Knightdramon's Review: MMC R13 Spartan
Demolition Crew Commander
I like to think of Impactor as the thin line between a casual TF fan and a fan that delves a bit more into the mythology of the franchise. Impactor is not your kid-friendly bot nor is he somebody that even has a cameo on current cartoon iterations.
Impactor took to life in the pages of the UK G1 Marvel comics, specifically the Target 2006 saga which started in September of 1986. Impactor was the leader of the Wreckers for that comic saga before dying as part of an assassination process that left Springer in charge.
Impactor would return as a zombified version of himself in the City of Fear storyline; and that was it for his G1 comic appearances.
Impactor returned in the modern IDW G1 take as a disgraced leader of the Wreckers in Last Stand of the Wreckers
5 issue mini series, which was also the first time the character's alt mode was ever seen in fiction. Ever since, Impactor has been making appearances or is referred to in the IDW mythos, letting a whole new slew of comic fans become familiar with his character.
Toy-wise, Impactor has had very, very few appearances. His first ever toy was the Fall of Cybertron
Onslaught remould, where he shipped in a wave with his Wrecker team-mates, all remoulded from the Fall of Cybertron
Combaticons, that formed an Emirate Xaaron-esque gestalt. Impactor's second official toy is the still unreleased Collector's Club remould of Combiner Wars Rook, making two out of two toys combine for a character that never had any combination abilities!
MMC's entry to the foray came in late 2015 with Spartan in their Reformatted line. Spartan is remoulded from Commotus [a take on IDW's Turmoil], or vice-versa; I always thought judging by the comments of the designer that Commotus was designed first. Spartan's release coincided with the 1st issue of Sins of the Wreckers
, a sequel to Last Stand of the Wreckers
. To my knowledge Spartan has not yet seen a second release so if you are after one you will have to pay slightly inflated prices.
Spartan is unique in that he has a decently accurate IDW Impactor sculpt that transforms into a completely fresh take on his alt-mode; he heavily homages the Metal Slug
tank from the Metal Slug
video game series.
Let's have a further look at this figure and see what happens when you cross a semi-obscure character with MMC's engineering and build quality...
If you have been reading my reviews you know that I like to start from the alternate mode, regardless of how the figure was packaged. This time we will make an exception as Impactor held borderline Action Master status in-fiction until roughly 6 years ago.
Spartan strikes an imposing figure at roughly 18 cm tall to the top of his head. This puts him in very good scale with Generations Springer [the two toys, side by side, look like very good approximations of their Last Stand of the Wreckers
appearances]. Spartan is roughly a big Voyager by today's standards, although he weighs more and has no hollow parts visible.
Spartan's main colour palette is a mix of purple and dark yellow [though not so dark to cross over to orange]. He has hints of gray, black and silver throughout as a result of carried over vehicle mode bits or robot mode detailing. In a nice touch, and MMC have panel-lined the sculpting on his waist, chest panels and helmet with mixed results. The waist and chest look great, but the head ends up being just a bit too busy looking. His upper legs are moulded in that Hasbro DOTM gray plastic, but just a tad lighter. He relies both on moulded plastic but also on painted detail [silver vents on shoulders, chest, back and face, yellow and purple on his torso and well as red on his knee caps.
From afar he looks OK in terms of sculpting, not too busy and not too plain, but on further inspection, he is rich in moulded detail. His thighs are covered in moulded rivets, evoking a very industrial-age look, and his lower legs carry on with impressive vents and paneling sculpting. His tank mode treads [non-articulated] are just phenomenal and add to the the character's heavy-duty look, even if view-able from the sides and back. The torso has some nice layering going on, with a lot of the panel lines picked in lime green. The upper chest pulls off the IDW "panels that piston over to the sides" look from LSOTW, a design trait echoed on his shoulders which are spot on to the comic book with the iconic circular details on the front and the vents to the side. His lower arms are a bit plain in comparison, and he carries over the cow-catchers from his tank mode on his elbows. They can be removed if you will.
His left fist is moulded in the typical MMC fingers splayed over pose, whereas his right arm ends on his iconic harpoon, picked in glossy silver paint. The spikes on the top have moulded ridges on them which appear cleanly despite the paint. His headsculpt is unmistakably Impactor, with his expression moulded in a never-ending sneer. His cannon, which can rest on either shoulder or held as a gun has got very sharp moulding although from certain angles it can look like duck lips due to the wide opening of the nozzle.
Articulation is what you've come to expect from mid-sized MMC figures. He features ball jointed ankles that also have a foot pivot, with the entire foot armature connected by a swivel joint. This enables him to have a very wide range of ankle tilt, and his wide feet ensures that when you plant him on a surface, he stays rock-solid. His knees have got a single, 90 degree bend joint and he has two thigh swivels, one directly beneath the gray armature [using this breaks the sculpt] and one directly over it, which looks more natural. His hips can move back and forth and to the sides freely but the thigh armature will limit a few poses. His waist has got unrestricted 360 degrees articulation but the backpack will bump into his butt flap at points. His torso can also rotate around at 3 points but this is severely restricted as the spine locks everything into place. Thanks to his almost kibble-free design, the arms rotate around fully at the shoulder, feature 90 degrees of outward movement, fully swivel over the elbow, have a double elbow joint and his hand is on a free moving ball-socket wrist. Lastly, his head is on a ball joint with no real obstructions, enabling for some serious up and down and side to side tilt.
Spartan comes with a few accessories, most of which homage scenes from the IDW comics. He comes with a silver gun that's a dead ringer for the gun he used in the Pova showdown. The gun fits snugly on his open hand but is a bit undersized. He also features a drill [can be exchanged on wrist] as a call-back to his MTMTE 37 cover - pre-war flashback. He also has an additional wrist plug if you want to swap out his left fist for either the harpoon or the drill and an additional right hand if you want a more symmetric look. Lastly, he also comes with a little yellow plug that will fit on either forearm; this plug is used to lock some tank mode parts a bit better but is optional.
Spartan has a lot to offer in this mode, which is arguably the mode most buyers will keep him in. He has very expressive articulation and his stature is such that he will look heroic in almost any pose you put him in. His interchangeable accessories are good if you want to play out specific scenes or want an all-out action pose.
Next up, vehicle mode and overall thoughts...
As stated before, MMC "cheats" in this instance by offering a relatively comic-accurate Impactor with a Metal Slug
vehicle mode. The tank shape, turret and treads are very reminiscent of the MS tank, but that is more apparent on the much darker Commotus retool.
There are no new colours in this mode; if anything, the little touches of green [used for panel-lining and the robot eyes] are either out of sight or downplayed here. The sides of the tank are mostly the same mustard-yellow with the cowcatchers and the top/turret being purple. The treads [non-working] are gunmetal gray with black used for the moulded wheels and mechanisms between them. The red from his knees and the majority of the silver detailing of his robot chest is at the back of the tank, with the focal point being the purple shoulder cannon with the yellow muzzle and a set of silver painted details next to it. Overall the colour balance remains the same but much of the muted/beige gray on his upper legs is just lost and folded away now. The cowcatchers has got finely painted yellow lines on them.
Detailing is pretty much the same as with robot mode, with the exception of the rivets which are now hidden away on his upper legs. His feet swing away and clip on to the sides of the treads, with extendable toe guns [only on this version of the mould] adding to his armaments. As before, the treads [now fully visible] are amazing and very finely moulded. Working pistons for the turret are something extra that brings a smile to my face but they are not necessary and they are not fully articulated, even restricting turret articulation themselves! The sides of the tank have got enough panel lines to look busy without being distracting, and the paint works really well with the sculpt on the turret and vent detailing.
Spartan is roughly 14 cm in length, about 8 cm in height and 11 cm to his widest point. He shrinks down a lot for vehicle mode as the majority of his mass is now his treads and base, with his upper torso encased in layers of plastic and sticking out from the tank base.
Sadly, there is not much play-ability. His turret can articulate up and down, and if you disengage his pistons altogether he gets full 360 degrees of movement. His pizza cutter gun can also clip on one of his shoulder sockets [both are available], but that's it. His treads do not roll and he has no small wheels either. While this is a great display piece [a Metal Slug
tank in funky colours!] it doesn't do much.
Transformation is relatively simple but shown to be unnecessarily complex by the booklet. The spine, backpack and arms disengage from the upper body and rotate and flip around to form the first layer of the turret base, with his arms forming the cowcatchers via the elbow armour. This is where the small yellow piece comes into place; it helps the arms plug together. The legs unfold and twirl around to wrap around this first layer of the turret base, locking on no less than 4 points on each side. There are many rotation points on his upper body so it can get a bit confusing on the first time; you only need to rotate his base waist joint 180.
There are a few downsides to this mode. The pistons are a nice touch visually, but restrict the dedicated rotation joint of the turret. The backside makes no effort to "hide" his robot chest and there is simply a gap where his knees fold out on the backside. Other than that I'd say he cleans up nicely, if you can forgive the sacrifice of any wheels for a much cleaner sculpt.
Generally speaking, Spartan was greeted warmly by collectors, with any flaws being overshadowed by his positive points. He is a chunky, beefy, and articulated no-nonsense figure. He won't tire you or compromise his durability with any combining gimmicks; his sole gimmick is transforming. He is very stable in robot mode and stands nicely next to other Voyager-sized figures. His plethora of accessories ensure that you can swap around the display options if you so will, but for me just the standard harpoon and shoulder gun cut is just fine.
There are some concerns over the figure in general, and those tie with how strong his plastics actually are. His butt flap needs to plug onto his waist for transformation. Both pieces are very strong meaning there is very little flex, so if you grab the flap the wrong way you are risking a SEVERE stress mark like mine has from the first transformation. The fact that the legs clip on that flap is a bit concerning. Moreover, his gray spine plastic appears to be made of a softer plastic but the entire spine needs to be grabbed on somehow to rotate the entire upper body around; it is unfortunately the softer piece on a set of very thick plastics that need to move together, and I fear the stress I put on it to transform him.
Beyond those points, which might be just this reviewer's OCD, this is guaranteed to be the best Impactor toy on the market for quite some time. It has trumped both Hasbro figures, displays well next to the other Wreckers, has a great tank mode that homages a fantastic retro video game and being MMC, you are getting your money's worth.
At the time of the writing of this review Spartan has had just one release with no impending re-issue. His price has not gone up that much but he is harder to find. By comparison, his mould-mate Commotus is far easier to find and generally runs below retail. Either version of the mould is highly recommended based on your preferences.
Marks out of ten for the follwing:
: 8, if you ignore the instructions. There is a very logical series of steps and pretty much every step ends in parts locking together. Both modes are tight and there are nice tricks into getting his mass distributed in tank mode.
: 9. Only losing one point for the slightly softer spine plastic. He is made of hard, thick plastic and most of his joints are very sturdy friction joints. This is not necessarily a good thing as there are some concerns [see above].
: 8. He is not the most popular character, most people will get him for the robot mode [so not much transforming him], but despite that, he is decently poseable, works well on his own and as part of a set, and has display options.
: 9. No flaws on robot mode, almost no flaws on tank mode but that duck-like cannon muzzle can be distracting.
: 9. Only missing double jointed knees. His wrist has a semi-exposed ball joint which has a lot of freedom in moving around, similarly his neck joint is not obstructed by the sculpt. He has beyond the normal range of movement on everything else.
: 9. Decent chunky figure, transformation is the main gimmick, good paint, size, heft and enough accessories. Well worth the money.
: 9 by a small margin. The only real faults are the strength and inflexibility of his plastic which puts stress on some parts. He is a winner in every other category and a keeper for every comic fan or somebody that wants a solid figure that's not hampered by any gimmicks.