REVIEW: Fans Hobby MB-13A Red Buzzer (part 1)

Sometimes third party toy names are a bit on the nose and sometimes they’re just beyond mysterious (it took me far too long to work out what Unique Toys were trying to reference with their Combaticons, for example!). Then there are some which seem obvious enough but somehow you just miss them. And I don’t mind admitting that’s what happened to me with Red Buzzer here.

Red Buzzer? Couldn’t wrap my head around it at first, aside from a brief and very casual consideration that it reminded me of red snapper, more than anything. However, apart from sounding like something that belongs on a family-friendly quiz show, it took me an inordinate amount of time before the real inspiration behind the name finally struck. Don’t I feel silly now, eh?

Not so silly that I won’t share it with you, of course, but then more than anything I’m just happy to be sitting here typing away in celebration of a Masterpiece-styled Siren to begin with, the rather delightful character choices from Fans Hobby having hit the mark yet again. Whether you like the look of their output or not, you have to hand one thing to them – they’re one of the most creative unofficial transforming robot companies out there right now.

And look, I’m aware this is a point I seem to make every time I find myself in the process of reviewing one of their products, but c’mon, it bears repeating. Their back catalogue references everything from Japanese and latterday European-exclusive G1, Generation 2, Robots in Disguise, Machine Wars, the Unicron Trilogy and even a sly nod towards the Beast era. I don’t think anyone else can claim such breadth in the arena of Masterpiece scale or style, at present.

I suppose in many ways, it would be easy to think some random mid-G1 lad wouldn’t be all that out there by comparison, yet I can’t help but feel the very notion of a Masterpiece Siren still tips into the bizarre. The fact that the 1988 Headmaster’s Japanese equivalents were made is one thing, but seeing the Hasbro crew done too? Perfection.

After all, I’m a massive fan of the original toys, with Siren himself being a personal favourite in my collection (I even made him a former Toy of the Week!). It wasn’t a figure I ever knew as a kid so it’s been a real treat to discover in more recent years, and it retains a kind of mythic quality for me somehow just for being out of reach for so long! It helps that the character in question made a memorable impression in the Marvel UK comic from the time, I’m sure.

In any case, Red Buzzer (still can’t get over that name) feels like a real love letter to the original release, right down to the Pantone-perfect colour scheme choices and details such as the tinted red windscreen and tampos. As ever, Fans Hobby has gone the extra mile to make this more than just a run-of-the-mill repaint.

And yes, it’s still fairly familiar if you already own his mould-mate, Ace Hitter, and I can imagine some people thinking that one being white and the other grey isn’t really a game-changing difference of any kind, but hey, for me, it works.

Besides, those vibrant red panels on the body certainly help to make the new version pop! I was already a major fan of how well this mould brought the classic Mazda RX-7 design to life but it’s a true delight to see it done so nicely twice over. I’d even say that RB might be winning the day here for me just a smidge, despite my appreciation for the cool blues of the police-themed original.

Which is a good point to quickly reference that of course, we’ve shifted to a fire department look for this guy now, which is worth a mention as I often find it’s something that gets missed on the original toy (as with G1 Red Alert, it seems a lot of people see sirens and assume police). So you see? Totally different. Not police, fire dept. Night and day stuff, really.

Anyway, if this is your first time appreciating this design then let me assure you, there’s a lot to love in vehicle form. It’s a classic car done well, with all of the right proportions and angles taken into account to get as close as possible to a faithful look. Considering they’ve made a name producing some big chunky monstrous ‘bots, Fans Hobby has proven they can do a crackin’ car mode with this one.

It’s aided by a complete absence of unsightly kibble from every angle, with a 360-degree spin showing nothing but eye-pleasing clean and tidy design. There’s also some attractive clear plastic used on areas such as the rear lights for an added dose of colour.

Then there are those aforementioned tampos, which look so ridiculously good for how crisp, well-applied and sharply defined they are. It’s just another way Fans Hobby have paid close attention to the original toy in this case, and it pays off in spades here, in my opinion.

They also seem to be very durable, as on Ace Hitter, as despite multiple transformations, I’ve yet to see any evidence of wear (or anything even close to giving me any kind of concern in that direction). The main bonnet decal in particular is a real thing of beauty.

It’s finished off with other little touches such as the clear plastic headlights and paint applications found at the front, which all add to the polished look this toy is serving up. It may be largely bare plastic on the body, but it still brings the goods, to my eye. For a “mere repaint”, this is quite stunning.

That’s especially true when you activate the pop-up headlights! This is a simple enough gimmick and one we’ve seen attempted on a few Masterpiece-styled cars in recent years (after MP-39 Sunstreaker did it so well), but in third party terms, I think this is one of the best examples.

There’s more play value to observe too, with the mini-figure being a representation of Siren’s partner, Quig. Unlike Ace Hitter’s Masterforce nod, the Headmaster in this case is an entirely separate character from the main robot, although naturally, the figure in question is identical in all but colour. Still, he remains as fun as ever!

He’s a very articulated and poseable thing considering his small stature, and can even be neatly placed inside the car via a fold-up windscreen section. The car interior is a little out there (as it references the futuristic aesthetic of Masterforce thanks to the original release, as opposed to the more traditional inside of a Mazda RX-7!) but still, this is a very nifty feature and works well. There’s even room for storing the other accessories with this release, including the helmet for the robot head and both guns.

Once in place, Quig (for want of a third party name himself!) looks simple phenomenal, ably completing this car mode and standing out nicely behind that sublime red-tinted windshield. The Headmaster gimmick remains one of the most delightful aspects of Transformers, in my humble opinion, and Fans Hobby has captured the spirit of it well here.

Which inevitably makes us ponder what a delight it is to see this troupe of characters all lined up in Fans Hobby form, with Siren’s colleagues, Nightbeat and Hosehead, all accounted for too. Well, sort of – in truth, their Kap release is meant to represent Masterforce Cab, although one has to assume that any potential Hosehead repaint down the line won’t differ all that much to this one. At most, I’d estimate some grey plastic parts instead of white.

Regardless, Kap more than does the job for now, giving us a good indication of the three Junior Headmasters in their alternate Hasbro-inspired garb. Just another evidence of Fans Hobby pushing the boat out with their character choices then, as I say.

Not that this little lot looks to skate by on quirkiness alone, as all three vehicles have their charm and make for a real sight lined up with one another. I dare say that the Red Buzzer design is my absolute favourite of the lot by some mile, but still, it’s an accomplishment to have the roster complete (or nearly so, at least).

Even as a standalone, I like how Red Buzzer slots into a Masterpiece display though. The car mode just looks so damn good that whatever concerns one might have about a predominantly bare plastic jarring against the official carbots, it quickly melts away when you see them all together.

And if nothing else, it’s always fun to see more rescue vehicle alternate forms, isn’t it? We’ve had so many police cars in MP-style now, it’s good to add another name to the fire crew!

So far then, I can honestly say I’m buzzing about Red Buzzer here. The name may not have been immediately obvious to me, but at the very least I was captured by the product itself, and that’s the main thing.

Anyway, join us for the next part when we’ll be getting him transformed up into 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

WHAT HAVE TRANSFORMERS DONE FOR ME?


Don't miss out on the latest