Animus Stealth Mode
Review by Optimal III
I'm a third-party Transformers enthusiast, and for lots of reasons. I enjoy the quality of the toys. I like the variety they bring to the table. I appreciate the passion that inspires them and where that passion comes from and what it takes. And maybe more than all of those reasons, I'm fascinated that this is a phenomena unique to Transformers (yes, 3P Ninja Turtles are happening, but I won't call it a thing till there's more than one group jumping on that bandwagon).
But if there's one thing 3P loses to every time in my book, it's Masterpiece. I'm not saying I think one's better than the other, but I appreciate just as much that Takara (and to a lesser extent, Hasbro) creates these idealized figures for us fans. If both options exist, I'm always going MP and skipping the 3P offering. That said, I can be tempted to see both sides of the argument.
I forget which was announced first, but when MP Ironhide was revealed, lots of people found things to be unhappy about. Nothing wrong with that, just interesting to note. Few, if any, MP figures have gotten so much heat before actually being released. iGear's Weapons Specialist was released years before and is more of an early MP IDW take on the Autobot security guard/Optimus Prime bodyguard, so he's not as easy to get anymore. TFC's Ironwill was on the way and MP-quality, but has that TFC aesthetic that people seem to love or hate. So enter newcomer Voodoo Robots.
Not only were their first two announced figures MP takes on G1 Ironhide & Ratchet, but they were also doing a TFcon exclusive variant of their Ironhide before the standard version and the official MP released by months. Literally, this announcement was made days before TFcon 2015 in Charlotte. It was going for $125 and had a Diaclone-inspired paint job, so I figured why not? It'll be cool to compare once I actually have MP Ironhide.
The box has a different shape, more brick-like, from the MP cars, but it's just as surprisingly small. The design is homage to the classic Diaclone packaging from Japan. Each side shows you something unique from the different versions of the core mold to a step-through transformation to vehicle specs.
Contents include the instruction manual, a nice tech-spec card, and a small reference guide for the hole fillers. More on that momentarily.
Animus (stealth mode) is a clever little nod at Ironhide's Diaclone origins, when the toy was actually black instead of red. So, the alt mode is good both as a modern take on the classic toy and an accurate take on the Nissan Cherry Vanette C120 (called Datsun outside of Japan at the time). Transformed correctly, every part sits flush and seams are minimal. The wheels are hard plastic, but roll with no trouble since the van has good elevation. The windows are clear enough that you can see what may or may not be obvious robot parts. Lights, door handles, side mirrors, and other little details are present to help maintain disguise.
From the front, the wipers and what looks like seats are what stand out.
From the side, what you'll probably notice are the numerous holes and my unsuccessful attempt to fill them all. I don't know why Voodoo Robots designed the base figure like this, but enough people complained before TFcon that they added a fix via some fillers. My results were botched for two reasons: 1) I didn't have a pair of shears at the the time and didn't want to wait, and 2) the included guide isn't very helpful. I found an instructional video after the fact that nails the process, but even if done right, the difference is negligible, especially since most are out of view in robot mode. So you decide whether it's worth the effort.
From behind, we see the rear wiper, a surprising two dual-exhausts (the Cherry was the high-end version of this model), and plenty of space for a license plate.
Up top, the sunroof completes the signature look.
And as expected, he scales pretty well with official MP figures. Overall, alt mode, though unsexy, does what it's supposed to do.
As usual, Animus (and every other G1 or G1-inspired Ironhide figure) shines in robot mode. Coming in at an impressive 8.5-inches tall, the first thing I have to point out is how amazingly light he feels. I mean, he's not too light, but he's lighter than you'd expect for his size and bulk. Based on how he transforms and how he looks in comparison to pics of MP Ironhide, I don't think it's cheap materials, but rather clever engineering that maximizes space. And since robot mode is mostly parts not seen in alt mode, he's loaded with sculpted details.
His helmet has the mohawk and round parts on the side. The lines in his face age him in a good way, but the expression is blank, devoid of emotion. His bright metallic blue eyes add to that sentiment. Intentional or not, it reminds me of his Diaclone origins, when he was a mass-produced mech.
The chest is still the van's front end, but this is one of several areas Animus appears to differ from the MP, because you can actually see through to whatever's behind him.
His solid profile continues from the sides and behind. His legs are basically the van's rear half compacted over the interior lower legs, his feet the back doors.
His back is the front half of the van sans front windshield. I'm guessing this is another area Animus diverges from his official counterpart, because his front wheels are set higher up off his waist, and he doesn't have van panels on his hips. I'd prefer the whole piece somehow snapped into place, but it stays stable and in place, so I'm fine with the cleaner look he's been blessed with.
His hands flip out of his forearms, which comprise the space between the front windshield and sunroof. They're slightly more articulated that the usual MP hands with ball-based thumbs and independent indexers with double-jointed top knuckles. So Animus is well equipped to teach bad guys a lesson or two, like how smoking is bad for your health.
On a weird note, for whatever reason, Animus has a lid on his helmet. Maybe this is where a really tiny Diaclone pilot would sit.
And speaking of joints, leakin' lubricant! Animus has tilting ankles, double-ratchet knees, universal-ratchet hips, front hip skirts, a swivel waist, a minor forward ab crunch, universal ratchet shoulders, swivel/ratchet biceps, ratchet elbows, swivel wrists, and his head on a ball-joint. You can set his back kind of high or low, so that in turn affects where his head actually rests. I didn't strike any fancy poses, but Ironhide isn't a fancy sort of 'bot, so it's not because he's lacking. Most anything you want, Animus can do.
For weapons, Animus has double bang-bang. The black gun looks like the pistols Ratchet & Ironhide used in the animated movie before the Decepticons gunned them down. The silver one is based on the laser turret that mounts on the front of the battle platform from the original toy. Both have tabs on each side of the grip that allows them to be set in and grasped by either hand. Not this time, Decepticon, not this time.
Alongside peers, he fits in with MP Bluestreak & MP Prime (-04 for life). I didn't think to take a pic, but of course, he fits inside Combat Deck.
Animus is as solid as his name implies, one of ill will (read: ornery southerner) or if you want to go further back, courage & will, like the potion he personifies. Transforming him the first time was a bit of doozy, but now that I know how everything works, it's easy to remember all the steps. His alt mode is fine for what it is, he's fun to play with, and he pulls off hard-a## like an Ironhide toy should. Aesthetics/design aside, he's only got two shortcomings the MP definitely doesn't have, price and accessory count. MP Ironhide goes for $90 right now, but Animus (Stealth Mode) was already $125 back at TFcon, and has only gone up since then. The Ratchet equivalent, Salus, is going for $115 and so should Animus once the normal version is out, but that's still at least $25 more. And the MP comes with a literal sled full of weapons, while Animus just has his two guns. Neither of these are deal-breakers to me, but they're things to consider.
I'll be surprised if Takara doesn't do a Diaclone-variant of MP-27 akin to Animus by the end of 2017, so I feel like I'm ahead of the curve with a really cool toy. And I do still intend to pick up MP-27, sooner than later. But if I could only have one of them, I'd be happy to call it a day with Animus (Stealth Mode) in my collection.
|Posted 25 February, 2016 - 16:56 by Optimal III|