Corbot V, 3rd party makers of Classics scale Transformers accessories such as the Blizzard Axe, have done a full transforming figure. Using the 'Allicon' transforming alligators of Quintessa as a base mould, Corbot V have gotten a few uses out of the tooling, but the one that interests me the most is CV-002 "Mugger". This instantly recognisable creature did of course debut in Transformers: The Movie in 1986. Think Energon goodies, think Bah-Weep-Gra-Na-Weep-Nini-Bong, there's a great deal of Movie accuracy here.
My first impressions were that this figure felt distinctly 3rd party, and not from the current crop but more like something you'd get in 2013 from a new company. Fun, intricate and interesting but ultimately with a feel that set it apart from mainline Transformers or even top end 3P manufacturers. I'm happy to say that with repeated exposure to Mugger, he's grown on me a lot. A good deal of that affection has to do with the obvious fun and humour that went into its inception. The box back and instructions, whether intentionally or not, contain a few gems. Sentences (taken out of context) like "Usually shooting up at the prey's party". Mugger, the inappropriate party guest.
The very cheeky instructions - modelled very closely on the G1 Hasbro Transformers instruction template - have numerous highlights that I'll let you discover for yourself by looking at the above pictures. 3rd party companies really are pushing the boundaries and becoming quite brazen with their tributes, though.
So here is Mugger, he of excellent name and high level of Movie screen accuracy. The spikes are sharp, the presentation and finish are good, but he is undeniably diminutive. The build is as you would expect, not too beefy and not at all weedy, but I'm not sure I'd agree that he scales with Masterpiece. In fact he just about scales with Generation 1 movie figures.
So basically Mugger stands eye to eye with Titans Return legends class Wheelie. Somehow this does not bother me, because the level of complexity (or simplicity) matches a figure of that size. Despite his size, I could happily display an army of the buggers (or Muggers) with my 1986 G1 and Titans Return, and possibly even Masterpiece at the new MP-28 Hot Rodimus scale as opposed to the older MP-9 Rodimus Convoy scale. My main issue with Mugger is that I can't pose him and slap him on a surface, then expect him to stand stable. Quite regularly he will topple and I have to adjust the weight distribution forwards to get him to stay standing, and this occasionally compromises the pose visually.
I didn't think I would enjoy Mugger's articulation as much as I have, but every time I felt like I had done enough photography, I tried something new and it stuck. That's how I ended up with nearly 40 photos of this little beast. He kneels convincingly, has an ankle tilt and swivel, bicep and wrist swivels, a wide range of movement in the head and decent articulation in the shoulders.Where he falls short is a lack of waist articulation and no thigh or knee swivels. Any expression you get from the legs comes from the ankles and knee bend.
Weapon grip is good. You need to take off the spectacularly named Superconducting Non-Newtonian Plasma-Filled Pointy Doom Ball to get the thing into his hand, and then reattach it to the Batblade Vibro-Scythe. There are two thicker sections to the scythe handle which means he can wield it two-handed with ease.
Mugger's transformation is very straightforward and highly intuitive. Repeatable too. In fact the only thing that gives me pause are the spiked shoulder panels and getting them over the black shoulder hinges. There's no stressing of plastic or hair-raising steps, but I do wonder how long the teeth on the locking grey plastic panels under his belly will maintain their shape over time and after repeated use.
Once more, Mugger looks the part in beast mode, down to the turned up heel-spikes. It's pretty screen accurate but still has the same issue where you must pay attention to the weight distribution before leaving him to stand free. There's not much articulation beyond the clawed beast hands, knee joint and opening jaw, so you're not going to get anything crazy or unexpectedly dynamic out of him. There's some movement in the ankles as in robot mode, and that is welcome for aiding with balance. Jazz hands are also possible.
I like that there's opportunity for comedy with Mugger alongside his obvious 1986 Movie and Series 3 cast display strength. Despite the size difference, I still think Mugger kinda works with Masterpiece in robot mode, but definitely too small in beast mode...
As if that wasn't enough, Corbot V incorporated a third mode into this creature. He's also an Allicon/Crocodilotron Targetmaster. There's a weapon handle that folds down from the roof of his mouth, the tail folds down between his legs (more comedy) and a twist of the feet creates his third mode. You can see why he has what look like painted silver exhausts on the bottom of his feet.
Using a 5mm peg makes Mugger instantly compatible with so many figures, especially from Titans Return. He's a bit heavy for the reissue G1 Targetmaster Hot Rod but leader class Blaster holds him just fine. And it is every bit as ridiculous as you would hope for, looking half like a genuine weapon, and half like he's chewing Blaster's arm off.
I can't say with complete confidence that had Corbot V Mugger not had the excellent instruction sheet, fascinating third mode as a functioning weapon, I'd be as interested in it for its core purpose as I am now. Sure, he's a great representation of the TF:TM beasts from Quintessa (or 5-Tessa as the box says), but my feeling is that he's too small for the MP crowd. That said, with my burgeoning interest in the Titans Return line and that associated scale, I see a place for him in my collection where I did not previously as primarily an MP-scale collector. Mugger is immediately accessible as a fun transforming toy, just be careful not to stab yourself with the many sharp points. At $40/£30, you're paying somewhere between modern voyager and leader class mainline prices for a character that will not appeal to all. At that price, army-building is going to be a tough sell too. It's a good design, executed well and presented in a refreshing way. Titans Return has brought a lot of fun back to Transformers recently, and while Mugger is fun too, I suspect that price and its size will ultimately decide how widely he appeals.
All the best