Review by The Enthusiast
Promising toys continue to trickle out of China’s emerging consumer market through obscure retail channels. Native Chinese properties appear to be stuck in the mode of knocking off popular Japanese and American entertainment, but the quality and sophistication of these knockoffs is advancing rapidly.
In many ways, the Chinese toy industry closely parallels the Chinese auto industry. Top Gear’s done some great segments on China. A decade ago, China was building hilariously crude, terrible cars for its domestic market. Now they produce sub-par knockoffs of Hondas and Toyotas, but the quality is just barely sub-par at this point, and at the current rate will soon eclipse the quality of the originals.
The Transtruck Engineering team is like an off-brand Corolla, but a Corolla which in some ways bests the Toyota.
Transformer fans have been waiting for proper descendants to the iconic Constructicons for decades. The Robots in Disguis. Build King was awful. Energon Maximus was awful. Michael Bay’s hulking, grotesque monstrosity was the worst of all.[Note: while a few third party toy manufacturers have produced beautiful, faithful, high quality Constructicon toys, I'm considering those pieces lass mass market toy products than boutique art pieces; you may disagree] Rong Da, unknown producer of Chinese knockoffs, kind of gets it right.
The Transtruck toys reduce the team to a more intuitive five components. Each is a very competent, well-constructed toy. While there are a few isolated quality issues, these are every bit as professionally executed as any modern Transformer, and in fact surpass them in heft and durability. The plastic is heavy, the diecast shells are substantial. There’s certainly a lack of subtlety, but the thoughtfulness of the product gives the brute charms of the sculpts credibility.
Enough pontificating, the toys themselves:
Invincibility Arm, despite its name, will form the torso of the combined bot. The vehicle mode is bricky and simple, but dynamic enough to be interesting to handle. The scoop is reasonably articulated, the platforms with lightweight plastic railings are a nice touch. The rear half of the body is a diecast shell.
Robot mode is clunky, but looks appropriate. I like the asymmetry of the design. There’s a surprising amount of sculpted details and paint applications. Articulation is minimal.
Babel Arm, despite its name, will become a foot. Alt mode is fun and engaging. The front cab is a diecast shell. Wheels are rubber.
Transformation is well engineered. The cab elegantly folds into legs. The thighs are iffy and the arms are a little stubby, but it’s still a solid design.
The Crushing Hunter will become a foot. The dump truck’s folding side panels are a little distracting. The vehicle mode is just so so.
Transformation is fun and involved, but the resulting bot is goofy. The arms aren’t terribly successful, and don’t move in an intuitive fashion. The panels which looked off in vehicle mode are clumsily folded against the legs.
Dissolution Master will become an arm. The vehicle proportions are a little off, but it looks just fine. The concrete drum rotates as you would expect. The front cab is a diecast shell. The wheels are rubber.
Bot mode is okay, It suffers from Optimus Prime Head Syndrome. The legs aren’t fantastic, but I like the molded weapons in his hands. A weapon is cleverly concealed in the drum.
Sharp Claw will form the other arm. The cab and rear body are diecast. The large wheels are rubber. There are a lot of thoughtful details in the sculpt.
Robot mode is nicely proportioned and is the only figure to feature diecast outside of the body shell. The chest is a solid hunk of metal. I like the scoop hands the vaguely Cybermanesque head sculpt.
Transformation into Titan is involved, intuitive, but not overly complicated. The weakest part of the whole thing is the arms, which are basically just the vehicles on their sides. The arms really let down the whole toy. Fortunately, the solid torso and legs mostly make up for them.
Needless to say, articulation is extremely limited. The arms rotate at the shoulder, that’s it. The legs will fold at the knees very easily, so you have to be careful positioning the figure.
I like the strong composition of the piece. The head is a nice touch, with a cyclopean eye formed by the screw hole. A little paint application would go a long way, though, as it looks uncharacteristically bootleggy.
The set is flawed, a little goofy, a little homely (that brown paint scheme!), but somehow really compelling. The build quality, the proportions, the soul of this thing are superior to Hasbro’s attempts to recreate the Constructicon magic.
|Posted 3 August, 2013 - 23:45 by The Enthusiast|