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When I did my Ocular Max Kojin review last week I mentioned “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 ….”

So here we are with the first of the two MMC / Ocular Max reviews I was planning.

Mastermind Creations R-26 Malum Malitia … “Tactical Penetration” ! My inner schoolboy is wanting to go to all places smutty and innuendo laden with that one, but I’ll try refrain.

The Malum Malitia is obviously MMC’s take on the Insecticons, a sub group to the Decepticons.

The characters themselves have a bit of an on / off relationship with the Decepticons as portrayed in the various media, which for me is mainly the UK Marvel comics and the first season of the G1 cartoon.

The original toys were sold (initially) as part of the 1985 toyline but seeing their final outing in 1986’s before retirement. They would be released many years later as part of the Reissue line in both their standard and original Diaclone colours. This Diaclone line, if I recal rightly, was called Waruder Kabutron.

The three figures here are made up of:

Potestas (Shrapnel) – Stag Beetle

Calcitrant (Kickback) – Grasshopper

Inflecto (Bombshell) – Rhino Beetle

*from here on in the review I will just refer to them by their given G1 nomenclature.

With an original release date of October 2015 (having being teased since the May of 2015), this set was originally marketed as part of the Ocular Max series, designation PS-02 which we now know was given to Liger. Then earlier this year we were updated that it would now see a release as part of the Reformatted line, with the given designation of R-26. As of writing this review I have been unable to find out as to why the change, if anyone knows or can shed some light on this then I’d appreciate being informed.

This aside, the change of release series has not affected the figures themselves in anyway, so with this exposition out the way lets get to the review.

Packaging & Accessories

Seeing as though this is my first foray into the Reformatted line, I will afford a little more time on the descriptive for the packaging. It looks to be the standard Reformatted style box, good quality card with a matt finish. Adorning the box is a G1-esque grid, cog work looking backdrop with glossy toy images in action poses to the foreground. More images on the reverse highlighting both robot and Insect mode, with additional text & images to the top, bottom and sides of the box. Contained within the box we have a plastic clam that houses the Malitia in their insect modes. The clam feels quite thick and hardy, something which at times with other (3rd Party & Official) lines can be quite flimsy and prone to splitting. Opening this up and we can see that with the Insecticons in the clam are their weapons and to the bottom a small bag with Shrapnels & Kickbacks alt face sculpts. A separate bag contains the Instruction / Comic Booklet and 3x Bio Cards, at this time I have not read the comic but am led to believe that it is part of a larger story ?

Insect Mode

So as mentioned in the intro piece the Malum Malitia are made up of:

Potestas (Shrapnel) – Stag Beetle

Calcitrant (Kickback) – Grasshopper

Inflecto (Bombshell) – Rhino Beetle

In insects mode the bug team have more of a G1 toy influence than from the cartoon animation model, injected though with that stylised MMC flourish, not suffering in any way for this as this style suits them.

All three modes have a nice size (Shrapnel measures in at 8.5”) with good detailing. It could be argued that they are too big considering, but alt mode scale has mostly been sacrificed for robot mode scale. Takara are a good example of this with some of their vehicle modes.

The aforementioned detailing is molded into the plastic and does not come from any additional paint applications, well other than the chroming. Following in the set colour pallet of mainly black with the yellow and chrome to please the eye, a splash of purple here and there again reminding you of their G1 heritage.

Lined up together they look clean, no distracting parts on show and cutting a sleek silhouette they are a more leaner interpretation of this team than what has come before. In hand I can see no panel gaps or mis-alignments, however there are the odd void spaces here and there which is no cause for demerit. Articulation is limited to the legs, they are on a mixture of pins and ball joints which are quite stiff, this is not a bad thing as they do need to support the weight of the body.

Playability wise and it’s kind of limited, there is the posing in the legs, movement of wings and mandibles and that’s about it. You can if you wish mount their weapons in this mode, Shrapnel & Bombshell do so on their backs whilst Kickbacks attaches to the underside of his crotch (would you like to see my weapon puns abound).

Feeling compact there is a nice balanced weight to them, this is down to the die-cast content as the plastic is not too thick, there were reservations about this which I’ll touch upon later.

These points aside and there is not much more that can be said about them, in this mode anyway, other than they look great.

 

Transformation

I don’t find the instructions particularly great, quite generic really and I find it confusing when a figure is supplied in a certain mode and the instructions start you at the point of view from the secondary mode. We have this here as the figures come in Insect mode but the booklet starts you off in Robot mode, reverse engineering I know. So I’d advise hitting a video instruction guide on YouTube, it fills the gaps and starts you where you find yourself when first getting out the box.

The transformation itself isn’t that hard but it is quite fiddly due to their diminutive size and where sections tab. Some are real tight and some joints are quite stiff, my breakage anxiety was on alert but thankfully the gift of a steady hand got me through. Head scratching moments came from the insect legs, stiff and very articulate, where and how to put the dam things. The instructions advise one way but I can say that with them being so articulate you can have a little fun messing around and come up with your very own look or combination. Bombshell I went for neat and tidy but for Shrapnel I went full G1 toy … 80’s style.

When you have achieved either mode then you’ll see how clever it all is. No panel gaps or voids, clean lines and kibble free (as I have mentioned before or will I mention it after this ?), everything just tucks away out of sight leaving you with a great looking Robot mode or Insect mode.

Robot Mode

In general terms it seems apparent that MMC have gone for a mix of cartoon, toy and stylised cues in their interpretation for this team. They seem to favour none over the other and I like this, much as I appreciate their Perfection Series releases such as Backdraft, Terraegis et al.

Proportions are good and the designs serve the characters well with just enough molded detailing on them to compliment the clean lines and minimal kibble, however this kibble I refer to is only as we would see on the characters themselves. MMC have done a bang on job at tucking things away neat and tidy.

Paint schemes follow the G1 toy pallet, purples / blacks and yellows with that lovely chrome working for them. I believe Badcube went for the greys on Bombshell like he displays in the cartoon but I’m favouring this toy inspiration, it’s a thing for me.

As a three piece team they do share quite a few similarities so rather than being long winded and going through them individually I will endeavour to condense and highlight the main areas of note. All three have die-cast content, which according to another reviewer seems to be a first for the Reformatted line. These die-cast parts are the thighs and feet however I maybe mistaken but I think Bombshells crotch is also die-cast.

This die-cast content provides the figures with a nice weight to them, making them feel sturdy but also beneficial when getting round to posing. Unlike Badcube and Fanstoys the paint application is kept to the bare minimum, all 3 have painted areas on the face, head and feet along with the chroming to the thighs and certain “bug” appendages. Bombshell has some extra minor paint detail to his abdomen and all three have chromed guns.

I figured it’d be easier to do a kind of “Articulation Point” graph, actually it was just an excuse to use Excel, total Excel nerd here. This way you can see where these points are and what / how they operate. It’s basic but I believe you will get the general idea.

Shrapnel Bombshell Kickback
Head Pin / Rotate Ball Joint Ball Joint
Shoulders Ball Joint / Rotate Ball Joint / Rotate Rotate / Pivot
Upper Arms Rotate Rotate Rotate
Elbows Single Joint Single Joint Double Joint
Hands Wrist Rotate / Fused Fingers / Single Pin Fused Fingers / Single Pin Fused Fingers / Single Pin
Waist Rotate Rotate Rotate
Hips Rotate / Pivot Rotate / Pivot Rotate / Pivot
Upper Legs Rotate Rotate Rotate
Knees Single Joint Double Joint Double Joint
Feet Side Pivot / Toe Pin Side Pivot / Toe Pin Ball Joint

The amount of articulation that these little guys exhibit is great, posing is good and some dynamic stances are achievable, however I did find some pose options quite limiting. Of the three I’d say Kickback & Shrapnel have the better range. I have to admit that at times my actual posing ability is way behind where my ideas want to actually go, this is not fault of any figure or its abilities.

Each Insecticon has a weapon, these are held in hand by just sliding into the closed fist, no tabbing here.

At the moment this is no issue but I could foresee over time the friction aspect of this reducing through wear due to movement. Well, I say no issue but Kickback already has a problem holding, maybe he’s a secret pacifist ? This is mainly down to how the hands function, they slide out for Kickback and Bombshell and are supposed to click and hold in place. This click is rather slight so when moving the hands they have a tendancy to slide back into the arm recess. Shrapnel is saved this issue due to a tabbed panel which rotates round and the fist pivots into, rather stiffly I may add. Rounding out the Robot Mode features are the two alt face sculpts for Kickback & Shrapnel. Kickbacks alt face has a “laugh” while Shrapnels is more or a “smirk”. At this point I have not swapped them out as I do prefer a more neutral look over an emotive one.

Final Thoughts

I have been and continue to be a fan of the output from MMC and Ocular Max. I zeroed in on this set when first announced and stuck to my guns, waiting patiently for it to land. I’m glad I did, not even getting put off when the “relegation” to the Reformatted line was announced. I don’t mean relegation in a negative way, it’s a personal preference that I’ve never been drawn to this line in any way, sure there was a weakening when I saw Anubis …. it is Deaths Head after all ! But I resisted as it’s not really Deaths Head is it, I hold out for a good one in the near future, yes.

So what more can I say about these bugs ? They are well designed with a good likeness to the characters with inspiration evident from the original toys. Right amount of die-cast with a plastic quality that at first I questioned but after having played around with for a few days all doubts have passed. I do believe though that it is not the same grade or quality as used for the Perfection series, but in practical application it seems to be just as durable. Range of articulation with good joint tolerances, awkward bug legs, stiff tabbing can be stressful and the looseness to the hands is irritating. Minimal paint applications mean no colour matching issues, however I think I would have liked to see maybe just a little more painted on detail, subtle not over stated (maybe repro-labels will address this at some point). Chroming is good on the figures but the weapons suffer from mis-spray in parts, no visible sprue marks on them or the figures. I’d not mentioned it prior but I do like the opening panels, this homage to the original toys is nice. Sure they provide no play value, serving only as an aid to transformation except in Shrapnel where it opens but goes nowhere …… you could play spot the Penguin though.

And as ever just be mindful with a steady hand when transforming, no real issues but I advise this with any and all figures, treat them with respect and they’ll look after you in return.

So, would I advise allowing yourself to become infested by this insectiod pestilence ?

To date and as of this review, I have not had either Fanstoys or Badcubes offerings in hand so I cannot compare them in a physical sense. This said, judging by looks alone then I would say a definite yes. MMC has produced 3 figures that look so much cleaner, they lack the bulk the others have, these are my Masterpiece Insecticons. This set also offers value for money, working out cheaper than the other two options.

But what to do if you already have one of the other sets ? If you want to “clone” build then it’s an option.

It all depends on what you want out of an MP Insecticon.

Thanks to Kapow Toys Ltd, Mastermind Creations R-26 Malum Malitia can be Ordered by clicking here.

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