Sunday, 7 September 2014

TFC Hercules Review - Structor and MadBlender


It is funny to think now, that there was once a time, only a couple of years ago, when Transformers fans thought we would never see decent combiners again.

Not only have we had an avalanche of 3rd party attempts, from many different companies covering almost every conceivable base, but now Hasbro has taken notice and is developing a theme called "Combiner Wars" which will see new toys of the Aerial Bots and Stunticons based on the original G1 teams and featuring in the IDW comics.

It is a glorious time to be a fan of combiners, and I am very much looking forward to Hasbro's figures as they are far more affordable than the 3rd party equivalents.

So where did it all start? What was the catalyst for this change in thinking, that would propel almost an entire market by itself and start something of a toys arms race?

A strong case could be made for the starting point being TFC's Hercules series of figures. Based on the original G1 Constructicons, they are voyager sized figures that do combine into a much larger gestalt.


Awesome. 

It was the first full set of combining figures, and how successful was it? Well here we are a couple of years later, and after picking it up off my shelf and dusting it down, I thought I would take a look back at this set to see how the figures stand up now.

I will start with Structor and Mad Blender as they form the legs, and work my way up.

Hit the button to continue on to the reviews and pictures.
Structor

Vehicle Mode

Structor is TFC's take on Scrapper, the leader of the Constructicon team. 

Just like his original toy, he is presented as a front end loader, but TFC have gone for a far bigger, more fictionalised version.  
The traditional Constructicon colours of green and purple are present here, though the green is a much brighter and more vibrant shade, than the Constructicons are usually presented in.

They work, as they play into this set feeling more like a toy than a collectors piece.


Continuing with the toy theme, this figure is very big and really chunky. It is a good aesthetic for it to have and it feels like a Tonka toy, and is really solid, nicely foregoing the fragility you get with most 3rd party figures.
The scoop at the front does move and down and has a working piston which is neat.

As I mentioned before, this is a fictionalised version of a front loader, and it is clearly evident here. If you look at the molded ladder, and also the cab - only an extremely tiny human could fit in it, or the vehicle would have to be gigantic.


Structor does come with the wings for Herc's chest shield, which can be attached in this mode to give him a flying attack mode...I guess?

The original Scrapper had a feature where Devastators chest shield could attach to the back of him, to make him fly (fictionally, of course). It is nice to see TFC copy that, even if most people won't use it. It does maintain TFC's approach to parts integration though, which is one of the strongest features of this set.

Robot Mode

Transforming Structor is a pleasantly simple process with a couple of quirks. There are some super strong ratchets that attach the shovel to the body. You rotate these backwards, and it is very satisfying to do so, unhook the back end, fold out the legs, flip out the heel spurs which are nice and long to give him even more stability. Pull the head up, open the hands and you are done.


Once transformed you have a very nice robot mode, which pays homage to G1 Scrapper. The chest probably the most obvious design element lifted from the original design.

There is a smattering of silver paint apps, that work to break up the onslaught of purple and green. The head sculpt is nice, and looks very menacing, though is not particularly accurate to the original design.

It is an extremely clean robot design, and is easily the cleanest of the group.


Structor is very well articulated too, so it is handy that he is very well balanced. You can move the legs and arms how you want, and to compliment the waist swivel the torso can also lean side to side. This is done to add articulation to his food mode for Hercules/Devastator one would presume, but it lends an interesting point of articulation to the figure that you rarely see anywhere else.


One area Structor does suffer, is he has a lot of junk in that trunk. Whilst from the front, Structor looks wonderfully clean, the back tells a very different story.

Not only is the shovel here, but also the back of the truck/connector port folds up to give to give him a huge backside.

That does really take away from the smoothness of the figure, and all of the Hercules figures suffer from a compromise somewhere or other.

Overall though, it is a really good robot mode, and the back should not really ruin your enjoyment of it, because you are unlikely to want to display it in that fashion. Though maybe you are.

Structor is a very fun toy to play with, which is a rarity amongst 3rd party figures. He feels like he was designed primarily as a toy, rather than a collectors piece just to be displayed. There is a fun factor with him that I adore, and makes me glad I chose this set.

Madblender

Vehicle Mode


Madblender is TFC's attempt at Mix Master and as such turns into a cement mixing truck.

The same shades of green and purple are present as with the rest of the team, and it looks okay. As much as it does the job in resembling the vehicle it is supposed to, the cab looks a little flat. 

There is a fair amount of sculpted detail hear, from lights, a windscreen, and even molded side mirrors, but it just feels a bit too square.


Just like Structor though, this does feel wonderfully like a toy. The cab has peg holes on the side where you can attach weapons, upping the play value, the wheel all roll, and the mixing barrel can spin toy your hearts content.

Everything holds together solidly and plays to its strength of being a fun toy. 


The central portion of Hercules chest shield attaches to back, and fits in surprisingly well, as the two bits on the bottom look like pipes from which the cement could conceivably come out.

Robot Mode

The transformation of Madblender is a bit more complex than most of the other figures in the group. The legs accordion out and swivel in several places, the arms are even more tricky to unfold (though it is much worse going from robot to vehicle mode) and the barrel...well we ill come to that in a mo.


The robot mode of Madblender is a bit a hit and miss. We will start with the positives, first off the head sculpt is really nice and is probably the most accurate in the whole team. It is not busy looking, and is very poseable.

So a good start.

However, there are a ton of problems with this. First off, whilst the head is nice, it is not covered like you would expect Mixmasters head to be. In the photo, I have used Hercules chest shield as a cover, as it looks quite good. But there are no tabs, and it is merely held in place there by the friction of the wings.

The worst thing though, from an aesthetic point of view, are the rear wheels just hanging off the arms. There is absolutely no good way to have these, and the way I have done them is probably the most suitable for me. This feels sloppy on TFC's part, as you are left with annoying kibble.


The next problem is the mixing barrel. TFC have made it so it splits apart into lots of smaller weapons for Madblender. This is a great feature, but splitting the barrel open is really tough work.

I did take a lot of photos of the various configurations of the barrel weapons, but they seem to have gone missing. Herc is now in storage, as I am currently decorating the room I am writing this in, so I cannot take more sadly.

But here is one swiped from Google.


It is a bit overkill, is it not?

Mixmaster was quite famous for having his barrel on his back though, so that is how I would rather have him. This is really tricky to achieve with Madblender though, as the way he is designed only leads to awkwardness. 

The official way is to to use the peg on the back of the barrel and just plug it into the big on on Madblenders back. However, this is located on his lower back, so it ends up too low down and almost touching the floor.


So what I do, is mistranform the back, and use either one of the guns, or other pegs to hold the barrel dangling from the connector port section. This also allows you put the chest shield over his head for a more accurate look, if you so wish.

Madblenders robot mode is a bit of a contradiction. On the one hand it is fun to play with, and is stuffed with tons of features, but on the other it is very messy and nothing quite works how you would expect it to. 
Mixmaster is my favourite design of all the Constructicons, and whilst TFC have produced a good toy, it does not quite hit what I want Mixmaster to look like.


Of course, it would be remiss of me to not mention their limb modes. Structor and Madblender form the lower legs of Hercules/Devastator.

This is a very simple process as they are basically in their vehicle modes, but bent at the front.


After taking these guys down off the shelf, I had forgotten just how much fun they are to play with. They have plenty of issues, but the fun factor far outweighs them in my opinion, even in Madblenders case.

They both do look very good, in all 3 modes, despite me wishing Madblender was a bit more accurate in bot mode, and characterful in vehicle form.

Hercules has been around for a long time now, so you can pick them up for reasonable prices, and if you are still looking for a Devastator then you cannot go far wrong with these guys.

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4 comments:

  1. Good article.

    I actually like the fact the mixing barrel can be used as weapons, means it doesn't just hang off the back of the toy, but each to their own!

    I do love these toys. I need to have a play with mine too!

    Doucoo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers dude. Yeah you are right, it is neat that the barrel transforms (ha!) into weapons.

      I am too much of a G1 purist! Or they should have made it attachable to Mad Blenders feet as a rolling weapon of doom...;)

      Delete
  2. I have visions of him rolling down some hill uncontrollable like me on ice!

    Will read the other blogs on Herc this week. Like it, will probably read back on Feral Rex too.

    Doucoo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome, thanks dude I hope you enjoy them - let me know if you have any feedback :)

    Rex on Ice skates....what a visual!

    ReplyDelete