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My copy of SciFigure Industry's WZ-10 Aegopter  Craft Series  CS-02 (Fiery Thunderbolt) arrived today, and after several hours of handling her, I thought I'd leave a little commentary.

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For the sake of brevity, I'm going to refer to her as Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt comes packaged in robot mode, and I snapped this pic shortly after extricating her. I didn't take pics of the trays, but she comes in a clear tray along with all her weapons, a clear overlay to keep it all in place and protected, and a second tray that nestles under the weapons containing the base and arched stand, which can be assembled one of two ways depending on Thunderbolt's mode.  The base features two pull out drawers which allow for convenient storage of all her weapons.  100_5229.JPG.eb9592f33b868be713489f70222119d2.JPG

This is her full loadout. The racked missiles are packed individually and feature a runner with a slot cut out which tabs onto one of four tabs on a little cube. The cube also has slots on top for one of two types of pylons (the tabs on the pylons are spaced differently, with two apiece of each type). The missile and rocket launchers are molded in a light grey, almost an off-white, plastic, sans paint. The pylons are painted in gunmetal, and you can see them tabbed into the square rocket launcher and the racked missiles above. The twin rifles are molded in dark grey plastic and have silver paint apps in the grilling on the sides and on a molded hose going from the body to the stock. The ammo magazines can be removed but there's no detail inside them- just hollow boxes that slide onto H-tabs on the bottom of the rifle.  The sniper rifle gets more interesting; the barrel section can be removed where it's slotted into the thicker cylindrical bit in the center of the rifle. That cylinder can also hinge down and the barrel section can slot into the main body of the rifle. The end of the barrel where it's thinnest, can retract into the thicker barrel section. The bipod legs are individually mounted on ball joints. The grip on the main rifle body can retract into the body. The stock of the main rifle body has two folding bits; looking at the pic, the top section contains a die-cast knife painted metallic gold on a slider. The lower part is just a curved bit that rotates 90 degrees.  As shown in the first pic I posted, the rifle can be arranged as a sort of scythe. It reminds me a great deal of Ruby Red's singular weapon, the Crescent Rose, from RWBY. Image result for Crescent Rose

Moving on to the fig itself, Thunderbolt is molded primarily in a matte black plastic, with the same light grey plastic as the weapons used for the arms, inside tops of the thighs, waist, the detailed bits in the hip armor, some bits in the lower legs and the feet. While I don't believe the majority of the fig is painted, there are painted details here and there, as well as a number of tampoed markings on the skin of the helicopter. Too the judiciously implemented die-cast bits are painted a metallic gold and really pop against the black and light grey comprising most of the figure. 

Articulation:

The head is on a ball peg which attaches to a folded double joint. The double joint tabs at a downward angle such that head can only look straight forward utilizing the ball joint itself. However, untabbing the double joint allows the head to rotate backwards past 90 degrees, although it does look a bit awkward. The head can look down about 30 degrees and tilt a few degrees to either side.

The shoulders rotate on a hard ratchet a full 360, abduct over 90 degrees, and feature a butterfly that allows the shoulder to swivel back about 60 degrees, but nothing forward, unfortunately. Bicep swivels 360 on a mushroom joint. The elbows are double jointed and give you about 170 degrees. The hands rotate at the wrist 360. Each finger is fully articulated, pinned at each knuckle. The thumb is on a ball peg which allows for flat hand or opposition to the fingers. The thumb is also pinned at the base and the knuckle.  Each hand also has a molded tab that slots into her weapons.

The waist swivels 360. It's scary tight on my copy. There's also a secondary waist swivel for transformation which is also very tight. There's an ab crunch that allows about 70-80 degrees forward, however it's limited if the nose gun is deployed in bot mode.

The hips are mounted on friction joints which can rotate 360 if abducted a bit to allow the legs to clear the arms. The hips have a few degrees of forward butterfly on transformation joints within the pelvis. The hips abduct on ratchets to just under 90 degrees if the hip armor is rotated high on the hip to allow for more clearance. There are thigh swivels which allow for 360 deg rotation. The knees are double jointed on ratchets but only allow a wee bit over 90 degrees of bend.  The feet are attached by a die-cast armature which can rotate 360 degrees. Ankles can rock inboard over 90 degrees, as well as a little up and down. The front half of the foot is attached by a double joint which allows for the toe to rotate down about 130 degrees (part of transformation).

Tolerances of the joints range from good to extremely tight, which made some bits difficult to manipulate, especially during transformation.  Turning the lower waist was an exercise in frustration, but I finally got it.

Edit : Additionally, some of the panels lock very securely and can be both frustrating and a little scary to break the tab, so to speak. Too, tolerances between moving parts are sometimes wanting. For example, the hull panels on the forearms are attached via very limited range-of-motion ball joints to a rotating block that forms the back half of the forearm. Said block was rather tight and tough to move, coupled with a large hull panel that barely has enough room to create the clearance required to insert or extract the hand during transformation. I wish they'd used a different mechanism here that allowed that hull panel to move out of the way more easily.

I'll also add that a couple of the cockpit windows popped out on me while handling the fig. I superglued one of them back and tabbed the other one back in, but it continues to pop out, so I'll likely glue it, too. Also, there are panels attached via double hinges to the pilot's canopy on either side which continually pop off on my copy as well. It's a simple matter of snapping them back into place, but b/c of where it's situated, and b/c it has to move around the curved forward nacelle cover, it can prove challenging to keep it from popping off again when manipulating the panel into its place in helo mode.

The instructions are printed in color and the affected parts in each step are highlighted with a green line. Instructions are in English. However, the photos are small, and I had difficulty at times trying to sort what was being done. On my first attempt at transforming her, I didn't realize there were two waist sections that swiveled, and I missed the lower section which prevented a bunch of stuff from lining up on the tail. I ended up consulting a video for clarity. All things considered, the transformation, while involved and a little finnicky at times, is fairly intuitive if you're familiar with transforming toys. But, like the waist issue I had, it's the little things that'll get ya.

A few comparison pics:

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Earthrise Optimus Prime (voyager class)

100_5226.JPG.7daa4638022f368751b61c251c04f4d1.JPGTakara Masterpiece Megatron

Helicopter mode:

Thunderbolt's alt is based on a real Chinese attack helicopter called the CAIC Z-10, also known as the WZ-10 (which is printed on the box). It shares characteristics of both the American AH-64 Apache and the lesser known Commanche stealth helicopter, which never saw production.

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While there are no details in the pilot's station above, the gunner's station has a seat and a molded unpainted dashboard, as well as an opening canopy; neat details they didn't have to include, but it makes this thing that much cooler.  I have her loaded with each type of weapon included (specific to the helo mode). AFAIK, there's no way to attach her rifles, and they wouldn't look right if you could. The sensor ball up front can rotate in all directions as well as the nose gun. The barrel of the nose gun can retract for stowage in the bot mode's chest.

On my copy, tolerances vary between the pylons and the weapons, some nice and appropriately tight, to very loose and falling off. <_<

Too, I couldn't get my copy to hold her sniper rifle. Not sure if it's b/c of paint on the palm tab or something else, but I couldn't get it to tab-in in either hand. Will have to keep working on it. 

Final thoughts: SciFigure Industry did a remarkable job of not only capturing the WZ-10, but also crafting an interesting transformation system that results in a striking and highly poseable bot mode. If this is the sort of thing that floats your boat, I definitely recommend her. Now, bring on the Flanker bot!

Edited by M'Kyuun
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Thanks so much for taking the time for the review! I’m looking forward to receiving my copy soon. Scifigure Industry really needs to work on shortening their product names too!

Personally, the Chinese Z-10 always reminds me more of the Old Italian Agusta A129 Mangusta. ;)

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Edited by Dobber
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1 hour ago, Dobber said:

Thanks so much for taking the time for the review! I’m looking forward to receiving my copy soon. Scifigure Industry really needs to work on shortening their product names too!

Personally, the Chinese Z-10 always reminds me more of the Old Italian Agusta A129 Mangusta. ;)

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Yeah, the similarities between the Italian and Chinese choppers is remarkable. But the Chinese would never stoop so low as to copy another country's designs, nor the Russians for that matter. 😇

So, I just finished transforming Thunderbolt back to her robot mode, and I'll add an additional bit of commentary.

As I mentioned, this thing has a lot of tight joints and tight panel tabs, so breaking those things loose can be a nail-biting experience. Too, and forgive me, I was up to almost 1:30 AM writing my review and getting tired, some of the tolerances between moving parts beggars more than the allotted space given. For example, the forearm hull panels, are attached via a moving chunk of arm (which itself was pretty tight and tough to rotate) and mount on a ball joint with very little play making their adjustment for clearance to move the hands in or out of the arm during transformation a royal PITA. I think as I manipulate it more, some things will hopefully loosen a bit and become easier, but with its being new and tolerances quite tight in a number of places, transforming this thing is not the most fun experience. However, there are some brilliant solutions employed, and I stand up and applaud the transformation design. Having designed my own transforming mecha with LEGO, I have a unique insight to some of the problem-solving involved in taking one form and contorting it into another, and this thing is brilliant.  I just wish it was slightly more user-friendly. I stand by my recommendation, though. We're so rarely treated to well-done transforming aircraft, so when something like this comes along, and it's done so well, at least from an engineering POV, I have to consider it from all angles, and in the end, tolerances be damned, this is a remarkable figure for all that it does right.  I hope you enjoy your copy, and I hope you'll share your thoughts on it as well (you needn't go into the detail I did, but, you know, your opinion😉). Cheers!

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1 hour ago, M&#x27;Kyuun said:

Yeah, the similarities between the Italian and Chinese choppers is remarkable. But the Chinese would never stoop so low as to copy another country's designs, nor the Russians for that matter. 😇

So, I just finished transforming Thunderbolt back to her robot mode, and I'll add an additional bit of commentary.

As I mentioned, this thing has a lot of tight joints and tight panel tabs, so breaking those things loose can be a nail-biting experience. Too, and forgive me, I was up to almost 1:30 AM writing my review and getting tired, some of the tolerances between moving parts beggars more than the allotted space given. For example, the forearm hull panels, are attached via a moving chunk of arm (which itself was pretty tight and tough to rotate) and mount on a ball joint with very little play making their adjustment for clearance to move the hands in or out of the arm during transformation a royal PITA. I think as I manipulate it more, some things will hopefully loosen a bit and become easier, but with its being new and tolerances quite tight in a number of places, transforming this thing is not the most fun experience. However, there are some brilliant solutions employed, and I stand up and applaud the transformation design. Having designed my own transforming mecha with LEGO, I have a unique insight to some of the problem-solving involved in taking one form and contorting it into another, and this thing is brilliant.  I just wish it was slightly more user-friendly. I stand by my recommendation, though. We're so rarely treated to well-done transforming aircraft, so when something like this comes along, and it's done so well, at least from an engineering POV, I have to consider it from all angles, and in the end, tolerances be damned, this is a remarkable figure for all that it does right.  I hope you enjoy your copy, and I hope you'll share your thoughts on it as well (you needn't go into the detail I did, but, you know, your opinion😉). Cheers!

The Chinese “borrowing” a design….perish the thought. LOL

I feel the same as you do about well-done transforming aircraft…there are so few. I hope they are still doing the J-11 Flanker too. If only they would also do American aircraft…realistically speaking…the F-15, F-22, F-35, and F/A-18 seem like they have suitably beefy airframes to allow for a transformation.

Chris

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8 hours ago, Dobber said:

The Chinese “borrowing” a design….perish the thought. LOL

I feel the same as you do about well-done transforming aircraft…there are so few. I hope they are still doing the J-11 Flanker too. If only they would also do American aircraft…realistically speaking…the F-15, F-22, F-35, and F/A-18 seem like they have suitably beefy airframes to allow for a transformation.

Chris

YF-23- I'd LOVE a well-crafted transforming version of that plane.  Apparently, the Japanese are producing a new fighter of their own that takes its cues from the YF-23, so with any luck, toys will follow. 👍 And yeah, the Flanker illustration they presented a couple years ago looked good, although there's really been no follow-up, so I hope it's still in the works.

As for American planes, have you looked at the stylized Aerialbots being produced by Dreamstar Toys?  I'm down for the Harrier and the F-16, two lovely jets that generally get butchered when realized as transforming robots. These look very good.  Unfortunately, as well as their limb bots' alts turned out, their Silverbolt ended up pretty much the same as every other Silverbolt. I was hoping this would be the one that would transcend the Concorde-ish plane on a box o'bot trend. Sadly, no. 🤕 Poor Silverbolt.

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1 hour ago, Convectuoso said:

Just finished putting Magic Square's Devastator together. I'll take better pictures later.

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That's a really nice looking Devastator. I much prefer the look of this over NewAge's take. Likewise the individual Constructicons.  

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When Deformation Space's first release, Crimson Wings, came out I suggested that it looked like a great take on an MP Starscream, but that I didn't plan on reviewing it because it didn't look like enough of an upgrade for me to replace my Maketoys Meteor.  Well, shoutout to @mantisfists who was kind enough to send me his own copy so I could compare them for you guys!

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And yeah, my first impressions of this guy out of the box are pretty good.  He's mostly solid, he's got some diecast, and I believe he's mostly painted albeit in flat, matte colors to better copy the Sunbow art.  He's got a cleaner, more cartoon-accurate appearance than Meteor with a more-proportional head, cleaner legs, color-matched elbow joints, and no forearm gaps.  He doesn't go too hard into the cartoon, though, as he's missing some of the elements of MP-52's design that kind of bugged me like the thin legs, diaper pelvis, and bulbous canopy.  I'll note that both Crimson Wings and Meteor have pretty similar colors, save the faces, and I think the color both companies used for the off-white, light gray color is better than the the color Takara used for MP-52.  That said, Starscream's face should be darker than Crimson Wings'.  Not as dark as Meteor's but just a tad darker would be nice. 

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Deformation Space even did a remarkable job keeping Crimson Wings' back clean.  He's not carrying half his tail sandwiched between his wings in a thick backpack, there's no jet kibble on his legs, and no nose cones hanging off his back.  From a purely aesthetic point of view, I have no complaints (I thought I had one, but the barrels on those null rays do extend a bit).  Opinions are subjective, sure, and feel free to disagree, but Crimson Wings looks better than MP-03, MP-11, MP-52, or Meteor, at least in robot mode.

Note that he is a little tall, though.  The difference between Crimson Wings and the MP-11-sized Meteor is pretty small, but for whatever reason MP-52 is a bit shorter still than Meteor.  Those differences combine so that MP-52 winds up eye-to-collar with Crimson Wings.  Personally, I don't think the size difference is so huge that either will really look out of place on its own with figures like MP Megatron or Soundwave, although I prefer Starscream to be a little taller.  However, if you were thinking about mixing and matching Seekers to avoid having to buy three of the exact same toy in different colors you should know you'll wind up with three Seekers of varying heights.

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He doesn't come with a ton of accessories, but he doesn't really need to.  He comes with a pair of null rays, and they have an interesting gimmick where the barrel collapses, the rear section splits open, and then the barrel spins around so that they can transform into the smaller missiles seen on the animation model in jet mode.  You also get two alternate faces, one with a suitably Starscreamy smirk and the other with a dopey grin.  That's perfect; assuming that the Thundercracker and Skywarp come with the same faces you can use a different face on each one, which helps them seem less samey.  I'm thinking maybe the stoic face for Thundercracker, the grin for Skywarp, and of course the smirk goes with Starscream.  Let me swap that for you, @mantisfists...

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There we go!  Crimson Wings' head will lift that smirk up a good 45 degrees on a double-hinged swivel.  The double-hinge is cool, because by default it seems like he doesn't have the clearance to look down, but if you have him look up using the upper joint then tilt his whole neck forward at the lower joint and he can actually get a decent downward bend, too.  His shoulders rotate on soft ratchets, extend laterally a little over 90 degrees, and he's even got butterfly hinges to help fold his arms across his torso.  His biceps swivel, and his double-jointed elbows bend a combined 180 degrees.  His wrists swivel, and a hinge allows them to bend upward (I'd have preferred downward, though).  His fingers are all separate, individually-articulated pieces with hinges at the base and middle knuckles while his thumbs have two hinges but a ball joint at the base as well.  His waist swivels, and there's some transformation hinges you can use to give him a little back bend or ab crunch.  His hips skirts have pinned flaps to move out of the way, but they're kind of tight and I didn't want to push them too far.  I'll say he's got ratcheted front/back joints, maybe 75 degrees forward and 45 degrees backward, with a friction hinge good for over 90 degree laterally.  His thighs swivel around his hip joints, but weirdly there's another hinge where the hip meets the thigh.  It lets you shift his hips outward, giving the thigh a little more room outside the hip skirts.  It doesn't seem to be involved in the transformation, and it looks kind of weird, but it's there.  Wrapping it up, he's got ratcheted double-jointed needs that'll get you 120-130 degrees of bend, no real up/down foot tilt, but 90 degrees of ankle pivot.  All-in-all, the articulation is quite good and you should have no trouble getting the poses you want, as long as the poses you want don't involve Starscream axe-kicking a dude.  Better still, the joints are all toleranced well, and there's none of the floppiness between ratchets that MP-52 seemed to suffer from.

The null-rays plug into ports on the outside of biceps.  I'm not sure if they didn't take the paint into account or what, but the fit is very snug.

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I'll leave the critiquing of the finer details to someone like David, but from the top at least Crimson Wings looks fine to me.  The lines and proportions are pretty consistent with Meteor, and there's plenty of molded panel lines that add some realism.  From a purely Sunbow POV, though, he's lacking those two gray squares where the animators colored the G1 toy's hinges, but that doesn't bother me at all.

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As we check out some other angles, though, you'll notice that Crimson Wings is a bit thicker than Meteor, with Meteor's nose flowing better into the fuselage.  I don't think that's necessarily the end of the world; I've said before that while I think it's possible to make transforming robots with smooth, clean jet modes Starscream is always going to suffer from the limitations of trying to get that plane mode out of the G1 animation model.  Meteor isn't as chunky, but both boxy on the underside.

For what it's worth, despite the unpainted hinge in the middle, Meteor's vertical stabs have red markings more like the animation, and I like that the red is on both sides.  Crimson Wings only has markings on the outside of the stabs.

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Really, though, more than the aesthetics what makes Crimson Wings' fall to Meteor in alt mode is the process of getting there.  For this review I was transforming Meteor and thinking, "I haven't done this in forever, I'm probably going to have to watch a video or something."  But no, aside from the nose falling off of that c-clip everything was logical and smooth, and in no time I had a jet.  That's just not the case for Crimson Wings.  Don't get me wrong, I'll give them credit for trying something different.  His arms wind up tucked into his lower legs, and rather than have said legs cover over this thighs his torso actually collapses downward to do it.  I'd almost like it, except that there's a lot of pieces trying to move at once, some of them pretty thin or on twisting armatures, and there's not a ton of clearance.  While far from the worst transformation I've done, it's decidedly not fun.

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As I previously mentioned, Crimson Wings' null rays fold in to smaller alt-mode missiles, and I do really enjoy that.  I also like that the stabs unfold, but they have definite stopping points unlike Meteor's.  The canopy can open, and you can see the little seat inside.  There's landing gear the folds out from under the cockpit and his robo-knees, and the ones on Crimson Wings actually roll.  Actually, that reminds me of another minor issue.  While most of the moving parts on this figure are toleranced excellently, the door covering the front landing gear is just a floppy mess.  There's also two tiny filler bits that sit just fore of pins in the wing hinges.  For robot mode you kind of lift them up and out, then turn them 90 degrees.  In jet mode, tucked into the fuselage, they're fine.  In bot mode, on the front of his wings just behind his shoulders, they dangle loosely.

Ultimately, I think you have to ask yourself what you want on your shelf.  Do you want a display piece, something that needs to look and pose great in robot mode but you're not going to transform it often, if at all?  Then I absolutely recommend Crimson Wings, as I think he's the best-looking Starscream you can buy.  If you're trying to decide between this and MP-52, well, I'd prefer to actually handle MP-52 before I say this definitively but I think Crimson Wings looks better and is better built.  If you're still rocking MP-3 or MP-11 you should definitely consider upgrading; you could always use the older MP for your alt mode.  All that said, I'm sticking with my earlier decision to keep on with my Maketoys Seekers.  They're far more pleasant to transform, and while I do think Maketoys' robots are a bit inferior to Crimson Wings I'm not convinced that Crimson Wings is enough of an upgrade that I want to commit to replacing all three.  If Deformation Space wants to do repaints in colors that I don't have in the Maketoys, though, like Sunstorm, Acid Storm, or G2 Starscream, and I'd probably pick one up.

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I finally received my copy of CS-02.  Very nice figure and accessories but MAN that was a difficult transformation for me. So much rotate and then rotate and then rotate again. The guide is basically useless as the images are so small and the figure is black so it’s hard to see or maybe my middle aged eyes just don’t see as well anymore. ;)  I needed to find a transformation video on YouTube to figure it out and even then had problems due to multiple rotation points and making sure joints are in the right direction.  Will take a few transformations for me to get it down but I also won’t claim to be that intuitive when t comes to complex transformation skills that many of you have. Still love the figure for its sheer beauty, but I found the CS-01 J-20 to be a little more transformation friendly. 
 

Chris

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2 hours ago, Dobber said:

I finally received my copy of CS-02.  Very nice figure and accessories but MAN that was a difficult transformation for me. So much rotate and then rotate and then rotate again. The guide is basically useless as the images are so small and the figure is black so it’s hard to see or maybe my middle aged eyes just don’t see as well anymore. ;)  I needed to find a transformation video on YouTube to figure it out and even then had problems due to multiple rotation points and making sure joints are in the right direction.  Will take a few transformations for me to get it down but I also won’t claim to be that intuitive when t comes to complex transformation skills that many of you have. Still love the figure for its sheer beauty, but I found the CS-01 J-20 to be a little more transformation friendly. 
 

Chris

Hey Chris, glad to hear your copy finally arrived. Glad I'm not the only one who had trouble deciphering the instructions; I think if they'd made the pics about another half size larger, it would be far more serviceable.  Intuitiveness regarding a transformation sequence is subjective; I thought the transformation made logical sense, and I could pretty much figure out where things went without guidance, except for the double waist twist. I couldn't even make that out from the instructions, and after getting the tail fully formed and working on getting the front end put together, there was about a half-inch gap that I just couldn't account for. I knew something had to move and I had that pelvic slider maxed out, so I knew it was something beyond that, but what? So, YT provided the solution for me as well. The forearm panels were another sticking point: there's simply not enough room given by the ball joints to allow those things to rotate without scraping the forearm- very poor tolerance.  Heck, even with the panel rotated, I still found the clearance to be barely capable of allowing the hand to rotate into its alcove in the arm for chopper mode. That whole forearm design could have stood a redesign to ease the process and create better tolerances given the number of moving parts.  Going back to bot mode from chopper, the various hinged panels comprising the tail boom tab in very securely and are a bit worrying when trying to unsnap them while transforming the legs. I think the transformation system is brilliant, especially how they hid the feet, how things in one area of the bot end up in an unexpected area of the chopper. I dig that, and one can't argue with the final result; the helicopter mode is gorgeous. But due to some disagreeable tolerances, what should be a fun and satisfying transformation becomes a nail-biting exercise in frustration and overabundance of caution.  Nevertheless, I agree that it's a beautiful figure, and I have no regrets.  I will add one additional complaint: my copy can't hold her sniper rifle, as it simply will not tab into her hand, and it's too heavy for the finger joints to manage alone. It's a bummer as that thing looks pretty badass, and I would have liked to have posed her with it. At least my copy can double wield her smaller rifles.

Anyway, sounds like you like Thunderbolt in spite of her tolerance issues and complexity. I'm glad and I hope I didn't steer you wrong with my assessment. Cheers to a well-done transforming helicopter, warts and all. I hope that, should they finally produce that Flanker they've dangled, it will have a more enjoyable, less tolerance-unfriendly transformation.

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I got Iron Factory Kage Shishimaru and I think I’m done with Iron Factory. Janky tolerances, a transformation that does a lot but achieves little (god forbid parts have a dedicated place where they can lock in place).

It is just a lackluster experience. And at least their Cyclonus and Galvatron were fun action figures which is missing from Kage Shishimaru mostly due to parts blocking the movements and joints that are hard to move. 
During the week I played with IF Cliffjumper and all the issues I described are still present but not as exaggerated. So they haven’t improved in the last couple of years. On the contrary.

NewAge is putting out a much superior product.

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5 hours ago, Scyla said:

I got Iron Factory Kage Shishimaru and I think I’m done with Iron Factory. Janky tolerances, a transformation that does a lot but achieves little (god forbid parts have a dedicated place where they can lock in place).

It is just a lackluster experience. And at least their Cyclonus and Galvatron were fun action figures which is missing from Kage Shishimaru mostly due to parts blocking the movements and joints that are hard to move. 
During the week I played with IF Cliffjumper and all the issues I described are still present but not as exaggerated. So they haven’t improved in the last couple of years. On the contrary.

NewAge is putting out a much superior product.

I feel like, based on the handful of figures I've picked up from DX9, IF, NA, and MS, that Iron Factory built up their reputation for putting out a really solid product by being better than DX9 in the early days of 3P Legends, but they haven't really evolved.  Now that NewAge and Magic Square a kind of pushing the boundaries of what can be done in a Legends-sized figure IF's stuff feels kind of clunky and dated.

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1 hour ago, mikeszekely said:

I feel like, based on the handful of figures I've picked up from DX9, IF, NA, and MS, that Iron Factory built up their reputation for putting out a really solid product by being better than DX9 in the early days of 3P Legends, but they haven't really evolved.  Now that NewAge and Magic Square a kind of pushing the boundaries of what can be done in a Legends-sized figure IF's stuff feels kind of clunky and dated.

Not only did they not improve it got worse as time went by.

Not really a fan of the Magic Square MO but NewAge is putting out solid figures. I hold their releases in high regards Eeven after I found out that their Nemesis Prime is a remold of the Ultra Magnus and not a repaint of Optimus Prime. :rolleyes:

Edited by Scyla
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I only just started buying Iron Factory stuff last year. So far I have Kagami Shishimaru, Power Falcon (Powerglide), and Bayrazor (Beachcomber).  I've never owned a Lio Convoy, and I liked the Eva 01-esque color scheme of Kagami Shishimaru. It's a fiddly fig, and there's really not much of a transformation, but I do like how the fig itself looks. I just don't really mess with it. I do like Power Falcon and Bayrazor, though.  Both are a bit of a pain to transform due to how small they are and some close tolerances between moving parts, but I like their bot and alt modes, so I do take them down and mess with them a little more. I currently have their Seaspray and Huffer POed, and I hope they're a little more forgiving.

However, also having a few figs by both Magic Square and New Age, I have to say that both companies are putting out a more refined and enjoyable class of transformable figure at legends scale. I think IF retain their popularity by taking a very stylistic approach to the figs, and therein lies the allure. It's why I decided to pick a few of them up. However, in the handling, I find them more limited in articulation, and more difficult to transform than MS or NA. 

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After working weekends for the last month and a half I was FINALLY to go to ToyDojo and check things out. Before that time I was actually debating on if I came across a certain 3rd party figure would I buy it and so forth. So like the last time I was looking around online, it was a toss between Sphinx Cell, Hellion, Toro and Locke. I looked at the website from the store and thought it was probably gonna be between Sphinx and Locke at that point, so I went there this morning and took a little look around. I came across both Locke and Sphinx Cell and just sorta hummed and hahed over things until I saw a box with Hellion stamped on it. 
Talked to the dude for a little bit and I went, "Yeah know, lets go with Hellion and Sphinx" and got them both for under 200. It was kind of a tough call honestly when I was looking at Hellion and Toro online, I liked Toro's look overall, and he seemed to have a nice design really, but there were two things that started to bug me a great deal. 1) His backpack felt very off compared to Hellion, and 2) the fake chest really turned me off. I mean he looked neat, but those things in the back of my head just got to me you know what I mean?  Hellion isn't a bad toy or anything but he does feel awfully fragile with tiny limbs compared to his huge torso. But when I stood him next to my MP1.0 Bumblebee it just clicked. 
Sphinx was a bit of a pain at first. I had a difficult time trying to transform him from F1 to Robot for some reason, lots of things were just popping out of place for me, not to mention he's a bit floppy. I've got those areas fixed now so he's now fairly solid and I like the look of him and how he stands with the rest of my MP figures. 
I"m glad I got those two knocked out of the way and feel like my G1 cast is a little more closer to completion. I will admit I"m bummed out about not being able to pre-order that new Jazz figure coming out. 

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It seems to be a downscale of MMC's Assaultus.  Wonder how that's going to work out... while not particularly difficult at MP scale, I imagine some of the smaller flaps and clearances, on Vortex especially, being a royal pain at Legends scale.

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Just a random post; I happen to be going through some casual shots I took last year, and if there's a TF figure that perfectly encapsulates the most love-hate figure of 2021, this would be it:

 

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This is the Transcraft Bumblebee of the.. err, Bumblebee movie.

I LOVE that it captures almost all the screen accuracy in robot mode, whilst being able to transform. Granted, alt mode suffers a bit, with some prominent hinges sticking out & awkward paneling lines, but it is a small price for the lovely robot mode. I LOVE the weathering paint-job applied to it. I LOVE how its aesthetics is good enough for me to be able to replace the ThreeZero DLX Bumblebee I bought on a whim earlier. 

However, I HATE that it came with catastrophic QC issues, such that the hips & some other key joints would likely explode if put through its transformation paces. I HATE that I only dare to leave it in pretty much a museum pose, and not at least get some fun dynamic poses out of it without risking breakage. And I HATE that I can't really replace the ThreeZero DLX after all, as although it ironically transforms, it is practically pretty much downgraded all the way to a statue in my collection, below the DLX.. :unsure:

 

 

 

Edited by MKT
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I have the TransCraft and mine took a nose dive from the top of our full-size fridge to the kitchen floor and came out unscathed! I was terrified he was wrecked, but not even a stress mark from the incident. Individual mileage may vary I guess. 

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After completing their all-built-in Bruticus (which I really enjoyed), MMC is back at it on Bruticus' rival, Defensor.  I've got the first one, Medicus, their Ocular Max take on First Aid, in my hands.  Will the Protectobots be as good as the Combaticons?  Let's take a look.

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It's funny, none of the Protectobots made much of an impact on me back in the day, and I'd say they've typically been probably my least favorite combiner team (either them or the Technobots, but at least the Technobots debuted in one of my favorite episodes).  After First Aid's appearance in IDW's More Than Meets the Eye series, though, he's become a much bigger character for me and I'm glad MMC started with him.  Medicus doesn't look like IDW First Aid (neither does GT's for that matter), but he does look very G1 cartoony!  MMC got the details right, from the stubby feet on the ends of his chunky legs to the wheels on his chest.  The head sculpt is perfect.  My only complaint, and it's a minor one likely necessitated by the demands of his alt and arm modes, is that his proportions are just a tad off.  His chest is a little too narrow, making his upper body seem a bit too long, and his lower legs are a bit too long and his thighs a bit short.

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I really have to hand it to MMC on this one- look how clean he is from the back.  GT's First aid is positively covered in panels, and even other earlier efforts like TFC and Maketoys certainly had their backpacks.  But everything tucks in neatly on Medicus.

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Anyway... Medicus comes with just one tiny accessory, this pistol.  It's pretty cartoon-accurate, and the animation model seems to be a simplified take on the pistol the G1 toy came with, so it's fine.  Fans of the G1 toy might lament the lack of the big double-barreled alt-mode cannon, but I'm fine without it.

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Those of you who picked up MMC's Combaticons will probably recall that, while very good figures, they did suffer a few articulation issues, mostly in the feet where the all-built-in combiner fists kind of got in the way.  I'm pleased to note that MMC's designers seemed to have solved some of those issues, at least with Medicus.  His head is on a ball joint that can look down a little, tilt sideways plenty, and look up a little.  Using a transformation hinge you can get a bit more range, allowing him to look almost straight up.  His shoulders rotate and can extend 90 degrees laterally.  This is where my first real issue with the figure creeps in, though.  The shoulders are attached to hinged panels for transformation.  The panels have cutouts to fit around tabs on his back, but those tabs provide no real friction, and the hinges on the panels are looser than the actual shoulder joints.  So, any time you manipulate the shoulders those panels move before the shoulder joint does, forcing you to pose the shoulder then realign the panel.  Moving on, his biceps swivel, and his double-jointed elbows bend almost 180 degrees.  His wrists swivel.  His thumb is on a ball joint, and each of his fingers are individual pieces pinned at the base.  However, they don't have any additional knuckles and are molded in a curl.  His waist swivels, and he's got 45 degrees of soft-ratcheted ab crunch.  His hip skirts are all on hinges, and with them out of the way his hips go a hair short of 90 degrees forward, 45 degrees backward, and 90 degrees laterally.  His thighs swivel, and while not really intended or (IMO) useful in robot mode there's limited swivels above his knees that I expect are for the combined-mode bicep swivel.  His knees are a single hinge that's good for 90 degrees, which I think is fine given the bulk of his lower legs.  His entire foot can tilt up, his toes can tilt down, and his ankles can pivot a whole 90 degrees.  I'll note while we're here that Medicus has flaps that help hide the combiner fist inside his legs, although another minor issue is that they don't like to stay tabbed closed.

One more minor issue.  MMC eschewed the more common standard of having tabs on the sides of the gun handles that fit into slots on the palm.  Instead, they opted for a tab on the back of the handle.  The tab fits into a cutout on his palm, but much like the cutouts on his shoulder flaps they don't provide enough friction to hold his gun in place.  Instead, it's really the tension in his fingers that hold the gun.  Fortunately, they're pretty tight and I haven't had an issue with his gun falling out of his hand or anything.

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If there's one thing that MMC does really well, one thing that elevates them above companies like XTB and 3P darling Fans Toys, it's their engineering.  With Medicus, MMC really found a balance in a transformation that is simple and intuitive, so much so that you might not even need instructions, but is also clever and interesting, resulting in a toy that you'll actually want to transform and play with.

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And the alt mode looks good, too!  First Aid is a Datsun Vanette, a relative of the Nissan Cherry Ratchet was based on.  I expect MMC was trying to go for some realistic details, but I don't know Vanettes enough to suggest a particular model and level of accuracy.  I mean, the boxy headlights and the turn signals blended into the black band across the nose look accurate, but most of the models I found with that configuration usually have a black bumper with fog lights.  The shapes do conform pretty well to the G1 toy, though, except the G1 toy left the black band white and painted the bumper silver.  Regardless, it's a lot more realistic than the simple geometry of the all-white animation model.  Medicus also has some black trim running around the edges and painted door handles, and the black seals around the read windows and the absence of such on around the front side windows seems to be accurate to the real vanettes, if not the animation model.  There are some lights painted orange on the rear; I do wish MMC would have taken the time to break them up, though- the rectangles should actually be three squares, orange turn signals at the top, red brake lights in the middle, and white reverse lights on the bottom.  Medicus eschews the red stripe on the G1 toy, but retains the red "EMERGENCY" and the triangle in the circle seen on the animation model.

Much has been made about the windows.  For the front windshield and the front side windows MMC used a translucent plastic, but the rest of the windows are painted.  MMC's reps have gone on record as saying that the materials used in his legs simply didn't have the clearances to cutout the windows and put separate pieces of translucent plastic.  Your mileage may vary, but I think they did a decent job of tinting the translucent windows so that they're not such a bad match for the painted ones.

Oh, and one more issue that may actually be user error on my part (I noticed later that I didn't have the slider in one of his legs fully extended), but I couldn't really get the rear of the ambulance tabbed together well. It seemed like every time I'd squeeze in one area and get everything in place it'd cause another area to pop open.  EDIT: Definitely user error.  In some steps in the instructions it looks like the heels just lay against the roof, and I had the combiner fingers tucked under them.  Actually, you'll note that there's some slots on the heels, then fit into tabs on the inside of the leg and the fingers go over them, between the heels and the roof.  Once I got them properly sorted (and the thumb properly tucked on the one half) everything fits together perfectly.

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Medicus rolls on rubber tires, and he's got one of the better attempts at storing his weapon in alt/combined mode that I've seen.  The handle of the gun folds up, and there's a cutout space for it inside the flap under the front side window.  You have to undo his transformation a bit to get in there, though, so it's best to stow the gun mid-transformation than after the fact.

I'll save Medicus' combined mode for when I actually combine the whole team- hopefully MMC doesn't keep us waiting too long!  Because, while Medicus isn't without his minor flaws, he's also one of the best 3P toys I've looked at in a long time.  He's got a good cartoon robot mode, good articulation, good alt mode, and satisfying and fun transformation.  There's no clearance issues, no material issues, no QC issues of any kind that I've come across.  It's early to declare him a figure of the year, but if he'd squeaked out at the end of 2021 he'd probably have beaten anything I bought last year.  Highly recommend this figure, even if you're not in it for the combined mode or the rest of the team.

Edited by mikeszekely
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16 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

First Aid is a Datsun Vanette, a relative of the Nissan Cherry Ratchet was based on.

Incidentally, Mike, how does "Medicus" scale in alt. mode next to Masterpiece Ratchet?

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2 hours ago, tekering said:

Incidentally, Mike, how does "Medicus" scale in alt. mode next to Masterpiece Ratchet?

I don't have MP Ratchet, since I'd picked up Voodoo's Salus to have him a little different than Ironhide. But I do have Ironhide, and I'll try to grab some compassion comparison pictures today.

Just the vans, or the robots too?

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52 minutes ago, tekering said:

No need, thanks.  I did my own research. ^_^

 

Figures, I already transformed Ironhide (not as fun as transforming Medicus, BTW) and took alt mode pics.

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Medicus is slightly shorter.

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He's also ever-so-slightly narrower, and significantly shorter.  That being said, I'm not clear on the minute differences between the (late '70s?) Nissan Cherry and the (early '80s?) Datsun Vanette.  Ironhide's got a higher roof above his windows, plus he seems to have a taller suspension, but the windows and tires are similar sizes on both.  I'd guess that Medicus is actually a smaller scale, but they're close enough that I can rationalize it as differences in the model years.

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8 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

Figures, I already transformed Ironhide (not as fun as transforming Medicus, BTW) and took alt mode pics.

Much appreciated, Mike.:hi:Just ordered mine.

Guess I'm in for another MP combiner, now... and my wallet better be ready! :vava:

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On 2/4/2022 at 7:59 PM, tekering said:

Guess I'm in for another MP combiner, now... and my wallet better be ready! :vava:

Could save some money and go Legends.  In that spirit, I've got here the third and final set of Magic Square Constructicons.

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First up, we have Crane Master, Magic Square's Hook.  And, I have to say, it's interesting how both NewAge and Magic Square have tried to go for that Sunbow animation look the design choices they made to achieve that vs where they caved to the realities of making an actual transforming toy out of it.  Both have the wheels in the bicep and shoulder, but Crane Master's are totally fake.  Crane Master has green flaps over the taper at the top of his chest, but they're tabbed down vs floating like NewAge's and the Sunbow model.  NewAge kept the taper even the whole way across, but Crane Master has a cutout space with a green area under his head, which is more animation accurate.  The molded vents, though, is from the toy.  Both have cartoon-accuate chests, but Crane Master's rectangular section is framed by a wider, more tapered area that gives him a stronger appearance.  It's also broken up by some unsightly holes.  Crane Master's pelvis is more cartoony, but his crotch doesn't hang down as much as the Sunbow, and again it's got an unfortunate slot right in the middle.  Both went for the light gray legs, but Crane Master has bits on his hips that better mimic the bump outs on the Sunbow model.  Plus, where NewAge caved and went the toy route of having his feet be the front of the alt mode, like the G1 toy, Magic Square actually tried to do the Sunbow thing where his right leg is all gray with a blocky foot and his left looks like his right leg with a chunk of alt mode on the side.  They were nearly successful; Crane Master just has a little green panel on his right leg.

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I also like how, from behind, Crane Master does just a bit more to fill in his calves and collapse his crane onto his back.

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Like his partner, Load Master goes for the Sunbow and does some things better than NewAge, some things worse.  The gray on his face is just a bit too dark; ideally it'd be more of silver, plus it's got a spot of orange that's just out of place.  His arms and smokestack are also much darker than NewAge's, but I think that's actually better, and he does have the wheels on his shoulders.  The front of the alt mode covers more of his torso due to it being a bit longer, leaving less room for a Decepticon emblem on his abs.  The circular headlights are fine, the green rectangle is fine, the wide black grill is fine, and the smaller black rectangle between the green and the grill... well it's there, and it's accurate, but like Crane Master he's got a hole in it.  His pelvis is mostly the same as the Sunbow and NewAge's, but they've gone and added some venting.  Things get a little dicey at the legs.  The edges stick out more, especially at the bottom, which is like the Sunbow since the animation model didn't actually have any feet.  NewAge gave him big feet, Load Master has just little ones.  So in some ways he does look more animation accurate, but his legs are also much thicker and they're pretty flat the whole way down.  NewAge has that forward bend in the middle that the animation model does.

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Load Master doesn't clean up as well, either.  He's got some flaps that just jut out at a 90 degree angle from his back, which if I'm being fair the animation model did, too, but on a much smaller scale.  The rear wheels tuck into his calves, like the animation mode, instead of just hanging out on the backs of his thighs.  But you can also see tons of gaps, hinges, and crevices where everything's just kind of folded up into the right shapes.

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These guys come with two small guns.  The larger one with the scope is for Crane Master, the smaller one is Load Master's.  Both look reasonably fine, I suppose, but I can't help noticing some plastic-saving hollowed in spaces.  What is this, Hasbro?

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In addition to their individual pistols, this set comes with the bulk of what you need for combined mode.  Magic Square is doing the same sort of pants pioneered by ToyWorld on Constructor back in the day and, yeah, I'm ok with it.  I mean, it's how the G1 toy worked.  I think having pants, a chest shield, and a head means more of Devastator will be made of the actual Constructicons than NewAge's, but it's also going to be five smaller parts you add on vs sticking the Constructicons on/in one larger part, so pick your poison.  I guess it's something we'll talk more about later, when we do combined mode.

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OK, Crane Master's head is on a ball joint with limited downward and sideways tilt, but excellent upward tilt.  His shoulders are hinged swivels that rotate and extend laterally over 90 degrees.  His double-jointed elbows bend 180 degrees, and his wrists swivel.  His waist swivels, and he's got 90 degrees of ab crunch.  His ball-jointed hips seem limited until you untab his butt from his back, allowing it to swing downward and give him the clearance to get 90 degrees forward or backward and a little under that laterally.  His thighs swivel around his joints, but they're a little limited.  A single knee hinge bends a little over 90 degrees, and while his feet don't have any up/down tilt he's got nearly 90 degrees of ankle pivot.

Load Master's head is also on a ball joint, but he's got absolutely zero downward and sideways tilt.  Like his partner, though, he's great at looking up.  His shoulders swivel and extend laterally 90 degrees.  His biceps swivel, and a single elbow hinge bends about 120 degrees.  His wrists swivel.  His waist swivels, and he's got a bit under 90 degrees of ab crunch.  His ball-jointed hips have a bit better range on their own than his partner, including the ability to go 60 degrees forward/backward and 90 degrees laterally.  He also has the butt tab, though, to get the full 90 forward and backward.  I'll note that my copy was untabbed out of the box, because the tab didn't fit into his butt slot.  I had to file out the slot before I could get it to go.  Moving along, his thighs swivel.  His knees are tabbed in place and won't bend at all until you untab them, but when you do they're double-jointed and go nearly 90 degrees.  Again, no up/down tilt on the feet but you've got 90 degrees of ankle pivot.

Both figures hold their weapons fine but sliding the handles into their shaped hands.

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Of the six Magic Square Constructicons, I'd say Crane Master is my second least-favorite to transform. There's a lot going on to get the lower legs to form the cab of the truck, but it's not as unintuitive as their Mixmaster was.

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Crane Master has the purple stripe on the green part of the boom, and a purple segment where the hook is like the Sunbow model.  I like that he's got fuel tanks breaking up the front and rear of his alt mode rather than a continuously flat surface like NewAge's; I feel like it gives him a shape closer to both the G1 toy and the Sunbow model, even if the Sunbow model was all-green.  The headlights and grill give him some real-world detail, but detail that was present on neither the G1 toy or the Sunbow model.  And he's a tad messy, with folded flaps on the rotating deck that stick out off the back, visible fake wheels above the real ones, and slots running through the side window and part of the crane control cabin.

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Crane Master's deck does swivel, and the boom and lift and stretch.  It's sadly hollow on the underside, though, and it doesn't extend as far as NewAge's.  I'll also point out that I couldn't find a place to store his gun in alt mode.  It looks like there should be one; there's a small hole near the base of the boom that serves no purpose in bot or alt mode, and I can't imagine that it'll serve one in combined mode.  It's too small, though; I can't push the gun's handle in at all.  If it turns out that it really isn't needed for anything I might get a file or a drill and see if I can't enlarge it a bit.

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Load Master's engineering is a bit better and more impressive than his buddy's.  It's neat because it actually involves making him physically wider.  His legs, though, are a bit less clever than NewAge's.  The bed winds up with some weird gaps near the cab, and it's so full of his legs that you can't actually put anything in it.

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Aside from the the bed, though, Load Master's looking pretty great.  The rear tires have some molded detail meant to look like the truck's suspension, and as I noted his sides stretch out, panels unfold from his legs, and the cab on his left shoulder spins and connects with a panel from his backpack to get larger as well.  Instead of shrinking the way NewAge's Long Haul does, Load Master seems to get bigger as he transforms.  Do note, though, that this leaves a bit of empty space under his bed, and the panels that make up the top were kind of a pain to get together.

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The bed has no articulation, as the sides of it grab onto tabs at the back of the cab and lock into place.  There are little holes on the sides, though, so at least Load Master can store his gun in alt mode.

While I ultimately preferred Magic Square's Scavenger and Bonecrusher outright, I think this set is more along the lines of the set with Scrapper and Mixmaster.  These guys look good, arguably (but subjectively) better than the NewAge versions (although I still wish the purple was a bit bluer).  They've got great articulation and more technically impressive engineering.  It's the kind of engineering that, on CHUG or MP-scaled figures, would be fantastic.  On Magic Square's little Legends boys, paired with their too-pliable nylon plastic and wonky tolerances where some tabs just don't want to fit, though, and you start to think that maybe it's a bit much, a bit too ambitious.  They wind up being figures that I'll either get into combined mode and leave them there forever, or get into combined mode for the review then display them in bot mode forever with NA's Devy because transforming them becomes kind of a pain.  If you're looking for Constructicons you can keep at your desk and play with, the NewAge ones are just more fun to mess with.  But if you're looking for a display, well, Magic Square's got your guys.

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I'd hoped to get this up yesterday, but turns out Sunday's usually one of my busier days.  We've had enough Constructicon appetizers, it's time for the main Devastator course!

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Ok, before we actually get him combined, we have the six Constructicons in their vehicle modes, and we have these combined-mode bits.  But, Magic Square didn't want for you to just leave them off to the side somewhere.  Nope.  Instead, we'll take the pants piece, pull off the butt plate and crotch plate, and swap them so the crotch is on the back and the butt is on the front.  Bend the knees out of the way, then you can use little notches on the combiner biceps to slide them into the thighs, with the rear half of his gun pegged between them.

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Now, you take the chest flap/head part and fold the dangly bits inward.  Tabs on them will allow it to plug into the butt, and you just tuck the head up behind the chest plate as best you can.  Finish it off by plugging the barrel of the gun into his butt, just under the chest plate, and you've got yourself... something.  A spaceship?  Drill tank?  Whatever it is, it keeps everything together, and it at least looks like something other than a 80% complete Devastator.

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But flying drill tank spaceships aren't what we're after, a giant robot is.  So we begin by putting Shovel Master and Roller Master into their combined modes.  Note that Roller Master's gun is incorporated into his combined mode, in the heel, and that his torso has some sliders to get taller.  Shovel Master connects to the pants by splitting at his legs and closing them back up around the T-tab in the knee.  For Roller Master, unplug his mixing drum, slide the connector in, then cover the connector with the mixing drum.

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Bulldozer Master doesn't even really transform, you just have to undo him a little to get the arm attached.  Excavator Master has the added step of pulling his shovel off, turning it 190, then plugging it back on.  Really don't know why they made that connection a T-tab instead of a mushroom swivel.

So, in theory, Crane Master is in combined mode when you stretch him out on the armatures in his waist and bend him around so that his front pegs into his back and flip one panel on the crane deck over onto the rear of his alt mode (or the front of Devy's chest).  However, you need to open up some spaces to connect Bulldozer Master and Excavator Master.  For Bulldozer Master, it's as easy as living up the crane control cabin, sliding in the shoulder hinges on Bulldozer Master, and closing it back up.  For Excavator Master, though, you'll have to undo quite a bit, until he looks like the above picture.

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Slide the shoulder connector from Excavator Master forward into the back of the driver's cabin on Crane Master.  Then put everything back the way you had it for alt mode.

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You can connect the chest piece by lining up three tabs on the back of it with two slots on Crane Master's bumper and one into the rear part of his vehicle that you did not fold a flap over.  The armature with Devastator's head folds down, filling in the gap between the halves of Crane Master's alt mode and tabbing into the crane deck.  For now, just ignore the dangly bits on the chest shield.

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One of the biggest challenges (and certainly the hardest bit to explain) is preparing Load Master.  You're undoing a lot of his alt mode, but not quite taking him back to robot mode.  You'll have something sort of like the picture on the left.  Then Load Master slides over a bit sticking out of the pants.  His arms slide back into place, further locking him in place onto the pants, but not quite in the same position as they were in truck mode.  The flaps with the canopy go vertical, with tabs securing them into Load Master's arms, and once they're in place the legs fold back up and lock onto those flaps.  Connect the top of Devastator by first lining up the pegs on Load Master's smokestack and cabin with holes under Crane Master (be advised, on my copy at least the tolerances weren't great there.  Further secure things by tabbing the bottom of the chest shield into Load Master's grill and the vertical flaps you just tabbed Load Master's own legs into will plug into Crane Master on the other side.  The dangly bits on the chest shield fold back, and tabs on them grab onto the underside of Load Master's smokestack and the side of his cabin.

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All Combined, we can see that Magic Square was definitely going for that Sunbow look, what with the toe on his Mixmaster foot and the purple crotch and tops of his thighs.  There's some things that NewAge got more cartoony, like the more slender proportions, the dark grays instead of blacks, the rounded fingers, the waist that doesn't look like Long Haul, purple on treads on both shoulders, and the block plus sign shaped knee over Scrapper.  I prefer the greens and purples on NewAge better, especially when if you look closely you'll see that Shovel Master and Roller Master are a bit yellower than the other four Magic Square guys.  That said, I like the extra details and burlier proportions on Magic Square's.  Pants, forearms, and chest plate aside he looks more like a robot made out of construction vehicles than a badly-drawn animation model of a guy that's supposed to be made of Construction vehicles.

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A quick peek at the back.  Magic Square's got more of a backpack, due to Load Master having a much larger truck bed hanging out back there.  NewAge's is tiny, more superfluous, and kind of unnecessary because you can leave Long Haul off entirely and all you wind up with is a hole on the small of Devastator's back.  I'll also point out that, as Sunbow-y as NewAge's Devastator is, Magic Square's is the only one that has Scrapper's arm heels angled backward the way the animation model had it.

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I'd considered that one of the advantages of NewAge's approach is that almost all of the joints were on the combiner part, so it'd have an advantage on articulation.  Magic Square's is no slouch, though.  Head's on a hinged swivel, no downward or sideways tilt but he's got about 45 degrees up.  His shoulders rotate, and extend laterally about 60 degrees.  His biceps swivel, and his double-jointed elbows can bend around 120 degrees.  His wrists swivel.  All of his digits are on ball joints at the base, so his thumb can swivel and fold over the palm and his fingers can splay out a bit, plus they all have one additional pinned hinge at the middle knuckle.  His waist swivels, although his backpack can get in the way, and he does have a double-hinge in his waist that gives him a 60 degree ab crunch and lets him arch his back.  The skirts on the front and sides of his pelvis are hinged, but his butt isn't.  That would you a little under 90 degrees forward, 90 degrees laterally, and basically nothing backward (all on ratchets).  However, the hips themselves are on armatures that can swivel down and afford you the additional clearance to do a high kick or move his hip 90 degrees backward.  His thighs swivel, and his double-jointed knees bend nearly 180 degrees.  I might have liked a bit more, but he does have some ankle pivot.

Magic Square's Devastator uses the tried-and-true MP method of sticking tabs on the handle into slots on his palms, no muss, no fuss.

Also, it isn't the prettiest, but I like that you can store Excavator Master's, Crane Master's, Bulldozer Master's, and Shovel Master's guns into their alt mode spots (yes, Crane Master's is the hole on the boom, and yes, I did file it out until the gun fit).  As noted, Roller Master's has role as part of Devastator's heel.  Only Load Master can't store his gun in his alt mode spot, because that spot's kind of tucked away.  However, Shovel Master has holes on both sides, so you can plug Load Master's gun onto Shovel Master.  Sure, Devastator looks a bit goofy with the extra guns on him, but I like that it's at least an option.

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Speaking of options... Devastator's face is just tabbed in on two spots, so you can pry that off if you want.  You can also pull off his crotch plate, his outer thigh armor, and the purple bit from around the top off his thigh.

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Those parts swap out with an alternate yelling face, a silver thighs with purple knees and an alternate pelvis that are based more on the Studio OX design.  I guess options are nice, but the thing is the appeal of a lot of the OX stuff, at least to me, is that it looks more like the toys, so I prefer that for guys like Menasor and Bruticus.  For Devastator, though, the OX design wasn't much closer to the toy than the cartoon, so I don't have much attachment to it.  Plus, it takes more than different thighs and a different pelvis- you need a gray mixing drum & gray treads on both Scavenger and Bonecrusher, you need to ditch the toe on Mixmaster, and you need a totally different head with eyes instead of a visor.  An actual toy look would have yellow eyes, the green gun on the side of his head, purple forearms, and a green mixing drum.  So yeah, I guess there's probably some people out there that just think Devastator looks better with the OX thighs and pelvis, but to me it doesn't go far enough to create a toy or OX look, and I'm just going to leave the cartoon parts on him.

At this point, I have a lot of Devastators, and I think it's kind of interesting that the two best ones are both Legends-sized.  Upscale either Magic Square or Newage and you could easily have a CHUG Devastator that beats Hercules or Combiner Wars.  Add a few tweaks while you're upscaling and you'll have a better MP Devy than Gravity Builder or Constructor, hands down.  But instead they compete for the Legends space, and it ultimately comes down to what you want on your shelf.  It's subjective, sure, but I'd say that Magic Square's Devastator looks better and has a more powerful shelf presence- true for his constituent bits, too.  But, with the exception of maybe Bonecrusher, whose feet are prone to cracking on the NewAge (but I believe they're making replacements), the materials are better on NewAge.  The plastic feels more solid, there's some diecast in the joints, and there's more ratchets.  Once you have everything put together on NewAge it's as solid as a rock, whereas Shovel Master's leg mode is rather tenuously held together (I had him come apart while testing the ranges on his hip joints).  And, as I keep noting, while Magic Square has much more impressive engineering that, on a larger figure with better materials would pass for something you'd find on an MP, on a small Legends figure with the wonky tolerances and Magic Square's nylon plastic they can be a chore transform and manipulate.  So while Magic Square's got the superior display piece, anyone looking for a desk bot they can play around with might be better served with NewAge.  This shouldn't be taken as a slight against either set, though.  Both are really great sets that I can recommend without hesitation.

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