Thursday, 25 June 2015

Boldforms BSC-01 Lonewolf Review

combiner wars menasor

Motormaster in torso mode has been easily the weakest part of Combiner Wars so far, so a replacement with 3rd party engineering and slavish Generation aesthetics is a no brainer right?

Sort of. Read on to uncover a whole lot more on this interesting first figure from new third party company-Boldforms.

boldforms motormaster

The alt mode is pure Generation 1 Motormaster toy, from the cab with the extra windows on top, to the Grey trailer with Purple stripe. At first I thought it was an exact replica of the G1 toy, but Google tells me it is not, it is just really close.

Gorgeous Decepticon Purple windows make a strong comeback and the paint is really nicely applied, as it is all over the figure.

One thing that struck me across the whole figure is how understated the paint apps are, but how well they are executed. The Purple lines on the side for example do not look like paint, it is more like they are coloured plastic - but it is actually paint. Nothing here tries to draw your eyes in a way that undermines the sculpt, it is there purely to compliment the existing detailing.

That in itself is quite cool, as the lines from G1 Motormaster are mimicked exactly by Lonewolf - no expense spared.

Wow, I jumped to the paint much earlier than I thought.

boldforms lonewolf back

One noticeable bump is what I assume is Boldforms own combiner port sticking right out their on the side, but even that is appropriately placed to break up the lines in the same places the G1 Motormaster trailer.

Something Boldforms would have done well to not imitate is the really tiny wheels. Sure the original had them, but they are so small and like to wobble. They do snap into place, and can be rotated round to match your preference, and if you feel the cab sticks out you can push it back further, but you will have to remove that Grey piece and the sword.

lonewolf sword storage

Yes, just in case you were wondering if Lonewolf could store his weapon, It conveniently locks into place by slotting underneath the trailer-"out of sight, out of mind".

The grey piece that covers the swords handle is a separate piece with clips into place behind the cab. Sounds easy yeah? Wrong.

Because of the way the cab is hitched to the trailer, and the faff of getting into the right position, unless you have it perfectly placed it will push that Grey piece forward. Because the sword also slides into the bottom of rear detachable part of the trailer, it can end up forcing the back of trailer apart.

It doesn't need any encouragement as it loves to fall off all by itself.

Once you get the hang of it, it is a lovely example of weapon storage as keeps it out of the way but not in a way where you just have it off to the side. It just can be a bit of a faff.

boldforms lonewolf combiner wars motormaster

Lonewolf's truck mode does feel small, especially when placed next too Combiner Wars Motormaster who dwarfs him. But it is deceptive, as it is quite long and there is a lot of mass from the robot mode condensed quite brilliantly. It feels like Boldforms are pulling off an illusion that David Blaine would be proud of, but with less eyes on hands.

Perhaps instead of Lonewolf, Boldforms should have named him "Illusionist"?

Lonewolf has a very G1 accurate truck mode and I love it for that.

His instructions claim transformation is an 8 step process...HAHA! Comedians!

You are better served just using them as a rough guide.

As it stands, getting Lonewolf to robot mode is mostly a treat, and a great example of ingenuity on the part of its designers.

boldforms lonewolf

The only part that may be confusing at first is forming the feet, but the rest of it unfolds in an intuitive manner, where each part flips out then guides you to the next. Really, I was completely surprised as with it being a third party product I had long accepted that it was probably going to be quite awkward. But no, it was all pretty smooth.

That is not to say it is really simple, it isn't and that's a testament to the skill of the designers, because it feels familiar and obvious but is not like the Combiner Wars figures where it is just a couple of twists and turns.
Some parts, namely the shoulders don't lock when extended, which seems really odd as with the slightest touch they will be sucked back inwards.

I did have to do a bit of surgery to remove some plastic from the right arm, to enable it to extend, but looking around the interwebs I believe that may have just been a one off problem. Easily fixed though. My Girlfriend even called me manly...doesn't happen very often!

boldforms lonewolf head

Once transformed there is very little kibble hanging off as most of the pieces fold away to produce a tall, lean Motormaster.

Toy Motormaster that is, as you can see from the head they have based it on the G1 box art- or at least that is what it looks like to me. Paint use is again sublime, with a lovely satin, matte finish that is so neatly painted you could be forgiven for thinking the plastic was molded in those colours. 

Special praise goes to the eyes, they way they are lined in black is so well done, and it almost justifies the high price of third party figures for that level of skill and craftsmanship.

Personally, I would have preferred them to also have included an optional cartoon style face as I love that on the Combiner Wars figure, but then I am reminded that Boldforms did not create this with the intention of it being paired up with Combiner Wars figures. 

The head can only turn side to side, as it is living in a box, living in a...plastic box, which is a bit disappointing. I am not sure if it shows up well in the pictures, but one of the panels on the side of the head box is slightly bent. It looks like the pin has gone in slightly at an angle so it will not bend fully into place.

It is a very minor aesthetic flaw, but we are discussing a quite expensive toy here, that is designed exclusively with the collector market niche in mind.

This toy is huge, that is what I meant earlier about feeling like an illusion as Lonewolf ends up at nearly MP-10 height from a truck mode that looks little.

What sorcery is this!?

He is way too small to stand with the CW Stunticons however, it actually looks very funny (why didn't I take a photo of that?).

boldforms lonewolf

You can feel that the toys designer must have had a real fondness for that old Motormaster figure, it is literally pouring out of the box. Often when an old character is updated, there is a propensity for companies to add extra detailing and flourishes which were not there. Sometimes it works, and other times it draws your attention and looks out of place.

Boldforms have gone as far in the opposite direction as possible and stuck to a very simple, but effective detailing pattern.

What is new, are the paint apps on Motormasters shins and again they are beautifully done and are so understated they feel like they were part of the old toy.

I don't like Lonwolf, oh no, I love it! 10CC kids, look it up.

There are virtually no ball joints on this guy, but you don't lose any articulation. Actually he fares better than most; so many swivels and hinges and it is a brilliantly fun figure to play with and pose. There is a lot of heft to the figure, which helps him pull off some great poses.

Lonewolf's knees are double jointed to give you extra posing super powers, but oddly the bottom hinge is scarily tight, whilst the top hinge is completely loose on both legs. If he had an Achilles heel in this mode - this is it.

He can sometimes flop, but it becomes a much bigger problem in combined mode than it is here (put a pin in that). It should be easily fixable, by removing a screw, but even though it is Boldforms' first effort, so some problems are to be expected-  it feels a little annoying to be paying for a company to learn from their mistakes.

boldforms bsc 01 lonewolf

Lonewolf does have quite a few extra pieces in his trunk (box). Just like the G1 toy, the Menasor chest plate and waist pieces do not integrate into the figure, so that can be filed in the box marked "homage".

The chest piece is actually two pieces that clip together. One is a piece of plastic with some purple paint applied which will eventually fill out Menasors torso. The original rolling skateboard of doom is also included, but this version only has painted Silver circles as opposed to actual wheels. Booo.

He comes with his trademark sword which is an awesome piece, and two sets of hands to wield it with. One pair is just a molded fist with peg hole (like cup holders) and the others are a bit fancier because they can open.

But where is the rifle? Stop breaking my heart Boldforms.

The rear of the truck is a separate piece and opens as if it is supposed to do something. Lots of detailing adorns the interior, the back door has four peg holes in it that suggest they are supposed to do something - but no mention is made of what.

A misstep then? Ehhhh, I am not sure. On one hand it makes the figure feel unfinished, as if it is an extra piece to be tacked on. But on the other there are so many other bits to shove to the side anyway, and if you are buying this type of toy in the first place then chances are you are only really going to display it and already appreciate extra bits of figures that serve no purpose in some modes..

It is not as if it is going to be from being played with too much,

You also get some Combiner Wars compatible pegs...can you guess what they are for?

boldforms lonewolf g1 fule tank gun

Remember that Grey piece I mentioned earlier? The one that locks the sword to the underside of the truck? Well, it makes a comeback here as it forms a small gun, when you combine it with the fuel tanks from Lonewolf's cab.

So Lonewolf does have a gun? No, the handle is specifically sized to fit into the hands of the original G1 combiner limbs.

Why? I have no idea. The G1 Stunticons can't attatch to Lonewolf and even if they could it would look ridiculous.

But it is symptomatic of Boldforms' approach to this figure where it is loaded with weird and wonderful ideas, but they don't always hit the mark.

Lonewolf's robot mode is great, truly in every sense of the word. It is weighty, well balanced, the paint work is sublime and looks every the part.

This is the mode I would personally display him in, on a Masterpiece shelf and up until I put him in robot mode I was expecting that mode to be the one I cared of least.

What a pleasant surprise.

boldforms lonewolf

The reason that most people will either have bought this figure, or be considering purchasing it is to use it as combiner torso and replace the scrappy Hasbro effort (those thighs, why did they give him those awful thighs?) and it does look spectacular.

Getting him there from robot mode is not the worst experience in the world, Boldforms have been extremely clever in how Lonewolf switches to gestalt mode, but if you are still looking at the instructions, just put them away- they may as well have just drawn a smiley face on a sun.

The box that formed the Motormaster head folds down to form his famous shoulder pylon and his stomach panel rotates to completely transform (zing) how his lower torso looks. Tricks like this employed by Boldforms will raise a smile as so much thought and imagination have gone into them.

But then you will come to the cab and how it folds onto the back of the legs - and you will lose your mind.
Not only do you have to deal with them often coming off the hinges, much like in robot mode, but then the instructions abandon all pretence of helping you when it comes to how they actually sit there.

I will give you a heads up, there is a bit of swivelling involved, and some panels on a ball joint that hang precariously.

Lonewolf's truck cab then just hangs off the back of his legs, tabbing in nowhere and it feels like they ran out of ideas so just left it. However, they are placed in such a fashion as to not obstruct articulation so it feels like they did think it through.

But came up with this mental compromise, and just to add to the craziness there are some tiny ball jointed panels with the smokestacks on that fold up and dangle away.

I have seen a lot of people just remove the cab and have done with it, which is easy to do as it just pops off. It saves you some hassle, and it looks much cleaner so might be a good option just for display.

boldforms lonewolf menasor

Once you have got that frustration out of your system, I will say it again Menasor looks fantastic. I am switching to just calling him Menasor in this mode, as I don't believe Boldforms have given him a separate name and referring to him as Lonewolf is confusing me.

It is a huge improvement on the CW Menasor, it looks so G1 and has massively improved proportions. He is much leaner, and ends up a bit taller as a result.

The head has come in for a bit of grief, based on that smile but I quite like it. For me it feels like Boldforms just applying their signature to a figure that is so meticulously based on another persons original design. This flourish just reminds you that it is something new and gives it a very subtle extra bit of character in a position that will draw your eyes.

Articulation is great, with the superior legs and waist swivel really aiding the overall look of the CW limbs.

Okay, so now as much as I have gushed about it - there is only one real issue I encountered in for the Gestalt (that's a fancy word for combiner). For this mode, Lonewolf's knees collapse and his waist ratchets are incredibly strong. Good so far then?

Yeah, but that leg does not fully collapse leaving the double keen exposed and the extra weight the combiner limbs mean it is superflop city (paraphrased from sir Brock of Lesnar). When posing him, he has a tendency to snap backwards, which is scary when you are talking about such an expensive toy, and your own fingers.

combiner wars transformers

The ideas and imagination demonstrated by Boldforms make me excited to see what they come up with in future, but as a first figure it suffers from teething troubles.

Nothing majorly terrible, it is still a very, very good figure with excellent quality plastic, but there are just a handful of areas that could have been dealt with better and would have made this a must own piece.

Boldforms really need to use more pegs, and rely less on friction just holding things in place.

If this figure was released prior to Combiner Wars, I think it would have been met with a much louder reaction. That is a shame, as this toy has a good truck mode, a brilliant bot mode and spectacular looking, if floppy, combined mode.

Plus, it is an awesome Menasor. Everyone loves Menasor.

Lonewolf is currently available from Masterforce here

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