Monday, 11 January 2016

Iron Factory IF EX-12 Armored Tactical Staff Review

No more introductions for the new kids on the block, they've been covered. After crowning their City Commander my figure of 2015 (down in front..!) and suggesting this could be Iron Factory's year, they go and drop a product in the first week of January that brings together the shell sharing trio of Prowl, Bluestreak and Smokescreen. Did I want this? Ha, maybe a tad..

These characters make the kind of noise that might just prick up the ears of people who would normally pass this company by, and with three Cybertronian styled classic Autobots 4,000,000 years prior to anything approaching looking like a Datsun cruising by via one handy boxset, there is a significant standard to live up to. Do they? Let's get up close and personal.

As per usual, this lot arrive ready and raring to go in.. robot mode. I do wish we'd get more Transformers, be they official or unlicensed, packaged in vehicle mode. It is the primary gimmick after all. Robots In Disguise? You're ruining the money shot, all of you.

In saying that, straight out of the box these guys make an immediate impact. Bearing in mind you're looking at figures barely 3.5" tall, the standard of sculpting on these is impressive and then some. It's crisp, it's sharp and it's married to some deftly applied painted details that do a great job of lifting the tiny intricacies of the sculpts. Iron Factory's minute attention to detail is what first caught my own.

Captor (Prowl) and Silverflash (Bluestreak) share the exact same mold, but the differences in colour and paint truly differentiate them as separate characters, even if their colour layouts remain virtually identical. The finish on Silverflash is ridiculously photogenic.

38's though? On an alien war machine? When dinosaurs were still roaming the.. oh forget it, my head hurts

The tooling differences in the set become apparent with Smokebomber (Smokecreen), who receives new shoulder weaponry, a remolded bumper and a new headsculpt. I dunno though man. Maybe it needs more derp?

Time to suit up

Though they come fully tooled up out of the box, these figures actually have attachment points for the pieces you see above, allowing for multiple display configurations. There is also a separate canopy without wings as pictured below, usable in both modes.

This is war, not a goddamn peep show. Get your bra on and get the hell out of here. And what's with those tattoos? 

These modular robot modes are a really nice touch. They fall right into the play pattern Iron Factory established with their weapon packs and extend it into the figures themselves. And at no point today did I stop for a moment and consider that I might be playing dress up with dolls for men.. and nor should you.

The articulation on these little figures is extensive with some surprisingly effective foot joints, the only real fly in the ointment being a lack of wrist swivel. The options available to you when displaying your figures is bountiful and complement the good looks of each by allowing for some really expressive poses.

Actually, leave it off..

There's been a great effort here in delivering the classic feel of Prowl, Bluestreak and Smokescreen as well as bringing in elements from Dreamwave's War Within, IDW's titles and the War For Cybertron videogame. These visual influences come together to create a familiar but fresh take on established characters.

And as is virtually expected with this company, each character receives an individual glut of weaponry, with the classic Datsun rifle here modelled by Smokebomber, a set of colour matched heavy artillery as demonstrated by Captor and Silverflash along with some familiar (not pictured) bonuses.

Transformation to vehicle mode is a breeze. The hood flips up, the arms tuck into the side, there's a nifty little rotation that brings the wheels out of the calves and the upper legs fold back on themselves. Sprinkle in a bit of partsforming (dirty word?) and we're done.

The vehicle modes feel like a massive step forward for Iron Factory. 'Cybertronian alt mode' is often a smokescreen (ha!) for 'half arsed piece of squint and believe' but these look like armoured alien vehicles, the chest and shoulders forming a muscular and imposing front half, the arm cannons looking like exhausts running along the sides and the chromed missile launchers adding both bling and blam to proceedings. Painted trims follow the colour highlights of each individual character and (rejoice!) the wheels roll.

As with the robot modes, you can remove/add pieces to suit however you wish to display the set. It's another way of bringing individuality to three almost identical molds as well as increasing play value.

A little underdressed, Prowl?

My first impressions of this set haven't faded after multiple transformations and play. All three are a joy. Looks, functionality, finish and feel, it's all there with a tray of weaponry to boot. Although I do find Smokebomber's screaming 38's visually distracting, that's genuinely my only niggle. Legends class collectors should have these on their radar and Iron Factory fans are going to lap this up.

The main drawback I can see with them are the scale itself. Cries of 'I'd buy this if it was upscaled' kind of defeat the point of the achievements made in toys at this size. And these achievements are making the 3P Legends class a serious one to watch going forward. Well worth a purchase, and easily the best option currently available to demonstrate the potential of Iron Factory's line.