Every now and then every collector suffers one of those missed opportunities. You hesitate, you lose out, and you brood over it. It doesn’t happen that often to me, but Fansproject’s Code (aka Not-Chromedome) was one of those times. I didn’t pre-order him because I honestly didn’t expect him to be that hot an item. When he was released and I was ready to buy, he was gone. I got into a few bidding wars on Ebay later only to find that this one had gone beyond what I was willing to pay for him. It was time to let him go. Well, Primus smiled upon me last week as e-tailer TF Source got some extra Codes in stock and I was able to toss him in with my order of Quadruple-U. I realize that it would have been more topical to look at Quadruple-U first, since he’s a brand new release, but the truth is, I couldn’t wait to bust open Code and check him out.
Until now, the only Fansproject figures in my collection have been the Causality figures. I was a little surprised that the Function line (which seems to be focused on “Not-Headmaster” releases) comes in a very different type of package. There’s no window box with colorful artwork this time. Nope, Code comes in what is sort of like a plain brown shoebox with a folding cover. The artwork and lettering are all printed in white on a clear sleeve, which fits snugly around the box. Like I said, it’s a very different style of presentation, and while I don’t like it as much as the more traditional window box, it does have its charms, and it does make the item feel more special and limited, as opposed to something that would look at home on a big box retailer’s toy shelf.
Open the box and you get the figure in his robot mode nestled between two plastic trays. His weapons are bagged and the folded instruction sheet is on the bottom of the box. Everything is totally collector friendly, which is cool because for now I tend to keep my third-party transforming robots in their original packaging. Let’s stick to tradition and start out with his vehicle mode.
Code is a somewhat Cybertronian car, very similar to the original G1 Chromedome toy. He’s about the size of a large Deluxe Transformer, which makes him bigger than FP’s Causality figures, but as a vehicle he scales rather well with Hasbro’s recent Generations Deluxes. His auto mode isn’t terribly sexy, the brown and cream colored deco is far from flashy, but the homage is as solid as it could be. There are very few paint apps here, as most of the coloring is in the plastic, which is always a good thing in my book. I think the front bumper and headlights could have been better defined, and it doesn’t roll all that well, but otherwise I’m really happy with this alt mode.
There are a couple of noteworthy features to Code’s auto mode. First off, the cockpit does lift open to reveal a space for his Headmaster buddy (oh, let’s call him… Not-Stylor) to sit inside. He pegs in between his legs and there’s a fold up steering yoke for him to grab. Very cool! You can also attach Code’s two guns to the back of the car to give him some nice alt-mode firepower, just like with the G1 Chromedome toy. His guns are hinged at the handles so the barrels can be leveled straight forward. It’s this kind of little bits of engineering that really impress me. Adding a couple of hinges to the guns may sound like nothing, but there’s a reason why toy companies are cutting articulation to the bone… it’s expensive.
As for Not-Stylor, he’s about what I expected from a Headmaster figure. He looks quite good for what he is and he just folds up into a ball to form Code’s familiar looking noggin. I was worried he might feel flimsy, but he’s got the same high quality plastic feel as the rest of the toy.
Code’s transformation is both clever and amazing. I’ll confess, I thought it a bit overly complex the first time I attempted it, but then it’s so cool the way the hood travels along the little track, passes off to the pelvis so that it can rotate around and do what seems impossible and become his chest. I can’t help but appreciate what the designers did here and it provided me with a real gee-whiz moment the first time I did it. The plastic is high quality and nothing about the transformation feels dubious or risky. On the contrary, considering what’s involved it feels quite comfy and after a few times, I was able to do it rather quickly. Everything fits together nicely.
And yes, the payoff is certainly worth it. Code has a beautiful robot mode that makes him look like the latest in Takara’s masterpiece line. He’s a wonderful amalgam of the G1 toy and the IDW art. It’s the clean, boxy G1 feel of this guy that really grabs me and makes him look like he just stepped out of the Sunbow cartoon or a panel of a comic. Thanks to his clever transformation, his hood is actually his chest and not faked out, and his cockpit lands neatly on his back. The wheels pack into his legs and into his torso quite well leaving virtually no kibble or blights on his bot body. The end result is he appears more like a non-transforming articulated figure rather than a working transformer. The headmaster’s excellent head mode really ties the whole figure together wonderfully. His robot mode stands a little larger than the current crop of Hasbro Deluxes, but not so much that it wouldn’t work in a display.
The headmaster plugs right into a notch in the middle of a rotating plate so that you can still turn his head. The downside is that it isn’t ball jointed, so he can’t look up. The rest of the articulation includes ball joints in the shoulders and hips. The arms have swivels in the biceps and wrists, and double hinged elbows. The legs swivel at the thighs and have double-hinged knees. I would have really liked some rockers in the ankles, but he’s an exceptionally well-balanced figure so can still stand quite well in various poses without them. And this is definitely a fun figure to fiddle about with and pose.
Code comes with his two red rifles, which are nice sculpts and include some white paint on the scopes and barrel tips. He can hold them in both of his hands making him ready to dish out the hurt on Decepticon fools.
I seem to recall Code originally sold for around sixty bucks. I paid $90 for the re-stock and that’s a lot less than I would have paid had I kept bidding on him on Ebay. As far as third-party robots go, it’s not that bad a price. I paid $60 a pop for FP’s Not-Stunticons, and they are notably smaller than Code. The truth is, I would have probably still been totally happy with him if I paid a lot more. It’s worth mentioning here that I never owned Chromedome as a kid. I did have him in the vintage G1 collection that I had about 15 years ago, but that collection is long gone. I liked him well enough, but it wasn’t until I started reading the More Than Meets The Eye comic that I had a desire to own him again. Fansproject brought Code along at just the right time and this figure does that character justice in every conceivable way. I absolutely adore this figure and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to pick him up without getting killed on the price!