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

Sunday, 23 July 2017

MMC Reformatted R-27 Calidus

Congratulations to Mastermind Creations (MMC) for being the first to market with a genuine IDW More Than Meets The Eye Rodimus-a-like, one that has been promised for some time. SXS may also have theirs on the way, but this toy has been teased for almost 3 years. Arise, Reformatted R-27 Calidus! Can you fill that spot on the Lost Light display shelf!

For a landmark release such as this, Calidus really does not come with a lot of fuss. Not from MMC, nor the factory. The toy has instructions/comic, a collector's card, an Animated-esque bow and a G1-esque handgun. If you ordered from Planet Steel Express, you would have gotten two hand guns. I am pretty tired of PSX customers being awarded extra accessories, to be honest. He also comes with two heads, one a very bland stoic face and one with a smirk. The latter is far far better and has a touch of the character this toy deserves.

I feel that for a figure of this specific MTMTE aesthetic, and with him being the captain of the Lost Light, MMC should have gone far more all-out with its release. Guns, add-ons, accessories, comic-accurate props and references. Instead, he comes across as just one more release in the Reformatted line-up.

For a lot of us, this is a HUGE deal. More Than Meets The Eye is an extremely popular, and somewhat revolutionary Transformers comic title, thanks in no small part to the way James Roberts, Nick Roche and Alex Milne have brought Rodimus to the fore. At first glance, MMC have captured his phenomenal good looks and presence rather well. He's pointy, athletic and has all the right visual cues and signature features of Rodimus in MTMTE.

I like the colours used for Calidus, and the sculpted detailing across his body is just about spot on. I feel he needed more highlights around his abdominal area (maybe mimicking the colouring of Josh Burcham and Joanna Lafuente) to break up the mass of solid red. That large sea of red is one of the first things people comment on when they see Calidus in the flesh, that and the number of pointy parts he has that can affect how comfortable you might be handling him. He's kinda light as well. Despite all of that, he does still have presence. Any figure that can exude gravity and charisma in a simple walking pose deserves some respect.

Posability is a little short of what I'd call excellent, and that is down to two distinct points. Across the whole figure, generally, he has the articulation we have come to expect from MMC's fine design work. The ankles tilt inwards and outwards, and while usually this is a winning combination, the housing in which his feet sit hinders the practical use of that ankle articulation massively. That means you cannot get a large angle on the ankles and still have the feet sit flush against a surface. In short, it's not natural-looking enough at an extreme angle. The other issue is how sunken his head is, how far back it sits from his chest. I could probably be fine with that aesthetically if there was more motion in the head. He can't look up very high, and there's no looking down.

Because of the way the arms clip into the chest - a piece of flexible black plastic that tabs on - I do find that the left-sided one detaches often during posing and I am worried about stressed and broken plastic on those black tabbing parts over time. They do require some flexing to clear the chest during transformation, after all.

On the positive side, his robot mode proportions are lovely. He is also very very accurate to the MTMTE source art, even if he is based on the earlier concept drawings by Alex Milne where the silver pipes on his arms are longer and more pointy. Calidus has double jointed elbows which are good for posing, and his weapon grip is very good. It's gorgeous just how he naturally can store the bow on his back, too. There are a number of classic Rodimus/Hot Rod poses he nails, such as the run from the 1986 movie (opening article photo) and also the firing of his pipes/arm cannons with both hands. Calidus is also very neat from the back, giving him a perfect silhouette from all angles.

It took a number of attempts for me to nail the transformation to vehicle mode. There are some tricks to getting everything aligned, but once you have cracked it, the procedure is very simple and offers little frustration. There is of course the worrisome flexing of the black plastic attaching the shoulders to the chest. You must remember to extend the feet outwards all the way until you hear the audible clicks, as this helps with alignment of the vehicle sides. You must also pay attention not to flex the plastic that connects the chest to the waist, as that has to rotate all the way around the waist and clear the various obstructions. 

There is also a trick to getting the pipes to align fully flush in vehicle mode. The instructions say you need to push them towards each other, but there's no sideways movement in those parts. It is more about clipping them on and making sure they stay clipped - and that is managed by how well you have aligned the hood of the car and the arms/legs. You will see in some photos I have both sets of pipes flush, and sometimes in certain pictures (see below) they have come un-clipped on one side.

It's a very beefy - yet still aerodynamic - vehicle mode. It is highly accurate to the few times we see Rodimus in car mode during MTMTE. He has that lovely translucent blue canopy and he is screaming out for an Autobot logo on that chest. I find it weird how the rear wheels sit more inwards than the significantly beefier front wheels, but the design seems to demand that compromise - and you will see that the original artistic inspiration often hides the rear wheels, so MMC had good reason to take liberties with them. You can see that the bow connects under the hood securely, although this has no fictional reference, it's just a feature of Calidus.

With repeated transformation, I have found the procedure to be a relatively easy one. I have no qualms about picking him up and transforming him, and you cannot always say that about 3rd party products. Not even MMC ones. That is a definite plus for Calidus. Taking care to align things properly through every stage actually brings a reward with the end result, something I was not always able to claim with the Jaegertron/Anubis/Boreas mould. That finality, that satisfaction of a job completed, absolutely has to be there with a Transformers toy of any complexity. 

I like this vehicle mode, of that there is no doubt in my mind. He has a much better look about him than SXS's offering of the same MTMTE Rodimus character. In terms of size, I guess I am happy with that, also. He certainly stands taller than all the Generations deluxes that ought to scale with him, but then that could be construed as its own problem. Not everyone has gone down the route of using 3P sources in order to establish an IDW collection.

I am finding it so difficult to properly express - or even understand - what I feel about MMC Calidus. He does a lot of things right, mainly the looks. He's pretty damn impressive just standing there being show-off Rodimus. Catch him at the right angle in either mode, and you are looking at an Alex Milne masterpiece.

However, overall I feel like more should have been done with Calidus. More fanfare, more accessories, more actual features on the figure itself beyond just trying to capture the aesthetic. I felt the same way about MMC's Tarn (Kultur). That was a good-looking figure with presence and character, but just not quite enough of either. These are the Optimus Prime and Megatron-level stalwarts of the IDW MTMTE line, they deserve to be bursting with character, not just being a very commendable reference to them. Calidus is posable and pretty, and easy to transform, but that doesn't mean I can have as much fun as I'd like when posing him. The exclusive Lost Light/Spectralist recolour of Calidus is an improvement visually, really grabbing the attention and looking harmonious, but it will be the same in-hand experience. That is, a solid and attractive effort, but neither definitive nor spectacular.

Still a damn good MTMTE Rodimus, though. Most will be satisfied should we never get a better one.

All the best

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