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

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Fans Hobby MasterBuilder MB-06 Power Baser

Fans Hobby are the first really credible 3rd Party Transformers outfit to try their hand at a Powermaster Optimus Prime / Super Ginrai figure at Masterpiece scale. The Xovergen figure wasn't good enough for most, it seems. The fact that I can count Fans Hobby as credible a mere 12 months into their existence as an active group is an amazing achievement. So here is MB-06 Power Baser from their Masterpiece-like MasterBuilder series. Their Godbomber-alike will be available in the not too distant future, allowing collectors to have an MP-scale God Ginrai. Exciting prospect!

Power Baser comes packaged in vehicle mode and features the signature 'PMOP' double-barrel grey guns and two long black handguns, he comes with Hi-Q/Ginrai the Powermaster/Godmaster...hmm, you look confused, and annoyed. Let's backtrack. Hasbro's G1 Transformers version of this toy was originally called Powermaster Optimus Prime, the first re-release of Optimus Prime in 1988 as part of the Powermasters sub line.

Hasbro Transformers 1988 Powermaster Optimus Prime
In Japan, 1988 saw Takara release the same toy - with added die-cast metal, glass windows and chromed parts - as Super Ginrai. This was from the Godmasters sub-line of the Chojin Masterforce series. Ginrai was the Hi-Q equivalent, and Super Ginrai was the Powermaster Optimus prime equivalent. If anything, Power Baser is more Super Ginrai than PMOP, going by his Masterforce anime styling.

Takara Fire Guts God Ginrai + Hasbro reissue Apex Armor Powermaster Optimus Prime
The vintage (and reissue) Takara offerings could combine with a separate Godbomber figure to create the larger God Ginrai toy, and Fans Hobby are indeed working on such an additional figure for their MB-06 Power Baser. History aside, Fans Hobby were also offering a Matrix accessory with the first batch of orders of Power Baser, I've not been lucky enough to receive that with this review sample, though!

The main cab figure is pretty lovely, with a fantastic headsculpt and feeling of solidity. There's great articulation allowing for dynamism, supported by good weight distribution and the now-signature chunky, filled-out look of Fans Hobby figures. This is despite the area around the front grill of the cab robot being basically empty, filled only by the inward-folded front cab-wheels to inadequately cover those cavities. I think he just barely gets away with it, but lean him backwards on his abdominal articulation and it's suddenly very exposed. 

There's nice detailing behind the cab windows on his chest (not quite MakeToys Thunder Erebus or Striker Manus level, mind) and the chrome parts on the grill and smokestacks are a welcome addition. Weapon grip is solid, although you will notice that Fans Hobby still have not addressed the fact that their robots' hands will not close fully around a weapon's handle. You might also have noticed that the big black rifles can have the large barrels removed to reveal smaller handguns. Extend the barrels on those and you have a mini weapon for the cab robot! There's a lot to enjoy here with this smaller cab robot, not least of which is how kibble free the figure is, although there are massive red flaps on his calves. Not everyone will like the white tampographed details on his shoulders, but I find myself completely ok with them. They've been a part of FH figures since Megatooth, and really I quite enjoy the distinct aesthetic they are able to imbue their products with. Purists will not agree.

The Powermaster/Godmaster figure is pretty lovely. It's beautifully detailed and feels solid. He has elbow joints, which are quite rad for a figure of this size. You can see he scales favourably with the new Power Of the Primes Prime Masters. Oh, he can turn his head as well, aiding expression and display greatly. His transformation is identical to G1, basically.

Just while we're examining the Powermaster and the cab figure, let's chuck the trailer in there and look at the base mode. It's not great, it just looks like the bottom half of the combined robot sitting down. It was quite tricky to get it into that configuration as well, seeing as how some of the fold-out panels obstructed other parts, necessitating a step or two back in spots before progress could be made. I do love how the grey guns have a swivel on the connector tab so they can be rotated, and yet still align for hand-held grip by the robots too. That's a nice solution. The connection between the black guns and the 'towers' (combined robot's wrists) is very precarious and not at all secure. Anyway, this mode is a thing, there's enough there to legitimately call it a mode, it's just not a great one that's going to see much time on display.

There's not a whole lot wrong with how that cab mode looks in vehicle form, is there? Really, very nice indeed. It has a really sturdy look to it with the use of curved surfaces preferred to sharp edges, and I love the aesthetic that gives it. Chrome and silver paint, blue cab windows and rubber tyres. It's all good here and on my specimen, the Powermaster clicks on very well. Pressing the silver grill you realise that it clicks between an 'in' and an 'out' position, referring to how far in the bottom of the grill sits. To attach Power-God-Hi-Q-Ginrai, the grill should be clicked 'in'.

Transforming the cab does present a few minor frustrations. Hands and arms are great, tucking away the robot head is cool, as is retracting the legs. Even folding away the heels is a minor "neat!" moment, as are the ball-jointed waist flaps that tidily fold away. Good work! However, opening up the tampo'd flaps on the legs and positioning them together to slit in between the folded-back shoulders in truck mode isn't all that fun, and I find it less than forgiving to get the cab wheels back out again to their normal position. It's doable, though, and not a dealbreaker by any stretch. Getting the small blue tabs to plug into the crotch when sliding the legs back up isn't awesome, if I'm honest. With some practice, I've discovered that the best way to do this is to almost finish the cab transformation, then fold out the shoulders/arms again, slide the legs up making sure both legs are tabbed together, get the central fold-up tampo'd flaps in place and clipped together, then close the shoulders around them to complete the cab.

I am very conflicted about the combined truck mode. My first impressions were that the trailer was lacking height and went on too far past the rear wheels. having Power Baser in hand never quite removed those issues I had with is visually. The panels, for the most part, tab together well and create a good look overall. The attached guns look powerful and connect well to the trailer. The front end of the trailer with all those armaments, combined with the cab, is definitely where the good stuff is, but it leaves the back of the trailer looking bare and quite extra. There's no real functionality either, as the rear doors don't open. The connection between trailer and cab is great for rolling, but lift the trailer even a tiny bit and it will disconnect. I'm not sure anyone will mind this, of course.

All this may lead you to think that I am not a fan of the vehicle mode, but I actually am. I think eventually we will end up with an MP-scaled Super Ginrai or PMOP from another company - or even TakaraTomy - that will look more to my liking, but for now this certainly has the buff look and presence that you absolutely require of this character and toy, at this scale. My absolute favourite thing about this mode, though, is how beautifully it scales with the other G1 Powermaster Autobot cars. That is a sight to bring tears of happiness to my eyes. I should mention that by imitating the Masterforce red detailing on the large black guns, they've added a lovely visual draw to those accessories, especially in vehicle mode.

Blimey. Look at that beefy monster. He's suddenly not all that well scaled with the G1 Powermasters! Before we marvel at that mega robot mode, we should really talk about the faff involved in getting there. Transforming the trailer in readiness for combination is cool. It's intuitive and there is some quite clever stuff that goes on with sliding panels and the rear wheel arches. I do find the large robot feet a bit fiddly and not always entirely easy to manipulate into position. I like the chunky heel spurs, though. 

The main issue, though, is getting that cab transformed correctly for combination, more specifically, getting those legs folded up in exactly the right orientation (there are videos, now) and sliding the big red flaps past the smokestacks so that they can clip and STAY clipped on the top of the cab. This issue is exacerbated by how the two shoulders on the cab are connected to each other. It seems impossible to keep that connection flush, and slide the red flaps onto the roof with a secure, sustained connection while at the same time threading the thin and scary armature of the big robot head through the folded up cab legs to clip onto the cab roof. I have found I cannot just slide the cab in and then initiate all that stuff, I have to open the trailer flaps surrounding the cab's eventual position, place the cab inside, then close the flaps around it once the big robot head and everything before it is sorted. Make no mistake, this is all a hassle. It gets easier, but it's a hassle. A number of collectors have ended up with stress marks on the big robot's head plate where the armature connects. I should mention, the big robot head is a permanent fixture to the trailer, so it's basically folded away inside the trailer when not in combined robot mode.

Now the good. There's a lot of good. Here is a genuinely posable, solid (now I finally combined him!) and amazing looking Super Ginrai/PMOP Masterpiece-scale behemoth. Kneeling, running, smashing or standing heroically, he's got some serious expression and articulation going for him. The feet remain my least favourite part to move but it's not as if they don't have a decent range, I just find the giant pistons that run into them a little obstructive now and then. The waist flaps are odd, no question, and depending on how wildly you are posing him they end up in some strange-looking positions. Some have floated the "too fat" and "diaper wearing" criticism, but it's easy to throw those out when just looking at pics online. In hand, he's a very cohesive and well put together Powermaster Prime.

Yes, there is indeed a significant backpack. Once they had committed to giving the cab robot those chunky and powerful-looking legs, they were pretty much stuck with such a combined robot rear. I'm not too bothered, mind. Powermaster Prime is supposed to look hench and wide. The joints in robot mode really are superb. You can immediately get him into such wicked poses that he will actually hold securely. Those double-jointed knees are especially good, as are the elbows, but he's not going to utilise the full range of those when he's holding the rifles. There is very good articulation in the neck too. It's good that when combined, if you pick him up by the cab and shake, there's no chance of him coming apart. That bodes well for the eventual God Ginrai mode. The pick up and play value of this toy in combined mode is absolutely spot on. Fun has been a strong theme running through all the Fans Hobby robot modes thus far, and Power Baser continues that tradition proudly.

Look at him, standing toe to toe with G1 Overlord, looking simply divine. The two of them, actually, rather a pretty couple, no? Fans Hobby are of course giving us "Double Evil" later this year to act as Power Baser's nemesis, but this goes to show a G1 Overlord works just fine! I should also mention that Fans Hobby give you the option of putting batteries in the robot head to allow for light up eyes, but I rarely make use of such a gimmick. Might be good, though, if yours doesn't end up being a dud. Such a gorgeous headsculpt doesn't really require it, mind.

So, then, here's where I'm at with Power Baser. When I first opened him and played with him, I was mightily impressed. This was obviously the most complex and accomplished figure that Fans Hobby had produced. As time wore on, I started to lose a little enthusiasm for the figure as a whole. Truck mode is fun and a great size, but I have some reservations about the trailer's look and lack of functionality/features. The cab robot is very good looking and fun, but I don't need that many Primes at that scale so it's not a collection essential for me. The base mode is really unconvincing and not worth the trouble of getting there, it seems to have been included as a tickbox exercise. Getting the figure into combined mode is cool right up to the point where you need to add the cab to the trailer, and then it's just frustration peppered with visions of putting the whole thing through the wall. 

But then. Then it's combined, and becomes this gorgeous massive and modern manifestation of my childhood hero birthday robot which poses and balances effortlessly, and looks down majestically upon his gathered Autobot troops. And I remember why I fell for him in the first place. If his combination and other modes were just a tiny bit better, this guy could have aced the figure of the year list. As it is, Fans Hobby have created yet another tremendously fun and well put-together robot, and by far the best version of this character we've had at Masterpiece scale - and just for fun, it works remarkably well with G1 toys. He has issues, but I still definitely recommend owning him which says a lot about qualities outshining issues. Masterpiece Powermasters are GO!

Happy new year, everyone!

All the best


  1. Love the Christmas backdrops Maz. I'm finding him to be a flawed gem overall, so much fun but I'm soured by the plastic, both my rear wheel arches have cracks from normal use. Great read and happy new to you too.

    1. Thanks so much! I'm sadly not surprised to hear those wheel arches have developed issues as they are thin and require a bit of fiddling to position correctly :(

      Hopefully Fans Hobby will look after you if anything gets damaged further!

      All the best