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

Thursday, 25 May 2017

X-Transbots Swarm (MP Scourge) Quickie

It's been a while since I posted a quickie on this blog, but sometimes a figure just moves you to the point where you have to say something about it. Normally I'd love to do comprehensive write-ups and galleries for any 3rd party Masterpiece-scale figure I get, but in the case of X-Transbots Swarm Wrath/Bane/Curse (that's right, I have no idea which one this is), I have too much to say to wait.

Like I said, it's gonna be a quickie. I've always had trouble bonding with the look and quality of KFC/XTB figures, previously only having been impressed with DAI Stack. However, their Masterpiece-style Scourge "Andras" always looked the business. Brief handling of the figure in the pub also made me desire it.

They've pretty much nailed all the details on Andras, right down to the facial hair, wing silhouette and pink nails. Having gotten so much into group shot photography recently, I just couldn't leave FansToys Sovereign on his own any more. I needed a Scourge. I was disappointed with how Eligos (Cyclonus) came out, so he was an easy skip. Scourge kept calling me back, though.

The one thing I really disliked about XTB Andras - the first release - was the open-mouthed face sculpt. I mean...why? Why does anyone want a robot that has a permanent gormless gawp on? Anyway, they did a later release of this sculpt as the three-set "Swarm", each with a slightly different facial expression. One of them - goodness knows which - has a normal stoic face, the kind I love on my Transformers. Honestly, it could be Curse, Wrath or Bane, I cannot distinguish between them. There's no Targetmaster Fracus (or "Rimfire" - hah), but they have regular Scourge handguns and some show-accurate accessories. I grabbed this one off Sixo, but I've yet to receive the accessories or paperwork, so again, apologies for the lack of comprehensive write up.

As much as this might be the best that KFC/XTB have put out, the overall feel of their products is still very evident. The plastic flexes uncomfortably in places, stuff doesn't sit flush and I still suspect that before long permanent damage will be caused to the plastic. Heck he already came with a stressed thumb and the tabs used to clip the front of the spaceboat shut are now mega-stressed too.

Posability is pretty damn great, especially with those individually articulated fingers. However, they are very delicate and once they get loose, can provide a real headache for posing. The feet are posable enough, but they never quite sit flush against a surface, not both of them and not when angled slightly. There is now paint wear across both heels too. He's just SO gorgeous though, they have totally nailed the look of on-screen G1 Scourge. Look how good he appears next to Sovereign.

Transformation is on the whole really easy, intuitive and enjoyable. Arms, wings, head, shoulders etc, all supremely easy. Then you get to the well-documented feet, and they are a total nightmare. It should be simple; fold up the toes and heels and thread them through the front of the vehicle mode. The problem is that single point of contact of the foot with the lower leg. There is a mega-tight ratchet for front and back movement, and the ankle tilt. None of the plastic in this region seems strong enough to stand up to repeated transformation to me.

I have gotten myself - despite warnings and advice - so tangled trying to get the feet transformed in either direction, that I completely understand some of my friends who have sold this figure purely based on how much frustration it brought them. Initially, I decided to write this blog post just to highlight how angry I was with this design decision. I get it, the ratchet needs to be that tight in order to support the figure's weight and any poses one places the ankles and feet in. The subsequent force needed to get those feet through the hole in the front of the spaceboat just spoils the entire process.

Then you've got the parts that fall off. All three of the pointy bits - one behind his head ray and two behind the cylindrical red spot/fins on his wings - and the red circular plugs on his calves...not a single transformation goes by where I don't have to fish one of those up from the floor. It's also dangerously easy to get the landing gear halves stressed and in the way during transformation of the lower legs. I'm also a little disappointed that the eyes and red spots need batteries to light up, they're just dark and dead otherwise.

And therein lies the core issue. On virtually any other figure, I'd have already lumped this toy on the sales pile and dismissed the quality and experience as below what I expect for my money and my hobby. But that's not all there is to Andras/Swarm/Wrath/Bane/Curse/Scourge. He is BEAUTIFUL in both modes, utterly perfect. I actually can't put him down, constantly playing with it and posing it. When in spaceship mode, I whoosh and I whoosh. I know how irritating and damage-prone the conversion is, and I still do it over and over. I also love that his head can be raised up and made visible in spaceboat mode, an essential Scourge requirement. There's also the space in the chest for a Matrix and the belly opens up to store the item stolen by Scourge from the Plasma Energy Chamber in Rebirth part 1.

I have since been directed to the video on YouTube produced by 598, the designer of the figure. He makes the foot transformation look so very simple. I followed what I could and it definitely improved the experience, but the force required to get that ratchet to shift in the middle of the foot transit really bothers me. That and the fact that the calf splits in two momentarily at its seam when I have to push the foot on through. I'm certain I'll get better and better at it, to the point where I'll add even more enjoyment to an already lovely looking figure, but I just hope all of the surrounding plastic and paint will survive the process!

I won't sell it, though. I simply cannot be without any Scourge toy that looks this wonderful and correct.

All the best

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