Alrighty, folks, I’m back with the second half of the F-4 Phantom (“Not-Fireflight”) feature. Actually, this is more like the last third of the feature as I shouldn’t need to get as long winded as yesterday. Let’s get right to it by starting off with transformation…
I’ll be honest… transforming Phantom was the thing that made me the most apprehensive about investing in the toy. All it takes is a little questionable engineering and a few QC dips for even a Hasbro Transformer to snap apart in your hands. I was particularly afraid of parts getting stress marks and being afraid to play around with him anymore. Well, I’m happy to say that my fears were unfounded. Phantom transforms very well. He’s not overly complex and not overly simple. For a one hundred dollar Voyager-sized toy that I’m paranoid about breaking… he’s just right. Yes, there are a few tabs that lock a little too well for my comfort, but after changing him back and forth a couple of times, I realized that this is not a fragile toy that I need worry about breaking, so long as a modicum of care is applied. The hinged arm that connects the jet parts to his back are quite thin, but mine haven’t shown any signs of stress marks, and I’m very careful to support them when manipulating them. I will admit that locking the tail portion into place when going into jet mode is a little worrisome, as it is a very tight fit, but so far, everything has worked out fine. I’m not about to let my 6-year old Nephew anywhere near it, but I can honestly say that I can transform Phantom without worrying about breaking him.
In robot mode, the homage to the G1 Fireflight figure holds up really well. You’ll notice, I said the figure rather than his animated counterpart. Phantom’s head is based more on the original toy and not the Sunbow design. Some may take issue with that, especially since the original toy’s head was so tiny that most will probably associate the character more with the Sunbow design. Me? I’m happy with what we got. The head is an excellent sculpt, I’m always a big fan of the mouth plate, and the light piping effect in the eyes is one of the best I’ve seen on any toy. Besides, it gives TFC or some other third-party company the option to rake in more profits by selling an alternate animated-style head somewhere down the road. At $100 maybe TFC should have included an extra head, but I’m not going to quibble over it because what’s here is just fine. Ok, I will make one quibble. The hinged plate that the head attaches to doesn’t peg into anything. I wouldn’t say it has a propensity to fly up, but it would have been nice if it pegged in somewhere.
While I’ve seen a few people complain about the fact that Phantom is basically wearing a truncated jet on his back, it was a strong characteristic of the original toy and animated character design, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides, the whole assembly locks together very well.
Phantom’s body is wonderfully proportioned and features that great boxy “I’m a friggin giant robot, and I’m not afraid to show it” G1 style that I so woefully miss in today’s designs. It also gives you a few different, albeit mostly minor, display options. His shoulder pieces are designed to point up at stylish angles, but if you’re looking for something more akin to the squared off G1 shoulder design, you can fold them down. His wings fold up onto his legs, however they can be removed entirely for a more streamlined look and even converted into a fairly cool looking shield-weapon. Likewise, the fuel pods can be held in each of his hands as guns, mounted on his arms, or each held in one hand for a kind of dual barrel weapon.
As for the quality of the toy, I have no complaints. A few years ago I might have commented that the plastic feels a little lighter than Hasbro Transformers, but compared to what Hasbro is turning out these days, it’s pretty close to being on par. It’s also worth mentioning that the parts of him that are hollow are hollow to accommodate his transformation and not to cut costs on plastic. When I pick him up, I get the same heft I would expect from an official Hasbro product in this size. I was a little worried about mold flashing, but there’s absolutely zero flashing to be found on mine. The joints are all nice and tight, and while I’ve seen some complaints about the hip joints being too tight and squeaky, my Phantom seems to have dodged that bullet.
I’m happy to say that my first foray into the world of third-party Transformers was an encouraging one. If there’s one thing that has discouraged me from buying third-party figures in the past it’s the little tweaks and fixes that people have said they had to do on them to make them right. It’s that kind of thing that waved me off of Fansproject’s Warbot tribute to Springer. If I’m paying a premium for a toy, I expect it to be done right from the get go. Phantom doesn’t need any fine tuning, as he is an impressive figure right out of the box. Both robot and jet mode are excellent, the transformation is well designed, and the figure feels like a quality product.
So, is he worth the $100? Well, that’s something only you can decide. It’s certainly a tidy sum to be paid for what would sell for around $25 to $30 tops if it were a Hasbro product, maybe a little more as an exclusive. But if you can come into the deal knowing that you’re paying extra for a limited production run of a specialty piece produced by a small company than it’s easy to rationalize the price. I’m certainly happy with what I got and I’m looking forward to TFC’s second installment of Project Uranos, F-15 Eagle, which has already begun shipping and should be arriving at my door any day now!