Sunday 8 November 2015

FansToys FT-12 Grenadier Review

fanstoys ft12 grenadier bombshell review

FansToys have become the go to company for third party versions of Masterpiece styled Transformers of late, with slavish recreations of G1 characters that we have not seen official releases for, with a level of accuracy that almost no other third party has been able to achieve. Yet somehow, this is only the first figure of theirs that I have owned?

Fans Toys FT-12T Grenadier (to give him his full name) dropped through the post the other week and finally gave me the Insecticon presence on my Masterpiece shelf that I have craved for so long. The Insecticons were a special group of toys to me as a child, with their own distinctive style and the fact they looked quite like their television counterparts.

So does Grenadier live up to the job of Insecticons mad scientist?

Continue after the jump to see the review

You may notice a randomly appearing and disappearing Decepticon badge, no it's not a game, I just took some of the photos after applying it, forgetting I had more photos to it's an easter egg.

ft grenadier bombshell insecticon

Bombshell, the TFWiki reliably informs me, transformed into a "robotic rhinoceros beetle", so guess what Grenadier turns into? Yes, that.

He comes in two flavours , one a G1 cartoon animation model inspired attempt with Grey chest, and the other is identical save for the Purple paint on the cold die cast chest. Badcube built their Bombshell with a crazy chest colour changing ability that will please G1 cartoon slaves, but FansToys went this direction instead. I'm pleased they did because whilst I normally lean towards the cartoon - the Insecticons are a little different.

As I mentioned in some of my Feral Rex reviews, I have zero interest in Beastformers trying to look like real animals. Beast Wars is almost a swear word in my house (okay, it's two words so lets settle for it's an offensive term), but as I mentioned in some of my old Feral Rex reviews - I am quite partial to Transformers that turn into robotic looking creatures. 

Especially in Black, Gold and Purple Caburys Caramel style hues. 

fanstoys masterpiece scaled grenadier
Beefed up on the Energon-roids - Grenadier is a sturdy toy. He feels like a massive chunk of plastic and metal in your hand, which stems from how tightly everything locks together and the use of die cast metal. If you throw in in someones face - you will hurt them. Bones will break.
Just a warning.

Along with taking all of the details from G1 Bombshell FansToys were caught in two minds about whether to modernise Grenadiers insectoid legs. He comes with two sets, the first are super articulated and are attached in the box. The second are more G1 accurate but you have to remove the others and attach these yourself simply using a screwdiver. 
So much effort has gone into capturing that G1 bug mode that having modern style legs feels at odds with theclassic G1 look they were clearly trying so hard to achieve,

I knew buying that screwdriver set from Homebase would not turn out to be a complete waste of time.

Leg jet nozzles!

transformers insecticons g1

Like most Transformers, a gun is provided and it does store in bug mode but it looks ridiculous poking out of his butt.
Yep, that is a thing.

Grenadier also comes with three Energon cubes that are a cool extra, and something the Insecticons in particular seem to be synonymous with. They, errr, don't do anything but Takara, and Third parties are all chucking in little extras now so FansToys are only continuing the fashion.

I am still wondering where my Augie Cahnay mini figure is, by the way guys? *Taps replica Knight Rider watch* - I'm waiting.

fanstoys ft-12T Grenadier masterpiece bombshell

Third party companies can often be guilty of unnecessarily complex or awkward transformations, which lack the polish and intuitive feel that Takaras possess. Fanstoys wisely take all of their cues from Takara, so you get a transformation that feels almost perfectly Masterpiece. Echoes of  Grenadier taking cues from all versions of Bombshell and rolling them into one definitive package are evident with the way the arms sit underside the bug mode and pull out for robot mode, which is something taken straight from the recent Legends Bombshell.

Grenadiers legs split and fold out on lovely tight but smooth joints, and the arms unplug and fold out with very little effort from the underside of the bug. Only in one place does it get a little fiddly, and that is the back which has a panel that flips back and splits in half to allow for the head to move up into place.
Getting these pieces out is a little tricky because they need to manoeuvre around his Insect mode horn (yes, I laughed too) and that likes to block them.

fanstoys grenadiers back

So what is the other issue? Well, it is not so much a problem more something that will aggravate anyone with the slightest touch of OCD. His stock Insect legs are the mad articulated ones, and there is no definitive place for them to attach in robot mode. Two small recesses on his back line up with matching pegs, but they don't hold them in place just sort of guide them.

With so many joints involved, if you are like me and someone who spends ages adjusting figures because they want symmetry - this may drive you crazy. It did me.

Switching the legs out for the more G1 style versions alleviates the problem of mass joint action, but then they poke out quite a way from the back making him even more the lord of Kibbletown. Both issues are only very small, but the figure is so well refined in almost every other aspect that minor nitpicks are slightly magnified.

transformers insecticon bombshell masterpiece combiner wars

Once you can get through that psychological drama, you are golden. Fans Toys Grenadier is a spectacular looking update of Generation One Bombshell.

All the details just come pouring out (no, not from his horn) in the best kind of way. The Black arms and legs surround his Purple chest as if he is wearing a tank top at an 80's hipster party. The Golden, Yellow from door on his chest draws your eyes in and FansToys FT-12 Grenadier even comes with an alternative clear Orange door that can be swapped in if you are into that sort of thing.

I do worry about the Purple paint flaking from his chest, as it is diecast metal painted Purple, so it is 1 half yay, one half argh.

fanstoys grenadier face sculpt

Fanstoys cop a lot of grief for their face sculpts but Bombshell is a hard one to get wrong. He's two Red eyes and a mouth plate that looks like the grill on a furnace. Bombshells face plate always reminds me of the boiler that terrifies Kevin in Home Alone. Just me then?

Fanstoys very strongly based off it off the animation model from the vintage cartoon but at the same time it manages to encapsualte every G1 Bombshell, and you feel like there is little room for improvement.

Grenadiers designers opted to add a small, articulated "fake" version of his antenna cannon, which is a shrewd move. People like to complain about transformation cheats and that sort of thing, but if they had gone with the larger horn he'd look ridiculous, and also it would make his actual head look tiny and flat, whilst the curved panel on the tap would look a bit like like Donald Trumps wig bearing cranium.

Beware though, if anything on this toy feels like it is going to break - it's the antenna.
fanstoys grenaider or masterpiece bombshell with prowl

In the same way Takara stock all of their figures with a great range of articulation, without going over the top, so too does Fanstoys. Bombshell has a ball jointed neck, waist swivel double knees and elbows, wrist swivels- all the stuff you'd expect. His arms can swing out pretty far due to an extra joint above his bicep and there is a cool piece of engineering where panels on the sides of the legs can slide up to allow extra ankle tilt backwards which is a hugely thoughtful inclusion.

His lower legs are thick and heavy owing to the beautiful, smooth diecast so he is never going to topple over. If that's not enough, his beetle legs provide heel spurs for just the sort of people who are going to be posing their figures in gravity defying poses.

What makes the articulation feel special is the effortless and buttery way in which all of the joints move. Everything holds firmly, but doesn't resort to clicky ratchet joints .Another hallmark of Takaras Masterpiece line that I am glad Fanstoys picked up and incorporated into their own figures.

a look at ft-12's gun

Finally, Grenadier comes with his rifle which obviously he holds in his hand as opposed to butt in this mode. It is a solid chrome piece based off of his Generation One weapon, but sadly there is storage option. As a gripe, this is a small one, but following the brilliant way in which Badcube managed to integrate the weapons into their Insecticons, it does make you disappointed about something you would never have even thought about before that.
It is like I mentioned above, the figure gets so close to perfection that small things that otherwise you'd accept, stand out that bit more.

We now live in a time where virtually every transforming robot toy has to fit into some specific category, most famously at the moment "Masterpiece". Anyone who has read my reviews previously knows how fussy I am about what I consider to be a Masterpiece, as more often than the not the toy is sized to fit in with that line rather than capturing Takaras aesthetic.

Grenadier manages to achieve the look of a Masterpiece figure superbly, but Fanstoys have been able to build a figure of such quality that it ends up feeling slightly better than Takaras line.

How many other toys can you genuinely say that about?

I purchased Grenadier from TFS Express and the next day the Postman dropped it into my hands.

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