Denyer's Review: Mech Ideas Demolition Crüe Apex (DC01) and Geminus (DC02)
Back in the day, UK writer Simon Furman decided out of necessity to mix toy characters that weren't likely to star in the US Marvel comics with original creations, and created the Cybertron-based Wreckers elite special ops team in contrast to the fairly peaceful and less militaristic Autobots on Earth. First appearing in Target: 2006
, a string of equally popular stories such as Legion of the Lost / Meltdown!
and Time Wars
followed. In recent years, they've been back in IDW continuity thanks to the creative talents of Nick Roche and James Roberts, in a tale about propaganda and the realities of war (although there's lots of explosions too) -- Last Stand of the Wreckers
Wreckers have, unsurprisingly then, been a favourite subject for third-party designers. Notables include Fansproject Warbot Defender (Springer), Assaulter (Broadside), and a recently shown Roadbuster homage... the as-yet-unreleased iGear Presser (Impactor) and the upcoming Mach 5 Gauntlet (Ironfist)... and probably a bunch of other stuff I've missed. Most of those have been larger than the deluxe-class scale these Topspin and Twin Twist homages are aimed at.
Skipping over the Ruination gestalt (a redeco and remould of Fall of Cybertron Bruticus) on the official side there's an excellent 30th anniversary voyager-class Springer that's been released recently (as of August 2013) as well as an upcoming voyager-class Whirl, plus figures of non-Wreckers characters popularised by James Roberts such as Skids, Trailbreaker, Swerve, Pipes, etc. The comics love is being brought, and it's all a very virtuous circle... memorable fiction inspires loving renditions in plastic inspires ouroboros.
Speaking of which, I hope someone's working on a suitably Senior-esque Rack'n'Ruin.
The land/water speeder and drill modes strike a happy balance between being authentic to the originals and serving to make possible the real attraction: the robot modes. But sticking with the alt-modes for a bit, a decent attempt has been made to make one design support two functions, and as Topspin's isn't meant to be a flight one despite the tiny wings (moved further to the back of the alt-mode on Apex than on the 80s design) it comes out well.
Accessories are plentiful, with a couple of guns each plus a wrecking hammer. The guns display or store well in either mode, and although there isn't anywhere obvious to peg the hammers in robot mode if they aren't being held the hammer head can be removed from the stick so it may be possible to improvise something better than resting it between the shoulder-blades created by the back parts.
The transformation is fairly straightforward from vehicle to robot, although since everything lines up precisely (mostly with notched pieces rather than tabs) it can be trickier getting back to vehicle mode. Looking at the promotional image from Mech Ideas the design has obviously gone through a thoroughly modern process and existed in CAD format during development. As I'll come back to shortly, not being subject to the same restrictions as official designers means that edges don't have to be rounded to quite the same extent.
There aren't any wheels, but as these are aimed squarely at adults and don't have pull-back-and-go motors or primitive auto-transform mechanisms either I think we can let the designers off. It'd just add to costs unnecessarily.
Very very nice. These are in scale with current deluxes such as Fall of Cybertron Brawl and Starscream, which means they may come up a bit short against Classics and Generations figures released a few years previous. How much you love the designs will probably depend on how much you like the Jumpstarters as character concepts, as the Cybertronian alt-modes mean there aren't realistic parts evident as kibble on the robots.
Unlike the original toy, Geminus's drills aren't hidden away in his legs when in robot mode, but follow the Nick Roche design of switching them onto the shoulders in the same way that Topspin has seeker-like aerial mode bits. I'm not sure if it was included in later batches, but a further shout-out to Last Stand of the Wreckers
(and further confirmation this isn't an official product, if there were ever any doubt) is an alternate Twin Twist head so that you can recreate your own torture scenes.
The plastic feels very good quality, allowing for tight but fully functionally joints and crisp detail -- the only thing I'm really at all worried about is Apex's wing points, although likewise some of the parts are thin on one gun sculpt and on the trigger fingers. It wouldn't be possible to release these figures to a retail market without some modifications and probably removal of detail. Looking inside the right leg cavity there appears to have been pressure applied removing parts from a mould, as there are slight stress marks -- but it's not noticeable in the normal course of things.
Articulation is excellent -- balanced without getting over-complicated -- and includes novel sideways rocker joints in the ankles. There are at least twenty points of articulation apiece here despite only the heads being ball-jointed... and frankly I think ball-joints are overrated because they mostly lead to frustrating attempts to make panels line up on shellformers. I realise the ball-joints are probably required for health and safety purposes and so that parts can detach and be re-affixed, but thankfully third party manufacturers don't need to be concerned with that sort of thing.
There certainly aren't many official toys you could give a giant hammer to, even now, and expect to get good two-handed poses out of.
Thought has also gone into the packaging -- the clamshells are designed to display in alt-mode form, but allow the cards to slide out and be replaced, and the stat blocks are colour coded to include different readings for the robot and alt modes. I'm not particularly keen on the profile bios... it's nice that they reference each other, and I like humour in my fluff, but hate robots being given human binary gender roles.
Geminus and Apex have also been released in black/white and red/yellow redecos, as 2013 Auto Assembly UK convention exclusives -- and I think TFCon has a similar deal. These adopt either the Antex Argentinian G2 colour-schemes of Robot-Man-X and Robot-Man-Z, or the Estrela Brazilian Salt-Man X and Salt-Man Z, mixing and matching depending on torso colour. For more on this, see http://www.fredsworkshop.com/vjump.html
and there's a review of two of the redecos elsewhere on this site.
If you haven't considered third party figures before the quality control is good and these are an excellent place to start, with two characters that are unlikely to get official homages faithful to the originals.
mechideas.com doesn't appear to be working, but they have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/MECH-...16265591810782
8/10 - there's definitely a correct order to follow.
8/10 - you wouldn't want to drop Apex, due to the wings.
9/10 - the barrel it is full of monkeys.
10/10 - extremely faithful to source media.
10/10 - couldn't ask for more at this size point.
8/10 - for limited run third party stuff, £30 apiece isn't bad.
9/10 - no reservations about recommending.