Fansproject, a 3rd party company who have been part of the scene since the beginning, have just released their interpretation of the 1980 Diaclone Dia-Battles figure. This WB008 from the Warbot series is called "Trianix Alpha", in reference to the fact that the original Dia-Battles - and this Trianix - split into three individual vehicles but combine to form the robot. It has been produced to scale with Classics/CHUG figures but it stands taller than the TakaraTomy Diaclone Dia-Battles V2 that saw release in the late spring. I was aware of this release and had a passing interest, but when I walked past it on display at Kapow Toys during TFNation, that passing interest became a fervent fascination.
What I absolutely love about Trianix Alpha is how retro it is in appearance and concept, in contrast to Dia-Battles V2 and its much more modern and almost new take on the Dia-Battles design. Trianix (yes, it says "Trinix" on the box) replicates the chrome and clunky appearance of the original, and even goes just far enough to split into three smaller vehicles with very little inter-connectivity. The colour palette used for Trianix also seems to my eye a better match for the retro 1980s Diaclone release. I love the box artwork because it's very Transformers-like. Normally this would jar on a pre-TF homage, but I like it when 3rd party items find their own niche and personality. This is a 3rd party Diaclone homage, presented in a Classics/CHUG Transformers way - but clearly still 3rd party.
Even though the robot itself is inescapably beefy with huge hands and feet, and the wings are dainty and delicate, there is no clash or glaring inconsistency across the figure. Trianix looks strong, but classy, and utterly alluring. In this configuration the wings are very visible and have a wider span.
In true Diaclone tradition, Trianix Alpha comes with three pilots, although they act far more like Powermasters than they do Dia-nauts. Based on the Solerons you see with other FP products, these three figures can pilot the Trianix vehicles or be transformed into their alternate form and inserted into the large Trianix Alpha chest or shoulders. They are quite beautifully presented with an almost flag-like deco, and their unique head and lower leg moulding distinguishes them in robot mode (the colours are not so obvious in robot mode, you see). The transformation for these guys is not as straightforward as you think, they almost have to be twisted apart to separate the tabs connecting the painted front, then it's a simple conversion. Their posability is quite a joy.
To the combined mode! Connecting the Solerons to Trianix Alpha gives him a lovely variety of colour highlights without compromising the very strong overall blue, red, chrome and yellow signature that is Dia-Battles at heart. The shoulder section where the wings attach has to be folded around the back to open up the space for the Soleron, and that visually shortens the amount of wing you can see, and physically reduces the wingspan. That's my only complaint with attaching the Solerons. I love Powermasters, and combining that visual impact with something like Dia-Battles really works for me. Changing which Soleron holds the coveted centre breast spot can also vary the displayability of Trianix.
You can see Trianix Alpha next to Fansproject Function X Browning II, TakaraTomy Transformers Legends Blurr and TakaraTomy Diaclone Dia-Battles V2 above. He's clearly taller than all of them. Think leader class, if going by a CHUG scale. The comparison with Dia-Battles V2 really drives home how this original 80s toy has been taken in quite different directions by FP and TT.
Despite the large frame and bulky proportions, Trianix Alpha can successfully pull off every one of my favourite dynamic poses. I was even able to position him in "The Run" while he was balanced on other toy boxes on display at Kapow's stand at TFNation. I love the feel of his joints and limbs, there's satisfying ratcheting and decent stability considering he has pretty small heel spurs and the whole of the red feet are never completely grounded. Looks a bit odd too when the toes don't really touch the floor in some poses. The combination of feel and looks really got me excited for this in hand, he's so glorious to behold. His gun grip is extremely good in the right hand, but the little rail on the handle that allows it to sit flush and secure in his fist runs down one side only, so he has to hold the gun backwards in the other hand for a similar fit. Odd, but manageable.
Look at that beautiful, beautiful head sculpt. It struck me immediately and I haven't been able to get over it. Yes, it's very small-mouth Fansproject but it's also faithfully Diaclone from its sci-fi era. Without a doubt one of Trianix's strengths and a very large part of its overall robot mode beauty. You can also spot the gorgeous detailing of the shoulder missile housing and electric blue on the vehicle wheels. Aesthetically, in robot mode, Trianix is a significant hit for me.
So here's the thing, just like the original, to transform Trianix Alpha you must separate the robot into its 3 component vehicles. The first vehicle comes off quite easily as you unclip the shoulders, then unclip and remove the backpack. Separating the top and bottom half of the robot has proved troublesome for some Trianix Alpha owners as there have been breakages of the clips/pegs upon separation, and in one instance broken out of the box. On my specimen, I was shown by the Fansproject representative at TFNation how to separate the two halves. There is no doubt it is tight and requires force. I was told that the top half must be positioned at 90 degrees to the bottom half, then one must tightly grip both halves and pull apart while jiggling the joint from side to side gently. I have re-connected and separated my specimen many times now without damage but it is a bit hair-raising every time. You can see the video I made of it here. The main Trianix weapon separates into five parts as well, which you can see above.
The bulky look of the robot mode is very much in evidence for vehicle modes as well, and certainly they are less immediately identifiable as vehicles compared to Dia-Battles V2. This is again something that Trianix Alpha has in common with the vintage Diaclone Dia-Battles. The Solerons do fit into the vehicles but the cockpits are far less defined than Dia-Battles V2, but this is just another example of the aesthetic and play pattern here being different to the mix and match appeal of the new Diaclone.
This first vehicle is definitely my favourite. Transformation is quick and simple, and the end result has a lot to admire. Sure you can see the robot head sticking out the back, but those chrome wheel covers along with the look of the rotating wheel sections have me hook, line and sinker. Just beautiful. The vehicle rolls really well and the clear blue used on the windshield adds a lot visually. I even love the sound it makes when it rolls! You can see that the two halves of the main weapon barrel attach to either side of the front wheel.
The Soleron can sit in the cockpit although the fit is not as flush as I would like, since nothing properly locks into place to let you know you've 100% achieved the end result. The moulding of the seat looks curved in places which obviously doesn't fit as well with the more angular Soleron waist and leg moulding. I love this vehicle, though, not just for its Diaclone concept and colours used, but because it's very clearly not Transformers, and the scale is not at all the same as Diaclone when you factor in the Soleron size compared to a Dia-naut. This is very much an inspired thing, but with its own character and identity.
This second vehicle formed from the shoulders, arms and backpack turns into a tank, but the treads don't roll. There is a defined seat for the Soleron which he actually clips into and the main weapon section mounts onto the front. The transformation of this element is very simple and quite satisfying with multiple clip-in points for security of the mode. Handling this section probably puts me most in mind of the vintage Diaclone aesthetic, aided by the giant robot fists sticking out of the back. Where the new Diaclone toys have endeavoured to hide hands, feet and the robot head, Trianix Alpha uses solutions more akin to vintage figures. I do feel this thing really needed a spring-loaded rocket fist attack for complete period realism!
The third Trianix Alpha vehicle poses the most significant transforming challenge, but even then it's far from complex. The only difficulty comes when unclipping what becomes the Soleron's seat, then folding up the legs so that the chromed thigh plates slot into the grey plastic seat and stay there while you fold over the lower legs, extend them and clip everything in where it should go. The flip up translucent visor is a nice touch, especially as the front end of the vehicle ends up looking a little like a power shovel. That idea is soon dismissed though when you add the double-barreled cannons to the top of the cab, allied to the rear-facing cannons moulded into the legs. Again, the Soleron clips into the seat, but it is a tighter fit than with the previous 2 vehicles. What really strikes me about this particular vehicle is the liberal use of gorgeous - and very Diaclone style - sparkly blue plastic. It's rather dreamy and keeps up the very polished and impressive presentation of Trianix Alpha.
As with the previous vehicle, despite those hugely prominent tank treads, this vehicle does not roll. I think Fansproject have nailed a very specific and relatively unique look for Trianix that sits beautifully between all its influences as a figure, but I'm not sure that works for the toy's functionality. OK, it was never supposed to have the infinite play pattern and inter-connectivity of Dia-Battles V2, but it's also trying to be a relatively high-end adult collectible so while the transformation is highly accessible and repeatable, not adding small rolling wheels under the treads in order to maintain the suspension of disbelief leaves me less assured of its toy/figure identity compared to its visual identity.
There are design elements about Trianix that mark him out as more of a Classics Dia-Battles (to use a very crude phrase), so it's not just a case of scale that categorises him that way. There are enough colour cues to make him immediately recognisable as Dia-Battles, but with a degree of stylisation that strikes a beautiful balance between retro and modern. It's completely within character for the toy it is paying tribute to. This is most clear to me when Trianix Alpha is placed with Diaclone figures in a base/hangar type setting. I can easily imagine this just being another model of Diaclone mecha and the Solerons being like beefed up exo-suits for Dia-Nauts or even smaller robots or mech.
I have no hesitation in transforming Trianix Alpha between combined and separated vehicle modes thanks to the instructions I was given about the waist joint. Sticking to that advice has seen me through over 15 transitions without issue, though I welcome any fix that improves the process. I was grabbed by this figure immediately upon seeing it in the flesh, and I just kept coming back to it over and over as I passed the display stand. Of all the figures I got from TFNation (G1 Cliffjumper, MakeToys Trashtalk, MakeToys Striker Manus, Titans Return Fort Max), Trianix is the one I'll go back to most often. If Fansproject want to have a crack at other Diaclone-inspired vehicles that have the same level of instantly-recognisable features, I'd be thrilled to incorporate them into my Diaclone V2 collection!
All the bestMaz