Monday 16 January 2023


Well, that’s 2022 done with. But before I close it off an move on to 2023 I thought I’d take a look back at my year of collecting. There was a lot of stuff that came into The Vault over the year, the most since 2018 in fact. It was all mainly Masterpiece this year, aside from the few bits of Black Series, but we’re not here to discuss that today.

I’ll break this down by Month and then do an overview at the end, giving my best / worst figure of the year etc.

Right then, let’s crack on shall we?


The start of the year kicked off with Crimson Wings DS-01S & DS-01R, that’d be Skywarp and Thundercracker to you and me. Both just a straight out re-colour of DS-01 (Starscream), no new accessories and box was the same as were the instructions. This was a little disappointing as I do like the boxes for these figures, the obvious mis-transformed jet mode on the front aside. So to distinguish them whilst on the shelf in the box I added an ‘S’ & ‘R’ to each box face respectively. 

The figures themselves are every bit as good as Starscream, both fully painted in kind of a pastel / matt finish and with die-cast parts. Sometimes there can be issues with figures being made repeatedly using the same molds, but not here. I did not do a review for these two when I got them, as I recall I’d planned it but never got around to it. However I did review Starscream and I recall saying the following: “You’ll not be surprised then when I tell you that I think this is the best MP Starscream to date”. I still stand by this with both Starscream and the these two chaps. Design and build quality are great but more importantly: “Look, I think we can all agree that by now collecting MP figures is getting a little expensive. Prices are going up, Takara and Fans Toys are the two main culprits. But now you have an option of the likes of Deformation Space offering a solid figure for sensible money. I’d also watch X-Transbots, they’ve got some great figures coming up at reasonable prices”. Again, this still holds true. Although Deformation Space has been a little naughty by undercutting their own prices on the second run of releases. A shame for those that picked up on initial release but good for those who either missed out or waited. Patience is a virtue as they say.


The nights are starting to get a little brighter now but I slide towards the dark side and obtain some KO goodies. Some like to rationalise by calling it “4th Party” but lets not kid ourselves. 3rd Party or 4th Party, it’s all knock off stuff, whether it’s product or intellectual property. But stepping down from the soapbox for a moment, what were the figures in question?

February brought me x3 KO MP-44’s. The Standard Version 2, the Black Version and the Silver Leg Version. None have a trailer but both the Standard and Silver leg versions had the working voice boxes in the backpack, with English option. The Black version was the remoulded release that had the slimmed down back, no voice box. I chose this route for MP-44 as I was not prepared to pay the extortionate prices that were being demanded for the official release. Also, with the reports of certain QC issues on the Takara release, it just felt the better option. I have in mind to possibly pick one up one day, if a re-issue is done or Hasbro decide to release their own version, but for now these will do. So how do they fare? 

Surprisingly they are good, the quality is on point for the Standard and Silver Leg version. The Black version is not on par with them. The plastic is different and there are some panel alignment issues, but nothing that is sufficient to call it outright bad. All transform well enough and do so without breakage. The knee issue that plagued the official release has been addressed here too. The do contain die-cast and have some but not all of the accessories available to the official MP-44. Of note is the light up blast effect for the standard & silver release, it’s a nice touch.

I decided to custom paint the Silver Leg Version to bring it in line with the G1 toy. I added some highlights here and there, Autobot logo’s to both shoulders etc. I also painted up one of the heads to resemble the Marvel UK look for Prime. This is the head I used for the photo below, quite intimidating looking I think.

This month also saw my first foray into the Legends scale market. Opting for the Newage releases of David & Agamemnon in their toy deco’s. I’ll talk more of these in September, I figured I’d save my thoughts and merge them in with Ymir who arrived that month.


Nothing much happened in May, only the KO MP-44 White Version, or Ultra Magnus if you will. This was essentially a white version of the black version from February. Same plastic quality, accessories and the slimmed down back pack. I decided to apply a little custom paint to this one, to bring it a little more in line with the G1 toy release, much the same as I did for the Silver Leg version. Nothing more really to say on this one, much the same thoughts on it as I stated in February.


The heat was building in July but things were cool with Fans Toys and X-Transbots, FT-47 Rig and MX-27 Janssen had arrived. Rig was a replacement for Badcube Huff, that was always my plan. I thought Huff was okay but I was never really happy with him so I used him as a shelf warmer until a better option presented itself. I did have Cubex Huff originally which I did like, but the QC and lack of die-cast ultimately led to his demise. Rig was a superior figure in almost every way, but the articulation was left wanting. This would be an issue for some, I was a little dismayed but with me being the “InAction-Master of the bland static shot” I could live with it. Hot on the heels of Rig was the surprise of the year so far, X-Transbots Janssen. Up to that point I had no intentions of extending my collecting remit to include the, what I call, superfluous ‘86 movie characters. This was Perceptor, Wheelie and Blaster. But having took a punt on Janssen and the resulting level of impressed-ness, I now find myself with a Blaster and a pre-order for Wheelie. More on the former in October. So yeah, Janssen! I’m a little hot and cold with X-Transbots to be honest. I like what they do, or aim to do. Their aesthetic is good, Eligos and Andras spring to mind but the execution doesn't always hit the mark. The former two are in my collection, even with me now having Quietus and awaiting the yet to be named FT Scourge. I’ll keep them both I think, or maybe move on Andras, we’ll see. Anyway, Janssen for me was a step up in their game. I said at the time of my review: “Sure there are one or two minor points which stop it from being 100%, but if this is the opening shots in something more to come, it’s looking real good for the future. Not just in quality but in price too, as I’ve noted that X-Transbots are pricing themselves very competitively. That price point and quality means business”. I would say or I did say that this is a huge closing of the gap with Fans Toys, who are lets be honest, the benchmark.


This was another month of replacements, 4 in fact. First up was MP-47 Hound. This was to replace both Fans Toys Willis and my MP-47 KO. I’d picked up the KO in 2021 not really sure what I was wanting to do as at the time I was still a fan of Willis. But as I was coming around more to the ‘cartoon aesthetic’, out of necessity and a little out of choice, Willis wasn’t cutting it anymore. So off to new homes went the KO and Willis and in their place was the shiny MP-47 official. Look, the KO was okay and did the job but now I have the official and it is a lot better. I don’t have any of the QC issues that have been reported with him, so lucky there I guess. Also, I like the scale of the included Spike figure, offers opportunities for photos with other MP figures. 
Next up was FT-25 Outrider, he’s lovely. There's a satisfying chunkiness to him, a real presence. Now at this point you’d be expecting me to relay what or who he replaced. He didn’t and was never going to. Up to now, Terraegis was my Trailbreaker and he still is in a way. I’m a huge fan of Mastermind Creations, I like how their Perfection Series makes me feel like a kid again, holding on to his G1 toys. For me they feel like an evolution of the G1 toy line, so they don’t really fit in anymore looks wise with the more predominant cartoon style, but the attachment keeps them on my shelf. 
Last up for August is Acoustic Wave and his Cassette Team. They of course replaced my MP-13, MP-15 & MP-16 respectively. I’m still disappointed that there is no Buzzsaw, but I think that we may see him when the inevitable black repaint arrives. If not then it may be custom time. Outrider was lovely, Acoustic Wave is sublime. But I’m biased as Soundwave is one of my favourite Transformers. Fans Toys, sorry, Robot Paradise did an excellent job with this figure. I’m glad they updated the original designs and added the swap out options for cartoon and G1 toy. I don’t see myself using Rumble, Frenzy and Ravage much if at all, as I tend to incorporate MMC’s Riot, Furor and Jaguar when displaying. But I do use Laserbeak….. I’d like to use Buzzsaw too!!!


The month of my birthday arrived and with it my first Legends Scale figures. Not strictly true, two of them arrived in February but for those paying attention I did say I would lump those two in with Ymir that arrived this month. 
And so, Ymir, David and Agamemnon. More commonly known as Grimlock, Optimus Prime and Megatron.
Of the three I’d say that Agamemnon is the weakest. He just feels a little floppy and delicate. I have stiffened him up a bit and since does feel better in hand. However I still feel like he’s not on a par with the other two. David is a little belter, like someone has put a Masterpiece in the wash by mistake and he’s shrunk. The transformation is great and he feels solid as a brick. The paint application is nice as are the tampo’s. Just a reminder, I opted for the toy versions of these figures. Ymir is also great, but it is Grimlock so I am a little on the biased side. The only issue I have with Ymir are the lower legs. I say issue as it’s only become one since Newage announced they were to produce some filler panels to hide the gubbins. All has gone quiet recently, which isn’t a real problem as I can live without them in all honesty. But it would be nice to have them to finish him off


Happy Halloween, trick or treat time. In my case it was a treat for myself in the guise of Deformation Space DS-02 Recording Alliance. Which was not a planned purchase really, I had no desire for the figure or character. I’ve gone over many times my collecting remit in reviews and such so I’ll not go over it again here and now. Suffice to say I’d seen him on a review and found one at a cracking price so I thought why not, I can always sell on if I choose. Well, he’s still on my shelf…
I won’t say I was pleasantly surprised as I kind of had an idea of the quality that awaited due to loving their previous releases of the Crimson Wings trio. Quality was just as good but there were one or two little niggles. The joints were super stiff, the internal cassette mechanics didn’t really work and the paint application scuffed to buggery. Thankfully I was able to remedy the first tow and the latter point was in such a place that it is not noticeable whilst in robot mode. So now that I had a Blaster to compliment my Perceptor, it was just a matter of time until I needed an Ocular Max cassette to keep him company…. As it would transpire, I only had to wait until December.


Remember, Remember the 5th of November…. Or remember, remember that X-Transbots stuff can look good but!!!
Dramatics aside, this was the month I received Commander Stack, and with him a boat load of QC issues. All of which except one have been remedied. Look, I did post some stuff on social media about the issues I had but it was never in the negative, more to make people aware that there could be some potential issues. However, social media being what it is and the idiots it attracts, my post was soon being misrepresented. It all cleared up and that was that. But what of Commander Stack? 
Well, I like him, his initial issues aside. He’s a great representation of the character and I do have a soft spot for him. Having liked his characterisation in the Marvel UK comics to the original toy that I got on a Christmas morning in ‘86. Some good paint apps, good build and great articulation. I’d just suggest being on the gentler side when handling.


Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday…. And this month it almost was with the arrival of 4 last minute items. One was a pre-order, I’ll give you that mind you, but the other three were last minute purchases. First up was the pre-order, Fans Toys FT-48 Jive. I was stoked that this arrived before Christmas, I wasn’t expecting it to land until the New Year. Ut land it did and oh boy was it good…. Yes it was good, although. Yeah, just one minor thing, the peg things for the shoulders don’t really work effectively. It’s a design choice and I see why and what for but it’s weak and they don’t hold , it doesn’t help also that the shoulder ratchets are super tight. But that one thing aside, yeah he’s Jazz alright. Next up was the aforementioned (in October) the Ocular Max addition for Blaster, RMX-11 Tempo (Steeljaw). This is nice, but again I’m a shade biased towards Ocular Max for reasons I’ve mentioned before. But It is better than their other cassettes, and I think it’s down to the materials used. They feel more sturdy and the joints are tighter. Suffice to say he looks lovely next to Recording Alliance. Last up for 2022 was Super 7 Cyborg Optimus Prime and Megatron. I opted for the X-ray & Purple versions mainly because they were on sale for a super silly price that it would have been nuts to pass on. Not something I’d intentionally buy normally but maybe I was caught up in the season, perhaps there were three spirits or a small crippled boy, who knows. All I know is that they are remaining sealed and on the shelf to be admired for a while.


So that was the year that was, and like I said in my opening, the most I’d collected since 2018. So I feel it’s been a good year for Transformers collecting, especially with regards 3rd Party Masterpiece. I’m sure there has been lots of good stuff from the other lines but they’re not my bag so I’ll leave that to those that do. Hopefully more to come in 2023 from all lines within the franchise. But what are my conclusions with regards my best / worst figure of the year? What delighted me as equally as infuriated me? 
This is tough as those that know me will know that I’m not a reviewer to be over critical, I find good stuff even in the most negative. That said, I’ll give it a shot.
Okay, not the worst as I genuinely don’t think any of them really qualify for that title, but I’d have to say the KO MP-44’s. They're good but they are not the quality of the official, they need a good paint job then they’d be great. They addressed the weaknesses of the original but skimped on other aspects like plastic quality and paint application. Another thing would have been the trailer. I’d have been happy to shell out an extra £50 to £80 for a tailer and all the accessories. Lurking around in the vicinity of the MP-44’s, not at the bottom but dangerously teetering on the edge I would say is Commander Stack. Oh X-Transbots, you were so close to greatness. I do like this figure a lot but I just feel so hesitant now when handling him that some of the joy has been lost. He’s fixed up now too and is how he should've been but still, there’s an air of anticipation around it. The engineering is bloody great, love that but I think it’s too clever. Joints and transforming mechanisms could do with being tighter and plastic could do with being stronger. I look forward to what Fans Toys are going to do, but my money is on it not being as articulate or slender, he’s going to be a chonk.
So that’s the ‘worst’ if you will, what of my best? 
Honestly, as the year went on and with each new release I was like ‘oh, yeah this is the one’ but things kept getting better. From the Crimson Wings, to the legends stuff to Janssen etc. There was a peak, in August from which it went ever so slightly down but then that peaked again in December. But the peak just didn’t peak as much as the previous peak….. Okay, I know, I’m stalling. I’ll just say then, deep breath…… Acoustic Wave.
For me 2022 goes to Acoustic Wave. Jive came dangerously close but just fell ever so slightly short. Soundwave, aside from Grimlock is one of my favourite Transformers. He was also the second proper big Transformer I got for Christmas of ‘84, so there’s some history there. Fans Toys did an amazing job with him, and I’m so glad that the designs were updated from the initially teased ones all those years back. The other thing I love is the ability to swap him between his cartoon and toy versions. Other companies may have gone for a double dip here but this was a clever way to go if you ask me. Of course I’m not as keen on the cassettes, aside from Laserbeak, but Ocular Max has me covered for Rumble and Frenzy. But where the hell is Buzzsaw?

Well that’s it, I’m now officially done with 2022 and looking towards 2023…..see you there.

As ever many thanks for taking the time to look over what I do, you’re all very much appreciated.

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