Sunday, 2 June 2013

FansProject CA-09 - Causality: Car Crash

Regular readers may have picked up on the fact that I'm a bit of a fan of FansProject. Their City Commander set, the Warbots and the Crossfire set were awesome and, when the latter pair were re-released with new heads and new paint jobs as the first two entries in their Causality series, I snapped them up at the first opportunity - they are far too good to just be components of an old Superlink/Energon combiner. I'll get to them individually eventually, but my latest acquisition, from the MCM London Comic Con recently, kinda takes precedence for reasons of nostalgia... See, the Stunticons were the first G1 gestalt set that I completed... and Causality-09 (aka Breakdown) could well be the first step toward completing my first wholly third-party transforming robot gestalt.

Vehicle Mode:
Compared to Revenge of the Fallen Brakedown, this is a far more realistic representation of a car, loosely based on the Aventador Reventón, by the looks of things, where the G1 Stunticon was the same iteration of Countach as Sideswipe. This is a similarly low, sleek, angular car with the kind of drawn-out rear end that Lamborghini seem to like for their massive engines. The G1 model was good for its size, but suffered from some overly obvious seams, such as a massive block of windscreen that acted as a hinge in transformation. No such interruptions here, as a combination of clever positioning and well-fitting parts means that seams are kept to a minimum. In particular, the doors are used quite effectively so that, at first glance, the seam at one end is barely distinguishable from the molded indent at the other. Another particularly cool aspect of this model is that the robot's weapon becomes part of vehicle mode - splitting apart and attaching to pegs at the rear, making reasonably effective exhaust pipes.

The colourscheme evokes Breakdown perfectly, from the slightly creamy white (almost indistinguishable unless he's stood next to a 'pure' white model, such as Causality Flameblast) to the dark blue trim and the splash of red on the bonnet (naturally missing the Decepticon insignia from the G1 model's sticker). There's also a bit of silver for the headlights, hubcaps and what I'd guess is supposed to represent the number plate, and the rear lights are picked out with a couple more splashes of red. The paintwork does a better job of following the shape of the car than the G1 version, which took some liberties with the wheel arches to get a bit more blue into the vehicle mode.

Deviating from the vehicle it's based on, this car model has raised areas at the back where the rear of the vehicle hinges for transformation. I guess there was no way to avoid that, and it only really affects the look of the car from the side, so it's a small price to pay.

On thing I did find rather disappointing was the lack of a vehicle mode weapon. All four of the G1 limb Stunticons had their robot mode handguns and a huge double-barrelled cannon that would peg into the Menasor wrist/ankle socket at the back of the vehicle. While not having such a weapon undoubtedly makes for a more realistic vehicle mode, I do tend to think of these as alien robots first... and some kind of 'weaponised mode' extra parts would have been cool.

Robot Mode:
If there's one area that FansProject rarely disappoint, it's their robot modes. They tend to be sturdy, well-constructed and, above all, believable. Even those parts that appear flimsy normally turn out to be rock solid, and their joints are usually firm enough for good posing. Car Crash certainly doesn't disappoint. The overall aesthetic is somewhere between the live action movies and the more recent Classics - the detailed molding of the former, with the more traditional look of the latter. And when I say 'detailed molding', I mean it's pretty much everywhere... aside from the obvious car parts, there's hardly a plain surface, and that includes his 'car rear' backpack.

One thing that's not immediately obvious in vehicle mode (unless you look at the bottom of the car) is that the free-spinning part of the rear wheels is only a thin disc on the outside of molded, painted wheel detail on the robot's shoulders... this is quite a neat trick, and one I've seen elsewhere... I just can't think where.

If there's a disappointing aspect to this model, it's the head sculpt. After the very robotic City Commander and the rather more G1 cartoon-like Warbot Defender, Car Crash neither follows the G1 model for the character nor delivers something new and exciting... if anything, Car Crash exhibits the expression of dull surprise made infamous by a certain comic book 'artist' a few years ago. It's a shame, because the head is otherwise pretty good... I might have preferred G1's visor look personally but, expression aside, it's a well-designed, cleanly-painted head.

In terms of colour, Car Crash follows G1 Breakdown from the waist up. Due largely to the different transformation, he's white rather than blue from the knee down, and has two silver/gunmetal plastic colours for the groin and upper legs. Naturally, without any die-cast metal parts, he's more colourful in the chest, though relying on paint rather than stickers.

Transformation, I must be honest, is an absolute nightmare of clashing parts and bits that just don't want to tab in. Attempting to turn him back into a car results in much frustration as the arm extension slider doesn't like sliding back, and the shoulder piece doesn't like lining up with the car panels on the arms. There's a very sharp corner piece that's in serious danger of getting permanently bent out of place or worn down due to the way those pieces come together. Then, plugging them into the central part of the car's rear is easy on one side, but almost impossible on the other... it's either a molding defect or I'm just doing something wrong, but it's a real pain, whatever the cause. The legs, meanwhile, are hovering somewhere between genius and annoying - the way they fold back into vehicle mode is great... but having the front wheels connected to the windscreen, and the front of the car folding out into feet, means that getting everything back into position for vehicle mode is troublesome, to say the very least.

And I've heard rumours that Causality's Wildrider analogue, T-Bone, is even more frustrating than Car Crash...

On the upside, this model is every bit as poseable as the Crossfire components, and improves on them by having rotating wrists. While you might need a stand to pull of some of the more dramatic poses from the box art, they do all seem possible. The shoulders are particularly interesting, given that they're on fairly restricted ball joints, but the socket is in a hinged piece, neatly giving Car Crash's arms an excellent range of motion. While waist articulation seems to be standard with FansProject's models, it's no less welcome to see it here.

Rounding out the package is the collectors card/history piece - "ROVER's Memoir Entry #442" in this case - giving a small insight into the continuity FansProject have created for their models.

Naturally, Car Crash and the other Causality homages to the Stunticons are expensive. I paid £55 at the MCM London Comic Con for this, which pretty much guarantees I'm going to try to get the others... and, at £55 a piece for the limbs, that's over £200 spent before the torso component comes along... Somehow, though, based on their previous products and their increasing confidence, I suspect it will be money well-spent.

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