Review by Prometheum5
Before we get into talking about the first release in FansProject's newest Transformers-inspired sub-line, we have to talk about the naming convention of FansProject's newest sub-line. Simply put, it stinks. The new line of modernized and slavishly Generation 1 re-imagined transforming robots with heads that also transform into smaller robots is called 'Function'. Each Function release has a number and a 'name'. The first release, reviewed here, is Function X-1: Code. Code is a stupid name. Other Function releases available for preorder also terrible names, such as Function X-02: Quadruple U. 'Function' does not seem to mean anything and is not descriptive of the line at all, and the individual figure names are nonsense.
Code was released around the holidays as a special offer to debut the line while also making a contribution to the long running charity Toys for Tots. FansProject teamed up with retailers like Big Bad Toy Store to offer the figure as a preorder without a picture of the actual figure being purchased, and for every preorder the retailer would donate an amount of product to Toys for Tots. Code cost around seventy dollars, which was in line with other third party Deluxe-class sized figures. It was all for a great cause, and FansProject has earned the kind of following that will preorder figures sight unseen, so the preorders quickly sold out. What people preordered turned out to be a lean release with few frills that showed off the promise of the new Function line.
Code comes in a sturdy brown box with a clear acetate cover with attractive white printing. There are teasers for upcoming figures scattered around the box, as well as a nice big piece of art on the back of the box. The box design is very elegant and muted, not unlike the figure within.
The only paperwork included is a glossy printed instruction booklet using grey prototype photos colored red to show areas of importance. There is no comic or fluff to the manual, just transformation directions that are not the easiest to follow the first time.
Code comes packaged in robot mode, but I want to talk about the vehicle mode first because it is pretty great. Code is an unofficial update of the Transformers Autobot Headmater Chromedome, and Code's vehicle mode is a wonderful reimagining of Chromedome's chunky earth-tone car mode. The only accessories included are two red rifles and the transforming head. If you follow the Japanese G1 Headmasters canon, the head is actually Code, and the car is Code's transector, a transforming body that Code drives around. If you follow the US G1 canon, the body is sentient and merges with an organic character wearing a suit of armor that transforms into a head, and you are terrible.
Code's rifles can store on the back of vehicle mode, as with Chromedome. The rifles actually feature a point of articulation to allow them to sit level when attached to the angled back of the car. The handles of the rifles are also keyed to keep the guns pointing straight. The whole design is very elegant and results in a solid and consistent assembly.
Code's vehicle mode is rock solid and fun. There are plenty of tabs and interlocking parts so the car holds together and rolls on the table with all four wheels. The colors are sharp and thoroughly 'real type-ey'. What looks like a stress mark on the front bumper in this photo is actually just the light catching on a chamfered edge.
The underside of Code's car mode is admirably clean. Only the visible hip joints and hands give away the fact that this toy car transforms into a robot figure.
The guns fold back and the clear canopy opens to reveal Code sitting at the controls of his sweet brown ride. The sticks feature a little bit of painted detail and are hinged to move out of the way for placing and removing Code from his seat. A peg slides into Code's butt to hold him in place at the helm. Opening and closing the canopy reveals the only fit issue I have with Code. The corners of the canopy just barely fit to slide by the walls of the cockpit area, and if you do not get it just right, you can put a little mark in the panel like I did, visible in the photo if you look carefully.
Code stands less than two inches tall and is articulated at the shoulders, hips, and knees. He is smaller than an official Transformers G1 Headmaster, shown on the left for comparison.
The two feature the same points of articulation, but Code's knees are not locked together so he can actually use his leg joints.
Code can fit on a G1 Headmaster body, but does not activate the Tech Spec indicator. A real Headmaster cannot fit on Code's body because of the tabs used for the Tech Spec gimmick.
Code's transformation is the best part of the toy. There is some elegant engineering going on that uses a novel transformation scheme to turn a solid, blocky car into a trim and extremely clean robot.
One of the most impressive points in Code's transformation is the way the hood becomes the chest. The hood is mounted on a sliding rail that spans from the pelvis at the front of the car up to the chest. Code features a waist joint, so the rail is made from two segments to allow the hood/chest to move across two different areas of the toy.
You can just make out the rail here, since the chest block is brown and the pelvis is tan. The sliding mechanism is much cleaner and seems more durable than some kind of retracting arm would have been and shows off FansProject's dedication to transforming toy robot innovation.
Code fits onto his body with a fantastic little piece of engineering that allows for neck rotation and up and down motion. The whole neck assembly is on a carousel that spins, while Code the mini figure's head fits into a square bucket that is hinged to allow the combined robot's head to tilt forward.
This shot gives you an idea of how the sides of the car mode become the legs through a number of folding panels that come together to form a nice blocky but clean leg.
Fully transformed, Code is a kibble-free robot that combines slender and blockier elements to make for a much nicer looking robot mode than the gawky Chromedome that inspired him.
Code's back side is just as clean as the front. Besides the canopy forming the back, there are almost no traces of car mode. The only wheels visible are the little bit of tire that sticks out of the inner calves. The rifles can store on the back of the forearms since those form the rear of the car where the rifles dock.
Code is sharp and clean, but he is also a bit boring. I have been trying to sit down and write this review for a month now, but have had a really tough time arranging my thoughts on this toy. On one hand, the transformation is spectacular. On the other, Code is so clean that he is almost sterile. There is something about the blocky and lean bits that combine to make a figure that feels like it cannot decide what it wants to be.
Code has enough articulation to be mobile, but nothing outrageous. The knees are double jointed and the elbows are cut for greater than 90 degree bends, but the ball jointed shoulders and hips have a limited range.
Code has two rifles but cannot hold them too far apart due to the shoulders. It all seems a bit awkward anyway, since the rifles are scoped and look much better being held one at a time in a carefully aiming two-handed grip.
The ankles do not move, and were a source of some serious internet kerfuffle when Code was first released. The feet are nice and big with flat bottoms, though, so Code has no difficulty standing even when his feet cannot sit flat on the ground. I like the transformation well enough to be okay with no ankle joint to make the transformation possible.
There is a mix of sharp details and clean areas that adds some visual interest, but again make Code a bit of an inconsistent experience. Code's robot mode cannot decide if it wants to be lithe and dynamic or blocky and powerful, covered in mechanical detail or clean and crisp.
Comparing Code to a vintage Headmaster toy makes Code seem even more sterile. The original Headmasters were bricks of figures, blocky and hefty. You could club someone to death with some of the original Headmasters. They also tended to feature a few bits of vehicle kibble that nicely broke up the robot silhouettes. Except Chromedome, he has always been the boring exception. I have most of the Headmasters, including even Japan exclusives like Go Shooter, but I have never been motivated to get a Chromedome.
Code has cool guns, cool details, and a wonderful transformation, but nothing about his robot mode grabs me. FansProject has given us a kibble free experience that looks like a cool car in vehicle mode and looks like a sleek figure in robot mode, but all I can think is that he would have so much more character if he had some big shoulders or a backpack or wheels on his butt. Anything to break things up. Maybe the $70 pricepoint prevented FP from doing any cool gimmicks or thinking too far outside the box. I can live with that idea, since I do not think anyone liked Chomedome as a character enough to want a $150 version of him. The next two Function releases are X-02 and X-03, which are inspired by Weirdwolf and Brainstorm, respectively. I am excited for both of those, as they were much cooler vintage toys with distinctive character designs and a lot of style. FP's re-imaginings look to be harnessing those key visual elements well, and if they are as well made as Code they will be phenomenal toys. Maybe once the others come out, Code will made more sense as the 'clean' figure among a lineup of more colorful figures.
|Posted 18 February, 2013 - 05:11 by Prometheum5|