Review by Prometheum5
FansProject is a firm that first appeared on the toy scene a couple years back with a set of upgrade parts to make your Hasbro Transformers Classics Cliffjumper figure more character-accurate. The parts were extremely well made, and quickly sold out. FansProject later came out with the much more complex and well-received City Commander set for the Hasbro Transformers Classics Ultra Magnus to change him from a white Optimus Prime repaint into a properly armored Ultra Magnus. FansProject is in no way affiliated with Hasbro or Transformers, but have been producing items that are compatible with official Transformers figures.
Cut to 2010, and FansProject has stepped up their game by releasing their own complete figure. They appear to have coined the ‘Warbots’ line for their original figures, and Defender is the first release. Defender features high-quality plastic parts, die-cast metal, phenomenal engineering and finish, a three-mode transformation, and more than passing resemblance to the Transformers G1 triple-changer character Springer, who debuted in the 1986 animated movie. Defender fits in perfectly with your Transformers Classics collection as an updated version of Springer, even though we all know he’s really a unique and brand-new figure unrelated to Transformers.
FansProject has quickly made their name synonymous with quality, and the box is no exception. The packaging features a colorful printed box fit inside a clear acetate box for protection. Inside, the figure is safely secured in a vacuum-formed tray with the accessories, along with a full-color printed instruction book/comic. The box is compact and efficient, while featuring plenty of nicely done graphics and pictures of the toy.
Once we free Defender from his clear plastic prison, we are left with the previously mentioned instruction book, the figure, two pistols, a sword/helicopter blade, and a stand piece that is listed as compatible with a ‘popular display stand’… it’s for the now-ubiquitous Gundam Stand by Bandai. Defender is drab, matte, and utilitarian: decked out for war, and ready to rumble. The instruction book features a comic depicting Defender doing some fighting, as well as teasing the next release, and is very nicely illustrated. The second half of the book is the transformation instructions. The instructions are full color, highly detailed, and even feature helpful and important notes during the transformation on where or how to push certain parts, to ensure nothing breaks during your first try.
Defender stands about six inches tall, and features an absolute ton of articulation. The shoulders, waist, hips in both directions, knees, ankles, and wrists are detented for stability, as well as some of the transformation joints. The head and elbows are standard ball and socket joints, and are nice and tight. The main chest piece and the large panels on the sides of the legs are hefty die-cast and fully painted so they are indistinguishable from the nice matte-finished plastic parts.
The die-cast bits add a great heft, and really emphasize the no-expense-spared attitude demonstrated by this toy; anything needed to make this toy as good as possible was done, be it screws for construction, all of the clicky joints, the bewildering amount of moving parts, and all of the detail. Defender is molded in gray plastic that feels of a really nice and durable quality, and features sharply painted detail all over. There is no slop or overspray anywhere to be found, and the muted military colors and matte finish give the figure an awesome air of quality and bad-assery.
The articulation is thorough, and also extremely well-implemented. The figure can do pretty much anything you throw at it, including kneeling poses. The legs even feature a ‘hidden’ extra ankle joint for lateral motion, so Defender’s feet can always be planted flat on the ground for maximum stability. The only problem with posing the figure is that he is ever so slightly back-heavy, and will tip over in a neutral position if not in a good, flat surface.
The accessories are two pistols and the sword/chopper blade, and they look great. The pistols are molded in the same heavy-weight plastic as the figure, but the sword is molded in a much more flexible, but extremely rugged and non-bendable plastic, allowing it to be molded amazingly thin and even convincingly sharp-looking. Additionally, all of the weapons can be stored on the figure in all of the modes. In bot-mode, Defender features a pistol holster in each leg, and a mount for the sword on his back.
Transformation is complex, and daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, thanks to the thorough directions, it is really pretty straightforward. Transformation from bot mode to truck mode involves folding the chest up to hide the head, tucking the arms away, and folding the legs up. Transformation is where the engineering and finish of this figure really shine. Nothing is loose, everything fits precisely, and every mode is rock solid, with all the tabs and pegs needed to hold everything in place.
Truck mode is a wide, squat, alien-looking vehicle with 6 wheels and guns. All of the wheels sit flat on the ground and roll nicely. The pistols cleverly mount in the folded-away fists for some forward armament, and the sword stashes securely under the vehicle. The finished truck features a complex geometry, but is cohesive and looks functional. One thing to note is that there are two small fold-out panels that cover the gap between the arms and legs on the sides that I forgot to fold out, another minor but nice touch.
Transformation from truck mode to helicopter mode is a tiny bit more difficult. The legs unfold and refold differently, the middle body section extends, and the arms refold more complexly. The big die-cast panels on the legs unfold to form the back end of the chopper, and are the only spot on the whole toy where you risk chipping the die-cast if you are not careful. In this mode, the guns mount in special slots in the shoulders, and the chopper blade pegs into place on top, and can spin freely. The chopper mode is a little chubby and flat, but again looks functional and slightly alien. It can also still land and roll on the leg wheels, which are in the center of the chopper now.
Defender retails for $78.99, and totally earns that price-tag. This is a completely original and unique figure designed from scratch that manages to capture the feel of a classic Transformers character, and manages to triple-change from robot to truck to helicopter, and looks cohesive and is fun to play with in all three modes. The design is complex, and the engineering is flawless. The toy feels rock solid, both tight and durable, and I think it will stand up to plenty of ‘appreciation’. Now that FansProject has finished the toolings for this figure, we’ll undoubtedly see more color versions, but this is the ONE to get if you’re a fan of ‘that other character’.
|Posted 11 May, 2010 - 22:38 by Prometheum5