“It appears to be a robot of unknown classification. With his size and probable strength, he will make an excellent Decepticon!” Megatron, Fire in the Sky.
I feel honoured right now, being given the unique opportunity to review a pre-production sample of such a highly anticipated release, my excitement is almost like finding some huge ancient sentient robot trapped in a block of ice !
Skyfire was my second favourite figure as a child, although back then he was known as Jetfire, well the toy was anyway. I obtained “Jetfire” as an alternative to going on a school trip, I was 11 years old and school was due to go to the Lake District for 3 days camping. I’d spotted Jetfire in a local Toymaster some weeks previously and when the letter came home from school informing my parents of the trip I quickly entered into negotiations. The deal I offered was that the cost of the school trip was equal to the cost of Jetfire and that I’d much prefer the latter to the former. The day of departure for the trip came and I was not to go with them but I was non the wiser as to when I would lay my tiny paws upon that futuristic jets beauty. My Dad came to pick me up from school that day in his works car and as I approached it he had a wry smile upon his face; looking to the back seat I could see a huge brown paper bag with a box of red & black colours just visible from the top … the rest is pure nostalgic history.
So with such fond memories and love of the character in mind, what would my 40-odd year old self make of this new representation.
Packaging & Accessories
Packaging ? You’re having a laugh aren’t you … get a grip and move on.
Accessories that have been supplied with this sample include;
- Light Piping Eyes
- Display Stand Bracket
- Spare Chest Panel
The gun is quite big (of course), black and has quite minimal detailing. It’s a good likeness to the one used in the cartoon (I’ve never been a fan of twin barrelled guns if truth be told) however it does feel very light & cheap and there are highly visible sprue marks. It has the now standard tab in for the hand to grip, when it does Phoenix’s index finger inserts through the trigger guard.
No, just no … I don’t like light piping on a Masterpiece figure. For me this is a gimmick that should remain within the realm of lesser figures. However should this be your bag then two screws to the back of the head and you can access to swap out the fitted painted metallic eyes. As you will see from the image below when installed they don’t really work or look that great.
The display stand bracket will fit on the stand supplied with FT-16 Sovereign, again the removal of two screws will allow the swapping out (see images below). Whether this means we will have to do this upon release or a separate stand will be supplied we will have to wait and see as nothing has been stated thus far.
I will add though that when I tried this that Phoenix did not feel very stable on it, I believe he is too heavy for this stand and if over used could result in the stand breaking.
I’m going to assume at this stage that the replacement chest panel can serve one of two purposes.
The first would be to have an Autobot insignia upon one and a Decepticon insignia on the other allowing the collector to swap as and when desired. The second potential purpose could be to have an Autobot insignia on one then the other to be left blank and used when in jet mode; a second insignia would now be visible on the nose of the jet, again at this stage it’s open to interpretation.
We’ll start with some stats; a wing span of 430mm, fuselage length of 420mm and a height of roughly 180mm whilst standing on the landing gear. All in Phoenix has quite the size to him, dwarfing MP Starscream his old Cybertronian contemporary.
This jet mode is a cracking likeness to the animation model, it’s near spot on.
Regarding details we can start at the front with the cockpit, a striking translucent blue canopy opens up to reveal silver twin pilot seating. It’s at this point I wish I still had some of my old Zoids as I’m convinced that the old Zoid pilots would fit quite comfortably in those seats, it would also look pretty cool. Further back on the body we have another translucent blue canopy, forming part of the “back-pack” this canopy does not open but again has some silver detailing underneath. The said back pack is attached to the main body and not parts forming, on top are two vertical wings that can fold down (for the transformation), fold them the wrong way and they will pop off but they easily tab back on again no problems. The main wings can swing forwards (again for transformation) and have moveable flaps, these are a nice detail for the jet mode as well as necessary for maintaining the clean lines in robot mode. The wing tips have yellow flight lights painted on which again is a nice touch but do cause an issue I’ll get to later on in the review.
Back to the main fuselage and it’s quite minimal detailing to be honest, I suppose it’s down to being based upon that animation model. It must have been tough to find that balance when designing, not enough detail and it’d be a big white plastic hunk, too much detail and may have been accused of taking too much license (this holds true for the robot mode too). There’s enough panel lining to keep it interesting but in the end it is Skyfire and he was pretty, well, bland.
Flipping him over and we see a few gaps here and there, most notably between what will form to be his legs. Sure this breaks the lines of the jet mode but it’s to be expected, some pay off has to come somewhere, besides having collapsible panels on the legs to fill this in would only compromise the look in robot mode.
The gap in the centre is minimised by the die-cast bracket that overlaps, this is here more for the display stand rather than any attempt to hide anything.
Rounding out this look at the jet mode are the retractable landing gear, concealed by flip panels they themselves flip out and hold well, made of die-cast to support the sheer weight.
I found myself not being vexed too much with the transformation sequence, to say there were no instructions supplied. It is in all honesty quite straightforward and any seasoned MP collector should have few issues with it. I will say though that due to the tabs and joints being so tight at times it does prove quite difficult and more than once I cringed at the thought I may have broken something.
As a first I’ve included a video of me transforming Phoenix, please excuse the crudity of this short, I didn’t have time to build it to scale or paint it…
Lets have some more stats shall we; 375mm height, 210mm width and 140mm depth makes Phoenix quite the imposing presence when stood at the side of some of the current MP releases to date. Again you will see from the pictures he dwarfs both Starscream and Optimus Prime not only in height but weight also, on the scales he comes in at a whopping 1.2kg.
Phoenix is clunky and decidedly ungraceful, he has articulation but for some reason is not able to achieve many dynamic poses, which again I suppose his cartoon inspiration didn’t do either.
Lets look at this articulation;
- Shoulders; 360 degree rotation and pivots up on a ratchet.
- Upper Arms; 360 degree rotation with double jointed elbows.
- Wrists; 360 degree rotation and a forward pivot.
- Hands; Individual fingers articulate at 3 points plus another joint which allows a minimal spread, thumb has 2 point articulation but is attached to the hand by a ball joint.
- Head; 360 degree rotation with a tilt forwards and backwards
- Waist; No articulated joint, flaps on outer edge to allow upper leg movement.
- Upper Legs; Forward & backwards movement, move out to the sides and rotate at roughly 45 degrees at the waist joint.
- Knees; single joint allows backwards movement but does rotate through 180 degrees where attaches to the lower leg.
- Feet; Have some forward and backward movement with the smallest of tilt available, toe articulation I would say is more for transformation than any pose value.
All joints and tabs are satisfyingly stiff and tight, there is a reassurance to the solid clicking sound they make when moved, although at times they can be a little fiddly and a pain to separate.
As with the jet mode, there is just enough detailing on him to avoid looking like some big chunk of white & red plastic. I like the translucent red waist panels, chest vents and that cockpit but for the life in me I don’t get the chromed red lower leg panel / vents ? I don’t really mind them I just don’t understand the reasoning. The head sculpt is good and the forehead panel is nice but at times I felt the face was a little plain looking, I’ve touched upon the swap out light piping eyes and the chest panel previously.
Overall Phoenix is a doppelganger of his cartoon self, Fans Toys have nailed his look in robot mode just as well as they have in jet mode.
After having Phoenix for a little over 3 days I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with him but that’s not to say there aren’t issues. I’ve bullet pointed some pro’s & con’s below in no particular order other than occurring to me;
- Die-Cast; crotch plate, part of the feet, landing gear, chromed red lower leg side detail and some hinges & brackets (no, not the drag act).
- No apparent looseness, only maybe the wing flaps.
- Not a great range of articulation, considering the number of joints.
- Is very substantial but does feel like a toy rather than a high price point collectable.
- Sparse accessories, there maybe more upon eventual release but I struggle to think what you could include, there aren’t a great deal of things he interacted with in the cartoon to take inspiration from. Although I’d kind of like to see a toy-esque battle mask or secondary head.
- Eye light piping … no, just no !
- Yellow paint from wing tip lights rubs off and marks the white paint on the backpack, there are other areas too where there has been paint rub.
- Right lower leg red chromed die-cast panel has been installed upside down * noted when packing up to return him *
- All appears to tab well and keep in place, no panel gaps or line up issues.
Phoenix is a welcome release to the Masterpiece style toy line. I never had or experienced the release from Daca Toys but going by images, video and collector experiences it would seem (initially) that Fans Toys have bested their efforts by releasing a product of far better quality and engineering.
I have to be honest in saying that I am looking forward to the official release but other than it’s size and for who he is, it does lack (for me) a certain “wow” level factor. I’m not feeling as blown away by this as what I did when I reviewed FT-16 Sovereign. In fact when I lined them up together along with Willis, if I had not known I would not have said that Phoenix was a fans Toys release, he does not feel in the same vein as those two.
Before I go there is just one other thing I’d like to mention … is he going to yellow ?
“He won’t be forgotten, Spike. He will live forever so long as freedom exists. We shall remember you, Skyfire.” Optimus Prime, Fire in the Sky.
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