Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Last Knight/Premier Edition Cogman

There's something of a recurring theme in the TransFormers movie franchise, where a character turns up in the toyline despite being cut from the movie, or a particular element of their character plays an important part in the toy even though it was glossed over in the movie... And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I mean, on the one hand, it frequently shows how little regard the movie makers have for the property, yet shows how invested Hasbro are in the franchise, and taking advantage of features that define a character... even if it becomes utterly inexplicable one the toys actually hit the shelves. On the other hand, perhaps it simply proves how little Hasbro cares - that they're willing to let these movies waste a good idea that they decided to make use of in the toy?

Thus, we have Cogman as an Aston Martin... Or rather, we have Cogman, a 35mm tall action figure who turns into a larger version of his own head, packaged with an Aston Martin that transforms into a giant robot for Cogman to be the head of. Rumour has it, Nitro has a removeable head specifically to accommodate Cogman, though this was edited out of the movie. All this sounds like a bit of a trainwreck... so let's just see how the toy shapes up.

Vehicle Mode:
I've said before I'm not really into cars, nor am I any kind of aficionado, but even I know that Aston Martin is one of the biggest British luxury/performance car brands, though it's more usually associated with the James Bond movie franchise. Evidently Daniel Craig's reluctance to leap straight back into the role soon after the dismal Spectre has brought a certain desperation to the brand if they're willing to sully their name by becoming involved in the TransFormers franchise: this is a fully licensed representation of their new model, the DB11.

It's certainly a nice-looking car, even if it lacks the character of some of their early models as the design of its chassis morphs ever closer to the homogenous look of so many contemporary vehicles. The first thing that struck me was how much it looks like TF Prime Knockout (reportedly modelled on an earlier Aston Martin, the One-77) from the front, not least because of the obvious hinge in the middle of the grille. The next thing to strike me was that, while he's not painted silver, Hasbro have done a reasonable job with his plastic colour - it's a pearlised grey that's far shinier than versions they've used in the past. Trouble is, like most pearlised/metallic flake plastics, the shimmering content is inconsistent, giving rise to all kinds of smoky patterning that isn't present in the pearlised grey paint used on the sides of the roof.

With such pretty plastic, it doesn't really need heavy paintwork, but the fact remains, the car is silver in the movie, not smoky, pearlised grey. This toy has its hubcaps painted silver, but there's nothing behind the transparent plastic for the headlights, so they barely stand out. The rear lights are simple strips of red paint that probably had minimal impact on the budget, but this is one of those cars where the entire window/roof area is cast in transparent plastic, thus requiring heavy paintwork in matte black and the pearlised grey. Just for once, it looks as though all the necessary paint is there, as the windows are all framed with black, and the wing mirrors are fully coated. Aside from a modestly-sized Autobot insignia on one side, the only other paintwork is the black trim running across the bumper, down the sides and across the back but, unlike Hot Rod, this trim actually does cover the full length of the car, rather than breaking off at odd places.

One of the coolest features of the Aston Martin vehicle mode is that it features enough space inside for two Titan Master figures to sit. There is a single peg behind the steering wheel and a single peg on the passenger side (each in their proper UK arrangement - well done, Hasbro!). The transparent chunk of plastic comprising the roof, windscreen and side windows pops up and swings back for access, revealing a reasonably detailed interior - nowhere near Human Alliance levels, but more than adequate for a Deluxe. The dashboard isn't complete, but the lower part of the central console is there, and the steering wheel is there (if a little small). The whole thing seems to be rather too far back from the windscreen, but it's obvious this is due to certain aspects of transformation. It's fairly easy to get Titan Masters in, but actually getting them pegged into place can be fairly awkward. Still, it's cool feature for a movie line figure, and pretty much a clear callback to the Diaclone toys that became the Autobots from the G1 toyline.

Cogman comes packaged with a sword but, unlike toys from previous movie lines, the Aston Martin doesn't feature any 5mm ports or any means of attaching the sword to make it 'functional' (in the loosest possible terms) in vehicle mode. Instead, it pegs in under the rear bumper and slots into a curious void in what will become the robot's groin. What's strange, interesting and impressive about this void is that it contains sculpted detail... And, this being from one of the live action movies that brought us 'jokes' about masturbation, wrecking-ball testicles and lecherous, leg-humping robots, I'm actually surprised that the details in there aren't obviously anatomical...

Robot Mode:
The combined form of Cogman and the transformed Aston Martin - I guess making the car a Transtector? - reminds me very strongly of two things: firstly, the Marvel UK TransFormers comic story The Man of Iron, and a version of Marvel's Iron Man from a Steampunk parallel universe. The robot form looks very much like a suit of armour, with very slim, fitted-looking arms and legs. The lower legs and feet in particular look like precisely the sort of thing that would come up in a Google image search for "mediaeval armour", especially with the segmented look of the feet and their fairly pointed toes. The pauldrons look a little oversized, but that's largely because of the car parts on their backs. Everything else has decent humanoid proportions, although the giant robot body is rather bulkier than Cogman's CGI model.

Like vehicle mode, robot mode is almost entirely molded in grey plastic, though this mode appears to have far more decorative paintwork. I say "appears to" as a lot of it is deceptive: the pauldrons and shins have thumb-smears of grey paint that look terrible upon close inspection, while the feet have a black wash that appears also to have been added to the deeper details of the shins. Forearms, pauldrons and shins also have some gold linework, but then the upper arms and legs are entirely unpainted. Considering the extensive black wash on the torso, which both brings out the molded detail and gives it all an excellent weathered look, the unpainted plastic stands out and makes the figure look unfinished.

The torso is possibly one of the most fantastically detailed TransFormers movie figure bodies other than the Voyager class Optimus Prime figure, looking like multiple layers of intersecting armour and partially exposed inner workings. All the more impressive, while his chest plate features mostly overlapping panel details, it can be flipped up to reveal additional cog detailing, both on the body (brought out by more of the black wash) and on the inner side of the chest plate (which sadly didn't have the black wash applied). The circular detail in the belly features some additional gold paintwork, but this was applied before the black wash, so it looks very old and rusted. Compared to the CGI, there's quite a bit of gold detailing missing, some of which could easily have been painted in at the expense of the gold linework on the pauldrons, forearms and shins.

The overall look is disrupted a little by the sight of the car's from bumper poking out either side of his midriff, along with the assorted junk of the vehicle roof on his back, and the end of the bonnet sticking up behind his head. Even with all that, though, he's a damn sight tidier than the likes of Barricade or Berserker.

There are several problems with Cogman's sword in robot mode. First and foremost, the hilt is a poor fit for his hands - not loose enough that it'll just fall out, but just enough that it doesn't feel as though he's holding it securely. Even that wouldn't be so bad, though, if it weren't for the fact that the folded up car door panels make his fists too shallow to accommodate the full hilt. Open the panel out one click and everything works fine, but then his arms look even more daft than they already have to simply because of the car panels tacked onto them. While it's great that the transformation joint at his wrist can be used as articulation, that then requires the door flap to be folded right back out into its vehicle mode position. Probably the daftest point about his packaged weapon is that there's nowhere to stow it in robot mode - nothing on his leg to tab it to, nothing on his back to slot it into when it's not in use. Quite a significant omission, given that all the other 'bots that wield swords have some means of carrying them other than using their hands. Still, on the upside, it's a nicely designed sword featuring some simplified elements of the hilt of the sword that seemed quite prominent in the trailers. Molded in black plastic, the blade is painted a flat grey - not even the same colour as used on the window frames of the vehicle mode. Seems strange that the sword wasn't molded in the same pearlised grey as most of the robot, but I guess there are reasons...

The head sculpt is phenomenally detailed, and the first of the Premier Edition line's heads to actually look fully painted. Really, all it has is the same black wash as the body parts and then a few dabs of gold and some Allspark Blue for the eyes, but the effect is remarkable enough that I wish they did a black wash on all the movie toys, particularly the heads. On the downside is the design, which looks like a Steampunk gimp mask with a built in scold's bridle. It's apparently a symptom of his design having been based on older concept art for spacesuits/armour utterly unrelated to the TransFormers franchise and, while it works well enough for a generic sci-fi android - even the film takes the piss, by having Crosshairs describe him as a "C3-PO rip-off" - it's yet another design that wasn't wholly appropriate to the TransFormers franchise, and I think it shows... Despite all the clockwork of his innards, Cogman looks more high-tech than most of the larger robots, albeit also like a nightmare universe version of Iron Man.

Cogman Headmaster:
And here we have the actual Cogman - the robotic butler to Sir Edmund Burton - who scales reasonably well to the car given that he's of less than average human height. I gather he doesn't actually transform into a head in the movie, which is a great shame.

As far as the toy goes, all the paint favours his head mode and, while the arms and legs have the same black wash as the larger robot, Cogman's head, torso and the fronts of his legs are entirely unpainted... and, since he's very grey to begin with, he ends up being one of the most disappointing Titan Masters yet released.

It's not through want of trying, though, as he's designed to resemble the on screen character as much as possible given his diminutive scale. The head would be every bit as impressive as his head mode with only a black wash, let alone any of the gold/cyan detail paint, and the torso very cleverly uses the screw to substitute for Cogman's circular belly detail.

My one issue with this Titan Master figure is the shape of his head, as it means he never quite sits securely in a larger figure's neck slot. The socket on mine was fairly loose but, even when propped by a piece of card stuck down one side, the slightly curved head has a habit of popping out of the socket rather than tilting on the Titan Master's ball-jointed neck.

There's something very familiar about the car's transformation... the back end reminds me of Barricade, while the sides remind me of Age of Extinction Bumblebee, and the front reminds me of several Combiner Wars cars. It's all very simple, not especially interesting or groundbreaking, but equally nothing annoying. The chest on mine doesn't tab into place but, other than that, it all works quite well, though it's not clear whether his pauldrons are meant to stay against his arms or flare out, as there's no point at which they lock into position. It all looks fairly tidy, although the lower legs don't stand up to much scrutiny. That said, even there, the way the car panels fold into the backs of his legs is cleverly done to avoid any impact on the range of his knees. Probably the most impressive part is the way the top of the car compresses into a fairly small backpack - particularly compared to Barricade.

There's nothing really new or surprising about Cogman's articulation - everything is very standard for a contemporary Deluxe class toy in the movie toyline, though it's generally quite tidy about it. The fact that the pauldrons are, as previously mentioned, independently mobile gives the arms great range - though he can't raise his arm enough to make it look like he's gripping his breastplate, as he seems to do quite a lot in the movie. The only parts that really let him down are the knees, as the joint pops from a standing position to about a 40° bend, then has free movement on its hinge to about a 90° bend. It's possible that a bit of trimming on the lower part of the joint with fix the 'pop', but I'm too concerned that the joint will then end up being loose to actually try it. On the upside, he has decent ankle movement thanks to his transformation, but his feet are far more humanoid that most TransFormers - that is to say, there's no long heel spur - so they're actually not that stable, and getting him to stand in even the subtlest poses can be a chore.

What I find a little puzzling about the combined form is that the robot body is based so closely on the small, humanoid Cogman robot from the film... as if this giant robot that disguises itself as an Aston Martin DB11 is supposed to be the robot that drives the car. I get that they wanted him to be recognisable... but this duplication of appearance is a prime example of what I was ranting about at the start. Cogman never actually combines with a giant robot body in the film, so this whole toy actually doesn't make sense.

Over the last few years, and particularly with the movie toylines, Hasbro has been developing a reputation of cancelling whole waves of toys for no apparent reason (though it's almost certainly because the bricks-and-mortar shops aren't putting in orders in sufficient quantities), and Cogman appears to be one victim of this issue. Last I heard, even his Takara Tomy release was in some doubt. Before this news hit, I'd ordered mine via eBay for about £30, and he arrived earlier than I'd expected, so I think I'd had him in my hands for a good couple of weeks before learning he would be scarce if he appeared at all. All things considered, I'm glad I did... and while I'm no fan of the movies from Age of Extinction onward, Hasbro are still managing to create some halfway decent toys based on the outlandish movie designs. The real shame here is that Cogman is certainly worth picking up on novelty value alone but, just like every other toy from The Last Knight's 'Premier Edition' line, he's not really worth the price hike, and I'm not even sure his scarcity justifies the secondary market inflation. However, the better-than-average paint job on the robot, as well as the fact that he can cross continuities and interact with Titans Return figure, not to mention commandeer Nitro's body, places him well above average for a toy from The Last Knight.

No comments:

Post a Comment