Thursday, 21 August 2014

Keiths Fantasy Club BoxBomber Review

It was inevitable that once a Masterpiece Soundwave was announced, a 3rd party toy company would appear to bring us the cassettes that were not slated for release.

So step forward Keiths Fantasy Club, or KFC- though not to be confused with the worlds leading provider of fried chicken. Keith has bought us some cool figures in the last year, with a few different cassettes, various versions of Perceptor and more recently the amazing looking Citizen Stack and Sencho Barbossa.

Citizen Stack is a figure I would dearly love to have, even just for a brief time, but alas it is out of my price range at the momenr. I really need a lottery win as I really want to add it to my collection and take lots of pictures of it :(
It looks like such a fun toy. Another one is KFC's take on Slamdance, the Autobot combiner cassettes which I really do need to find. Clearly I like Keith's designs more than I thought.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand and that is Bird Bomber. Based on the later G1 Cassette toys of Squawktalk and Beastbox who combined to form Squawkbox, KFC have produced a couple of figures that Takara are very unlikely to ever bother with.
So this is a great way to fill that burning gap on your Masterpiece shelf (said no one ever about Squawkbox), or more aptly just give you more play value from Soundwave.

The original Squawkbox was released in 1988, as the Transformers brand was slowing right down in terms of popularity and as such they did not appear in any of the cartoon series or even the original comics. Instead, their fictional appearances have been limited to brief cameos in IDW's various series.

So not a character everyone is crying out for then? Well, no not really, they are not one of the first names (or even one of the top 50) anyone thinks of when asked to name Transformers characters but they were cool tools, with an interesting combining gimmick. So actually, they are pretty cool.

KFC have had a dubious reputation for quality control in the past, but that is always going to be a peril of doing cassette size figures due to their tiny size. But lets see how these guys stand up.

Hit the button to see the pictures and read the review

We will start with the bird, because well why not? Both figures come in small box each, they are not bundled together.

What you get in each box, is a figure, their weapons, the instructions and a nice clear purple cassette box. The cassette box is very nice, and something we have come to expect with any cassette figures, but it does not match the clear Hasbro boxes, or the pinkish Takara ones.
So if you are looking for uniformity, you are bang out of luck.

However, the difference in colour actually works in its favour, as it separates them much as they were part of the later waves of the Transformers toy line and so had slightly different packaging to the earlier G1 figures. So it works.

I personally ignored the instructions because they are very simple figures to transform and could not tell you what they look like as I did not even think to open them.

I hope that does not set a tone for a bad review...


So, out of the box you have this tiny little greeny blue and grey cassette figure. 

There is a lot of detail here, and not very much of that is cassette detailing, it is mostly bits for the beast mode. Other than being tape shaped, there are small holes there to look like tape reels, but unlike most G1 and MP tape figures this mostly looks like a figure squished into a rectangle.

The feel of the tape is extremely light, and the plastic does not feel very strong, but it is not knock off quality cheapness either.

Transforming the toy is not too hard, but there are a couple of frustrating bits. First, the head can be a real pain to get out as it is wedged in really tight. You may need to hook something under it, but bear in mind that the plastic is a little softer than usual so you may mark the head.

Secondly, the way the guns attach to the back can be an exercise in frustration. In stead of just slotting into holes as you would expect, due to the transformation the tape holes get split in half. So the guns slide into the half left on the back of BirdBomber, but the tabs on the gun slide into the tape spokes.
It sounds easy, and it should be, but it can be quite tiresome trying to get them in there.

Though once you have fully transformed Birdbomber, you do have a wonderful looking figure. This is a perfect rendition of Squawktalk but with nice articulation. KFC resisted the urge to cover it in detail or change it to look like something else, so you get a really nice rendition of the Squawktalk-that makes me happy.

The joints are all fairly solid, and QC seems to be okay, and there is not a lot to complain about, bar the plastic does feel a bit flimsy and things do feel weak and fragile in places. But that is to be expected with figures at this scale, and it is par for the course with a lot of the G1 cassettes too.


So on to the other figure in this set, B-Box, or as we know him better from Generation One- Beastbox.

B-Box fares much better in the disguised tape stakes than Birdbomber, but even then he is still clearly a figure folded up into a rectangle.
The Generation One tapes all did a great job of folding up into accurate-ish looking micro cassettes. I can forgive it here, but when you are talking about figures who are intended to fit in with your Masterpiece display - you mileage may vary.

I am happy with it, as I think it still looks pretty cool, but the edges could have been straighter. As it is, that image above looks more like a chibi Galactus face than a cassette.

Transformation is wonderfully simple and intuitive and pretty much involves you just pulling the tape apart.

You get a good, poseable Beastbox in your hand and just like the bird it is a very faithful representation. Thankfully the back guns do just plug into the peg holes and there is none of the grumbling that comes with doing Birdbox's.

Again here, KFC is limited by the size of the figures so the plastic is very thin, but QC is not terrible-you just have to be careful where tiny ball joints are involved. This is particularly evident with the hands, which are so tiny.

Bits may pop off of ball joints, but they seem to go back on just fine- thank goodness.

I am impressed with this guy, slightly less so than the bird one, but this is still cool. The face reminds me of something from Battle Beasts (remember them), which is always welcome, and it is a great looking version of Beastbox.

What is a pain in the backside, is that his shoulders are so tiny and KFC have added a raised section in the middle of them. It makes applying a Decepticon badge a nightmare as they are tough to find that small. The smallest ones go over the edges so look messy. If they had just made them flat, then this would not have been a problem and would really have helped the look of the figure.



Now we come to this sets main selling point-the combined mode.

Actually combining them is very easy, and does not require much effort, though they don't seem to lock together very well on mine, so if you try and pose him he sometimes splits in half. Not often, but it could have done with a click to lock it together.

It is a cool transformation processes and never is it annoying or that fiddly, so props to KFC for that.

No doubt as soon as you looked at the above picture, your eyes were drawn to the crotch area, where yes-there is an inappropriately placed bird head. Sigh.

This was a quirk of the original G1 toy too, though the added ball joint by KFC just makes it that touch worse.

The combined form is actually a very fun little figure. Detail wise, it takes everything from the original and adds a couple of tiny things of its own, but resists the temptation to make it more their own. So for that, it comes out much better.

This is a very poseable figure, and this is where it really leaps above the G1 original. You have so many ball joints and swivels, that there is no problem posing it. Aided by the great balance it has, you can strike some excellent poses and the feet can swivel so you can fold down the wings if you want to switch up the look or even give it some extra stability.

I was very impressed to see the arms can hold the guns up with no problems as with the weakness of the plastic and tiny size of the ball joints-I feared the worst. The hands are a bit scary as the plastic on the arms does look very thin, but if you are careful, and treat it like your in an episode of Mission Impossible, then you will be fine.

Oh, the head does swivel side to side but it will take some force to do that the first time. So be careful.

I read a lot of complaints about QC, but personally I could not find many big issues with mine. Sure, I discussed quite a few small problems, but there is nothing that really hampers the figure.

It was a very cheap as well, a friend gave me a great bargain of a deal, and everything is fairly solid. However the low price I got it for does not really influence my opinion, as it is a really good set of toys.

I am glad I own it, and would recommend buying it if you can pick it up cheap. I don't believe these are characters Takara is likely to produce, and KFC have implemented some cool little tricks that make these fun figures.
At full price, I'd be a little less sure about buying them, but even then you are getting two cassettes that combine and look perfectly normal with Masterpiece Soundwave and his other cassettes.

All in all, this pair has made me more determined to track down KFC's Slamdance which probably is the best endorsement I can give it.

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