Sunday, 6 March 2016

DX9 Carry - Test Shot vs Final Product

dx9 carry review

Many months ago Morg from Masterforce kindly sent me a box of goodies to inspect which included both a test shot of DX9's Rodimus Prime-a-like, Carry, along with the finished product to compare it to. However a bit of real life stuff got in the way causing this article to get shoved so far back that I had to whistle to entice it out of hiding.

So I present to you a semi review of DX9's Studio Ox inspired Rodimus Prime - Carry, which is mostly a comparison article that may wander off into talk of sorcery and possibly Wizards. Let's go find some differences.

Continue after the jump to see the rest of this long delayed article.

dx9 carry rodimus

Carry is DX9's take on a more appropriately scaled Masterpiece styled Rodimus Prime. The alt mode is as accurate as you would want it to be in looking like a space motor home on fire. Is it too soon to make a Richard Pryor joke...or too late?

As a child I was confused as to why Rodimus Primes alt mode was essentially a tricked out white van. Where Optimus looked like the rolling definition of a thunderous smoke bellowing fist, Rodimus looked like the kind of thing you'd see on a Channel 4 documentary about worlds weirdest converted plumbers vehicles. 

dx9 carry rodimus test shot

Everything you would expect from a Rodimus Prime G1 inspired vehicle mode is represented. Saturated red's, oranges and yellows cover it's shell with a small blue wind screened cab. Silver chrome exhausts scurry up the sides and a huge flame motif emerges as if from the exhausts themselves. Unusually for a Rodimus toy those flames are sculpted into the plastic instead of just being painted on.

A small change draws the eye to the car lights which sit atop he sides of the car where traditionally the sit flush with them. It's an interesting visual twist that you probably wouldn't notice but to me it gives the front an almost insect like mouth.

One glaring omission which I concede irks me, because there is no reason for it to have been skipped - is his lack of a spoiler above the cab. It doesn't spoil (badum tish) Carry's visuals in any way and my childhood certainly has not been ruined, but so much of what this toy is about derives from the trailer turning into the robot mode spoiler (yes, it really does do that) that it feels conspicuous in it's absence.

dx9 carry prototype vs retail side

So where do the test shot and final product differ, that's what this very tardy article is about right?

Okay lets jump in with the obvious - the test shot is missing a tyre. But that's not really what we are talking about is it.
There are no major, world shattering changes and the majority of the toy is identical across both (yes the retail version does have the full compliment of tyres). Molding is the same as is the layout of colours, if not the shades used. Red is strong and vibrant on both and to my eyes I could swear the red on the test shot is a fraction more saturated but that could be because I am actively trying to find differences, rather than it being that way.

dx9 rodimus prime carry

What most certainly is different is the yellow and orange used on the flames that blaze across the side of the alt mode. Yellow is darker and more orange juicey on the test shot, whilst the final toy uses a paler shade. Reversing that, the orange section of the flame is darker on the final product than it is on the test shot. A strange revision that someone obviously thought needed to be made for reasons probably involving booze.

The other differences show up on the cab with different flame designs (we will discuss that in just a moment) and the blue used on the windscreen is darker than it on the final release. Sadly the cab window does not open up to reveal a cab interior - sad faces all round.

Rubber tyres make a welcome return, giving DX9's Carry a wicked set of chunky, heavy duty wheels designed for rolling over stuff with extreme prejudice. When you roll Carry, and he does roll, you can feel the rubber in use because there's no rattling plastic. Carry is as smooth as James Bond sidling up to yet another femme fatale with an improbable name.

dx9 carry rear

Carry isn't small but we've been conditioned to expect any toy bearing the name Prime to be one of the bigger of it's class, so whilst Carry is perfectly well sized for a Masterpiece collection it is very compact. This rings especially true if you compare him to the size of MP09 Rodimus Convoy (we're getting exotic) in alt mode who is about the size of a bath tub.

What makes the size so interesting is nothing to do with how it looks in each mode, but how it achieves two different forms that feel like they belong at opposite ends of the scale chart. Alchemy, is the only word I can come up with to describe the sort of Wizardry at work here - and especially what it does next.

dx9 carry transformation

For a figure that packs an all in one transfromation it is a credit to the sorcerors at DX9 that it is performed with such elegance. My standout "Masterpiece" moment is the leg transformation. They unpeg, wrap around each other, with the shins rotating onto them and the trailer wheels disappearing into the calves. It's magic.

Stealing it's thunder is the spoiler transformation. Each side of the cab unfolds and then collapses in on a huge creaky hinge, folding back over to form a fully compressed backpack - it is nuts.
The whole trailer box just vanishes into something that Ikea would approve of.

Sadly it does mean there is no battle station trailer, but if you are interested in this - chances are you on the side of the fence who doesn't want that.

As far as transforming figures go I'm hard pressed to think of any other figure that outdoes Carrys transformation in terms of cleverness whilst shifting so much mass.

Engineering is not the only thing that is impressive, nor is the magic trick it pulls going from being a small, compact super charged caravan into a large Masterpiece sized robot. It's the smooth, quick feeling of doing it. Nothing is difficult or protracted, you can back and forth really quickly with not a great deal of effort.

How often do we get to say that about any third party transforming action figure?

dx9 rodimus carry test shot

Studio Ox's inspiration strongly makes itself known in robot mode. Studio Ox is a company that produced hyper stylised Transformers artwork for the Japanese market in the 80's and here we are finally seeing it realised in transformable plastic by DX9 (they aren't the only ones)

There's the huge spoiler which is cut with harsh angles rather than the much softer, child friendly curves of the animation model and official Masterpiece toy. It's a sharp look like something that has been etched into a table with a bowie knife by Sarah Connor.

Non of this means it slacks in portraying those rounded edges when needed - just look at the arms, chest and especially the lower legs. Gradual curves work into the sharper angles and are almost hidden.

dx9 carry transformers masterpiece rodimus prime

Handsome anime looks are backed up with articulation that allows you to get those hyper poses we all want our toys to be able to achieve even if we do display them stood up straight on a shelf in a line up that would confuse Verbal Kint.

With so much truck folded up onto his back, some restriction in posing would be expected but no they even managed to find room for a fully working waist swivel.
Restriction only occurs in the shoulders, which owning to their need to be tall, can only swing outwards so far before being blocked by the upper body. An extra hinge extension would have fixed this but it's a minor quibble. Even this problem can be negated to a degree, in a not particular pretty on the eye way, by unclipping the long orange piece that locks the arm to the torso.

Carry has lovely joints that all hold strong but move smoothly enough that you won't be scared of breaking them.
Loose wheels are more prevalent on the retail release than the test shot which could be caused by anything, but it is interesting to note as lately there has been much chatter regarding review samples being sent out with better quality control than when the finished toy rolls off the assembly line.

dx9 carry rodimus prime studio ox

Quite a few differences between the test shot and the final product reveal themselves in robot mode, the biggest and most talked of these is the chest flame. I'm going to cop some flak for this, but I prefer the one used on the chest test shot. Please don't send me angry messages telling me I'm wrong, the spam filter on my email box struggles at the best of times to ignore Nigerian princes wanting to deposit monies into my account.

Never needing a reason to add something unnecessary for the sake of it, DX9 sculpted in the lines for the small tips of the flames on his pecs. Understandable if the whole flame was etched but we can see it isn't so it's perculiar. Beneath all of this is concealed a Matrix chamber if you really want that which somebody does because toy companies keep putting them in.

Molding the spoiler from yellow plastic for the final product is a complete 180 to the test shot where it is red plastic painted yellow and solves the mystery of the differing shades of yellow flames scorching the side of the alt mode. Assuming they did this to avoid potential paint chipping during transformation and to avoid the outpouring of moaning that would result, it does wash out much of the sculpted detail.

dx9 masterpiece rodimus carry

The last clear difference is something so inexplicable that I have no idea what possessed them to change it. If you cast you eyes towards the feet of the test shot, you will notice that below the shin, just above the front of the foot is a grey hinge piece. You may not have noticed it because it blends in well with the Black foot.
Now move your gaze to that same piece on retail Carry and yes - they have changed it to red.
Knowing someone deliberately made that change makes it bother me when it absolutely shouldn't. It is reminiscent of the saga of Bandai's Classics Thundercats Lion-O where they pulled a similar switch which leg to the articulation points being cast in the skin coloured plastic, and not the same as the blue covering the rest of the boots.

dx9 carry maketoys cupola

Carry makes up for that misstep with an artfully sculpted head which pulls Studio Ox's, angular, stylised Rodimus Prime face off the page (calm down Bayverse Optimus, this is not your time) and into 3 dimensions. Both the test shot and the final product share the same sculpt but different shades of the same colours bring something different out of each. Test shot Roddy has a darker grey face (matching the shoulder panels) but it's flat blue painted eyes which appear larger pull out a hint of that youthful Hot Rod persona which beats within Rodimus Tropicana chest.

DX9 coated the final products eyes with a duller but shinier blue which makes Carry feel more in line with the older world weary Rodimus Prime, who also aged in attitude and personality by simply opening a giant glowing Kinder Egg.

Rodmius Prime always has a melancholic looking face and if he had a theme tune it would be Sinead O'Connors cover of Nothing Compares 2 U. You can totally see him walking around a graveyard looking disconsolate, crying about Optimus.

"I went to Perceptor and guess what he told me, guess what he told me"
"He said Rod you better try to have fun no matter what you do - but he's a fool"

dx9 carry targetmaster

DX9 including a Targetmaster with Rodimus who converts into a version of Rodimus Primes original Photon Eliminator rifle is something of a conflicting homage - and it benefits no one. Poor lad doesn't even get his own name.

Drowning the sculpt in black and dark grey consumes much of the detail along with the very flat torso. He does have orange wings in a bout of Rodimus hero worship but they look out of place against all the black - even though they match the beautiful bit of orange on his head.

He does have a lovely dark blue clear visor though- I'm pretty fond of that.

dx9 Carry targetmaster gun

The tip of the rifle loosely becomes a gun. I say loosely not in the sense that it flaps about in his hands, it pegs in very securely but it looks daft as a gun. No part of it's shape works with the body to ever look natural - it's just too large. Passing as an RPG launcher is probably the nicest thing you could say about it but of course he can't hold over his shoulder in spite of all the articulation he does have - so that is useless too.

It's most natural looking use is as a crutch if you are having a bit of a "Misery" moment, but overall it's another thing which makes the little guy feel more like an after thought rather than an integral part of the package.

dx9 carry with rifle

Horrifically, Carry's little partner transforms by literally tearing him in half. Brutally ripping him along the hinge allows his body to be stretched into an awkward looking gun mode. Naming him Stretch Armstrong would banish everything negative I could ever say about him, and this review would be solely comprised of the word "swoon" repeated ad nauseam.

No smooth, cohesive looking rifle comes out of this. There are gaps and parts that just sit in places in a baffling jumble of shapes that vaguely squash together. Orange fins plug into the side, working their hardest to evoke that G1 Photon Eliminator rifle but are torpedoed with a colour contrast so stark you could be forgiven for thinking Rodimus has cut up some cheese slices from ASDA.

Compounding matters further, Carry can't even hold the gun in a way that ever looks comfortable. Carry's short forearms mean the gun the only way he can hold it properly is if the arm is fully extended straight- which looks silly. Stylish posing is out then,  a shame considering  awesome anime posing is Carry's raison d'etre.

You can faff about with alternate transformations which do improve things but it's a half hearted gesture that never gives you anything satisfying. Including a regular, non transforming rifle would've been a better way to go about things and DX9 would probably be a bit heavier in the pocket.

dx9 carry targetmaster fan mode

The elephant in this particular room is exploding knee savant MP09 - Masterpiece Rodimus Prime.

Side by side (I didn't have MP09 at the time of taking these photos) Takara and DX9's bwoys are both wildly different takes on the same character and is not a simple choice of which looks more like a 3 decade old animation model. You have to factor in the differences of an all in one transformation vs having the separate battle station, whether or not you just want a Rodimus Prime, and which aesthetic gets you hot.

Carry is a toy you can pick up, transform and play with and forgo setting aside 45 minutes of time and the worry of snap happy knees. MP09 comes with an insane amount of gimmicks and accessories, 2 alt modes, 2 robot modes and a spring loaded exploding trailer playset that Xzibit wishes he'd thought of.

Both have completely different feature sets that makes each a great choice dependent on your tastes -it's not a case of picking sides of trying to force people to accept one is better than the other.

DX9 Carry prototype figure review
Maz homage x2
Third parties can give me more of this instead of all racing to be "Masterpiece style" and trying to beat Takara to the punch. Add a little flair and try and go with any other variation of G1 like the Marvel comic or Studio Ox as DX9 did and your figure becomes a compliment to the official toy that stands on it's own merits rather than a stand in to be replaced if Takara decide to have a crack themselves.

Ignoring his ill thought out, small weaponised companion, Carry is an excellent third party Transformer homage that manages to feel like a fun toy too. Capturing the the look of stylised artwork never intended to be converted into a 3D form is always an achievement, but to do that and make it transform with no obvious compromise, looking so mind meltingly good and making it feel like a toy to be played with - well that's two thumbs up.

My personal collection is sadly a Carry free zone, but I can say hand on my pounding heart (Rum and Mountain Dew -who knew) that I wish I could have found the space in my budget to accommodate what ended up being my second favourite third party figure of 2015 (I'm totes a Cupola fanboy).

If you are reading this then you obviously like transforming toys and action figures, so go take a look at where you can find many toys and collectibles for sale. 

Big thanks to Morgan at Masterforce for sending this dishy pair in my direction.

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Currently listening to: The Rocky IV Soundtrack


  1. Nice one, I expect you will be looking to pick one up eventually based on your comments. Carry is one I missed due to the price at the time of release, I had already got a lot of other bots but I really like the look of him, despite not being a big Hot Rod / Rodimus fan personally. Great review and good pics too.

    1. Thank you! Aye, he is somewhere on a list of stuff I would like to buy someday. Just not near the top despite how good he is