Sunday, 29 May 2016

Iron Factory IF EX-13 Trinity Elite Warrior, Blizzard Review

'Tell me what's on your mind, or I'll splatter it on the wall and see for myself'.

Quite the history, this fella.

From an ill advised Triple Takeover in which we see the fool Blitzwing abducting a football coach and forcing the poor sod to devise 'military strategies' from within the sweaty confines of a jock's locker to actually growing a brain (or being written out of character?), keeping his pride but losing his place at the Decepticon table and in turn saving both factions from certain doom at the tentacles of The Five Faces Of Darkness, the original G1 triple changer had some pretty memorable lead turns in the 80's cartoon series.

His Dreamwave comics appearances would sow the seeds that gave us IDW and Prime's take on a highly scientific Shockwave. Here, Blitzwing's triple changing ability is actually borne from the cyclopean ones machinations and though a gifted warrior, he remains a big dumb blunt instrument.

And of course there's his maniacally multifaceted mugging of the camera in the Transformers Animated cartoon, his three forms bringing with them three distinct personalities. Nifty.

Which brings us to Iron Factory's latest release; the Trinity Elite Warrior, or Blizzard as he's known to his mates down the pub.

This company have racked in hit after hit after hit in this reviewers eyes, delivering pocket sized plastic paraphernalia well up to the task of seducing one away from la romance de Masterpiece. Is Blizzard another notch on the Iron Factory bedpost or the one you silently creep away from the morning after?

Back to bed it is, then

He's a striking looking beast for certain when you tear open the packaging, big and beefy for his size class and resplendent in Blitzwing's signature purple and tan.

Continuing the visual homage, Blizzard has huge winged tank tread kibble that properly enhances his already physically imposing character. Gunmetal and red is used to pick out details while silver breaks up the two dominant colours nicely. Cap it off with a scowling visage and blood red visor housed within that traditional bright yellow bonce and he captures the characters look to a tee.

That silhouette buffing kibble might look like it could hinder articulation but can hinge right back out of the way which is fortunate as Blizzard once again demonstrates IF's commitment to posability. He might be a bit back heavy with a folded up tank on his back, but it's rarely an issue with those big ball jointed feet providing plenty of stability even when storing his weapons back there.

Let's have a look at what this thing can do.

He can kick ass, that's what he can do

This combination of joints allows for exceptional poses and character. Get a few of these figures together and they just come to life before your eyes. It's brilliant to behold at this size and so is this robot mode. Very well played.

'Settle down, ladies. Nobody is usurping Megatron today. Not you, not me, not any of us'

Now, it's not all rosy. I've had a few issues with mine. The right thigh swivel was so tight it initially popped the leg off the hip joint every time I used it. That's settled down a bit now but remains problematic. The left bicep swivel is slightly malformed so likes to pop off at times. That has become a pain in the ass when I play with him. It's also an issue for himself as that's the arm he leads with.

From watching reviews of this guy, looking at write ups and posts in forums, it's likely I got a bit of a dud in this regard. Which sucks. What I want to point out though is that while I won't gloss over how these issues have impacted on my experience of the toy, these problems are not the defining issues with the release. So bear that in mind.

Blizzard doesn't sport the title of Trinity Elite Warrior for nothing, his first alt mode being a Cybertronian jet of some exotic variety. You know the kind? The ones that don't really look like jets?

Getting here the first few times is hard. It's hard because the stalks that attach to the feet are ridiculously tight out of the box, need rotating to the perfect angle and fight you every inch of the way. It's hard because of the tolerance issues I've had with the legs and it's hard because further tolerance issues come into play when tabbing the legs together and into the waist. You should've seen me on Day One with this guy. And Day Two. And..

Despite my ranting, from here this is looking pretty damn jetty..

If you've happened upon any video reviews of the figure, you might be under the impression that the front end of his jet just doesn't come together. It does. This is a toy that really seems to need breaking in, and I'm glad I sat on this review for a while. The walls may have holes in them, my knuckles might be bleeding, but the front end of the jet is flush.

Except.. that's not really a jet, is it? These calm blue skies are once more tainted with crimson.

One mistransformation later however..

*exhales* YMMV.

Once again, the staple Iron Factory 5mm pegs and ports allow for weapon storage and additional dakka, and I'm particularly fond of using the gatling guns from the Scout and Sniper set under his wings.

Taking Blizzard from jet to tank is satisfyingly simple, the nose of his aerial mode splitting and rotating 45 degrees, coming back together to tab in at the waist while his wings unfold around the main body to create the treads. It's an elegant conversion that takes the bad taste of getting to his aerial mode right out of my mouth.

And the net result is win.

Blizzard's turret can rotate, the barrel can pivot up and down and in a nutshell it's an endearingly tough looking little tank bastard. No rolling treads or even little wheels within them, but then you probably guessed that..

Adorable fun from a mobile gun

I can't knock Blizzard for sculpt, articulation nor character. His painted details are crisp, precise and really help the whole package pop. He's an amazing looking robot where posing and play, for the most part, is a joy. My issues lie with tolerances, a couple of which seem restricted to my copy but the core problems seeming endemic. Hands on time with the figure does loosen his ankle stalks up which is half the battle won, but the tabs in his legs and the slot they peg into on the waist remain troublesome every time. It does come together, but it shouldn't be that problematic.

'I'm not flawed, I'm complex'

This is an important release, easily Iron Factory's most complex to date and what has been accomplished with this 4" figure is not something to be taken lightly. It's a Legends sized triple changer pulled off with no partsforming and the design work easily deserves a slap on the back and a cold beer. When you get the alt modes lined up they're solid and neither feel like an afterthought. I know I gave the jet a bit of stick but I was on a roll with my ranting, it's clearly an alien flying machine and the tank is a little beaut.

All in all, Blizzard represents another step forward in a line that continues to impress. We're seeing some teething problems as the ambition grows and these do need to be recognised as they move onto even bigger things, but for me, the future of the Legends scaled Transformer remains in very good hands.