Monday, 30 March 2015

FansProject Causality CA-02 Flameblast

The main problem with Crossfire 02A - Explorer - half of FansProject's initial foray into building full components for a gestalt - was that it rather needs to be displayed as part of the upgraded Energon Bruticus Maximus for the best effect. The unfortunate side-effect being you don't get to see how awesome Explorer is in and of himself.

I was very pleased, then, to find that FansProject decided to release both Explorer and Munitioner in new colourschemes - based on the G2 versions of Blast Off and Swindle, respectively - with new head sculpts and unique accessories, after the initial run of Combaticon clones. When I saw them on a stall at one of the conventions I occasionally attend, I snapped up the pair straight away, so I could make the most of the molds on my shelves.

It's clear from the purples used all over the packaging that Flameblast is a Decepticon-analogue. Where the first pair of supplementary Combaticons had consistent packaging, Flameblast and Warcry go for a more complementary style. The overall look is pretty similar, but there's no reference to their ability to combine with any of the Energon/Superlink gestalts, and no Bruticus upgrade parts were included.

The front of the box shows artwork of Flameblast along with the Causality and Crossfire logos and a large window to the figure itself, while the back features photographs of the figure in dynamic poses, facing off against his opposite number, Warcry, and detailed shots of their new accessories.

Inside the box is a full-colour instruction leaflet and a high quality collectors' card featuring a character bio which explains (in somewhat broken English) that Flameblast was Explorer, but changed his name after some upgrades, and is now working in research rather than as part of the combiner team.
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Vehicle Mode:
This is basically the same drone-shuttle as Explorer, just molded in more traditional space shuttle colours, and with a new tail fin. In an attempt to make it look more like a manned shuttle, there's a window design stamped on the nose cone but, without any additional molded detail, it just looks like a paint application on the hull rather than real windows. I'm no sure why they bothered, since the design of the craft is not dissimilar to some of the proposed/experimental NASA shuttle replacements which didn't have windows. While the simplicity of its paintwork is quite authentic, I can't help but feel it needs a little something else to decorate it. Reprolabels did a set of stickers for the original pair of Causality Combaticon substitutes, but didn't get around to redesigning them for the second releases... which is a real shame, as some NASA decals would be awesome.

The back end still looks a little dubious - the robot's feet are fairly obvious, even folded up, and they haven't been remolded from the original version of the mold. What has been remolded is the tail fin, which is now taller, not as deep, and minus the obvious hinge in the middle.

The accessories mount on the wings and appear to be additional (disposeable?) jet engines, though their purpose isn't defined anywhere in the package. They are, admittedly, rather plain - molded in white plastic with only a splash of silver on the backs - but they serve their purpose.

This would be a more blatant G2 homage if he had the purple 'camouflage' pattern of the Combaticon re-release, but I think FansProject did the sensible thing in keeping it simple. Like this, it's a closer homage to Shuttler, the shuttle component of the Japan-only Robots In Disguise/Car Robots repaint Baldigus
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Robot Mode:
Flameblast is 99% identical to Explorer in terms of the molding - the body has not a single new part other than the head, so it's nice to see it's such a different head - gone is the Blast Off style block of a head and, instead, we have a curvy helmet with a large central crest and a mouthplate. It's a fairly simple sculpt, but manages to keep within what one tends to expect from TransFormers, rather than veering off on one of the more dramatic tangents the third parties sometimes take.

The colourscheme is far less plain in robot mode and, in fact, there's very little white on display from the front. The body uses black, silver, purple and maroon - all very Decepticon, very G2 Blast Off, and a pleasant surprise, given how plain his shuttle mode is. The only paint that's extensively used is the purple, which coats much of the front of his torso, while the rest is used sparingly, but to excellent effect.

The accessories in this mode are leg-mounted holsters for a pair of nicely-molded handguns and, of course, the new tailfin sword. The guns are small pistols which either have two barrels or one barrel, with a laser sight mounted on the underside. There's also a curious mass on the underside of the front of the guns, which could be an ammo clip. Both guns fit snugly in his hands and in the holsters, while the sword is gripped securely in either hand. It's a shame the latter doesn't stow anywhere in robot mode (surely something could have been added to the inside of the nose to act as a sheath?) but that was equally true of the original. The guns aren't painted at all, but the tailfin's silver stripe makes for a nice coat of silver on the sword's blade.
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Transformation and articulation are exactly the same as Explorer - this is mostly just a repaint, after all. It may seem strange to fork out third party prices for repaints that aren't even intended to combine, unlike the original iteration of this mold, but it really is a well-designed and well-made model, though I've found that the left shoulder ball-joint on mine feels a little loose. It's not bad enough that he can't hold out his arm, with or without a weapon, and that's the only real flaw I've found with this model.

Flameblast can be attached to Bruticus but, like Explorer, can only form an arm... so it's a matter of switching Explorer for this version, since the gestalt upgrade parts supplied with Explorer only support one version of this mold at a time.

FansProject could easily have copped out and simply re-released Explorer as a G2 Blast Off homage repaint without any remolding, and I probably would have picked it up just to have a version of this mold which could be displayed independently of the Energon/Superlink gestalt. It's very cool, then, that they decided to include a new head and new accessories. Explorer/Flameblast is an excellent mold and, while shuttle mode could have used a new nose with added detail, this is well worth tracking down.


  1. Warcry's color scheme is actually based on the G1 Micromaster Growl.

    Great mold, no mater the color.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up on that, Colbey! I wasn't aware of Growl or the homage but, going by the artwork in that TFWiki entry, Warcry's head sculpt and weapons are also based on him.

      Interesting, though, that Growl was a Decepticon, while everything about Warcry's presentation indicates he's an Autobot-analogue... or maybe I'm not reading enough into the 'memory loss' stuff mentioned on his bio card...