Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Monday, 3 March 2014

3rd Party Issues

This time last year, 3rd Party Transformers were not on my radar at all. I saw them as a dirty little insect on the Transformers floor that needed squashing. Let's just say I've since been educated. As thrilled as I am with my foray into this offshoot of the hobby, now that the initial gloss has worn off some of those acquisitions and they've been 'used', I've noticed a number of issues and niggles with what I've got.

In the last few months my 3rd Party collection has consisted of:

- FansToys FT03 Quakewave - Not Shockwave
- Mastermind Creations (MMC) R-03 Bovis - Not Tantrum
- Mastermind Creations (MMC) R-05 Fortis - Not Headstrong
- KFC MC20 Micro Robo - Not Magnificus/Black Perceptor
- Cubex Old Time Engineer Huff - Not Huffer

Cubex Huff (or cHuff)

The Cubex and X-Transbots Huffers were quite a storm, released at the same time with quite varying qualities/attributes meaning that you had to choose a particular aesthetic and philosophy that defined which release suited you (come on all, put two and two together). I chose Cubex as it was closer to cartoon Huffer in robot mode and had more flexibility in its pose-ability, as well as a G1 toy accurate vehicle mode. I covered Cubex Huff in detail HERE.

Unsecured tabs on leg panels

Unsecure chest flap

For all its brilliance, problems out of the box included leg panels that wouldn't stay tabbed, misaligned rear wheels with too much camber in vehicle mode and a chest compartment that had a hard time staying tabbed, meaning it could droop in truck mode. Also, there were reported issues with the hands being glued into the stacks and weak waists, neither were an issue on mine. These were fine for me to overlook, such was his amazing appearance, pose-ability and transformation - not to mention Masterpiece compatibility. However, I'm now hearing of flaking sections that leads to a mass exodus of paint on the chest and some other parts too. This is a case of waiting for the second, improved QC run. Retailers have been asked to provide Cubex with feedback, so here's hoping they action it.

MMC Fortis and Bovis

Fortis and Bovis in "Feral Rex" (Predaking) leg mode

Next up, the magnificent MMC Feralcons, Fortis and Bovis, studied in detail HERE and HERE. For me, getting MMC's Predacon-wannabes over the other two 3rd Party offerings was a no-brainer, especially based on MMC's good reputation on the back of Hexatron. I wasn't disappointed at all, the figures are Masterpiece-quality in their own right and Feral Rex will be insane. Because this is such an amazing project, the QC issues have been very public and well-documented.

Bovis elbow

In addition to the hilarious "Bovis butt-crack" episode, Bovis also had a notorious elbow issue where the ratcheting teeth would be chewed up by the joint (and in my case, spat out at me!), meaning the lower arm would not fully fold up and click snugly into the upper arm. The resultant mis-alignment and repeated attempts at tabbing meant the grey tab at the bottom of the above photo started to deform. It seems that this issue was caused by MMC using the same black plastic elbow section on the right and left arm, so while the forearm mould was mirrored, the elbow was not, causing the issue described.

MMC recommended customers use lube to avoid any damage, but have since sent out plenty of replacement elbows to buyers, myself included. I personally didn't fancy the idea of going out to buy and use lubricant in avoidance of an issue that should have had a factory fix implemented, so the excellent customer service MMC are becoming well-known for was welcomed.

Feral Rex foot packed with Fortis - see warped black tabs
It should also be noted that Fortis, the latest release, came with said "Butt-crack fix" parts for Bovis and the next two releases will have further elbow-fix parts. Moving on, after putting these two beasts through their paces for the aforementioned reviews, I decided on displaying them in "Ambulon mode" - a reference to the Medibot in IDW's More Than Meets The Eye series whose alternate mode is a combiner leg. When connecting Fortis to the above massive C-shaped peg on the Feral Rex foot, I noticed his thighs wouldn't clip around the black pegs as flush as before. Upon inspection it became clear that the tiny horizontal black tabs had warped and become deformed, so they weren't snapping into place inside Fortis's thighs as advertised.
Feral Rex foot packed with Bovis - no black tab!

I checked Bovis because his connection with the Feral Rex foot was still perfect, and the reason for that was his little horizontal black tabs had completely gone! Sheared or snapped off, with stress marks left to tell the tale. Since there was no deformed tab causing obstruction, I didn't realise Bovis had a problem. The plastic MMC are using for these figures seems to me a little on the soft side, and with so much tabbing and clipping necessary on these figures, further issues could arise. True to form, MMC provided me with 2 replacement parts, so Fortis and Bovis now have fresh black C-shaped clips for their respective Feral Rex feet. I'm not attaching them though, the set works fine even with the issue (lack of flushness aside) so I'm not confident I won't wreck another set of tabs, they can stay bagged in case I ever sell the figures on (knowing me...).

KFC Black Perceptor "Micro Robo"

All Hail Megatron style

I was given this figure to review HERE for Initially sceptical, it turned out to be a really great little toy. Pose-ability in robot mode is off the scale, accessories are brilliant and it features some of the best light piping I've ever seen, light piping that actually enhances the look of the toy. Alternate modes are best described as "afterthoughts" and the figure has suffered a few QC issues of its own.

Flap goes snap
While other collectors have had issues with shoulder joints or the chest flap snapping off, my specimen suffered a breakage at the joint where the rear compartment pivots, the flap you open to stow the head away in alt mode. I got this toy through, but after contacting KFC's guy directly he told me Kapow Toys - being their UK contact - would send me a replacement, and they duly obliged. The joys of 3rd Party distribution...

So there we are, a list of issues with virtually every 3rd Party figure I've bought so far. Thankfully, they've all been open to criticism and feedback to varying degrees and I'm confident that time will see further improvements in the quality of their products. I'm certainly still all in on Feral Rex and whatever else Cubex want to offer assuming it follows the same aesthetic philosophy as Huff. I'd be lying, though, if I said the issues hadn't made me more wary of spending the significant amount of money these things command.

So what of FansToys Quakewave, the so-called king of 3rd Party releases, and my first taste of this scene? What issues has he developed? What's affecting his long-term quality and appeal?

FansToys FT-03 Quakewave

Not a damn thing.

All the best


  1. I'm glad that nothing is affecting Quakewave's long term appeal. It's pretty much the same for me - many 3P toys manifest some problem or other and some are so poor from the get-go that I'd never buy them.

    For example, I'd never buy any of the KFC releases. Cubex, I've seen, but will not buy.

    I think what collectors need to feel comfortable with, in their soul, is that it is okay to wait for the right one. The reason a lot of collectors jump onto 3P stuff is because "its a character that should be made", "it would go toward completing my ark crew", "it would contribute to my MP toys", etc.

    What needs to be grasped is that at no point other than G1, did we ever have a complete Ark crew for example. And to be impatient and push for a complete Ark crew for Classics / Henkei / MP / etc, is just folly. Better to just wait for a 3P product that satisfies one 100% rather than go through multiple iterations of the same character, each made by a different 3P company.

    1. Bravo, well said. It's funny that the push for a Decepticon Ark crew has led many to buy and adore Quakewave in lieu of a TakTomy Shockwave MP, but it's worked out. However, going by your logic - which I would agree with by the way - it's more a case of lucking out with a brand new company (like FT were at the time without a rep) than any solid evidence of it being "the right one".

      All the best

  2. QuakeWave no issue? wouldn't say that, mine's waist already freely turning :P tho this mostly affect the alt-mode more

    otherwise yeah, it's totally awesome

    1. Damn, I'm sorry to hear that! Waist on mine is still tight as you like. Sid Beckett was telling me it's not unheard of to have QC issues with it, but surely it's nowhere near as widespread as the ones I've mentioned above?

      Thanks for dropping by!

      All the best

  3. This is one of the reasons why I'm glad I started holding back on 3rd Party. When I was a completionest, if you didn't buy the figures as they came out, they sold out and you were SOL. Now, they sit, reviews get posted, QC issues discovered. The game has changed drastically in the last couple years and figures like Cubex Huff, can break a company,

    1. Very good policy, highly recommended.

      All the best