Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Unique Toys Buzzing Review

They're not my favourites! All of your favourites!

The 1986 animated Transformers movie proved just how brazen a toy company could be when promoting new product, its first twenty minutes a masterclass in murder and mayhem focused on systematically slaughtering your favourite characters, callously thrusting their replacements down your throat while screaming alien names in your ears and affording you no time to mourn. And hey, it worked on me. In Transformers and in life.

That onscreen carnage was mirrored on toy aisles worldwide as this new breed of robots took pride of place atop the dusty shelves of the dead. Among many, many others we were introduced to the charming and cavalier Hot Rod, the gnarled and grizzled Kup and of course, the speed talking, faster than sound Blurr.

Instantly standing out in a sea of new characters thanks to the uniquely rapid fire delivery of John Moschitta Jr's vocal work, the motion blurring that followed his memorable designs almost every move and the fact that in spite of his considerable talents he was such a pessimistic whining little bitch, Blurr made a lasting impression on his silver screen debut thirty years ago. 

'Swiggity swooty, I'm comin' for that booty'

Which brings us to today. As the Takara Masterpiece line continues to grow in popularity, so too does the surge in unofficial releases wanting a piece of that action. In January 2016, 3rd Party company Unique Toys took the cobalt comet and gave him a Masterpiece styled makeover of their own. Ladies and gentleman, this is Buzzing.

I love the look of the '86 and onwards Transformers. Especially when they're brought to new life in the modern day. It's hard to put my finger on, maybe something about the combination of futuristic then seeming so very retro now, but these designs are captivating. And Blurr's is one of the best.

Tall, lithe and very, very blue, Buzzing captures the essence of Blurr the second you cast eyes on him. He has a hugely athletic looking silhouette, minimal but effective sculpted detailing and a wonderfully clean, virtually kibble free robot mode made of good old fashioned sci fi charm. 

This lack of kibble helps immensely when looking at him from any angle and what little vehicle parts remain simply serve to bulk him up. Those elbow spurs follow the natural lines of his arms and never seem to look out of place.

The colours utterly shine, the mixture of light, navy and metallic blues contrasting beautifully with minimal yellow accenting as well as several shades of silver. It's one hell of a looker this figure, make no mistake, and that's without mentioning one of the greater headsculpts of recent years.

Thankfully these good looks are also backed up with significant shape throwing potential. Articulation wise, Buzzing rates pretty highly with double jointed elbows and knees and the mixture of ratchets, swivels and hinges allow for quite the range of expressive posing. 

That's Metroplex's transformation cog in his hand, a nifty little bonus

Those elbow spurs look like they're going to wreck your dreams but in a move of genius design, they're actually attached via springs, smoothly moving out of the way when you rotate the lower arm. That's a really nice and considered touch.

I might have preferred more movement in the foot - that ankle rocker isn't brilliant - but this is a minor qualm and I've yet to get bored or frustrated in terms of what I can or can't do with him. And when he can rock a run like that, I'm mulling over deleting the previous sentence for even daring to bring up the term 'ankle rocker'.

'The Run'. Copyright Maziar Shahsafdari

Buzzing comes equipped with two weapons, a handgun (more on this.. 'delight' in a bit) and a rifle. These do not peg into the hands, instead relying on the friction that comes from closing the finger pieces around them and hold just fine. Yeah there's a bit of wiggle, but they're not about to fall out nor could they be called loose.

The two weapons can also combine to form a larger rifle. An exercise in abject, teeth gnashing frustration, beware pieces popping off everywhere, cower before the worst in plastic tolerances and gasp in terror as this wonky misshapen monstrosity holds its form long enough for you to reflect on the half hour you spent making something look so bad through no fault of your own.. before exploding in your damn face again.

Seconds later, I poured a(nother) very large, very stiff drink

And here's the reason why. Blurr became a Targetmaster in Season 4 of the original Transformers cartoon and Unique Toys have made that handgun of his a transforming robot itself. It just doesn't work though, and while I applaud the good intentions of ball jointed shoulders, hips and waist, trust me, this combination of joints all comes apart (literally) very quickly.

Haywire indeed

In all honesty, I tend to forget about this little guy, instead choosing to keep him at the back of the fridge with the gone off jam and other things I'm not so keen on.

'Hey man'

Back to better things and lets see some comparisons. Buzzing is a tall figure, scaling incredibly well (in my opinion) with DX9's Carry. As well he should, these being sister companies after all.

You might find his size stood next to the current official Masterpiece cars a little on the large side though, but to be honest the Movie bots were a bit bigger than what came before, both in toy form and on screen and I'm more than happy seeing this translated into new versions of these characters.

Bigger and er.. badasser

Transformation is a joy, complex enough to be rewarding, simple enough to master quickly. Of note, the way the backpack transforms into the rear of the car from robot mode betrays the nifty tricks it pulls off the other way round and I wish they had packaged him in vehicle mode for this step alone. Either way, you're going to enjoy this one.

Buzzing's vehicle mode takes the form of a large, futuristic hovercar. There's no real world frame of reference to this curious form and that's fine. What it does do is capture the spirit of the animation model and original toy very well indeed.

Quirky. Daft. Lovely.

The vehicle doesn't roll, but I'll forgive that lack of functionality as to implement it may have caused compromises in the design of the robot mode. Plus Blurr hovers man, he doesn't have wheels.

As the pictures indicate, behind the cockpit is a gap. This is to seat our friend from the fridge in. Unfortunately, the negative impact of the Targetmaster on the overall package continues into vehicle mode as that area in which he sits visually breaks up the vehicle modes sweeping lines.

Plus he doesn't sit in the gap, he kneels in it. There isn't enough space to seat him normally, and (naturally) his legs will fly off if you try. Thankfully the vehicle mode remains strong enough to rise above the flaws that come from this interactivity.

Buzzing is a very strong release from Unique Toys. In addition to the good looks and excellent articulation they have totally captured the feel of Blurr in both forms. The Targetmaster, as you may have gathered, doesn't do it for me, and I would liked to have seen it take a couple more runs around R&D before committing to this final design. Importantly though, it doesn't matter to me as Buzzing himself, the meat of the package, is such a triumph and easily one of the best figures I have had the pleasure of purchasing this year.

This is a premium feeling toy with some beautiful aesthetics, an overall feeling of quality and comes well recommended to fans of Transformers: The Movie or anyone who fancies a good Transformer full stop.

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