Sunday, 23 November 2014

Maketoys Quantron, Part 2 of 3 (Yes, I lied)

Last time we took his arms and legs apart. In the second part of my Quantron boxset review it's torso time (It's gonna be a two part review in three parts).

The original Scattershot sounds like one hell of a guy. 'A brawling bragging bezerker..', he's definitely someone you would want on your side in a fight and the kind of fella the clever drinker lends a cig to in the pub before happy hour collapses under the irony of its name. We're dealing with a bruiser of a bot here people, so a new version ideally needs to be a hulk of a figure. Is this Maketoys reimagining a worthy update of the belligerent and violent Autobot?

Let's go with 'Yes'

Voyager in height and Voyager in chunk, Metalstorm cuts an imposing silhouette and is loaded with meaningful articulation. Stern of visage, big of gun and large of fist, I can believe that this guy would shoot Roadbuster in the face. I can believe he would shoot all of us in the face.

Knuckletab dusters

The sculpting is superb and sharp as a knife, the painted detail is spot on and like his team mates the use of translucent plastic throughout just looks fantastic. Far more of a G1 homage than the rest of Quantron, Metalstorm really does nail Scattershot's physical presence down hard. Dialled in 'full armor mode' aside, he's almost brilliant.

It's one way of storing Quantron's feet, I guess

Now stability.. the balljoints on his feet are not great but they're connected to strong ratchets and a pin joint. Initially he was falling all over the place and I was getting a tad wound up, ready to pop 'em off and thicken them up with old faithful. Until I realised how to use all three foot joints in tandem and now he can do wicked poses or just stand there easily without the need of the nail polish. Like his box mates, time with the figure does wonders for your appreciation and understanding of how it all works.

Unfortunately, mine had an off centre waist ratchet. It was affecting some sets, not all as far as I can tell. Maketoys are aware of it and parts are available to replace the faulty. But still.. not good. If it sounds like I'm being hyper critical over something aesthetic, it's because this stuff costs a lot of money, it's getting tiring making excuses for QC in 3P land and fixing toys out of the box just ain't cricket. As I said, almost brilliant.

That's a lot of 'Pew'

A refreshingly straightforward transformation (you're basically folding him in half) rewards with a refreshingly obscene starfighter mode. His entire front end is a gun. There's guns on the wings and guns on the back. It also looks like something savage she'd definitely use her safe word for if I whipped it out at bedtime.

Unintentionally Scattershot coloured bedspread in funnier than actual gag shocker

You can further the overkill by adding the combiner feet and robot wielded guns to the wings and turning the Technobot leader into all out dreadnought. Giving him front landing gear as well, this additional 'full booster' mode is not just us finishing the transformation though, honest guv.

Least convincing third mode over? Undoubtedly
Still cool as hell? Absolutely

Metalstorm is a hugely enjoyable figure. While it's perhaps unfair comparing him to the four smaller robots that make up the set, for my money he's easily the most fun out of the five. The unfortunate QC issue with the off centre waist on mine (again, not all) does knock marks off but it's good to know that Maketoys are aware of it and have replacement parts available should you require them.

Breaking it down, what we have here is a satisfyingly chunky and hard as nails looking robot that is a joy to pose and play about with and a breeze to transform.

And I didn't need to mention that effing instruction manual once.

Next up, the fully combined Quantron. The money shot itself. For real, I assure you (come on, this was long enough as it is).

Monday, 17 November 2014

Maketoys Quantron (Part 1 of 2)

Technobots. How might I praise them in prose?

Well, let’s take their batty G1 cartoon origins for a start, where a juiced up hyper intelligent Grimlock makes all five of them in as many minutes from bits of scrap knocking around Unicron’s disembodied head. Or how about total asshat Scattershot starting the war all over again in the Marvel story ‘Peace’? No question about it, long since worn out VHS and comic book wizardry cemented them as toys I needed. Kudos, good human toy advertisers.

And so we have the eight year old me, bereft of Technobot goodness and harbouring a nigh on murderous desire to wrest Lightspeed, Afterburner et al from my next door neighbours flaunting clutches. I stayed my killing hand and resigned myself to a world without them. Fast forward three decades and who’s the winner now, eh?

Me, yeah? The answer is me. 

Quantron - the latest in the MTCombiner Series - follows the success of Maketoys’ Giant Type 61 with another all inclusive boxset, a ballbusting price tag and more of the single minded drive and determination that has come to define this company.

There’s a lot to get through, particularly in a written review, so this will be a two parter. We'll dismember the limbs first.

Before I look at the figures themselves, some thoughts on the manual. Because the way in which it is presented has really done a couple of the figures an unnecessary disservice. Without a shadow of a doubt, this has to be the most baffling, user unfriendly yet professionally printed set of instructions I have come across in a loooong time. 

'WHY?! Primus.. why???'

Not that instruction booklets for Transformers, official or otherwise are often truly up to par, but this one, with its baffling use of arrows and confusingly colour coded CAD takes some serious beating. This is a major screw up on Maketoys part and needs to be noted. A well designed and easy to follow guide would eliminate so many needless pages of angry, angry ranting on the Internet.

My advice is to spend some time familiarising yourself with the figures first. I didn’t rush in, I spent a good week and a bit with the individual figures and modes before considering combining them. And to be honest, given the price of the set I wanted my moneys worth.

You’ve got five new toys who together make a sixth. Enjoy them leisurely as you would a fine wine. Balk at the booklets bastardry, use it as a guide only and figure them out for yourself. The likes of Celeritas and SonicDrill are small, at times fiddly and are trying something new. It can be infuriating, but it doesn’t make them bad.

With that in mind, let’s have a quick peek at the four smaller figures that make up Quantron's limbs.


Michael Bay was right..

Or Lightspeed. Rocking in at around the same size as a FansProject Stunticon (as well he should given that this set shares more than just a few design similarities with FP’s finger bruising combiner), Celeritas is a nice enough looking robot, sharp of sculpt, probably a bit nondescript and very, very red. His articulation leaves a bit to be desired around the arms – but that doesn’t mean he can’t hit some decent poses.

Transformation can be tricky. The problem lies within the arms. It's a counter intuitive process getting them lined up. Naturally the instructions are as much help as being injected with sodium pentothal by the missus the day after your works Christmas party.

..Red is an absolute bitch to capture right.

His alt mode takes the form of a futuristic car with more than a passing nod to the Mach6 from Speed Racer. In this form Celeritas sports sleek curves and lines, packs gorgeous translucent plastic running throughout his frame (a theme with the set) and is very, very red. This car mode is a real winner, easily surpassing the somewhat lacklustre robot mode.


Weapons combine to form a hammer. Made of missile pods. Not that smart after all.

Phwoaar, now we’re talking. A real overhaul of the G1 design, Overheat is probably recognisable as Afterburner by colour only. But somehow, once you have this wonderfully articulated little ‘bot in hand that ceases to be an issue. He just looks cool as hell with missile pods decked out on his wheel kibble, a (somewhat half arsed) sniper rifle and the gloves of a chef taking a delicious pie out of the oven.

One thing I don’t like about Overheat’s transformation is the lifting and rotating of a spring loaded plastic panel within each leg. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to break but it’s almost like it’s asking you to try when you first transform him. It could have extended out further or had less pull back on it and isn't the greatest of design choices.

'nuff said.

Overheat transforms into a lightcycle. And that’s pretty much all you need to know.


Ah.. there’s always one, isn’t there? Maketoys version of Nosecone was the Internet’s new best friend on arrival, owing to the intricate and unique engineering that makes up his three forms and the already flogged to death directions he comes with.  It’s also pretty obvious given his pedigree (FansProject M3) that the designer enjoys his complex transformations and doesn’t give a damn if we don’t. Part of me truly respects that uncompromising stance. Part of me wants to hit him with a brick.

Gloriously, sublimely articulated.

As a robot he’s a lot of fun. He has joints everywhere including an ab crunch. Like Overheat this one deviates from the source a fair whack. I didn’t get this set just for the G1 love letter so when it’s giving me searchlights on the shoulders, some kind of sci fi eye patch and a big (optional) drill hand as a weapon I am smiling. Underslung guns too. Nice. Stress marks where his searchlights clip into? Not so nice. And his colours are probably a bit busy compared to his team mates.

The death of fingertips?

SonicDrill transforms through a bewildering array of twists and turns and tabs into a solid, okay looking chunk of industrial treaded drill. No rolling wheels in the treads because it’s assumed I’m old enough to know better than to want that kind of functionality. A nice use of translucent red plastic in the cockpit and tons of sculpted detail aside, it’s probably the weakest of the set in vehicle mode. Not in any way bad, just a bit ‘eh?’. Which is a shame considering what you have to go through to get there.


And then the designer goes and drops a total smash hit in the form of the last of our limbs to fall under scrutiny.

Christmas Number 1.

This an outrageously good toy.

Sleek, full of hard lines with orange translucent plastic crackling throughout his body like circuit boosters, not only does Blindfire look great he has the poseability to back it up. Weapons wise he has the option of dual blasters or laser swords and is easily the highlight of the four figures being reviewed today.

Compared to Sonic, this Strafe wannabe transforms by squeezing his legs together, putting his arms to the side and collapsing the legs. A bit of weapon partsforming forms the front of the jet mode. Seriously, you can pretty much blink and this thing is in jet mode. Did I say jet mode? Vic Viper mode. On a shot glass. I mean come on.

On the whole I do rate these four highly.

They're stunning to look at, gel well as a team, throw in some brilliant sci-fi homages and have the fiddle factor I crave in my Transformers. I find it maddeningly brilliant that toys as night and day in complexity (Blindfire and SonicDrill) are packaged together in one job lot. And the nostalgia hit is satisfying despite the stylings of the team being a seriously new take on the originals.

However, the instructions are poor and as a result the toys can become needlessly complex. SonicDrill is hard work regardless (although subsequent transformations are much easier) and Celeritas as a robot is a bit dull. The aesthetics of the set could actually be a criticism depending on what you are after in your updates. G1 this is not. And if you don't like fiddly little things I am proud of you for reading this far.

Wow, that was certainly long. Many thanks to the three of you who stuck with it. Next up, the big guy Metalstorm along with the BIG guy himself.