Friday, 28 June 2013

FansProject CA-10 Causality: T-Bone

Having bought CA-09, the first component of FansProject's mammoth interpretation of G1 gestalt Menasor, pretty much the first thing I did was look up the other components. While I now have CA-11 and -12 on pre-order, this one was a pleasant surprise, arriving rather earlier than expected.

How does FansProject's take on Wildrider measure up?

Vehicle Mode:
I've seen it said elsewhere that T-Bone transforms into a wholly fictitious car, but this is not the case. He actually transforms into a surprisingly faithful interpretation of the Lamborghini Ankonian - a concept car, designed by a German student, which effortlessly straddles the enormous gulf between the Tim Burton Batmobile (designed by the late Anton Furst) and the Christopher Nolan version (designed by Nathan Crowley). The Ankonian is low, sleek, futuristic... and just a little bit alien, perfectly suited for use as a robot's disguise. It could almost come out of a movie like Mad Max or Death Race, since the angular panels look like armour attached to a smaller, smoother car. Speaking of smoother, whereas Car Crash has an odd bit that sticks out where the rear piece folds into place, T-Bone follows the silhouette of the car he's based upon far more accurately.

The colourscheme fits both the car and the character - red windows in any other car would look strange and out of place but, with the Ankonian, it looks like just another weird design decision, and it works perfectly, as if the car is lit from within by some evil glow. The paint coverage doesn't match particularly well between the two pieces, but it's not that noticeable. Just to add to the G1-ness, T-Bone has a single gunmetal stripe down the centre of his bonnet, which is only a little paler than the plastic used for the majority of his body.

Just like Car Crash, T-Bone isn't a perfect representation of the car he's modelled on - most notably, the rear of the car is very much simplified. On the upside, this does mean his weapon can stow back there, though it's not as convincing as exhaust pipes on this car, and mine doesn't fit very easily - it butts right up against the robot's chest/shoulders and the slots seem very slightly too small for the pegs.

Also like his partner, T-Bone does not have a weapon attachment for vehicle mode. While it might seem a little odd for a Lamborghini Reventón to have whopping great cannons on its roof, the otherworldly design of the Ankonian means that armaments would not look at all out of place.

Robot Mode:
Technically, it's a little odd that T-Bone uses the same design as Car Crash, since it was G1 Stunticons Breakdown and Dead End that had the same transformation scheme as each other, while Wildrider and Drag Strip were broadly similar. Nevertheless, I think the right decision was made.

The colourscheme is rather more grey/gunmetal than the G1 original which had a silverish, die-cast metal chest, and the plastic colours are such that the sparse paintwork is disguised somewhat. There does seem to be less paintwork on this one than on Car Crash, though.

T-Bone's head sculpt fits with Car Crash quite nicely, though it is completely distinct. It's still a very 'human' type face, where Wildrider's was very robotic, barely even a face, really. While is mouth seems pretty similar to that of his counterpart, the overall expression is slightly less 'dull surprise' and more angry. Going by the photos I've seen thusfar of Last Chance and Down Force, all will have quite similar faces, though their helmets will be completely unique. This is a bit of a shame considering how different the faces were on the tiny G1 heads, though all of this is mitigated by the excellent molded detail of the bodies and the fact that the heads are all on ball joints.

T-Bone's transformation is basically identical to that of Car Crash - they're essentially reshells of the same model. Strangely, while I found T-Bone's arms far easier to fit back into vehicle mode, his legs are an absolute nightmare. It's a combination of the overly complicated molding of the front of the car, and substantially less space within. There isn't enough clearance for the knee and thigh to fold back into the car compared to Car Crash, because the front of the car is slimmer. The knee connection feels more secure on this, but it also feels as though it could eventually be damaged by transforming repeatedly. Between the two, I'm more concerned about T-Bone breaking during transformation...

By and large, T-Bone has exactly the same joints as Car Crash, but this doesn't mean he has the same range of motion. The feet in particular don't seem quite so mobile, and the parts of the bonnet that hang over his ankles seem to be more in the way (the wheels which fold into his leg certainly are). There's also one rather worrying oddity: the wrists on Car Crash are designed to rotate... but T-Bone's seemed very stiff when I tried to twist them and a closer inspection suggested that they're intended to stay still. It looked very much as though I'd started to break the plastic, and I'd rather not end up having to glue his hands in place.

Both vehicle mode and robot mode look excellent, as one might expect from FansProject these days... but something about T-Bone just doesn't work as well as Car Crash. Perhaps it's just all the extra angular bits from the Ankonian, getting in the way of a solid design, or perhaps certain aspects of the model were misjudged. Either way, this is still an awesome model. I'm looking forward to Last Chance (Dead End) and Down Force (Drag Strip), and especially M3, their Motormaster analogue.

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