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

Saturday, 14 October 2017

MakeToys MTCD-03SP Thunder Erebus

MakeToys, the highly popular 3rd party Transformers toy manufacturer, continue to put out figures for their Cross Dimension line. This Classics/Generations-scaled sub-line is being given a fair amount of support alongside their highly rated Re:Master offerings. Of the five figures officially released or unveiled for Cross Dimension. four of them have been some variant of Optimus Prime, so the line really needs to diversify. However, Striker Manus, Striker Noir, Rioter Despotron and now Thunder Erebus are all really good figures. I'd go so far as to say Thunder Erebus - in many ways - represents the best of what MakeToys have ever offered. That's going to take some explaining, I know...

The Cross Dimension figures I had owned and handled (Striker and Rioter) were really well made, extremely posable and finished to a high standard. That's not a surprise any more from MakeToys. The aesthetic of Manus and Rioter were such that not all collectors could see them as even their classics leaders, but they have been popular toys and sold well from all accounts. I've also not seen anyone outright declare them as bad figures, owners tend to be very pleased with the offerings from this line. Thunder Erebus is a Powermaster Optimus Prime analogue, but the black repaint known during its release as a G1 reissue as Nucleon Quest Superconvoy.

MakeToys have a distinct ability to give a Transformers-based figure a wonderful balance between anime, cartoon and toy proportions. They inject the figures with a specific type of dynamism and bulk without necessarily straying too far in any direction. The way they brought Cupola (Chromedome) to life made me stand up and take notice in a way that character's toys had never done before. Promotional images of Thunder Erebus certainly impressed me, and in hand, the figure fulfils all of that potential in terms of look, stature and proportions. He's extremely attractive and well balanced, visually.

Thunder Erebus comes with all the Powermaster Prime trimmings you would expect; there's the small truck cab that turns into a small Prime-style robot, there's the Hi-Q/Ginrai Powermaster figure and the trailer of course. In addition to the large pair of signature handguns, Erebus has two smaller guns that can be slotted into the main handguns, these can be held by the smaller robot. There's also the double-barrelled cannons that this character has always had in every iteration.

In terms of scale, he stands at modern Leader class height, and totally comparable to the original Powermaster Optimus Prime or Super Ginrai. There is going to be a proper Autobot coloured version of this coming soon, MTCD-03 Thunder Manus, and with that will come the Godbomber-style "Divine" parts for a God Ginrai upgrade. I doubt that will fully put him up to vintage or TakaraTomy Legends God Ginrai height, but I'd be pleased if I'm wrong! Will we ever get a black-coloured set of Divine parts for Thunder Erebus? I hope so.

Apart from looks, MakeToys figures have always been renowned for their excellent posability. Just look at what collectors can get out of the Citybot line of figures. Thunder Erebus is absolutely no exception, and for a Powermaster Prime-styled figure with the inherent bulk of the character, this toy pulls off some belting stances and poses. He can kneel (but you do have to work those feet and thighs to massage into a balanced pose), he can run even without an outward ankle tilt, he has excellent balance and poise when in a dynamic stance. There is a great and expressive range of movement pretty much everywhere, including waist rotation and a proper abdominal crunch. Properly a joy to handle, I was wowed from first touch.

Yet another thing that MakeToys pride themselves on is the quality of the figures, the plastic and paint etc. Thunder Erebus shines in this department too. The joints and parts clunk and ratchet in a  satisfying manner, even friction joints being as they should. He is gorgeously detailed and intricate in his appearance. There's a very heavy Generation 1 feel to the figure because of the Powermaster nature, but at the same time it does not completely wander away from Cross Dimension's particular aesthetic. There is no overarching feeling that this is at its core a toy, at least not in its appearance, so it has got that high display value that an adult collector would appreciate. The red chest windows and the teal highlights, really very nice indeed. You can see that the handguns can be stored on his back panel also.

The toy just begs you to pose it more and more, get more creative with the extreme dynamism and balance, because he can take it. His idle stance is so natural and believable, and that headsculpt is tremendous. They get so much right all over Erebus. What I will say is that when I tried to push it to crazy levels of extreme stances, the waist piece popped off. You notice then that the two waist flaps are on ball joints. It does clip back on very easily, though. I have seen since then that the same piece can pop off again slightly more regularly once it's been coaxed off the first time. Something to note, be wary of the thighs and upper body pressing on the waist flaps and waist piece, as they can encourage it to part ways every now and then.

Then there's this little guy. Another posable little gem and packing an equally beautiful headsculpt. He has ankle tilts, waist rotation, good head movement and good knee and elbow bends. The downside here is that he has a whole truck cab face on his back for kibble - and if you are particularly sensitive to kibble, you'll notice the panels under his forearms. While it's more noticeable on him than the original Ginrai/Prime, it's something you can accept on a figure this good. One area you may hold against him is that the cab is very much on the small side, but that also translates into a smaller truck than you might expect for a figure who - once combined - is the same size as the official old and new versions of PMOP.

The little Powermaster figure is very much in keeping with the look - and transformation - of the vintage HiQ/Ginrai figure. There's no chrome on him, or anywhere on Thunder Erebus actually, and somehow its absence does not negatively affect the figure in the slightest. There's a small hint of the swirlies in the grey plastic, but I don't mind as much when it's a more opaque and dark grey. There are a few nice paint application spots on the mini Powermaster too. Both this smaller figure and the larger Thunder Erebus figure have excellent weapon grip, not a given these days. It should be noted that the Powermaster attachment is not in any way required to activate the transformation of any part of Thunder Erebus. Very happy they included it anyway, though! The little guy has angled feet for a slightly wider action stance, and he too has the kibble hanging behind his head.

To the transformation! Yet another area that MakeToys get credit, but not always. Some of their figures do have over-intricate sections that can cause frustration. I can think of a few - arms on Downbeat come to mind - and there is sometimes an over-reliance on tabbing. There certainly was with Striker Manus. What they don't lack is ingenuity, and with the cab on Thunder Erebus there are some really nice improvements to the overall experience of having to tab small and possibly fiddly sections together. However, they've done a great job especially with the feet on the small robot, folding away beautifully in each mode with appropriate tab spots. A nice refinement of their art here. Love that circuitry detail on the red windows.

I have to wax lyrical about the transformation of the trailer, now. Every MakeToys figure I have had from the combiners to the Citybots and the Masterpiece-a-likes have required close use of the instructions to ensure no damage was caused and that I didn't get stuck somewhere. That's not because their toys have been non-intuitive, just that there's always been an element of ingenuity that takes a little understanding to unlock and appreciate. I feel it's always erred on the right side of complicated. With Thunder Erebus, I just picked it up and - knowing how a Powermaster Optimus should generally operate and how its transformation would be conceived - went for it. 

There are many clever but completely instinctive steps in the conversion of that trailer, at no point did I feel I was going to damage anything. The last time I felt a transformation this intuitive was MakeToys Wrestle...right until I got to vehicle mode and realised one of the waist flaps was hanging by a thread. But again, Thunder Erebus represents the refinement of their art, and he's got plenty of appreciably nice bits in the conversion with solid tabbing for virtually every section. I really have enjoyed transforming this toy over and over again since I opened him. He's just scoring points on every front.

In full vehicle mode, you'll again sense that maybe he's a bit on the small side, especially the cab, but you cannot fault his appearance. That is a hefty-looking beast of a truck, and it sings with all the nods to the original. The lovely silver colour of the hubs, the blue and silver stripe on the trailer side and the solid mounting of the guns. One other feature that absolutely tickles me on this vehicle mode is how the front wheels of the cab can be independently turned outwards to simulate turning. While the opposite wheel cannot be angled inward for a fully immersive turning truck display, it is excellent for photography. You can see how he scales quite well with a similar style truck - albeit Voyager class - in vehicle mode. One downside to the truck mode is that the connector for the trailer does not couple that securely with the cab. They cannot be lifted as one piece as it simply slides out, but it will roll without issue.

And how about this for a win? Perfect compatibility and scale for display and play with TakaraTomy Diaclone figures. The Powered Suits, the Dia-Nauts and the larger mechs just slot effortlessly into a diorama with Thunder Erebus. You can see how one could get excited about this figure's playability.

If that wasn't enough, I even managed to fashion a vintage-style Powermaster Optimus Prime base mode out of this toy!

While that base mode is not documented or intended, the nature of the figure and its plethora of moving parts and panels - while not being a painful panelformer by any stretch of the imagination - makes this mode possible. That's Thunder Erebus through and through, a massive success. So, despite not being my favourite ever MakeToys product, why do I feel he is their best technical achievement? Well, my reasoning is multi-layered. 

First of all, I feel as though MakeToys have ticked every single box and achieved every objective that an adult-aimed collectable Transformers figure could have. He looks intricate and detailed without any children's toy-related visual compromises. That means he can sit on any professional's work desk and look like an expensive adult-aimed product, not a Transformers toy aimed at children. He is also high quality, sturdy and solid, meaning that should said adult feel like messing about and transforming that expensive looking item on their desk, they can do so without worrying about damaging their high end product that was supposed to just be aesthetically admired. 

Once that transformation is underway, it's simple and intuitive, so the frustration of many complex 3rd party products is non-existent. There are also multiple configurations and elements to enjoy, from the tiniest of figures to a posable cab-bot and the highly dynamic and enjoyable full Thunder Erebus. How long have we waited for a modern day Powermaster Optimus Prime that is highly posable, well made and gorgeous? Titans Return and TakaraTomy Legends didn't quite manage all of those elements (nor a cab bot). You can stare at it or you can play with it, both options provide supreme satisfaction. It is because of that perfect execution of the adult Transformers collectable of a well-loved character that I award this figure the highest technical marks of any MakeToys figure thus far. Improved friction between the trailer connector and cab and a slightly more firmly attached waist piece would make this figure absolutely *perfect*. I am beyond hyped for the full Autobot-coloured Thunder Manus that's due later this year.

All the best


  1. Fantastic read thanks Maz. This really is a fantastic looking bot, but one I'll never own as I just don't have the space for anything not part of my core collection now.

    1. Thanks so much dude!Yeah believe me, when I got it, I expected to review it and sell it on as it doesn't fit with my collection goals now. And yet, I quickly realised how much I'd struggle to part with a toy this nice.

      All the best