a feature somehow, but this works well too.

So, he looks accurate to the cartoon, but it’s also worth noting how tidy Dunerunner comes off in this mode. There’s barely any kibble to be seen, with only the tiniest peep of a little something from underneath the sides if you really go looking for it.

Again, it’s in stark contrast to X-Transbots Arkose, which by contrast was a very complicated (if kibble-free) design. FansToys’ attempt feels significantly simpler, somehow, and probably all the better for it.

That’s particularly true in the rear section, which packs away all the robot stuff in a surprisingly well-kept manner, such that you’d be surprised to see how much junk he actually has in his trunk! It honestly is commendable how clean this things comes off in both modes.

It’s also worth mentioning that diecast roll cage atop the buggy, which is an excellent solution and greatly appreciated versus XTB’s plastic alternative. It looks nice and shiny too!

Then you have some decent paint applications and detailing on areas such as the rear engine, even if it does still look a little nipular to the untrained eye…

The interior section is also well done and features more diecast going on, and even makes an attempt at the tiniest of details such as a steering wheel, gearbox and little seats. Lovely stuff.

It’s just a shame that the Masterpiece minifigures are slightly too big to fit in there, as this would have been the crowning glory in many ways! They still make a wonderful accompaniment to this toy overall, though.

I’m also a big fan of those translucent blue headlights, which never fail to catch the light and shine brightly. I’m still slightly perturbed by that whole front section looking distinctly amphibious, though! Once you see it…

Sadly my copy has a notable fault with the front wheel section connected to the lights, however, as it refuses to stay properly pegged and therefore flops forward at any given opportunity. It’s rather annoying, to say the least.

It’s a shame, really, as otherwise there’s not really much bad to say about this mode overall. Perhaps the only other slight caution I have is that I have noted a few white paint flecks coming off during transformation, although to be fair it was at its worst the first attempt and doesn’t appear to be causing any notable wear at all.

Overall then, there’s quite a bit to enjoy about this buggy mode. It’s really rather adorable and does do a cracking job at bringing the animation model to life, which in many ways is about as much as I was looking for from a design of this kind.

It’s interesting to see how FansToys have applied what is evidently a lot of care and attention to something as comparatively mini as this guy, at a time when they obviously have much bigger concerns going on elsewhere, but it’s great to see a character as memorable as Beachcomber not being given short shrift.

Join us for part two when we’ll be talking transformation and taking a look at that robot mode!

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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