REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase Seven: A Ditka (part 1)

If you asked me to present a list of toys I never thought I’d be formally reviewing again then… well, I don’t know exactly every release that would be on that list but certainly, KFC Ditka would.

After all, this is not my first trip on the merry-go-round, let me tell you. Not the second, even! No, this will actually be the third time I will have sat down to type up my thoughts on this particular figure. The third.

I’d love to be able to claim that’s a level of dedication and perhaps thoroughness that a lot of toy reviewers can’t always attest to, like somehow being silly enough to take a third pass at a toy you’ve already written about extensively is a right of passage or something. In reality, it’s just my own sheer curiosity getting the better of me, I admit.

So, what exactly brought us to this point, then? Well, it all started a little over four years ago (cripes!) when I was invited to review an initial test shot of Ditka prior to its release. In fact I still have that same test shot in hand today, believe it or not!

It looks quite different to the retail version you see today on account of its colour scheme, for starters. The tan colour is a lot lighter, the purple significantly darker, and there are other little touches to separate the two besides. Anyway, at the time it presented well enough and I gave it a fairly decent (if not spectacularly enthusiastic) write-up.

Two months later, I was informed that KFC had decided to completely overhaul the colour scheme (into what eventually made it to retail) and was asked if I’d like to take another look. “Sure”, I thought. Why not? After all, surely it’ll just be the same toy in a new colour scheme, eh?

And to a large extent that was true, but unfortunately something had gone a bit wrong along the way. Somehow the quality on the second version just wasn’t anywhere near as good as on the first, with bits popping off fairly frequently, a couple of very notable QC problems and, worst of all, some newly-designed heels that meant the thing actually struggled to stand in robot mode at all (whereas the original had been ok in this regard). I was as surprised as anyone to have to give it a less positive rating than the first version!

So, weird situation all round, eh? Yet as far as I was aware it was that second version that went ahead to be released, especially when in-hand reports then started to pile in saying that people were having all kinds of dramas and that it was proving to be a bit of a mixed bag on the whole. It’s sad to say, but I honestly think to this day that the tolerances and QC on that initial test shot were such that it would have been better received.

Fast forward to today then, and whilst Ditka certainly hasn’t won over everyone looking for a Masterpiece-styled Blitzwing, he still has his promoters all the same. Besides, the options for the character aren’t exactly plentiful, are they?

After all, it’s essentially this dude or DX9’s Gewalt, and as you may have guessed I did review that one too and found it to be a little lacking in a number of areas. I should add that Gewalt most definitely has his fans and does possess a fair dose of chunky appeal, but it’s also not a cartoon-accurate take on the character in any respect, and ultimately just didn’t feel compelling as part of my collection, personally speaking.

Then of course there’s the long-awaited (like *really* long-awaited) FansToys attempt, which was first shown in 2016 but has thus far never materialised. They did provide a bit of an updated design in 2019, but still nothing concrete has ever made it to market, meaning that collectors who have been holding on in there waiting for an FT Blitzwing to drop have had a very long time of it indeed!

Meanwhile, I’ve been merrily living life with that same old Ditka test shot on my shelves this whole time, never really thinking too much about the situation beyond the times it comes out for a spot of group shot photography and someone asks me what the deal is with the colour scheme.

But, somewhere along the way, I became curious. I started to take another look at the retail version of Ditka and think to myself, “are the colours really all that bad after all?” I also started to wonder if maybe some of the problems I’d had with the second test shot were because, well, test shot. They’re commonly not known for being the best examples of fit and finish, after all.

So, with FansToys Thomas now in hand and with similar curiosity mounting about KFC’s Stratotanker, it somehow seemed like the perfect opportunity to assemble the full team of triple changers and check them all out in tandem (and discover if Ditka is actually a legitimately great Blitzwing or not, once and for all!).

As you know what? That tank mode never gets old! Yes, as soon as I got this guy out of the box I was marvelling at it once more. It’s just a beaut’!

It’s big, chunky, weighty, superbly-detailed and just all-round looks badass. It’s definitely one of the best-looking tank modes I can think of in my collection.

Actually I think it may only be slightly surpassed by the recent Ocular Max Probus release, although given how highly I ranked that figure in my top ten toys of last year, that’s a fair compliment all by itself! Besides, Probus doesn’t have a third mode to take into account (well, unless you count being a leg, of course!).

The finish also looks pretty good here, to my eye. No obvious defects, problems, quibbles or QC errors so far. Instead the paint applications look good and overall it all presents very nicely indeed.

I was even surprised to see that I actually don’t mind the colour scheme quite as much as I’d remembered I did once I had it in hand again. It’s true that I do definitely prefer the lighter tan colouring on the original test shot, but it’s not like I’m looking at the retail version thinking it looks horrendous, either.

In fact there are also some bonuses to the new version, most notably that the black hinges on the sides of the original are now the same tan as the rest of the body, and that there are numerous additional highlights to catch the eye, including little pink-ish lights and the whatnot. I do definitely think that the fully-painted treads look way, way better on the original though, leaving retail Ditka’s sides feeling a little bare by comparison.

Ultimately it’s still a bit mad that KFC saw fit to make so many changes to this thing so late in the day, especially when a lot of collectors had pre-ordered based on the original colour scheme. However I have to comment that looking at this final version all on its own merit, there’s a lot to be said for it, too, and generally speaking this tank mode slaps as hard as it ever did.

Besides, if nothing else it’s great fun to be taking a look at it all over again, and especially alongside the other two triple changers. The two KFC examples may not be perfect but I still think they’re about as close to the animation models as we’ve seen from any 3PMP toy thus far.

It’s also great to check out Ditka versus some of the newer MP-styled toys on offer, and I think he gels pretty well with the likes of the Ocular Max Combaticons, for starters.

He still carries his own in terms of sheer presence, and whatever colour scheme is going on, I think the visual appeal of this tank mode should surely be obvious.

With Thomas now here to finish off the triple changer troupe, it’s exciting to think that this all-too-important area of the Decepticon ranks can at long last legitimately be considered “done”, especially seeing as how nicely they seem to line up with one another.

Ultimately it’s only the first mode down, but it has to be said what a great first impression Ditka makes in tank mode, then. I went into this wondering just what my reaction to analysing this toy for a third time would really be, but so far? I’m enjoying it!

Perhaps that’s the best indictment I can offer for now then! Time will tell if the jet mode manages to hit the mark all the same.

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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