FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 2

Welcome back to the Week of Insufferable Lists. I’m not really here this week, but my Life Model Decoy is right in the middle of laying out my Ten Favorite Acquisitions of 2017. Let’s jump right in with the final five. Again, these are in no particular order…

Mythic Legions Stone Troll by The Four Horsemen: Back when I blew my tax return on that original Mythic Legions kickstarter, I never could have guessed how big it would get. Now my Mythic Legions army is expansive and early next year, I’ll be dropping another 35 figures onto those shelves. But if I had to choose one figure that really illustrates how big and successful this line has been, it would be the huge Stone Troll. The sculpt and paintwork on this guy are amazing and it really illustrates how much more craftsmanship can go into a toy that isn’t destined for the shelves at Target or Walmart. My only regret is that I couldn’t budget the Forest Troll to go with him, but at least I take comfort in the fact that soon he’ll have a Cyclops buddy.

DC Bombshells Batwoman (Designer Series) by DC Collectibles: While I had to take a pass on collecting most of the DC Bombshell statues, I was happy to get the Bombshell figures as a more space-friendly alternative. The first wave was chock full of knockouts, so it wasn’t easy choosing one as a favorite. In the end, I went with Batwoman, because I love the pun, I love baseball, and this figure is just too much fun. Great sculpt, great articulation, and great accessories! But hell, I just as easily could have stuck Harley or Wonder Woman in this slot. These are some of DC Collectibles’ best work in years.

Lost Exo Realm (LER-04) Deluxe Severo by Fansproject: 2017 will likely be my last big hurrah with Third-Party Transformers and it was mostly spent tying up loose ends. It took me a long while to get around to picking up Severo and wrapping up my LER Dinobots, so long that I had almost lost interest. He sat for months waiting to be opened, but when I finally did it was love at first sight. Not only is he an imposing beast in either robot or dino modes, but he comes with so many extra weapons and a throne fit for a king.

DC Gallery (Batman: The Animated Series) Zatanna by Diamond Select: I’ve been generally pleased with Diamond’s line of budget statues based on Marvel and DC characters. So much so, that I knew I had to include something from this line on my list of favorites. There were several contendors, but in the end, I had to go with Zatanna. Not only do I love the character, but this statue is very nearly perfect. The sculpt is a spot on representation of her from the Batman Animated Series, the paint application is clean and precise, and the overall quality feels like something beyond a budget statue.

Zenescope’s Robyn Hood Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen: I purchased and reviewed all three of Phicen’s Zenescope figures in 2017, and I don’t think anyone really cared. That’s cool. Zenescope is a small comic book company, and most definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, so I can understand the lack of interest. I could have probably picked any one of these figures for this list solely based on the fact that it’s a miracle a company actually produced Zenescope merch, much less high end merch. And while I love all three of these ladies, the truth is that picking one was not even difficult. Liesel Van Helsing and Mercy Dante are both great figures, but Phicen just knocked it out of the park with Robyn Locksley.

And that’s going to do it for the good stuff. Come back tomorrow and we’ll start having a look at some of those purchases that sucker punched me in the nether regions with my first five Disappointments of 2017.

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Lost Exo-Realm Severo (LER-04 DX Edition) by Fansproject, Part 2

Welcome back, Convertorobo Fans, to the second part of my look at the fourth release in Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm series of Not-Dinobots. It’s Severo, a figure that is under no circumstances meant to resemble a certain Transformer named Grimlock. Yesterday, I checked out his T-Rex mode and now I’m all ready to get him into robot mode. Transforming Severo is very similar to many past Grimlock figures. The dino legs become the arms, the robot legs fold out of the tail, the dino chest splits in half, and the neck and head are worn down the back. The tolerances and clearances on this figure are all fine, but it does take a little work to disengage the tabs that lock him together in his dino mode. With that having been said, I was able to change this guy from robot to dino and back for the first time in a while without having to consult instructions, so I consider that to be fairly intuitive. In fact, I’d say he’s the second easiest of the LER figures to transform, with Volar/Swoop being the easiest.

Behold, Severo in his robot mode. I freaking love this guy! He looks like a goddamn powerhouse and he walks that fine line between hitting all the important Grimlock tropes while still offering something of a unique edge to his design. The gold chest with clear chest-plate is easily recognizable, as are the dino claws that frame his fists on the tops and bottoms of his chunky forearms. The proportions on this big guy are perfect to me, and that goes a long way to make up for some of the sacrifices made to the T-Rex mode’s proportions. I think my favorite design element here are those high and massive shoulders. Not only do they look damn imposing, but they’re practical in that they help protect his head from getting knocked off in a melee fight. The robot mode retains a lot of the same deco as his T-Rex mode, but also adds some very bright red to his abs and pelvis.

From the back, we can see some more familiar Grimlock elements. The two halves of the T-Rex chest form “wings,” but here they actually peg into place to keep them from flopping around. And while they look like a hollow eyesore now, I’ll come back to them in a bit with a way to fill them out as weapons storage. The dino hands can be positioned in a number of ways, but I prefer them straight out with the claws pointing down. By turning the T-Rex head around it tucks in pretty nicely along his back. Although this piece does not peg into place, it tends to stay put pretty well. The lower legs are a little unsightly from the back, and you can easily see where the tail folds up. Oh yeah, they can be a little tough to see, Severo has some exhaust ports coming off the back of his shoulders, which make for a nice homage to War Within Grimlock.

The head sculpt borrows heavily from the Grimlock we all know and love, it’s just more stylized and angular and looks terrific. He has a lovely translucent red visor with two light piping panels on the top of his head. Sadly, these don’t seem to work that well. Even with a direct light source, I can’t seem to get his visor to illuminate. Oh well. The head shot above also gives a closer look at the plates that the shoulders connect to. I’m going to assume that these were meant as another homage to War Within Grimmy, as they look to be sculpted a bit like treads. Even if it wasn’t intentional, I can sure see a connection in the design and I love it.

Severo’s articulation is excellent for a bulky guy and I’m happy to say that he’s bristling with strong ratchet joints. This is probably a bit of overcompensation brought on my Columpio’s somewhat loose hips. In addition to rotating ratchets in his shoulders and hips, he has double hinges in his elbows, hinges in his knees, swivels in his wrists, biceps, and thighs. His head is ball jointed, he has a waist swivel, and his ankles feature feature swiveling hinges to help keep his feet flat, even in those wider stances. His fingers are also hinged with all the fingers fused as one. Severo has a fair amount of lateral movement in his arms. He can’t quite get them up at a 90-degree angle from his shoulder, but what’s here fine for me. Now, let’s check out some weapons!

I showed off the giant mini-guns with his T-Rex mode and obviously he can dual wield them in his robot mode as well. Severo is already a formidable looking bot, so what do you get when you equip him with these bad boys? Probably a lot of Decepticons shitting their pants. The mini-guns peg right into his fists and they have hinged trigger guards that close up over the knuckles on the hands. These weapons feature nicely detailed sculpts as well as some translucent red pieces near the breeches, which do include a nice light piping effect. Equipping both of the giant mini-guns also shows how well those ratchet joints hold up.

Did I mention Severo can store most of his weapons on his person when he’s not using them? The mini-guns tab securely into slots on his “wings” which makes them angle up over his shoulders and gives him a cool and very distinctive silhouette. They also help fill up that hollow look behind the wings that I mentioned earlier.

If the mini-guns are a little too overstated for you, Severo comes with a double-barrel rifle that’s very reminiscent of Grimlock’s trademark weapon. It’s a single molded piece of black plastic with two translucent red pieces that plug into the ends of the barrels. This thing looks OK, but I feel like maybe it’s a little too big and the red tips on the barrels look a little obnoxious to me. It’s nice to have it, but I doubt I’ll be displaying him with it a lot.

Severo can store the rifle behind either shoulder by pegging it into either of his “wings,” but you can’t store it there if his mini-guns are in place. Technically, you could have him wear it on his hip, by pegging it into the socket there, but it’s very unwieldy and I wouldn’t recommend it. Besides, the hip works much better as a place to store our next weapon…

Next up is his sword. Each of the LER figures came with an energy sword, and each one has been a completely new design and sculpt. Severo’s is a no-nonsense weapon with a simple cross-guard and some great detail work in the blade. He can hold it well in either hand, although the top claw can sometimes get in the way of the cross-guard, so it helps to angle it.

Much of the promotional art shows Severo wearing the sword on his shoulder. That’s certainly an option, but I think it looks rather awkward there. Thankfully, he also has ports on each of his hips, so he can wear the sword in a more normal fashion. I really love being able to store it on his hip and I wish all the other LER figures were capable of doing this as well. Let’s move on to his last weapon, the Weapon Masters War Hammer!

Remember these goofy guys? Well, they combine into this…

Now, I’m not going to get into the ethics of one sentient robot using other sentient robot beings as a bludgeoning implement, but if you don’t think too hard about it, it’s pretty bad ass. It’s not the prettiest weapon in the world, it’s just a big block of destruction with spikes sticking out of it, but it’s ridiculously heavy looking and Severo looks great wielding it. I would imagine it could make quick work of a Decepticon head. It’s really the perfect weapon for a prehistoric robot warrior. But Severo is not just any robot warrior, he’s king. And every king needs a throne…

The throne is the biggest incentive to go for the Deluxe release of the figure, and it is indeed quite the showpiece. It’s cast in durable plastic with the back portion hollow and unfinished. The front and sides feature all sorts of panel lines, exposed pipes, vents and other bits of detail. It’s also painted with a wash to give it a dirty, oily, and overall well-worn look. The hole in the back is there to accommodate the T-Rex head hanging off Severo’s back. Not only does it allow him to sit, but it helps hold him in place quite nicely too.

It’s impressive to me that such a bulky figure design can not only sit on this thing, but look great doing it. Originally, I wasn’t sure I was going to go for the Deluxe version, because the whole Grimlock wearing a crown and sitting on a throne gimmick doesn’t do a lot for me. But seeing him seated on it, really sells it. There are also a bunch of peg holes on the throne so that you can hang his mini-guns on it, and you can even place all the LER Dinobot swords on it, Game of Thrones style.

There is room for one more sword too, in case Fansproject ever gets around to releasing Snarl. Fabulous!

And yes, he does come with a crown too, if that’s your thing. I’m glad they stopped short of giving him an apron and a tea tray.

Phew… even for a two-parter, this was a lot to talk about, and my thanks to those of you who are still with me! The Deluxe version of Severo retailed at most sellers for around $139.99, which was only about $20 more than the regular version. Of all the LER Dinobots, he’s the only one that seems to have sold out at the regular places I visit, at least the last time I checked. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of the releases in this series quite a bit and now that I have the LER versions of the original three Dinobots, as well as Swoop, I’m all the more pleased. These make for a damned impressive display, which only begs the question… where’s the LER version of Snarl? Well, Fansproject actually showed off a painted prototype of Snarl, designated LER-06 and named Pinchar, sometime last year. Although since then the LER-05 and LER-06 slots have been taken up by a couple of Femme-Dinobots that transform into raptors. These are slated to be released any time now, and I like the idea that they’re thinking outside the box. Again, my favorite thing about these dinos is that they’re original interpretations and not just straight copies. But it’s undeniably frustrating to be getting those before Snarl. And there’s still some question over whether or not Pinchar is going to release at all. Fansproject is claiming it will happen, but the longer the delays get, the less likely it seems.

Lost Exo-Realm Severo (LER-04 DX Edition) by Fansproject, Part 1

Today, I’m rolling out a blast from the past! I embarked on collecting Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm Not-Dinobots back in 2014 with the first release, Columpio. I’ve been grabbing them up and reviewing them as each one released up until the fourth figure, Severo (aka Not-Grimlock) and he kind of got lost in the shuffle. It wasn’t that I forgot about reviewing him, but rather I could never find the time needed to transform all his brothers for the group and comparison shots that I would inevitably need to do. And so, he kept getting pushed back and pushed back. But with the final quarter of the year looming, I’m trying to wrap up any loose ends and happily Severo is now going to be one of them. As with the past LER figures, I’m going to break this up into two parts, which works out fine since I didn’t have anything new for DC Friday tomorrow anyhow. Today I’m going to look at the packaging, the T-Rex mode, and his little robot Weapon Masters, and tomorrow I’ll come back with his robot mode, throne, and other accessories!

So, I should point out that I’m looking at the Deluxe Edition of the figure, which means he comes with some extra stuff and requires a much bigger box than the regular release and his dino-brothers. The artwork is still very similar to previous releases, but instead of a landscape box, this one is closer to being a cube. The front flap is secured with velcro and opens to reveal the figure in his robot mode, and sitting on his massive throne. The back panel shows photos of the contents, including Severo in both his modes. Inside the box, you get the figure, an instruction booklet, the throne, a bunch of weapons, and his Weapon Master twins, Pottad and Kottav. The exclusive items here are the throne, and the on extra Weapon Master. Most of the weapons are intended for his robot mode, but we will get to take a look at a couple today.

And here is Severo in his T-Rex mode. There’s a lot for me to love here and some things for me to gripe about. For starters, his design matches his brothers perfectly. From the concave VTOL-style shoulders in the legs, to the various cut lines and panels, there’s no denying that these fellas are all intended to be a matched set. The coloring is also as great as ever. The gray plastic is rich and mimics a steel finish pretty well. There’s some red and green panels painted in, as well as some translucent red parts covering exposed areas. One deviation in the deco can be found in the use of metallic gold. The previous releases used metallic gold for the exclusives and a satin gold finish for the regular retail releases. Severo marries the two together by using the satin gold for the claws, but the metallic gold for his neck and back plates. I think it works pretty well. You also get some metallic silver for the arms. The paint quality on this line has been top notch from the beginning and after four figures, it has yet to disappoint.

Severo looks like a powerhouse when viewed from certain angles, but from the sides he looks like his body and tail are somewhat atrophied. It almost makes him look like a T-Rex/Raptor Hybrid. It’s kind of the reverse of what we got with MP Grimlock  In fact, let’s have a quick look…

The Lost Exo-Realm dinos are scaled for the Generations line, so Severo isn’t quite as tall as Grimlock, but he comes closer than I originally imagined. But where MP Grimlock has a powerful, beefy body, and rather understated legs, Severo has the reverse. His legs look big and powerful, and his body a little puny. Note that I have his mini-guns attached in the picture above, which bulks him out a little more, and I’ll come back to those in a bit. The legs feature articulation in the shoulders, knees, and ankles and he can balance quite well, which is a good thing, because his tail tends to be off the ground. As always, the LER figures are meant to be Fansproject’s interpretations of the Dinobots, not direct copies, like some of the other 3P efforts, and while I would have preferred a bulkier body, I still really like the direction they took this T-Rex mode.

The dino head looks great and can angle from side to side. The jaws open and he’s got a flame nozzle inside his mouth. It’s pretty rad and makes me wish he came with a flame effect part to plug in there. I won’t hold that against him, though, because in fairness, there’s a hell of a lot of other stuff in this box. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and the fingers are molded together and hinged. And speaking of other stuff in the box…

The mini-guns tab together and peg into Severo’s back. Chances are Severo will spend most of his time displayed in robot mode, but if I ever do choose to display him in T-Rex mode, you can bet he’s going to have these babies on him. Not only do they fill him out better, but why would you not want twin gatling guns on your robot dino? Of course, these are only the official placement.

They can also be pegged in further up where they can independently swivel. While not as compact, I like this look a lot. Not only can they aim independently, but they also have a lot more clearance. Want more?

Well, you can also plug them into the sides of his legs. This looks like it would be pretty effective too, but he’s already wide in the hips, and this just adds to that even more, so it’s not one of my favorite looks for him. What’s that? You like your giant robot T-Rex’s to be more hands on?

Yes, Severo can actually wield his giant miniguns in his adorable little T-Rex hands. My friends, this is almost everything I’ve ever wanted in a Dinobot. I can’t even calculate how much this raises the coolness factor of this toy for me. Well done, Fansproject. Well done. Let’s move on to Severo’s Twin Weapon Masters…

Pottad and Kottav are identical twins and they’re quite sturdy and well made for these types of figures. They’re squat and stocky designs gives them a bit of a primitive look that works well with the Dinobot theme. They’re comprised of black, gray, and red plastic, with some gold and red paint hits to spruce things up. The articulation is pretty good too, with plenty of hinges and ball joints in all the right places. These fellas can transform and combine to form a pretty big war hammer for Severo, but we’ll look at that tomorrow. The Weapon Masters have never been a big draw for me about this line, but after four releases, they have grown on me quite a bit. It’s just a neat little extra that Fansproject threw in and it definitely makes the LER series stand more distinctive in sea of 3P Not-Dinobots. OK, let’s wrap up today with some group shots of all four of the LER figures in their dino modes.

Hell, yeah! I think these guys look amazing together and I’m really happy I took this plunge way back when. The decos and styles match beautifully and they scale pretty well with my Generations figures. As for Severo, I think the T-Rex mode is overall very good, but the smaller body holds him back from being great. From certain angles he looks fine, but from others I think his alt mode falls behind those of the other LER Dinobots. On the other hand, he more than makes up for it with play value as well as all the work Fansproject put into his sculpting and deco. And as we’ll see tomorrow, his robot mode rises to the occasion to make up for any deficiencies in this mode. Come on back tomorrow and we’ll wrap this up. There’s still plenty to talk about!

Lost Exo-Realm Volar with Velos (LER-03) by Fansproject, Part 2

Welcome back, lovers of legally-suspect third-party convertorobots! Today I’m wrapping up my look at Fansproject’s Volar, a figure who is most certainly not in any way meant to be perceived as a Dinobot named Swoop. Yesterday I checked out the packaging, Volar’s alt mode, and Velos’ robot mode and today we’ll switch it around and look at Volar’s robot mode and Velos’ weapon mode. Let’s get to it!

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Hot damn, do I love this robot mode! I mentioned yesterday, that there aren’t too many surprises when it comes to Volar’s transformation. The beast mode’s legs unfold into the robot’s legs, the arms fold out from the back, the beast head locks into the chest, and the back half swings back to reveal the head. That’s the reader’s digest version of the engineering here, but there’s not a lot more to it. Compared to the sometimes tortured steps of getting Cubrar and Columpio back into their dino modes, this guy is a snap. And hey, complexity isn’t always necessary. What’s here works beautifully and certainly makes for a great looking homage to G1 Swoop. One thing I was particularly happy to see was that Volar’s wings are not connected to his arms, so you can have independent movement of each. You do still have plenty of options as to how you want to position them, but it’s damn nice that they will stay put no matter what you have Volar’s arms doing.

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Those wings are indeed the biggest departure from the old Swoop we all know and love, which is something that was evident in his alt mode. They have a hooked, almost sickle-like design that really drives home the fact that this is more robot thaen beast. It also makes him look rather bad ass. The rest of the design is a lot more familiar, right down to the way the dino head splits in half with the front forming the center of the chest and the back making up the back of his robot head. It’s also worth mentioning that Volar is a lot more svelte than his two bulky brothers. His waist is really thin, but with broad shoulders and the big set of wings to back him up, he still fills out his form pretty well and can certainly hang with Cubrar and Columpio. He also feature some great articulation. The arms have shoulders with rotating lateral hinge, swivels in the biceps and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and the fingers are together on one hinge. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, swivel at the hips, double hinged in the knees, and ball jointed in the ankles. Volar can swivel at the waist and he has a ball jointed neck.

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Fansproject has a way with robot head sculpts, and Volar is another great example of that. The face is clean and simple with some beautiful blue eyes.
The color pallet remains practically unchanged from the alt mode. You get a lot of grey plastic, with a red torso and pelvis, and that great satin gold and silver. It’s all rounded out with some black trim. As mentioned yesterday, Velor comes with an optional blue torso if you’d rather go that way, but I’m happy keeping his colors matching Columpio and Cubrar.

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When it comes to weapons, Volar has a lot of options. His missile launchers can be left on his wings, front or back, or they can be wielded in hand like guns. I would have liked the option to mount them on his arms too, but I can’t find any way to do that. Like his predecessors, he comes with his own unique translucent red bladed energy sword, which can peg onto his hip for storage. Between keeping his launchers on his wings and his sword on his hip, Volar can easily tote all of his weapons around with him, which is one of the many features I love so much about this line.

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And speaking of weapons, Volar’s little buddy, Velos, can transform into a funky looking crossbow. It’s a tad unwieldly, but since we’ve already seen a couple of axes, I like that they mixed it up with a new kind of weapon. Velos’ transformation isn’t as clever as either Derpan or Tekour but it still works fine for me. The Targetmasters were never a selling point for me and this line, but they’re certainly neat little bonuses and definitely add value.

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I’m now three figures into this line and with each release I’m happier that I went with Fansproject for my Not-Dinobot needs. I’ll confess I really like the more traditional designs of some of the other companies doing these in Masterpiece scale, but I still expect to get those from Hasbro one day. Besides, which, I’m really enjoying Fansproject’s slightly more original take on these characters. These figures strike me as something more unique that we aren’t likely to see again. At just under a hundred bones, Volar is a pretty good value for what you get, at least in the relative world of pricey third-party Transformers. His size makes him just right for my Generations shelf, as I’m of the belief that these guys should be bigger than Optimus and a lot bigger than the regular Autobots. He also fits in great with FP’s own Function Series. And speaking of which, Fansproject, you still owe us a Function-X Skullcruncher. Don’t think I forgot about that!

Lost Exo-Realm Volar with Velos (LER-03) by Fansproject, Part 1

[If you dropped by last week during my temporary shut down, you may have gotten a raw preview of today’s Feature. I had forgotten it was scheduled to go out and it was indeed not yet complete. It was probably up for a day or so before I stumbled upon it while tinkering with the site, spat Jameson all over my monitor, and quickly took it down. Anyway, here’s the finished, final version and hopefully the last of the wrinkles from last week that I have to iron out. -FF]

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that every Third-Party Convertobot company out there has been taking a crack at their own versions of The Dinobots these days. While some of these companies have been brazenly shooting for “as close to copyright infringing G1 likenessas as they can get” styles, Fansproject has been presenting us with a little more of a unique look to these prehistoric-based Transformers. That tickled my fancy enough to get me to shell out the monies for the first two, Columpio (Not-Sludge) and Cubrar (Not-Slag) and I was quite pleased with what I got. To me these are something more akin to what we would get from Hasbro if they ever did a proper Generations-updated style of Dinobots, only far more detailed and complex. The Lost Exo-Realm figures flirt with the G1 designs just enough, while still bringing plenty of originality to the table. I can’t see any rhyme or reason to the order these guys are being released (I mean, who starts with Sludge?), but their third release is Volar (Not-Swoop) and this guy landed on my doorstep last week.

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There were some differences in the presentation of packaging between Columpio and Cubrar, but things seem to have settled down now as Volar’s box is very similar to Cubrar’s. There’s some great artwork on the front and lots of pictures of the toy on the back. The front flap is secured by some of the strongest velcro I’ve ever encountered and lifts up to reveal a window showing the goodies inside. The contents include the two figures, a bag of weapons, and an instruction booklet. Also included with my purchase was a replacement pelvis and hips for Columpio, which some may remember shipped with some rather loose hips. Getting bonus parts to improve on earlier releases is something I first encountered with Mastermind Creations, but it’s cool that Fansproject is following suit. Will I swap them? Probably not. It’s not a huge issue with me, but it’s nice to know I have the option. Anywho… as has been the case with past LER releases, Volar comes packaged in his alt mode and that’s where we’re going to start.

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I don’t know what’s what in the dinosaur world anymore, but back when I was a kid we called something like this a pterodactyl, although I seem to recall Spike calling it a pteranodon in one of the episodes of the Sunbow cartoon. Either way, it’s one of them flying dinosaur sum’bitches. Overall, I think this mode is pretty well done, but I’ll also admit that I’m grading it on a curve because this is a tough alt mode to do much with. In a lot of ways it reminds me of FP’s Sigma-L (Not-Mindwipe) because you’re pretty much always just going to have the robot feet tuck in to be the animal’s legs, and the arms tied into the wings. Volar does a few interesting things, like the way the arms fold behind him to form a sort of jetpack and the fact that he has a cute little dinosaur tail, but looking at this mode still tells almost the whole story of how this thing is going to transform.

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That having been said, what’s here is pretty damn cool. I totally dig the head, which is extremely evocative of the G1 character design. The wing configuration has more of a hooked profile than I remember the original toy having, but it’s quite distinctive and pretty vicious looking. The wingspan is an impressive 13-inches or so when fully extended and there’s a lot of articulation there to work with. Each wing has universal movement at the point of connection to the body and is hinged in two places, so you can fold them up and put them at his side when Volar is standing at rest. The head features some limited movement at the neck, but mostly up and down and a little tilt side to side. The jaw is fully articulated and can open pretty wide.

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If you’ve been collecting the retail releases of this line, you know what to expect from the deco. Volar is mostly molded in red and gray plastic and features that same great satiny gold paint that we saw on Cubrar and Columpio. There’s also some silver and blue accents as well. One thing Volar is missing is the shiny metallic silver found on his two predecessors. In this case the silver is more like a satin finish to match the gold. Swoop comes with a red torso, but if you want to mix it up for a little Sunbow cartoon accuracy, a blue torso is included so long as you’re willing to do the work to switch it out. I’m not one for disassembling my $100 toys, so pardon me if I don’t show you both versions.

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Volar features a pair of (non-firing) missile launchers, which can be attached in a couple of different ways. They can be clipped onto his back, or more specifically, they are held by his robot hands, which jut off the sides of the jetpack. They can also be pegged into his wings for a more G1 accurate look, either front or back.

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Of course, one of the cool little bonuses of the Lost Exo-Realm line is that each figure comes with a little Targetmaster-style buddy. I don’t know if it’s really appropriate to call the previous two Targetmasters because they turn into some kind of chopping or bludgeoning weapon, but in this case, Velos is some kind of crossbow. I love the idea of these little guys and they have featured some really impressive sculpting and design work, but having the huge weapon shaft sticking off of their backs has been a downer. I’m happy to say that Fansproject fixed that problem with Velos by having the the end of the shaft unpeg to become his weapon with the rest of the shaft pointing upward behind his back. Ironically, apart from this huge improvement, Velos is probably my least favorite of these three little figures. He’s perfectly fine, but I like the looks of the others better and their own little weapons were much cooler.

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Aaaaand, that’s where I’m going to break today because my trusty word processor is telling me I’m well past my arbitrary and self-imposed word count limit. Tomorrow I’ll swing back and check out Volar’s robot mode and Velos’ weapon mode!

Lost Exo-Realm Cubrar with Tekour (LER-02) by Fansproject, Part 2

I’m back to wrap up my look at Fansproject’s Cubrar, Not-Slag, and it’s time to get to the transforming. Going from dinosaur to robot involves some clever engineering, although there are also some subtle double-hinged plates that need to be positioned just right to make some things work. I know, that’s the case for most changeable robots, but it the margin for error feels particularly small here. For example, if you miss a minor double-fold on the plate holding the dino legs, then getting them packed into the robot legs is an impossibility. It took me a little patience the first time, but after that it was easy-peasy. Changing him back into the dinosaur mode has its own challenges, particularly getting everything to pack in and close up just right. That’s where that extra sheet of instructions came in real handy. In the end, Cubrar’s transformation feels a lot more complex and fidgety than Columpio’s, but the tolerances and clearance all feel good and not at all scary.

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Like Columpio, Cubrar’s robot mode walks a fine line between G1 Dinobot and original design. It’s easy to see a lot of the stuff borrowed from Slag, the most obvious being the way the dino’s bottom jaw drops down to form the center of his chest and the top of the dino head forms a hood behind the robot head, complete with horns and all. On the flip side, Fansproject put enough of their own marks on this design to make it feel fresh. Probably my favorite departure from the G1 look is the way Cubrar wears the dinosaur’s neck crest as shoulder armor. It’s a beautiful touch and pretty damn clever the way it works. Also, rather than wear his bulky dino legs on the outside of his robot legs, they pack neatly inside, similar to what Columpio’s design did with his tail. This wonderful mix of old and new results in an absolutely fantastic robot mode. The proportions on this guy are just amazing and he follows he whole G1-but-not-G1 aesthetic that I love so much about most of Hasbro’s Classics and Generations lines.

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Cubrar also improves on a couple of issues I had with Columpio, particularly in the way the back kibble is handled. Cubrar wears the dino’s tail on his back in a similar fashion to the way Columpio wore his dino’s neck and head. But while Columpio’s was left to flop in the breeze, Cubrar’s actually pegs in securely, making for a more solid robot mode. Of course, the downside of this is that it locks up his waist pivot. It’s a shame the hinge for the tail couldn’t have been mounted higher to avoid this. The biggest issue I had with Columpio was how loose his hip joints were, although I was able to fix them with a little nail polish. You get none of that with Cubrar. Every joint on this guy is tight and solid and he holds a pose beautifully.

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Cubrar’s noggin is a bit beefier than Columpio’s, partly because his face is broader and partly because his “helmet” is larger. His face has plenty of character with large blue visor and an extra helping of lips and the silver paint is immaculate. And for those of you who are fans of Lockdown from Age of Extinction (Shame on you!!!), you can transform Cubrar’s face into a gun, or in this case, I guess it’s a flame-thrower. Yeah, it’s just a byproduct of the transformation, but a fun option nonetheless.

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The deco in Cubrar’s robot mode closely matches what we saw in dino mode. You get the same great gray and red plastics with some metallic blue and silver detail work and more of that satiny smooth gold. The colors on this guy really pop and they match Columpio perfectly. I’m hoping this is the coloring that we’re going to get all the way through to the end of the line.

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Accessories? Cubrar comes with two guns and a sword. The guns are a matched pair of short and stocky weapons, not quite pistols and not quite rifles. Individually they aren’t as cool as Columpio’s rifle with folding bayonet, but Cubrar sure looks great dual wielding them. The sword has a translucent red energon blade and is a very nice piece. Chances are I’ll wind up displaying him with the sword and one gun.

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As with Columpio, Cubrar can store two of his weapons by pegging them into his back flaps. I think the sword looks great positioned diagonally across his back. The guns can also peg in side by side, or you can go one gun and one sword. I think this storage gimmick works a little better than Columpio’s. The stored weapons don’t look as awkward this time around.

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And last but not least we have Tekour’s axe mode. I thought Drepan’s weapon mode was pretty good, but I think Tekour’s outshines it. Drepan was kind of a war pick, whereaas Tekour is just a bitchin double-bladed axe. It’s a damn solid weapon mode and the pommel of the handle is sculpted with a triceratops head, because Cubrar likes to accessorize, dammit!

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Tekour can also double as a rifle and while it’s basically just the axe held differently, I think it works really well. The stock does get in the way, as it doesn’t fit into the crook of Cubrar’s elbow, but he can hold it out in a pretty sweet firing position.

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With two Lost Exo-Realm figures on my shelf, I’m loving this line more and more and I’m getting really excited to see the team together, even though that’s going to be a long road to travel. The quality and engineering on Cubrar is up to FP’s usual impeccable standards and I’ve totally fallen in love with this aesthetic. The only hard choice will be deciding whether to display them in robot or dino modes because I really dig them both. Fansproject has been a little quiet on the Lost Exo-Realm front lately, but if things progress as they seem to be, their Not-Swoop may very well be next, but there are no pre-orders up yet, so at this point anything could happen. All I have to say is keep them coming, and I’ll keep buying them!

 

Lost Exo-Realm Cubrar with Tekour (LER-02) by Fansproject, Part 1

I feel bad. I’ve had Fansproject’s excellent Sigma-L on the pile waiting to be featured for months now and here I am jumping right over him to get to Cubrar. All I can say is, sorry Sigma, I’ll get to you next week. Pinky swear! It’s a great time to be a Not-Transformer collector when there’s this many great figures vying for my attention and in this case both made by the same company. Cubrar is the second in Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm line of giant robots that also happen to transform into giant robot dinosaurs and some might say that this one bears a passing resemblance to a Transformer known as Slag. I’ll probably be referring back to LER-01 Columpio quite frequently, so if you haven’t read that feature, you might want to start there and come back. Due to time and space constraints, I’m also going to serve this one up as a two-parter, so today I’m checking out the packaging, Cubrar’s alt-mode, and Tekour’s robot mode and tomorrow I’ll look at the rest…

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I love the presentation here, but I’m going to qualify that love by pointing out that Fansproject did a little bit of tinkering with the packaging. The same basic style is still there. You get that same great style of artwork as seen with Columpio and lots of pictures of the toy in both modes and various poses. The front flap is secured with velcro and opens to reveal a die-cut window showing Cubrar in his dinosaur mode. So what’s different? The box is a lot smaller than Columpio’s and more squared off at the cross-section. Don’t be fooled by that into thinking that Cubrar is a smaller figure, if anything he’s bulkier than Columpio. No, Fansproject achieved the box reduction by reducing space in the tray and securing Cubrar’s sword and guns in a baggie behind the tray. It doesn’t make for as impressive a sight when you lift the flap and look inside, but it’s not something I’m terribly concerned about.

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Fansproject also ditched the satin finish of the Columpio’s box for a more glossy look. The subtle changes in presentation, and the not so subtle change in size, does irk me a little bit. I do keep the boxes for my 3P Transformers and while these are designed to still resemble the same series, they don’t look very uniform on the bookshelf together. And while Cubrar’s box still looks great, it doesn’t have the same impact as Columpio’s did when I first held it. Still, taken on its own it sports a really classy presentation for a somewhat high end collectible figure. Inside the box you also get a simple folded instruction booklet and an extra page of errata with some tips on how to get him back in Dino Mode.

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Obviously, Cubrar’s dinosaur mode is a triceratops and I absolutely love it. It shares the same overall aesthetics as Columpio making for a great matched pair. The design is loaded with panel lines and he’s a tad stockier than Columpio making Cubrar resemble a walking tank. Naturally, Cubrar’s lower jaw is articulated and when you open it you reveal his flame-thrower, whih is a great call back to Slag. Cubrar features sockets on the “shoulders” of his back legs so you can plug in his guns or even his sword if you prefer. The articulation here is right in line with the first LER release, offering plenty of poseability in the legs, a segmented and articulated tail, and a ball joint in the neck. If I had one gripe, I’d say the horn on Cubrar’s nose is a little overstated, but then I guess it makes it all the more dangerous to Decepticons when he charges them.

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The coloring here is a perfect match for Columpio and that’s a very good thing because I really dig this deco. The matte gray plastic makes up the bulk of the figure’s armor with some metallic silver paint and vac-metal style bling around his crest. The regular retail edition also features that sumptuous satiny gold paint for the head, tail, and claws, as opposed to the vac-metal style used for the Con Exclusive release. Both have their merits and it’s hard for me to say I’d prefer one over the other without having the Exclusive in hand, but I certainly have no beef with the gold paint on this retail edition. It looks great! Lastly, you get some red highlights on the legs, some red showing through from his undercarriage and the red plastic used for his horns and the tip of his tail. I could have probably done without the red cap on his tail, as I think he would have matched Columpio better without it, but it ain’t bad.

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Columpio came with his little weapon-master buddy, Drepan and Cubrar comes with Tekour, and I have the same mixed feelings about this little guy as I did Drepan. On the one hand, he’s a really great looking little figure and he even comes with a pair of axes to wield. The detail and quality on this guy surpasses his tiny size and with ball joints and double-hinges all around, he’s even rather fun to play with. On the downside, like Drepan, Tekour has a huge stick coming off his back. It’s awkward and unsightly and there’s no real way to hide it. When you consider how much clever design work went into this little figure, it feels rather out of place to have that one glaring oversight.

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As with Columpio, Cubrar still features a transformable platform for his weapon-master buddy, Tekour, to ride on and this platform is one of the key things that Cubrar’s dino mode does better than his predecessor. When not in use, Columpio’s seat platform didn’t lock down and it left a conspicuous hole in his back. Cubrar’s platform closes up real nice and I wouldn’t be able to tell the even serve an alternate function if I didn’t already know it.

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And that’s where I’m going to call it quits for today. Come on back tomorrow and we’ll look at Cubrar’s robot mode, along with his accessories, and Tekour’s weapon mode.

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.

Lost Exo-Realm: Columpio with Drepan (LER-01) by Fansproject, Part 1

Not-Dinobots… everybody is doing them!!! Yes, folks, these days if you’re in the market for pricey third-party versions of the Dinobots you have a lot of choices. And unless you have all the monies and display space in the world, you’re going to have to do some serious research and make some serious choices. Some are Masterpiece sized, some are Voyager sized, some are even combiners! In the end, I went with Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm series, mainly because… hey, it’s Fansproject! I’ve got a couple of shelves full of their toys and these guys have never disappointed me. The other reason I went with the LER Dinos is because they are doing their own Not-Grimlock and it’s really important to me to get a matched set of all of them in the same size and style. Their first release is Columpio, aka Not-Sludge. I’m featuring this guy in two parts, because there’s a lot to talk about and it’s too much for me to accomplish in just one day. Today, we’ll look at the packaging, the dino mode, and his little buddy Drepan, and tomorrow we’ll look at his robot mode and get more into his weapons. Let’s go!

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Ahh, this is some amazing packaging! Columpio comes in a rather large, landscape orientated box with a front flap that opens upward and is secured with velcro. The entire box has a nice matte finish and is loaded with artwork. The front panel features a bitchin piece of character art with Columpio in robot mode wielding Drepan in his weapon mode. The back of the box shows photos of the toy in both modes.

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Open the flap and you get a die-cut window that looks like you’re viewing the figure inside through a cave entrance. The inside of the flap has more shots of what you’re getting inside the box. Columpio comes packaged between two clear plastic trays in his dino mode with Drepan in his robot mode and all the weapons laid out around them. While I frequently toss the boxes to many of my “over-the-counter” toys, I always save the packages for my third-party convert-o-bots, and while it tends to take up a lot of room, it’s presentation like this that makes it worthwhile.

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On the other hand, Fansproject seems to have poured all their efforts into the box and not much into the ephemera. There’s no profile card or comic book. You only get a three page color instruction “booklet” and the middle page isn’t even stapled inside. I’m not really complaining, but some folks who look forward to those little extras may be disappointed. Let’s start off with his dino mode.

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And here is Columpio in all his Dino Mode glory. When I was a kid, this dino mode was known as a Brontosaurus, but I guess that’s not considered scientifically accurate anymore and Apatosaurus seems to be the accepted name these days. Why? Because science! Either way, Columpio is a four-legged cybernetic behemoth with a long snake-like neck. I don’t usually start with the deco, but in this case it’s worth pointing out that the initial con exclusive release had vac metal gold, whereas this regular retail release gets by with just gold paint. I say “gets by” but in person the regular gold paint on display here is pretty damn sumptuous looking. It’s got a sexy satin finish and it is beautifully applied. I think in the end the question of which deco is superior will come down to a matter of personal taste, although the exclusive con version will always have that special level to gravitas to it. Personally, I like what we got here and he still manages to sport some bling via the metallic silver paint on the plates behind his neck, just like on the original G1 toy. The rest of Columpio is comprised of a nice gray plastic with some black, red, and a little blue showing here and there. The coloring definitely delivers on the G1 vibe that I was looking for. I couldn’t be happier with the way this deco turned out.

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As for the sculpt, there are some great panel lines and vents and whatnot to accentuate his cybernetic form. The gold vent pieces on his back are more prominent than the original G1 toy, but they serve a purpose that we’ll get to in a bit. The legs on this guy are wonderfully proportioned and feature excellent articulation, which includes some lateral movement in the “shoulders” and hinges in the “knees.”

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The head sculpt features some nice personality to it, at least for a robot dinosaur. The eyes are red and there are matching discs embedded in his jaw hinges. The mouth does open revealing not a whole lot inside other than his sharp teeth. Of course, one of my favorite things about this guy is the design of the neck. It’s segmented with joints between each, allowing for a beautiful degree of poseability.

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Moving on to Drepan, Columpio’s little buddy and homage to the old Diaclone pilots that came with the original releases of these molds. Fansproject went the extra step and they’re making these little robots transform into weapons for their Dino-formers. He’s a bit bigger than I expected and a very nice sculpt. He’s also very nicely articulated with ball joints in the shoulders and hips and double hinges in the knees and elbows. His head can even rotate. On the downside, Drepan has a huge handle coming off his back. I did not expect that and it’s rather disappointing. Of course, let me qualify that by saying that these partner robots were not a big selling point for me and the LER line, so when I say that huge protuberance disappoints me, it’s not really putting me off my purchase and I still kind of dig Drepan for what he is.

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And hey, this little guy even comes with his own little axe and shield. The axe fits into the hole in either of his hands and the shield can peg right onto his arm. All in all, Drepan is well thought and a lot of fun and as we’ll see tomorrow he can transform into a pretty cool weapon.

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Drepan can also ride on Columpio’s back and that’s where those vents come into play. They can rotate around to make a pilot seat for the little guy. It works OK, but if I ever display Columpio in dinosaur mode, Drepan will probably be chilling out back in the box.

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While I’ll be dealing with his weapons more tomorrow, I did want to just point out that Columpio’s gun and sword will attach to his dinosaur mode very much in the way Hasbro’s Generations Grimlock’s accessories attached to him. I’m not a big fan of this as a display option, but it’s a nice option to have nonetheless.

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And that’s where I’m going to call it quits for today. So far Columpio is hitting all the right points. His Dino Mode looks great and is lots of fun to play with. Tomorrow we’ll get Columpio transformed and check out his robot mode and other goodies!