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

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

MMC Reformatted R-26 Malum Malitia

This is a weird set. The Reformatted R-26 Malum Malitia (G1 Insecticons) by 3rd party company Mastermind Creations does not fit into their Reformatted line at all. That's because they were originally intended to be part of the Masterpiece-aping Ocular Max Perfection Series line, but for whatever reason, they were shoehorned into Reformatted. They were supposed to be PS-02, very early on in the line and right after the debut, Sphinx! The designer is different to the usual suspects of Reformatted, which explains much of why these figures feel different to what's gone before in this line. The idea was to make these more slender than what you normally see in Reformatted or maybe even the Perfection Series.

Bombshell's legs need further extending than seen here

From left to right we have Potestas (Shrapnel), Inflecto (Bombshell) and Calcitrant (Kickback). Not sure I'm feeling those names, or "Malum Malitia". Wasn't it supposed to be "Militia"? And "Tactical Penetration" as the team function is all kinds of interesting. With this set you get the three Inscticons, three collectors cards, instructions/comic, chromed handguns for each figure and replacement faces for Calcitrant and Potestas. 

My first impression of the set was woeful. I felt they were the worst thing that MMC had ever put their name to. I found the instructions unhelpful - showcasing robot to bug transformation when the toys were packaged in bug mode - and the transformations were hugely frustrating. The feel of the toys made me believe something was going to break, not too far from my experiences with KFC and X-Transbots stuff. The chrome was nice but after the FansToys set, these were far from impressive.

Getting them to robot mode meant a few really awkward steps. Folding Shrapnel's bug legs into his calves was a nightmare. He also has a leg transformation not unlike Combiner Wars Aerialbot legs, but with far less finesse. The transformation of Kickback's robot arms and bug legs is almost identical to FansToys Forager, but with no feeling that you will break the wings or the rails on which the arms extend. It's much simpler here but again you are squeezing 4 bug legs with numerous points of articulation into a small chest cavity. Getting Kickback and Bombshell's hands out is ridiculous, you pull on a small tab actually on the hand to get it to budge and then you pull the rest of it out. But at least you CAN get them out, Shrapnel's hands need a tool to extract, no exaggeration. With Bombshell, the bug was already misaligned and not perfectly tabbed in the box, which never bodes well. Unclipping his arms from under the bug felt like snapping something in two.

So as far as first impressions go, that was way down the list of good ones. They seemed to have really nice posability, though...or at least the photos would lead you to believe it's more so than is the case. There are downsides to their articulation. Kickback's feet have an ankle tilt but it's not very far and the feet are reluctant to budge; they also don't seem to have a satisfying final position in either mode which sits in its dedicated cavity properly. He also has tiny hands that won't hold that gun of his at all.

You cannot get much bend on Shrapnel's knees but at least he has chromed thighs. Bombshell's thighs are also chromed, but they seem to have some very odd and defined angles that they can be posed at when angled forwards or back, and that is part of the reason why the bug mode does not align well at the back. 

That's a lot of negatives, and they really affected my interest in this set. So how is it possible that I can now sit here and tell you that these toys are actually not too bad? Time. Time spent transforming them and posing them. Second time through, 75% of the frustration was gone because I learned the tricks - how to contort bug legs into intended spaces mainly - and could transform them with ease. This allowed me to appreciate their looks. Shrapnel/Potestas here has a beautiful head sculpt and really nice proportions. The feet are great to pose and give him much needed lower body visual weighting.

His bug legs fold up neatly behind him and they are yellow, like the G1 toy. I am disappointed that there's no clear yellow/orange chest flap option, though. I'm also disappointed that the flap on Shrapnel's chest opens to absolutely nothing, just his solid black chest behind it. So pointless.

However, the way his chromed mandible and antennae parts rotate away from his face is very nice, and while the mandibles need re-positioning in bug mode every time you move the antennae, it's a nice bit of articulation. He has good shoulder, waist and head articulation and a lot of angle in that ankle tilt. Knee articulation is probably the main letdown here. There are die-cast sections on the feet and thighs and he has wrist swivels. Potestas here is definitely my favourite of the set.

Inflecto here, like Potestas above, has decent gun grip. He has the same faux head antenna that FansToys Bombshell has. Like I said, pulling out his hands, unclipping those arms from under the bug mode and the misalignment in bug mode let him down. But, he does pose well, the way he stores the bug legs on his calves is pretty cool and like Shrapnel, the other bug legs fold up nice and neatly with ease behind him. There's metal in the thighs and feet again, and while he has a good knee bend, much of that is hindered by the thigh not being able to bend up much at the waist. There's good head articulation, zero wrist swivel, but ample waist swivel. Ankle tilts are strong here, great for posing.

Calcitrant has a great headsculpt too. The way the grasshopper feet fold away behind the calves (done incorrectly in most of my photos unfortunately) is super neat and - as frustrating as getting the bug legs into the chest is - he cuts a very good and accurate robot mode silhouette because of all the hiding of bug parts. Gun grip is terrible, hands are tiny and the extending of them feels so silly by today's 3P design standards. There's decent posability here, but you are limited by the achievable angle on the ankle tilts. Shoulders, head and elbows are really good and he does a great kneeling pose. Same metal content as the other two, as well.

I will say this about the transformations, once that initial frustration is gone, it becomes an enjoyable challenge to nail it all first time without having to re-adjust insect limbs and getting the order of panel moving right. FansToys' interpretation of these toys may have looked more substantial and felt better to handle (until you broke them) but their transformations remained frustrating and I never took them off the shelf to play. These are different, I am much more likely to play with these...and that's despite hating them to begin with.

That's not a great bug mode on Shrapnel there, he looks like he's been squashed. The yellow bug legs have more points of articulation than you'll ever make use of, and that's part of what makes the transformation laborious initially. The gun did not attach in this mode securely, either. The bug legs are, however, strong enough to support an elevated bug pose.

The least secure-fitting of the bug modes, Bombshell still looks ok in this configuration. The gun attaches securely, there's a lot of articulation in those bug legs and you can point his antenna up or down.The visible shoulders on the underside are not great, and attaching them feels uncomfortable.

Ah. Now. Kickback looks excellent. Secure gun fit and a cool little bug mouth there too...although it means you cannot move his head in bug mode *sigh*. Good articulation in the bug legs and ankles and a very good overall shape for him in grasshopper mode. His bug legs in this mode are the least frustrating of the bunch.

Goodness me, what an interesting journey this has been for the Malum Malitia. From second release slot in the much vaunted Ocular Max Perfection Series line to the 26th numbered release (not including repaints/exclusives) in the Reformatted line where they stick out like sore thumbs among the comic-accurate and re-imagined classics-scale treasures we have grown accustomed to from MMC. 

I couldn't stand these figures on first handling, and now I actually quite enjoy messing with them and can transform them with ease. I have memorised the orientation needed on the bug legs to get them into chest and calf cavities, I have appreciated their posability and how they've actually lent themselves well to photography. They have very good headsculpts indeed, although I have not felt the need to switch out the faces. I feel that if there were no obstructions to further articulation, I could completely overlook that initial low quality feel of some of the parts (especially the hands and what Shrapnel has going on with his leg transformation). Having said all that, nothing broke, nothing stressed or showed any wear or damage after multiple transformations.

Despite all of that I've still managed to get to a place where I can appreciate their positives, even if MMC/Ocular Max have seemingly not poured as much love into this forgotten set as their other releases. I guess they just needed to get this set out, but the different designer responsible is noticeable in almost every aspect of the design and concept - not necessarily worse in every way, just different. They aren't my favourite MMC figures by any stretch of the imagination, and I think for a price point of £160 in the UK, that's way way off for what you actually get. I must give them their due, though, in how they turned me around from my initial impressions. Not sure I can remember any set that made me alter my initial assessment so drastically, but maybe that says more about where they started off in my estimation than where they ended up.

All the best


  1. I was really curious about these. No review short of "Absolute Best Insecticons Ever" was going to get me to turn away from my FansToys Insecticons, though, so obviously these aren't going to do it. Spoiled for choice!

    1. Yeah also these are like 2 years late to market and people have quality alternatives embedded into their collections. I wouldn't be surprised if most other collectors were waiting for a similar review before switching.

      All the best

  2. Its a shame as I get a real 'too late to cancel but not enough potential to sell well' vibe from this release. I think MMC as a whole have sort of lost their way a little in recent years, though they do seem to be coming back a bit now these are a leftover from more troubled times.

    1. I think Malum Malitia aside, 2016 and 2017 have been MMC's strongest years yet. Carnifex, Turben/Oberon, Titanika/Dicamus were all magnificent figures.

      All the best