REVIEW: FansToys FT-43 Dunerunner (part 2)

We’re back with the second part of our full pictorial review of the latest member of the FansToys offering – it’s Dunerunner! Last time we covered off that quite adorable little vehicle form, which is just about as cute as can be! Now it’s time to get him transformed into robot mode.

Fortunately the transformation is really nothing too difficult, and in many ways feels rather unorthodox by typical FansToys’ standards in that it seeks to keep things as simple as possible. I don’t say that harshly, but it’s well-documented by now that some efforts from the third party outfit can be a little on the over-complicated side, so it’s good to know that they can take it down a notch when really needed!

In fact the transformation from vehicle mode to robot form is the simplest of all, with everything unfolding (or in the case of the backpack, storing away) essentially as one might expect, leaving you with a very tidy result, as we’ll see. The conversion back to vehicle is a little more tricky, if only on account of getting everything tabbed in just so, which can be a little unforgiving at times (as evidenced in my Unboxing video on this guy).

The cleverest bit here by far is the way all of the roll cage and engine bits fold up into the backpack, as everything quite genuinely disappears from view almost entirely! It makes for an exceptionally clean robot form from every angle, something that definitely sets Dunerunner apart from the main previous 3PMP attempt at this character we’ve seen. Quite impressive overall, in my opinion.

Oh hey, and as if that wasn’t enough, then Dunerunner is absolutely adorable to boot! There’s little doubting who this is meant to be, as the overall look is a dead ringer for Beachcomber’s animation model.

I mean, look, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that it’s not the same ultra-slavish level of über cartoon accuracy that one can expect from the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece line these days, but it is an incredibly spot-on effort all the same. I also think for a lot of collectors this will hit the right balance in terms of aesthetics by representing the character well without trying to make it look like it’s quite literally been peeled off the screen.

That said, there’s no doubt that FansToys have shifted their design aesthetic a little too, presumably to move at least a smidge closer to what the official line is cooking up, currently. Dunerunner is notably smooth and lacking in greebly detail over much of his body, which to my eye works really well, although it does set him apart from some of their earlier designs a tad.

It’s also worth pointing out the choices on colour scheme here, as I was very surprised to see just how *white* the paint is on Dunerunner. It’s a very brilliant shade indeed, quite overpowering on first glance, and feels very much apart from both official and unofficial efforts from days gone by, when grey would often be used in situations like this. Instead, FT have gone all-in with that colour choice, and by doing so have definitely brought a larger dose of screen-accuracy to the proceedings, but also kept Dunerunner more in line with the look of recent MPs, such as MP-44 Convoy.

I feel like people will have strong opinions on this choice, as it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. However it definitely sets Dunerunner apart from X-Transbots attempt at the character and, as I say, makes him feel distinctly “Beachcombery” as a result. I like it, personally.

Unfortunately the white paint can feel a little unforgiving to the touch, and as I mentioned last time I have noted a fair few paint flecks when handling this guy, especially to start with. However it doesn’t appear to have caused any lasting wear overall. Elsewhere, that baby blue is certainly a choice too, but it does contain a very nice sparkle to it that is appreciated in hand.

So overall, it’s a strong look for Dunerunner, who additionally feels like he’s well-made and robustly put together overall. I haven’t had any concerns with loose joints or other major concerns, with perhaps my only real grumble in that regard being how easy it is for the backpack section to come untabbed at the midriff, thus meaning that the top half of his torso can lurch forward rather unexpectedly.

I was amused to note that FansToys have used this “feature” in their own promotional photography for this toy, as in reality it’s clearly not intended as a point of articulation in the design, and if anything looks very awkward from most angles if used more than just a little. Still, it’s the nearest thing to an ab crunch that you’re going to find on Dunerunner.

Not that I’m really  complaining, mind, as there’s a decent-enough dose of articulation overall to keep most people happy. I wouldn’t say he’s overly poseable, but he certainly hits all the expected beats, at least. I do wish the elbows could give more than a ninety degree bend, and I’ll never be a fan of that single-piece hip skirt (*WHY?*), but there’s nothing stopping you from having a bit of fun with him all the same.

Oh hey, and he can do a decent run, so that’s something!

If anythign, what is a little odd is how stiff some bits of this guy continue to be! Joints such as the waist or the neck are quite unforgiving and require a decent amount of force to turn, which is something that still feels notable when picking him up and playing around with him, somehow. There’s still also that all-too-familiar FansToys squeak going on, at times.

Speaking of the head, you can swap it out for several other options if you prefer. It’s a very easy solution that involves pulling it off at the neck and popping on an alternative. As a default, I quite like the version with the slight smile that you will see in most of the photos here, but there’s something to be said for the more stoic look too! I really think they’ve captured him very nicely.

You could go the other way though, and dial up the happy factor! The ultra-happy face is beyond adorable!

Or instead there’s the option with the colourful visor, which is intended to represent the brief scene in the episode, The Golden Lagoon, where Beachcomber scans a bird so that he can imitate its language and sing back to it. It’s an interesting inclusion by FansToys as typically they keep their accessories quite sparse, and this kind of heavily-specific cartoon nod is not what I’ve come to expect from them, but it looks ace.

Otherwise, the major accessory on offer here aside from his hand blaster are the two metal plates that can be installed on the front of his shins. As I mentioned in part 1, these are of more use in the vehicle mode as they form the bonnet section where you could then place an Autobot logo. I much prefer the single piece solution that is also included myself, but if you absolutely hate the idea of partsforming then I guess you can use the split pieces shown here and leave them on, despite it then not matching the animation model in robot mode.

I actually don’t mind it as a look, although it’s not something I’ll be using, personally.

So, I’m quite a fan of Dunerunner. I think he does a brilliant job at bringing the character to life, he feels like a lot of fun overall, and he’s solid and well-made. What else do you need?

I also like that he feels very different from X-Transbots Arkose. Seeing them side-by-side will show you just how much variance there is between these two designs, a big part of which is surely down to when they were made. Arkose hails from the Hasui-era of the official Masterpiece line, and is clearly designed to fit in with stuff like MP-21 Bumblebee or even MP-10 Convoy. Dunerunner, on the other hand, veers much closer to the more recent era of the line.

Ultimately it will be up to you which look you prefer, and to be fair there is a lot to be said about Arkose that I really like too, although it’s fairly obvious that Dunerunner is a lot less kibbly (and therefore less fiddly, as a result!). It never helped with Arkose that he suffered a little in the QC department, meaning that the FT effort feels notably more sturdy overall.

I also think that Dunerunner does the better job at filling out a Masterpiece-styled photoshoot these days, particularly with so many third party efforts all adapting to the more modern aesthetic too. He looks amazing in a 1985 Minibot roster, even if none of these efforts actually come from TakaraTomy themselves!

It’s always funny to me when different third party toys somehow work amazingly well together (lining up almost by happenstance in terms of aesthetic, scale etc.), and so it is here. Between FansToys, X-Transbots and DX9, we’ve been very well-served in terms of this fantastic bunch.

Of course we also have an updated attempt at Seaspray on the way from FansToys soon, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they have plans for Cosmos and Powerglide in development behind-the-scenes too!

Dunerunner’s larger size does mean that he stands notably taller than any of the efforts we’ve seen at a 1984 crew thus far, but to my eye it still works really well. I always thought of the 1985 Minibots as being somewhat larger, anyway.

Speaking of 1985, Dunerunner looks marvellous with the rest of that roster, both official and non, and holds his own in terms of how well he brings Beachcomber to life. It’s great to see the character done justice.

In fact it’s really interesting to note how much these interpretations of different characters are evolving over time. In many ways the comparison between Dunerunner and Arkose is one of those watershed moments when you step back and think, “OK, things have really shifted here”. We’ve definitely seen it in the official line with figures like Inferno and of course with MP-44 Convoy, but it’s certainly happening in the third party world too.

I guess the interesting thing is that you now have companies like FansToys looking to re-do their own toys. As I already mentioned, we have a second Seaspray effort on the way, and there’s a new Perceptor that’s been unveiled too. What a weird time we live in, eh?

For now though, it’s great to see FansToys putting so much effort into what could have been a fairly run-of-the-mill release for them. At a time when they’re going big on stuff like Stunticons and Aerialbots, I’m pleased that they haven’t dropped the ball with the smaller guys like Dunerunner.

In fact it’s impressive to note just how large and diverse their burgeoning line-up of characters is becoming now, with so many different iterations of the G1 world being brought to life overall.

One wonders who won’t be tackled by them at some point moving forward, as it seems there really is no limit to their ambitions at this stage!

Still, be they big or small, it’s great to see how it’s all coming together so far, with Dunerunner being the latest success story overall. Bravo!

WHAT’S HOT? Decent vehicle mode, very nice robot mode, simple-enough transformation. It’s a cracking representation of the character overall.

WHAT’S NOT? My copy has a loose wheel connection in vehicle mode. I have had some paint flecking too.

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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