Friday, October 12, 2012

"Who are you calling inferior?!"

If you've been following what I have posted, then obviously this is part 2 of the whole thing.  If you're the kind who just want to read up on my personal experience on it, then you're at the right page.  The previous post was kind of a long preface to the whole thing.  Anyway...

Originally I did not know what I was getting into.  This was going to be my first 3rd-party unlicensed product purchased.  Meaning, I never knew if there was any particular problem, quirks, issues, and what-have-you.  Basically, I was flying blind.  I do not know if they are reputable.  I do not know if there are quality issues.  I do not know if it is worth the price.  So it was a gamble.

When I noticed that my order has shipped out, I kept a close eye on it as it rode on a FedEx truck from TFSource over to the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.  As soon as I saw the FedEx truck pull up, I ran out the door to greet the man.  Finally, and at long last.

I carefully cut the tape like any neat freak would have to open it up.  I had to remove brown crumpled paper padding, foam lining, and a cardboard layer just to remove the product from the box.  Yes, TFSource packaged it like that.  I dare any other companies to try to do the same.

The gift set came with the toys mostly arranged so that you can piece them together to form Giant right on the spot.  This is a nice setup to have.  But it is also not a good start.  The instructions booklet that came with it showed steps for changing from vehicle to robot and from vehicle to component (for Giant assembly).  So it was a bit tricky trying to reverse the steps to get it back to vehicle mode.

Each vehicle mode is designed very nicely.  The design on having the vehicles look like actual construction machines is surprisingly good for a 3rd-party design.  The build constructions feels solid and the paint application looks very good.  As with any toy design, where there is parts the toys excel in, there needs to be a compromise in another.  Some parts do not turn, rotate, or move.  Yet, I cannot find myself to fault Maketoys for doing that.  There is probably one or two places within the whole set that may not entirely fit snugly or correctly.  But given the amount of money invested into this, I dare not try to force it in.  Still, it is a minor issue and exists only on the dump truck toy in vehicle mode.

Changing them from vehicle to robot mode proved to be an interesting challenge.  But, again, having invested so much in getting this toy set, I resorted to using the instructions booklet to ensure that what I am doing does not mean I'll end up breaking a piece off.  Of the six that I have handled, the most complex and intricate is perhaps the front-end loader, aka "Scrapper."  His transformation steps was probably the most tricky of them all.  The most stiff is definitely the mobile crane, aka "Hook."  Trying to get the arms to properly set and become arms proved to be the most stiff.  On that, I can see that they could use a bit of improvement on it and make it less stiff.  Overall, each piece are molded in a frighteningly precise specification that makes Hasbro's toy release feel like Lego bricks.  Granted, these are high quality toys designed by a 3rd party.  And they probably have that intention of being as high of a quality as possible.  Still, the way it is all designed gives you the feeling that there is little room for error.  It's a minor thing.  Such a flaw is probably a 0.1 or 0.2 point deduction out of 10 or 5.

Piecing each figure together to form Giant is an experience on its own.  Where to start is often a question one will ask.  I think for most, they start at the legs/feet.  Getting them set is simple, at least for Mixer.  Front Loader though is a different story.  One has to arrange the back heel so that it is aligned correctly.  It is then held together by the engine that is popped off.  Setting up Dump Truck was fairly easy, as I have already seen how it looks when I first took it out of the box.  Changing him into the lower-torso and hip means changing him partially into robot mode.  Once that is done, connecting him to Front Loader and Mixer was simple.  The locking mechanism is probably the best way of knowing that the connection is secure.  I welcome that any day as this makes assembling a gestalt a more fulfilling experience.  The next step I took is to get Mobile Crane set to become the upper torso/chest and head.  The head is pre-connected.  Revealing it is a matter of sliding the head out and flipping the "cap" up.  It is there I experience what others have noted on their review of Mobile Crane: the head does not look up well.  I am not entirely sure if this is a fault or if this is by design.  Thus I do not know if a point deduction is warranted.  But I'll leave it as it is for the time being.  Connecting Mobile Crane to Dump Truck to complete the body is a simple matter of aligning the slots up and letting the locking mechanism hold it in place.  For Excavator and Bulldozer, setting them up is a simple matter of pulling out part of the arm piece, snapping into place, and rotating the pegs appropriately.  One has to be careful on connecting the forearms to the vehicle itself, it can be a bit tricky trying to pull them apart and reorienting it.  While preview photos of Giants never showed this, the hands are designed with individual fingers.  However, the fingers themselves are static and curled.  Still, this is a nice thing to have for a big piece like this.  Connecting each arms means plugging the peg into Mobile Crane which has a locking mechanism there too.  Once both arms are connected, the Giant figure is complete, more or less.

In the short time that I have tinkered with Giant and each individual toy itself, I find the overall experience to be great, much to my surprise.  I did not know what to expect even though I have looked at the same photos so many times.  Yet it never ceases to amaze me just how awesome it looks.  Yes, it is factually noted that he is smaller than TFC Toys' Hercules.  But the size difference is rather minor to be honest.  And the savings you get for choosing Maketoys' version over TFC Toys' is immense.  Those with smaller and tighter wallets may opt for Maketoys' version for their Devastator fix.

The common question to be asked is... "Is it worth it?"  That's something I cannot honestly answer.  This is my first 3rd-party toy purchase.  And it may not be my last either.  The build quality is definitely up there.  I can say with confidence that it is superior to both Hasbro and Takara-Tomy.  Often if I were to buy official Transformers toys, I tend to get the ones released and offered by Takara-Tomy.  It is due to the fact that the mold quality and paint application quality is superior to the ones released by Hasbro.  Still, it is a very heavy investment.  The most I can every say with regards to this is to contemplate over it heavily.  Never be hasty in ordering right off the bat, unless you're easily raking in dough.

The next common question is perhaps "Am I happy with this purchase?"  I'll say yes to that.  Yes it hit the wallet hard.  And I did gave some serious thoughts when I was browsing through several photos.  Yet I heard no news from neither Hasbro nor Takara-Tomy about having a reimagined Constructicons.  Something has got to give.  So I went with this.  Yet at the same time, I cannot help but wonder... Even if Takara-Tomy or Hasbro were to design and produce a reimagined Constructicons, can it ever live up to the quality of design that both TFC Toys and Maketoys produced?  Or more importantly, can it ever match the build quality that both of these 3rd-party companies put out?  I've long supported Takara-Tomy, especially in their Masterpiece line and their defunct Binal-Tech line of toys.  But the current generation of toys being produced now is mostly derived from the Fall of Cybertron game and the Transformers Prime TV series.  For the time being, there is virtually nothing for me to look at.  I guess you could say that they created the void in which TFC Toys and Maketoys have filled.

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