Feral Rex (Reformatted Series) by Mastermind Creations: Combined Mode and Final Thoughts

So, it’s been a whole year and now my Feral Cons are finally complete. It’s time to get these guys combined and see just how impressive Feral Rex (aka Not-Predaking) actually turned out. Transforming these guys into their component parts holds no real surprises. The arms and legs are more or less the beast modes with the legs folded in, and some other tweaks and bobs, and the torso is Leo Dux with his legs and shoulders acting as connecting points. It’s very Voltron-y in it’s flavor and as a result the combiner transformations feel pretty natural if you’re already used to bringing each of the figures from their robot to beast modes and back. Like his G1 inspiration, Feral Rex features some parts-forming. The backpack weapons that came with Bovis and Fortis are used for the hands and feet and the shield used for Leo becomes the groin. And obviously, Talon’s wings are removed to be placed on the back. It’s no more time consuming then you might expect transforming five different figures to be and it certainly goes quicker for me than forming Fansproject’s Causality figures into Not-Menasor. And the results… well, the results are pretty tough to argue with…

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Magnificent is the word that comes instantly to mind. From a design standpoint Feral Rex certainly satisfies the updated G1 Predaking aesthetic that I was looking for. Rex hits all those points that make the original toy design so damned iconic. You get the same dual cannon toes in each of his feet, Talon’s wings coming off the back making him look like a giant angel of death, and you can’t beat those bull and rhino head kneecaps. Leo Dux’s lion head is worn prominently on the chest and the groin armor has the same gold plated bling that all giant robots wish they had on their crotches. Of course the main difference in Rex’s aesthetic is that all of these iconic points are applied to fully realized proportions and that’s the most amazing thing about Feral Rex. It doesn’t feel like anything was compromised to deliver a truly awesome looking figure.

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The head sculpt is fairly simple but still excellent. I love the detail put into his “helmet” and I do believe there’s an LED in that noggin to light up his visor, but I’m not going to mess with installing batteries at this point. It’s a nice bonus feature that I may make use of at some point. I should also note that the cannons that rise up from Rex’s back can be angled forward to give him some extra firepower. You do have to remove Talon’s wings to do it, but you can snap them right back on once the cannons are in firing mode.

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Of course, one of the key failings with a lot of combiners is their overall fragility. A combined mode can look great, but if it falls apart when you touch it… well, that’s no fun. But Feral Rex is damned solid. The connection ports lock quite well so there’s virtually no chance of limbs accidentally disconnecting when you’re playing with him and happily they aren’t too scary-tight to pull apart either. What’s more there aren’t a lot of bits to fall off, which was one of my primary gripes with TFC’s Uranos combiner. The only exception is the wrap around crotch piece. I have a habit of grabbing the figure from the center of gravity and that usually means putting at least one of my fingers on Feral Rex’s robot diaper, which will indeed make it pop loose. Pick him up from under the arms, and you’ve got no worries.

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Feral Rex features a good amount of articulation for a gestalt mode. You can get a wide stance out of him and he has nice strong ratcheting hinges in the knees that hold his massive weight with little difficulty. The feet are ball jointed to keep them flat most of the time and the way the connection ports are designed he has a good amount of lode bearing strength in those ankles. His arms do run into some problems where the sculpts interrupt the articulation, but nothing too bad. His shoulders rotate quite well and he has a bit of lateral movement there too. His elbows are hinged and there are swivels, and his fingers are individually ball jointed. He can rotate at the waist and his head is naturally ball jointed too. Standing Feral Rex is quite easy, although he is ever so slightly back heavy. Nonetheless, a little tweaking gets him standing just fine in a variety of poses and while I will be displaying my Feral Cons in their individual bot modes, I wouldn’t be apprehensive about standing him in combined mode as I don’t think he’d be prone to shelf diving. With that having been said, where a $500 toy is concerned, I’d still probably invest in a support stand of some sort.

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While Rex is perfectly capable of just stomping on his enemies, picking them up and throwing them, or blasting them to bits with his shoulder cannons, he would be lacking without his extra weapons and that’s why he can combine all of the Feral Cons weapons into a giant sword and gun. Let’s start with the gun…

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It’s fairly simple to put together and it uses all the guns from the individual figures with Tigris’ being the core of the weapon. Putting it together is easy, but taking it apart can be tough because Fortis’ two guns fit together really tight. When you’re done you get a nice beefy looking cannon that mounts onto Feral Rex’s left arm and it looks pretty damn imposing. I really like the idea of Rex having a gun that still frees up both his hands, because…

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He’s also got that big damn sword! I threw in Legends Class Swerve to convey a sense of scale on this thing. By pooling together all the knives plus Leo Dux’s mace and swords you can build Feral Rex’s ridiculously massive sword. This is a vicious looking design expressing sheer art expressed in the form of giant robot cutlery. And despite it being formed from lots of knives, it holds together with no problems. With the help of some tabs and Rex’s hinged fingers he can hold it securely in either hand and holy crap does he look amazing when he’s wielding it. Between the length of the sword and Feral Rex’s bulk, shooting pictures of him with his weapon really strained the capacity of my staging and lighting area, which wasn’t built with a figure this big in mind.

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As massive as Rex’s sword is, his joints are up to the challenge. He can wield it in just about any pose I put him in without the arm dropping. I know I ragged on poor Tigris for being scrawny and the runt of the litter, but damn if he isn’t one tough little sonvabitch. His arm mode takes the full weight of that sword without even breaking an energon sweat. I take back everything I said about you, Tigris! You da man!!!

Final Thoughts:

It’s funny to look back to a point when I was struggling to get up the nerve and invest in a Third Party Transformer. Never did I imagine I’d reach a point where I was happily plunking down $100 for a Voyager sized figure, let alone $500 for a combiner team. But that’s a testament to what a fine job some of these 3P companies are producing these days and with the entire Feral Con team now on my shelf, I’m confident in placing Mastermind Creations at the top of the 3P pyramid. Sure, they may be sharing that spot with Fansproject right now, but that certainly puts them in good company. The Ferals represent everything I could have asked for in a set of Masterpiece Predacons. The individual figures are fantastic and the combined mode is stunning and inspired. It literally feels like nothing was sacrificed or compromised in delivering a great team of figures and a magnificent combined mode.

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The Feral Cons have represented a quality and well thought out product from the very beginning. Besides looking great and sporting high quality plastic, MMC designed these guys with some wonderful touches. The way the weapons interact with the figures has been fantastic and I love finding new places to stick them on and store them. These toys may be expensive collector pieces, but they are also so much fun to play with. Their transformations aren’t overly complex and never do I feel like converting them is a chore, even when I was combining them for this feature and then changing them into beast modes, and then back into robot modes. There’s nothing about manipulating them that feels scary or intimidating. They’re just plain fun.

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But if I were to pick out a favorite thing about this series it would be how unified the design has been throughout. It must be hard enough designing a single transformer, it must be even tougher making a set of combiners work, but when you can do it and actually make all the figures look like a cohesive team as these fellas do… that’s just so damn impressive to me. This set of figures represents careful planning from the start and some really deft and clever engineering.

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The last thing that I wanted to mention was how awesome MMC is as a company and the fact that they listen to their fans. From the very beginning of this series, they kept a constant eye on the way the collectors received their product. The Ferals have had some minor QC opportunities and by monitoring message boards and collecting specific consumer feedback, they addressed all these issues with each subsequent release. Some people were finding that the gears on Bovis’ elbow joints were getting flattened and so they supplied replacement parts with Fortis… and so on. Even the Completion Kit that came with Tigris was an amazing bonus as it addressed something that I doubt any fans were complaining about (filling in the hollow arm cavities), and supplied some optional parts to improve your toys and tossed in bonus weapons too. It was the last figure in the line. They already had you for $500+ dollars, but they still threw in that lovely little bonus.

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I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to do a “Favorites and Most Disappointing” list for 2014. I hate doing those. But if I do, it’s hard to imagine me not combining a top slot for Feral Rex. Looking back, I can only say that this was money well spent and I’m happy to let these figures stand in my collection as my Masterpiece Predacons. If Takara wants to take a stab at it, I’ll be happy to take a look, but it’s hard to believe that they could improve on what Mastermind Creations has achieved here. And just as a parting note, I will be revisiting the Ferals one last time in a couple of months when MMC releases the unofficial sixth member of the team… Felisaber!

 

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Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-06 Tigris (Shock Trooper) by Mastermind Creations

It was exactly a year and a couple of weeks ago that I featured, Bovis, the very first of MMC’s Feral Cons here on FFZ. It’s been a long road, but here we five figures later with the final member of this combiner team, Tigris (Yeah, he’s not really the final figure if you want to count Felisaber, a figure that is an optional addition to the team). Not only does Tigris round out the team, but he finally allows me to merge them together into Feral Rex. I’m going to knock out my look at Tigris today and tomorrow I’ll be back to look at Feral Rex and give my final thoughts on this series. This figure has been sitting here waiting to be featured for a couple of weeks now, so let’s get to it…

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There’s the packaging. As per the rest of this series, Tigris comes in a large box with a front flap that opens to reveal the window that shows off the figure in his robot mode. I’ve gone on record saying that I’m not all that fond of the deco on these, but that’s just my own personal taste. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s totally collector friendly, and the side panels of the boxes denote the figure inside, which is great for storing the boxes all lined up on a bookshelf. Let’s go ahead and start with Tigris’ robot mode!

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So, Tigris definitely looks like the runt of the litter, but he’s actually no slighter of body than Talon, as the two share some of the same body parts. It’s just that Talon’s majestic wings give him a lot more bulk and a far more interesting profile leaving Tigris’ stature feeling a tad wanting and doubly so when compared to his comrades, Bovis, Fortis, and Leo Dux. That’s no really a criticism, but more an observation. Obviously Tigris and Talon had to be scaled back a bit to make their arm modes properly proportional. I didn’t get the same wow factor when taking him out of the box, but he definitely has his own charms, most notably his very clean appearance and very humanoid silhouette. That having been said, I would have liked it if the spikes on the back of his shoulders orientated toward the front as it would have given him more of a foreboding look to help combat the somewhat scrawny vibe that he gives off.

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Like Leo Dux, Tigris wears his beast head on his chest. He also sports the same socketed thigh guards that function as holsters so you can peg his weapons or knives in there. This seemingly throwaway feature has been one of my favorite little design touches of this set and I’m glad they made it onto every figure. From the back, Tigris has a bit of an unfinished look with his connection port on full display, although he does have some sockets there and I like to store his big gun diagonally across his back to fill this area in. The head sculpt here is clean and simple, just two eyes and a huge face plate, but it definitely has the least character of any of the robots on this team.

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Tigris’ deco consists mostly of red, orange, and black plastic. I’m sure I’ve said before how much I love the quality of plastic that MMC used on these guys and how well it holds the colors. That having been said, Tigris’ deco is the least interesting to me. The other figures seemed to have that one extra color to help break up the pattern. For Bovis it was grey, for Fortis it was yellow, etc. He’s still a striking and colorful looking bot, but I think the deco could have used something more. There are at least some very nice silver paint apps on his chest plates, his knees, and some of the rivets.

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Tigris comes with two hand guns, two knives, and a big cannon. At first, I thought the guns were repacks of the ones that came with Bovis, but nope, they are original sculpts and they look great. Not only can he dual wield them or store them on his hips, but he can also store them pegged onto his back, or they can be pegged onto his big cannon to add even more firepower.

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The cannon is a beast of a weapon and has an extending barrel. It looks fine on its own, but those two hand guns look like they were meant to be part of it. It’s kind of ironic that the small fry of the Ferals gets the biggest gun, but hey, it gives him plenty of character.

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The knives are similar to what we’ve been getting all along. They are new designs but all the knives in this set have shared the same elements to help them mesh better when combining into Feral Rex’s giant sword. On the downside, Tigris doesn’t have any sockets on his forearms to plug them into, so he’s left either wielding them in his hands, or storing them pegged on his thighs or on his back.

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If all that isn’t enough, Tigris also comes with an extra baggie of parts that fill in the hollow forearms of the entire team and allows you to peg in some additional weapons and stuff. Additionally, the bag contains a replacement face with a red painted mouth plate. I’m sticking with the stock yellow one just because it adds some much needed diversity to the Tigris’ color palette. Ok, so enough about the robot mode and all the goodies, let’s get him transformed and check out his beast mode…

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While a lot slighter in build than Bovis and Fortis, Tigris’ beast mode follows the same basic patterns of transformation with the robot arms becoming the front legs and the robot legs packing up to form the back half of the animal. The deco remains mostly the same as in robot mode with a lot of orange and red plastic and a little black plastic and silver paint apps showing. Tigris’ jaws are articulated and you get the same great poseability out of the legs as we’ve seen all throughout this line. It’s not a bad tiger mode, but I don’t think the proportions work as well. Maybe it’s because his head is sort of tiny, but mostly I just think the bull and rhino translate better to chunky robots than a lithe tiger.

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One way I like to remedy that is just to weaponize the crap out of him. Tigris can wear his big cannon on his back and man, does he look great wearing it. It not only breaks up the color by adding a lot more black, but I think it helps by bullking him out a little more. I also like to attach the knives to his front “shoulders” because I think that would make most enemies want to get the hell out of his way.

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It sounds strange to me to say it, but Tigris is my least favorite of all the Feral Cons. It’s strange because he’s still another fantastic figure in MMC’s Feral Con series and I love him a lot, but his comrades have all set the bar really high and Tigris doesn’t quite reach the heights that the others have. Neither the tiger or robot modes are as impressive and the color scheme feels a little bland by comparison. But even with all that having been said, he’s an excellent figure in his own right and continues the high standards of quality and engineering that this series has delivered on from the very beginning. Tomorrow, I’ll be back with a look at the Feral Cons combined mode and offer up some final thoughts on this team as a whole.

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-02 Talon (Aerial Assaulter) by Mastermind Creations

I know, I ended last week with a third-party convert-o-bot, and I’m beginning this week with another. I do like to mix things up a bit, but I’ve got the final Feral Con, Tigris, arriving any moment now and I really wanted to get Talon his time in the spotlight beforehand. Despite his number, Talon is the fourth release in MMC’s Feral Cons series, and I’ll be referencing the others a fair amount in today’s feature, so if you aren’t caught up yet, by all means take the time to check out the others. If you haven’t guessed yet, Talon is intended to be an homage to the Predacon Divebomb and he does indeed combine with the other Feral Cons to form Feral Rex, a big fella that bears a striking resemblance to a certain Predaking. I’ll also point out here that Talon took absolutely forever to arrive from the place I pre-ordered from, making it all the stranger when Tigris dropped in just a handful of days later. Ok, I’ve got a lot to cover and I want to do it all in one shot, so let’s get started.

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There’s the packaging and it has remained consistent and uniform throughout this series. Of all the third-party series of changebots I own, I like the packaging for the Feral Cons the least. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just a matter of personal taste when it comes to the deco. The boxes are quite large and they need to be to hold these beefy Voyager-plus sized figures and all their extras. The box is collector friendly and features a front flap that opens to reveal a window to display the figure. The side panel of the box tells you who the figure is, so if you’re like me and store these packages lined up on a bookshelf, it’s easy to see which box has which figure in it.

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Inside the box, Talon comes on a clear plastic tray. You get the standard combo instruction and comic book, a profile card, and some replacement parts for previous figures that have had some QC issues. I’m not even sure what these replace, as I haven’t had any issues with any of my Ferals. Additionally, you get a separate baggie containing Talon’s arm cannons. There’s no place for them in the tray, but I just pop them back into the baggie and put them under the tray when I store the figure in his box. In looking back through my other Feral Con features I realize that I was all over the place when deciding whether to start with robot or beast mode. I guess this time I’ll just go ahead and start with Talon’s robot mode.

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Just one look at this guy and it makes me so happy that I decided to invest in this set, but then that’s been the case with every one of these fellas. In robot mode, Talon is everything I could possibly want out of a Masterpiece style Divebomb. I actually expected him to be smaller than the others, but apart from lacking some of the bulk of Fortis and Bovis, and looking a bit leaner, he still measures up to his teammates. While Talon represents a fresh new mold, there is still a delightful degree of consistency among these figures. You see a lot of the same design tropes and features throughout whether it be between shared molds like Bovis and Fortis or the originals like Leo Dux and Talon here. They all have the same style of jointing and articulation and they all use the same high quality yellow, orange, red, and black plastic. They also all feature a number of sockets to store their weapons on. Of all the third-party combiners I’ve invested in, MMC’s Feral Cons feel the most like a unified team.

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As is the case with the other Ferals, Talon’s mold is just loaded with detail. I’m particularly fond of his upper chest design with the two deep set vents, directly pulled from the G1 toy design, and the indented shield provided for placement of a Decepticon logo, which I have yet to do. The shoulder design looks really good, as does the way his bird feet fold up onto the front of his lower legs. His robot feet are attached to hinged arms via ball joints and this gives him a wide range of movement for wide stances and action poses. These worried me at first, as to how they could support the weight of the figure, but the retract completely giving Talon all the support he needs. Surprisingly enough, even with a lot on his back, he’s still a very well balanced figure.

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Of course Talon’s most impressive quality is his set of wings. These are absolutely magnificent. Each lushly painted gold blade is articulated and so they can be fanned out for a grand and majestic display or closed up to allow him to stand shoulder to shoulder with his comrades. They are also hinged, so you can angle them back a bit (my favorite look!) Or you can fold them straight back to give him a cleaner and tighter profile from the front. I also really dig the way the back part of his wings looks kind of like a jetpack.

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MMC has had some winning head sculpts with this line and Talon is no different. He has a very human looking face, painted red and with an orange “helmet.” The eyes are meticulously painted with a metallic red to make them stand out. You also get a very generous ball joint in the neck to allow some great and expressive movement.

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Before we transform him, let’s check out Talon’s arsenal. For starters, he comes with a pair of double-barreled cannons, which mount on his arms and actually stay put during his transformation to provide his bird mode with some basic firepower. These can also be held in his hands as pistols and can be stored by plugging them into the side panels on his legs, which act like holsters.

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Next up, you get a pair of short swords, with some pretty wicked looking crooked blades. I’m usually not a huge fan of edged weapons with my giant robots, but in some cases it feels right. These guys are supposed to be savage animal-robots and so I’m in favor of them having some blades. These swords also look particularly nice when slung on his hips. As with the other Ferals, it can be a little tough to get him to hold them just right, but once they’re in he gets a pretty firm grasp on them. Of course, thanks to all the versatility of his weapons, you can also mount the swords on Talon’s arms. I really dig the way this looks, especially when he’s armed with his pistols.

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Lastly, Talon sports a sniper rifle with a stock that can fold up to form a scope. I love the idea of Talon carrying this kind of weapon because he can just hover over the battlefield and snipe away at targets from above. Surprisingly,  he can even hold the rifle by both grips. When not in use, the rifle can be slung onto Talon’s back. Ok, enough about his gear, let’s check out Talon’s bird mode…

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I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Talon’s transformation seeing as how simple the conversion should theoretically be. In the end, it’s still rather simple, and nearly all of it involves packing up his legs. At first, I thought this one might be the weakest of all the Feral Cons alt modes, but I think that falls in line with the original toy. It is, afterall, no easy feat to turn a humanoid robot into a bird. Nonetheless, this mode still works just fine for me and there are a couple things about it that even impress.

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One is that even with Talon’s robot head folding into the bird head, there’s still articulation in the beak. Secondly, just like in robot mode all of Talon’s weapons store comfortably on his bird mode. The arm cannons can stay right where they are, the swords can mount on his wings, and his rifle can peg right into his back, giving him that extra little bit of firepower. He can even stand just fine on his own, which frankly surprised me.

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Talon is another exceptional release in this line and as I write this I see that my Tigris is out for delivery to my door so I’m pretty damn excited to finally be completing this team. For me these gestalts are always about the individual robots first and the combined mode second, and while I’m expecting Feral Rex to be amazing, the important thing is that each and every one of these figures has blown me away strictly on their own merits. Even at just under $100 I still feel like my money was well spent. I can’t recommend these guys enough and MMC continues on their way to overtake Fansproject as my favorite maker of third-party conversion-bots.

 

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-04 Leo Dux (Squadron Commander) by Mastermind Creations

I’ve got two complete third-party combiners under my belt (TFC’s Uranos and Fansproject’s M3) and I love them both. So, it really means something for me to say that Mastermind Creations has been turning out the absolute best contenders in this field with their Feralcons. Bovis and Fortis are absolutely superb and now it’s time to check out their commander, Leo Dux (aka Not-Razorclaw). I split up the last two Feralcons into two features each, but I’m going to get to all of Leo in one shot, so let’s dig right in.

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The packaging is the same style we’ve seen with the previous two releases. Pay no attention to the R-04 number, because MMC has mixed up the order on these figures and Leo is indeed only the third release in the series. The figure comes in a pretty standard box with an opening front flap and a window that shows off the figure in robot form. I’m on record as not being terribly impressed with the presentation here. It’s not bad, it’s certainly collector friendly, but I don’t think the renders they use for character art do the actual figure any justice at all. In the end, I think it just comes down to my personal taste. Considering that being underwhelmed by the box art is the worst thing I’ll have to say in this entire feature, that’s a pretty good thing.

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In addition to the figure, you get Leo’s gigantic twin swords and some extra parts used for a few different things. Of course, also included are the ubiquitous profile card and a combination instruction booklet and comic book all in color. And lastly there’s a baggie of button batteries to be installed in Feral Rex’s head for a light up visor. I’m going to go ahead and start with Leo Dux’s alt mode.

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Yes, he’s a giant robot lion and a mighty awesome one at that. The aesthetic here is right in line with the beast modes of Bovis and Fortis creating a definite continuity of style. The color palette is mostly black with some yellow and red and is mostly achieved through colored plastic with some gold paint to add some zing. ZING! While he may not quite rival the chunky brute force of Bovis and Fortis’ beast modes, Leo Dux is still a beefy and powerful looking cyber-beastie. The transformation doesn’t hold many surprises and I love the fact that he doesn’t look like a robot standing on all fours and imitating a lion, like a certain other third-party homage to Razorclaw. Sorry, TFC, I calls it likes I sees it. Leo is nicely proportioned and thanks to the articulation in his legs you can get some cool poses out of him, which include everything from sitting to pouncing and running. But mostly I just like to stand him majestically. And speaking of majestic that best describes this guy’s superb lion head. He’s an angry looking kitty with intimidating red eyes and an articulated mouth that shows plenty of teeth. The mane is comprised of a series of orange blades with some snazzy gold paint on the front.

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The extra parts that came in the box are combined to complete the lion mode. Two pieces join together to fill in the lion’s breast cavity. The other parts combine to form his tail. If I had to choose something to nitpick here, I guess it would be the tail. It looks fine, but with only two points of articulation it’s very angular and stiff. Then again, maybe that’s what a robotic lion’s tail is supposed to look like.

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Leo Dux’s lion mode is rocking two laser cannons on his back, which peek out just over his mane. These can also be deployed in an elevated position to give him a better range of firepower. Lastly, you can peg his massive swords into the sockets on his rear legs to give him some side blades. I didn’t think I would dig this as much as I do. It doesn’t make much sense, but it sure does look badass. I mean, he’s a freaking lion with giant blades coming out of him. YEAH! I also appreciate the fact that, like Bovis and Fortis, you can display Leo in lion mode without any leftover parts.

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Transforming Leo Dux into his robot mode is quite straightforward and it feels just a bit easier than transforming Fortis and Bovis. In fact, the most fiddly thing about it for me was getting his lion mane packed up just right. As with his fellow Feralcons the plastic is incredibly high quality so there are no scary or precarious manipulations. When all is said and done, you’re left with an absolutely stunning figure. I literally love every little thing about this guy, from the way his lion head sits on his chest to the way the guns rise up from behind his back. And look at that head sculpt. It’s pure love. That is if love was a cold-blooded Decepticon. Leo is also a satisfyingly large figure, standing a good head and shoulders above Bovis and Fortis, and that’s not even counting his guns, which can also be angled forward into a firing position.

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Leo’s colors even out a lot more in robot mode than in his beast mode where black dominated. Here he uses a pleasing mix of mostly yellow, red, and black plastics to give him his striking deco. The shades match perfectly with Bovis and Fortis and he brings some nice matte gold paint to the table to make him distinctive. Because of all the colorful plastic, there isn’t an overabundance of paint operations, but what’s here is clean and tastefully done.

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As with Bovis and Fortis, Leo Dux makes use of all the parts in whatever mode he’s in. The tail and chest pieces all combine together to form a mace. I’ll admit, this is not the most exciting weapon, but there’s nothing wrong with it either and I give MMC points for trying. The two swords can be wielded in each hand or they can be combined together to form one big ass sword. Lastly, the back cannon can be removed and used as arm cannons if you so desire. And seeing as how Leo doesn’t come with any handguns, the option to mount the cannons on his arms is a very welcome feature.

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While I now have enough parts to build the legs and torso of Feral Rex, I’m going to keep with tradition and save that until I have a complete set. Besides, this feature has gone long enough today, so I’m going to wrap things up. Suffice it to say, I’ve been blown away by MMC’s Feralcons from Day One and here we are three figures in and this set seems to keep getting better. The quality, the engineering, and the fun of these figures all delight me to no end. I’ll go one further than that: Right now Leo, Bovis and Fortis are without a doubt three of my favorite figures in my Transformers collection and that’s saying a lot. I’m even more excited about the last two, Talon and Tigris, just because they’ll each represent unique molds and add a greater dynamic to the team.

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-05 Fortis by Mastermind Creations

Back in October MMC wowed me with their release of Bovis, the first figure in their take on the Predacons. “Not-Tantrum” was a big beefy figure with some very clever engineering, a fair amount of weapon layout options, and an all-around beautiful update to the character. Just about all of that can also be said about their second release, Fortis, which landed on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. I’ve finally had time to open up “Not-Headstrong” and I’m almost just as smitten with this figure. I took two installments to cover Bovis, but since we’ve already been introduced to the packaging and presentation of this line, and since Fortis shares the same engineering as Bovis, I should be able to tackle this mechanical rhino in just one day. Besides, I already have a two-parter planned for this week.

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Fortis comes in a large box with a front flap that opens to reveal a window, which in turn shows off the figure in his robot mode. It’s the same deco as we saw used for the last release only with new character art. I seem to recall being a little underwhelmed with the deco the first time around, and I haven’t really warmed up to it any. There’s nothing specifically wrong with it, quite the contrary, it’s a nice collector friendly box, and the flap that protects the window is appreciated. I guess, I’m just not feeling it from an artistic standpoint. I’d rate the presentation here higher than Toyworld’s , but not in league with TFC’s Uranos or most of what Fansproject has done. But in the end it all comes down to personal taste, so your mileage may vary.

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Inside the box you get an illustrated cardboard tray that holds a clear plastic tray. Fortis has all his gear laid out beside him, including the massive foot and hand combiner part, which doubles as his BFG in rhino mode or backpack in robot mode. You also see the first piece of evidence here pointing to what a great company MMC is and how they listen to and care about their customers. There were some isolated instances of paint rubbing on Bovis while he was in the package, so Fortis comes with an extra piece of plastic taped over the tray to keep him from rubbing on the front tray. Classy!

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In addition to the figure and accessories you also get a baggie containing a nice profile card and the instruction booklet-slash-comic book. And here comes the second piece of evidence of MMC’s caring nature. There were some instances of over tightened screws causing Bovis’ pelvis to show cracks or stress marks. Inside this baggie you get a replacement pelvis for that figure. You’d have to bum around some message boards to know why this was included, because there’s no documentation of it in the box. I quickly inspected my Bovis’ hinder to see if I had any problems, but so far I could not detect a crack in his ass. Last time I broke tradition and started out with Bovis’ robot mode, but this time I’m going start out with Fortis’ rhino mode.

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As both Fortis and Bovis are going to form Feral Rex’s legs, it’s only natural that they would share much of the same body and engineering. Nowhere is this more obvious than in their animal modes. There are plenty of remolded parts on Fortis, but the limbs and back section of the animals are nearly identical with only the remolded front section, new head, and the rather drastic new color scheme to set them apart. I’m totally cool with that as it’s expected with combiners and the mostly shared body works fine for the rhino and bull alt forms. Fortis’ head is smaller than Bovis’ but it still sports that great angular cyber-animal sculpt. The single horn is painted black and I really dig the silver grill pieces on his cheek plates. As with Bovis, Fortis’ jaw can open and close, but if you look underneath you’ll see his robot face peeking back out at you.

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The coloring on this guy is right in line with the original G1 Headstrong toy and that means that it’s a lot more obnoxious than the red and orange of Bovis. It uses the same beautiful red plastic as Bovis, only this time it’s paired with bright yellow and black. Initially I wasn’t sure the colors would transfer so well onto the toy, but I believe the finished product’s yellow is a tad duller than initial promo pictures, which I think really help it along. Again, the bulk of the toy’s coloring comes from the actual plastic, which is always a good thing to me, although there is some silver paint detailing here and there to help make the figure pop a little more.

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As with Bovis, Fortis’ weapons can all be attached to his beast mode. There are pegs on the “shoulders” of all four legs for his guns and knives and you can attach his massive cannon onto the back to make him look all the more formidable. 

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Fortis transforms exactly the same as Bovis, so if you’ve had that figure around the block a couple of times you should be good to go here. I haven’t transformed him since October, so it took me a little fumbling about to get it right. In theory, the transformation is pretty basic. The legs fold out from the back of the rhino and the arms fold out from the front legs. In practice, there’s a lot of extra tucking and folding to deliver on the kind of engineering that you would expect in a $100 toy. The result gives you all that extra articulation and makes certain that all those rhino bits peg in perfectly when you’re in robot mode.

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The reuse from Bovis is most apparent in the limbs, although the recolor and some minor re-sculpting helps to set him apart, at least a little bit. The chest is a completely new design, and while I don’t think it’s quite as interesting as Bovis’ with his silver painted mesh screens, it still looks good and further helps to make Fortis distinctive. The head sculpt, complete with visor and organic looking face, is also quite similar to Bovis, which is probably what surprised me the most about this figure. Of course, then I referenced back to the original toys and found that the similarities existed back there as well.

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Fortis features some new weapons. His guns are basically just boxes with little barrels on them. I wasn’t too keen on them at first, but I’ve warmed up to them quite a bit. He can hold them in his hands or they can be clipped onto his forearms. He also has a similar set of knives as the ones that came with Bovis.

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Naturally, Fortis can also equip the combiner parts as a backpack in his robot mode. It looks pretty good on the figure and adds a great deal more bulk. He’s designed so that he can still stand reasonably well with the huge cannon on his back. He can also wield it in both hands as a weapon of mass destruction. I really dig the fact that even though these combiner parts are freaking huge, they’ve still been worked into the figure. Like Bovis, Fortis can be displayed either holding or wearing every last piece that he comes with and that’s very cool.

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And that’s MMC’s second Feralcon in the bag. He’s another great effort, although I’ll concede I still like Bovis a smidge better. Fortis retailed at right around $100 if you got in on the Early Bird, but only add another $10 if you didn’t. In the realm of third-party Transformers, Fortis is a lot of figure for that price. He’s big and beefy, the plastic quality feels great, and he comes with a good amount of stuff to justify the purchase. Next up in this series should be the Feralcon Commander, Leo Dux, although this line has had its share of delays and slot-switching from the get go so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next. But that’s fine, with figures this good, I’m willing to wait.

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-03 Bovis by Mastermind Creations, Part 2

Alright, I gassed on for quite a while yesterday about Bovis’ packaging and his glorious robot mode. And yet my words were inadequate. They should have sent a poet to pay tribute to this guy. Today I’ll try to embrace brevity and wrap things up with a look at Bovis’ alt mode. Time to take the bull by the horns!

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Transforming Bovis seems like it should be really straightforward. I mean, we’ve been seeing the same basic things in beast transformers for a long time now. The arms become the front legs, the robot legs become the hind legs, the animal head flips down over the robot head and bob’s your uncle. Yes, that’s still essentially what happens here, but there are just enough tweaks thrown in to allow for the superb articulation and, let’s be honest, to provide some engineering that justifies the cost and scope of the figure. I actually had to look at the instructions for this guy the first time, which is something I rarely ever have to do with my transforming robots, but once I saw what was going on, everything was easy-peasy. Nothing here is as clever as what’s going on in the hind quarters of Fansproject’s Quadruple-U, but it doesn’t have to be. What’s here is just solid engineering that works beautifully.

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Bovis’ bull mode is more compact than his robot mode, but every bit as powerful looking. As with his robot mode Bovis sports all sorts of cool little sculpted details including little vents and the mechanical joints on his little bull legs. I really dig the angular sculpt of the bull’s head, although the fact that you can see Bovis’ robot head when you open the mouth is both funny and a bit of a bummer at the same time. In fact, that’s probably the only gripe I have against the entire figure. Also, if you’re someone who’s likely to freak out over inconsistencies in bull anatomy, Bovis doesn’t have a tail.

The articulation in bull mode decent enough, but this is not a super articulated bull. The legs all have a nice radius of movement where they meet the body. They can rotate as well as tilt laterally. There’s a tiny bit of movement in the second joint down and then the hooves are ball jointed. The head can move quite a bit at the neck, the horns can swivel, and as already mentioned, the jaw can open.

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While he looks menacing enough by himself, you haven’t truly witnessed the awesome power of Bovis until you attach the massive cannon backpack to him and transformed him into a true Battle Bull. It clips on to his back, and it requires quite a bit of force until you hear that satisfying snap. It’s a testament to the quality of the plastic used here that I didn’t even feel nervous while doing it. While I tend to prefer Bovis in robot mode without the backpack, I can’t help but love it on his alt mode because it makes him look all the more formidable.

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Of course, if you want to keep piling on the ordinance, all of Bovis’ weapons can attach to his bull mode, via ports on his legs, for SUPER MAXIMUM 110% BOVINE DETRUCTION!!! Yup, when you see this guy fully loaded and coming at you, you might as well get a shovel and start digging your own grave.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I adore this figure. To sum up Bovis as succinctly as possible: He is exactly what I would want out of the official Masterpiece treatment of Tantrum, which Has-Tak would never give us anyway. In design, engineering, coloring, and quality, he’s exactly that good. Now, at $109, some may argue that with the recent Masterpiece Autobots as a guide, Bovis runs about $20-30 higher than he would if he were an official Takara release. True enough, but I would submit to you when you toss in the weapons and the large backpack/combiner piece, Bovis is using up a lot more plastic, and that’s where the value goes. I can’t vouch for the rest of the Feral Rex team yet, but if they’re anything like Bovis, this is going to be an amazing set of figures.

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-03 Bovis (Supply Specialist) by Mastermind Creations, Part 1

It’s funny to think that last year I was too skittish to order any third-party Transformers because I was so afraid of paying a lot for knock-off quality garbage. Well, the third-party transforming robots industry has come a long way, and I’ve been sampling most of the heavy hitters with a great deal of joy and success. With Fansproject, Mech Ideas, and TFC all under my belt, I started eyeing up the likes of Mastermind Creations and their glorious looking Feral Rex (aka Not-Predaking). As with TFC’s Uranos line, I was drawn to these guys mostly by their superb looking individual robot modes. On the other hand, having never owned Predaking as a kid, I’m much more excited over the combined mode this time around. The first release in this series is The Supply Specialist, Bovis, who looks enough like a certain G1 Predacon to make Hasbro have a Tantrum. See what I did there? Okdokey… let’s look at the box and robot mode today and tomorrow we’ll check out his alt mode.

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Damn, this box is heavy. It’s like a solid brick with some serious heft to it. It’s nice to know that before I even get the bubble wrap off, the weight is helping to justify the cost. The box is big, but not quite as big as the box used for TFC’s Blackbird. You get a grid like pattern on the front, which is slightly evocative of the old G1 packages and a CG model of the figure, which really doesn’t do it justice at all. One side of the box has the name of the figure printed in foil lettering, so the boxes can be lined up on the shelf. The front of the box is a flap that is held down by a magnet (classy!), which opens up to reveal a window displaying the figure in robot mode along with his accessories.

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Bovis comes on a plastic tray with a cover piece. His combiner part-slash-cannon-slash-backpack is beside him along with his arsenal of weapons. Behind the tray you get a baggie with a very nice sized instruction booklet-slash-comic book (ok, I’ll stop with the slashes) and a full color profile card. The presentation of the box is a nice effort and it’s executed with high quality cardboard and printing, but the artwork all comes up short in presenting the awesome figure that lies within.

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I don’t usually say a lot about the ephemera that the companies toss in with these figures, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. In the case of Bovis, the profile card is quite similar to what TFC and Fansproject have done in the past. The instruction booklet is actually useful, which is more than I can say for some of the other third-party robots I’ve picked up. I also like the fact that if you flip the book over the back half has a comic book that I actually found pretty enjoyable and a very nice bonus. Ok, enough with the preamble, let’s break tradition and start off with Bovis in his robot mode…

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Fansproject’s excellent Causality figures proffered the idea of “less can be more” with their smaller size and great designs. Well, MMC says, “screw that, more is more”and proves it by delivering one seriously hefty figure. I was probably grinning ear to ear when I took Bovis out of the tray and for the first time got a sense of just what an impressive figure he is. Part of that heft has to do with his size, as he easily stacks up to a modern day Voyager, and part of it has to do with him being a chunky powerhouse of a robot. The fact that the plastic is very sturdy, and of the highest quality, certainly adds to the figure’s heft as well. Either way, I absolutely love the way this dude looks and feels right out of the package. He screams quality and assures that it was money well spent.

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Bovis features that awesome boxy G1 design, but with plenty of panel lines and sculpted detail to give that extra oomf you would expect in an animated or comic book makeover. There’s a lot of particulars in the design to love, but if I had to pick one favorite thing it would be the way the silver mesh on his chest turned out. The contouring of his torso looks great and there’s even a convenient indent in the shape of a Decepticon insignia, should you happen to have a spare one lying around. The head sculpt is also fantastic, even if it does lean a bit more toward the organic comic style than the actual cybernetic look of vintage G1. It just exudes personality and works quite well for me. The yellow paint could have been a little thicker, as some of the red plastic can still be seen, and I know some collectors have reported their figure showing some paint rub on the chin while in the package. I don’t have anything like that here, but I guess it’s something to look out for. While on the subject of coloring, Bovis gets by mosty with colored plastic and some minor paint apps here and there. The coloring is pure Predacon goodness, and the use of the orange is far more welcome than the colors used on some of the earlier test shots.

The proportions on the figure are excellent for what he is. He’s got giant, powerful legs and beefy shoulders. The way the bull’s head crowns the robot mode helps to balance everything out and I’ve always loved the way Tantrum’s horns are framed on the sides of his head. This figure replicates that perfectly. I’m also quite happy with the way the beast mode’s legs all pack in securely. Bovis is a robot that wears his kibble with style and there’s nothing left to flop around or get in the way of having fun with him.

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Bovis features a great range of serviceable articulation. The arms rotate at the shouders and have some lateral movement as well. The elbows are double hinged, and swivel at the bicep, and the wrists swivel as well. The legs rotate at the hips with ratcheting joints and also feature lateral movement. There are swivels in the thighs and the knees are hinged with ratcheting joints. The feet are attached to a hinged arm with ball joints. Bovis’ head rotates and he can also swivel at the waist.

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Bovis looks like he’s perfectly capable of pounding Autobots into the dirt with brute force, but he still comes with a nice little arsenal of weapons and a bevy of ways to use them. You get a pair of pistols and a pair of knives. The pistols are nice pieces, but not overly special. The knives on the other hand… they’re fabulous. I’m not usually a big fan of having my robots wielding edged weapons, but the designs here are just too awesome to overlook. Bovis can hold the weapons in his hands, but they can also attach to his forearms or his lower legs.

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Bovis also comes with one foot and hand for his the combined mode of Feral Rex. The hand folds up nicely into the foot and the entire assembly can be used as a backpack for both Bovis’ robot and bull mode. So, if you’re the kind of guy that doesn’t like extra combiner parts lying around, or you want to make Bovis even bulkier, he can wear the foot and hand piece as a backpack and he looks damn fine doing it. Yes, it does make him a tad back heavy, but he can still stand just fine with a modicum of futzing. Bovis can also wield the backpack like a giant cannon. The foot alone gives us a wonderful sneak peak at what’s to come. It’s larger than your average Autobot Deluxe car, suggesting that Feral Rex is going to be a beast of a gestalt mode. But we’ll save all that for when the team is complete.

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Ok, I’ve gone pretty long just gushing about Bovis’ robot mode, but it’s kind of hard to contain myself. I’m seriously in love with this figure, and we haven’t even seen his alt mode yet. I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about his transformation and we’ll see how he looks in his beast mode!