*Review* 3A Real Steel Midas

INTRO

Are you ready for round two? Coming out swinging from ThreeA is their latest but definitely not last fighting robot from Dreamwork’s 2011 movie, Real Steel. While Midas won’t be their last bot in the ring, hopefully that will be my last use of boxing metaphors for this review.

I make no promises.

Last year, ThreeA’s Ambush turned out to be a pretty big surprise for me. If you check out the review we did of him, not only was he one of the most detailed toys I’d seen from ThreeA yet, he was a ton of fun to pose and photograph. I enjoyed reviewing him far more than I imagined I would. So much so, that I put him as one of my top toy picks of 2012!

When the postman delivered Midas and I finally got the opportunity to unbox him, I experienced a fairly odd realization. Midas arrived to me with even more of a disadvantage hanging over his head than Ambush had. With our Ambush review, I went into it with only the knowledge that I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie. Thusly, I expected little from the toy. Ambush got the upper hand on me, in no small part, due to the element of surprise. I was sucker punched by his coolness! (Ok, here’s a dollar for the overused metaphor jar) From the second I opened the box I couldn’t get over that guy. I forgot almost completely he had anything to do with a robot fueled b/kids movie (one that 10 year old me would have LOVED, mind you) and was simply enarmored by the incredible work ThreeA had done in making that robot real. I expected nothing and Ambush delivered far more than that.  Midas on the other hand, well..

I see you ThreeA and I know what you’re capable of!

Wow me.

image copyright Dreamworks Animation

PACKAGING

Midas comes in the exact sort of packaging that Ambush did. You can expect the same kind of minimalistic design elements with Midas’s insignia hung front and off-center. A nice, large, magnet-fastening lid covers the heavily packed bot inside. Once again, Midas’s stats are laid out for you to brush up on if you like. His aren’t as embarrassingly sad as Ambush’s were. In fact, his background reads more like that of a violent felon. His impressive mohawk is mentioned twice.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

A fighting robot doesn’t need a whole lot to make it in the world today. Just like Ambush, Midas comes practically accessory free. Some may find that a bit boring, but you can’t blame ThreeA for it. Fault Dreamworks for not designing him an awesome robo-comb of some-such.

Hmmm.. a deluxe flowbee maybe?

As the version I received from ThreeA is their official bamba version, it did come with a cool little remote control accessory.  Like I said in the Ambush review, it’s well done and cool to look at, but with no one to hold it.. it’s mostly just display clutter for me. Back into the box you go, less ye be lost!

Update – 2/07/13: There have been a few comments from folks saying that their Midas did not come with batteries. There’s a chance that ThreeA included them with mine to make it easier for me to get this review together. If so, big apologies for the misinformation. 

Update 2 – 2/08/2013: Confirmed that batteries do NOT come with Midas. It was included with my sample to assist in the review. Sorry for getting hopes up if I did. At least the batteries are cheap! 🙂

One thing of note: Midas actually comes with his eye-light batteries preinstalled! Huzzah! I am seriously happy 3A decided to include them this time around. I say this particularly because some battery sizes can be very difficult to find in certain remote regions. “Someone” could spend the larger part of their weekend trying to hunt them down by driving back and forth all over an island in the middle of the ocean looking for them. Just like this “someone” did when he had the opportunity to review 3A’s MGS REX.

I was stoked to find I would be avoiding that hassle this time around.

THE BREAKDOWN

At first blush, Midas is everything you’d expect him to be. Big, gold, dinged a bit and sporting a ridiculously bright red mohawk.

He’s painted up bright and gold (though it reads more orange/brown in most light) with some red accents. He’s tatted out with all manner of tribal tattoos head to toe, which begs the timeless question of.. on a scale of Ed Hardy to Affliction, just how douchy is Midas? 🙂

Ol’ Midas has been busy too! He has all manner of dings, dents and scratches running all over him. That was one of the things I really liked about Ambush as well,the asymmetry in the weathering and damage. An unfortunate notched mishap on his right arm does not mean the same for his other. It definitely adds to the realism of the character.

I’m not really much for gold, but Midas’s paint is actually really quite good. I wouldn’t say it’s as believable as Ambush’s or that it was as carefully applied like that on MGS REX, but it’s still definitely good. Since Midas is predominately painted gold (or “gold leaf “as the background statistics on his box specifically state) his rusted/damaged areas are pretty much just silver to represent the metal underneath. There are some variations in there, some layers, but they don’t read as clearly since the hues of the marks are so close to that of his top coat. It does the job and  looks fine, just not quite as well as Ambush’s scratches and marks.

Ambush gets a leg up, I think, largely because his color scheme lends itself better to reality. He may be bright blue, but with the rust and silver metal showing through, you feel like you may have seen an old pickup truck that looks like him somewhere.

One thing that bothered me about Ambush was that it was difficult to get him to maintain any extreme poses. Some areas, like his arms were fairly easy to sort out and pose however you like. But his overall bulkiness, coupled with is small feet and limited hip range make him difficult to balance in any pose much more creative than his two feet planted side-by-side.

This is where Midas knocks Ambush on his butt.

Where Ambush has shell-like armored bits that need to slide over and around one another just so you can twist and turn him, Midas is basically made up of easy to use, undeterred, ball-joints. Very little gets in the way of moving him around.

His arms have several joints running the length of them which let you easily get Midas into any type of boxing stance you can think of. Midas’s hands are also articulated so you can unclench them if you feel like giving him a break after the big fight. Thumbs are posable too.

Remember to keep your elbows in, knees bent, chin tucked and always watch your opponent’s eyes.

Below is a link to a quick video where I show some of the impressive articulation Midas has at his disposal.

Note: We’re working on bringing more video content to you. We want to get things to a point where it’s as regular around here as all these beautimus photos. We’re still working on getting the quality up, tweaking the video codecs and trying to establish some semblance of quality. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our shiny new RTR video intro! ~ knives 

Now just because Midas is easy to move around doesn’t mean he lacks in detail or intricacy. Like Ambush before him, he has a bunch of joints decorated with functioning pistons. Small flexible wires are attached at his elbows, legs and hips. They look cool and seem to be firmly in place, but I am a tad worried they’ll become brittle over time, especially at his elbows. It’s the one element that stands out as “fragile” to me on Midas.

Just check out those lats! Dude’s totally crushing his morning hot yoga sessions. The photo above (hopefully) illustrates a cool element of Midas’s design. His… I’ll just call them shoulder blades, slide in and out as you move his shoulders around. Details like this make Midas fun to play around with.

Midas also has the coolest Iron Man-esque boots ever. I really love the way they came out. To go with an appropriately snug, yet very forgiving ankle joint, the feet themselves are hinged as well allowing for him to go up on his toes a little, just in case you want to send Midas off to ballet school.

So what else.. what else? OH yeah. This guy can practically do drunken monkey kung fu. Midas is SO well balanced. It won’t take you two minutes to get him standing, Karate Kid style on your kitchen counter. I didn’t get a great shot of the ability, but hopefully enough to get the point across.

Unlike our buddy Ambush, Midas is nimble, lightweight and (at least on the one I got) all his joints give/take exactly how much I need them to. His feet have just enough play to where you can adjust them to support an impressive amount of offset weight. This single feature kicks Ambush’s hiney soundly into next week.

Poor guy.

The light up eyes look pretty sweet and thanks to ThreeA supplying the batteries, you can enjoy it from day one.

The eye’s are super cool but I was a little bummed when I read the inside flap of Midas’s statistics and saw that the official movie character featured a “fiber optic mohawk”. A fiber optic mohawk?!! That would have been so awesome to see! While that info was pulled from the movie and was never an advertised feature of the toy, it would have been pretty great if ThreeA managed to pull it off .

Instead, ThreeA used stiff, paintbrush-like bristles, which stand up like something you’d see on a Roman soldier’s helmet. I’m sure there’s some complex engineering mathematics going on behind it that I could never fully understand as being the driving reason they went with the brush hairs instead. I accept that. And don’t get me wrong, it looks sharp as it is. But how cool would it have been to switch on those lights and have his whole mohawk glow a vibrant bright red hue?

Ahhh, C’est la vie.

I actually didn’t know at first that there were already batteries installed so I went through the trouble of hunting down a tinee-tiny screwdriver to see what I could see. Seriously, I’m lucky I have a few of these laying around from my PC building days… what would the average person use to access the batteries? Maybe toy companies should keep in mind the kind of tools the larger majority of consumers keep around their pads before they go slapping screws the size of butterfly teeth on their toys. Tiny screws are fine for holding bits together that you’re not meant to mess with, but for a panel that you may want quick access to, a more common screw size would be appreciated.

THE FINAL WORD

I don’t think I like Midas quite as much as I did Ambush. That being said, I think Midas is, without question, a much better toy than Ambush turned out to be. So what’s the deal?

Midas beats down Ambush round after round (Cha-ching! Another dollar for the metaphor jar!). He’s far more posable and stable. His joints move easier and hold in place as they should. He doesn’t feel near as fragile as Ambush did as he’s made up of mostly solid pieces. On top of all that, he comes ready with the batteries you’ll need to run the lights in his eyes.

In short, his glowing eyes look dope, his paint looks dope, his mohawk looks dope, his boots look dope, his various moving robo-parts look dope, his posable thumb looks dope. I just want to be crystal, this bot is dope!

Honestly, the only things I have to whine about with Midas are mostly aesthetic, meaning, my own personal taste.  I mentioned before I’m not into gold and Midas is well.. gold. He’s also covered in terrible tribal tattoos like some weird future robot from the 90’s. He turned out to be completely true to Dreamworks Animation’s original design.

Well, completely true-ish. The character’s mohawk is officially made from fiber optics, not paint brush hairs, but this is the toy and not the movie.. grumble.. grumble.. grumble.

Despite how much better of a toy Midas is than Ambush, I still believe I like Ambush a little more. Mostly it’s his rusty blue pickup truck paint I dig. I just love his paint app and how nice and contrasty his colors are. Plus all those finicky “steel shell” bits that encompass his body, while cumbersome to grip when positioning him, give his form some layers and depth, which I really like as well.

It’s simple really, both are cool. It’ll come down to what you personally prefer.

Quick side note: I never did figure out what the little black plastic flaps on his shoulders are for…

ThreeA has once again done a great job that further cements themselves as masters of their craft. With Midas, The Real Steel/3A union continues it’s impressive journey.  They’re two for two, will you be ready for round 3? (*cling! I’m steady filling the jar)

PROS:

  • Top notch looking bot with great detail and sculpted damage
  • Fantastic articulation and balance
  • Very solid paint application and weathering details
  • As close a replica to the on-screen version as you’ll ever see
  • Batteries included! (update – 2/7/13 :possibly.. possibly not) (update 2 -2/8/13: confirmed they are not included)

CONS:

  • Some of the body wires hinder movement which means they are more prone to break over time
  • It’s a shame the mohawk hairs aren’t made of actual fiber optics or a similar material.. that would have been something to see!
  • Might be a good idea to use more common sized screws on battery access panels
  • I’m starting to think I need to watch Real Steel again…


A big thanks to ThreeA for getting Midas out to us! Lily ^ thanks you too. ~ knives

For more info on our review policies, please check our “About/Contact” section.

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*Review* 3A’s WWR NOM the 4th and NOM Disciple 27

INTRO

Occasionally we’ll throw the switch and review something that came out a few months back. Today is one of those days as we’re tackling both 3A’s Nom 4th and Nom Disciple 27. We somehow let them slip by when they first dropped on our doorstep but still feel that they’re interesting enough to warrant a few mumblings. In fact, if you read our “Top Toys of 2012” post, you already know a little bit how we feel about them!

It was back at SDCC 2012 that I first peeked both NOMs. Nom 4th, Ashley Wood’s revamped take on his iconic Nom De Plume was one of the most exciting items I saw on display at 3A’s booth… heck SDCC! If you like, check out some of the shots we snapped in our beastly Comic Con 2012 coverage article.

The month prior to SDCC, ordering both NOMs was one of the most hesitation-free toy purchases I’d made. After seeing them at SDCC, I was confident that once in hand, these guys would be the jewels of my collection.

Whelp, as it happens..

PACKAGING

Both NOM boxes look great. Ash’s paintings, depicting each character individually, are splashed on two panels of each packs surface which is perfect for displaying if you’re the kind of guy/lady/lady-man-lady who enjoys doing that.  It’s the kind of box art I enjoy the most from 3A/A. Wood.. minimalist design over some fantastic art.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Both NOMs come with two twin silver pistols, a baton and a spare pistol holding hand. Each figure have a full sized poster featuring the box art packed inside as well.

THE BREAKDOWN

As it was NOM 4th who first caught my eye at SDCC, he was the first I unboxed. I cut open the wrap and flipped open the lid. Ahhhh man, he looked great. The iconic NOM De Plume single red sleeve, the red lenses in the gas mask, even with all the new additions, it’s unmistakable NOM.

The new hoses are nice and flexible. I wouldn’t necessarily call them “soft”, but they’ll most likely adjust to where you need them to. Like them or not they definitely change his look enough to clearly identify him as a separate and unique character. 4th isn’t a quick and easy color swapped NOM. He’s not the same old toy with a new toy’s price. In fact, everything on him is brand spanking new.

Built on a completely new 3A body type, 4th has all new mask and glove sculpts that look really nice. The paint, weathering and tailoring on him looks top notch all around as well.  Weapon-wise, gone is the old school De Plume pistol. It’s been replaced with a larger and much shinier new piece, of which you get two. NOM also comes with a riot baton that looks pretty swanky in it’s very own sheath.

I’m really loving the new boots that both 4th and 27th come with. They have actual laces, a first for a 3A toy and are made of a synthetic leather like material. On top of that, they’re soft enough to not impede any poses you might want to toss NOM into, yet feel sturdy enough to hold up well to bending them around. A definite positive notch for well made durability here.

The weird thing is, 4th comes by default with two relaxed hands installed and a single spare capable of holding a pistol of which, again.. he has two. So the other is for what.. balance, symmetry, personal feng shui? Not including a second pistol holding hand is one of those odd toy manufacturer decisions that you’d swear was simply a case of miscommunication between the floor manager and the guy packing up the pieces to ship out.

Someone did no get the memo.

Other than the inability to hold both guns at once, there’s a couple other things design-wise, that seem like oversights with this guy. The hands are made of a very soft rubber. Despite them being supposedly sculpted (and beautifully so) to the specifics of the newly designed hand canons, (or vice versa) the hand’s grip just isn’t firm enough to hold the weapon very well. It can and will, but it’ll fall out just as easily.

Another sadly overlooked thing, remember that cool baton we mentioned a minute ago? Neither hand is really appropriate for holding it. You can sorta wedge it in, where it probably works/looks best in the neutral hand. In practice however, it’s a very loose fit and nothing looks natural about it. It’s odd to have these kind of things in a brand new figure built from the ground up. If anything, this is the sort of stuff that should have been dead-on perfect!

Back to the good stuff! Just look at him! He looks so very cool. Like Tomorrow Kings, A. Wood nailed it when he designed the De Plume. There’s something so very dynamic and appealing about them. It’s difficult to put 4th in a pose that doesn’t flow with character. I literally spent a good hour posing and playing around with him the first day I had him.

Much of what I said about 4th can carry over to 27. The slightly too soft rubber hands, new boots, shiny guns, wicked little baton, multiple hoses and all new sculpts top to bottom. Where the real difference between the two comes in (other than Disciple’s dark complexion) is the hooded shirt.

Characters sporting hoodies are nothing new to 3A, particularly in the Adventure Kartel universe, but this is a first for World War Robot. Some bemoaned the addition as an unrealistic article for someone to wear in battle.

Pssh… I love it!

There’s something so very, I don’t know.. Evil Jedi about the way he looks with all the hoses pouring out from under his shroud. He looks menacing. More a ruthless assassin than a student or disciple. I need to hunt down a spare WWR Caesar knife or TK sword to give him. That seems fitting.

Just like all the NOMS before him, 27 is a mono-sleeved guy. The difference here is that his is tailored in such a cool and unique way. The end flap covers the top of his hands and are hemmed up at a sharp “V” angle to allow for him to hold a weapon unencumbered. It’s a nice look. It kind of reminds me of that goth kid I went to school with that always had his sleeves pulled down over his hands. But you know, way, WAY better.

He may just call back to my love of ninjas, Darth Vader, and Snake Eyes, but even if that’s so, is that a bad thing?

When I ordered him, I only did so because he looked a little different than 4th. I wasn’t really expecting much to get excited about. Even after seeing him first hand (behind glass) at SDCC, I thought for sure that 4th was the hero of the show and Disciple was a sort of bland, dark afterthought.  Nay, nay. This guy is all kinds of awesome. While he shares all of the same short comings NOM 4th has, to my surprise, NOM Disciple has become one of my favorite 1/6 figures.

Back to the topic of shared characteristics, there are a couple other things in the negative column I feel need mentioning. One opinion, one fact.

I don’t love the new guns. They’re bigger, which.. OK fine, but they look like something Dirty Harry would’ve carried. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but the original NOM pistol is so iconic! It’s the De Plume gun! The new gun just looks a bit more cookie cutter. The shine is pretty off-putting (not to mention a pain to photograph) as well. I guess they’re supposed to look as though they have some sort of  brushed silver plating. But in truth, the effect isn’t very believable and they just look like little silver spray painted plastic toy guns.

The most wide spread complaint I’ve heard about these guys has to do with incredibly loose wrist joints. I hate to say it, but mine both bear the same affliction. I’ve never had joints on a 3A figure this loose. My 4th’s is, for whatever reason, worse than 27.. but both flop around like they’re trying to fly away. When I inspect the joints you can see they have a large gap in between them, when they should be tight. I’ve also heard a few people saying that one or more of their wrist pegs have broken apart right out the box. One has to wonder if the regular wrist peg guy at 3A was on vacation during the production of these figures?

“Ahh, let’s just have Jimmy from custodian services handle this one, it’ll be fine.”

Fogetaboutit!
The good news is, it’s just a wrist peg and a wrist peg is easily swapped out with another. The bad news is, ironically, no spares come packed in. I think every 1/6 figure I’ve gotten from 3A in the last year have come with spares. Of all the figures for 3A not to include extras with.


A wee DIY pro-tip: If you don’t have a spare wrist joint or two on hand, you can try dabbing a little super glue or clear nail polish on the peg itself (remove it from the hand and body first). Make sure to keep the joint moving while the adhesive sets in, otherwise you’ll have a stuck joint. Add as needed and after a bit, a thin layer will build up and stiffen the joint to a more workable level. Easy peasy.

THE FINAL WORD

With NOM the 4th and NOM Disciple 27, you’re getting completely newly fabricated figures, head to toe. While some of the newness isn’t necessarily an upgrade, I think you’d agree that the highs do outweigh the lows.

NOM the 4th is that iconic figure we missed out on years ago, that most of us could not afford today. He truly stands out on even the most crowded shelf and harkens back to the day many of you started collecting 3A. His colors pop and the impact his very presence brings to a toy collector’s shelf is undeniable.

I thought I’d share a notion I had about Nom 4th that isn’t either negative or positive, but moreso something a bit of late night writing coughed up. An observation about the growing and changing goings on with WWR.

When I finally had 4th unboxed and out in front of me, I found myself saying, “Hmmm, no one would ever wear that to battle.”

That’s when it occurred to me, I’m not so sure that 4th naturally fits in with the direction 3A and Ashley Wood have taken the WWR line. Over the years things have grown grimier, grittier and honestly, a bit more drab. The last De Plume’s, Fantome and Barguest were grungy ghost white and murky death black respectively. You could see them trading fire on the battle field and slipping behind their foes, relieving them of the burden of breath. All of the WWR Grunts are dusted in murky, muted tones and are sporting attire fairly appropriate for a war. Same could be said for the bot snipers.. not to mention the bots themselves. NOM the 4th is a little dirtier than NOM De Plume was, a little less art toy and maybe a few shades more action figure.. but to me, he feels like more of a symbol of an important 3A icon than part of the current, ever expanding, World War Robot universe.

The NOM Disciple, with his Jedi good looks, has become one of my favorite 1/6 figures. When I ordered him, I really only did so because he looked a little different than 4th and my other De Plumes. I wasn’t really expecting much to get excited about. 4th was supposed to be the hero of the show, right?  Maybe to some, but to me, the NOM Disciple takes it by a knife’s edge and is all kinds of awesome.

I think the reason I can forgive such glaring QC issues is that despite their mutual shortcomings, you still feel like you’re getting something of quality. From the box art and poster to the stitching on the new laced up boots, these NOMs feel special.

These two figures really are some of the nicer pieces out of 3A in the past year and can still be had for a song or two on the aftermarket. If I had to choose one, I’d probably go with NOM 4th despite digging on 27 a good deal more. Mainly because as a 3AA 2013 member, we’ll be getting NOM Blanc, who’s essentially a grey/dirty white version of NOM 27, as part of the package.  Even if you didn’t snag 3AA this year, NOM the 4th is “the last” of his kind.. or so they say. If that holds to be true, he’s your last chance to grab a classic style De Plume. In the end, either one would be a great choice that I think you’ll be more than happy to have on your shelf.

PROS:

  • These are some fine looking gentlemen with great weathering, paint and tailoring
  • The De Plume redesigns are a solid step forward and feature all new parts, ceiling to floor
  • The new boots are really well done and look fantastic
  • NOM 27’s hoodie adds so much menace and mystery to the character.. it’s truly awesome sauce
  • Love the baton and sheath
  • Your chance to own a classic 3A icon. (sort of.)

CONS:

  • Weak, limp wrist pegs that you’ll want to patch or replace right out the box
  • Only includes one pistol holding hand (but comes with two guns) and no baton holding hand
  • The pistol holding hand is very soft and doesn’t firmly hold NOM’s gun
  • The new gun design, while not necessarily bad looking, is a bit more  generic than the original and iconic De Plume pistols

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*Review* 3A’s Ma.K. Kröte PROTOTYPE

 

*please note that this version of Kröte is a prototype and final details may change before ship date.

INTRO

Just in time for Rad Toy Review’s 1st year anniversary, ThreeA shipped us their brand new Ma.K. Kröte prototype to play with. The bambaland.com drop fort the same item was just a few days ago, and has since come and gone. Never fear late bloomer, the retail version (the same version I’ll be reviewing today) will be available via 3rd party retailers very soon if you missed him the first time around!

I’ve been aware of  Kow Yokoyama’s designs from years of building my eclectic collection of robot and game design references. His designs are instantly recognizable and in my opinion, nudge away from the status quo of what the future of robotics will look like. There’s something very physical about the way he creates his robots in that while still “from some distant future” they look very conceivable given even the limitations of today’s technology.

Kröte probably wouldn’t have necessarily been my alpha choice for ThreeA to push out the door. That would have been a version of the S.A.F.S with an accompanying pilot. (Because, how awesome would that be?) That being said, what ThreeA has done by releasing Kröte first, whether intentionally or not, is show how amazingly well they can handle the minutia of unique details packed into Kow’s complex designs.

PACKAGING

As I received Kröte well before it’s estimated ship date, there wasn’t any packaging, posters or kittens included. Just Kröte loose in a well padded shipping box.

Consider this area a place holder for it’s future package art..

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Not too surprisingly, Kröte is basically self contained without any accessories to speak of. The thin long antennae and small radar grid are the only loose bits.  The antennae slides into a little hole on the side and stays in pretty well. The radar on the other hand, doesn’t so much as lock into place as allow gravity to sorta hold it there. After much wiggling about, I’ve determined that a small glob of paint must have snuck it’s way into the slot, preventing the radar from nesting properly. I’ll have to mess with it more later, perhaps simply glue it in place, but for now I have to remember not to bump into it for risk of losing it.

THE BREAKDOWN

Dang.

Kröte is one busy bot. Loops, chords, wires, bolts, switches, ladders, wheels, rivets. My eyes bounce all over the place on him and at first it’s challenging to find a spot to rest them. It’s probably a bit like beating a dead horse at this point, but by golly, ThreeA are the masters of their craft. There are so many incredibly small, yet detailed pieces literally head to tail on Kröte that I have a hard time believing it’s a mass produced product. It looks as good as what you’d expect a custom model maker to create.

If you’ve been collecting designer action figures for awhile, you may be a little jaded at just how well 3A bots are conceived and realized. Go to Target or Toys R Us and walk down the boys action figure isle. That should hopefully remind you.

Other than the various unique details littered all over Kröte, there’s a few new techniques I’ve not seen before on a ThreeA toy. The one that stands out the most is a pretty heavy use of “wielded steel”. Sections don’t just clip onto each other with a clean seam, they have wielded details to add to the believability that what you’re looking at is hard steel and not a PVC/plastic frankenstein.

One of the things I was surprised about is that 3A’s Kröte doesn’t feel especially fragile. Despite all the tiny details and things sticking out here and there, he feels solid. There’s places for your hands to naturally go so he’s pretty easy to grab and pose on a whim. In fact, the areas that you need to grab to move a joint seem to have details (like wires) that feature a little give so they don’t snap off should you need to apply a little pressure to pose.

The main thing to play with on Kröte is it’s legs. Honestly, I struggle a little bit with the look of backwards legs. It’s iconic and it’s a great design, but my stubborn “toes forward” brain rejects it. It took me some time to get used to it because as I mentioned before, Kow’s unique designs seem to ignore some of the standard norms of what robots should look like. For me, it’s at the same time, off-putting and refreshing.

The first thing I did once I had Kröte on the table in front of me was figure out what wiggles and what doesn’t. The head swivels back and forth like a tank turret to a full 360 if desired. Each leg has several points of articulation. The first is a ball joint at the hip that allows for the widest range of motion on the leg.

Following down the leg to the foot you run into 3 swivel joints, each with a different allowance for movement.

The joint next to the spring has very little range. Also, if you’re curious, the springs don’t actually do anything but add to the aesthetics. The “knee” joint will go from a 90 degree bend to almost completely straight. On the knees themselves are small adjustable shields. The ankle joint is also pretty limited in how much you can bend it, but they move enough to help keep Kröte balanced along side the heel flap that you can adjust up and down.

With legs fully extended as far as his balance would allow, Kröte stood just over 12 inches. Pushing one leg back and the other forward and bending the joints to their extremes I was able to get him as low as 9 inches.  (Antennae not included)

“Kröte, a toy for every any display case.”.. TM.

I do feel like there are perhaps a few missed opportunities where moving parts are concerned. For example, there’s a wheel in the engine detail that looks as though it should turn, but doesn’t. More starkly, the radar up top looks practically made to rotate, yet it’s stuck fast. There’s a few other small examples, none of which ruin the toy of course. It would have just been cool to have a few more things to figit with.

Overall, I’d say you get the appropriate amount of articulation for a bot like this. He won’t be pulling off any Jackie Chan moves, but I wouldn’t expect him to.

One thing about this review is that it should have come out days ago. But since what I received was the figure and nothing BUT the figure.. I had a difficult time figuring out what batteries were used for the lights and gun as their are no labels or symbols to guide me. I’m sure this won’t be an issue for the version you end up with as it’ll most likely include some well illustrated docs that clearly light the path. Me on the other hand.. I ran back and forth to town to grab sets of similarly sized camera batteries over the course of three days attempting to power this bugger up!

I finally caved and dropped Kim of 3A a note, something I probably should have done right away. He promptly sent back some photos showing that Kröte uses not two single batteries, but 6 stacked coin batteries.

Doh.

Palm to forehead.. moving on.

Pic Kim sent me to show battery placement

To install the batteries you must first open a hatch on the side of the head. This is also where the two switches for the electronic bits are. It’s a little strange that 3A decided to hide them in a spot that’s not easy to reach. Most people will just want to be able to tap an easy to access button to make the gun work. Instead, you have to remove the side hatch, then flick a switch on/off. It’s not as intuitive as it probably could be.

You can watch our short and sweet video of the switches and lights in action below.

As you can see, the gun rotates and the barrels flash as they “fire”.  The barrel rotated a little slower than I expected but the barrel tip lights are pretty cool. I like how the yellow lamp light is set back and gives a sort of yellow eyeball effect.

I think it’s a really cool feature done fairly well, I just wish the buttons to turn them on and off were in a place easier to get to.

The paint application 3A dolled out onto this version of Kröte is in the general ballpark of what you’d expect from them. Overall, it’s solid with some really nice weathering (particularly on the legs) and a few sharp decals. I really dig the white patina that’s added to some areas, really adds to the realism.

I think where it slightly misses is in the faint camouflaged areas. I used to work with a company that designs camo prints so I might be a little biased here. The patterns are so softly applied that they look more like random color smears than actual faded, rusted over camouflage. I tried to find some official Kow examples to see if this is how he designed the color scheme or if it’s purely a 3A design but couldn’t find anything conclusive. This criticism could also just be my preference in wanting a little cleaner of a bot for once. But making clean-ish robots isn’t really 3A’s thing.. making dirty, rusty, big robots is.

So if you came for that show, I think you’ll be very happy.

THE FINAL WORD

With Kröte, ThreeA continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in collectible toys. I say this knowing full well that I’ve claimed the same thing in the past three or four consecutive RtR 3A toy reviews. Full discloser  I’m going to keep saying it until it isn’t true. Kim and his crew at ThreeA’s Hatchery definitely know their stuff. But more than that, they show no signs of slowing down new development. Like Ambush and REX before, Kröte isn’t made up of a bunch of premade pieces. Most, if not all, of him is built brand new from the ground up.

As usual, through the fog of compliments and positive impressions, I did find a few things to complain about. Not everything perfectly hits all the notes with me, but it comes pretty darn close.

If you’re a fan of Kow’s Kröte design, then I really believe you’ll love how ThreeA respected it with another incredibly impressive (and obtainable) toy. It’s certainly has me looking forward to seeing how ThreeA handles the rest of the Maschinen Krieger Universe!

PROS:

  • Holy grandma, is this guy detailed. The level is such that a custom hand made model would struggle to match it
  • Kow Yokoyama’s design is almost perfectly realized
  • Light and gun rotating effect, while a little sluggish, looks really cool
  • Solid feel, despite delicate appereance
  • The most unique looking toy I have on display

CONS:

  • The switches for the lights and gun should be easier to access and not hidden away in the battery case
  • The radar piece didn’t fit securely on top of the turret
  • I wish the painted camo details were a little more crisp and defined
  • A few small details look as though they should easily move, but don’t

A big thanks to Kim and 3A for sending us an early taste of Kröte to play with. Much respect!

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*review* 3A’s Metal Gear Solid REX

INTRO

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been an avid gamer. That joyous affliction is the result of my folks starting me on the fast track at a very young age. They had an Atari 2600 already in place in the living room before I was born, just waiting for me to be able to hold the controller in my tiny, baby hands. Games like Pitfall, Berserk, Centipede and Q Bert, were all at some point a part of our collection. All classic games and iconic characters that, even in my youth, struck various important chords to my psyche. A few years later, my folks purchased a Commodore 64 for their office, which I loaded up with a bunch of old keyboard clicking games like Kung Fu Master and Summer Games.

But gaming didn’t truly hit it’s full stride for me until the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES was responsible for game after game of trend setting, classic goodness.

Mario, Zelda, Bionic Commando, Punchout, Final Fantasy, Metroid, Contra, Ninja Gaiden and of course, Metal Gear.

Fast forward to 1998 and the great Hideo Kojima and Konami released Metal Gear Solid on the  original Playstation.

Bam.

To this day,  it remains as one of my most memorable video game experiences. The story, art, gameplay, characters, all of it. A historic game made only better on the PS2 with MGS 2: Sons of Liberty. While the Metal Gear series continues with spin offs on a variety of systems and numbered releases.. MGS2 maintains it’s absolutely epic status and remains steadfast among my top 10 favorite games of all time.

SO! I could go on and on about the Metal Gear series, how much I love it, how much the games and their “sneaking missions” shaped the types of games I play and enjoy most.. but that’s not why you tuned in.
We’ll move forward and take my Metal Gear Solid fanboydom as firmly given.
METAL GEAR SOLID REX!!

If you’re reading this page then you probably know at least a little bit about the young toy company, ThreeA. They announced they’re partnership with Konami/Kojima way back in 2009. The first toy to be released from the international handshake was to be Rex.

Being a massive Metal Gear Solid AND 3A fan, my ears perked up, my heart did a leap and my wallet ran off to hide in the shadows. A match made in.. “Outer Heaven.”

Whamp whaaaamp.

That was back in late 2009/early 2010. Suffice to say, it’s been a slow roasting process. Ashley Wood, who’s ties to the Metal Gear franchise go deep, continued to pump out fantastic designs from his own worlds for us to pose, photograph and play with. But despite how fantastic the larger majority of those were, they couldn’t satiate the craving of Metal Gear fans. It seemed like someone over on the official 3A forums was asking practically daily for more information, any information, about REX.

The year of our Lord, 2012 just also happens to be Metal Gear’s 25th Anniversary and just in time too! In February the massively pregnant wait came to an end as REX finally hit bambaland.com for a whopping $490 buckaroos! The seemingly steep price tag didn’t stop fans from throwing their money at their computer screens and yelling “Take my money! Take it all!”

The excitement was palatable.

3A has put out a ton of great, sometimes downright AMAZING, toys over its short four(ish) years in operation and today, I have REX sitting here on the table in front of me.

As we’re coming up to the tail end of 2012… let me tell you this,

stuff just got real.

PACKAGING

Do I need to say it? This box is HUGE! Look at the two crazy cute slobbery fifty pound pups sitting astride it. It’s silly big!

I had to laugh when I popped the lid open. The oh so iconic “!” beaming up at me like a pretty girl’s smile. Wrestling it from the packaging took some real doing. I recommend you snag a friend or friendly hobo to assist you. Keep him or her around, because you’ll need them for the next part too.

Ash’s inks dot the front of the box calling back to his work on the epic Metal Gear Solid graphic novel. On the back, we get REX SPECS(tm) and a little background on him.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

First thing to fall out was a ThreeA catalog featuring a bunch of toys you can’t get anywhere but Ebay or via fan based BSTs.  Next, to my surprise, was a couple of instructional booklets. Yes, there are booklets aimed at instructing you in how to play with your toy. Believe it or not fellows, you’ll probably need to read it and refer to it often. More on that later.

Also included is a little plastic wrench-like tool which you’ll want to keep close at hand. It’s your new buddy.

THE BREAKDOWN

I was unable to show the ornate process of me actually removing this guy from his box. I contorted myself in ways I’ve only seen tiny, exotic acrobats twist. As I tried to support the heft of the box and pull the styrofoam trays free, I kept wondering to myself “Why didn’t I wait until my wife got home?”

Keep that friendly hobo close, he’ll come in handy.

The long rail gun is separate from the rest of REX proper and snaps in with zero fuss.

It’s possible I’ll say this a few times, so steel your resolve… “REX is huge!” I don’t even know where to start with him. There’s a ton going on with gears and removable pieces layered all over him. Not only is REX huge, he’s complex. There’s with good reason he comes with two instructional booklets and a tool.

I thought it best to start with some of the technical bits before I rushed out the door to snap away in strange territory. As mentioned, the gun is separate and has to be attached, as does the antennae to the satellite dish. There’s also a baggy full of tiny bits that attach to each of his legs as well.

Even though I didn’t plan on doing any of my night shots until later, I went ahead and installed the batteries for REX’s various light features. He takes three AAA in the gun and three AAA under his head. Bring your own to play, none are included. The rail gun’s side pops off rather conveniently for a quick install. The head lights require you to unscrew a tiny screw underneath REX’s head to access the panel. You can light up the rail gun by pushing an easy to access button on top, but to turn the head lamps on, you have to hunt for a wee switch towards the bottom/back of his head. Easy enough if you have light.. an absolute pain if you don’t.

REX has a ton of removable panels scattered all over his body. The booklet will illustrate exactly where all of them are, but I thought it was fun to leave much of it up to discovery. The following pics showcase a few of the panels you can take off. Kim and company did a great job at accurately mimicking the body damage REX takes in MGS 4 all of which shows off the faux mechanics that make this monster work. It’s pretty fun popping them on and off to mix up his look.

(UPDATE: Since publishing this review it’s come to our attention that you may, in fact, be able to remove all the panels from both legs. However, I was unable to remove all the panels from the right leg due to how tightly they are attached. It’s possible they’re sealed on by paint but they literally feel permanently attached so I am not going to force them. We apologize for any misinformation. Most of the other removable panels on the body are still only one sided.)

It may be a confusing to some that you can knock off panels on one side but not the mirror side. For example you can almost completely strip down his left leg, but there’s nothing to remove on his right. I didn’t realize this at first and started cursing a little under my breath when I couldn’t get a matching panel to pop off like it had on the opposite side. It’s particularly confusing on REX’s back area because the side that isn’t meant to come off has some give to it and looks to have the same creases and recesses as the other. The only thing that seems to stand in the way is a small screw drilled underneath, through the middle of it.

It’s not a big deal and may not be off-putting to you in the least. I just thought I’d share my confusion so it doesn’t throw any of you who like to jump right in and start messing with things without reading the instructions first.

For the most part, I think I’ll keep his panels intact but I like the asymmetry you can achieve by taking a few off here and there. The satellite looks far more interesting without it’s cover.

After putting all the panels back on I thought I’d attempt to get accustomed to how REX moves around before I headed out to do the rest of the shoot. I popped out his heel supports and extended his toes to get a more dynamic and alive pose.

At this point you can que 15 minutes of me trying to figure out why the legs would not support his weight. Each time I got him into a pose I was happy with, he’d buckle either left or right.

It turns out that my REX’s leg joints were twisted 45 degrees down on both sides. I only realized that after staring at the booklet and comparing it to what I had. Below is a pic of how your leg joints should look out of the box.  An easy way to tell, is that the metal mud flap-like things should be hanging from the front of the leg joints, not the bottom as mine were. It may not really matter in your case, but in mine the rotation joint that originally faced forward was a good deal looser than the joint that should have been. Thus causing the buckling under his weight. After I turned them to face correctly, my problem went away.

So what if your REX has ill-rotated leg joints or what if you want to just move the legs in general? Well there’s the right way to do it and a “do at your own risk” way.

To do it the right way, you need to break out the included black plastic tool and put it to use. You may also consider grabbing your friendly hobo as a spotter as well.

Warning: Please use hobos, friendly or otherwise, at your own risk. Hobos don’t know no better than to ride the rail.. they may wander off with a few of your things in a gunny sack if you don’t watch them carefully. 

I believe the idea with the tool is to give the quad-hinged joint some counter support to your twisting. There’s a substantial amount of resistance in the leg joints, necessary I assume to support the toys weight. That being said, I found some of the joints to be a good deal too tight. Twisting one leg out will put noticeable strain on the neighbor joints, something that I’m positive could lead to breaking if not handled carefully. The tool is there to help prevent that. In the images below, I tried to demonstrate somewhat how to use the tool.

In the image above, I’m using the tool to go across the top of a joint while I swing out the leg, which uses the neighboring joint. This gives the joint I’m NOT using counter support against the pressure I’m putting on it. I’m not 100% sure I’m using as intended but it seemed to work well for me. Don’t worry, it comes with it’s own instruction sheet so you can decipher the best way for you to use it yourself.

With or without the tool, it was a little stressful having to apply that much force to rotate a joint, particularly when loud cracking and popping sounds accompanying it.

Taking REX on the road for some more interesting atmosphere was fun. I had about two dozen or so people stop and ask what the heck I was doing. I’m sure more than a few were concerned of the nuclear capabilities of this guy.

Confused civilian: “Whoa. What is that thing?”

Me: “It’s a toy robot”

Confused civilian: “Is it a transformer? My kid has those..”

Me: “Uh.. sure. Sort of.”

Confused civilian: blank.. long stare followed by walking off a few steps, only to stop and look back warily.

Rest easy civilian, I got this.

Once you get your nerves in check, posing REX is pretty fun. I found myself approaching him as more of a puzzle than something you’d simply grab and toss into a pose.  You have to think a little bit about what you want to go for before you do it. It’s difficult for me not to look at him as some sort of menacing, mechanical K-9, so I just went with it. Opening up the cockpit, lowering the head with the backend in the air, we could be playing fetch..

..or nuking a small village.

You can get a pretty wide variety of looks out REX simply by changing his leg configuration  The back heels have 3 different positions (and everything in between) that cause Rex’s look to go from rested to full alert.

The way his front of his legs extend is pretty nifty. You flip up the toe gates, which kick the motion into gear, then just pull out a bit. It only extends the leg maybe an inch, but it’s cool and gives a surprising amount of lift to him.

The body articulation on REX works a few different ways. You basically have a central, groin area that the leg joints attach to. From there you have the front end (head) and back end (tail) on their own support arms that can be lowered or raised. The back-end also slide extends to allow for more wiggle room.

The rail gun is just so cool looking. 3A didn’t originally design it or anything, but they did a bang up job at recreating it.

The joints attaching the rail gun and satellite allow you to swing them in or out, as well as push them slightly forward or back. I naturally wanted to raise the gun up and down like you would expect to be able to do with a tank-like vehicle, but to raise or lower the nose of the weapon, you have to raise or lower the entire back portion of REX. This seemed a little inconvenient and took a little getting used to, but I believe it holds true to the source material so shouldn’t really be an issue.

One thing you may have already heard is that 3A didn’t implement any kind of head rotating articulation that the in-game REX appeared to have. In the game, Konami made REX much more alive and animalistic than what we’d generally relate to a nuclear tank-like weapon. I assume 3A’s decision was due to how much REX weighs and that adding a rotating joint would risk leaving him with a slack, hanging head. The harshly clicking joints are tight for a reason. It’s been bemoaned by many, but once you actually see this guy, I think you’ll understand just how complex and impressive he is.

While his head doesn’t rotate around, you can cheat to get similar looks by using the well designed multi-jointed leg hip/torso articulation. Through some finessing you can twist the entire body one way and the legs  the other and he’ll look as though he’s panning the landscape for Snake. It would have definitely been nice to have but after spending some time with him, I don’t miss the idea of rotation too much.

One thing that did slightly annoy me was that some of the little panels, particularly the vents on his legs, just will NOT stay in place. Some are literally just resting there thanks to the grace and magic of gravity. Just posing him and clicking a stiff leg out can cause 3 or 4 of the little covers to pop off and go jettisoning across the room. Just be mindful of that when/where you’re posing this guy so if one does unintentionally spring free, you won’t lose pieces.

Now it’s time for a flood of photos.

There’s so many cool little details on REX. The machine gun underneath him is one of my favorites.
edit: It was called to my attention that it isn’t a machine gun at all but actually a FE laser. The same one  responsible for slicing Gray Fox’s arm off. Thank for the help!

The afore mentioned removable panels shows a variety of cool engineering underneath.

His paint application is top notch and stays on par with the best of what 3A has ever offered. Also, since some have asked and just in case you can’t tell from the photos, REX is mostly an unsaturated green in color.

Here you can see some of the light details 3A worked in. I love the fact that the screen for the driver has a small light that you can only really see if you’re practically in the cockpit. Details man.. amazing details!

Other than the glow from the cockpit, you get 4 flood lights which basically look like Rex’s eyes and of course the ever impressive rail gun lights which pulse just before it evaporates your neighborhood.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention..

REX can also do this..

Yes, REX can stand completely upright without heel support in appropriate T-Rex fashion. He’s obviously intentionally designed to, but it’s challenging to balance and you need a good level playing field to do so. It’s totally worth the effort because he looks absolutely bonkers this way. REX just got huge-ER!

Just amazing.

We thought a good way to really show off the lighting system 3A has built into this guy, was to shoot him at night. Setting our shutter speeds to slower than your average bear, the fun really began.

(Editors note: Some extra lights were used for illumination and effect. IE REX does not have body glow or back lights)

The cab lights are really bright. Even with the hatch closed, blue light still spills out. I know this is basically a fun gimmick, but having the cool rail gun’s pulsing light effect made me wish there was an accompanying sound effect. Even cooler would have been having some sort of metallic/animal-like scream.
Real quick, I have to give props to my supporting wife who is responsible for many of the awesome night time photos you see here! Go team us!

On second thought, perhaps silence is golden. Everyone knows that toys with sound effects are the unholy work of Mephistopheles.

I wanted to show a few silhouettes of REX to give you a little better idea of how his back heel positions change his appearance.

THE FINAL WORD

3A’s Metal Gear Rex. Man, Oh man is he something special. If you were fortunate enough to pick one of these guys up, you’re in for a real treat come delivery day. Personally, I can’t wait to see how some of you guys will display him with the rest of your collection. He huge so he takes up a big chunk of real estate and isn’t necessarily to scale with much else I’ve seen.. (mini mates maybe?).  I have a few of the Play Arts Kai Metal Gear figures that I think would look cool sitting next to him, even if the scale is completely out of whack.  It’ll be interesting to see what you do.

Technically, there are things going on with Rex that I’ve only ever seen hints of before in 3A’s own Real Steel Ambush figure. They continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in realistic, highly articulated, borderline seamless (the toy aspects, joints, buttons, etc.. are well hidden) toy robots. You will be in awe.

But there’s something else that struck me about Rex.

There’s really only so much you can do with him. He’s not a humanoid with articulated fingers and arms, carrying a bunch of weapons. He’s not a Transformer, jumping from vehicle to fighting robot with a few clicks. He’s basically, a very sophisticated vehicle. You can move his legs around to a half dozen or so different ways, tilt his head and body up or down and play with his light features. That’s really it. Combine that with the fact he’s somewhat challenging to pose, made easier only with the help of a friend or friendly hobo, it takes away some of the impulse to move him around very often, so after a few days, you probably won’t.

I’m not pointing this out as a negative, I’m pointing this out to manage expectations. Rex has a lot going on, with a lot of cool things to discover and move around. But most likely you’ll find a pose you’re happiest with and leave him like that, fondling only occasionally to trigger the rail gun lights and open/close the cockpit/jaw.

The fact is, I wouldn’t call REX just a toy. If anything, he’s too much of a toy.

I’d  more appropriately call him a display piece. Heck, he’s the CENTER piece.

He’s the one thing that your non-toy collecting friends will notice above all else when they walk into the room . They’ll scan over your collection of Hot Toys, 3A, Sideshow, vintage Transformers and GI Joes with dull, lifeless eyes, possibly mumble a few, “neat”s or “cool”s.  All the while, they’re quietly internalizing the question of their friend’s manchild-ness and how they can segue this unfortunate turn in activities into a drinking game.

However, when they get to Rex, I can almost promise you their eyes will widen and their jaw will drop. The words you’ll hear will be something along the lines of, “Holy ..!! That thing’s freaking incredible!!”

And you’ll be standing there, arms folded and cocky, nodding your head.

“Yeah, he is. He most definitely is.”

I can’t wait to see what 3A does next with the Metal Gear Franchise. The unpainted RAY prototype was on display at this years Hong Kong Venture and from the photos, looked very impressive.  However, not much has been said on availability, price, etc. RAY may be just as REX was. A very long wait. It could be mid to late 2013 before we even get the chance to drain our bank accounts into another plastic MGS masterpiece. Which would mean sometime in mid to late 2014 before he joins our collections on the shelf.

Don’t lose sleep over it. REX isn’t human and won’t get lonely. RAY’s long development gives us time to save our pennies and enjoy one of the coolest pieces 3A has put out yet.

In the end, if RAY turns out anything like REX, it’ll be worth every penny and every second.

PROS:

  • Incredibly detailed, accurate portrayal of a beloved and iconic video game character
  • Highly sophisticated articulation
  • Impressive looking and functioning lighting system
  • Massive to the point of shocking
  • Fun break away bits to show off hidden details
  • It’s a Metal Gear figure done 100% right

CONS:

  • His huge size and very tight joints make posing him a little stressful/difficult (aka, hobo/tool almost required)
  • Some of the break-away panels do not stay soundly in place.

Huge thanks to 3A, Kim, Cody and Gimbat for sending me Rex to review. Thanks for the support guys!

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