Planet X Vulcun Review

So, I love Grimlock. I mean, how can I not? He’s a tough as nails robot that turns into a fire breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex. While he might have problems speaking, he’s got the personality of a time-bomb stuck on “00:01”, gives authority the finger and could punch out Megatron if he felt like it…at least that’s how I’ve viewed him. This primarily based on his comic incarnations because…well, he’s not got that consistent of a personality across the mediums, has he? He goes from badass yet intelligent barbarian in the comics to downright stupid comic relief in the G1 and animated cartoons. Then in other incarnations, we go to way too upbeat motivational speaker in Cyberverse, slightly smarter dim-witted comic relief in RiD2015 to straight-up goddamn DOG in the live-action movies. And to top it all off I would argue most of his toys aren’t really up to much either. OK, the original G1 toy gets a pass because it was the first, but there’s always been something off with them afterwards. Maybe it’s too small and not really “right” looking in robot mode like his otherwise rather good Classics version, or it’s big and looks right, but is a bit floppy like his Masterpiece version, or it’s just had to sacrifice everything good about it for the line-wide gimmick ala the Power of the Primes voyager. Everything is compromised and just not quite right.

And then we come to the 2012 voyager, based on Grimlock’s appearance in the excellent Fall of Cybertron. Hit by a budget crunch that screwed up probably the best G1 based design in years. It took the old anatomically incorrect G1 mode and ran it through the Jurassic Park filter and I loved it. Plus, they gave him a decently developed personality, some of the best levels in the game and only used the “ME GRIMLOCK” talking when it was appropriate. When a toy was announced I jumped on it. Hell, I still own two versions of that thing because while it is very much a compromised vision, it was the only version of that design I could get my hands on.

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UNTIL NOW.

Well, I say “until now” but I’ve been after this guy since he came out five years ago. This is when I started getting really into collecting but before I jumped into the “Yeah I can drop over £100 on a toy and justify it to myself” stage of collecting with 3rd Parties. I mean, I had Voyager Grim, he was…fine. If you squinted. But oh man, Vulcun (and it is VulCUN, not VulCAN, check the box) made me salivate. Reviews came up and he looked amazing…but I couldn’t justify the cost. And by the time I could, he was sold out everywhere and a right Vulcunt (geddit?) to get on the second-hand market. It seemed I would never own him. But then Planet X reissued him in 2019!

And he sold out immediately. Bugger.

But then, after my birthday, I was looking at www.showzstore.com and looked at their flash sale page…and there he was. 2019 reissue Vulcun. At 20% off. And I had just gotten a load of money for said birthday. SCORE! And then literally minutes after I got my order in…he sold out. I had gotten one of the last ones! Yes, the shipping was delayed by a few weeks because of the Coronavirus, but I had waited 5 years!  Another couple of weeks wouldn’t kill me. And when he did arrive, I got a massive shock. See, I had ordered the regular version, as that’s what ShowZ had listed…BUT THEY SENT ME THE ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS METALLIC VERSION.

I may have had a sex wee.

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So anyway…he’s phenomenal. Honestly, there are no two ways about it, this guy lives up to the hype and exceeds my expectations. I mean…just look at him. He’s a damn near perfect rendition of the character from the game. OK yes, his head is hanging off his back…but most Grimlocks do that anyway. The detail in the sculpt, is beautiful, accentuated by the metallic paint. And then you factor in the articulation, which has enough bends and swivels so you can get him in pretty much every pose under the sun. And let me tell you, his sheer presence makes even the most mundane stance look amazing.

There are a few little “issues”. Maybe his hands could have done with a separate articulation for his index finger, allowing more expression. Maybe he could have come with a few more accessories as well, but that would have possibly meant his sword and shield would have to be smaller and quite frankly I’ll take weapons longer than a character’s arm over a crown and apron any day of the week.

Possibly the only real issue is his size. See, he costs roughly the same as MP08 Grimlock but…

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So yeah there’s that, but in every other aspect, he outshines MP08. I love the Masterpiece but it’s always felt a little…ropey to me. Everything is floppier than it should be, and the way the chest kinda just sit’s on top of a spine assembly and doesn’t feel secure, always let it down. Dino-mode works better and it’s the mode I keep him in most of the time. However…

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Yeah, this kick’s MP08’s arse.

Though that’s not exactly fair. MP08 is going for the G1 toon accuracy with the upright “guy in a Godzilla suit” stance, and it pulls it off well. But this guy? He takes the slightly more accurate video game T-Rex mode and throws in enough articulation to make it work. But if I had to choose…

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It’s amazing how well articulated he is in this mode and how expressive he can be. You can even pull his huge head out further from the neck to allow extra upwards and side to side movement. Add to that the tail articulation and you get the best bloody dino-mode I have ever seen on a Transformer. Hell, he even has a massive flamethrower/tongue in his mouth, and his robot mode knee-pads become his rocket boosters from the game! Yes, the weapons storage is a bit naff but honestly? Are you going to want to block your view of his magnificent legs?

That came out wrong. (No, it didn’t)

And getting to this mode is quite fun as well. The transformation is complex enough to be fun, without being too simple. Yes, there’s a bit where you have to move the tails parts over the legs that will cause trepidation the first time you do it, but as he’s been constructed with that in mind once you get past that initial “Oh shit will I break this thing” moment it becomes acceptable and second nature.

I’ve waited a long time for this guy to show up, and he does not disappoint. If you get the chance I would 100% recommend you get him. The real problem I have now is deciding which mode to display him in.

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Yeah, probably dino-mode.

Maketoys Buster Skywing Review

Look I’m not going to wank on about the character’s name changing origins, but I will say Jetfire has been one of my low-key fave Autobots for a while. I loved the Generations toy from 2006 and was very sad when I left it on a windowsill and forgot about it for months so it yellowed to all hell. I was very happy with the Thrilling 30 version even if he had lost some mass, though gained height. It also made me get two more versions of it when the seeker moulds came out.

I did not like the look of the new Siege one.

If you do, great! But to me, that wasn’t Jetfire. That was Skyfire. The boxy as fuck jet from the cartoon who existed only because of reasons that are hidden by a load of copyright law and legal jargon that I do not want to bother looking into. The idea of a character who changed from Con to Bot is a good concept and I like how that has carried over to the Jetfire name, but I could never get behind the design. I always liked the Macross Valkyrie design and one day I might get around to buying one. But the latest Jetfire didn’t scratch that quasi-anime itch I like.

However, Maketoys Buster Skywing is anime as fuck

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Buster Skywing comes from our good friends, Maketoys. Another one of their Cross Dimension line that gave us the sublime Rioter Despotron I reviewed a while back. Though he wasn’t my first choice. I originally intended to get the black repaint (that came out first) Buster Stealthwing and make him a Decepticon.  However, then Transbridge Omegalock put this guy on sale for £66 and my wife got him for me as an early birthday present. So, a) I LOVE HERE, and b) I’ve come to think the original Skyfire colours suit this guy far better. The bright white and red really make him seem more anime than the black and make him pop a lot more. I’m getting a Tallgeese from Gundam Wing vibe from him.

God, I’m such a weeb.

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Anyway, Skywing comes pack to the gills with articulation, including a visor that can fold over his face.  And he is BIG. The guy is only slightly shorter than the Thrilling 30 leader Jetfire but has far more mass. He’s made of good solid plastic and all his joints are tight…sometimes too tight, but we’ll get to that in a bit. One of my favourite bits or articulation is the wing tops. While I keep them folded up in bot mode to shave on shelf space, the proper way is to flip them out. It took me a while to decide on a look and I decided to fold them in when I couldn’t stop thinking of him as some kind of giant anime mecha-peacock.

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Accessories wise he doesn’t come with much, just his guns and backpack and boosters…but that’s because he is pretty much an accessory pack himself. You can take bits of him apart and stick them on any version of Maketoys Cross Dimension Optimus Prime mould…which I don’t own.

But I do own Legendary Toys KO version of their Striker Noir! Aka Nemesis Prime aka the guy I use as RiD 2001 Scourge. That should work right!?

It did not.

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So, the KO Striker Noir is a good toy on his own, good joints tolerances etc…but due to it being a KO all the ports required for this feature are either just a bit too big or not in quite the right place and it becomes a floppy mess. Hell, I couldn’t even get the shoulder pads to stay on. It’s a shame as looking at when it’s used with a legitimate copy it holds together far better. I didn’t buy it for the combined mode, so the KO Noir works fine for me. But if you want the interactivity, I would recommend you get the proper versions.

(If you’re wondering I bought the KO it’s the proper version mould was sold out everywhere at the time….and it was less than half the price. And don’t give me shit about buying a KO of a 3rd Party toy cos we’ll be here all day with me pointing out all 3rd Party toys infringe on the HasTak copyright. We good?)

Anyway, on to the jet mode! Which is easier said than done. The first time I transformer this guy it was terrifying. There are some loud noises being made from the ratchets and tabs…and that then turned to frustration with the back end. He’s one of those guys that you have to get 100% dead on and if one bit is out and you try to force it, it causes something else to pop out. I’ve got it mostly worked out now, but it can still be a faff.

The results though? Nice.

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It’s a Quin-Jet, with massive guns/rocket boosters on it and is lovely. Plus it has articulation! Not only do the wingtips move, but a good chunk of the jet intakes and exhausts can move independently, giving him pose-ability in vehicle mode, however minor. He can look very dynamic for a flying brick.

There are some small QC issues to be aware of, like how the rear landing struts/heels are screwed in on one side, but just slotted on the over with a small peg in place for rotation…which has been known to break off. It does not affect the toy at all when it does this and they stay in o place because of the slot anyway, but it happened to mine and I’ve seen others mention it as well so you should be aware. But overall, I think this is a brilliant stand-alone figure. Who knows? I might get the black version as well if I see him at a good price, but I think this guy looks a lot better in white. A great toy and a wonderful gift from my wife.

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Mastermind Creations Kultur, aka Big Tarn.

So, a while ago I did a review of Iron Factory’s Dubhe, their take on IDW’s Tarn. In it I mentioned that despite its flaws I was happy with it and satisfied I had an alternative to Mastermind Creations Kultur that didn’t cost the earth.

Then someone decided to sell their Kultur for £65, so here we are!

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So MMC Tarn then? Not gonna lie, he’s made my top five 3rd party figures already, though his final placing is still in flux at the moment. See, MMC tend to go their own way in terms of aesthetics for a lot of their figures. In theory, a lot of them tend to lean towards IDW Alex Milne era of comics, but I’ve not found that to be 100% the case. They tend to add a lot of detail that doesn’t always work. My Sixshot is nice, but their Cyclonus doesn’t carry it as well. However, with Tarn, they seem to have really toned it down. To the point where this guy doesn’t seem that out of place next to CHUG figures.

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It’s not that he’s lacking detail, it just seems to be used more effectively. I especially like the chest piece. With that said, he doesn’t quite match the design of the comics. It seems flatter, and less of a “living machine” aesthetic than Alex Milne managed to get across with his art. In that regard, Iron Factory does get that across a little better with its less blocky proportions and more dynamic colour palette. Though in fairness neither’s colour scheme is exactly spot one to the comics. MMC’s is more muted, but IF’S is a little too bright to be as accurate. One way to compare them is to compare the masks. While MMC’s is good, IF’s has the more angular and comic accurate sculpt. He’s perhaps not as dynamic as IF, but in fairness you had to swap Dubhe’s hands out to get him at his most expressive, so I can deal.

However, after saying all that I like both versions for different reasons, and they weirdly look good together.

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Honestly, though I think I prefer Big Tarn overall. Yes, a lot of this is due to his size. But he just works so well at this scale. He’s bigger than a Hasbro Voyager, so he can suitably loom over a lot of bots, but he doesn’t look half bad next to pretty much any design aesthetic, even the bigger Masterpiece bots. A favourite of mine to pose him with is Maketoys Rioter Despotron. Even though Tarn’s sculpting is more muted I think it works well with Despotron’s anime-inspired design.

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As above, Tarn’s “real” head is Roller. The guy everyone thought he was going to be because James Roberts likes to troll his fans. Is this MMC betting on the result early (as the toy was released before the reveal of his actual identity) or just using it because Tarn shares a lot of parts and engineering with their Roller. And their Thunderclash. And…you get the point.  That is still a minor bugbear since my review of their Cyclonus, making a mould that gets used a lot rather than being suitable for the character. But hey, this works well for Tarn. Plus, Hasbro has made an entire franchise that so it’s fair game.

Aside from the mask Tarn comes with his double fusion cannons, which can peg on the tank mode turret piece to rest on his farm or come apart to be handheld. They even swivel on their axis so you can position them to be more comic accurate.

He also has missiles in his feet.

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Articulation wise it’s what you would expect of a £90 3rd party toy, including a good ab crunch and toe bends. This means you can get some really good poses, though his shoulder does get in the way of his cannons and vice versa so it can be a bit of a faff to pose those right. Also, because of how solidly built he is, which surprised me due to how MMC’s Cyclonus is well known for breaking, he holds all of them well without much support. That’s another plus for him against Dubhe, who had a LOT of QC issues on his first release, still has others that hope up. I ended up having to get new arms from Iron Factory directed because the socket straight-up snapped making them loose as hell. I don’t see that happening with Kultur at all.

Another plus is the transformation, which is a lot simpler than I’ve come to expect from this level of 3rd party. Hell, it’s actually easier than Dubhe! And the results are good.

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So, this is not really that accurate to Tarn’s tank mode in the comic, again due to the fact that this mode is three other guys as well. If you want a more accurate tank mode, we gotta go to Iron factory again. But that said, Kultur doesn’t have his hands sticking out the back.

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As you can see, he also has some extra features. Those toe missiles make a lot more sense with how his feet end up in vehicle mode (and aren’t glued in so be careful when the hatches are open), and he also has some sculpted grenade/rocket launchers just under where you peg the fusion cannon/turret. If you want him to be a bit more comic accurate, you can angle the chest piece downwards but it makes the thing seem less cohesive. I mean, he’s a tank he should be a big solid block of steel and this gets that across.

So yeah, MMC Kultur is brilliant and definitely worth getting. I was very lucky to get him for the price I did, as unless MMC do another reissue, you’re not gonna get him for less than £100 on the secondary market, most likely more. Does he replace Iron Factory? To a degree, but I still like the Lil’ guy too. And frankly, it’s a lot easier to get the entire DJD from them instead of MMC. Plus they combine. However, if like me, you just wanted Tarn either is a good choice, but I’d have to go with the big guy overall.

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Magic Square Space Skimming Review

So, after reviewing a 3rd Party Cyclonus, what should I review next? I ask twitter.

They said a different 3rd party Cyclonus so here we are.

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So as previously mentioned in my Iron Factory Dubhe/Tarn review, the Legends size class has become another battleground for companies to fight in, as people start running out of room for multiple versions of a Masterpiece Megatron. The main two I am aware of are, of course, Iron Factory, who dabble almost exclusively in the size class, and DX9 who are mainly known for their Masterpiece scale stuff. Magic Square is a relative newcomer on the scene, starting in the Legends before recently going in for the Masterpiece scale with their cartoon accurate Optimus Prime mould and making an impression. I wasn’t really aware of them previously, but then I saw their Cyclonus, or rather their “Space Skimming,” I jumped at it. And for his size, he (mostly) doesn’t disappoint. Especially in robot mode.

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Honestly, this guy has no business look as good as he does in bot mode. He seems to get the cartoon proportions right. His main purple plastic is a little bluer than I’d like, but it does seem fairly close to the movie and animation model they were going for. I like the face with its little painted goatee. In fact, most of the paint is done really well, and I can’t find a single smudge or buggered up bit anywhere.  In addition, he has some gorgeous red light piping for his eyes. Honestly, there’s not a lot to say apart from “he looks good.”

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He also trumps pretty much any non-Masterpiece Cyclonus (official or not) in terms of articulation as well. While his head is on a simple swivel, all the essential stuff is here. Arm swivel, (slightly loose) waist swivel, shoulders, elbows, thigh rotation etc. But he also manages to throw in slight ankle title and an ab crunch. What this means is that he can out-dab his contemporaries quite easily.

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He is rather lacking in accessories, only coming with a single gun, but you can tell the budget was well spent elsewhere for this guy.

Not really on the vehicle mode though…

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Well in fairness at this size there’s only so much you can do with a non-standard jet mode, but he does seem to have sacrificed a lot for the bot mode. DX9’s smaller legends class Cyclonus is technically a worse toy because it has less articulation, a less involved transformation and doesn’t look as close to the G1 character as this guy does, but the jet mode feels far better because it’s a lot more cohesive. I mean, look at these two and tell me which one is the more convincing jet?

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The weirdest thing for me though Is that the cockpit seems rather large and out of proportion with the rest of him. Aside from that, it’s a half-decent effort. Just unfortunate that there’s nowhere to store his gun. The transformation itself is fairly good, though his shoulders can be a bit of a fiddle sometimes if you’re not careful. But then again considering the range of motion they allow him in bot mode, I think it’s more than worth the extra one second of attention you might need to pay to them.

Overall if you want a good Legends sized Decepticon, Space Skimming is a good choice that won’t break the bank. I got him for £22 on eBay and I think he was very much worth it.

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Mastermind Creations Boreas Review

The last few reviews I’ve done have been focusing on characters I’ve liked since I first discovered the Transformers franchise, aka Megatron, Shockwave, Soundwave, and Starscream. Cyclonus is a somewhat more recent favourite. I’ve always like his design, but something about the James Roberts More Than Meets the Eye version of the character made me start going out of my way for Cyclonus toys. Even going so far as to order a 3rd party version of the character. As one of the breakout characters from the series, it’s great to have a representation of this version of Cyclonus.

Pity the toy ain’t that great of a representation.

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Boreas comes from Mastermind Creations and is there quasi-sorta Masterpiece interpretation of the character. And well, he’s kind of a weird one. See Mastermind Creations, instead of strictly adhering to a specific G1 aesthetic tries to put their own spin on characters. It sometimes works and doesn’t. Case in point, their Terminus Hexatron, aka Masterpiece-esque Sixshot, is a great figure. The over the top details works really well for that guy and he is one of my favourite figures.

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ANY WAY, here on Boreas…well it doesn’t really work with his normal head. See I modded figure because the default head has a very G1 head which also has two horns. And quite frankly it looks kinda plain and just doesn’t go with this arguably over-designed body. On the other hand, the alternative IDW V1 head looks better, but only comes with one horn, which makes it look just off. I know this was the look Cyclonus sported for a good while in the comics, but neither “normal” head looked right to me. Please see these images by Starcream’s Toast over at Gear4Geeks for his review on behalf of Kapow Toys for what I mean, cos I couldn’t be bothered digging out the normal head from the box.

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Essentially I had to disassemble the heads, cut some plastic away to allow me to replace the faces, and it works so much better like this for me. The samurai/daemon head works far better and should have been the default version if you ask me. Hell, his hands are even sculpted as claws like in the comics! Considering the amount of detailing and the bloody comics sword he comes with, I honestly feel this was designed to be an IDW Cyclonus and then they bunged the G1 head on for…reasons? He just looks so much better when modded.

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Now that we have his face sorted out, let’s talk about the rest of the figure. From the front, he looks good. He’s tall, lanky and slightly alien. I know the sci-fi greebles and detail won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it works for him. I just wish he was a deeper shade of purple. While the light blue/purple he has going on here is fine, I just prefer a slightly darker breed of resurrected Seeker/Insecticon corpse.

However, problems start at his shoulders, which are just badly designed. They move down the body during transformation, but they don’t actually lock in for robot mode, meaning they feel loose and can make posing a pain. They do have some nubs and recesses to help this, but they don’t work very well. The shoulders also have a tendency to be blocked by his head and backpack, depending on the angle. Speaking of which, I’m also not a fan of his back, mainly because there’s no way to have his wings folded outwards and not make it look kinda daft. The closest I can get is to have them like I do here, set out flat and pointing up. Meanwhile, the “official” way is to have them pointing down. You can also store the sword on his back thanks to magnets, which is nice.

To be blunt, the backpack reminds me of every single version of Silverbolt, aka a robot that wears a jet on his back. But without the excuse of being a combiner torso.

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Articulation wise he is very good, featuring everything from rotating wrist, double bends at his knees and elbows, (slight) ankle tilts, bicep swivels etc. Throw his included Sword int the mix and you can get some good sword fighting/fencing poses. Perfect for dated jokes.

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There is ONE big pitfall of one point of articulation, but we’ll get to that after we have a look at the jet mode which is beautiful but fraught with danger.

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The jet mode looks sleek and dangerous and is one of my favourite things about the toy. He takes the tall lanky nature of Boreas and kinda squashes it out to give him an impressive wingspan. The colours work and then you get stuff like his knees becoming jet boosters and it’s lovely.

However, despite it being one of my favourite things about the toy, I always have a knot in my stomach when transforming him, because THIS is where the fairly well-known problem with this toy and its other versions (Death’s Head and Lockdown) comes up.

His waist snaps like a Kit Kat.

This is actually my second toy. As the waist on mine broke within a day of owning it. The guys at Kapow swapped it with no hassle but this is where I found out this is a known issue with the toy. Basically, when you transform him the legs end up on top and tab into the fuselage. HOWEVER, if you don’t do it 100% correct you cause an issue where the legs pull on the tiny fucking waist joint and after maybe 5 transformations it’s just gonna snap the waist and then you have two halves of a Cyclonus and a dent in your bank account.

So, you have a few choices. Practice getting it 100% right, only for the thing to break anyway, never transform him, or miss-transform him slightly so that the legs don’t fold fully and don’t sit 100% flush with the fuselage and cause the boosters on his knee to point down slightly. The latter is the least bad option as seen in the pics.

This guy actually turned me off Mastermind Creations other stuff, as I don’t want to pay a large amount of cash for something to just break. He’s also kind of indicative of criticism of MMC I’ve seen pop up every now and then. They seem to focus on making a mould then making it into as many characters as possible, rather than making a good mould itself. That kind of philosophy can lead to things like missing these big problems with the waist. I mean, repaints are fine and all, but you gotta make sure the thing works.

Still, despite all the issues and having to do some work to get him looking “right,” I do find myself liking Boreas. But I must stress you gotta be careful with this bugger. That said he’s still easier to get a hold of than the Maketoys Tailgate that came with a kit that made your deluxe Generations Cyclonus an IDW one. And you can get him for roughly the same price. I got mine from Kapow Toys for less than £60 in a sale, but I wouldn’t say he’s worth more than that.  For those that have the extra cash you’ve also got FansToys Quietus with its accessories to make him the comics version if you so choose, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far this guy could probably fill that space in your collection.

Basically, Boreas is for people who like Porsches but buy the Boxster cos they can’t afford or don’t want to put the money down for the 911.

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Maketoys Rioter Despotron Review

So, since the second wave of Siege is taking a million years to arrive in Britain because Hasbro UK doesn’t understand the basic concept of Supply and Demand, I’m still waiting on my most anticipated figures of the line. So, as I pine about the future, let’s look at the past.

Yes, that was a shit segue and I honestly don’t care.

Six months ago, I purchased this figure. After topping my 2018 purchases list, he is pretty much my favourite Transformer ever. That being Maketoys Rioter Despotron, their re-imagined Megatron. And by re-imagined I mean “someone vomited anime on him.” In a good way.

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While I appreciate this styling, he may not be to everyone’s taste, I do hold a soft spot in my heart for anime mecha designs. Ever since I saw Gundam Wing on Toonami when I was like, 12I’ve watched a few others and really like the designs. Shame most mecha anime is dogshit in terms of writing. Looking at you Aldnoah Zero. But the long legs, wide chest and beefy shoulders make Megatron look tough and deadly. The sculpted details, including robot-abs, add nicely to this. Honestly, this is how I wanted the live-action guys to look like when the movies first came out. G1 with added mechanical details. Honestly, this guy wouldn’t look out of place in an anime or the Bumblebee movie.

I especially like the head sculpt. Again, this isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I love the sculpted vents and additions to the bucket head. And the purple eyes work really well. Nice, they went with something different. In fact, the colours on this are beautiful. The silver plastic gives him a nice body for the more vibrant colours to pop without being too dull itself. Gold, red, black and purple all look lovely from any angle or pose.

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(If you get this joke, I applaud your understanding of how my brain works.)

Speaking of posing, as you can see this guy has articulation in spades. He’s probably the most articulated transformer I own, including Masterpieces. Ab crunch, waist, wrist, ankle, elbow, knee swivels. Ankle tilt, double knee joints, elbows capable of doing a good 150 degrees if not slightly more and hand articulation. He’s a posing beast. Plus, the joints hold up well enough that he can stand on one on leg and support his own weight easily. The only thing that really hinders his posing is the armour on the front of his thighs, which stop him getting his leg up high enough to do the full “Karate Kid” pose, but you can do a half-arsed version with a bit of creative swivelling.

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He does tend to lean ever so slightly towards his right due to the weight of the cannon arm It’s not noticeable in most poses with both feet planted firmly, but it’s something to consider if you are doing a one-legged pose. I mean…I can’t see why you would? But then again I did just for a throwaway movie reference so what do I know?

Size-wise he’s bigger than a Voyager, but not big enough to be a leader or masterpiece. I find him the perfect size to actually play with. As previously mentioned I have some Masterpiece figures, official and third party, but they’re really meant for display and not for playing with, which is why I’ve gone off them recently. But this guy? Honestly, he’s a masterpiece in all but size and you can play with him. OK yes, there’s no metal but there doesn’t need to be. I find myself constantly playing with him six months after purchase and I honestly don’t see that stopping any time soon.

I suppose one place where Masterpieces do outshine him is accessories, as he only really has two. The first is a purple matrix which sits inside his chest. It’s a nice little thing, but it doesn’t really do much.

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The other is a nicely done sword that has the best weapon storage idea ever. It stores INSIDE his cannon!

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In addition to these two “proper” accessories. You can also do some things with the two grey gun barrels on his back. They can mount on the sliding rails on his arm like his fusion cannon, or you can stick them on either end of the cannon itself. I have no idea why you’d want to do this, as it is rather silly.

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Now to top this gushing off, we also have a really fun transformation, lots of nice twists, a smidge of acceptable parts forming and voila! And you get one of the silliest but still awesome Megatron gun modes. Here he is held by a tiny Legends version of himself because humour.

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Not a lot to say about this except I think it looks good, even if it very obvious that it’s a folded up robot. I meant even Siege Shockwave looks less blatant. It’s very sci-fi so again, not to everyone’s taste even if you are away double barrel handguns exist. The only really odd bit is the matrix handing out at the back there, but forgivable.

Honestly, I love this guy.  You should buy him. If you’re interested and live in the UK, Kapow Toys have him in stock for £65 at the time of writing, which I honestly think is a more than fair price for this guy. Go get him.

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Iron Factory If EX-31 Dubhe, aka TINY TARN.

It probably seems obvious to some of you that I’m more of a Decepticon fan than Autobot, and with that, I come across as fanboyish over many characters. That said, I am nowhere near as bad as some members, or characters, including IDW’s Tarn, a fanboy who was so dedicated to Megatron he became the leader of a team of living weapons whose only use was to scare the ever-loving bejeezus out of any Decepticon who even thought about of not toeing the line. That was until Megatron became an Autobot, then Tarn went a bit mad, suicidal and then tried to kill the former Decepticon leader. He was promptly ripped apart by anti-matter cos he killed Ravage.

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There are currently only two Tarn toys out, the other being Mastermind Creations Kultur, which is expensive, so here comes Iron Factory to give us a smaller more affordable of Tarn. And there was much rejoicing. Until the QC issues started turning up, but we’ll get to that.

So, Tarn’s robot mode is gorgeous, lovely colours all around, far more vibrant than MMC’s offering and with a great amount of articulation.  All this in a package small enough to be of no threat to anyone.

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One of thing things that caught people’s attention when Tarn was his face, being a stylised Decepticon symbol, it’s done quite well here, though this and my previous copy (again more on that later) did have some marks on it from where it had been cut off a sprue. Still quite nice, and also is part of a nice feature of this guy.

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Underneath the mask, you have a fairly seeker-esque head, which is accurate to the comic, and while my camera doesn’t pick it up very well, there’s even some moulded damage under his left eye, again accurate to the comics. Quite frankly the amount of detail on something at this scale is astonishing.

But that’s not all, along with the mask, you get two sets of extra hands for Tarn one of which allows you to HOLD HIS MASK.

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I really like these opening hands. Along with his great articulation, Tarn can pull off some expressive poses. Such as the “MINE IS AN EVIL LAUGH.”

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The “HUNT THEM DOWN LIKE THE DOGS THEY ARE!”

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And the always fun “I’m not mad, just disappointed that you pissed on the carpet.” Well known to dog owners everywhere.

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He also comes with a set of open hand’s that allow him to hold weapons compatible with 5mm ports. Like his double fusion cannon

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Tarn’s vehicle mode is a tiny adorable tank of death.

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As with some other Iron Factory toys, the vehicle has no wheels, which is fine. Oh, he also turns into the central unit of the Deception Justice Division combiner that Iron Factory is doing with his teammates, but since I probably won’t be buying them I’m not going to bother. It’s a shame that the transformation is where this guy comes apart a bit, almost literally. It’s quite fiddly for his size and you must line up some things just right. I especially find getting his fusions cannons in place a bit of a chore, since you have to clip them between their legs, but they don’t like sitting flush easily. I end up dismantling the cannons to make it much easier. But this isn’t where things go wrong. Oh no, it’s only on probably his most important part!

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So, you can see those two purple struts that Tarn’s arms are attached to, those are made of flexible plastic. Probably a good idea in theory, but it’s also where the arm joints are. This is a problem for two reasons. The first is that, as Peaugh pointed out in his video review if you follow the steps in the transformation as presented in the instructions, it feels like you apply far more pressure than the plastic can take at the 90-degree bend, causing stress marks. Better to rotate them while they remain locked in by the tank modes front treads and chest plate in robot mode.

The second and my personal favourite problem is that there are a lot of reports of the joints for the arm rotation being WAY too tight. As hinted at, this is my second Tiny Tarn, and it is precisely for this problem. The first had some big stress marks due to the transformation, but his left arm became so goddamn tight after opening him, doing a single 360-degree rotation damn gave HUGE stress marks on the bit that plugs into the arm. One more rotation for a test and I just knew that any more would break the damn thing off. Other problems include the hold the ball joint is in breaking at the plastic seam, necessitating a replacement, as this was a gift from my wife I didn’t want to get a refund.

However, there is a relatively easy solution, again promoted by Peaugh, shock oil. It’s a lubricant that people use for lubricating the parts on remote control cars. I picked up a bottle for a couple of quid at my local hobby shop. And hoo boy does it make a difference. Both my arm joint on my second Tarn were tight, but a dab on either side of the joint, and on the hinges on his shoulders for good measure, and voila! Fixed. Now I can move his arms without fear of breakage and they still hold the pose. As a bit of help, here’s the shock oil I got so you know what to look for if you have concerns.

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So, essentially, what we have is a brilliant robot, with a fiddly transformation to a cute tank with the added risk of breaking the thing when using it as intended. This is a big step down from Iron Factory’s usual quality. I still like their stuff, but I’m hoping these QC issues don’t come up on their future releases. Anyway, off to the collection Tarn goes!

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Iron Factory Lord Scorpion Review

This review was done on the back of giving good bloke @EvoChanger on twitter some info on a toy he’s interested in. Check out his video reviews at his youtube channel.

Like a good chunk of the TF fandom, I dabble in 3rd Party Transformers, i.e. Intellectual Property violating toys made by companies that have no association with Hasbro or Takara-Tomy. They come in many varieties, including but not limited to knock-offs of Hasbro/Takara toys, original designs for characters, knock-offs of other companies designs and so forth. They used to be a contentious subject, but they’ve become far more accepted in recent years, usually because these companies will do things like making toys for characters who haven’t had any easily obtainable versions for years. Like this helping from the Legends, size class focused company Iron Factory. Lord Scorpion, aka Generation 1 Scorponok.

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Scorponok, the city bot and headmaster, are one of those characters I’ve wanted a toy of for a while. However, since his one official toy is massive, rare, and expensive even if broken, I never thought I’d get one. There’s the Energon version who is similar, but the aesthetic never really worked for me in that series save for a few toys. There is the rumoured Titan class coming from Hasbro sometime during the War for Cybertron, but if true that thing will be way too massive to easily play with. Won’t have that problem with Lord Scorpion though, as this guy is just a bit bigger than a Hasbro deluxe, as seen here with my spare Titan Returns Quake body with the Scorponok head you get with Titans Return Grotusque I had as a stand-in.

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In terms of quality, Lord Scorpion is leaps and bounds above a standard deluxe, as he should be considering he regularly goes for £65 or more in most places. I got him for £53 and the build quality is fantastic. He has pretty much everything articulated, including waist, ankles, biceps and so on. The turrets can even swivel. Hell, the only thing that he can’t do is swivel his wrists, but they can bend inwards in his two main modes. Hell, his hand-claws even have individually articulated fingers, similar to Reveal the Shield Lugnut actually.

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The sculpting and colours for this guy are based on Scorponok’s first IDW comic appearance and the amount of details Iron Factory has put in is quite staggering. I’ve seen masterpiece level toys with less detailing. Admittedly this design won’t be for everyone, but in bot mode this guy is gorgeous. It’s nice to have a really well done, easily playable version of the character in my hand. Mainly because other, more recent Scorponoks haven’t scratched the itch.

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Lord Scorpion doesn’t come with much in the way of accessories. He includes one relatively large gun, and a shield, the gun can only be securely held in his right hand as it’s designed to fit in a groove in it though it’s possible to simply have his fingers grip it in his left hand.  The shield can be pegged on either arm and includes pincer that actually moves. So essentially, you’re putting a pincer on his pincer so he can have triple pinching power. Guy is invaluable on St Patrick’s Day.

His third accessory is a little round cup-like piece that slots into his hand and allows him to hold most other transformer weapons that fit in a 5MM hole. Along with the gun turrets and deploy-able tail, this makes him look ready to kick the absolute slag out of things.

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Of course, if you know anything about Scorponok, you know that not only is he a triple changing city bot, he is also a headmaster, Lord Zarak. Or since this is IDW Scorponok, I guess Abraham Dante? Anyway, because of this Lord Scorpion’s excellent head sculpt as turns into what is frankly, the smallest bloody headmaster I have seen in my life. The thing is just barely two centimetres, or less than an inch tall.

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Transforming him to Scorpion mode is relatively simple but satisfying. It’s more complex than say your average voyager toy, kind of like a mini-masterpiece in places. And the results for scorpion mode are brilliant.

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(Above joke stolen from @Urluck_Ur on Twitter. Follow him, he’s a fun guy and runs The Nottingham Robot Company.)

I love this mode. Sure if you leave the headmaster in his robot mode face is looking up constantly, but the original toy had it riding in a little seat, so I like this. Amazingly he still has great articulation. His arms still remain all their movement and the tail has a decent amount too. But each one of the eight legs are also fully articulated and can amazingly hold him up with no issues, even on just a few, really lets you get some good scuttling poses in.

There are two things I have a problem with this mode. Towards the rear of the scorpion, you see the two silver pieces that come from the legs of the robot mode? In order to transform him between modes, you have to remove these pieces. Yep, it’s parts-forming. This is one of the few things I don’t tend to like about Iron Factory toys. They had a similar thing with their IDW Overlord with his shin coverings/base mode ramps. Except those had nowhere to go in the alt mode., so at least these ones can go somewhere in all modes.  However, the gun has nowhere to store in scorpion mode, while the shield handily pegs in underneath. I like good weapons storage, so this turns me off a little, but considering the size and complexity of the rest of the toy, it’s understandable.

And now we come to the worst mode of all base Transformers, in my opinion. The base mode itself.

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It’s as successful a base mode as any I guess, just smaller. I’ve never really liked these, so I don’t have much to say about it aside from that it looks like a good representation of the one from the G1 toy.  At least you can store all the accessories in this mode.

So overall, I’d recommend Lord Scorpion. While his third mode is a typically lacking base mode, the other two make up for it. Combine that with his great detailing, building quality, and articulation, this makes him the guy to beat for Scorponok toys going forward.

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