I wasn’t really paying much attention when Howling Meteor was released. Sure, I’d seen the pictures and watched one or two of the reviews but for some reason nothing seemed to register. Then about a few weeks back I was perusing some images from a Transformers group on social media when Skycrow caught my eye.
I say caught my eye, more like leapt from the screen of my phone and slapped me firmly in the chops.
But why, I was as confused as I was drawn. It didn’t look like anything overly impressive. In fact I do recall now thinking, when I saw Meteor, that 3rd Party were following Takara’s lead with the cartoon aesthetic. Something which I am really not a fan of. So I was faced with the paradox, finding myself wanting a figure that outwardly had all the attributes of something I disliked about another set of figures. Did I want it ? Was I just curious ? So much confusion but obviously not so much as to prevent my hand finding it’s way to my wallet and purchasing the shit out of not just Skycrow but Lightning too. Well they’re both now sat on my desk looking at me with those bad guy red eyes, wondering what the hell I’m going to say about them and to be honest I’m kind of wondering that too.
*NB: This review will use Skycrow as the lead but it is also intended to reflect Lightning too.
Packaging & Accessories
Good quality, reasonable size matt black box with the usual MakeToys imagery and fonts.
Inside is the two part snap clam with Skycrow held in robot mode along with his two null-rays, two alt faces, two extra null-ray stubby attachments and the ‘choke’ head. In the accompanying baggie are the instructions and a pair of alt purple hands. No useless or tenuous additions thrown in there just for the hell of it.
Taking the form of an F-15 Eagle fighter jet, Skycrow has just enough detail to keep it the right side of bland.
Looking a lot cleaner that the MP-11 mold but lacking it’s detail, ultimately spoiled by the hinges in the tail fins. Not so much a major issue for me, due in part as to when not in robot mode sat on the desk, he’ll be back in the box on the shelf. Minimal paint applications due to the use of coloured plastics, which is quite sharp. I use this term in meaning a plastic that I feel has little to no flex in it and thus making it prone to snapping if excessive force is used. To date this has not happened to me as I favour a more ‘gentle’ touch.
The landing gear is laughable, basic to the point of being useless, not even any paint application on it to try salvage some of it’s pride. This and the recesses on the underside of the wings don’t help it’s case.
The cock-pit opens up to reveal Skycrow’s face looking up at you, no seating arrangements for random pilot or Dr Arkeville here. But in all fairness it was a feature I never used in the official releases. Staying with the cock-pit, Maketoys have gone with a gold rather than translucent look, I thought in hand this would bother me more than it has but it hasn’t (my fondness for translucent plastic is no secret).
Using the stubby null-ray attachments and mounting under the wing provides a throwback to the G1 toy look.
Overall the jet mode isn’t as detailed as the jet mode for the MP-11 mold, but it does do a good job of emulating the jet mode as seen in the cartoon.
The transformation is involved but not complicated, after glancing over the instructions once and then getting stuck in I found no issue at all, tolerances are good and everything tabs and clicks in place where it should.
I like how the tail fins fold away and the way the nosecone collapses upon itself and hugs the back of the figure in robot mode, for me this makes the lines look a lot cleaner than those on the MP-11 mold.
In robot mode and it’s clear to see where Maketoys have drawn their inspirations from … the cartoon.
The colours and tones used on these figures just makes them come alive. There are more paint applications on show in this mode but still lacking that extra detail as seen in the MP-11 mold. One thing I did notice is Skycrows face, on the box his face is painted the same silver as his chest & waist. But the actual figure his face is the same light grey as used on Lightning, no problem but just wanted to point it out.
Now where Maketoys have improved over Takara is the articulation, this mold has bags of it but where it’s noted most is in the waist swivel (and an ab-crunch). This excess of articulation allows for some great posing, limited only by the imagination and it’s tendency to topple over if not balanced right. In fact at times it can topple over just stood up straight, I think this is down to the feet and how they manipulate more than anything. There is die-cast in there which helps with stability but also a feel of sturdiness and quality, even in light of also being quite fiddly to handle and pose.
I find the hands a little on the small side for the overall size of the figure, but as they have no need to hold anything then it’s a minor point. Swap out faces offer some expression but I’m not that over bothered about this as I prefer a more neutral look, which on these figures has a look of some heavy Botox use on the top lip. And as for the ‘choke’ head, totally redundant for both Skycrow and Lightning, even if it does offer some humor and variation for Meteor.
In general the figure has good proportions, looks clean and fits in well with existing Masterpiece figures, both official and non official.
Thinking back over my words it may seem rather brief and not all that positive, there are things that bother me about this figure, although not to the point of making it undesirable. I’ve condensed them here below:
Packaging & Accessories
The 2-Part snap together clam, I defy anyone to be able to open it without some of the contents spilling out or flying off into the air.
Hinges on the tail fins
Recesses on the underside of the main wings
Quite (excuse the pun) plain mold
Gaps in the wrists
A degree of fiddliness
Some minor balancing issues
Quite (excuse the pun) plain mold
It’s all stuff I can live with as on balance, compared with the Takara Tomy MP-11 mold, it just looks and feels better but not better. MP-11 is no slouch and if you have that mold then unless you need to, I see little to prompt you into double dipping. However, if you do not have the MP-11 style Seekers and want to save some money then I can recommend them, without hesitation. I have ordered Howling Meteor (sorry Kapow but had to source elsewhere, my bad) and in due course will be parting with my Official Takara MP-11 mold Seekers.
So, to cap it all off, they are not completely amazing. They do not blow Takara’s out of the water, they are more on the level with them but for different reasons.
But if I’m honest, even after this review, I still can’t figure out why I like them. Maybe some things are best left alone.