Thursday, August 2, 2018

MP-41 Dinobot is a "Dynomite" addition to the Masterpiece Beast Wars series

MP-41 Dinobot is the 3rd in Takara’s entry in the Masterpiece line to include a non-G1 originating figure. Like Beast Convoy and Cheetus (Optimus Primal and Cheetor in the states) before him, this figure presents new and interesting challenges in the masterpiece lines goal of creating show accurate robot and alt forms. Success or failure when dealing with organic forms can make or break this kind of figure. How does Dinobot stack up? Spoilers – overall he hits all the marks.

In robot mode, you probably couldn’t reasonably ask for much more than what Takara delivers here. The sculpt, paint, and details are all spot from the television program. From the golden rib details on the legs to the metallic blue colors of the face and abdomen, this figure LOOKS the part of Dinobot in every possible way. Although a little wider from the side and back then you “imagine” he should be, overall the appearance is perfect.

Articulation in this mode is good, but not perfect. Great head movement, an expressive set of hands, almost perfect leg and feet posability, and even an ab crunch are some of the high points. Unfortunately, in some poses the arms can be a bit of a beast (see what we did there). The transformation in the arms leads to a situation where when bending the forearm just right, some of the beast mode kibble pops out the elbow. It’s easy enough to readjust things after you get the pose sorted out, but it is a bit unfortunate. It’s also worth noting that the ankles can be a little unstable in extreme positions but frankly in most of those cases you would probably use the included stand anyways for long term stability. The included tail weapon (which spins like the original toy), sword, and multiple face and light up accessories for the head are all great and add to the figure without seeming gimmicky.

Transformation is interesting and intuitive with only a couple areas of frustration worth noting. The way the raptor legs and feet transition into the robot arms and claws is pretty smart even if the aforementioned posing annoyance keeps it from being perfect. A false raptor head chest is cleverly hidden as skin texture for the raptor stomach and even the way the robot legs go from sturdy rods to floppy bendy pieces is impressive. Getting the raptor arms into the back of the figure for robot mode can be really frustrating until you figure out just the right angle. Subsequent transformations are much easier after you figure it out.
Officially, Dinobot’s alt mode is a Velociraptor. You can really see the influences of Jurassic Park in the design which coincidentally came out only a couple years before Beast Wars hit the stores. Visually, all the quirks of the shows design down to the almost humanly posable raptor hands and slightly upright and elongated head are present here. Beast modes are tough in transformers and the weakness here definitely shows up in the legs and back underside. Some exposed copper paldrons are always visible in the raptor legs and the rear definitely has some slightly visible robot parts going on, but overall from most vantage points it does the job.

Posability for raptor mode is equal parts amazing and disappointing. The head, arms, and tail do more than they have any right to. You can even adjust the eyes to from bold to squinty thanks to a borrowed pop up gimmick from MP Grimlock. The tail both bends up and to the side at multiple points while the arms have butterfly joints and multiple bends that let you recreate even the most bizarre scenes from the show. The head has great up, down, and side to side movement as well as a great opening jaw with detailed mouth and posable tongue. I did find myself wishing there was something at the neck to allow for a more crunched in running pose but I am honestly nitpicking. The big bummer comes from the legs. No forward and back movement is possible at the hips (some of you may have read of “ratchet breaks” which really seem to be forced movement of the hip in a direction it isn’t intended to move). Additionally the feet, while having amazing ankle rocker and tilt, are just a bit loose for the mass of the rest of the figure. You really need to find a good center of gravity for poses that don’t use the stand. This is probably the only part of the figure that I would say is a serious negative. Adapters for stand posing and holding the included Golden Disc accessory are provided and work well.

Overall, I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job than Takara did for this character. If you are willing to overlook a couple small things that keep this figure from perfection, and are a fan of the character, you won’t walk away disappointed. MP-41 Dinobot easily stands as the best Beast Wars figure to date and has me eagerly anticipating the coming of Predacon Commander Megatron later this year. You can get this figure as well as the other Masterpiece Beast Wars figures at Toy Dojo below:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

MP-12+ vs MP-12 - Lambor / Sideswipe Comparison

We just got in our shipment of MP-12+ and we're sure a lot of you are wondering what the differences are with this version and the original release.  We opened an MP-12+ up and took some quick pictures to show off a few of the major differences between the two figures.  In all the pics, MP-12+ will be on the left and the original MP-12 will be on the right.

Side by side comparison in robot mode.


One of the first things we noticed was that MP-12+ has a lot more painted parts than the original MP-12.  All the red parts are painted, the thighs are painted white, the feet and waist are also painted.  The missile launcher and gun are also painted as well!  

The Autobot logo on the chest is much larger and more cartoon like in the newer version.  The face is also different.  It looks like MP-12+ uses the red alert head mold and a slightly lighter grey paint.  The headlights no longer have a black outline as well.  

MP-12+: Larger Autobot Logo and new head sculpt

MP-12: Notice the black outline on the headlights


One of the biggest gripes with the original MP-12 was the difference in shades between the painted clear parts vs the painted solid parts.  Takara Tomy did a much better job matching the paint on the latest figure.  The windows are a clear blue tint and the red on it seems to match the doors much better than MP-12 did.  You'll still notice some overspray as with the original release but overall it looks a lot cleaner.  

MP-12+ is on top while MP-12 is on the bottom

It's hard to tell in the pictures but the red on the original MP-12 had a hint of orange while on MP-12+ Takara Tomy took the orange out.  

Grey tires on MP-12+

The tires on the latest figure are a grey color instead of black.  The rear bumper is painted entirely black with orange lights.  It looks like this was done to make the legs as cartoon accurate as possible.  The Lamborghini logos on the hood and back are no longer there on the new version.  Instead they are painted over on the hood and covered up by the black on the rear.  The front bumper on MP-12+ is accented by a metallic grey which is hardly noticeable while MP-12 was done in shiny silver.  

Overall MP-12+ does make a good number of changes over the original to make it worth picking up.  The addition of paint and the  paint matching is better and if you're looking for a more cartoon accurate figure, this is hands down closer to the screen than the original.  The logo on the hood and the bumper are a few things that the original MP-12 did a better job with.  The all black bumper on the new version takes away detail that made the vehicle mode a lot more clean.  If you're convinced MP-12+ is the Sideswipe for you, you can pick yours up at Toy Dojo here:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

MasterMind Creations Kultur: An Early Look

I was recently given the opportunity to play with a test shot of MasterMind Creations Kultur, which is the unofficial transforming toy of the IDW comic Transformer, Tarn. As you can see, the toy captures the likeness of the character, who was designed by artist Alex Milne:

An early render of this toy had much weedier proportions that didn't fit the character. This one manages to capture the brutish power of the character, but still preserve the smaller waist that suggests his flexibility and his cultured side. This results in a toy with unique shelf presence.

This Transformers character's name will be familiar to old-school fans, as the name of a Decepticon-affiliated city on Cybertron. It was first described in the famous Marvel UK prose story "State Games," which dramatized the beginning of the Autobot-Decepticon war and established several long-standing bits of lore, such as Megatron's gladiatorial background.

The connection is deliberate in-story, as Tarn is the leader of the Decepticon Justice Division. These semi-anonymous enforcers focus their efforts on torturing and slaying Decepticons who have proven ideologically impure. They have all assumed names based on the "first five cities" to fall to the Decepticons. In the IDW lore, the city of Tarn is also Megatron's birthplace, so the character's choice of that name underscores his fanatical devotion. Tarn wears a Decepticon mask to hide his former identity, a detail MMC have faithfully reproduced. And yes, the mask is removable, but you'll have to see what's underneath for yourself!

I don't have any paperwork for the toy but I imagine he will come with a comic, like all the other Reformatted-series toys. These comics started off as practically IDW-themed fan fiction but they have diverged a bit, and I don't know what's going on in them right now.

The fact that Tarn is an assumed name of a character currently unknown makes "Kultur" as good a name as any for right now. Since the Justice Division do not have official names and will not receive toys from Hasbro, this makes them natural targets for MasterMind to release. Indeed, with the release of their Cynicus (Vos, the sniper rifle) and Anarchus (Kaon, the electric chair), MMC seems committed to doing the entire Justice Division.

So how does Kultur stack up to his peers? Size-wise he is a bit smaller than a Combiner Wars Leader, but still noticeably bigger than a Voyager. He almost reminds me of the old Universe Ultra-class Onslaught mold, just in terms of size.

As this is a test shot, I was not able to transform the toy or put much stress on his joints. His weapon is meant to peg into the arms but this also doesn't work terribly well at the moment. I also didn't try having him hold Cynicus in gun mode but the hands look like they are designed to pull this off as well.

What I can evaluate is personality, and this toy has it in spades. The character of Tarn is unique in that he has exceptionally refined tastes and runs his squad like a pedantic bureaucrat, but is also a vicious, psychotic force. Hannibal Lecter by way of Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the ideological fanaticism of Lavrenty Beria (look him up). I was able to put this toy in poses that suggested threatening advance, sadistic threat, and amused exasperation. The only reason I couldn't pull off a shooting pose is because of the weakness of this test shot's shoulder joints.

I did take a look at the moving parts of the toy and try to puzzle out how he transforms. This is critical to the toy's ability to capture the character of Tarn, who is addicted to transforming and is often seen flipping back and forth from tank mode. I can't be sure, but I'm happy to report that he seems to eschew complexity for complexity's sake. That means that you *should* be able to shift between modes quickly and actually have fun doing it. I don't have Anarchus but Cynicus is also able to be transformed pretty quickly without sacrificing the look of the figure. Of course, Milne's strong design work deserves a lot of the credit here.

While I do like MMC's Cynicus very much, Kultur is a much more commanding presence, and deserves to take center stage on any Decepticon shelf. As the main villain of the "More Than Meets the Eye" comic series and a commanding presence in and of himself, he's a good buy if you have any interest at all in seeing how the G1 roster of characters has been expanded since 1987.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

FT-14 Forager and FT-15 Willis Preview

“I seem to get bugs on the windshield almost every time I drive my Jeep.” Anonymous

Fans Toys must know its spring because they have been preparing to release tons of spring-fresh new characters out into the wild. With their FT-07 Stomp (aka MP Sludge) on the cusp of release, and these two ready for prime time not too far after, the 3rd party MP ranks on our shelves are going to be getting a bit more crowded. 

Here at Toy Dojo we were privileged to get an early look at two of their more anticipated pending releases, the decidedly evil looking FT-14 Forager (their take on a certain kicking insectoid robot) and FT-15 Willis (their take the hologram slinging, robot cat wrangling, and human character befriending military robot). We’re going to change things up a bit in this article and focus a bit more on interesting factoids and tips for the figures since this is really more of a preview.

First up, let’s talk Forager. He gets the benefit of being the last in a trio of insects so in theory he should be the best of the bunch right? Mostly yes, some no. He definitely feels more refined in his silhouette than say Grenadier and Mercenary. There is no denying the lineage or the fact that they go together, but Forager definitely looks the best out of the three as far as robot mode goes in my opinion. His articulation is on par with the other 2 insect figures and he definitely has it where it counts in the weight department, managing to feel actually the heaviest of the three thanks to well-placed die cast.

His weapon integrates well into insect mode and he holds it perfectly even on the pre-production sample. Including 3 small energon cubes continues as a trend with this release even though I find the shade of purple a little off (but this is nothing new as all the figures energon cubes have been this same shade). Also he includes a surprising but welcome additional accessory in a die case replacement head antenna for Grenadier. Though I never had an issue, the plastic nature of the piece was problematic for some people and caused breakage. With this replacement part, the danger of a snap is removed. It was a neat gesture and will no doubt be appreciated by anyone bothered by the issue.

Where I think Forager falls down a bit is in the transformation department. The legs are well thought out and the insect legs fold up much more compact than previous FT bugs. Where things get a bit buggy is in the way the robot arms and insect arms have to change place during the transformation. The design for the chrome wings includes an opening flap that is very frustrating to work around and does make me a bit nervous. As this is a pre-production sample, its possible things will improve before release, but for now getting those arms switched out is definitely stressful and there isn’t really a great way I have figured out to make it easier. An important tip, although not immediately apparent the robot head actual clam shells in half to make getting the insect face cover MUCH easier to get out. If you don’t read instructions this is an easy step to miss! Overall I think the figure meets the standard of its pedigree and will be a welcome addition to your other 2 insectoid buddies.

Finally let’s talk about Willis. “What you talkin bout Willis” you might say? No? Ok, bad joke averted. Unless you are new to the 3rd party scene, you are no stranger to multiple versions of a character being available from various designers. This isn’t the only 3rd party version of “Hound” available to you with the likes of TFC and Maketoys both having already taken a stab at the character – Gun Dog having been the stand out of the two. Personally speaking, though I love Gun Dog, you can’t argue he takes a lot more cues from the toy than the cartoon model of the character. Many people prefer that look, I just don’t happen to be one of them (though I can’t deny it’s charm and impressive engineering). Willis was always going to be my “Hound” unless something horrible swayed me away. Having previewed him in hand, I can tell you I am not swayed from my original opinion. If the cartoon is your shelf bible, this is the one for you!

Willis NAILS the visual cue of the character in hand. Both the Jeep-inspired alt mode and the robot mode manage to make you feel like the character jumped out of the screen. His articulation is not as robust as some of the other characters in the line which admittedly was a little disappointing but this also wasn’t the most acrobatic character in the series. A double jointed elbow would have added some additional character and the lack of a skirt cut makes forward movement a bit restricted in the legs. His coloring and face sculpt is great. We actually get a couple faces and (shades of color on said faces) to pick from which is welcome – and they are both good! Also, rubber tires are always a welcome addition.

Accessories are well thought out and for the most part well implemented. The spare tire cover and gas can are both present and removable but both can’t fit in robot mode without some creative placement. He includes no less than 3 guns which is AWESOME and retroactively a great nod to his Michael Bay iteration’s penchant for weaponry. The machine gun placement which works only in his vehicle mode includes a great moving piston and is sized perfectly for human scale figures to use. Both versions of his rifle are included (the shorter cartoon snub nose and the toy version) and the toy rifle even includes an adapter so it can be used in vehicle mode. Also included is a clear plastic scuba mask which is good but in practice doesn’t stay attached to the head very well (just friction).

Willis is quite a bit more elaborate in the transformation department than his visuals would immediately imply. Everything is fairly intuitive and every bit has its place but that’s not to say it isn’t without challenges. The first couple of times you can’t get the arms and tires to fold in or unfold like they should because you don’t have the torso bar bent right you will think you are doing something wrong. Also for that step in general, the clearance is very tight and orientation is important. Watching a video review definitely helps visualize this if you don’t have instructions. Also getting the rear feet/legs folded without gaps can take some finesse.

Overall these figures were fun with each having their own little quirks and intricacies that make them equal parts challenging and interesting. I look forward to seeing the final release versions and seeing how they stack up to the competition. If you are on the hunt for your very own FT-14 Forager you can place a pre-order here while FT-15 Willis can be found here. As always thanks for checking out this article and always check for the latest news on our Facebook page and website. Until next time!