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

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

MMC Reformatted R-24 Turben

Haven't you ever heard of knocking?

Mastermind Creations' Reformatted series currently stands as the best source of IDW-themed Transformers-based 3rd party figures, in my opinion. They're not beating around the bush with character choices either, instead going straight for the More Than Meets The Eye/Lost Light jugulars. We've had Calidus (Rodimus), Kultur (Tarn), Boreas (Cyclonus) and Tyrantron (Megatron), with their Drift analogue not too far away. That brings us nicely to R-24 Turben - their shot at an IDW-style Whirl.




Turben is not based precisely on the MTMTE model for Whirl, but instead more closely resembles the pre-war Whirl as seen in IDW's Chaos Theory (Transformers ongoing #22/#23 by James Roberts/Alex Milne). Although his build is different, one cannot deny how much character and essence Turben exhibits that put one in mind of MTMTE Whirl - everything from the empurata victim head and claws, to the optional bird/goat-style leg configuration. The overall colour is a delightful blend of that powder blue, silver, black and the very striking light orange cockpit, as well as the signature single yellow eye.

Whirl Shut Your Mouth
Turben comes with a 'Great Sword' as seen in IDW's pages, wielded by Cyclonus, Drift and the Circle Of Light, as well as two guns that attach underneath his wings - or arms. While I understand that replacement heads would have been adding extra expense for very niche appeal, I'd have loved to see Whirl's pre-empurata head (as seen in the Elegant Chaos arc of MTMTE) or just the yellow eye with different expressions; a method so often used in the comic to exhibit Whirl's range of insane emotions.

"RUNCH!"

Whirl, AKA Nutjob, is a really good example of how a toy can be completely imbued with the intended character while not adhering strictly to the accepted character model. We had this all the way through Generation 1 Transformers where the toys did not always match the on-screen or comic book representation 100%, and yet they were indisputably that character. Well done to MMC for going with the model that initially turned off potential buyers and MTMTE fans, because the figure itself has won over many doubters, myself included.

Elegant Chaos
The very fact that I was inspired, night after night, to try my hand at MTMTE scene re-creations is a credit to the aesthetic and posing qualities of Turben. I was able to angle his tailfins upwards to mimic his appearances in MTMTE, as well as using his weirder bird-like leg configuration. With so many immediately different visual cues, the core character shines through in each one. Another thing I love about Turben is how he looks natural alongside toys of different scale, era and aesthetic. I've photographed him with G1 toys, Titans Return toys, MP-style toys and even Diaclone V2 figures.


A key aspect of Turben that makes this possible is, of course, his posability. That is not to say he has more points of effective articulation than you've ever seen, but rather what he has is done very well. Mostly. The arms are great and he has good range in the shoulders. The legs offer a humanoid or bird/goat-style configuration, the latter requiring a button press on his legs to release an extension. Quite why they needed a seemingly pointless button-release mechanism escapes me, it's the biggest gripe I have with the toy and every time I engage it, I'm not even sure I am doing it right or causing damage to the mechanism. So far no issues, though, just inconvenience. Pretty sure the first time I did it was without the button press and all survived.


Remain In Light
The slide-out 'hands' are made up of four individually articulated claws, and a clip in the middle for holding the sword, both of which provide excellent grip for most of what you may dream of putting in there. I have not used the sword too much as it was only ever relevant to Whirl - in my mind - during the 5-part Remain In Light arc of MTMTE. Incidentally, MMC's Greatshot analogue and all of the Diaclone Dia-Battles V2 variants make for excellent Circle Of Light-style ancient Transformers.


The legs on Turben are pretty solid in their ratcheting and position-holding, but even though he has an outward ankle tilt, the foot cover can sometimes hinder the natural motion of the foot and make holding seriously dynamic poses difficult. He can do kneels, he can do The Run and he can pull off a convincing walk, but to get him to do those with the MTMTE-style leg configuration requires a serious balancing act and a lot of patience. His excellent waist articulation is very beneficial, also. Typical MMC posing pleasure.


If Whirl made an album in the 80s

His strongest weapon in the posability arsenal, in my opinion, is his head. The range of motion in the neck that allows him to look up, down, around and even crane his neck forward, is what gives an expressionless face so much emotion and ability to communicate feeling, intent and action. In the comic, working with just that eye, Whirl's head movements are exaggerated, and that is completely and faithfully re-created in this figure. I honestly believe that without such excellent neck articulation, the MTMTE-inaccurate parts of his make-up would not be so easy to overlook. There's a real greater-than-the-sum-of-his-parts thing going on with Turben.


The proportions on Turben are both in-character and they also lend themselves to excellent-looking stances and variety, the kind of thing one has come to expect of non-MP offerings from the top 3P companies. You can choose to flip out the guns from the nose of the futuristic helicopter/jet in robot mode a la MTMTE Whirl or leave them hidden underneath. You can also pull the cockpit out to face forwards like MTMTE Nutjob or leave it facing downwards as intended by the instructions.

Circle Of Light




O it is fair to say that Turben's robot mode is a glowing success of playability, variability and expression. Accuracy isn't the strong point here, but its remarkable feat of winning you over in spite of that is a major plus point for the figure. There aren't much in the way of accessories, but he truly doesn't need them. What he does have, he holds well. There may not be any weapon storage for the guns when they are not attached to his wings, but at least the sword can be sheathed down his back. 

A quick word about the paperwork, as usual I found with MMC instructions that one key step was left out of the instructions, meaning there is a point where you kind of have to discover what to do next in order to make everything fit, but more on that later. The comic, actually, was pretty good this time. I have found them forgettable on the whole, but this one seemed a bit more characterful and kept my attention until the end of the chapter.


Transformation of Turben to his VTOL aircraft mode is well in-line with MMC's shift this year towards simple and repeatable transformations. Just like Titanika/Dicamus and Kultur, this is a remarkably straightforward and very satisfying conversion with none of the minor alignment frustrations of Boreas, Calidus (which to be fair were better than previous figures anyway) and the like. The only thing that I would urge caution towards are the thin, folding sections that run the length of the aircraft and clip onto his tail fins. They do look like they bend, but careless mishandling could result in some heartbreak there. Apart from that, everything clips in where it should, nice and flush, and the alternate mode is highly secure. The VTOL engines have rotating parts too, always a plus!




He really is a lovely colour, and the canopy stands out perfectly among the sea of powder blue. Turben has fold-down landing gear and undercarriage sections, the rear ones are hidden much more deftly whereas the front wheels really are visible even when he's in flight mode or robot mode, a small niggle visually there. I pushed them up further than they were supposed to go and think the plastic was complaining a bit, but I needed to get at least one good photo of him looking all sleek and aerodynamic. Turben pulls off the futuristic jet mode very well - and even though I keep stopping myself from typing 'helicopter' thanks to Whirl's heritage as a Dorvack and Transformers toy - he is more jet-like in MTMTE, even if Turben does not match that model 100% in VTOL jet mode. 




Just as with his robot mode, Turben blends in beautifully with other figures in his alt mode - Generations, Titans Return, other Reformatted figures and even Generation 1 Transformers. Viewed directly from the front as he chases Slugslinger and co above, he even appears to have the evil one-eye thing going on in jet mode, as his canopy acts as a vehicle mode representation of his singular robot eye. I do love how those gatling-style guns look mounted under his wings. If I were to change one thing about his vehicle mode, it would be better hiding of those front wheels, but I would also welcome a 100% accurate MTMTE-style cockpit/nose section, so excellent was Nick Roche's styling for that.


A wonderful extra fan mode you can squeeze out of Turben is a 'Gerwalk' style halfway house between robot and jet mode, a real staple of the Takatoku Macross and Japanese mecha culture. With his cockpit in precisely the right place, his legs in the right configuration and the arms totally convincing you of their position and proportions, he does this mode true justice. Even moreso when flanked by hordes of Dia-Battles mechs and even MakeToys Galaxy Meteor doing his best to join in!



A fair number of collectors are hailing Reformatted R-24 Turben as their MMC toy of the year, and that's saying a great deal considering 2017's Reformatted roster of Titanika, Calidus, Calidus Asterisk, Dicamus, Tyrantron, Oberon, Malum Malitia, Kultur and Boreas. I have to admit I can relate to that sentiment. I adore how effortlessly he makes MTMTE scene re-creations sing, even when alongside other toys which are as far from on-model representations as he is, or if they are from different eras of Transformers. 

I feel as though Turben has actual soul as a toy, a real victory in that regard. Fun is extremely high on the agenda here, and I have thoroughly enjoyed putting Turben through his paces. Behind virtually every photo I took of him was some kind of inspiration, either from published media and fiction or just something I dreamt up based on this toy's nature and my other robot interests. The enjoyment involved has not been lost on those who commented on my Turben photos across social media. In many ways, Turben is the perfect manifestation of what a 3rd party toy should be; a toy of a character we may never get officially at this level of articulation and finish outside of the official mainlines, accessible and enjoyable transformation on a figure of high quality, not particularly G1 and not even that close to its most popular media representation...and yet expressive, immediately recognisable and difficult to put down. He came out of nowhere and he took most of us by surprise, but he's here to stay and he's a terrific figure.



All the best
Maz














2 comments:

  1. You like him a bit then mate ;)
    Glad he's hit the spot for you and then we get to read about it. Everyone wins.

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    Replies
    1. Many kind thanks mate, yeah he's a very nice fig :)

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