Well I didn’t think I would be back with an MMC review so soon, I had planned on doing one but just not yet or with this particular figure, happy cosmic accident !
The figure I find myself in the lucky position to be reviewing (and owning) is non other than Ocular Max’s Targetmaster Kojin & Nightbeam or as we are more familiar with knowing them, Artfire & Nightstick.
Launched in March of 2017 the Kojin Project was Ocular Max’s first crowd funding venture. It was a limited production that was made to order and I have to say, at the time I did not opt into it (shame on me).
It was a difficult choice but there were other items at that particular time I wanted. But with a little patience and time I hoped that I would stumble across one eventually … seems like the universe offered me a break for once.
With assurances that any previous issues with the mold would be fixed the exercise was a total success and Kojin was put into production with a release date of May 2017. Extra incentive was offered in the form of a translucent or “crystal” version of Nightbeam (which will be included here in the review).
*Additional: In July of 2017 Ocular Max issued extra “wings” and bio cards due to some minor mishaps at the factory prior to release (I’ll detail these further a little later on).
Lets get into the review shall we …
Packaging & Accessories
Straight off the bat and the box is great. Gone are the Diaclone inspired blues to be replaced by a definite Generation 1 Transformers influenced sunburst on red and black. A box that is slightly larger than previous, this owing to the incorporation of Nightbeam, but retaining all the usual imagery such as the toy art, photo’s and tech spec’s.
Opening the box up and Kojin is presented in his Fire Truck guise (a stylised version of the Mitsubishi Fuso Fire Truck from the late 70’s early 80’s) and right next to him is Nightbeam (robot mode), housed as per prior releases in a clam (with card surround) only this time elongated to incorporate the included Targetmaster.
A small bag contains the instructions, x2 bio cards, tech spec decoder, gun, alt head and an alt pair of shorter “wings”. Also included is a small white box that houses the exclusive “crystal” Nightbeam Targetmaster. This smaller box, labelled PS+, has some rather nice artwork on it showing that Ocular Max went just that little bit further for this release.
Now for those that received this figure it will be noted that the bio cards included were both for Nightbeam, one in English and the other in Chinese. Also of note are the wings, both pairs were white …. which leads me on to the following.
So, not included with Kojin upon release but sent out separately (in July 2017) is another bag which contains 2 sets of additional “wings” and an extra pair of bio cards. These new wings are made from a matching grey plastic found upon the main figure of which we saw in the production test shots. According to Ocular Max this was a factory production run error. The bio cards, both of which are for Kojin himself, were produced but due to a packaging error were omitted from the initial release. This now means we are left with 4 sets of wings and the correct compliment of bio cards (4 or 2 pair) in both English and Chinese.
- It would now be possible (if desired) to retro-fit Roadcrane and Girder with a set of wings. Kojin would maintain his larger grey wings, the large white set could be installed upon Backdraft then the smaller set from Backdraft and Kojin could now be given to Roadcrane & Girder respectively (note that if you were to do this then the inner feet panels would need removing to allow the correct seating of the wings in vehicle mode).
As we all know Kojin, like Backdraft, has an alt mode based upon a Mitsubishi Fuso F-Series FT fire ladder truck. It’s a stylised version and not a faithful reproduction as per MP Artfire & Inferno. Whilst writing this review I looked into as to why the colour choices for this character were chosen. The red for Inferno is pretty much a no brainer as most fire trucks are red, infact here in the UK we have a specific paint colour called “Fire Engine Red”. I found little to no details for Artfire’s deco so at this time I am assuming it maybe down to a specific role or to reflect a particular district it hails from. Should anyone know I would be happy to be educated so as I can update this particular section. As with the other trucks, Kojin is heavy and sturdy which imbues the feel of quality when in hand.
Kojin has lots of detail as you’d expect however he does not have the same amount of chromed detailing as what Backdraft does. The chrome accents are localised to the front and rear bumpers, front grill, ladder housing pivot hose, exposed rear of cab engine and the panels which form the tops of the shoulders in robot mode. He does retain the die-cast retractable stabiliser legs but the looped hoses to the sides are now a flat grey over the previous white. Changes in other areas also include a now grey ladder, black chequer plate tops and black grab handles all that were white and chromed respectively … tyres do however remain rubber. Special note on the blue windows, love the blue windows. Kojin has all the interactive parts that Backdraft had, these include opening doors, moveable door mirrors, rotating and extending ladder (with working piston), the retractable stabilising legs and swivel rear mount hose. When opening the cab doors they reveal a fully detailed interior complete with seats and steering wheel, just in scale to allow the Spike figure from MP-10 to fit and sit in the cab more than comfortably.
Backdraft was beset with panel gaps and alignment issues, some of this remains for Kojin but overall it is a lot better, he does seem to go together significantly neater than before. The gun retains the ability to be held on the underside, however I find it does effect the tabbing for this section. Overall there is a better fit to him but it is slightly let down by the stiffness of the pins holding the wheels which impede his ability to roll or “brum” along. Sadly the flimsiness of the 3 section ladder also remains, not a deal breaker but I figured that maybe whilst giving this release some attention then maybe enlarge the tabs so as to avoid the sections popping out so easily.
There is a mixture of painted and coloured plastic parts on this figure, its an amazing paint job and combined with the chrome and blue tinted windows it just looks great. No paint application issues here as were reported initially for Backdraft.
Finally, as I mentioned in the review for Backdraft “ … have to say that the only minus some collectors may have is the scale issue, it does not scale in vehicle mode with other MP’s. Truth be told I’m not concerned about this, as much as I like the truck mode (or other vehicle modes for that fact), when not in their boxes I display in robot mode. And we know, for the most part, MP style figures tend to go for the robot mode scaling anyway”.
- There does not seem to be a slot or peg to allow Nightbeam (in gun mode) to attach to Kojins vehicle mode.
“I’ll admit that when I first received Backdraft I was over cautious but this was probably more a psychological thing rather than a question of the figures durability or quality”.
Those were my words (or thereabouts) from my Backdraft review in respects of my first attempts at the transformation sequence. I’m now like a seasoned veteran with this particular mold so any apprehensions have long since buggered off out the window. Although that said, as ever I always advise caution and a certain amount of respect upon the first go, if for nothing more than to attain a certain level of familiarity. In this case I’ve learned that the figure has good tolerances and feeling no hesitation or fear of any breakages or stressing.
Kojin like his brethren is tall and lean as opposed to Takara’s MP Artfire, sure Artfire has the height but also has the girth to go with it, maybe enjoying one to many energon goodies perhaps. As mentioned regards quality, it carries over into this mode and is more that a match for the official contemporary. As with Backdraft Kojin is purely G1 toy inspired which pleases me no end, as I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion I am a toy fan first and foremost closely followed by the UK Marvel comics. Curious then that I should have wanted this character so much accepting that he never made it into the aforementioned comic series.
Proportions are good, the stylised design serves the character well with just enough references in the mold to it’s G1 lineage. The ladder does not fold away like we find with MP Artfire & Inferno but it does collapse enough to not be in the way or out of place, plus with the exposed engine detailing on the back gives a nice transformed look. One of the things I like about this robot mode is the lack of void spaces or gaps, every inch is accounted for. It may sound odd but I especially like the back of the lower legs, the panels that fold round there form what look like proper powerful calves, it’s stance makes Kojin look an agile and capable sniper.
Head is on a ball joint giving it lots of range with nice ratchet and friction joints to both arms and legs which also have double joints at the knees and elbows, good range on the ankles with the addition of jointed toe section. Waist section twists and tilts helping the posing dynamic and giving an ab crunch effect.
Articulation to the hands sees thumbs on ball joints and individual jointed fingers, double joints on the index finger are great when the need for pointing things out becomes necessary. This movement also helps hold the gun in place as the peg slot is not great (neither was it on the other releases). Flip the panel down on the forearm and twist to swap out the nozzle (both are chromed), no parts forming here.
Lots of sculpted detailing on this figure which I love as it gives a real world feel and with more than it’s fair share of die-cast this contributes to the figures heft and stability. The die-cast content is distributed well with a good chunk of it being in the feet area which helps with balance when posing the figure, utilising its many points of articulation. The paint scheme continues to be consistent in robot mode with no apparent matching issues, as far as I can tell the painted areas are the white’s and blacks with the reds & greys being coloured plastic, such is Kojins deco.
Nightbeam V.S. Nightbeam
So as most of you will be aware Nightbeam is actually the Targetmaster Nightstick, no not Cyclonus’s Targetmaster partner ….. it can get confusing, best look it up. I’ll wait here a while whilst you do.
You back ? Cool.
Right, I’m really struggling here with this little guy, he is nice with some good articulation for his size. It’s just that he’s really fragile and a little loose. I have a delicate and precise touch but I have to say that after the first transformation there were stress marks. I think this is down to thin plastic and how it’s jointed. It’s a simple transformation, no surprises and when done he looks a capable and effective gun. It’s poorly finished too with lots of sprue marks, some of which are on jointed areas which affect movement.
And I’ll continue with the honesty and say right now that I went no where near the crystal version, your staying in robot mode my little man.
These points aside there is good detail, paint application is limited to the face but it is applied well with no smudges or overrun.
Kojin holds him well (actually pegs in to the hand unlike the standard gun) but as mentioned earlier there appears to be no mounting point for him whilst Kojin is in vehicle mode. Scale is good too which is a positive, both in robot mode and gun mode.
Mastermind Creations / Ocular Max continue to impress and I remain a huge fan, on the whole their output is great, so if you’ve missed out on any of their previous releases then I do suggest picking one up (this exclusive included). However they are not perfect or free from issues, this is more than apparent with Nightbeam. This little Targetmaster is the weak link for me in this review, it’s fragility negates it’s usefulness, this goes for both the standard and crystal figure. Kojin himself is spot on which is to be expected for the final issue of this mold …. or one at least hopes it is. If it does indeed prove to be the molds final gasp then it is a fitting last outing, solid design and construction coupled with good articulation and balance to assist. Great colour scheme and an exclusiveness to match the character himself.
So when out and about shopping for an MP Artfire which way do you go ? Takara’s version is the more readily available, with stock still out there from both UK and overseas suppliers. With Kojin being a crowd funding effort then you are limited to sources. You could be lucky like me and pick one up from a former backer or I have seen one or two available from overseas suppliers, however I believe it to be limited stock and not entirely sure they have the exclusive crystal Nightbeam available.
In closing, either figure is a valid choice which ultimately is up to the individual.
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