Lost Exo-Realm: Columpio with Drepan (LER-01) by Fansproject, Part 2

As promised, I’m back to wrap up my look at Fansproject’s first foray into the world of dinosaur change-a-bots. Columpio does indeed bear a purely coincidental resemblance to a certain Transformer named Sludge. Yesterday I took a look at his alt mode and his little buddy Derpan. Now it’s time to transform this beast and see what his robot mode is all about.

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Damn, he looks so sweeeeet! But before I get into how beautiful he looks, let’s talk about the conversion process. Transforming Columpio feels vaguely similar to the original G1 toy with the complexity beefed up to account for better proportions and articulation. Really, the biggest change is the way his tail packs away into his legs. Some other cool things are at work like the way his shoulders pull outward and upward and his torso pulls up a bit allowing the chest panel to drop forward and the head to fold out. He even has articulated knee flaps to help with his range of leg movement. The dino legs on his robot legs peg into place nicely and while the dino head just hangs loose down his back it stays put quite well. The plastic and tolerances on the toy feel fine, although it was a bit scary “cracking” open his dinosaur shell to start the process along, but it helps to split the tail first. Yeah, the instructions were helpful when I had to consult them, but after just one change forward and back I think I’ve got this guy down pat. It’s not terribly fiddly and it goes pretty quick.

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As for aesthetics, I find Columpio to be a delightful mix of G1 homage and originality. He’s a damn powerful looking figure and I think he scales quite well with the Classics Voyager Prime and the Deluxe Autobots, particularly if you like your Dinobots to be giants. They were pretty big boys in the Sunbow cartoon. And yeah, I suppose he can hang with War For Cybertron Grimlock, at least until Fansproject’s own version of Grimmy comes along. I think the biggest departure in Columpio’s design is found in his chest configuration. It’s still got the black panel running down the middle and jutting out, which flipped out on the original toy to seat the pilot. The upper chest has been rebuilt to give him a more stylized look by adding blue vents and neck guards running on either side of his head. It almost looks like the front end of some kind of vehicle. Maybe? I have to say I really like those two blue discs midway down his chest. I like to imagine that they can serve as chest headlights. Why? I don’t know. I just think that would be cool.

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Columpio’s arms and legs feel right in line with what I wanted in an updated Sludge. The big difference with his legs is that the split tail stores inside the leg and not on the outside. That was a wise move because not only does it fill in his leg cavities, but it allows for the room necessary to store those big dino legs on his robot legs. Columpio still features the “wings” that the G1 toy had, but they are much more compact and they don’t stick out past his arms, unless you want them to and you can achieve that effect by not folding in the side panels.

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The head sculpt is pure money. It’s a sharp sculpt with a silver painted face and a somewhat original “helmet” design. Fansproject went with blue eyes, which favor the Sunbow character over the original toy, and added some nice blue paint hits to the “helmet.” Fansproject has always turned out some of my favorite third-party head sculpts and Columpio here does nothing to buck that trend.

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Articulation? Columpio has it in spades. The arms feature rotating hinges with a generous range of motion, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. His wrists do not swivel, but they are hinged as part of the transformation and his fingers are all set on one hinge to allow him to grasp his weapons. The legs have ball joints in the hips, powerful ratchets in the knees, with secondary knee hinges below as part of the transformation. The front of his feet are ball jointed to mimic lateral rockers and allowing him to look more natural in wider stances. He can swivel at the waist and he has a ball joint in his neck. The hip joints could be a little tighter, but they are certainly capable of holding him just fine and they’re actually much better than the loosey-goosey hips on my Hasbro Masterpiece Grimlock.

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As for weapons, Columpio comes with a rifle and a sword. The rifle is a satisfyingly large piece that can be held in either hand and features a folding bayonet that I absolutely love. The handle can also fold in for when it’s being stored on Columpio’s back or on his dino mode.

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The energon sword has a broad angular blade cast in transparent red plastic with lots of panels sculpted into it. The hilt is pretty beefy and has a cable running from top to bottom making it look a bit like a knucklebow on a traditional sword. Like the rifle, he can hold the sword in either hand and he looks great doing it.

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Both weapons can peg into the inside of Columpio’s wings for storage. It looks a bit clunky from the back, but not so bad from the front. I actually think it works best when you’re just storing a single weapon, so if he wants to get medieval with his sword, he can stow his rifle back there until it’s needed. I always love the ability to store weapons on the figure like this. I wasn’t expecting it so it was a very welcome surprise!

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The last thing to talk about is Derpan’s weapon mode. He transforms into an axe with a few possible configurations for the blade. A couple of cool things worth noting are the way his own weapons store on him when he’s a weapon and the fact that the pommel of the axe handle is a tiny sculpted dinosaur head. Well, isn’t that just precious!

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The standard double axe configuration looks pretty badass, but there’s also a cool battle pick that involves folding up one blade and leaving the other out. Either way, I think Derpan’s weapon mode is a win. It’s well executed and Columpio looks great wielding him. Still, it must really suck to transform into an implement that other robots use to hit things.

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In a way, I expected Columpio to give off a strong War For Cybertron vibe, but in hand, I have no problem regarding him as my regular G1 Sludge. It’s true, he may stray a little too far from the conventional Sludge design for some, but I think he works beautifully for a general modern update to the character. It’s the kind of design I could see appearing in Generations, if Generations were a whole lot better and more expensive. Speaking of expensive, Columpio set me back $115, which feels about right for a Voyager sized third-party figure, and a bit better when you toss in Derpan as an extra. The quality and engineering is definitely here, but then I would have expected nothing less from Fansproject. I think Columpio is a fantastic first step for the Lost Exo-Realm line and I am super excited to get my hands on the next figure as well as see the rest of the reveals.

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