Thursday, 12 December 2013

Fansproject City Commander Armour KO Review

                                                         He really can't deal with that right now

A couple of years back, I picked up a Knock Off of the Fansproject City Commander Armour set. It was really cheap, and intrigued me enough to pick it up whereas usually I don't really bother with KO's.

The thing was, I did not have a Classics Ultra Magnus for it to go on, and as he was ridiculously expensive on the secondary market at the time, it meant I ended up picking up a KO of that figure too. Oh how that was a mistake, and it ended up ruining my enjoyment of the set, and meant it was pretty much shoved to the back of a shelf and never touched again.

See, the Ultra Magnus KO I had looked really nice in pictures, and it was very cheap - but the quality was awful. It came in truck mode, and the first than that happened, was lightly trying to fold one of the cab sections - it snapped clean off.

It was not like I was bending it, or forcing it - it was just too weak. Then attaching the armour to the Magnus figure, other problems started to present themselves. KO Magnus's back section doesn't sit quite right in robot mode, which meant the chest of the City Commander would not sit right over the top of it. The shoulder pieces on the KO are not tight anyway, but on a KO Magnus, they would just fall off. Its a shame, as I love that original Classics Voyager Prime mode, I don't think there has been a better Classics version yet.

It soured me to the whole set, even though it was my own fault, and I just sort of forgot about it.

Until this week, when out of the blue I managed to find a reasonably priced Official Classics Magnus on EBay which was promptly ordered.

The difference it makes to the KO armour is massive.

Hit "READ FULL REVIEW" below, that, after the jump

Trailer Mode

Seeing as the whole point of this set is to give Magnus his armour, I will start with the Truck mode and get it out of the way.
The armour comes packaged in trailer mode, and fits snugly onto the back of Magnus via the trailer hitch. It holds together firmly, and you can pull the vehicle along and the wheels will roll.

From the front, you cant really see much of the trailer, as it is nice and compact and Fansproject have done a good job of keeping it sleek. You can see the Missiles from the G1 toy attached there, which I added myself to give him more classic look. The set does not come with missiles, though there is an upgrade pack that is now insanely priced.

Clearly, I do not have that.

There are the usual sized peg holes though, so you can peg G1 Magnus missile launchers there, or any weapon with that peg size. Just to go back to my woes with this figure, when I went to unplug the missile launchers, one of the pegs snapped and stuck inside the hole. But in a roundabout way, its worked out as the launchers loo nicer without an extra peg sticking out.

The side continues the clean and sleek look, with a nice simple trailer. There is not too much of the hyper detailing, which Fansproject is now known for, and it does a great job of looking like a solid trailer. One thing that does stand out though, is that it is a solid block of a trailer, which is somewhat of a radical departure from the originals car carriers. As its classics, it does not matter too much as it does a good job of updating the vehicle.

The colours match nicely, from the shade of blue used, through the silver and white stripe detail and onto the gold wheels.

Fansproject did an excellent job of blending the trailer with the cab, so excellent work. The KO has done a flawless job in recreating that and the quality is outstanding. The paint is just as good as the original, and to all intents and purposes it looks like the real thing.

The back end of the truck is by far the weakest section, as its clearly Magnus feet and waist section. The original figure also had the feet in the same place, but you could away with that a little more as they folded down for cars to drive up, and his waist was not present there.

One thing here that is a tell tale sign of the KO, is the license plate. On the original, that section can rotate, whereas on the KO its jammed and does not. Still its not a feature I would ever have cared for, and the quality of the paint work from the KO continues here with the rear lights, silver bumper and red on the shins.

On the upper outside edges, there are some parts that look like they were clearly meant to be lights - however there are no paint apps. That is one thing I think Fansproject could have added, though I know reprolabels do offer a set with stickers for that.

The KO does come with a sticker sheet, just look the original but I don't believe there are stickers for that part.

The trailer doors do open, and you can store things inside them. However, they only open as far as they do in the picture above, so the shins are not use able as ramps, as they were in the original.

Its not a big deal though, as you can make it look like something of a troop transport, or prison truck with Kreons - and boy do I love posing figures with Kreons.

It definitely feels like you should be storing something in there, but all the parts attach to the trailer, and even the upgrade pack attaches to the sides of the trailer.

It ends up being a nice looking mode, and Fansproject did a great job at desigining, whilst the KO manufacturers did an equally great job knocking it off. I like it more than I remember liking it, in fact!

Robot Mode

The way the truck breaks down into pieces and becomes armour pieces is pretty ingenious. The top of trailer slides out to form the chest and also the upper and lower arm sections. The back pieces split to form his lower legs, which leaves a large section to fold up and form an enormous gun, but I will get to the gun shortly.

Once separated the pieces all attach to Magnus with relative ease. The chest panel folds forward, which causes the head to flip up on a spring. Maybe this is what made Hasbro's go nuts and include pop up heads on all the TF Prime deluxes?

The chest then slides over the Ultra Magnus figures chest, and locks on securely. On my KO Magnus, it did not do this and whilst it stayed on fine, it was always at and angle and liked to move about. On the legit figure, none of these problems occur - not even with the KO.

The arms are the one really big problem with the KO set, in that none of the parts attach that well. The upper shoulders are quite loose, but they do stay on there.
It gets worse when you get to the lower arms, as its here that the KO makers got it wrong. On the original set, there is a clip that locks the lower arms onto the Magnus arms. Without that clip, they just slide right off, as there is very little friction to hold them in place. If you position his arms upwards at the elbow then they stay on but thats thanks to gravity.

What makes this so strange is not that the people who produced this KO went to such unbelievable lengths to copy Fansproject work, right down to reproducing the comic book, box and sticker sheet exactly, but the KO's they did in different colours all had the clip.

Maybe there was an updated KO that came out at a later time, that fixed it, but it is a real pain.

However, I did fashion a fix of sorts.
I took an old Nottingham City Transport Bus Card, and cut it up into smaller pieces. I then blue tacked these into the groove on the inside of the lower arm sections. What this did, was create a lot more friction when its slid over the arms and helps to keep it in place. Its by no means perfect, but it is infinitely better than before.

I applied this same fix to the upper shoulders, where I blue tacked a piece of the card to the side, so it creates more friction between the core bot shoulder and the massive shoulder pieces. Also adding a layer of clear nail polish helped to add a bit more friction and now everything holds together nicely.

On my original KO Magnus, the results were nowhere near as good with everything just falling off. Man, I hate that KO.

At some point, I will make it a much cleaner and permanent fix - no one wants blue tack all over their figures.

Once fully assembled, it is a fantastic looking figure. Gone is the "white Prime" replaced by a much better looking and deserving of the name - Ultra Magnus.

All of his G1 details are faithfully recreated or updated here. The design of his chest is a nice update of his original, the giant shoulder pylons match his G1 design even though he is not a car carrier anymore. The large lower arms are nice and bulky, with big white hands (though with some nice blue detailing). The waist is a whole new piece that snaps on and looks very Gundam whilst echoing the original toys whilst the legs again neatly homage the original characters design, and add a massive bulk to the figure. The colours are gorgeous, even on the KO, with the blue being that lovely deep Magnus blue from the cartoon and most fictional appearances - and not the brighter blue that was on his original toy.

The core robot is hidden so well, the is almost no sign of it, save for the truck cab sections on the arm.

Its really a beautiful look, and for me it is still the pinnacle of Fansprojects work, before they went hyper detail crazy. Their aesthetic can be quite divisive and I am not generally a fan, but it works extremely well here.

The only part I am not entirely keen on is the giant knee pads. They seem way over the top and unnecessary, and help to create more of a Mecha/Gundam feel. If the knee pads were not there, I think it would look better, and more like Ultra Magnus original design, whilst it would also make for a better ramp in trailer mode.

Its a small nitpick though, as overall the knee pads do still work with the design. Fansproject really nailed it with this figure, and even though its been out for many years, its still such a striking design to look at. Plus, it is the best Ultra Magnus we have had!

The armour adds wrist swivel and a ball jointed head, in terms of articulation, but what it gives with one hand - it takes away with the other.

Because of the limitations of fitting armour around the original figure you lose a degree of shoulder articulation. The shoulder can only rotate so far before it is blocked by core figures front wheels. Also as a result of the new shoulder armour, the arm cannot move out fully sideways. What this means is that you cannot really get a pose out of Magnus where his arms are pointed straight, the armour prevents this in every possible configuration.
But you can get around it a little, it just means you lose some of the dynamic poses that you could get out of the original figure.

However, that was white Prime, and this is Ultra Magnus so the benefits of the armour vastly outweigh that one negative.

The legs are as poseable as before, despite the giant boots, and the ankles even rock so you can get some excellent poses. Sadly the ankles don't move forward and back, so you do end up trying to balance him to get some of the poses to work.

He is very heavy, but as demonstrated above, he can stand on one foot and so I would imagine you could get a HBK super kick out of him if you were so inclined.
I am not, as I was convinced he would topple over and disassemble.

The head sculpt is nice in its own way. Its clearly influenced by Ultra Magnus classic design, but just like the knee pads it feels more Gundam than anything else. Nothing states this more, than the frickin enormous chin, which is a design choice that seems to pervade a lot of modern, anime influenced figures now.

Its very nicely done, but it would be nice to get a proper G1 cartoon/comic style head to fit on it. Though I know IGear released one and it didn't look great.

With the upgrade set, you do get extra face plates, so maybe they improve it somewhat.
The upgrade set also comes with a new rifle, and shoulder launchers. These peg into the holes on his shoulders, and look great...the more I write, the more I want to hunt that down.

Accessory wise, he only comes with one thing (though I guess you could say the whole set is an accessory in itself) and that is the previously mentioned giant gun. This is the one thing that I really dislike and wish they could have gotten rid of.

Its far too big (again, mecha influenced), and he cannot hold it up without his arm being positioned in such a way as it has support. Hey, maybe those giant knee pads will come in handy after all. It forms most of the sides and the roof of the trailer, so in a way you wonder if it would have been better for Fansproject to leave it out, and have designed the set as a car carrier - just to give you the armour pieces.

Maybe its the KO, but the handle on it also feels very thin. It hasn't broken, but I have always been very aware when inserting it into his fist, that it may snap at any time.

Fortunately its the sort of thing you can throw off to the side, so its not a big deal - or you can turn it into a ground based artillery cannon of some description. Mostly though, its just rubbish and in the way.

There are storage options for the weapons the core bot comes with. On the back of each of his shoulders is a slot of them to fit in. One has a round peg hole for the wind vane blaster (another thing I dislike about the Classics Prime/Magnus mold) and a square slot on the other shoulder  for his black rifle. To be honest though, the black rifle is the best option, in my opinion, for a handheld weapon so it will stay in his hand.

I am glad I rediscovered this figure, hiding away at the back of a dusty shelf. I reckon in 2 years or so, I have only picked him up twice, and one of those was to put him in a box when I was moving house.

It is still a stunning looking figure, and now being able to handle it with bits falling off has (terrible pun alert) transformed it for me.
Sorry about that...

To say its a KO, I can't really fault the quality. The plastic feels tough and sturdy, the paint job is flawless and it all holds together mostly well, with the exceptions of the lower arms.
2 years later or so, and I am really glad I did buy this set. I have always had a pang of regret when looking at it, stood there, on my shelf in the past, but now it feels like that has gone away. It has been replaced with a slight tinge of disappointment, but that is for Fansproject and the direction they went in. Mostly as the aesthetic has gone further and further away from nice clean looking designs, to ultra busy, highly detailed figures. A lot of people do like that though, and some of their output has been wonderful, but there is always something off looking about it for my tastes.

Its finally a figure I can really enjoy....until I put it back on my shelf later and forget all about it. But that's Ultra Magnus all over, hes just a soldier, he does not want to be in the lime light.

Follow my rambles on Twitter @Incapable_Hulk

No comments:

Post a Comment