As promised last week, I’m back to check out the second figure in X-Transbots Master Mini Series, Stax, or “Not-Pipes” if you prefer. This figure is a remold and repaint of Krank (“Not-Huffer”) and the two figures were available at many online retailers as a pair. Because the two figures have so much in common, I’m going to be referring back to my feature on Krank quite a bit, so if you haven’t read it, you may want to do so before moving on. Getting Stax was a big part of what swayed me into going with Krank over Cubex’s Huff, and now that I’ve spent some quality time with both figures, I’m pretty comfortable with that decision.
Apart from the new character art, Stax’s box is identical to what we got with Krank. The front is heavily influenced by Takara’s Masterpiece packaging and the back is made to mimic the old G1 style boxes right down to the Tech Spec. The box is sealed with a simple piece of tape and the whole thing is totally collector friendly.
The inner tray is set up identically to Krank’s as well. You get Stax in his alt mode and his accessories spread out beside him. You still have to attach the mirrors and yes I still had to do a little shaving to get them to fit. But once they’re in, they’re in and you can return the truck to the tray without having to risk taking them out. I also experienced the same tight fit while putting in Stax’s exhaust pipes, but after the first time, they go back in quite easily so they can be removed for transformation without any worries. You also get a folded instruction sheet and a pretty forgettable profile card.
If you read my feature on Krank then you know almost all there is to know about Stax’s alt mode. Apart from the new deco the only overt difference here are the remolded exhaust pipes. Krank’s flared out at the tops and Stax’s do not. The deco here is quite attractive and again favors colored plastic over a lot of paintwork. The chrome is all still there and it looks even more striking against the darker blue of the rest of the toy. Granted, the original G1 Huffer and Pipes had more differences in their alt modes, but overall I’m Ok with what we’ve got here, mainly because there are plenty of differences in the robot modes.
The transformation is almost identical between the two figures. The only obvious difference is the way you swing Stax’s cab shell around and lock it onto his back so that the back of the cab is facing out. It is worth noting that you can also position the shell on Stax the same way as on Krank if you want to. Stax’s cab does jut out farther than Krank’s, but it doesn’t affect the balance of the figure at all. There are a couple of things worth noting on the transformation and both involve the newly sculpted upper arms. First, they are a little harder to pack away when changing him back into truck mode. Second, the ball joints in the shoulders really like to pop out during transformation. I’m not sure if that’s a design flaw or unique to my figure, but it happens almost every time. On the plus side, it only happens during transformation and not when I’m posing the figure.
And yes, in robot mode, Stax features plenty of new sculpting to make him stand out from his brother, Krank. The entire chest piece is entirely redesigned, while the legs and forearms are all borrowed from Krank. The faked out wheels on the shoulders are a nice touch. Sure, they’re obviously smaller than the actual truck wheels, but I chalk that up to the magic of animated mass-shifting. While Krank featured two complete faces, Stax’s alternate portrait is a lot more subtle. You can choose between two eyes or a single visor. I prefer the visor look, although there isn’t a profound difference between the two looks.
The official way to put on Stax’s exhaust pipes configures them as arm guns. It makes for another nice bit of variety between the molds, but the back of the pipe tends to mess with the elbow articulation, so I’ve been putting them on the same as Krank’s.
Stax comes with the same two guns as Krank. They tab securely into the figure’s hands and he looks absolutely bad-ass wielding them. I like to keep Krank with just a single gun and let Stax here brandish the pair of them. One thing I neglected to point out with Krank is that the exhaust pipes can also be combined with the gun to make a beefier weapon. It’s nice to have options, but I’m not real keen on using the pipes this way.
Even though I had a huge collection of Transformers as a kid, I never owned a G1 Pipes figure, so I’m very happy to finally own this amazing treatment of the character. I’d say the chances of him making it to an official Masterpiece line at this point are pretty slim, which makes this third-party version all the better. Stax has a few minor flubs that keep him from being perfect, but he’s still a great example of how to tweak a mold into a new character. At about $120 for the pair, I’m quite pleased with what I got. They look fantastic on my Masterpiece shelf and I’m definitely glad I took this leap of faith with X-Transbots. I believe their next project is to work this mold into a Gobots homage, which is a cool idea, but not one I’m likely to spend the dough on. On the other hand, they’re also working on a Not-Wheelie, and I’m rather interested to see how that turns out.