|Maketoys Visualizers - hangin tough|
Maketoys Visualizers - who are they? (that was my best impression of the old 1980's Milk advert)
Well, they are Reflector, or more specifically Maketoys crack at a Masterpiece Relfector. In case you don't recall, Reflector was a character in the original Transformers cartoon who merged from 3 robots into one handily sized camera.
A character largely ignored by everyone for the last 30 years, it seems third party outfits have cast their lovelorn eyes in his direction and intend to make it a summer of Reflector love.
Maketoys RE:Master line continues with its follow up to the incredible Cupola, but can Visualizers live up to the high standards that toy set?
Hit the button below to see the review.
Maketoys Visualizers sports Reflectors "iconic" alt mode of a camera, in this case it is a DSLR. What else were we expecting Reflector to turn into? A mirror?
Maketoys have heavily based Visualizers on the cartoon form of Reflector, so he is a very Purple camera, with columns of off White, and gorgeous Green of the robot chests used again with the camera lens to imply it forms from Visualizers chest - even though it doesn't.
At first glance it just looks like an awkward large block, but there are some nice details and you can't really tell it's three robots sandwiched together unless you already know.
The camera lens is not a separate piece, which is what sets Maketoys Reflector apart from the other third party efforts, it actually forms from the bodies of the two side bots (I will get to that in the transformation a bit later) and whilst as a result it does not do anything, it doesn't have to and it looks nice,
Clear Green plastic creates a really striking effect and blends well with the other colours. It is nice all round.
A flash accessory is included which just pegs onto the top (via a small attachment piece) and opens to reveal a missile pod!
Not only is this awesome because it homages the original Reflector toys Flash/missile launcher accessory, but it also means the camera has an attack mode.
My heart, it all yours Maketoys.
A handle is present on the flash which allows any of the Visualizers to wield it in robot mode, but really - this is where it scores all the points.
The back of the camera is....bleh. Nothing really to see here at all, as most of the details are used on the front or top.
But there is a viewfinder which looks nice, but is kinda strange. Not because it looks out of place, course it is a camera so it should have a viewfinder- but they use clear Green plastic for it.
This suggests the idea is to look through it, but as the middle bot does not actually form the lens, it only looks right ahead into the box covering his head. So you can look through it, but in a way that is completely useless.
At a push, you can sort of see through the cover, where it joins the main body so you get a small slit like view.
Would have been nice to have a call back to the late G1/G2 Megavisor gimmick inserted there instead!
The top of the camera has a digital readout painted on to it, which is a nice touch and it is in that old glowy LCD Green that we all loved on light up Casio watches in the 80's and 90's.
Dearie me, as I mention the little features and details of this figure, I can hear REO Speedwagons delectable 1980's hit -"I can't fight this feeling anymore" playing more and more loudly in my heart.
Actually, it has just appeared on iTunes movie, but it is was a lovely thought, no?
There are also two springy buttons, which are designed to act as shutter buttons. You remove one to attach the flash, giving you an option to display it on either side.
Aside from that there is not much left I can tell you that the pictures don't already show, because there is not that much here. Often that would be a negative, but not with Maketoys Visualizers because it is targeting an homage to a very plain 1980's animation model - and it pulls that off with ease. This may not look much like an actual camera from any angle other than the front, and is a bit bigger than most cameras - but then we know it is supposed to transform into 3 Alien robots. So I can forgive them
Decent all round alt mode is perhaps the fairest way to describe it.
As a bonus accessory, a small non transforming Visualizer camera is including. This is perfect for other Masterpiece figures to wield, even if it is slightly tough to get many of their hands around it.
As the main figure can't mass shift down to that small size, Maketoys figured you would at least want to have your robots taking selfies.
Who am I to argue with their knowledge of how vain Starscream is?
It's been mostly all glowing up till now, but the transformation of these guys has caused some grumbling online, and some complaints that need addressing. Normally I would talk about them going from camera to Robot mode, but getting them into camera mode is where almost all of the problems occur so I will talk about it that, and sprinkle a bit of knowledge of going back the other way.
Transforming them is not hard, in fact it feels thematically similar to Cupola in the way panels fold out and then back up to give you a different form altogether. Very clever stuff, but it can be frustrating due to the way each forms up into the 3 pieces of the camera.
The two side bots are the same, and their bone of contention is how the legs and arms fold up and have multiple pegs that need to peg together to hold it all together.
I managed it quickly and easily, but that may have been because I have seen a lot of complaints about it so I was like a very prepared boxer expecting to go up against Tyson in his prime pigeon playing days.
Many panels flip round and need to peg into place and don't always want to. One place I did come unstuck was with the lens hinges on the side bots as the knee flap has to fold round and sort of under them to snap into place, but it always feels like it might break and I cannot fathom why they made it that way- it seems unneeded and just courting breakage.
Middle bot is less of a pain because he has a different transformation, but there are a few quirks that are easy to miss such as his faux lens on his chest actually flips up, but it moves up such a small degree that is an easy step to miss.
Once done you just squish all three together and several clips line up and lock it all together solidly and easily. Now you are at the lens part, and whilst it is not difficult for camera mode, it can be headache inducing going back to robot mode.
Transforming them to robot mode conversely is actually very easy and mostly just a case of folding them back out.
So yeah, transformation is an experience, at times a frustrating one but after a couple of tries you will appreciate how clever the transformation is in the way everything folds away and hides somewhere.
Once transformed this little trio of Maketoys Visualizers are quite fantastic. There is very little camera kibble anywhere on them, and even then it is only part of a camera lens on the back of one of them.
It is impressive in the way Maketoys have managed to take three robots and make them fit together into a camera and all look so similar, whilst also really neat and tidy.
They also evoke the Generation One cartoon so strongly I am kinda worried they are secretly taking photos of my online banking passwords.
If I find a charge for Energon, I will know it has all gone a little bit Toy Story.
Nothing is used from the original toys- these are all cartoon, all of the time, baby.
You get extra faces so you can give them all different expressions to make them unique, and because we are dealing with three figures here it adds a metric ton of T-Rex dump worth of character. Because of the way these figures are, you want to pose them doing funny things and the faces fully work into that.
Normally an extra face just gets left in a box, or looked at and forgotten but these make such a difference. Three characters who are actually the same, but it gives subtle hints that there is more to each of them than meets the....nope, not saying it!
Something that is perhaps unintended, and also annoying, is how the eyes love to fall out as they are not glued into place, but then that does give you an extra option to make them look dead by having darkened eye slots.
But that is rather morbid, and I am not a Goth *searches for Cure Cd's*
The bodies are gorgeous, with beautiful Purple plastic, attached to Grey which might be lighter than the cartoon, but that is a 30 year old animation model so I can let that go when these look so good.
The stand out though is the glowing, clear Green chest panel which I think no-one expected before hand. If you had gone on forums before and asked whether people want this, or flat Green plastic like the cartoon, it is almost certain most would have gone for the cartoon style.
But now I am sat here furiously pointing and shouting "THIS! THIS! THIS! I WANT THIS!", it is so nice. So much vibrancy comes out of it and the detail underneath just adds a bit extra and stops them looking flat.
Whilst two of the bots look identical, the middle one has a fake shutter on his chest which I guess makes him the boss.
It also means he is Viewfinder, and the other two are Spectro and Spyglass, to give them their correct G1 names, as we usually forget they did have their own names and weren't just Reflector in the toy line.
Just like their brother, Cupola, Maketoys Visualizers achieve that rare feat of matching Takaras Masterpiece aesthetic. It is easy to blow off how much of an achievement that is, as most just assume cartoon accuracy - but that is not the whole aesthetic.
There is something much more subtle at play, and you can perhaps see it best in MM Sideswipe and his slightly rounded features.
No other third party has been able to match it which is why they always come off feeling a little Masterpiece light.
Evil traffic cops?
You can pose the guns well as Maketoys Visualizers are packed with articulation. Spectro and Spyglass are identical, but Viewfinder gains double knees which probably upsets the others.
Heads are on ball joints, shoulders swivel on ball joints but the covers are really loose which does not affect how they move, but it can cause them to flop outwards. The hands open, but there is no pointy finger action, and Maketoys have gone with a different approach for the weapons as instead of sliding into the hands, as with Cupola, or having a peg on the side of the handle, like the Masterpieces, they have a peg on the rear of the handle, which slots into a corresponding slot in the back of the hands.
I was a little disappointed to find the arms are a little short in comparison to the width of the chest, so you cannot get the arms across to form certain poses, and it feels restrictive.
A minor complaint that I am sure no other person shares, so it could just be me.
The legs have great articulation due to how poseable the ball jointed ankles are (which always pop off during transformation on mine) and joints in the legs allow for an enthusiastic amount of poseability
A play pattern emerges due to them being a trio, which is unlike most other Transformers, because they are not completely separate characters,, so everything involves them playing off one another. Which is fun, and unique.
Since I first saw the cartoon 30 or so years ago, I have always wanted a Reflector, but he was not available here (oh what a surprise, just another name for the long list) so it is nice to finally scratch that itch, more so when the toy is as good as this one turned out.
This is my second purchase from Maketoys and it definitely lives up to the high standards of Cupola, with a touch more fun thrown in. They don't have the complexity of the their earlier figures and have gone in a different direction entirely to achieve a better transformation, in my opinion.
My wallet is demanding an explanation as to how I've gone from cutting back on third party to deciding to buy every RE:Master figure Maketoys puts out.
Maketoys Visualizers are a great set of figures to own, not only because they give you a Masterpiece scale Reflector to bolster the thin Decepticon ranks, but as incredibly fun toys that you will want to play with more than most. They look so good as well, that it is hard not to smile each time I pass the shelf and wonder what mischief they are going to get up when I am not here.
As they told us in the cartoon - they see everything
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