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Knightdramon's Review: Fanstoys Scoria

Name: Scoria D
Function: N/A
Sub Group: Dinobots
Size Class: N/A
Company: Fanstoys

Fanstoys needs no introduction to the 3P toy enthusiasts crowd. FT started off with an MP01 trailer many, many moons ago [2005-2008 era where 3P were just producing add-on kits]. Their second release was to be FT Accoustic Wave [their take on MP Soundwave] but Takara put a break to that by announcing their own MP Soundwave not that long thereafter.

Accoustic Wave was scrapped at that point and FT continued on with FT Shockwave, which set the trend for their following releases. FT are quite generous in their die-cast content and using high quality, thick plastic for the majority of their products. FT also adhere to cartoon accuracy as much as possible and have a knack for tightening the joints so much that they squeak when moved.

Shockwave came and went and was considered a roaring success---the aftermarket prices soared to extreme heights and he has since had a lot of reissues. Keeping the bar high, FT's next project for the upcoming 3 or so years was a rather ambitious one; tackle MP-style and scale Dinobots.

Their first release was FT 04 Scoria, their take on a Masterpiece cartoon Slag. Scoria was followed by FT05 Soar the next year, which came out in both cartoon blue and toy red varieties. At the time of this review, we have had multiple releases of Sever [Snarl], are waiting for the imminent release of Stomp [Sludge] and have pre-orders up and running for Grinder [Grimlock].

When Scoria came out it tried to fit in with the style, scale and aesthetics of MP08 Grimlock while also adhering to the rebooted MP line scale---it succeeds and does so with gusto. Scoria has been a fan-favourite [if a bit criticized] release and it's no surprise that the mould was milked with repaints.

The mould started as FT04 Scoria [cartoon colours], got a Toy accurate [FT04T] release in 2015, which was then repainted further into an X release [set to mimic the glossy silver of MP08X comic Grimlock] and two out of the left field repaints in the form of his G2 [Green] and Diaclone [Blue] releases. The X release was limited to 1000 pieces while the G2 and Diaclone versions were limited to 500 pieces each.

The combination of a large figure, an inflated price due to a limited release and being the 4th [or 5th] repaint of a figure in colours for a very niche portion means that both G2 and Diaclone versions of Scoria can still be found for retail or less if one looks hard enough.

Let's see what makes this release unique [or so niche you won't care about], shall we?

Alternate Mode

Scoria D's alt mode is that of a massive triceratops. Throughout his franchise appearance, Slag has been pretty consistent; he's either an organic or robotic Triceratops and when he needs to take a pre-Earth form in relation to a prequel comic, he is a tank. Being G1 [cartoon, mostly] accurate, this release is a robotic triceratops.

Scoria's predominant colour is a dark gray. The panels that make the shell of his triceratops body and his limbs are all cast in that colour. This gray is complemented by chrome silver and chrome [vac-metalic] gold. His toes are painted in chrome silver, with additional applications of said silver found on some detailing on the sides of his torso. His frill and lower jaw are coated in chrome silver paint [a bit of a thick coat, but does not obscure any moulded details]. The same silver is also found on his chest/belly [to become a focal point of the robot mode, but obscured now]. His two large horns are also painted in a thinner coat of said silver. His snout, tail and also bits of his back are coated in gold vac-metallic paint [thin enough not to detract from the mould]. While these are the colours that POP when you look at him, he is not shy of paint for other details too. His side panels have gunmetal gray paint, with blue and red used for additional tech and cables detail. The same blue paint is used to highlight a line on each of his front legs [shoulder level]. Regular silver paint is used sparingly for detailing on his elbow tech detail [front legs] and top of the shoulders [joining in with the blue line]. His eyes are vac-metal red [painted that way] and each of his "shoulders" feature a chromed gold detailing encases in a smoky clear plastic, evoking the G1 toy look. Not immediately obvious, but bits of his vac-metallic navy blue and robot chest poke at you if you look at the figure from various angles or pick it up.

There is a lot of moulded detail and this figure strikes a very good balance of moulded and painted detail. It is striking but not very busy and invites you to pick it up and look at the finer details. The frill in particular has got some very nice organic lining, while the rest of the head has simpler panel lines and details that frame it superbly. Each leg has got a copious amount of circuitry and panel lines moulded on, with the front legs [becoming the robot arms] being a bit more rich in subtle paint applications to draw your eyes. The side panels between the legs have got the most amount of paint used to pick out various moulded details, with 3 different colours working in unison on the tech details and the vac-silver panels over them. The moulded detail continues on his spine but is broken up by the sculpt and hinges. The golden panels at the top of his spine by the rear legs break up the gray monotony with sculpted vents and lines. His tail has got some pseudo-organic sculpting, seemingly encased by bony details and with protrusions on the top. In line with mimicking MP08's "built by other transformers so more tech-y" style, Scoria has various rivets throughout his body, lending to a unique steam punk approach that does not dominate the sculpt.

Scoria is absolutely huge. Snout to tail end we are looking at roughly 33 cm, and he is 15 cm to the top of his frill. He is roughly 15cm at his widest point. All in all, you will need space for this figure for this display, as at his smallest dimensions he is the size of a good deluxe!

Scoria is the first figure that I review in quite some time that has articulation on his alternate mode. His tail has got three points of articulation, including a side to side swivel at the last joint and an up and down and side to side swivel on the middle joint. You can cheat and untab the tail to make it swing higher if you want to go for an aggressive pose, but it will break the sculpt if looked at from the side. His rear legs are on a ball joint at the hip, feature a swivel above the "knee", and the knee ratchets both back and forth. This is impressive seeing as the lower leg is made up of two separate panels that join together. His front legs ratchet out to the side and feature a squeaky swivel back and forth. The range of motion on this is very good as that's what will become the robot mode shoulder. The elbow swivels forward [quite a lot] and backwards a little, and his dino-toes are able to pivot back and forth quite a bit [no side to side movement]. His head is on a swivel [limited side to side movement] and a heavy ratchet for very limited up and down movement. You can also swivel the head around for roughly 45 degrees each side, and the jaw opens freely [two joints]. His horns are also adjustable with a swivel at the base. He can get into some dynamic poses but there are some pretty basic limits on what he can do. |Finally, the lower jaw has a separate piece that serves as a flamethrower and is individually articulated.

There are no fancy gimmicks or weapons storage. Instead, Scoria impresses with some old-school die-cast content. His dino toes and horns are die-cast metal, as are the two gold plates on his back that will become his robot feet. These two pieces especially are rather thick [they will be fully revealed in robot mode] so he has a lot of heft on him.

So are there any drawbacks on this figure, and this version particularly? Yes there are. The aforementioned die-cast, while pretty nice, weighs down the figure a lot, causing his hips on the back legs to sag down under the weight. As the hip is on a piece that swivels for transformation, he tends to droop as that piece is not holding its place. There is also some criticism for the overall elongated shape of his dino body, which is obvious if looking from the side.

The Diaclone version [in dino mode, at least] is an amalgamation of the toy and cartoon schemes. It retains the silver horns of the cartoon model and merges them with the red dino eyes and blue/silver shoulders of the toy version, making up for a unique version.

Robot Mode

Scoria's robot mode gets the message across. He's huge. He's a brute. He's faithful to the G1 cartoon [albeit with different colours]. His proportions are in line with MP08, i.e. beefy upper torso, thin upper legs, chunky boots and a wing-like backpack.

The transformation process is neither too difficult nor too simple. The legs are particularly interesting in how they open up back and forth, allowing for the rear dino legs to twist around, compress and fold in, encapsulated by the boot pieces/rear dino quarters. His hips are pretty MP Grimlock-like and just swing up and out. The arms just extend and have the hands flip around from their concealed storage. The robot head flips out from the dino abdomen and the silver plate swings up to cheat into being the lower jaw on the chest of Slag [actual lower jaw is recessed on the upper jaw of the dino]. The entire spine lifts up and folds in the back, the tail compresses by a spring joint and the dino sides swing up on soft ratchet to form the characteristic "wings". The frill swings back to cover bits of the backpack.

As stated before, Scoria is very large. He is roughly 29 cm to the top of his dino jaw [actual robot head height is 25.5 cm]. This places him in scale with the MP G1 bots released so far, towering over most of them and his compatriot MP08 Grimlock.

There's a few new colours introduced. Silver is used for his thighs and minor waist detailing. He has two tones of blue for the main bulk of his torso; dark navy blue is used for his abs while the upper chest and torso are a dark vac-metallic blue. His fists are cast in the same blue as his lower torso. Black paint is used for some detialing on his waist and abs. His central chest area is a vac-metallic red and the fake lower jaw on top of that is vac-metallic silver [like his frill]. He comes with different helmets and faceplates; glossy red and glossy dark blue is used for the helmets, with silver or dark gunmetal gray used for the optional faces. His eyes are vac-metallic red like his chest. Two green paint apps are used for detailing just above his knees, and his knees have a smoky tinted clear plastic with red and silver detailing within. All in all he still remains a big chunk of dark gray; but he gains a lot of dark colours on his torso.

Sculpted detail follows suit from the dinosaur mode; not too busy to draw your eyes away, but there if you go looking for it. His thighs have got panel lines and rivets nicely defined in bright silver. His upper torso has got panel lines and tech details, but frankly its a bit washed out in the sea of silver, bright red and dark blue. The helmets he comes with are a good example of this as you can see that the sculpt is much thicker thanks to the thick gloss paint used. I would be a bit weary of this in a few years; do check your childhood transmetals BW toys for signs of this flaking heavily. The headsculpt is basic and does the job. He has two facesculpts, a stoic one and a yelling one. The yelling sculpt has a bit more character but does not go well on every pose you want to have Scoria in.

Swapping the heads and faces around leaves you wondering why FT did not invest in something easier. You have to pop the head off a stiff ball joint, take the four screws at the back off, take the head apart, pry the face off, put the new one in, put the head back together, screw it all tight and then pop it on the ball joint. FT have been criticized for their cheap screws that can be chipped away and dulled really easily and this is no exception; I've changed the faces exactly once; taking a stoic silver face, putting it on the red helmet and putting that back together. I don't plan on reliving the experience. Scoria comes with the blue helmet and stoic silver face by default; the dark gray faces work nicely in contrast with the red helmet, but make everything too dark on the blue helmet.

Scoria has got plenty of articulation points, but nothing fancy. He has a decent ankle rocker and some minimal forward articulation on the feet. The top gold part moves together as you rock the foot forward, which is a nice touch. He's got a respectable 90 degree heavy ratchet knee bend, with a thigh swivel just at the top of the silver parts. His legs can also do the splits uninterrupted and feature heavy ratchets for backward and forwards movement on the hips. His waist has a soft ratchet but can only do about 45 degrees either way before the tail backpack starts to bump on his thighs. His shoulders are essentially the dino legs so they feature 3 points of outward ratchet articulation, more or less free back and forth rotation [until they start bumping on the backpack] and a 90 degree elbow bend. His wrists can tilt downwards thanks to some play of the transformation scheme. The fists can rotate freely and the fingers are individually articulated, with each finger having two pinned joints and the thumb being on a limited ball joint. Lastly, his head is on a ball joint but does not have much of a range of movement due to the dino head framing it. He can look up and down on a limited basis and has got some slight tilt to the sides. He can also look to the side but things start to get bumpy at that point.

Besides the extra robot heads and faces, he comes with four other accessories. A very nice rifle, heavily based on his G1 toy, is present. The gun is nicely detailed but is coated in silver paint which blocks some details off. The handle is cast in black plastic. His sword is comprised of two pieces, a clear plastic blade with some very nice shimmering detailing inside and a majestic hilt coated in chrome. Both pieces of weaponry feature tabbed hilts/handles that slot into his fists. Tabbing them in is tricky as the sword hilt is heavily chromed which makes the tab thicker than the slot, and due to the sculpting of the ornamental design on the hilt you have to use the transformation joint to move the wrist downwards to allow for clearance. To top it up, Scoria also comes with two foot extensions for MP Grimlock. These tab on the underside of his legs to bring him up to Scoria's height, more or less. They can also be combined and tab on Grimlock's back in T-rex mode to form a cannon backpack. These pieces have no interaction with Scoria. Both the gun and the sword can light up but require batteries sold separately.

It should be noted that this mode suffers a lot from the weight of the figure. The die-cast metal is strategically placed on his lower legs [the entire golden part of his toe, with the majority of the foot] but combined with his swing out MP Grimlock style hips means that the hips will sag down when you pick him up despite being on ratchet joints. His arms are squeaky tight on the shoulder swivel, but the outward ratchet has a lot of play between the clicks. This was far more pronounced on the first cartoon version of the mould. His waist bumps into his backpack a lot and his head bumps onto the dino mode head on some poses. To top it off, the sword is almost impossible to get a proper purchase on the due to the thick chrome.

So what does this version of Scoria offer in comparison to the rest? Admittedly, this is for a niche market. The blue chest and silver legs do look very nice and bundle up beautifully with the red eyes present here. He also features a red robot mode head so you can go for a more traditional look if you so wish to. He is bound to look great with the remainder of his team and Sever and Grinder also have confirmed Diaclone schemes. It should be noted that the sword is cast in clear plastic, unlike the red of all the other versions of this mould [and the rest of the dinos in the team]. If you wish to opt for something a bit more traditional the X and toy versions are available at a few places, but you will have to look harder and pay more for the standard cartoon version.

At the time of this review there is a new, V2.0, if you will, version of Slag out by a FT offshoot called Perfect Fusion, which seems to streamline a lot of the issues found with this release. It is very possible that PF Scoria will be available in all the standard colours that FT Scoria came out at and looks to have improved hip and waist sculpt and build.

All in all, this is a mixed release. It is easy to see how this figure surprised and awed the collector's market in 2014, with it being the first MP-style dinobot out, having a good cartoon likeness, impressive size, die-cast heft and promises of the rest of the team joining him. The transformation has some clever engineering, especially on the lower legs, which pretty much redefined how 3P companies attempted to tackle MP style Dinobot kibble storage. However, with each dino release coming out roughly 8 months to a year after the previous one, Scoria ends up a bit more outdated than the rest. He's got the articulation but pretty much every bit is hindered just enough to make it annoying. The weapons tabbing issue also drags this figure down as it's quite a chore to use his best weapon. The extensive die-cast on the feet limit the poses and the fun you can have handling him.

I would recommend getting him if you want a high-end piece of Diaclone homage or a uniquely coloured team of Dinobots; this is the one colour scheme that will not be re-issued nor homaged again at this scale, but do note of the hefty price tag that comes with it.

Transformation Design: 7 Not terribly bad, the legs being a very, very neat trick each time you do them. The top part is sadly less refined, with tight tolerances getting the backpack right. The backpack does not lock in place by anything other than gravity. The hips could really use some reworking but this has been taken into account for pretty much every FT Dinobot after him.
Durability: 8 Nothing really prone to breaking, but be wary of the squeaky joints and the weight of the die-cast; the effect on those thigh joints might not be pleasant a few years down the line. The dino sagging under its own weight is disappointing.
Fun: 6 Scoria is one of those figures that is defined primarily by being part of a team rather than an individual figure. All basic points of articulation are there and both modes are poseable, but he is better as part of the dino team. The score goes up the more of them you have.
Aesthetics: 9 He looks good in either mode, and the vac-metallic colours really pop. The sculpt is good and evokes a slightly more stylized version of the G1 cartoon nicely, which makes him fit seamlessly into an MP display.
Articulation: 6 He's got all the joints but his weight works against him, and he's not as dynamic as he could be. A tighter backpack and less worrying hips would work wonders even if you did not add a single joint to his repertoire.
Price/Value: 7 For a figure of his size, with his build quality and paint, and for a limited edition of 500 figures, he's priced very, very fairly. Best bang for buck goes to the X version, which is coated in rich silver paint.
Overall: 7 He is flawed and is starting to show his age, but he commands a presence at your shelves. You might want to wait to see of any improvements of the newer version, but if you want a heavy chogokin Diaclone homage that has no gimmicks except an honest transformation, look no further; this is for you.
 
 
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