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

Friday, 8 September 2017

MAAS Toys CT001 Skiff

MAAS Toys are a new 3rd party company, and as mad as you may consider any group of people to be for setting up a brand new 3P company in the current climate, those behind the endeavour have a lot of experience in the scene with companies like MakeToys, Mastermind Creations, X-Transbots and the like. Their first figure is Cybertech Series CT001 Skiff, a War Within Don Figueroa-inspired Cybertronian-style Bumblebee. MAAS are doing a number of interesting things with this release which will be discussed in this review, as well as adopting a very open policy generally with their communication and engagement with the community. 

Skiff is about deluxe-class sized, and pretty much everything about the figure is distinctly no-frills, but not in a negative way. He doesn't come with any paperwork as the instructions for him are online, allowing MAAS to save on printing and help keep the figure's cost down. He has a replacement face (one toy-style masked, one toon-style unmasked) which involve undoing one screw to replace, and two identical handguns. That's it, really. The art for the box was done by reviewer and podcaster Bobby Skullface and the figure was designed by well-known 3P toy designer Cassy Sark (or Casey Sark, as the box states). 

Comes with built-in riot shield!

MAAS have been extremely engaging on social media, sharing all fan photography and regularly taking part in discussions with collectors. They had a representative at TFNation 2017 where they were selling the show exclusive blue Rune version of this figure (based on Glyph). There was also CT002 Gold (Goldbug) and previously, TFCon had the white Volk version, an homage to the white Mexican (or Grey Brazilian) G1 Bumblebee variant. Having had the chance to play with Rune at TFNation 2017, I could see straight away how MAAS Toys' philosophy of making the figures primarily fun could be a successful selling point. Rune - and of course Skiff - are highly posable, solid-feeling quality fiddle-formers. The two faces included increase the figure's inclusivity, I saw one collector swayed into a purchase the second he realised Skiff also came with the masked face.

Of course Skiff is extremely yellow, but the robot mode is very well broken up by sections of black, and I know a number of experiments were done by the company to see what would work best in both modes in order to reduce the possibility of the robot mode looking plain. With playability at the top of the agenda, there's a good deal of posability build into the figure - including inward and outward ankle tilts, a great waist rotation, good movement in the neck. While Skiff does not have double-jointed elbows or knees, he does have a great wrist bend/swivel and a solid ab crunch, all helping him achieve dynamic and varied poses. You can see above that he also has a fair amount of good weight distribution, resulting in good balance.

I know some collectors found the shoulders got in the way a little when posing, and granted they are humongous, but I found that the forearm guards provided most frustration when trying to pose the arms. Luckily they are on ball joints, so they can be rotated in a few ways to get the desired effect. If you do it right, Skiff can even wield his own built-in riot shield! His weapon grip is very good, in fact the only thing I noted on my copy was that the waist rotation could have used a shade more friction as it was prone to moving a bit more often than I'd like after posing...especially when Skiff was suspended from Cybertronian buildings above!

"What part of 'yellow' do you of all bots not understand?!"

Being the Cybertronian form of Bumblebee, I felt quite motivated to picture Skiff in as many Cybertronian-style scenes and photographs as possible, and the figure's size and playability fuelled the creative fire every time I got my camera out. Diaclone figures and accessories, various scale Optimus Prime trailers and titan class Titans Return figures often found themselves dragged in to act as cityscape backgrounds. Skiff's aesthetic and scale makes him the perfect fit for that kind of scenery and diorama. Re-creating the odd scene from Arrival From Cybertron/More Than Meets The Eye (G1 cartoon pilot) was a regular theme too. I also have not been able to resist sticking MakeToys Galaxy Meteor into as many pics with him as possible.

So the little bugger has a lot of character, expression and he can certainly rock some quality stances (including a very convincing kneel). The masked face is my preferred option by far as his humanoid facial sculpt is not to my liking. There's a lot of the old concave MMC style face there seen on toys like the original Feralcons and Seraphicus Prominon, KFC Dai Stack and Micro Robo, a trademark of the designer.

While in the G1 cartoon Bumblebee went from a very Cybertronian vehicle form to his normal VW Beetle-shaped robot, Skiff obviously remains Cybertronian in both modes. Therefore, those big wing-like sidepods have to go somewhere, and thus they become the large shoulders.

Transformation is as straightforward, immediately accessible, intuitive and frustration-free as you could imagine, undoubtedly taking heavy cues from the Figueroa design. It sits in that perfect territory between simple legends class figure and more involved deluxe class toy. You can cycle through his two modes over and over while sitting there reading something or watching TV, and absolutely no section of the process worries me with regards to breakage, stressing, paint transfer or wear. How many 3rd party figures can you genuinely say that about? You can go from mode to mode with ease, no real serious attention given to not damaging it, no parts falling off, no wear induced and over within a minute. Well done, Cassy and MAAS.

Everything clips where it should and vehicle mode holds very well. There are two sets of fixed wheels underneath so he rolls excellently, too. I'm grateful for what black paint there is because large parts of the vehicle mode on Skiff are a sea of yellow. He definitely will be needing an Autobot sticker.

Skiff's vehicle mode is not 100% accurate to the G1 Cybertronian Bumblebee - being based primarily on War Within Bumblebee (which was in turn of course inspired by G1 Cybertronian Bumblebee) - but it's more than close enough for scene re-creation to look authentic. It's probably even a little nicer than the animation model, if I'm honest. The two handguns can be stored in two peg holes underneath the rear of the vehicle in this mode, too.

Sure, Skiff is super light and a touch reminiscent of those handheld LCD games we all used to play as kids, but he's something of a rarity in the 3rd party world right now. Skiff is not trying to be your definitive Cybertronian Bumblebee at a particular scale and justifying a high price tag, although the fact that I have now adopted him as my G1 Cybertronian Bee is a credit to him. MAAS Toys have attempted to save costs for the consumer and bring them a well-priced, enjoyable, accessible figure that is meant to be repeatedly played with, not displayed to fill a collection gap or represent a specific iteration/form of an iconic character from some aspect of Transformers media. Sure, it's Bumblebee, but if that bothers you, there's always Gold, Rune and Volk for variety if you want to experience the mould. 

Their open nature and friendly approach on social media will win MAAS Toys fans and encourage dialogue; I know they're keen to know what figures collectors would be interested in after they've gotten their Cliffjumper, Brawn and Tetrajets to market. I think I'm on board with the cost-saving too. I certainly didn't need any fancy instructions or collector's card (surely I have enough now from every other toy line and company including them nowadays?), and although the packaging felt cheap and flimsy, I have no use for 3rd party packaging any more so it makes little difference to me personally. The love and effort has gone into the figure itself, and that feeling will long outlast any issues one might have with its box, insert or lack of paperwork. I am interested to see how the company's approach and philosophy will work when it comes to larger or more complex figures, and whether they decide to move away from Cybertronian forms. As it is, though, MAAS Toys and Skiff are off to a flying start!

All the best


  1. I find it very interesting that Maas have approached this the way they have with the community just months before the MT debacle, hopefully they hold onto that ethos. Great to here he's turned out well too. Great read as usual thanks Maz. (Orion2703 TFW2005)

    1. Thanks so much! Yeah it seems a breath of fresh air how they are engaging the community, and at the same time a bit of a no-brainer and cause for thought or other companies I hope.

      All the best