REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase 11: A Stratotanker (part 2)

It’s time for another chapter in our current trip through triple changer territory with a bunch of third party ‘bots. Having already assessed five vehicle modes from the current selection of Decepticon multi-changers, now we turn our attention to the last such alternate form with KFC Stratotanker.

As mentioned in part 1, this is a toy I’ve already assessed in hand some years ago, and despite a less-than auspicious showing last time around, I’ve been remarkably pleased with the tanker mode on this occasion. It’s by no means perfect but it is leaving me hopeful that my previous conclusion on this toy may have been a little harsh, so with that, it’s time to get him changed up to plane mode and see how well he soars.

The first thing to say is that the transformation is exceptionally fiddly. It’s not even all that complicated in principle but the way in which certain bits unfold and reconfigure, particularly in the middle around the robot mode arms, is a bit of a headache, to say the least. It’s the kind of unintuitive garble that is hard to remember how to achieve without the use of reference material, especially as there are at least one or two moments where Stratotanker resembles an exploded mass of plastic more than something moving gracefully between two forms.

Still, once you figure it all out and manage to contort all of the various elements as they’re supposed to go, you’re left with a relatively identifiable approximation of a Boeing 767 plane mode, albeit with a few notable compromises along the way.

Let’s perhaps first acknowledge what a challenge a form like this is likely to represent, from a design perspective, and not to mention on a toy that must also incorporate a realistic-looking tanker and a robot mode. The fact that it has been achieved as well as what you see here is worthy of note to begin with, in some ways.

Yet unfortunately, it’s not the most graceful solution either, even taking the size of the challenge into account. Everything mostly looks as it should, but there’s a definite ‘unfinished’ feel to this thing that’s hard to shake off, somehow.

A lot of that is related to the back half, for sure. The front is at least relatively tidy and looks quite cohesive, but the back barely manages to avoid coming off as a messy hodgepodge of random bits and bobs all attempting to approximate something vaguely resembling plane parts. There is far too much obvious engineering on display too, such that it all looks rather unfortunate as a whole package.

In fact the clear signs of hinges, joints, seams and flaps is one of the worst bits of this mode, as they stop it from ever really feeling like something purposeful in its own right. It’s definitely the weakest of the three forms for Stratotanker with all of that on-show engineering giving the feeling that it was compromised to allow for the other two.

The front half is better, as I say, and at least does manage to do a decent enough job at representing the real-world mode it means to. I quite enjoy the use of purple translucent plastic for the windows although aside from that, there’s nothing really all that remarkable in terms of the finish here, either.

It doesn’t help that my copy has a few QC errors, either. The most egregious by far is the long panel on top of the jet form that simply refuses to sit flush with the rest, feeling permanently bent out of shape and upsetting any real chance of this mode looking in any way harmonious.

Annoyingly there are other problems too, with several pieces all popping off on mine along the way. One of the front windows will need to be glued back into place and there’s a panel at the rear that keeps falling out too. None of this leaves you with a good feel for the finish or quality control on offer.

There are also a couple of other pieces that won’t sit as they’re meant to either, including one of the rear tail fins that resides at a perpetual angle. All added up, it makes me not want to attempt this mode ever again, being honest.

After all, it’s one thing to have a mediocre mode on a triple changer assuming it all feels good quality, but when you have concerns about the build and bits popping off too? That’s not a recipe for success, at all.

It’s a shame as I really have gone into this reappraisal of Stratotanker with an open mind, but it was almost as though the minute I was done assembling the plane form, I remembered what some of my biggest grumbles were from last time. At least on this turn, nothing has actually broken on me, so that’s an improvement in some ways!

Still, I can’t help but feel that this jet mode lets the side down quite a bit, with the biggest disappointment being the poor feel and the shoddy construction on offer. It’s annoying as every time it seems like KFC have made leaps and bounds to correct these sorts of problems, examples such as this make you a little wary again.

If they’d outright nailed it on the build quality then I’d probably be a lot more forgiving of the various foibles I’m seeing here, as an untidy rear half isn’t the worst thing in the world overall. Yet here we are.

I’d say my ultimate assessment of this mode then is that I’ll probably forego ever wanting to use it again, just sticking to tank and robot modes if anything. That’s disappointing for a triple changer, really.

If you do decide that this is one for you then at least be aware of the way it scales with other Masterpiece-styled toys, and especially with stuff like cars! It’s a teeny-tiny little plane and no mistake.

He even looks pretty minuscule next to KFC’s own Ditka and together they make for a very mismatched couple of ‘bots in their aerial forms.

I think you could say that he works maybe a little better against FansToys Thomas in terms of size (depending on your assessment of how big Astrotrain is meant to be, I suppose!), although the major difference here is in the fit and finish on offer.

As a trio, I’m still enjoying this venture overall, although at this point it’s becoming clear what the order of preference is likely to be on the whole!

With just one more mode left to go for Stratotanker, he’s maybe got a bit of making up to do then. Let’s see how he does next time!

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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